Faithful blog reader 'Critical Mass' left a comment on the post Taser Quote of the Week - "...syllogism..."
It's a valuable comment and well worth putting in its own post.
If the discussion about tasers, "cause and effect" and rational thought is going to take center stage ["Syllogism"], the logical principle "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem" needs to be invoked. It is known as "Occam's Razor" [LINK] and roughly translated it says that when two or more competing explanations describe a series of connected events, the one employing the least factors is usually also the correct explanation.
By way of example, if we encounter an individual, taser him and he then dies, the simplest conclusion is "the taser killed him". Some may want to argue that a postmortem exam of the dead person revealed a heart condition, but Occam's Razor reminds us that the chance the "heart condition" killed the individual at the very same moment of the tasering is so remote, that it just muddies the logical waters and needs to be discarded.
The suggestion by Taser International's lawyer that alcoholism killed Robert Dziekanski is perhaps the most ludicrous example of trying to violate Occam's Razor.
The sequence of events in all "in custody" / "excited delirium" deaths is ALWAYS and SIMPLY this: an official applies a "method of restraint" and the subject dies. Occam's Razor points the finger of causality squarely at the "method of restraint". It leads a logical person to simply conclude that all taser deaths are Homicides.
Thoughtful readers will already be aware that the issue of cause-and-effect is distinct and separate from the question of lawful justification for lethal force. The denial of inherent risk and false claims of safety, combined with training that has clearly been defective, leads directly to overuse, misuse and abuse of tasers. This means that the taser has been used in cases where the actions of the subject obviously did not rise to the level where potentially-lethal force could ever be justified. It also leads to incidents that are indistinguishable from torture.
The root of the problem is that the taser leaves no obvious postmortem clues. Medical Examiners are left scratching their head, while Taser International whispers in their ear: "excited delirium, excited delirium, excited delirium..."
The idea that tasers can cause death, directly or indirectly, through a variety of mechanisms, even in healthy adults... These acknowledgements are now becoming more and more widely accepted. The denials of Taser International are like a distant, long-delayed echo of the 1970's Big Tobacco industry.
Once this obvious conclusion about the real world risk of friggen DEATH is honestly adopted by the law enforcement community, then tasers will be placed back in their proper place along side of rubber bullets and other potentially-lethal policing weapons.
Except perhaps, if there is any justice, the manufacturer will have been bankrupted by lawsuits.
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