Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

Yeah right, 'Excited Delirium' my ass...

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The primary purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for my observations and analysis about tasers, taser "associated" deaths, and the behaviour exhibited by the management, employees and minions of Taser International. In general, everything is linked back to external sources, often via previous posts on the same topic, so that readers can fact-check to their heart's content. This blog was started in late-2007 when Canadians were enraged by the taser death of Robert Dziekanski and four others in a short three month period. The cocky attitude exhibited by the Taser International spokespuppet, and his preposterous proposal that Mr. Dziekanski coincidentally died of "excited delirium" at the time of his taser-death, led me to choose the blog name I did and provides my motivation. I have zero financial ties to this issue.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Repost: Blood pH and the significant difference with the taser

Some recent e-mail correspondence with a new friend reminded me that the Blood pH taser death mechanism is still an issue worth highlighting. Note - it is only one of several taser death mechanisms.

There is an obvious and significant difference that the taser brings. Even when someone is acting agitated or insane, it seems obvious that they still have limits of exertion that are enforced internally. No matter what "super human" strength they may exhibit, it is extremely unlikely that they will independently kill themselves through over-exertion. The many and multiple feed-back loops within the human machine work to prevent that.

The taser respects no such limits. It would probably lock-up the muscles of a fresh corpse.

It is as if the subject were walking along near the edge of a cliff. Left to his own devices, he is more likely to fall down at the edge of the cliff. On the other hand, if someone rushes in and pushed him in the wrong direction, then the chances that he will fall over the cliff are obviously increased.

Kroll et al: "It is known that profound acidosis will lead to rhythm disorders and subsequent cardiac collapse."

Note the wording that implies a time-delayed death: "rhythm disorders" and "subsequent cardiac collapse".

Here are the two re-posts related to this subtle point:


Blood pH - which direction would be good? (27 June 2009) [LINK]

RCMP Commissioner said: "The RCMP's revised [Taser] policy underscores that there are risks associated with the deployment of the device and emphasizes that those risks include the risk of death, particularly for acutely agitated individuals." [LINK]

Now, I'm not a doctor. But there's nothing particularly complicated about the following.

In an 'acutely agitated individual', assuming that they've worked themselves into a state of over-exertion, and their blood pH is possibly at dangerous levels, then does it seem like a good idea to shoot them with a taser, that "can" (I guess, assuming it works at all) cause extreme levels of muscle lock-up - which is a form of massive physical exertion - which can only make things in the 'Blood pH' department much worse?

Which way do you want to go? One step closer to death?

And significantly, the taser totally bypasses any built-in survival mechanisms that might naturally keep the subject from actually (i.e. in the real world) killing themselves through over-exertion.

That's a key difference - between what the subject might be ALMOST doing to themselves (naturally limited by built-in survival mechanisms), and what boundary the taser can push them right through and beyond.

The taser lacks any such natural limiting feed-back signals. It just stupidly and blindly locks-up the muscles (a massive form of over-exertion).

The taser could probably lock-up the muscles on a fresh corpse.

The operator might have been "trained" (if you can call it that) to hold the trigger down until the victim stops "fighting" (i.e. stops moving).

The outcome, in the worst cases, is perfectly obvious.




[NEXT RE-POST...]


The significant difference... (27 June 2009) [LINK]

Every now and then I mention something in passing, and it later occurs to me that it's an important enough point that it's worth posting again, on its own, to make sure that the point doesn't get missed.

This is one of those times:

From the post Blood pH - which direction would be good? [LINK]

...And significantly, the taser totally bypasses any built-in survival mechanisms that might naturally keep the subject from actually (i.e. in the real world) killing themselves through over-exertion.

That's a key difference - between what the subject might be ALMOST doing to themselves (naturally limited by built-in survival mechanisms), and what boundary the taser can push them right through and beyond.

The taser lacks any such natural limiting feed-back signals. It just stupidly and blindly locks-up the muscles (a massive form of over-exertion).

The taser could probably lock-up the muscles on a fresh corpse.

The point here is that humans have who-knows-how-many? built-in feedback loops. These 'negative feedback' (self-limiting) mechanisms would include: conscious awareness, discomfort, fatigue, pain, and so on - right down to utter collapse (loss of consciousness).

These feedback signals, which exist in multiple layers at every possible level of the human-machine, almost always prevent people from killing themselves through over-exertion.

Where a person is operating under their own command (even if acting 'insane'), they will eventually reach their limits. If they exceed those limits, there's a very good chance that they'll become unconscious and thereby avoid death by some margin.

My assumption here is that there exists a margin (possibly a small margin) between the point where a person would become unconscious (thereby providing life-saving rest), and the point where they're destined to die. I believe that this is a reasonable assumption. If you disagree with this argument, then you need to disprove this assumption, because everything else flows logically from it.

The taser simply bypasses many of these natural self-preservation limits. Even if the person has a Blood pH level (for example) which has rendered them unconscious, the taser keeps going and going and going. It will not stop.

The taser respects no ultimate limits within the subject.

There's no feedback loop (except the operator, possible defectively-trained).

And there's not necessarily any safety in being unconscious, especially if the taser makes the victim's muscles continue to twitch in a "fighting" and "threatening" manner.

This lack of feedback and lack of respect for the subject's ultimate limits perfectly explains the significant difference in the real-world outcomes between the subject just over-exerting themselves, versus them also being given a good solid tasering.

This simple hypothesis bridges the 'taser-science' (sic) knowledge gap surrounding "excited delirium" (the arguably-mythical condition), and trying to explain all those many "excited delirium deaths" (the all-too-convenient excuse for a 'taser-associated' death).

If 'excited delirium' is a problem, then the taser is not the right solution. In fact, it seems to be the worst possible approach.

It's as if the subject is walking along the edge of a cliff, and the suggested solution is to push them over the edge.

Even the RCMP acknowledged this plain fact: "The RCMP's revised [Taser] policy underscores that there are risks associated with the deployment of the device and emphasizes that those risks include the risk of death, particularly for acutely agitated individuals." [LINK]

Behavior that some people call "Excited Delirium" is a clear-cut indicator to put away the taser.

PS: Scientific American reference: [LINK] (Thanks Critical Mass)

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