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, May 31, 2009

"Just obey..." - even while sleeping?

York (Toronto / GTA) police burst into hotel and put a massive beating on two young men. They were tasered numerous times. [LINK] [LINK]

Sick. Disgusting. 'Lawful force' my ass. There is no excuse for such behaviour by the police in this case. Just because they're 'scared' and 'frightened' does not permit them go in and beat people half-to-death.

The pair were charged with obstruction - a classic 'cover charge'.

A complaint and a civil action has been launched. Good. I hope that GTA is forced to pay a 7-figure settlement.

SCOTUS fails 'force' noun/verb distinction

Ref. Torture in America - Buckley v. Haddock [LINK]

The US Supreme Court declined to take up the case of a handcuffed Florida motorist who was tased three times because he disobeyed a deputy sheriff's command to stand up and walk to a patrol car. [LINK][LINK]

If you examine the issue closely, you'll notice that there is a clear distinction between force the verb (The deputy tased him three times before...) and force the noun (...backup arrived, and the two officers walked Buckley to the patrol car.)

The former is clearly torture; pain intended to force (verb) compliance. The latter is reasonable force (noun).

Perhaps three unwarranted (and completely useless) taserings isn't enough. How about 20? How about 50? The batteries will be dead before 200, so if you're going to pick a number, better make it less than that.

Roadside water-boardings anyone?

Maybe some pliers applied to sensitive body parts?


Nobody - and I mean nobody - has ever answered the Cigarette Challenge.

Why can't the police just use the glowing end of a lit cigarette to cause pain? Both the taser and a lit cigarette can leave minor burns. Both cause more-than-intense pain. The cigarette might be safer. They seem to be perfectly equivalent from a functional point of view. Please explain what's the legal, moral, and ethical difference? Well?

And this in spite of the many pro-taser, law-and-order (sic) taser fan-boys that frequent this blog. They're all mouthy, but go strangely silent when presented with the Cigarette Challenge (it's because there is NO difference). I'll bet that not even the Justices on SCOTUS could answer that very simple question. [LINK][LINK]


Tasers used in this mode, and for this sort of application, are clearly an instrument of torture.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Former Taser International board member indicted

The Excited-Delirium blog has learned that former Taser International board member Bernard Kerik has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on charges of making false statements to White House officials during his vetting for the position of Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. [LINK]


Lying to the Bush White House?

Coal to Newcastle.

Forensic Video Analyst 'flames out'

Wow... A bad day on the witness stand. [LINK] [LINK]

VANCOUVER, B.C. — A forensic video analyst who told a public inquiry that Robert Dziekanski was acting aggressively toward Mounties before he was shocked by a Taser, conceded under repeated questioning Monday that his organization lists Taser International as a corporate sponsor. ...

Fredericks, who graduated with a degree in Broadcast Communications from Gonzaga University (Spokane, Washington) and launched Forensic Video Solutions in the 1980s, admitted on the stand that he has no training in photogrammetry and no more expertise in the science of making measurements by use of photographs than the average layperson.

Mark Hird-Rutter, a certified photogrammetrist who took the stand after Fredericks, said there were numerous flaws in the testimony of the RCMP witness.


Ouch.

Is the financial equation shifting?

Way back when, back in the golden days of the Church of Taser (when almost everyone had faith in the savior Taser) [about two years ago], you didn't see very many news reports about settlements.

Now they're coming thick and fast.

On the It all goes here blog, one recent post called More Tasers Being Expensive [LINK] listed three recent settlements of various amounts up to $2M.

Today there's another one...

Relatives Settle Stun Gun Wrongful Death Suit Against LAPD [LINK]

Trial had been scheduled to begin today in the case filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in October 2007 on behalf of the family of Jesus Mejia.

The terms of the settlement were not released, so my placeholder guess will be something around $1M. Got more info?


My instincts are telling me that the winds of change are upon us. The taser-wielding defendants are caving. Perhaps because they're frightened of the new evidence that has been emerging recently. They're obviously getting advice to settle.

Therefore, time to turn up the settlement figures. Six-figure settlements are so last year. 7-figure settlements are now in fashion. If anyone has a very strong case, why not hold out for 8-figures ($10M+)?

If this trend continues, and it ends up costing a small fortune to legally debate the merits of tasers with each deployment, then the financial equation about how tasers save money may become yet another stale pro-taser argument (if it isn't already).


PS: I went to the TNT List of the Dead [LINK] and tried to do a quick search on the name Jesus (as in Jesus Mejia). The Find on Page search found THREE people with the name Jesus on that page. Mr. Mejia in listed in an addendum to The List. THREE!

Reminds me of the
FIVE Wilsons I stumbled across on another similar search. [LINK].

These numbers of
Jesus (3!) and Wilson (5!) on The List of the Dead should help to put the issue into perspective. It's not a short list.

Monday, May 25, 2009

John Alexander on "Non-Lethal" (sic) weapons

In the Symposium’s keynote speech, former US army colonel and long time advocate of non-lethal weapons, John Alexander issued a dire warning against the ‘flawed logic’ of opponents to less lethal weapons. He said that if we were to focus on the repressive capabilities of technology, then recent revelations about Guantanamo interrogations would require a prohibition on water exports. Alexander's view is that people, not technology, are to blame when things go wrong. [LINK]

I might be convinced to buy that twisted logic (at least in part), provided that we acknowledge that a major part of the problem with tasers are the false claims of essentially-perfect safety with respect to inherent internal risk factors (such as cardiac effects of any sort).


If the manufacturer of flame-thowers pinned the blame for the fried humans on 'spontaneous human combustion', then that's a big problem. In my view, and this view is widely held, 'excited delirium' is in the same category.

Where the technology has gone wrong is that it isn't as safe as they claim. It appears to be many orders of magnitude more dangerous (but that's just my opinion).


Let's think about another example that might help to clarify some thoughts:

Imagine that some idiot-genius invented a foam ball that could be fired at people and it would expand on contact and envelop the subject in a sticky mess. They claim that it is perfectly safe. They conduct some trials and it seems to work.

But then, when it starts to be used in the real-world, the manufacturer slowly turns up the power of the "non-lethal" weapon. Eventually the ball of sticky foam expands to about ten feet in diameter. People begin to suffocate (to death). The non-lethal foam-ball has become more and more lethal with each passing version.

Is this just a 'people problem'?

I agree.

But those 'people' should be bankrupted and put in prison.


PS: The "dire warning" from John Alexander is pure crap. One major study showed that gun-fire deaths went UP when tasers (and taser training) was introduced. And I've noted that the public uproar in Canada against tasers (starting in late-2007) has apparently saved many police lives. If you're new to the blog, I'll leave it up to you to scroll down and down to find the back-up for these claims.

And this just in: 'They Don't Know...'

Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman [WIKI] was very clear that 'naming' and 'knowing' are two different things.

Some of the most muddled thinking on Earth comes from people that don't distinguish between putting a more-or-less meaningless name on something, and actually knowing how it really works. It's a point I've mentioned before: [LINK]

Once you understand what Feynman is on about, you see this sort of fundamental confusion all the time. By keeping this 'naming/knowing' distinction clear in your own mind, you'll be much better prepared to be able to see what things are really known, and which are merely named.

There are a lot of people that are 'experts' with the names of things, but are otherwise completely inept technically. Such so-called experts are sometimes even found in the witness box. The trick to detecting them is to carefully monitor the ratio of technical names to actual explanations.


There's an old joke about such technically-inept people:

Q: What time is it at their house?
A: Twelve O'clock, Twelve O'clock, Twelve O'clock, Twelve O'clock...

(They've incapable of setting their digital clocks which blink "12:00" endlessly.)


Here's today related news:

Despite the Taser being one of the most heavily researched [only because Taser International has been plugging-up the plumbing...] less-lethal weapons in the world, its operational mechanism remains a mystery, a conference on non-lethal weapons was told.

Explanations for the electro stun weapon's apparent ability to stiffen the whole of the human body without (usually) causing any physiological damage remain unclear, inconsistent and contradictory, and it might be that psychological factors play a more important role in its effect than previously thought. These were the conclusions of researchers at the Bundeswehr Medical Centre, who presented their research at the 5th Symposium on Non Lethal Weapons in Ettlingen, Germany earlier this month.

In a special forum on Tasers, scientists from the University of Military Forces in Germany reported that published research into the Taser’s effect on heart tissue was also inconsistent.
[LINK]


In other words, the minions at Taser International have put the rather-meaningless name on the taser mechanism "Neuromuscular Incapacitation", and they even toss out the 'essential' Three-Letter Acronym "(NMI)" because having an acronym tends to mask the obvious fact that they just made it up.


But, apparently, they can't explain how it actually works.

And there's a strange tendency to provide computer models that understate the complexity of the human body by an approximately ratio of 100,000-to-1 (my guess).

Ding Ding Ding - Warning bells for lack of 'knowing'.


This point also ties back into another previous point where I suggested that they combined some taser experiments with some evil-minded acupuncture. [LINK]


Once everyone agrees that the so-called "science" of tasers is ill-developed and being 'used' for legal purposes, then the actual ignorance of the subject becomes more clear.

And that reveals who to put more faith in...

Do you believe those that claim that something is impossible given the state of ignorance?

Or those that are still struggling to connect the dots to provide a rational explanation that would match the real-world results.


Once you've through the grind of such debates many times over, it all becomes perfectly obvious what's going on.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Salem, OR man tasered and/or beaten to death

Salem, OR - Gregory Rold, 37, died at Salem Hospital shortly before 9:30 p.m., Lt. Dave Okada of the Salem Police said today. ... Officers were called to an apartment in the 1200 block of Royvonne Avenue Southeast in Salem about 7:38 p.m. following a report of a man who was trespassing. They encountered Rold, who Okada said "violently" resisted arrest. That prompted officers to shoot him with a Taser and strike him with their batons. After he was handcuffed, officers realized Rold was unconscious. According to Okada, they immediately called for medical help and gave emergency aid to Rold. Rold was then taken to Salem Hospital where he died. [LINK]

The manufacturer of the police batons has notably not issued a public statement indicating that the subject was exhibiting signs of excited delirium. They have also apparently failed to issue a press release claiming that batons are perfectly safe unless you banged your head on the ground after being clubbed unconscious.


UPDATE: "Still no cause of death in Ore. stun gun case" [LINK]

Notice that it's a "stun gun case". I guess that batons would generally leave better postmortem clues; and if those clues are absent, it actually proves something. As opposed to tasers...

Anyone bother with a postmortem test for VF?

Braidwood Inquiry Phase 2 drawing to a close

The Briadwood Inquiry [LINK] into the death of Robert Dziekanski is drawing to a close. [LINK]

The Government of British Columbia has appointed the Honourable Thomas R. Braidwood, QC as the head of two inquiries. The first commission of inquiry is a "study" commission to report on the use of conducted energy weapons (Tasers) in British Columbia, and to make recommendations respecting their appropriate use. The second commission of inquiry is a "hearing and study" commission to provide the Dziekanski family and the public with a complete record of the circumstances of Mr. Robert Dziekanski’s death and to make recommendations the Commissioner considers necessary and appropriate. Thomas R. Braidwood, QC, the sole commissioner for these inquiries, is a former judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Court of Appeal of British Columbia and Yukon Territory. ...

The report from the first phase, a study commission broadly examining Taser use, is apparently due by the end of June. [LINK]

For the second inquiry into the death (killing) of Mr. Dziekanski, lawyers will make closing submissions in mid-June. Braidwood will then write his final report, which could be ready by the fall.


For some reason, the word "scathing" just popped into my mind. I'm not sure why...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Here is some old news that I recently found on Jonathan Turley's legal blog.

"In June 1998, Long Beach Superior Court Judge Joan Comparet-Cassani ordered a deputy to shock [with a stun belt] defendant Ronnie Hawkins, after he repeatedly interrupted her. A judicial review board refused to impose disciplinary action on the judge, who continues to try cases in California." [LINK]


The above incident was involving a stun-belt, not a taser. But the legal and philpsophical concepts are exactly the same.


I once mentioned that tasers as punishment was something that even the courts would not be permitted to apply. This reported example of a stun-belt being used for on-the-spot (judicially-sanctioned?) torture is an example of where things are headed if we allow it to continue.


For those (hopefully few) readers that might not understand the point, mentally replace the stun-belt with:
- a taser used in touch-torture mode
- an electric cattle-prod
- the glowing end of a lit cigarette
- a red hot branding iron
- pulling of fingernails
- pliers squeezing sensitive body parts
- 'The Rack'
- etc.

Once you step over the line, there are no further boundaries to slow your descent straight to Hell. And that's why there is a line that shall not be crossed.

False safety claims result in RICO conviction

I heard this news today, and for some reason it seemed to resonate with me.

The court, in a closely-watched RICO case, found 'Big Tobacco' liable in a decades-long conspiracy to deceive consumers about the adverse health effects of smoking. [LINK]

I'm not exactly sure why this news, that has absolutely nothing to do with the taser debate, captured my attention. I simply can't explain it.

Welcome ShadowSurf readers...

One of the intriguing parts of this job is reviewing the Internet records of the who, the what, the where, the when, the how, and sometimes even the why (!), of those that are accessing this blog.

The multiple methodologies available to me are sometimes highly revealing and provide some slivers of insight into the murky world of the pro-taser folks.

One can almost track the pro-taser network communications paths as Internet users (in locations where prominent minions or fan-boys are known to either live or work) read a particular post, then you can almost see them generating an e-mail (this part is a guess), and then others in similarly-known locations directly access the same post over the following hours.

Sometimes they even arrive directly from their "super secret" untraceable off-site webmail server that absolutely nobody knows about (it's at www.secureserver.net in case you're interested).

The latest thing is one or more people half-heartedly using an anonymous proxy to access this blog. Because they didn't read the manual, it's not working very well.


One reason that I'm posting this information is that their inept Internet clumsiness is resulting in so many interesting factoids that it's becoming a bit of a distraction, and certainly a time-sink that I can't afford.

I'd honestly rather that they either go away, or learn how to use the Internet without leaving quite so many tantalizing clues in their wake.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What value do you put on this 'expert opinion'?

Dorin Panescu, (a popular Google search topic [LINK]) an electrical engineer who received $92,896 from Taser International last year for his 'consulting work', opined "With a high degree of scientific certitude, it is my opinion that Mr. Dziekanski's death was not caused by, and not contributed by, the use of a TASER X26." [LINK]

Wow. He sounds pretty sure of himself doesn't he?

Self-evident cause-and-effect be damned? [LINK] [LINK]


Let's review:

1) No mention that he has any medical training, but he is offering an expert medical opinion on a cause of death? Where the hell is Mr. Daubert when you need him? [LINK]

2) I assume, and this is only an assumption, that his expert medical opinion is based on (for example) his computerized model of a perfectly-typical human being (see green uni-leg man below). [LINK] [LINK]

3) He's been paid nearly $100k (US) by Taser International (in one year?) for his consulting work. [ibid]

Let me ask the obvious question again: Does this computer model explain why people that are being tasered are either held-up by their fraternal brothers, or they fall down because their legs are knocked-out from under them? Now I'm no expert, but the computer model appears to show that the current distribution is tightly confined to the immediate area above the heart in this example. Thus resulting in a constriction of just one or two muscles in the chest directly above the heart. So why do people being tasered fall down? Does a dart have to hit an ankle to knock the legs out from under them?

It is because they just have one green uni-leg and they find it difficult to remain balanced? Inverted Weebles wobble and they DO fall down?

I thought that the claim was that the taser affected the muscles throughout the human body (except, of course, the heart [magic]), not just the exact muscles between the darts. How does that claim relate to this computer model which was intended prove how tightly limited the current distribution is?

I'd say listen to his expert medical opinion, but weight it by about (1/92,896).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Taser Death" poll closed - a runaway result...

I've decided to close the "Taser Death" poll a bit early; it was a runaway result anyway. I certainly hope that this unannounced wrap-up doesn't affect anyone's plans to vote at the very last minute...

The raw results (including attempted fraud by an unknown taser fan-boy) were as follows:



As was previously discussed here [San Jose taser fan-boy stuffs ballot box], this poll was clumsily and fraudulantly manipulated by someone accessing the Internet from the vicinity of San Jose, CA and who was searching for the name Dorin Panescu.

Evidence suggests that this unknown Internet user repeatedly cleared his Internet cache and cookies, and repeatedly voted within a period of several minutes. The vote count associated with this clearly-unethical stuffing of the ballot box was between 7 and 9 (let's call it 8), and those votes were all submitted to the "No, impossible!" count.

Therefore the actual (more likely to be honest) results would be as follows:

Question: Do you think that tasers can cause a death?

Answers:
Yes, obviously! = 35 (~80%)
Maybe... = 1 (~ 2%)
No, impossible! = 7 (~16%)
Don't know. = 1 (~ 2%)


This poll is not scientific. But it supports the assumption that the world-view of Taser International, their minions, and their brainwashed fan-boys is a world-view that is simply not shared by the majority of clear-thinking people.


Honorable mention to those that voted in the 'Maybe...' and 'Don't know.' categories. I have a great deal of respect for those that hold those opinions. I hope that they continue to follow the issue closely, and that they will share what they learn along the way.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Post # 1000 - Attention: Taser International

This is published Post # 1000.

It is dedicated to the unanswered 2008 Taser Challenge [LINK]. They've never answered this challenge, and it has been more than a year.

Taser International more-or-less completely controls the taser training. For years, they recommended that trainees be tasered as part of the training. But they've always arranged for those taser training hits to be into the trainees' backs (never the chest). [LINK]

I believe that this is because they're scared sh_tless of the possible cardiac effects (whatever those may be) of so many taser hits to so many healthy subjects (their customers). There is no other reason that I can think of for their "backs only" policy for taser training hits.

What other reason would that have for the bass-ackwards taser training? So turn around the trainees and have them take it in the chest, like a real man. Not in the back like some sort of frightened school girl.

If they're worried about the darts, then trainees could wear a face mask and a protective cup. They could even clip the wires to the subject (arranged for maximum current vector through the chest) - there's really no need for flying darts.

That they have failed to avail themselves of the opportunity to prove my suspicions wrong is highly indicative.

So I will repeat this challenge to Taser International.

Turn the trainees around. Chest hits only.

It's "safe", right?


And no more 2-second hits either. Minimum 5 seconds. Trainers must take at least 10 seconds. Master Trainers, at least 15 seconds. Any staff from Taser International must take 30 seconds. Anything less is pure fakery. Especially when you claim that these training hits are evidence of safety.

Studies not asking the right questions...

We're getting swamped with little tiny 'studies' of this city or that city. They're rubbish.

Look - if anyone wants to conduct a study then conduct one of the following studies:

1) How does the real-world M26 death rate compare to the real-world X26 death rate? Also, previous lower power tasers? Does the lethality correlate to the model?

2) How does the real-world death rate compare to darts hitting chest or not? Does the death rate correlate to where the current vector runs? We know that the back is very safe (all those FAKE training shots, almost always in to the back). But why do I keep seeing the word "chest" in many of the lethal incidents being reported?

Until this real-world data is provided, then all these made-to-order studies of selected data sets are not to be considered useful.

And someone should answer why the data to answer these obvious questions isn't readily available? Why does the RCMP's data exclude the type of taser used?

Why hasn't anyone looked at the autopsy reports to see the rate of taser darts on chest (for those that died), and compare it the overall rate of taser use.

It is blatantly obvious that these are the questions to ask.

"Studies" be damned.

Open message to 'Bethany' from Flint, MI

Find Michael Moore [LINK], the famous film-maker who was born in Flint, MI. When you finally are able to contact him, then tell him that he should make a documentary film about Taser International.

Tell him to move quickly, otherwise it'll just be a historical-review.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bethany Flint, a report from Bay City

This is regarding 15-year old Brett Elder, who was killed by 'a combination of alcohol and the taser.'

Posted by BethanyFlint on 05/17/09 at 11:50AM [LINK]

Taser's kill. Dewy was my friend and no one can bring him back. Something has to change. Everyone who says they are justified, you just wait! Wait till it is someone that means something to you! All it takes to change your opinion is one death to someone that is close to you. He was 15 and he didn't deserve to die! Please these police officers need to take more training. They shot him right in the heart, and left him there to die. No CPR just turned on his side! So you tell me! Then when we have a peaceful protest, the police drove by and laughed at us. I was there and I seen it 1st hand. I have lost all respect for Bay City Police officers. They could have drove by and not even reacted. Trigger happy Punks! I hope the man that pulled the trigger enjoys every bit of time with his children and thinks about Dewy's face when he looks at them. Because every time I look at Dewy's picture I think about why he isn't here!

Love you and think about you always Brett,

Bethany

I was wrong... ;-)

Lacking any detailed information at the time, I'd guessed that UCLA had settled with taser-tortured student Mostafa Tabatabainejad for about $75,000. [LINK]

My placeholder guess was wrong.

According to the LA Times, the settlement was actually $220,000 [LINK]

Ouch!!

That'll learn 'em.


The positive implications of this settlement amount are tremendous. It's an amount that is difficult to ignore. It's sufficiently large to capture the attention of even the thickest-headed decision maker. It's large enough to cause the plaintiff lawyers to start circling around any further examples of taser Touch Torture. It's large enough to make those that provide insurance cover very nervous.

What a great way to be wrong.

Taser-associated deaths by month

It's been a while since I updated the plot of taser-associated deaths by month. There is a definite down-turn in the monthly rate, from about 7 per month to about 4 per month starting in late-2008.

Absolutely positively this is a direct result of the increase public attention and the resultant rub-off onto how police actually use tasers (in spite of their training).

Wake Forest Taser study - 0 (or 2?) out of 5

~UPDATED~ The summary that I read at the Advocate didn't indicate that they'd found anything significant (à la Ho). I had to dig further to find that there actually were two fatalities included in the study, but they were barely worth mentioning. Given the Taser Proof Issue, they shouldn't be quite so quick to sideline fatality data.


Advocate staff writer Mr. Steven Ward wrote an article [LINK] contrasting the use of tasers in Baton Rouge and other parts of Louisiana, to the Wake Forest University School of Medicine 2009 study, "Safety And Injury Profile of Conducted Electrical Weapons Used By Law Enforcement Officers Against Criminal Suspects."

The Wake Forest study is a bit weird in that they gathered data from just six law enforcement agencies (quite lazy in my opinion) over the period June 2005 to June 2008.

They found very little to report on in the way of taser-induced injuries and deaths, which indicates 'something'. But what does it indicate? Taser safety? Or a flawed study?

Let's check...

UPDATED: The study included two taser-associated deaths, but these were discounted because the autopsy reports didn't link them to the taser. Duh! I guess that's good enough for those that haven't been following the news lately.

According to the List of The Dead [LINK] at the Truth ... Not Tasers blog, there were about 230 (#124 to #354) taser-associated deaths in North America during this period (including 11 or 12 people in Canada).

Let's focus on just the USA for this post. 230 subtract 12 in Canada = about 218 taser-associated deaths in the USA during the period June 2005 to June 2008 (inclusive). Let's round it down to 200 just in case we've included an extra month at one end or the other.

So we have (at most) two of these about 200 taser-associated deaths that made it into the Wake Forest study. Only two? [ding ding ding - sound of alarm bells going off...] What's going on with the Wake Forest study?

Is the study truly representative?


The six law enforcement agencies included in the report cover a total population of just a bit over eight million (8,059,001 according to the numbers provided in the left column summary here [IBID]).

US population during this period is about 305 million. So the study covers about 2.6% (8M/305M) of the US population. If the study was large enough to be representative, then we would expect that they'd also have about 2.6% of the taser-associated deaths included in their study. 2.6% of about 200 is about 5.2 (let's call it 'five').

A truly representative study would therefore be expected to include about FIVE taser-associated deaths in the data set.

But they have just two, and both were discounted into the disregarded column.

Ding ding ding.

Obviously the Wake Forest study may have been honestly randomized at the outset, but the intermediate results clearly indicate that the data is not representative of the much-larger, all-encompassing experiment that is being performed on the entire population of the USA.

Two isn't five. And given that AI reported that something like 37% of all taser-associated autopsy reports DID mention that the taser was a contributing factor, it seems strange that they would structure the study to avoid stumbling across this same ratio. [LINK]

Anybody have a parrot cage that needs some paper to line the bottom?


Many statistical analysis will include the mathematical disclaimer "...(19 times out of 20)".

The most generous interpretation of this Wake Forest Taser Study is that it just happens to be the 20th.


Advocate writer Mr. Ward then goes on to review some of the egregious taser incidents that have occurred in Louisiana, including the Winnfield incident where 21-year-old Baron 'Scooter' Pikes was alledgedly tasered-to-death. ("The coroner found the death of Mr. Pikes to be homicide by Taser." [LINK])

Winnfield, LA was not obviously included in the Wake Forest study.


Update details - Ah, they did have 'two'. Not the expected five, but two. "Two subjects died, but autopsy reports indicate that neither death was related to the Taser." [LINK] Given the Taser Proof Issue, then this may be an example of circular logic of the highest possible order.

Furthermore, I wonder how much denominator washing this study includes in the "nearly 1000 incidents" studied? How many were full-on taser hits to the chest? How did the details of the taser hits correlate to the 'un-related' deaths?


Commentary - It well past time to start discounting these sorts of studies with such limited input data. There exists a much larger experiment happening all across the USA and Canada and beyond. Hundreds and hundreds of taser-associated deaths. Autopsy reports reportedly mentioned tasers as a contributing factor in as many as 37% of the reports studied. Prof Savard plotted increased risk of death is linearly proportional to taser exposure. I'll bet that the X26 is more dangerous than previous taser models. I'll bet that taser hits to the chest are not-coincidentally far more lethal than hits to the back or extremities. Let's get the complete data and run the numbers.

Fall-out from children hit with stun guns

3 fired, 2 resign after kids shocked in Florida prisons [LINK]

Here [LINK] it was noted that there is a discrepancy between: "None of the children in any of the incidents required medical attention or was notably harmed." vs. "The jolt sent at least two of them sprawling to the floor, crying out in pain and clutching at agonizing burns on their arms. One child ended up in hospital."


Note - reports indicate that these particular stun guns were NOT 'tasers'.

Hits from pro-taser folks are off this week...

After catching and explicitly outing 'someone' (?) stuffing the ballot box [LINK] last week, and this being about the third or fourth example of a potentially massively-embarrassing visit to this blog by some possibly very well known pro-taser folks, the number of visits from those professionally-associated people appears to have dropped off to almost zero over the past week or so.

For example, we used to get regular visits from 'someone' (?) living near Mound, MN (most often him reacting to an e-mail), and from others working just a few miles east of there [and many more examples] - almost all of those regular and occasional pro-taser visitors have gone AWOL over the past week.

I'll bet that the High Priests of Taser have issued an edict to stop visiting this blog for fear of getting caught red-handed (again).

But that's just pure speculation on my part...

Foundation of ignorance supports pro-taser arguments

Extracts from comment war at [LINK].

This is what's left of all the self-confident pro-taser arguments. Just the ill-informed repeating the old and stale arguments that were long-ago shredded on this very blog (and perhaps elsewhere).


"Tasers are a reasonable alternative to handguns."

There are many myths and lies about tasers. One of the oldest lies is that they replace guns. Fact is that tasers are used roughly 100 times as often as guns ever were. This ratio will vary with place and time, but it is a very good round number. To even mention that tasers replace guns in relation to incidents where teenagers were tasered and died is skirting the edges of basic human morality.


"The taser is not designed as a pain compliance tool."

Yes it is. Clearly it is. Ever hear of the so-called Drive Stun mode? It's also called the Touch Torture mode and does almost nothing EXCEPT to cause extreme pain. Your statement only makes sense if you ignore one of the two primary modes of deployment.


"Do what you're being told and you won't have to worry about it."

I guess you don't follow the news much. If you did, then you'd know that there have been cases where people in medical distress have been tasered. Diabetics. A kid with a multiply-broken back. People experiencing mental breakdown. Not everyone being tasered is a criminal exercising their free will.


It's sort-of sad that they have nothing left. It used to be interesting to examine the pro-taser arguments carefully, trying to determine the subtle flaw. Now it's just getting boring.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Non-VF death mechanism?

Since I'm clearly not an expert in the field of cardiac effects, I've always tried to use the more-general phrase "...internal risk factors (such as cardiac effects)..." when I'm referring to whatever it is that might be happening when tasers appear to directly cause, or contribute to, a death.

Well, now it looks like some researchers might be on the right track to explain how tasers kill, even if it wasn't directly through ventricular fibrillation.

'Stun Gun' Deaths Rarely Caused by Ventricular Fibrillation [LINK][LINK]

Taser minions such as Kroll have repeatedly pointed out that a taser-death would have to be instantaneous. This new explanation, that is aligned with the report from Prof Savard [LINK], shows that there may be another (slower) route towards death. And Taser International et al will be exactly as liable.

2009 is shaping up to be a great year.

Unless you hold shares or options in TASR.

Or have ever provided legally-significant 'expert advice' that has contributed to, or explained away, many deaths.

Judge ponders allowing evidence extracted by torture

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza on Friday gave herself two weeks to decide whether to allow prosecutors to use a DNA sample taken from a Niagara Falls man after he was zapped with a Taser electronic stun gun. [LINK]

Hmmmm....

Might need two weeks to find all the required adjectives for the decision.


Detective Angela Munn of the Niagara Falls police testified that the Taser video doesn’t start recording until 1.5 seconds after the Taser is fired, and thus it was fired for four seconds, not the two seconds police estimated during the hearing. “It was only fired once that day. It was turned on three times,” Munn said.

Balkin quoted Detective James Galie as saying, “Ryan, we’re going to do this again and again until you comply.

That’s torture. There’s no other word for it,” Balkin said.



The real question is the following: Will there be Federal Agents in the court room to arrest the torturers?


This case is clear-cut evidence of why the official taser training, often under the control of Taser International, is considered by some to be 'defective'. In this incident, you have a serious case in serious jeopardy. And those involved are at some risk of being charged with criminal torture. Duh!

Comment wars in the US media...

In Canada, the comments about tasers are running about 95% against. The battle for public opinion has already been overwhelmingly won by those that criticize tasers.

In the US media, there are many more people that are as yet uneducated about the issue. The pro-taser comments there are (right now) running ahead of those that have concerns. It's a clear indication of the level of ignorance of the subject.

The reason that I use the word 'ignorance' is simply that the pro-taser arguments being presented are the very oldest and already shredded nonsense.

On the following news story, the police were shown proudly tasering one of their trainees (in the back of course). Seriously, it is well past time to tell the police to either start tasering their trainees directly in the chest for at least 31 seconds, or shut the hell up about how safe taser are. It's pure BS and people should be ashamed that they've so easily been tricked.

[LINK]

There are many myths and lies about tasers. One of the oldest lies is that they replace guns. Fact is that tasers are used roughly 100 times as often as guns ever were. This ratio will vary with place and time, but it is a very good round number. To even mention that tasers replace guns in relation to incidents where teenagers were tasered and died is skirting the edges of basic human morality.

And the point about doing some sort of trade-off between saving lives of those that arguably deserve to be shot dead, at the expense of instituting a street-level death lottery for those that did nothing to deserve a lethal outcome is completely unethical.

The problem with the taser debate is that there are so many old and stale arguments still floating around. It's like herding cats trying to stay on issue. Virtually all of the the old pro-taser arguments have been examining and shredded. My blog has nearly 1000 posts where you can try to catch up with the latest aspects of the issue.

The primary issue is the following:

Are tasers as safe as claimed?

The manufacturer and their minions claim that there is essentially zero risk from internal risk factors. The training reflects the same hubris and over-confidence. People sometimes die right after being tasered. Even those that are young and healthy. Especially when hit in the chest. Especially by the latest X26 model. Low end of single digits risk of death (given certain assumptions).

Common sense tells the truth.

Do you think that taser demos are almost ALWAYS into the back for any reason other than reducing risk of death for the trainees? It's the most-obvious stage trick in the world once you notice it. If they're so confident in the real-world safety, then let's see them turn around. They can even use clip leads if they're worried about the darts. Go ahead...

Real-world safety. THAT is the main issue. Everything else is a distraction.

Open letter from Dr. Mike Webster

Globe & Mail [LINK] (or TNT [LINK])

UCLA cuts Mr. Tabatabainejad a VERY fat check

Tabatabainejad v. The Regents of the University of California, U.S. District Court Case No. CV 07-00389 SVW (VBKx)

They've 'settled'. Obviously UCLA has imposed a gag-order on Mr. Tabatabainejad as part of the settlement agreement. "The two parties will have no further comment on the incident or the settlement." [LINK]

UCLA conducted an investigation that found that the officers' actions were within department policy, but they subsequently changed those policies (an obvious admission of at least some degree of guilty feelings).

Reading between the lines, it seems obvious that the settlement must be in the middle to upper end of the five-figure range. Perhaps it is less, perhaps it is (much?) more.

As a placeholder, US$75,000 is probably about right.

Financial Darwinism at work.

UPDATE: My guess was wrong. The settlement was reportedly - get this - $220,000. [LINK] Excellent.

So if a good solid tasering for no apparent reason is now worth $220,000, then how much for a unlawful taser-associated death? Attention insurance companies of North America - your clients' taser fiascos just became a whole lot more expensive.

Hoax exposes Taser-stupidity virus

Warren, MI - Highly-trained and presumable Taser-Certified police officers in Warren Michigan end up tasering a plush toy. An unknown 911 prankster (who now faces three million years in prison - well, not quite) claimed that a giant wild cat was on the prowl at Bates Park. He gave police the impression it was a menacing, 150 pound wild animal. So, when officers peered into a concrete pipe where the plush toy was placed, they ended up deciding to fire their taser at the cornered plush toy. [LINK]

Achieving stupidity at this level requires specialized training. And it apparently helps if you're exposed to some electric shock therapy targeting the buttocks and spinal column.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Dr. Keith Chambers - bless his heart...

Robert Dziekanski's death after an RCMP officer jolted him five times with a Taser stun gun was no coincidence. ... The fatal heart arrhythmia that led to cardiac arrest was caused by Dziekanski's struggle with the RCMP, the use of the Taser, or a combination of the two. ...the video of the event shot by a witness makes it obvious which was the more aggravating factor. "The video shows us that the greater impact on Mr. Dziekanski was the Tasering," Chambers testified. [LINK]

See also Dr. Chamber's report: [LINK] (.pdf)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dr. Mike Webster - bless his heart...

Officers who Tasered Polish immigrant 'panicked'... [LINK]

Mike Webster: "They panicked and they abandoned their basic training and they embraced their more recent and questionable Taser training provided for them by their misguided employer."

Exactly. How many times have I described the taser training as 'defective'? Must be about a dozen times or more. Disagree if you wish - but I'm judging it by the real-world results, which are often plainly evil.

If the RCMP is looking to change something in the short term while we slowly prove that tasers-R-NOT!-safe (at the cost of more lives), then change the training. All the Taser-brainwashed trainers must be marked as 'damaged goods'. Anyone with a framed certificate mentioning "Taser International" should be quarantined until their brainwashing can be surgically removed.

Taser International should be explicitly punished for their hubris-laced and defective training.

At the very least, the Ottawa city Use of Force training needs to be made standard across Canada. That's the class where they explain about force-the-noun (lawful) and force-the-verb (see CC s.269.1).

Cause of death 'undeterminable'...

Did someone say the "Taser Proof Issue"? [LINK]

Anyone bother to conduct the postmortem test for VF?

It's working...

[...Capturing search engine traffic that Taser International wanted.]

This morning, over a period of just about an hour, there were about a dozen hits on this blog of visitors from all over the USA that were searching for the keywords "alcohol-induced excited delirium".

If the poor kid had been stamp collecting at the time of his death, then they would have invented the lethal condition "Stamp-collecting-induced excited delirium".

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When lawful 'force' is a verb...

Tasers are, quite clearly, an instrument of torture. Just because they're all cool-looking and yellow, they're still devices designed to cause extreme pain to 'force' (verb) compliance.


Sir, will you allow us to extract a DNA sample now? We don't want to hurt you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Minimum force" - it's a noun...

The word "force"... It's so confusing. One day, it's a noun. The next day, it's a verb. One can hardly be expected to keep up...

Lockport, NY — A Niagara Falls police lieutenant testified Monday that an assistant county prosecutor gave officers the go-ahead last fall to use “minimum force” necessary to take a DNA sample from a man who was subsequently shocked by a taser when he wouldn’t submit to a mouth swab. ... [LINK]

The thing is, this distinction was clearly understood back in the turbulent late-1960s. Protesting students were often lifted bodily, using minimum lawful 'force' (noun), and carted off. But everyone knew during that era that lawful 'force' was a noun. They didn't get away with using cattle-prods to 'force' (verb) people to obey.

Every now and then society takes a giant step backwards. Allowing the law enforcement community to get confused by the word 'force' is one such example.

And allowing a company to openly sell what is clearly "an instrument of torture" is a huge error.


By the way - anyone out there conquered the Cigarette Challenge [LINK] yet?

Why can't the police just use the glowing end of a lit cigarette to cause pain? Both the taser and a lit cigarette can leave minor burns. Both cause more-than-intense pain. The cigarette might be safer. They seem to be perfectly equivalent from a functional point of view. Please explain what's the legal, moral, and ethical difference? Well?

Hey buddy - allow us to take a DNA swab from your mouth or we will burn you in the shoulder for two seconds with this glowing cigarette.

Contributing role...

How can a product that the manufacturer claims is essentially perfectly safe with respect to internal risk factors, also be a contributor to death via those same ill-defined internal risk factors?

Is this the individual susceptibilities that Taser International mentions?

Can anyone square the circle of Taser International's position on safety?

Safe?

Or not so much?

Hey Taser International - explain this...

Bay City, MI - A medical examiner has ruled that the use of a taser on 15-year-old Brett Elder played a role in his death.  Oakland County Assistant Medical Examiner Kanu Virani says the cause of his death is two-fold. The first part is identified as alcohol-induced excited delirium syndrome...[cough cough] The autopsy indicates Elder had been drinking [yeah, that'll kill you every time]. The second part states the application of an electromuscular disruptive device was a contributory factor -- that disruptive device being the Taser. Virani's conclusion is that Elder's death was accidental. [LINK]

Taser International says that the taser is essentially perfectly safe with respect to internal risk factors. And yet, in this case, it played a contributing role in the death of an otherwise healthy young man that had been drinking.


So the taser should not be used on people that have been drinking?

So WTF was the intended audience for tasers?

Hello?


PS1: Did anyone perform a postmortem test for VF on this victim? [LINK]

If not, why not?


PS2: Review the Interesting hit from Michigin [LINK] 25 April 2009 - Lambertville, Michigan arrived from google.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com" by searching for: where to send brain to deborah mash for excited delirium analysis.

Lambertville, MI and Oakland County are both in the SE corner of MI.

It would be extraordinary if they sent a brain tissue sample to Dr. Mash to prove Excited Delirium and simultaneously didn't bother to conduct the postmortem test for ventricular fibrillation.

Buckeye Cablevision Inc., Mac, Safari, 1920x1200

Use of taser to 'force' (verb) DNA sample...

Further to a previous post: Lawful 'force' is not a verb [LINK]

The story of Ryan Smith's taser-torture extracted DNA sample is still making headlines...

Police use of Taser to get DNA scrutinized in NY [LINK]


How do you think that Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Sperazza will rule? Does she have any choice whatsoever? Can evidence extracted by way of taser-torture in America ever be sanctioned? Well Duh!

And so a serious case is in danger of being tossed.

Not to mention the idiots involved are arguably guilty of 'torture'.

Hey - great job folks. {ROLLS EYES}

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dr. G.K. Chambers (Epidemiologist)...

...is scheduled to testify at the Braidwood Inquiry tomorrow (12 May 2009).


Epidemiology [WIKI]


As I had mentioned in a previous post [LINK], the data probably already exists (but is not being made public) that would be sufficient to prove or disprove a few theories about the safety of tasers.

For example:
  • Taser-associated death rate vs. taser darts-on-chest or not.
  • Taser-associated death rate per actual full deployment vs. type of taser (M26 compared to X26).

For the first, if the actual real-world death rate is significantly higher in those cases where the taser dart(s) just happen to land on the victim's chest, then that would be a 3-pointer against Taser International's world-views.

For the second, if the X26 happens to be the Grim Reaper's tool of choice, even during periods when the M26 taser was actually being used at a higher rate, then that is the end of the line for Taser International's assurances.

Now I'm not an expert, but I really do suspect that both of these little pet theories of mine will eventually be proven to be completely true. I'm getting whiffs of a pattern in the limited data available.

And I more-or-less suspect that the reason that the required data isn't being collated and publish for all to review, is that the people holding this data are frightened by what it already shows.

It's time to demand the data. And let an expert such as Dr. Chambers have a good look at it.

"Drive to Remember" - remember this...

Do tasers really help to save police officers' lives?

A major study in the USA found that tasers do not actually reduce police officers' rate of serious injury. [LINK]


In Canada, 4 police were killed in the line of duty (through violence, not counting accidents and heart attacks) during the 5-year period of 1999-2003, as compared to 17 during the 5-year period of 2004-2008. More tasers, more taser use, and the result is significantly more police deaths (up x4). What gives?

What really seems to help is increased public scrutiny. Since the taser issue broke into public attention in late-2007, and with the evil-eye of public scrutiny upon them, police deaths through violence in Canada are way down (all the way to zero [2008]&[2009]). See [LINK].

These are difficult facts and figures to argue against. I recommend that you confirm them yourself at the www.ODMP.org/Canada [LINK] website.



My basic message here (and this is purely an opinion) is that if you buy-into Taser pathetic attempt to wrap themselves in the flags that actually belong to the families of the fallen, then you're being played like a trumpet.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Taser torture

Taser Torture In Fort Worth, Texas [LINK] at the Tasered While Black blog.


Taser International has never, to my knowledge, ever issued any statement condemning any particular taser deployment, not even the most evil examples of pure torture. If I have missed any, send me the link. I would be more than happy to update this post with the particulars.

An example of Taser's use of Daubert

In the case of DAVID R. WILSON, CHARLENE WILSON v. TASER INTERNATIONAL, INC.

A legal document is available on the InterWeb-thingy at the following "Universal Resource Locater". Apparently you can just click on the following underlined "link" and the document will open right up on the screen (*):

http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/unpub/ops/200813810.pdf


In this lawsuit, Taser International was able, using Daubert, to exclude any evidence that the spinal fractures, (allegedly) coincident with the taser training hit to the back, were possibly cause by the taser training hit.

Common sense indicates that it was a slimy legal maneuver to leave a police officer that was (allegedly) seriously-injured during taser training without compensation.

Nice friends, eh?


(* By the way, why is that .pdf file clearly marked "DO NOT PUBLISH" ? This here InterWeb-thingy sure is right-some complicated, eh?)

{ROLLS-EYES} at the sheer incompetence...

Taser tries Canadian "Daubert (Dilbert?) Motion"

Taser International has panicked.

David Neave, the lawyer for Taser International at the Braidwood Inquiry, asked that the reports by Tseng and several other doctors who were critical of Tasers be blocked; he also asked for a pony for his next birthday (no he didn't). Judge Thomas Braidwood decided the testimony of Tseng and the other medical experts would be allowed, and that Neave wouldn't be getting a pony for his next birthday (just kidding). [LINK]


Taser International has used this type of legal trick in U.S. courts before. They make the claim that their bought-and-paid-for experts are the only experts on the subject of tasers. In the USA it's called a Daubert motion and invokes the Daubert Standard [WIKI].

As (ab)used by Taser International, it's a circular argument of the highest order.

If you Google Taser Daubert [LINK] you will get at least 2800 hits.


It seems obvious to me that, in the mid-term, the pro-taser "scientific evidence" is the crap that will eventually be shown to be of negative value. This process of slowly and inexorably moving away from Taser International's pro-taser 'evidence' of essentially-perfect safety (with respect to internal risk factors), to facing the real world risks (which are obviously not zero as claimed) should not be impeded.

Taser International's pathetic attempt to squash the testimony and/or reports of experts like Dr. Butt (a forensic pathologist with almost 40 years’ experience who was awarded the Order of Canada in 2000 for his work) and Dr. Zian Tseng (a cardiac electrophysiologist at the University of California in San Francisco and a medical expert in sudden death) is more like a Dilbert Motion. [LINK]


Nice try. Three points for style, but no goal. Welcome to Canada.

Lawful 'force' is not a verb

This story is highly indicative. It clearly shows how poorly the basic laws of the land, such as fundamental rights, are understood by some police (even senior officials). Many of them do not even understand the basics of what might be taught during a Grade 6 'Civics' class.


Judge to probe use of Taser to get DNA [LINK]

Ryan S. Smith refused a judge’s order last fall to give a DNA sample, insisting to police that he didn’t care what court papers said. “You are gonna have to Taser me if you want my DNA,” an officer reported Smith saying. So police did just that, jolting Smith with electricity before swabbing the inside of his mouth.

Now the judge in the case wants to know why. “This isn’t pretty,” Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Sperazza told lawyers involved in the case during a recent court appearance. “I’m fearful of how he’s been treated.” Sperazza ordered several Niagara Falls police officers and an assistant district attorney to appear in her court Monday and provide sworn testimony to explain how Smith came to be shocked by a Taser on Sept. 29, 2008.

Criminal and civil attorneys say that Smith had a constitutional right to refuse the DNA request. The judge could have ordered Smith jailed until he gave the sample, the lawyers said, but police and prosecutors had no legal authority to force him to provide one. “If someone refuses to give their DNA, then they can be held in contempt and be held in jail until they comply,” said Patrick Balkin of Lockport, Smith’s defense lawyer.



How can they be expected to correctly enforce the law when they don't even understand the basic fundamentals of it?


If anyone is looking for a handy-dandy and perfectly workable definition for the line-in-the-sand that defines a 'police state', then it is as simple as...

Lawful 'force' - noun or verb?

San Jose taser fan-boy stuffs ballot box

There's a poll at the top of the right hand column.

Last evening, the pro-taser votes suddenly pulled ahead. Suspecting fraud, I checked the voting records this morning and examined their Internet trail.

Bingo...

  • San Jose, California arrived from search.yahoo.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com: Presentation by Dorin Panescu" by searching for first:"dorin" last:"panescu" . 10 hours 23 mins ago
  • San Jose, California arrived from google.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com: Presentation by Dorin Panescu" by searching for dorin panescu excited delirium. 10 hours 17 mins ago
  • San Jose, California arrived from google.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com: Presentation by Dorin Panescu" by searching for dorin panescu excited delirium. 10 hours 14 mins ago
  • San Jose, California arrived from google.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com: Presentation by Dorin Panescu" by searching for dorin panescu excited delirium. 10 hours 14 mins ago
  • San Jose, California arrived from google.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com" by searching for excited delirium dorin panescu. 10 hours 13 mins ago
  • San Jose, California arrived from google.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com: Presentation by Dorin Panescu" by searching for excited delirium dorin panescu. 10 hours 11 mins ago
  • San Jose, California arrived from google.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com" by searching for dorin panescu excited delirium. 10 hours 6 mins ago

It's extremely obvious that the repeated Google searches are evidence of someone clearing their local Internet data (including the 'cookies' that are intended to ensure one vote per visitor), and then having to Google search again and again to find this blog so they can vote again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again.

Details for the record: Comcast Cable Communications, Inc., Windows Vista, IE 7.0, Screen resolution 1440 x 900, 9 visits on 9 May 2009 (within less than 30 minutes), average time on site "00:00:00" (very quick, for the 7 voting visits).

And here is the punchline:

Who do you think lives within this approximate location (ISP address versus residence)? [Perhaps it was just a neighbor trying to be helpful... Determining the real facts might require a subpoena for the complete Internet records.]

They get angry if we use 'The K-word'

According to Dr. Zian Tseng, a cardiac electrophysiologist at the University of California in San Francisco and a medical expert in sudden death, Mr. Dziekanski would have lived if he hadn't been tasered. [LINK]


Between Dr. Tseng and Dr. Butt, the hired pea-shooters sent by Taser International have been outclassed and out-gunned.

At this point, Taser International panics.

"...you cannot influence a pathologist..."

Oh yes you can. And you can get away with it for years!


Sal posted a comment on a previous post:

Protecting... [the M.E. from] ...the facts [LINK]


To save my treasured readers from having to click, here is Sal's comment in full:

Sal commented (May 9, 2009) - I dont know about the taser but you cannot influence a pathologist in the execution of his duty. If the cops had provided opinion or information to the pathologist, it would be highly improper. The coroner is the one to be given information for his inquiry. The pathologist has a duty to perform without interference.


Sal, I believe that we're in basic agreement, but you might have missed some of the background facts that prompted my post...:

Forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Lee testified that two RCMP investigators sat in on the [Dziekanski] autopsy... [LINK]

Dr. Lee ~WAS~ left with the impression that Mr. Dziekanski was tasered TWICE. This FALSE INFORMATION was not corrected.

"It's something that would have been nice to know," Dr. Lee said about the number of shocks (FIVE totaling 31s) deployed from the Taser. [LINK]

Also - Dr. John Butt, a forensic pathologist with almost 40 years’ experience who was awarded the Order of Canada in 2000 for his work, disagreed with the report by pathologist Dr. Charles Lee that failed to mention use of the Taser... Nor did Lee's autopsy report make any mention of marks on Dziekanski’s back — which were photographed by homicide detectives present at Lee’s autopsy of Dziekanski — that were consistent with the puncture marks of Taser probes. Butt said that Lee’s failure to mention the Taser and traces of it on Dziekanski’s body were significant oversights. [LINK]


I wonder if anyone bothered to conduct the test for postmortem diagnosis of ventricle fibrillation? The test was published at least as early as 1999, so perhaps it's time to start applying it to all taser-associated deaths. [LINK]


My personal opinion is based on common sense. The pathologist should be given the true facts. If those facts are later found to be incorrect, then they should be explicitly corrected as soon as possible. 'Hello? Dr. Lee. We just downloaded the taser data. It wasn't two; it was actually as many as five taser hits totaling 31 seconds. Gotta go. Good Bye.' This information would have been available to the RCMP within hours. Certainly well before Dr. Lee completed his report.

To clarify your thoughts, imagine that the taser trigger was held down until the taser batteries were as dead as the victim. Say 15 minutes continuous (for example). Should the pathologist be told about such things?

Providing true facts is not influence. It's evidence. And both pathologists (Dr. Butt and Dr. Lee) state that the true information should have been provided and considered.

Allowing false information ("two") to remain with the pathologist (no matter how it got there) is a form of influence that is somewhere between unethical and criminal.

Especially given the apparent difficulty in finding any postmortem evidence to firmly link the many taser-associated deaths to their cause. The pro-taser forces are certainly expending a great deal of effort to pin the blame on the nonsensical excuse "Excited Delirium".


My conclusion fits all of the above:

"They could have told the M.E. about the five taser shocks and asked him to keep the info to himself. But they didn't. Which is highly indicative."


Imagine the opposite situation:

If everyone initially thought that Mr. Dziekanski had been tasered five times, but the downloaded data later showed that he had been tasered only twice, then the RCMP would have tripped over themselves to rush that information out to the media and public. The RCMP spokesman would have shown up at the hastily-called news conference with a bandage on his forehead and a sprained knee from all the rushing to get the facts out.

And that's not really a speculation with which any reasonable person can disagree.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Randomness...

Grant William Prentice, 40, the Brooks, Alberta man that was, ah, "tasered and later died" was the son of Brooks town councillor Bill Prentice, who sits on the Brooks Policing Committee. [LINK]

My condolences to the family. I hope they can eventually be provided with the real truth of exactly what caused their loved-one to die.


Police are taking the position that the taser might not have even made contact with the victim. At this point, they're simply saying that they're 'not sure'. (This tidbit of nothingness is perfectly in keeping with the usual policy of leaking any beneficial-to-the-police factoids, while remaining silent on other aspects in order to 'protect the facts'. Pick-and-choose what to leak and what to keep secret. Sound familiar?)


Investigators had better keep in mind the "3rd Mode" where only one taser dart makes contact with the victim and the circuit is completed via the ground (2nd dart on ground). [via LINK]


Speaking for myself - I'm always prepared to allow the possibility that the taser has nothing to do with any particular taser-associated death. Provided that such a claim is actually based on true statements of fact (not lies), is also self-evidently reasonable (logical), and is based on actual positive evidence (as opposed to the lack of evidence, which would be expected given the taser 'Proof Issue').


But if this tragic death in Brooks remains possibly-linked to the taser deployment, then it is not exactly a good PR moment for Taser International.

The seeming randomness of the entire incident might be a lesson to many.

"Tasers-R-Safe" - but only "in Canada" ??!!??

Alberta Solicitor General Fred Lindsay said that there's "really no evidence" to suggest that tasers have caused any deaths in Canada. [LINK]


Hey Lindsay! You can't slip rubbish like that past us. We're not that inattentive that we don't see EXACTLY the word-Smithing games that you're playing.

Why the hell did you include the words "...in Canada"? This is a very serious question. Why did you include the words "...in Canada"?

Are the tasers in Canada any different than the tasers in the USA? Is there any evidence that tasers have 'directly caused', 'caused', or 'contributed to' deaths in the USA? [YES]

Now, can you please remove the Taser Spokespuppet's arm from up your backside, regain control of your mind and mouth, and tell me exactly why you're including the words "...in Canada" in your taser safety claim?

If tasers are not perfectly safe in the USA, then would they be any different in Canada?



Playing word games like this (slipping in fresh geographical limitations to stay ahead of the disturbing truth slowly reveal by the real-world statistics) is clearly unethical. Lindsay should be ashamed of himself.

Usage Stats...

Blog hits orginating from Scottsdale, AZ:

" www.Excited-Delirium.com: 15-year-old Brett Elder (cause and effect?)"
"
 www.Excited-Delirium.com: A strange case of CSDFR"
"
 www.Excited-Delirium.com: Deputy refuses taser shock - fired - sues."
"
 www.Excited-Delirium.com: Search results for Pikes"
"
 www.Excited-Delirium.com: Taser Stupid-Flu spreading"
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 www.Excited-Delirium.com: Headline: "Taser [REDACTED] man in Brooks""

Where's the data?

There are some obvious example of taser data that would clearly prove or disprove various theories and ideas about the safety of tasers.

For example:
  • Taser-associated death rate versus taser darts-on-chest or not.
  • Taser-associated death rate per actual full deployment versus type of taser (M26 vs. X26).

I've seen a lot of taser deployment data, but I've not seen this type of data.

The fact that this sort of data clearly exists in the databases of those that we assume might tend to have pro-Taser leanings, and that we have never seen such data collated and published, indicates a possible reluctance to publish the results.

In fact, some of the databases seem to actually step-around these duh-obvious questions.

In the absence of such data, I'll assume the following:
  • That darts-on-chest is significantly correlated with death.
  • That the X26 taser is significantly more dangerous than the M26. And the M26 is vastly more dangerous than previous 'low power' tasers.

If you have complete and reliable data that indicates that my assumptions are not true, then publish. Send me the link. Half-assed studies by pro-Taser minions need not apply.

Alberta taser-associated death rate

I've been extremely clear on this point. I'm not claiming that the taser is 100% lethal. I'm arguing against the claim that the taser is essentially 100% safe (with respect to internal risk factors).


My personal opinion is that the X26 taser is capable of DIRECTLY CAUSING a death.

Perhaps there are contributing factors in many cases. Perhaps the death rate is considered to be low enough to be acceptable to some unthinking and evil slimebags. But there have been enough examples where people are tasered and then die that I personally believe that you'd have to be a complete idiot to maintain the belief that tasers-R-safe in the face of so many counter-examples.


Do the math for Alberta:

Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason said that at least five people have died in the province after being tasered by police in recent years

Five taser-associated deaths. Maybe 2500 deployments. Same period?

Only a small fraction of 'deployments' involve taser darts hitting the chest. Depending on what is included as a 'deployment', the denominator can be washed out with everything including simple displays of the taser.

Let's assume that about one-quarter of these deployments involve the darts, and let's assume that the darts hit the chest in about half of that quarter. Feel free to pick your own numbers, it's not that critical. About 300 incidents with tasers darts on chest. Does anyone track this level of detail?

If these assumptions are true, then the unwashed-out taser-associated death rate when taser darts hit chest is about 1.7%, the same old low end, single digits as before.

This is a ball-park number because the complete data is not readily available.


For some perspective, see the Quote of the Week [LINK].