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.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Compare and find the difference...

"The Company’s ECDs transmit electrical pulses along the wires and into the body affecting the sensory and motor functions of the peripheral nervous system." [LINK]

"Electromuscular Incapacitation Results From Stimulation of Spinal Reflexes", Despa F, Basati S, Zhang ZD, D'Andrea J, Reilly JP, Bodnar EN, and Lee RC. Bioelectromagnetics July, 2009; 30(5): pgs 411-421

High voltage electricity impacting the central nervous system... Who would have guessed that?

Maybe anyone that was awake during Grade 10 Science classes?

Braidwood Inquiry cost $0.11 per Canadian

The Braidwood Inquiry has reportedly cost about $3.7 million dollars, presumably 'so far' because it's not over.

There may be a knee jerk reaction about the cost of such public inquiries, but it's only about eleven cents per Canadian. Given that both the four Mounties and Taser International are unhappy with the results to date, I'd say it is money extremely well spent.

More details on Michael Patrick Jacobs, Jr.

The first CED deployment was prolonged lasting 49 seconds and the second after an interval of one second, lasted for a duration of 5 seconds. The report also revealed Jacobs was struck in the anterior neck and mid-chest over the heart with two tethered shocking probes. The young man was found to have no drugs or alcohol in his system nor did he have any under lying health problems. [LINK]

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Derek Jones, 17, cause of death...

"...Derek Jones, 17, died Jan. 8 of “acute cardiac dysrhythmia of uncertain etiology (cause),” Branscom said the autopsy determined. That means “basically, his heart quit,” he said, and “the report leaves it to someone else to draw a conclusion” on why. The autopsy stated that the Taser cannot be “definitively excluded as a causative or contributive factor” in Jones’ death, Branscom said. The teen “died suddenly about the same time” the Taser was used, but “the officer did nothing inappropriate to contribute to his death,” Branscom said. ..." [LINK]

There's an old saying about how when all other explanations have been excluded, whatever remains - no matter how you may feel about it - whatever remains ...is the true explanation.

Derek Jones was 17 years old. Apparently drunk. Taser_then_died.

BBC Radio's "Material World"

The BBC's "Material World" radio show / podcast just had a short item on the new Taser XREP. Since the item was only a few minutes the host didn't have much opportunity to raise any hardball questions (sign of a taser newbie is when the only taser-critical organization they can think of is Amnesty International).

The guest appear to be satisfied that the XREP would be as "safe" as the X26 (sign of a non-critical attitude to taser safety).

All in all, the item was complete fluff.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

An eXtended Range of Engineering Problems...

Firmware problems with the new XREP ?

A team led by Cynthia Bir, a trauma injury specialist at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, found that some of the 275 XREP cartridges that Taser supplied for testing last year were capable of delivering an electric shock for more than 5 minutes, rather than the 20 seconds of shocking current they are supposed to generate. ... Steve Tuttle, a vice-president of Taser International, says the XREP munitions supplied for Bir's tests were early pre-production versions. He says ... the fault in the munition's "firmware" - its built-in software - that led to it being capable of providing an extended shock has also been corrected. [LINK]

You've got to be kidding me... Five minutes instead of 20 seconds? Why does the battery even last that long? Ever hear of fail safe design? If Taser International starts making airplanes, I'm moving underground.

Discover Magazine blog: "Class-Action Suit Against Taser to Begin in 3, 2, 1…" [LINK]

The comments from both sides are hilarious. Some are raving loons.

Officer said she knew what she was doing

Officer reportedly said that she knew what she doing. [LINK]

Officer reportedly claimed that she unknowingly held down the trigger of the X26 taser for 49 seconds. This was followed by another cycle when Mr. Jacobs "failed to obey" (right after being tasered for 49 seconds...). [LINK]

Keep in mind that Taser International's claims of taser safety do not appear to provide any warnings that would allow a logical explanation about this death. According to their Cardiac Safety webpage, being hit with a taser for 49 seconds is exactly as safe as being tasered for a shorter duration. This "ping pong ball" logic was written by "Dr." (not a medical doctor) Mark Kroll.

The best legal approach might be to extract a big settlement from the city, and then use that as seed money to take on the OEM. Also, the passage of time can only help the plaintiff's side. But this is just my view...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Michael Patrick Jacobs cause of death

As I predicted - 2009 is going to be a very "interesting" year for Taser International.


Texas man's Taser death ruled homicide - Michael Patrick Jacobs Jr., 24, primary cause of death was "sudden death during neuromuscular incapacitation due to application of a conducted energy device."

Jacobs was stunned with the Taser twice — the first time for 49 seconds and the second time for 5 seconds, with a 1-second interval between the shocks, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office report issued Thursday. Neither paramedics at the scene nor emergency room personnel could revive him, according to the report. He was pronounced dead about noon that day — an hour after police used the Taser, the report said.

An autopsy showed no traces of alcohol or drugs, electrolyte imbalances, or signs of heart or lung disease, all of which can be contributing factors in a death.
[LINK]


Since there's little room for spin, I predict stony silence from Taser International.

They certainly wouldn't want this sort of news being widely known by those judging their appeal regarding the conclusions from the Braidwood Inquiry.

Dog dies of excited delirium

Danville police kill dog with Taser [LINK] - "...police used a taser on both [dogs]. The chained dog recovered, but the attacking dog died within seconds..."

It must have been excited delirium.

Perhaps the dog was on drugs.

Maybe it had a pre-existing medical condition.

No. 1 Taser Use Guidance

Taser Use Guidance:
1) Never, ever, never ever taser the children of local political leaders. If you do, it had better be one of those fairly-rare cases where the moral and legal justification is crystal clear.


Local 12 [LINK] - 26 year old Celeste Thomas, the daughter of a Cincinnati City Council member, was hit with the taser last Sunday while she and her companion were being arrested. Chief Tom Streicher, speaking at an NAACP meeting last night, says he took a look at the cruiser cam video along with five other high ranking Cincinnati Police officials and in all of their opinions, the arresting Officer Anthony Plummer used excessive and unnecessary force.

This finding is quite reassuring. It is far too common for the police leadership to provide unquestioned support to their officers, no matter what. It seems obvious that the taser-victim's connection to a local political leader changes the equation.

Streicher says the video show Thomas was not resisting arrest and Officer Plummer [LINK] was not under attack and those are the guidelines. ...Streicher points out that she was on her knees with her arms raised in the air in a submissive position when she was hit with the taser in her back.

An example of extra-judicial, pre-trial, street-level punishment. This is, without a doubt, one of the most-attractive features of tasers to a certain percentage of the law enforcement community.

Plummer is currently on desk duty. He was dismissed from the Cincinnati Police department several years ago for "use of excessive force" in an incident that also involved a taser. He was later reinstated by an arbitrator. A decision on Plummer's status in regards to last weekend's incident could be made by the end of today.

Prediction: He'll be fired (again). For abuse of taser (again).

Another source: [LINK]

UPDATE: December 2009 Celeste Thomas acquitted [LINK]

UPDATE 2: 29 December 2009 - his ass is fired. [LINK] "A police investigator found Officer Anthony Plummer used excessive force and poses 'a huge liability risk' to the department and the city."

The Truth, the Whole Truth, & Nuttin' but The Truth

"Lawyers involved in the public inquiry into Robert Dziekanski's death at Vancouver International Airport in 2007 are raising new questions about the credibility of the RCMP officers involved...." [LINK]

Monday, August 24, 2009

How to resolve the "safety" "question"

There are two possible approaches for sorting out this so-called "question" once and for all.

1) Compare the M26 taser death rate per full deployment (darts hitting real world subjects, not volunteers) against the X26 taser death rate per deployment (same real world data, no FAKE demos). If the ratio of these two rates is not very close to unity, then that would be clear evidence of an effect from the device itself.

Prediction: X26 will exceed M26. Anyone got complete data?


2) Review the death rate per unit time just BEFORE the taser would have been fired, and AFTER it has actually been fired. Google the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry" for details. Basically we're seeking many hundreds, or even thousands, of reports where the taser was drawn, but then was put away because the victim died of "excited delirium" before the officer had a chance to fire, or during the period of attempted negotiation.

Prediction: 'After' will exceed 'before' per unit time, by a significant margin.


This debate is no longer a philosophical game. It is no longer a semantic game decorated with Latin phrases. These are very simple and straightforward methods of dividing the existing data sets, where ever they may be squirreled away, into the 'effect' and the experimental controls.

Both of these proposals have been repeatedly discussed on this blog.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The premise promises pain well beyond torture

"The premise behind the XREP is not to cause or impart physical pain, it is to cause incapacitation," spokesman Steve Tuttle said. [LINK]

The only thing more moronic than this statement would be believing it.

What Taser International calls "incapacitation" occurs at levels of "electrostimulation" (another word straight from Satan's own torture manual) that are above and beyond pain. You have go through pain, some have calculated by a 2000-to-1 ratio beyond intense pain, to get to the level of electrostimulation that can cause incapacitation. [LINK]

It would be like claiming that a flame thrower isn't intended to burn humans to a crisp, it's simply intended to make them stop resisting.

The same logic applied by Taser International would suggest that they could start making fully-lethal weapons that electro-torture the subject to death. The premise wouldn't be the sadistic torture, just the hopefully-justified killing. The painful nature of the death would be a nifty selling feature to some, but not the main premise. Twisted logic.

I wonder what these people do on the weekends for fun...

Eight hours...

Headline: Man dies 8 hours after being Tasered by Mesa police

Eight hours, eh? Or not really? ...

Details: "...The man ... lost consciousness as three officers tried to handcuff him after he fell to the ground from the shock of the Taser, said a police spokesman. The officers immediately uncuffed the man and started medical attention. He was revived sometime before arriving at a local hospital, but his condition continued to deteriorate throughout the day and he died at about 9 p.m. " [LINK]

So the temporal sequence follows the familiar pattern.

Choose:
1) Drugs
2) Excited delirium
3) Handcuffs
4) Taser

Hints: You can choose multiple answers; and don't disregard the time axis.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"harm" = sprained wrist, or painful death?

...The true controversy with the Tasers is whether to provide an instrument that some officers may use as a violent method of persuasion. However, in a situation where force is needed, a Taser will incur less harm to officers and "resisting subjects." Kit Collins, Averill Park [LINK]

WRONG.

The only way that anyone can hold such an opinion is if they are still under misconceptions about the possible level of harm that attend use of tasers. In other words, one would have exclude consideration of the risk of death, or weight such a risk at zero, or be fooled by the latest insane muddle of lumping deaths in with injuries.

My moral code indicates that death is many, many times worse than injury. As such, it needs to be considered as a separate parameter in any moral, basic justice, or karma accounting.

Collins' use of the word "harm" is very much like Taser International's use of the phrase 'deathandinjuries'. In both cases there is a distinct lack of specificity that leads to muddled thinking and defective arguments.

$65k, and admit nothing LOL

Norfolk settles 'Hula Hoop Lady' lawsuit for $65,000 [LINK]

The city of Norfolk, VA will pay $65,000 to settle a federal lawsuit brought after a police officer used a taser on the Hula Hoop Lady of Granby Street. Attorneys for Pamela Brown filed the suit, seeking $5 million, against a police officer, Nicholas G. Parks, who used a taser on her during an October arrest. The suit claimed Brown's civil rights were violated and that the officer used excessive force. Under the terms of the agreement, there is no finding or admission of liability on the part of the officer or the city.

I'd call that sixty-five thousand admissions. Any other interpretation is just spin.

'We admit nothing. Now, who do I make the check out to?'

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tasers and civil rights in Florida

And another one!

Orlando, FL - The Florida Civil Rights Association said Thursday that it wants to know more about local deputies and how often they use Tasers. It has been a year since the U.S. Department of Justice released a 25-page report on the Orange County Sheriff's Office's use of Tasers. "The Orange County Sheriff's Office is the first law enforcement agency in our nation who has been targeted for this federal investigation in regards to Tasers," said J. Willie David III, president of the Florida Civil Rights Association. ... [LINK]

Wow. I sense a trend.

Memo to Deputies: The taser free-for-all is over

Another one!

Syracuse, NY - Onondaga County Sheriff's Department reports that Sheriff's deputy Sean Andrews, who infamously tasered 38-year-old mommy and minivan driver Audra Harmon, has been suspended without pay for 30 days. This is after an administrative hearing Wednesday that is part of ongoing disciplinary proceedings. ... Harmon was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and driving 50 mph in a 45 mph zone [classic "cover charges"]. The charges were later dismissed [See?]. Harmon sued the sheriff's department last week. [LINK]

When judgments such as these are now being handed down, those idiot taser fanboys that essentially claimed that there was no such things as taser abuse, misuse, and overuse - well, those fanboys were clearly incorrect.

Deputy paying the price for taser misuse

This story is almost unbelieveable.

Columbus - [Former] Polk County deputy Joshua Denton received a suspended 30-day jail sentence and a $500 fine for his conviction on one count of assault for shocking Allison Howard with a stun gun after she had been subdued and was already handcuffed to a chair. [LINK]

It's unbelieveable because it's a sign that taser abuse, misuse and overuse is perhaps showing signs of having had its inexplicable "free pass" marked as expired.

Such judgments should be followed up with civil action to drive the point home.

Slightly raised arm leads to good solid tasering

Hartford, CT - ...surveillance video appears to contradict an officer's report... Officer Erik Hansen was fingerprinting former Connecticut Freedom of Information attorney Henry "Hank" Pawlowski Jr. The video ... shows Pawlowski slightly raising his right arm when Hansen roughly drives him to the floor and two other officers shoot Pawlowski with stun guns. ... [LINK]

What next? A good solid tasering for a slightly raised eyebrow?

If so, then skeptics like me are doomed. One of my eyebrows is permanently cocked in a quizical expression of incredulity.

PS: Read the entire news story at the above link. There's much more to become outraged about. The report has all the usual taser-incident plot lines: official police report contradicted by the unblinking eye of video. The classic "cover charge". The chief instinctively defending his officers and reportedly unable to see what is reportedly visible in the video.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Unanswered question: M26 vice X26 death rate per deployment

See a previous post from 7 April 2009: 'Call for Data (M26 vs. X26)' [LINK]

The limited (Canadian RCMP) taser usage data available suggests that there was a period during which the older (1999-era) M26 was actually deployed far more often than the newer (2003-era) X26. Another Canadian data set seems to suggest that during this same period the taser-associated deaths were dominated by the perhaps less-frequently deployed X26. These data sets [LINK] do overlap - but one is just the RCMP taser usage, and the other includes all taser-associated deaths in Canada (all police agencies). But even so, it is still very curious...

For "some reason", the later taser reports that I can find don't seem to mention which taser model was used during taser-associated death incidents. Combined with the previous observations, my suspicions are raised.

If this taser model / taser death imbalance is supported by a proper, complete, statistically-rigorous review of all the taser-associated deaths in Canada, then it may prove to be damning evidence that could be used to cut through the claims made by Taser International.

[Mathematically: T claims M=0 and X=0 (or X=M=0). If it can be shown that X>M (or perhaps even X>>M), this would prove that X and M are not equal and therefore their claim that both are zero simply cannot be true.]

And if it could ever be proven that they ever had access to such information, and then suppressed it, while continuing to market the X26 as "safe", then those involved might be facing more than just civil actions.

It is inexplicable on its face that such simple data is not readily available to the public.

There's nothing more that I can do on this question. Someone in the proper position needs to gain access to the complete records for all the taser-associated deaths in Canada and confirm which model of taser was involved. Then compare this against the deployment rates already gathered (for the RCMP at least) by RCMP Watchdog Kennedy. Then crunch the numbers.

It only takes one small pin to pop even the largest balloon.

This sort of observation, once firmly established, could be that pin.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seven years...

More on the seven-year-delayed glimmer of justice. Previous post [LINK].

Edmonton Police Chief Mike Boyd has been directed to lay charges against Const. Mike Wasylyshen who repeatedly used a stun gun on a 16-year-old Randy Fryingpan nearly seven years ago. The Law Enforcement Review Board calls for charges of "unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority" and "insubordination" against Wasylyshen. [LINK]

Imagine how much of a backlog of "bad" can build-up in The System when it takes seven long years to even begin to get justice on one, perfectly blatent, incident. That's a very, very poor feedback loop.

The Powers That Be should be ashamed.

All hell breaking loose in Queensland

Former-Queensland MP (Member of Parliament) and former-Queensland Police Service sergeant [just in case anyone wishes to accuse him of being a cop-hater] Peter Pyke is asking difficult questions about the taser report. See [LINK].


Pyke says the the Queensland Police Service appears to have failed to understand, and train for the alleged ‘serious safety concerns’ related to Taser-use.

“Think that’s bad?” asks Pyke, “It gets worse.”

“The other matter is the question of corruption,” says Pyke. Pyke says the CMC report into the Queensland Police Service acquisition of Tasers has exposed something seriously smelly about the process, both within the Police Service, and inside the Police Union Executive.

“Former-Police Minister Judy Spence may also have some questions to answer,” says Pyke.

Canadian Media on tasers - bless their hearts...

What follows in a small extract from a much larger essay. The essay as a whole is exactly right, but I'm not sure what was meant by the following sentence.

"The Canadian media's failure to criticize Taser International on these matters effectively is a reflection of Canada's underdeveloped public sphere." By Am Johal, rabble, available on [LINK]

Overall, the Canadian media have done an outstanding job with the taser issue over the past year or more. Like almost everyone, they didn't really get started until Mr. Dziekanski was killed in late-2007 (along with several other taser-"associated" deaths in quick succession during the same late-2007 time frame).

CBC / RC have done some very hard hitting and in-depth investigations, supported by reputable and highly competent scientists.

And the Canadian newspapers are all on side now. Editorials have a general tone that are all pretty much aligned with the new, virtually unified, Canadian view of the taser issue.

I give all of them good grades for their recent coverage of the taser issue. Especially the CBC / RC group that has broken so many important stories on the subject.

"final alternative before lethal force"

"...Canadian Mental Health Association ... Saskatchewan Division is recommending police officers get training in crisis intervention, and resort to Tasers only as a final alternative before lethal force." [LINK]

An alternative to lethal force.

As opposed to being used, misused, overused, and abused about one hundred times (roughly) the rate that police ever used their guns.

The great thing about such a policy, assuming that it is ACTUALLY put into practice, is that the moderate to low (depending on how you measure it) risk of death would become virtually a non-issue.

AMA on tasers (the bit about, ah yeah, DEATH)

AMA: "...(3) CEDs [tasers] may contribute to the death of suspects, either directly or indirectly."

"...directly..."

There's a lot of spin being put on the AMA report.

Keep in mind that Taser International's position on taser safety with respect to inherent internal risk factors such as cardiac effects is extreme. They admit no such risk exists, with the exception of the victim's own problems. Their position is extreme.

Sometimes the taser fanboys will present a slightly more rational face, but they do not speak for Taser International. As is obvious when they're forced by the daily news to acknowledge what others have been pointing out for years - tasers are overused. But their characterization of this as a rare problem is obvious nonsense.

Taser International's official position on Cardiac Safety is that '...if one ping pong ball won't kill you, then neither will a thousand.' You can look this up on their website. It was still there last time I checked.

If Taser International is able to get past this irrational (my opinion) position on taser safety, then (and only then) can the debate shift to discussions about the acceptablity of that risk of death versus others policing tools.

Assuming Taser International survives such a transition.

It's not reasonable to discuss such numerical life-and-death trade-offs while they maintain the position that their number is a neat and perfect "zero".

NIJ: Tasers-R-Safe, except for you and you and you...

First, review the recent repost prompted by the statements made by Taser International's spokespuppet. [LINK]

Please review the previous posts regarding the NIJ taser report. The report does not actually conclude what some pro-taser folks claim it does. [LINK]

So who this Dorin Panescu and the others?

Taser International's appeal to quash some aspects of the Braidwood Inquiry specifically mentioned several individuals by name.

Dr. Charles Swerdlow has already been quoted as saying that he felt that he already had a good hearing, and he has distanced himself from the claims of 'unfairness' made by Taser International.

If you need a visual image, Taser International has just been shot in the knee cap by someone they thought would help their appeal.


Dr. (apparently not an MD) Dorin Panescu has been the subject of several previous posts.

His presentation [LINK] came close to setting a new Guinness World Record for oversimplification. And it also appeared to demonstrate that tasers do not actually have any effect except on the muscles between the darts. [LINK]

Even with this utterly crude computer model, he still concluded that the margin for cardiac "capture" (an 'effect' if there ever was one) was only 1.7 to one. Another knee cap shot to hell.

And he mentioned in passing that the older M26 provided HIGHER (safer) margins. This a monsterous 'I Told You So' for this feisty blogger since this conclusion is counter-intuative given the lower peak current of the X26.

Another interesting incident is described here [LINK]. No firm conclusions can be drawn, but it sure was a weird series of blog hits and some peculiar coincidences with where (geographically) they were apparently coming from.

Dr. Bozeman has been quoted pointing out that tasers leave little postmortem evidence. [LINK] That message was explicitly noted by Judge Braidwood.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Taser International and taser use policy

"TASER International does not create, recommend, or endorse policy."

Extracted from a presentation dated 07-16-07 by Michael Brave, Esq., M.S., F.A., C.L.S.3, C.L.E.T., C.P.S., C.S.T. National Litigation Counsel, TASER International, Inc.

And 'Whois' Michael Brave? See [LINK] and try not to LOL and ROTFLYAO.

"...over 95% of surveyed police departments rely on use policies supplied entirely by the manufacturer." [LINK]

Taser International is asking the court to quash the conclusions and/or resultant recommendations made by Braidwood. [LINK]

"...the fact that it's a policy piece he's been asked to write and not a hearing...'' said University of B.C. law professor Cristie Ford. [ibid]

Dr. Swerdlow removes himself from Taser International's Xmas card list

...But one of those experts, Los Angeles-based cardiac electro physiologist Dr. Charles Swerdlow, said in an interview he believes the [Braidwood] commission heard him out.

"My impression is that this has been a very thoughtful commission, and an enormous amount of work has gone into it," he said during an interview. "I'm sure the commissioner thought about this pretty carefully, from my observations. If the implication from Taser is that these guys did not think about it, that's almost certainly not true." [LINK]

Bless his heart.

It's 'interesting' that Taser International would claim that the Braidwood Inquiry didn't pay enough attention to Dr. Charles Swerdlow, when Dr. Swerdlow apparently doesn't share that opinion.

Taser "had no effect" - five officers injured

An 'interesting' taser incident from the east coast of Canada.

Five Halifax Regional Police officers suffered minor injuries while arresting a man Sunday morning. All of the officers were checked at the hospital, cleared and back on the job by the afternoon. [LINK]

A police news release said officers used a Taser on the man, but it had no effect.

"No effect."

Except perhaps it made a bad situation worse.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Taser prescribed for diabetic emergency

Ralph E. Eldridge, a 53 year old U.S. Air Force veteran, has launched a lawsuit against the city of Warren and the Police Department, claiming he was stunned with a Taser and falsely arrested during a diabetic emergency. "He was driving a little bit erratic; he stopped, got out and admitted he was having a medical emergency. The next thing he knows, he got hit with a Taser." [LINK]

The problem might be that the taser training replaces common sense.

Tweet of the week (on taser issue)

"Taser International declares war on Canada,
installs new government.
"

From heyheyitsbrent

Good one!

Salon.com on taser torture and risk of death

Nice overview on Salon.com. Doesn't miss much. [LINK]

LULAC calls for taser moritorium

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the USA's largest Hispanic civil rights organization, is calling for the all-out banning of Tasers. The group says Tasers are over-used by law enforcement officers, with sometimes deadly results. "...they could be trained for 100 years and still there's gonna be abuse," LULAC member Ralph Arellanes said. [LINK]

Tasers are a peculiar device. There's never been anything with quite such a large moral gap between what some police seem to believe, and what the real world results indicate. The point I'm trying to make is subtle. Putting it simply, I doubt that LULAC has ever called for a moritorium on police revolvers. There's something unique with tasers.

And I believe that Mr. Arellanes may be correct that even an infinite amount of training will never overcome the peculiar degree of misuse, overuse and abuse that seems to be almost inherent in the fundamental concept of tasers.

I imagine that the only worse invention might be a ray gun that simply makes the subject disappear (vaporized into nothing). If such a device were marketed by Taser International, they could probably milk it for a decade or more before some people started to ask difficult questions.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Headline still there: "...death by Taser"

Charlotte Observer (5 August 2009) - "...death by Taser" [LINK]

It's not a new headline, which is actually the point of this post.

I've been watching that news story webpage over the past week or so to see if Taser International managed to get them to change the headline so as to not include the phrase "...death by Taser".

It's been about ten days now, and it's still there. Which either means that Taser International simply haven't bothered to beg, cajole and/or threaten, or if they did, then it means that the editorial staff at the Charlotte Observer simply told them to get lost.

Either way, good news.

And it's the sort of bold headline that will be seen more and more.

Why would Taser International sue Braidwood?

Could it be that they simply want to have this "Hail Mary" 3-pointer (from the parking lot) ball in the air for a very simple reason?


What about President Obama's Stimulus Money ?


Taser International now can claim that 'Braidwood was wrong, and we're suing damn it!' Otherwise their recently-admitted as being disappointing sales forecast would have been even more dismal. What with all the horrid news hanging over them.


This is all pure speculation. I don't know if it is true, but it fits.


Right about now, Taser International might be considering ordering a sweep of their conference rooms for listening devices - LOL. No, I'm not listening in. I'm just a keen observer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

'Stun Gun' doesn't work and police revolver doesn't kill

The officers tried talking to the man to try to get him to drop the knife, but he refused and then moved back into his home. "We saw evidence of alcohol and believe alcohol was involved." Police called in backup and eventually a stun gun was used to try to control the man "He had a fairly bulky coat on and the conductive energy weapon had limited effect on him." It was then that another officer fired a single round from his revolver, wounding the man in the arm. The 29-year-old man is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries. [LINK]

The taser (I'll assume it was a taser) was ineffective, ah, because the man was wearing "...a fairly bulky coat...". Ah, yeah. It's mid-August. Even in Newfoundland, it's mid-August. If the taser doesn't work in mid-August, what chance does it have with mid-February clothing?

The police were then forced to use a police revolver, which was (as is not as uncommon as you might think) not fatal. The latest figure I have seen is that police gun fire is about 50% fatal.


The ONLY question I have here is about the relationship between the failure of the taser and the resultant shooting. Was the man shot BECAUSE the taser didn't work?

I've seen some faint indication that when a taser fails to be effective, then the police will more-quickly resort to using their gun. I wonder about that sometimes...

Taser International lawsuit against Braidwood

In reading some of the statements being emitted from their Canadian lawyer, their complaint seems to be based on a claim that the Braidwood Inquiry did not give their smelly pile of evidence due consideration.


But it is my understanding that they (Taser International) actually submitted so-called studies that (for example) had sample sizes so small that those particular studies provide essentially ZERO evidence on the matter at hand - the real world safety of tasers where the argument is not about high risk of death, but about moderate to low risk of death.

Now this is either an obvious error in basic statistics that even a high school student shouldn't make, or it is evidence that those providing these heaping piles of so-called studies are not being completely honest and forthright with the Inquiry. Either way, providing such "evidence" to the Inquiry can only reduce the credibility of the pro-Taser witnesses and arguments.


As another example, Taser International's minions reportedly also tried to claim that the many taser training and demonstration hits into volunteers' backs were evidence of safety. Braidwood wasn't fooled by that claim. He has seen other evidence that sudden and otherwise inexplicable taser deaths seems to have a statistical surplus of chest hits.


Entering such rubbish as 'evidence' does not actually help your case.

It is as if Taser International believes that justice is actually weighed (by the kilogram) by a lady wearing a blindfold.

Their approach of studies-by-the-kilogram is actually quite funny if you think about it in terms of the Lady of Justice - LOL.


For another example, when someone gets a speeding ticket, and the entire case comes down to the officer's word against the defendant's word. The character and motivation of those involved may be the only distinguishing feature. The police officer in such cases is often very obviously a reliable witness and probably has absolutely no reason to lie. The defendant is sometimes an obnoxious punk with a cocky attitude, evidently with low ethical standards, and every reason in the world to twist the truth into lies. Once the court catches the defendant in a half-truth, then it's over.

In such cases the court can't be bothered to refute each and every individual claim made by the defendant. That's not their role. The traffic court simply has to look at the big picture and make a reasonable and fair determination after allowing both sides a fair hearing.


Also, from a scientific point of view, the argument about taser 'safety' has shifted. I'm not sure if anyone else has explicitly noted it yet.

It used to be an argument about each individual taser-associated death. One here, another one there, and yet another 433 over there. In each individual case, the lack of postmortem evidence was the primary evidence.

This situation is (presently) inherent with tasers because, as has been noted by even the pro-Taser minions, the taser's electricity "doesn't linger in the body like a poison" (it leaves no postmortem evidence behind). This has put an almost-impossible burden of proof on those that suspected that tasers can sometimes, randomly, cause death.

But the situation has now shifted. The ever-increasing body count of those that were tasered, and THEN died, cannot be ignored. In fact, it's the whole fricken' point.

So the argument is now about proving that the taser is safe (as opposed to proving that it can kill). And given that the risk of death is (at most) moderate to low, the scientific evidence to prove Taser International's dubious claims of essentially perfect safety is thus inherently enormous. All these studies that only prove that the taser didn't happen to kill some small group of test subject here, or another small group there, they don't address the present question. Braidwood noted those sorts of problems in some of the Tasers-R-Safe evidence provided.


The logic has shifted. In Canada, tasers can cause death. The burden of proof is now on Taser International to prove it isn't true.


"Your Honour, we present 170 studies that conclusively prove that Black Swans do not exist. We have checked lakes and ponds all over Europe and found not a single Black Swan. Therefore it is clear that Black Swans do not exist."

An Australian man looking a lot like 'Crocodile Dundee' walks in carrying a large sack. "G'day mate. You'll never guess what I got in this 'ere sack."

Too many police are "going feral"

Time for a meme. A meme is the smallest unit of cultural currency. An idea. An expession. A concept.

"Feral Cops"

Example: The Audra Harmon incident (included a good soild tasering, right in front of her kids). [LINK]

Cops going feral. Tasers and taser training. Is there a connection?

Time for another blog... [LINK]

Attn Political Leaders of Canada

Reportedly, Taser International is about to launch a lawsuit against the Braidwood Inquiry.

Perhaps it is time to move the taser issue into the political arena (stop abdicating your role) and pass an "Act to Regulate Use of ECDs" to impose Braidwood's recommendations as Canadian law.

Then Taser International's (frivolous and without merit) lawsuit could be tossed out as being 'overcome by events'. This would certainly save untold millions of tax payers' dollars.

Instead of playing the litigation game with Taser International, force them into the Canadian political arena (YOUR arena). Then they'd have to stop snarling and start smiling. Instead of wrestling this pig in the mud (he enjoys it), let's make the swine into Canadian bacon.

Taser to file lawsuit against Braidwood Inquiry - LOL

Laugh-a-minute - those 'crazy and fun-loving' folks at Taser International.

CTV news is reporting that Taser International plans to sue the Braidwood Inquiry. [LINK]

Also on CBC now. [LINK]

Honestly, this is funniest news I've heard all month.

They have NO IDEA the can of whoop-ass they'll be opening up. To be clear, Taser International's ass is the one that'll get whooped.

Wow.

Seven long years...

CBC - An Edmonton police officer will face an internal disciplinary hearing related to an incident in 2002 in which he used a Taser stun gun repeatedly on a teenager who was passed out at the time. Alberta's Law Enforcement Review Board ordered Edmonton Police Chief Mike Boyd to charge Const. Mike Wasylyshen with using excessive force and insubordination. In its ruling, the board said Randy Fryingpan, then 16, was passed out drunk in the back seat of a broken-down car when the Taser was used on him. The board ruled there was no evidence to justify the use of the Taser. The board has also ordered Edmonton Police to bring in a officer from another police service to preside over the disciplinary hearing "in the interest of providing a fair hearing. ...

Previous post regarding same incident [LINK].

I assume this officer was "fully trained and qualified" in the proper use of the taser, presumably by a certified-by-Taser International "Master" taser trainer. And then he uses his handy-dandy taser as an alarm clock. And his supervisors didn't see anything wrong.

Even the most right-leaning law-and-order conservative should be outraged by this incident. And the fact that it has taken seven fricken' years to get the justice system back on track.

It really seems that at least some police officers view the taser as an excuse to 'go feral'.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Ministry of Public Enlightenment

Taser International has some amazingly bizarre propaganda on their website.

One particularly hilarious page, recently referenced via the Wired article, is entitled "Why do certain anti-police groups blame Taser for injuries or death", written by Taser minion Mark W. Kroll.

First, note the old trick of the "injuriesanddeath" (essentially all one word) muddle. An intentional muddle I suspect. I've already discussed this immoral mixing in several previous posts.

One reason I find their webpage funny is that the title is obviously aimed at Amnesty International, which Kroll's propaganda price refers to as an "anti-police group". This is a sleazy and obvious 'It's us versus them" trick that would make Joseph Goebbels proud. And if you fall for it, then you are being played like a trumpet.

I guess they're not going to update the title to account for the fact that Amnesty International is not alone. The American Medical Association (AMA), the United Nations, the Canadian RCMP, and the recent Braidwood Inquiry - all of them - have issued formal acknowledgements that tasers are capable of causing death. The AMA even includes the phrase, "...directly or indirectly...".

So Kroll, are these additional groups also anti-police? The RCM Police are anti-police? The AMA?

And with respect to the Latin-laced logic, it's basically a taunt that the taser leaves little if any postmortem clues.

Too bad about the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry".

Welcome to Wired.com readers

This blog (www.Excited-Delirium.com, with the dash!) has 1200+ posts covering all aspects of the taser debate.

Although I'm concerned about what I call Taser Torture (misuse, overuse and abuse of tasers) [even to the point of helping to start the new Evidunce.com taser abuse video tracker], the first issue to address is the "question" of taser safety. Taser International will not admit that tasers can sometimes kill through inherent internal risk factors such as cardiac effects. There's also the Blood pH death mechanism. But there are many logical reasons not to accept their position.

One of the easiest arguments to digest is the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry" (Google the phrase).

And don't miss the AMA's postion.

Nor overlook the Braidwood Inquiry.

Wired readers are probably educated enough to follow the posts I've made about (for example) 150 mA RMS versus 2 mA "average". Or the Fourier implications of the X26 waveform. And you'll probably enjoy some of the Whois and (other, similar) 'Excited Delirium' URLs that I tracked back to Taser International's own lawyer. Or the Taser minion (maybe) that tried to skew a poll I was running. You'll have to dig through the index to find them, but there have been some posts that will be very revealing of the twisted moral compasses and technical incompetence of some pro-taser folks. If you're a geek, you'll be LOL.

I hope that you're interested and concerned enough to help.

If so, then please help this blog to 'go viral'.

Wired blog on 'excited delirium'

Wired.com "Does ‘Excited Delirium’ Kill Taser Victims?"

Excited delirium "...has always been hugely controversial since it was described in 1985. It is not recognized by the American Medical Association, and some critics, like the Excited Delirium blog, regard it as a 'flimsy excuse' used to cover up police brutality." [LINK]

That's not exactly my position.

Excited delirium is not as much used to cover up police brutality, as it is used by Taser International, who actively promote this oh-so-convenient excuse, to explain away taser deaths.

For example, when Mr. Dziekanski was killed at Vancouver Airport in late-2007, Taser International inserted a fresh set of batteries into their not-so-swift Tuttle spokespuppet and wheeled him out to proclaim that Mr. Dziekanski 'obviously' died of "excited delirium". The short and tight tasered-then-died timing in that Mr. Dziekanski decided to wait until that precise moment of the endless 31s taser hits to choose to die is not to be acknowledged.

Taser International minions are well trained to maintain a straight face when presented with endless examples of the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry" (google it). Each individual case viewed on its own reveals little, but the pattern is clear to any honest observer that is paying attention.

Police brutality, or often simply sheer taser brainwashed stupidity, is (believe it or not) a secondary issue that depends, to some degree, on the main issue (taser-death causality). If we could somehow get the message out to ALL taser-equipped police that tasers can sometimes, randomly, cause death, then perhaps their residual common sense would create a sense of caution and they'd stop using the taser on runaway little girls and elderly men.

The whole taser issue is mulifaceted and just a nit more complicated than some people are able to follow. So it's not surprising that subtle details get mixed up sometimes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fall-out from the tasering of 76-year-old Bud Grose

Glenrock, WY - Police Chief Tom Sweet said two officers "probably didn't do things the best way" when they used a taser on 76-year-old Bud Grose who was driving an antique tractor in a parade. ... Mayor Steve Cielinski and most of the Town Council apologized to residents... "If we have to stand up and take it on the chin, we will."

Some at Monday's meeting called for the two officers to be fired. Several people who witnessed the event told the crowd police repeatedly shocked Mr. Grose with a taser. "Those two were the most out-of-control officers I've ever seen in my life," said Scott McWilliams, a witness who said he was shoved by one of the officers. "These two guys got to go." ... Mike Pyatt, a former Glenrock police officer [probably lacks up-to-date taser training], called on town leaders to make changes at the department. "We will hold you accountable," he said. [LINK]


This sort of incident should make TASR shareholders very nervous. 'The People' are getting tired of this sh_t, and the change is happening quickly.


The solution is not more 'spin', but it'll be amusing to watch Taser International try that approach. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if any minute now they start trotting out "genuine taser-saved babies".

Here is a link to the story of one such taser-saved child [LINK]. ...

...Because, as we all have been told, if it weren't for the 'blessed' taser, this girl might have been justifiably mowed down with a 50-cal. machine gun.

Hatcher said, "...she ran into traffic..."

More on the 14-year-old girl tasered into the skull [LINK].

This is an example of how perfectly safe (sic) tasers can be. "...a Taser dart penetrated the girl's skull causing a wound that took 18 staples and six stitches to close." [LINK]


Police dash cam video [VIDEO] (<- follow link for video)

Screen capture...


Notice how the video prevented (?) this outrageous example of taser abuse from occurring. Oh, no, I guess it didn't...


Hatcher said. "She was running from police across traffic without looking." [LINK]

Look at the girl running "across traffic without looking". [ibid]

1) What traffic? Do you see any traffic? There's no traffic visible (although perhaps there is some just out of view, but why not let the video roll to show us...?). I doubt it. Small town, probably no traffic.

2) The girl had every opportunity to examine the street in both directions. She was already walking one way and could undoubtedly see that the street was empty in that direction. Then she turned and ran the other way with a clear view of the opposite direction. So the story that the girl had, or was about to, run across traffic without looking is revealed to be (probably) completely untrue. Typical ill-conceived spin...

3) And, from the available video, it appears she was already pretty much (at the least) clear across the street before brave and dedicated Chief Roger not-a-rabbit Hatcher took her down, hard. So the dangerous (?) crossing of the street was over when he fired the oh-so-safe (sic) taser.

"...across traffic without looking...", my ass.


This incident is a clear cut case of the overuse of the taser. The piss-poor taser training (a.k.a. propaganda) led to this very very dangerous encounter.


And some taser-morons still parrot the old taser lie that tasers replace guns. They could watch this video a hundred times, and then still parrot the same old lie.

Nasty twisting of the 'justice' system

"...granting TASER International's motion to exclude the testimony of Plaintiff's purported expert, Dr. Erik Sirulnick."

Give some credit to the bottom-feeding lawyers at Taser International; they sure know how to hijack the justice system.

Plaintiffs' legal teams should better prepare for this sort of assault on logic.

If it is the same Dr. Erik Sirulnick, then he specializes in Cardiovascular Disease, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology (!!), and Internal Medicine.

Given the extraordinarily poor quality of some of the so-called "science" held up by Taser International (some of which have issues as simple as sample sizes so small that they prove nothing about the safety of tasers), it seems irrational to exclude the testimony of a real (medical) doctor that may have an informed opinion on the subject.

Plaintiff lawyers need to get their act together.

Maybe call a pre-trial conference with the judge to defuse this sort of approach. Raise questions of the social importance of the taser-death issue. Point out that AMA has already made their position on the taser's purported safety known [LINK]. Point out the taser's very "Curious Temporal Asymmetry".

And launch appeals!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taser anal-probing Boise "Mounted" Police sued

"...one officer sticks a Taser up his ass, firing it, leaving burn marks on the inside of his right butt cheek. ...(seeking) a half-million dollars plus lawyer expenses and court costs." [LINK]

This incident, with its sadistic overtones, is just a bit too revealing.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

14-year-old girl tasered in head

Well, here is a PR opportunity that Taser International will not miss! [LINK]



'Taser Torture In America' - A Call...

Taser Torture In America - A Call For Congressional Hearings [LINK]

Sign the Petition: 1,372 Letters and Emails Sent So Far

"Dear Senator Reid, Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Black Caucus:

We call on our Congress to speak out and organize public hearings on the systemic human rights violations occurring with Federal funding against black, Latino, Native American and other Americans.

While there continues to be considerable media and congressional attention to torture in Guantanamo, there is comparatively little attention to the mounting evidence of human rights violations in the streets of America by a number of police departments across America, including torture and killings of black children, women and men through-out the United States through the use and abuse of Tasers.

We want Congress to stand up with us against the police pre-trial electrocution of black children, women and men by taser. ...
"


Congressional Hearings also might wish to examine the issue of the claims of Taser International that tasers-R-safe with respect to inherent internal risk factors such as cardiac effects.

Reinstates some very interesting questions...

Halifax, NS - Tasered teen gets acquittal restored [LINK] [LINK]

Officers had resorted to using a taser on the girl when she would not leave her bedroom... The Youth Court judge ruled the girl was justified in resisting arrest because officers had overstepped their authority... The Supreme Court judge ruled the girl’s conduct escalated and became a breach of the peace once the officers began to arrest the teen. That meant that when she resisted, police had grounds to charge her with assaulting police and resisting arrest. The Court of Appeal said the Supreme Court judge altered the trial judge’s finding to create the anticipated breach of the peace and doing so was an error in law.


This really seems like a reminder to police to review the limits of their authority. Contrary to the opinion of some, police authority is not unlimited.


This judgment also seems to open up the police to some serious liability in this particular case. If the police think that the girl shouldn't remain in her own bedroom in her mother's house, then perhaps they'll now be buying the girl a house of her own. Mortgage free.

Let's review taser safety as view by...

Taser International characterizes Amnesty International as "hysterical". It's an obvious and pathetic smear made by those that refuse to address the obvious facts, so let's review what other groups and organizations have to say on the same subject.


What about the American Medical Association (AMA)? What's their position of the specific question of taser safety?

The AMA concluded that tasers "...may contribute to the death of suspects [or victims] either directly or indirectly." [LINK]


And what about Canada's national police force, the RCMP?

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]


And what about the United Nations?

In November 2007, the United Nations Committee against Torture stated "the use of the taser ... weapons provoking extreme pain constituted a form of torture, and in certain cases it could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that happened after practical use" [LINK]


And what about the massive Braidwood Inquiry in Canada?

Braidwood's inquiry has also found that the risk of death increases significantly when the energy-conducted weapons are administered to the chest, or in cases when suspects are shocked multiple times. ... [LINK]


Are all of these groups "hysterical"?


Look, if you're just an average Joe, and you wish to believe that Tasers-R-Safe, or that the Apollo missions to the Moon were faked, or that there are aliens visiting the US mid-west on a regular basis, that's fine. There's plenty of room for people that wish to believe in such utter nonsense. But keep your trap shut - because, frankly, you're an idiot.

But if you're a police officer issued with a taser, or a political decision maker, then it's your duty not be to be brainwashed by a company that is simply trying to sell their brand of stun guns and avoid getting sued into bankruptcy while doing it. It's well past the point where it is legally reasonable for you to start questioning the propaganda coming from Taser International.


It's not just the "hysterical" Amnesty International. It's also the AMA (!!!!), the RCMP (brother police), the UN, and the massive Braidwood Inquiry called in Canada to investigate tasers.


Conclusion: Tasers can (sometimes, randomly) kill.

Period.

Repost - AMA report on tasers "directly" (18 June 2009 )

"An AMA report finds that tasers, when used appropriately, can save lives during interventions that would have otherwise involved the use of deadly force."

Okay. Now engage brain and think. What about the other 99% of the time? ...When tasers are used to replace lower and less violent forms of force?

For those that just crawled out of their cave and aren't aware, tasers are deployed approximately one hundred times as often as police have historically and generally-acceptably fired their guns. This 100X ratio varies widely, but it's a reasonable approximate number.

So that leaves the vast majority of actual taser deployments, which most often occur when lethal gun-fire would have never been used, without this purported moral justification.


There were some bright spots in the AMA report:

The AMA’s report detailed concerns about the use of Tasers in three general areas:
1) They are used too frequently and at lower levels on the use-of-force continuum than indicated.
2) Appropriate training and supervision of Taser use is lacking in some
[most] jurisdictions.
3) And they may contribute to the death of suspects
[or victims], either directly or indirectly. [LINK]


So this AMA taser report is hardly the ringing endorsement that Taser International will pretend it is.

AMA left open, intentionally and explicitly (!), the possibility that tasers can "directly" (a word that will inflame Taser lawyers) "contribute to" a death.

"DIRECTLY"


By the way, if tasers were only used during incidents that would have otherwise involved the use of deadly force, then I would not have bothered starting this blog.

That's the oldest taser lie.

It's the original taser lie.

...that "tasers replace guns".

US immigration detainees safer than citizens?

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - A federal policy that prohibits the use of stun guns on immigration detainees... [LINK]

Interesting.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nobody else going to correct this?

"...One officer fired his Taser while trying to arrest Mr. Bowe, 30, but since one of the machine's prongs did not make contact, the stun gun did not work. ..." [LINK]

Tasers can still pass their potentially-deadly current through the subject (victim) even if only one of the taser darts makes contact with subject (victim). The taser circuit can be completed via the ground path if the subject (victim) is touching the ground [duh!] and the 2nd taser dart, the one that missed, is also touching the ground [duh!]. Given the reliability of the Earth's gravity field, having both touch the ground is hardly farfetched.

This third mode of taser deployment (there's also a similar fourth mode) has been discussed previously. [LINK] [LINK]

The punchline in this case is that there should be people involved in this investigation that would already be perfectly aware of this 3rd taser deployment mode. But maybe they're not offering any suggestions. That in itself might be worthy of further investigation...

Imagine that. The taser excluded as a possible cause of, or contributor to, death based on some extraordinarily bad and incomplete information. And with just a faint whiff of 'something' (maybe, perhaps...).


Update - 'XX' commented (private e-mail): "From what I gather this third mode of action will only work on surfaces like grass and dirt, not inside a house as with this incident."

Thank you for your comment. It's very important to me that this blog is kept as accurate and complete as humanly possible.

If the taser deployments occurred inside a warm and dry house, with a finished floor surface, then your point would very likely be perfectly valid. Dry and finished floors are normally good enough insulators that it would make the one-dart, ground loop, 3rd taser mode essentially an open circuit. In other words, most likely ineffective (and probably harmless).

But the linked version of the news report stated, "...in the basement of a vacant house...".

Basements are sometimes cool and damp. It is not specified if the flooring in this basement was finished or bare concrete. Keep in mind that the taser output is 50,000 volts peak (open circuit) and is designed to jump a two-inch gap through clothing. So a thin layer of finish materials over damp concrete might not be sufficient to provide a reliable open circuit (depending on any number of variables).

The incident is typical in that the subject (victim) was supposedly going to die all by himself due to drugs and "excited delirium". But he chose to wait until the police arrived and he was tasered repeatedly. Although proving anything (with certainty) one way or the other is virtually impossible, this incident fits neatly into the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry".

Thanks for your input.

Yes, Alberta has come a long way. But...

Edmonton Journal (6 August 2009) - Lessons learned on Tasers [LINK]

"...the Alberta government deserves respect for its timely action. ..."

Respect isn't quite the right word.

They certainly deserve to be given credit for (eventually) coming around to acknowledging what has been perfectly obvious to many (probably most) Canadians since the tragic deaths of five taser victims in a short three-month period in late-2007.

At the time, my friends and collegues were literally shaking their heads in disbelief at the nightly news. Everyone already knew at that point, as soon as the issue was thrust into the public conciousness, ...everyone already knew that tasers could "cause death." We didn't need an inquiry to tell us what was plainly obvious.

In that sense, for many of us, the various inquiries, hearings and reports were almost formalities.

But absolutely and positively extremely important 'formalities'. And those major efforts by SECU, the RCMP Watchdog, and especially Braidwood et al, are greatly appreciated and THEY certainly deserve our respect.

But governments playing catch-up? Credit - yes. But not any particular or specific 'respect' for ending the abdication of their fundamental responsibilities.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Headline: "...death by Taser"

The Charlotte Observer [LINK]

$625,000 settlement in death by Taser

For those readers just joining the blog, please Google your way to the Canadian Braidwood Inquiry report on tasers. It just came out. The report is some 500-pages, but there is a summary that is well worth reading. I've included some small extracts in previous posts, but you should refer to the original for complete details. Link provided near top of right hand column.

The most significant conclusion is that tasers can "cause death".

First the 'damn liberals', now 'The American Conservative'

"Seriously, a quick Google News search of the last month alone reveals a barrage of police tasing incidents across the country one more barbaric than the other: grandmas, grandpas, the mentally ill, teens..." [LINK]

Taser International executives should pour themselves a stiff drink and listen to Paul Simon's song 'Slip Sliding Away'.

A quarter-million admissions of fault

The city of Santa Paula agreed to pay Andrew S. Hernandez $250,000 to settle a lawsuit he filed in federal court in Los Angeles. ... [LINK]

Taser International's many studies

Lots of studies. Very few, if any, provide any useful information with respect to low to moderate (depending how you structure the question) risk of death.

Many of their so-called "studies", in addition to other flaws, prove nothing more than that there is almost certainly not a HIGH risk of death.

Yeah, well duh!

With sample sizes in the range of 20 or 40, it is as if they're trying to avoid the low-end of single digits risk of death (again, depending on how you structure the question).

These are well-educated people. They attended Statistics-101. They know that many of their studies do not even begin to answer The Question. They know exactly what they're doing.

But Judge Braidwood et al saw right through it.

Repost on 'Drug addicts...' (2008 April 9)

Repost of 'Drug addicts - get past the image, use logic' from April 9, 2008 [LINK]

Note: If postmortem exam finds lethal levels of drugs in the victim's system, and the timing matches, then in such cases there is a perfectly reasonable argument that can be made. But finding (for example) a 'joint' tucked into someone's pocket doesn't qualify as any sort of reasonable excuse.

---------

A drug addict is, obviously, someone that is addicted to (often illegal) drugs. In other words, they're probably taking these drugs quite a bit. This high rate of usage more-or-less follows logically from the meaning of the word "addict"; once we get past the distracting negative image.

Monday: Take drugs.
Tuesday: Take drugs.
Wednesday: Take drugs.
Thursday: Take drugs.
Wednesday: Take drugs.
Thursday: Take drugs.
Friday: Take drugs.
Saturday: Take drugs.
Sunday: Take drugs.
Monday: Take drugs.
Tuesday: Take drugs.
Wednesday: Take drugs.
Thursday: Take drugs.
Friday: Take drugs.
Saturday: Take drugs.
Sunday: Take drugs.
Monday: Take drugs.
Tuesday: Take drugs.
Wednesday: Take drugs.
Thursday: Take drugs. Tasered. Died.

Well obviously it was the drugs that killed him. The taser obviously had nothing to do with it.

{ROLLS EYES}

Obviously such drug use could be a contributing factor. Hell, it could even be a MAJOR contributing factor. But to leave out any mention of the taser is either intellectually dishonest, or pays too much respect to the questionable "science" that concludes that the taser is 'perfectly safe'.

Repost 'Sucks to be Taser' (2008 July 5)

Repost from July 5, 2008 [LINK]


Autopsy: Teen hit by Taser died of cardiac arrest

The Charlotte Observer (5 July 2008) [LINK]

Doctor finds no pre-existing heart problems in youth who was shocked by police officer at grocery store. A 17-year-old shocked with a Taser by police after an altercation at a northern Charlotte grocery store died from cardiac arrest, according to an autopsy released Friday.

Darryl Wayne Turner's heart was pumping so fast and chaotically from the Taser shot and stress of the confrontation that it stopped pumping blood properly. He died of acute ventricular dysrhythmia and ventricular fibrillation, according to the Mecklenburg medical examiner's office.

Turner was the first Taser-related fatality in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's history and the youngest in the Carolinas this decade.

Police confronted an “agitated” Turner on March 20 during an argument with his manager of a Prosperity Church Road grocery store. Police said Turner threw something at a manager, ignored commands and advanced toward Officer Jerry Dawson Jr., who deployed a Taser. The energy weapon struck Turner in the chest, and he fell to the carpeted floor.

“This lethal disturbance in the heart rhythm was precipitated by the agitated state and associated stress as well as the use of the conducted energy weapon (Taser) designed for incapacitation through electro-muscular disruption,” Dr. Thomas Owens wrote in the autopsy. Owens found no pre-existing heart problems.

Turner worked at the Food Lion store, where he was a cashier and bagged groceries. Documents state he was asked by a manager to leave the store but refused. Police said Officer Jerry Dawson Jr., a 15-year veteran, fired his Taser to get Turner under control after the teen advanced toward him. An attorney representing the family says he talked to a witness who refutes the account.

An April study by the Taser Safety Project

[LINK] found that the improper use of Tasers has contributed to the deaths of at least 11 people in North Carolina over the past four years. The autopsy cites a National Institute of Justice study that concludes that while Tasers devices are not risk-free, there is “no conclusive medical evidence” indicating a high risk of serious injury.


I believe that most taser critics are not claiming that there is a high risk of significant injury (or death). We're concerned that there may be a moderate or low risk (depending on how you structure the question). And as has been admitted even by taser fan-boys, dart placement (i.e. pure luck) may be a significant part of the overall safety margin.

Note that Turner was hit in the chest (as opposed to in the back like all those FAKE training and demonstration deployments that Taser claims to support their theories of safety).

The incident is also a clear example where it is unlikely in the extreme that the police officer would have had any legal justification to use lethal force. So the argument that 'a taser is better than a gun' does not apply here (in common with the vast majority of taser deployments).

Major topics - Braidwood, the taser's Curious Temporal Asymmetry, and glowing cigarettes...

If you're just joining the taser debate, then you should catch-up by reviewing the Braidwood Inquiry taser report. One of his conclusions, even after carefully considering both sides of the debate, was that tasers are fully capable of causing death, by any of several taser-death mechanisms, even with healthy adults.

Also, search for the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry", a simple observation that may be the death knell for denial of causality. Unless someone finds a rebuttal. Feel free to send any such rebuttals in. They'll get a fair shake, at risk of being publically shredded.

For the taser torture question, search out the 2008 Taser Glowing Cigarette Challenge. Send in your rebuttals.

Once you review and digest these primary reports and ideas, then your mind will be much less muddled.

Still getting direct hits via SecureServer.net

This blog is still getting direct(ed) hits from people picking up their (Corporate, ahem...) e-mail from SecureServer.net.

These sorts of visitors are generally landing on the more provocative posts, being directed there by an e-mail. Based on the patterns, and other indicative data, it would be very interesting to review such correspondance. [LINK]

"Taser use in the U.S. a serious problem"

Salem-News is on the case. [LINK]

You don't want Salem-News on your case...

Amusingly, they were contacted by Taser International's spokespuppet Mr. Tuttle. I don't hear from Taser International, even when I practically beg them to provide a simple, logical rebuttal to any of my arguments.

Such as the 2008 Taser Glowing Cigarette Challange where I asked them, or anyone, to explain the difference between using a taser in Touch Torture mode versus simply using the glowing end of a lit cigarette. What's the difference?, I asked. There's no good answer being offered.

Or the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry". Until otherwise advised, I'm going to assume that this may well be the simplest and most devastating antidote for the Tasers-R-Safe brainwashing ever found. Although Prof. Savard's plot showing a linear relationship between taser exposure and risk of death is pretty clear evidence of a causality connection too.

I interpret their silence to be a tacit admission that they have been nailed down and they're silent because they have no rebuttal.

2009 just had that feeling that the time was ripe for things to get 'interesting' for Taser International, specifically with respect to their claims of the taser's inherent risk of death with respect to internal risk factors such as cardiac. With the Braidwood Inquiry, it's already a good year. And I have feeling that there will be at least one more interesting event before the year is out. Just a gut feeling.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Darryl Turner taser "-associated" death lawsuit with Charlotte settled

The City of Charlotte has settled with the family of a 17-year-old who died in March 2008 after being shot by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer with a Taser, according to an attorney representing the family. The out-of-court agreement was announced Tuesday by attorney Ken Harris, who represented the family of Darryl Turner in a suit against the city. ... Turner died March 20, 2008, after a confrontation with police at a north Charlotte grocery store where Turner had worked. [LINK]

Taser International (not involved in this case, not yet...) would perhaps announce such a 'settlement' as being, "Another lawsuit dismissed with prejudice." They've been caught twisting 'settlements' into 'dismissals' on more than one occasion. One could be forgiven for thinking that they were intentionally being deceptive in those cases - but who knows...

Harris said he expects other litigation in the case, however.

Gee, I wonder who else might be in the legal crosshairs next?

If I were a betting man, I'd be looking at a judgement in the mid-eight figures range. But that's just a guess on my part.

Nice post on InjuryBoard

"When money talks, the truth walks." [LINK]

Monday, August 3, 2009

Taser International blinks

Reportedly, the new X3 emits just "63 microcoulombs" [LINK] of energy as compared to the X26 taser's specified 100 microcoulombs.

Right off the bat, this significant reduction in output power is a tacit admission by Taser International that they now realize that the X26 taser overstepped the mark with respect to subject safety. Hopefully this will assist the victims' families with their lawsuits.

I'm sure that the folks at Taser International will be able to maintain smug and straight faces when responding to questions about this obvious retreat.

Furthermore, this retreat may be significant larger than acknowledged. I was left with the distinct impression that the X26 taser's specified output of "100uC" was a sort-of nominal value. When I integrated the area under the curve [LINK], it appears to be well above 100 uC.

What's required at this point is justice.

Now that Taser International has essentially admitted that the X26 was unnecessarily dangerous (with respect to risk of death).

Plaintiffs' lawyers - attack!

Perplexing trend, eh?

2007 - six taser-associated deaths in Canada [LINK] (Barber, Castagnetta, Dziekanski, Registre, Hyde, Knipstrom)

2008 - six taser-associated deaths in Canada (Marreel, Langan, Reilly, Frachette, Grimolfson, Bowe)

2009 (7 months) - just one taser-associated death in Canada (Prentice)

That's a fairly sharp drop-off. Caused directly by the public's outrage [LINK] and the policing community's painfully slow realization that they've been sold a bill-of-good on taser safety (*).

(* Safety - with respect to internal cardiac or similar effects that carry a risk of death. We're not here to discuss twisted fingers and sprained ankles. [LINK])

Although there are some alternate explanations on offer, they won't stand-up to skeptical scrutiny. The plain and simple explanation is that tasers can cause death, especially when deployed against acutely agitated individuals.


Is anyone willing to provide the M26 vs. X26 taser model death rate? It would be very strange if the "excited delirium" virus (or similar nonsensical excuses) show a statistically significant bias for one particular model of taser (X26) versus another (M26). I don't have access to complete data (because it's being kept very close to the chest), but the limited data that is available seems to show that the taser-associated deaths are more commonly involving the X26, even during those periods when the M26 was actually being deployed more often. [LINK]

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Taser escalation leads to shooting in face

Everyone involved, including the taser-wielding police officer that felt the urge to taser a woman in front of her husband, have been charged with various crimes. [LINK]

Maybe try de-escalation techniques next time. Not so quick on the taser.

We're going viral - finally...

Welcome StumbleUpon readers.

This blog was started nearly two years ago to counteract the obviously-flawed statements coming from Taser International every time another person was tasered_and_died. Along the way we've shredded virtually all pro-taser arguments, and we've made some very interesting findings.

There are more than 1200 posts. But the right hand column contains some pointers to some of the more important posts and sources.

In Canada, tasers are now acknowledged as being capable of causing death. In the USA, this obvious fact has not yet been accepted.

The most important at this point is to spread the message. Please help this blog to go viral.

Taser critics "pleased" ?? with new restrictions in Alberta

Critics pleased with new Alberta Taser rules - Alberta police face tougher guidelines on when devices can be used [LINK]

"pleased"?

Perhaps "pleased" is not exactly the right word. The new restrictions, which will almost certainly reduce the propaganda-fueled trigger-happy taser spree and associated death rate, and reduce the frequency of violations of the Criminal Code of Canada s. 269.1 on Torture, is obviously a step in the right direction. But the word "pleased" implies a level of satisfaction that hasn't quite been achieved.

If the usage rate is cut by just half, then the problem is not fully solved. My gut tells me that we need to be looking for a 95% reduction to achieve a moral and ethical breakeven point. With the approach of partial changes being used, it's going to take another two cycles similar to what with just been through.

Also, now that we've legally come to terms with the fact that tasers can "cause death", it's time to follow up with explicit apologies and significant compensation for the families of the victims (all victims, no matter what flawed findings were made at the time), severe sanctions against those that abdicated their regulatory responsibilities and against those despicable stun gun salesmen that played the system like a trumpet, and those officials, both high and low, that displayed a level of innocent naivety that would embarrass a lamb, and plain stupidity that is on a level with the intellectual performance of tree stumps.

What I'm saying is that a lot of people and organizations were plainly WRONG, dead wrong. It would be pleasing if they would come out and explicitly admit that they were wrong.

It's obvious that there's quite a bit that still needs to be accomplished.

Taser International realizes their mistake??

"...more consistent effects on the target and a margin of safety up to 40% greater than previous ECD technology." [Taser X3 marketing spew]

Although the X3 waveform data is still not available so far as I can see, the above statement clearly indicates that they now realize that the previous model, the X26, may have overshot the mark a bit.

He he - sorry.

I'll betcha a dollar that they've eliminated or reduced the dangerous low frequency components arising from that subtle D.C. pulse after the arc phase, unique to the X26.

All of this, if it can be confirmed, would provide excellent ammunition for the families' lawyers. It seems to me that there's more than enough possible liability to bankrupt them many times over.

Apparently all because they forgot about Fourier.

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

Victory for common sense in Victoria (Australia)

Victoria Police (Australia) have all but ruled out ever changing their decision not to arm every officer with a Taser stun gun.

Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe yesterday dashed the hopes of the Police Association, which is pushing for Tasers for all. He told the Herald Sun it was unlikely the force would review its Taser decision in the near future.

"I don't think we are going to be in the position of revisiting the Taser issue on an annual basis," Mr Walshe said. "From our perspective, we don't see Tasers as being the panacea to all issues." [LINK]