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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stun guns can be a ‘wonderful [and potentially deadly] weapon’

Well here is an article at The Waterloo Record [LINK] that manages to fumble the entire taser issue.

The article provides an uncritical, almost fawning, waste of column-inches to promote those narrow, often hypothetical and sometimes completely imaginary, law enforcement situations where a taser could potentially be safe and effective and useful and justifiable - amazing in its relative rarity - all at the same time.

The obvious contradictions are ignored by the writer to a degree that amounts to journalistic malpractice.

For example: the story related "The individual burst passed me..." And then relates how the suspect was tasered in the back (exactly as recommend by the maker of these potentially-deadly weapons).

First of all, shouldn't the quote be written using the word "past" as opposed to "passed"?

Anyway... Does a fleeing suspect, running away, fleeing the scene, shot in the back with the taser, does this meet the criteria that would be described as "violent"? On its face, it doesn't really seem like it.

Meanwhile, Taser International's spokespuppy Steve Tuttle is quoted in this article as saying that studies have found that tasers are a reasonable means to "subdue violent individuals" [emphasis added since everyone appears to miss it...].

The author of this article fails to note that the suspect in the example given, this being probably the very best example they could recall, was not reported as being a violent individual. In fact, the act of "bursting passed" (sic) is clear cut and obvious evidence of a desire to run away.

The author also fails to pick-up on Mr. Turtle's insane geographical limitation [LINK] on the purported safety of tasers. He said they've not yet been formally linked to any death "in Canada". But investigators have found that in about 150 autopsy reports reviewed (for taser-associated deaths), the taser was listed as a cause of death or a contributing factor in about fifty.

Don't read that as "50", read it as "about one-third" of the taser-associated death autopsy reports that were reviewed. There is nothing to suggest that those 150 reports, extracted from about 450 taser-associated deaths, are not a representative random selection.

And this is just what has leaked through the 'iron curtain' that Taser International has erected around the issue of tasers and death. They promote "excited delirium" [LINK][LINK], they sue medical examiners [LINK][LINK], they wine and dine coroners [LINK], they plug up the pipelines of science with studies that have such obvious flaws that even laymen can spot them [LINK].

They misrepresent reports, for example the NIJ study [LINK][LINK][LINK][LINK][LINK][LINK] that found that there wasn't a "high risk", but expressed concerns about most of the population and noted that there seemed to be a correlation between repeated taserings and death (exactly as noted by Prof. Savard [LINK]).

The consensus of the informed and honest [LINK] is that tasers are perfectly capable of causing death, and they must - at the very least - be restricted to the narrow circumstances and rigorous controls as have been recommended by the Braidwood Inquiry [LINK].

The article linked above provides a clear example of the sort of subtle pro-taser propaganda being foisted on the public by Taser International, with supporting roles played by fan-boy police and unthinking journalists.

It's not enough to simply allow the spokespuppet his column-inches. Those column-inches should come with a price. And that price is that the reporter makes the effort to investigate the validity of his statements. A well-written article quotes the spokesman, and then critically examines those statements. If the spokesman is revealed to be providing misleading information, then that bad PR is the price they'll pay for trying to play the system.


[NOTE about "LINKS" - This blog has more than 1400 posts already, so most points of detail have already been repeatedly examined in previous posts. Therefore, links to external sources to support independent fact-checking are now most often made via previous posts on this same blog. Those previous posts typically provide much more detail on any particular detailed aspect of the larger taser issue. To reach external sources for fact-checking you may have to follow the links through the previous posts. You might wish to read those previous posts as you pass through to learn more about those additional details. In other words, if you're a journalist researching the issue of tasers: don't be lazy and whine that my links are mostly "internal". Click again. Do some research using this blog as a guide to further information and hopefully as an example of how to be s skeptic. And please don't write one-side puff-pieces for Taser International's PR department; this is a serious life-and-death issue.]

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kerik: "psychiatric unit ... suicide watch"

[Reportedly...] ...Kerik is in a psychiatric unit and on a suicide watch and most likely will not be able to make the court date. Kerik is displaying worrisome, risky behavior in jail, a federal judge said Friday after speaking with the jail's psychiatric director. Judge Stephen Robinson said the pretrial session Friday in U.S. District Court that he received a memo from Dr. Robert Mahler, medical psychiatric director of the Westchester County jail in Valhalla, then spoke with the doctor by phone. The doctor reportedly said Kerik, 54, was "at risk." He said Mahler felt there was more behind Kerik's problem than just the normal stress of incarceration. Kerik has been jailed since Oct. 20 to await trial on corruption charges. "There were things, unexplained, described to me that were either said or done ... that raised the level of concern," the judge said. "I left the conversation with Dr. Mahler feeling this was an issue that cannot be ignored." The judge also expressed doubt that Kerik's trial could still begin Nov. 9. ... [LINK]

See also CBS: [LINK]

See also 'The Trials And Tribulations Of Don Kerik' [LINK] This is worth a close read as it provides some revealing insight into the rise of Bernie Kerik.


Note - For what it's worth, this blogger is NOT celebrating the reported downturn in Mr. Kerik's mental condition (if that's what it really is...). Mr. Kerik is simply an interesting character that may, or may not (you decide), provide some insight into the sort of hubris-laced personalities involved with Taser International.

Bernie Kerik's "alarming behaviour"

New York Times - Judge Stephen C. Robinson, who will preside over Mr. Kerik’s federal corruption trial, said in court Friday that Westchester County jail officials told him that Mr. Kerik had demonstrated alarming behavior. Judge Robinson did not describe the symptoms further. [LINK]

Bernie Kerik is facing numerous charges relating to alledged corruption and other similar accusations. His bail was revoked due to the alledged unauthorized release of confidential information intended to be used to prepare his defense.

Mr. Kerik was on the board of directors of Taser International in the years 2002 to 2005. The X26 taser was introduced to the market in 2003. Mr. Kerik made about $6M from his involvement with Taser International.

I hope Mr. Kerik is feeling better soon.

Perhaps his old friends at Taser International could send him a basket of fruit or something.

Former member of Taser International's board of directors Mr. Bernie Kerik remains behind bars

NEW YORK -- Taser International's former member of their Board of Directors, Mr. Bernard Kerik, has had his appeal rejected on Wednesday by a federal appeals court. This ruling will force him to remain in jail while awaiting his corruption trial set to resume on 9 November 2009. [LINK]

CBC News: The National wins Gemini Award for "The Taser Test"

A couple of awards being handed out to journalists (both professional and citizen) for their work on the taser issue.

Gemini Award for the "Best News Magazine Segment" awarded to Frédéric Zalac, Kris Fleerackers, Doug Husby, Georges Laszuk, Alex Shprintsen - CBC News: The National. This was for their in-depth and probably very expensive investigation into tasers: "The Taser Test". [LINK][LINK][TNT]


Meanwhile, Paul Pritchard of Victoria, BC is the recipient of the first citizen journalism award given by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. Mr. Pritchard made the video of Mr. Robert Dziekanski being tasered at Vancouver Airport. [TNT]

"It's not just that Pritchard grabbed his digital camera and began recording. Or that he continued when four RCMP officers arrived, even after security staff, for no legitimate reason, told him to stop. Pritchard also gave the recording to the RCMP that night to help them with their investigation. They promised to return it in 48 hours. And when they refused to return or release the recording, Pritchard hired a lawyer and successfully fought the secrecy. Three weeks after Dziekanski's death, people could watch the horrifying images and form their own judgments.

If not for that evidence, the four officers' statements -- that they tried to calm Dziekanski; that he came at them screaming, swinging an object; that the Taser didn't knock him down so they had to wrestle him to the ground -- might have been believed. None was true.
" [LINK]

Mr. Pritchard judges his actions a bit harshly. "He wonders whether, instead of grabbing his camera, he could have found a way into the secure area to talk to Dziekanski before the RCMP arrived."

But he did exactly the right thing at every step.

And then, he went above and beyond in his actions to force the release of the video.

That wasn't just right, it was righteous.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On the lack of regulation of the taser (ECD) industry

This was originally posted as a comment on the Truth...Not Tasers blog. [LINK]

The following version has been gently edited, and extended.


Let's talk about taser (ECD) electrical safety standards, the lack of them, and the results.

In 1999, Taser International introduced the M26 "Advanced" taser. It had a waveform that was high frequency and very low duty cycle. At the time, Taser International claimed it was safe BECAUSE the electrical output was high frequency and low duty cycle. The monthly taser-associated death rate was less than one per month.

But Taser International continued to fiddle. In 2003, they introduced the X26 taser. They didn't give it a name, but the "X26 Hubris" would be appropriate. This taser model added a harmless-looking little DC pulse to the waveform, and all indications are that even the head of their Medical Safety committee, a man with a PhD in EE, failed to remember his EE 101. He has repeatedly and explicitly claimed that the output still has "short pulses" and a low duty cycle.

In fact, the harmless-looking DC pulse occurs at 19 Hz and is therefore low frequency and continuous 100% duty cycle. The waveform is no longer just high frequency and very low duty cycle as was the case with the 1999-era M26. They've walked away from the two waveform characteristics that they had previously claimed were the reason it was safe with the previous model.

The government regulators did not react to this change because there are no government regulators with responsibility over taser standards. And there are no standards.

The monthly taser associated death rate shows a near step-function increase from less than one taser-associated death per month to about 7 per month starting coincident with the introduction of the newer X26 model in mid-2003.

Looking for references? Here is one to get you started: [LINK].

In fact, the Canadian reports appear to indicate that, even during years when the older M26 taser model was actually being used three times more often than the newer X26 taser, the taser deaths in Canada during that period were reportedly exclusively associated with the X26.

If this preliminary observation from mismatched data sets can be confirmed by the regulators, then it may be critical evidence of the different risks between the M26 and X26 tasers. Oh damn, there are no government regulators.

If Taser International has this info, you can bet that they'll have shredded it by now. If the police have this info, they're keeping it to themselves. The available on-line database does not mention the M26 vs. X26 taser model used. I wonder why? But data gathered by taser critics shows a disturbing X26 bias.

And now, in late-2009, Taser International has just introduced the new X3. It emits about 40% less electrical charge than the X26. And they seem to be keeping the waveform shape and frequency spectrum under wraps. I've poked around and I haven't found the info yet. I'm sure the government regulators would have some questions about the 40% reduction after all the taser deaths with previous model. Oh damn, zero regulatory involvement.

And their new XREP projectile includes an explicit and intentional "Hand Trap" feature that violates their own guidance (revision 1) issued 30 September 2009. They've changed the guidance to avoid having to explain about the arms and hands. I'm sure that the regulators review such life and death critical documents for accuracy and consistency. Oh damn, zero government oversight.

Wild West. Yee Haw.

The lack of government oversight of this one-company industry is as startling as it is inexplicable. The direct result of this hands-off approach has been corporate behaviour that should make any keen observer incandescent with rage.

Nobody noticed that they expunged the RMS current values (about 160 mA) from the data sheets, leaving only the misleading 2 mA "average" value. The inherent claim that the "effective" current is the average is insane nonsense. Comparing the actual effects makes it clear that the effective current is much closer to the RMS value than the "average".

Nobody seems to have noticed that there seems to be a statistical surplus of taser chest hits in those victims that died. Many thousands of trainees were tasered in the back with only a few major injuries reported. But the real world has had police told that "tasers are safe" and they've been firing them into the chest and people die.

And now they advise "avoiding the chest" and make the preposterous claim that this guidance (which carries an extremely high cost to them), is just to help their customers "avoid controversy". What a crock...

If this industry (company) were subjected to even a small fraction of the Federal regulatory oversight imposed on every other company, they'd probably be shut down.

The utter abdication of the governments in their fundamental role to protect the public, not just "criminals" but also those having mental heath emergencies right down to average citizens facing police that, in some cases, are demanding more respect than they've earned... ...this abdication is inexplicable and dangerous. People do not deserve to face a risk of death unless their behaviour escalates to the thresholds defined by Judge Braidwood. All of this overuse, misuse, and abuse stems from the false claim from Taser International that tasers are inherently safe with respect to internal risk factors such as, for example, cardiac effects.

This industry, their potentially-deadly products, their ever-changing story, their manipulative relationships with medical examiners, their fiddling with the "science", their too-nuanced twisting of language, their defective training, all of it. This blog contains dozens and dozens of examples of them playing the system.

It all needs governmental oversight.

Now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Discrepancy with arms

Taser International issued new taser targeting guidelines on 30 September 2009. These guidelines advised avoiding the chest, but the diagram clearly included both arms in that new excluded area.

Those "Revision 1" taser Targeting Guidelines made headlines across Canada and Australia, but were completely ignored in the US media.

That media gap has never really been explained, but it may be an important clue as to how this issue is being "stick-handled" (subtly managed) by Taser International.

On 9 of October 2009, I made a post entitled "...Didja notice the arms?" [LINK]

Taser International then issued "Revision 2" on 12 October 2009.

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed



This adjustment to the policy raises many questions.

Why the change (between Revision 1 on 30 September and Revision 2 on 12 October)?

If Taser International tries to brush it off as a minor typographical error, then at the very least it provides a clear example of the poor Quality Assurance (QA) standards they have. If they can't even issue a major and critical document where the most important image is basically correct, then it's clear that their internal QA processes are substandard.

Were Canada and Australia being used as a trial run before the big day in the USA?

Why exclude the RIGHT side of the chest? Why not just exclude a circular area directly over the heart? Or would that be just a bit too obvious?

Was this change anything to do with avoiding the issue of the XREP "Hand Trap" feature?

What about the arm to just below the sternum path? The old expression is that electricity tends to follow the path of least resistance, but the reality is that it follows Kirchhoff's Circuit Laws [LINK]. However, there may well be some non-linearities in the chemistry of the human body that would tend to focus the current into a single path. Victims of high power electrocution reportedly display carbonized current tracks.

Anyway...


The good news is that the US media are all over these new guidelines (revision 2) now.

And it looks like both the US media, and the US law enforcement community, for the most part, are reading the true message about "avoiding the chest" (versus "avoiding controversy" LOL).

[Updated]
[h/t to N]

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why?

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed

Why did Taser International issue new taser targeting guidelines?


My Analysis:

They claim it is "more to do" with "avoiding controversy" than anything to do with their view of safety concerns.

First, note the equivocation in their carefully-nuanced language: "...more to do..." They're carefully avoiding language that explicitly excludes consideration of safety concerns. In other words, they're leaving themselves an 'out'. But even the residual claim makes little sense when viewed from a cost-benefit angle.

They're taking all this heat 'mostly' to help their customers "avoid controversy"?

That purported 'pure-as-the-driven-snow' motivation really seems to be out of balance with the steep price that they're paying. Alarm bells are going off. Their claim appears to be ever-so-subtly wrong.

Let's do the analysis.

COST:

The blowback that Taser International is getting on their new taser targeting guidelines is costing them a fortune in terms of PR image, legal exposure, providing ammunition to critics, serious potential for increased insurance costs, setting the stage for providing even more hard statistical evidence, lost trust with police, products that are obviously much less useful, etc.

In the mid-term, it all adds up to a massive cost in real dollars. In the long run, we're potentially talking eight or nine-figures (neglecting the counter-balancing considerations that I'll address in a moment.)

NOT REALLY A SURPRISE:

No way that Taser International didn't see this coming. They're not that stupid.

Look at their incredible legal record - a product that can cause death, they deny it, people die, and they still win cases. They even somehow managed to turn plain $ettlement$ into "di$mi$$al$".

Aside from a few intellectual blind spots and some startling examples of clumsiness with IT work, they do show some evidence of being crafty. They're certainly not incapable of predicting and calculating the future.

So if they start turning on the 'wide-eyed innocent' act and begin pretending that they're surprised by the blowback, then that'd be fake.

MAKE SENSE?:

So it seems pretty far fetched to claim that they started this massive conflagration simply to help their customers "avoid controversy."

That purported explanation is, by my judgment, about three orders of magnitude (1000-to-1) insufficient in value to them to balance the decision logic.

ALTERNATE EXPLANATION:

The only counter-balancing consideration that I can imagine that would drive them to this extremely costly course of action is their realization that there actually is a real world problem with taser safety (I suspect that they've known for several years...), AND their realization that this conclusion was becoming more and more obvious to everyone, AND that it was getting to the point where they realize that everyone knows that they know that everyone knows that they know about the real world safety facts.

That last multi-level point on 'who knows who knows what' is intentional. It really is a multilayer puzzle like the plot line from a Chinese drama.

They projected the past and present into the future and the area under the curve (future liability for false claims of safety) probably scared the hell out of them.

They were left with no choice. They had to take a baby-step in the opposite direction. This was the smallest baby-step that they could find. But the reversal is obvious. They knew that any reversal on taser safety would be obvious, even if buried on page 2 of the document.

NEXT STEP:

To mask their real motivation for issuing the new targeting guidelines (because it could be used against them), they need to claim that they "never saw it coming" ("it" being the magnitude of the blowback). In other words, they'll be tempted to play dumb.

So sit back and wait for their next move.

Watch for the wide-eyed protestations of surprise and "hurt feelings". And to make it even more believable, they'll wheel out their least clever looking spokespuppet to play this role.


[updated repeatedly]

The Rockford Files - more reaction to "avoid chest"

ROCKFORD — Rockford police, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department and Loves Park police each took away the use of Taser guns from their officers today until further notice. The removal comes a day after the law-enforcement agencies received a shock themselves from TASER International’s nationwide warning bulletin advising against shooting their Taser gun’s 50,000 volts of electricity into someone’s chest. [LINK]

[H/T to TRUTH...NOT TASERS]


Taser Quote of the Week:

The city of Rockford’s Legal Department issued a news release today that stated:

The modified warnings will require extensive review and potentially revision of policies and training if the device is to be redeployed.

Just "...a few inches..."

There is no significant shift, just a slight change by literally a few inches,” Steve Tuttle, a Taser International vice president, said in an e-mail. [LINK]

What a bald face twisting of the plain facts.

Look at the new Taser Man targeting guidelines. Both arms from fingertip to shoulder, and the complete chest are off-limits.

And this forked-tongue stun-gun salesman has the unmittigated gall to use those words to characterize the new policy guidance.

These idiots are their own worst enemies.

Update: The above was based on the Revision 1 targeting guidelines. But even with the Revision 2 guidelines, which reinstates the arms, describing this change as "just a few inches" is a preposterous propaganda ploy. Facts are facts, they're advising that police avoid firing tasers into the chest.

Moratorium in Precinct 6

On Thursday, Harris County Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino suspended his deputies from carrying or using Tasers. It followed Wednesday's announcement by Taser International warning law enforcement not to stun a person in the chest because it may cause an "adverse cardiac event." [LINK]

The story goes on to say:

For 77-year-old Shirley Nagel, the announcement comes as no surprise. "What took them so long," she said from the living room of her Southwest Houston home.

About five years ago (February 18, 2005), her son, Joel Don Casey, died after he was stunned 18 times by a Taser. Casey, a paranoid schizophrenic, had gone off his medication. Deputies with Precinct One tried to take him to a hospital for evaluation, but they said Casey became violent. Deputies used their Tasers to subdue him before they handcuffed his hands and legs.

An autopsy later ruled his death a homicide. "The first Taser they used was in his chest," recalled Nagel.

In March, a Harris County jury awarded Nagel a $3 million in the wrongful death lawsuit she brought against Precinct One. Attorneys for Harris County have filled an appeal.

Cops lower aim, investors lower expectations

"May you have an interesting year." It's an ancient Chinese curse.

As predicted, Taser International is certainly having an interesting year. 'Interesting' in the sense of watching a train wreck in ultra-slow motion.

In the same week that police across the USA are learning that they need to lower their aims (avoiding the chest), investors (is that the correct word?) in Taser International (TASR) are also learning that they need to lower their aims too.

Taser International not only lost money (again), but they lost almost twice as much as expected.

At least this time they didn't blame "high oil prices".


By the way, did I mention that their expensive R&D labs have turned out the new XREP projectile that contains an explicit and intentional design feature (the 'Hand Trap') that inherently violates their new taser targeting guidelines that advise against applying taser shocks to the chest AND ARMS (including, ah, hands)? Did I mention that? Yes... [LINK]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Did Taser International just admit 1-in-500 risk of death?

Oh... My... God...

The company insists the chance of a taser causing cardiac arrest is low, and point out independent testing shows the risk of that happening is less than 0.25 percent. [LINK]

The value "0.25%" looks small, but it is actually 1-in-400.

So "less than 0.25%" is roughly 1-in-500.

1-in-500 risk of taser-induced cardiac arrest.

Is that what they just admitted?


Calling that level of risk "extremely low" is abusing the true meaning of words.


If that is an overall risk, it is about 4 or 5 times what would be required to explain all of the taser-associated deaths.

If adjusted for actual chest hits, it is close to the correct order of magnitude.

They are so fooked.

UPDATE: A Taser International spokesman, operating under the name "Wisewon" (sic), has stated that this figure was all based on a misquote.

The criminal justice community has been aware...

Stanford Criminal Justice Center Executive Director Kara Dansky said the criminal justice community has been aware of risks associated with tasers for some time, especially if they are used during, say, a struggle with a suspect. "There is some evidence that use of tasers can cause cardiac arrest under certain circumstances and that some of those circumstances involve pointing them directly at the chest." [LINK]

So Taser International and their horrible little minions are now backed into a very small corner. They're the only humanoids on this planet that still "believe" (not really) that tasers cannot cause death via inherent internal risk factors such as, for example, cardiac effects.


And what's this about "a struggle" ?

When a person is tasered, they're supposed to be incapacitated. Remember "NMI"?

So they're not supposed to be in a position where they could be "struggling". They may be struggling to friggen breathe. They may be struggling to remain alive. But to claim that a person under the full force of an effective taser hit is simultaneously "struggling" in a voluntary manner appears to specious nonsense.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On their tightly twisted explanation

The US media have awakened from their slumber and are now fully reporting on the new taser targeting guidelines. [LINK]

This about two full weeks after the news broke just ever so slightly north of the USA. In a large country that also uses English. A country that is connected to the very same Internet.

Mark Silverstein, legal director of the Colorado American Civil Liberties Union, who has tracked Taser issues for years, said the bulletin means that police departments should now be asking questions about liability and reconsider how the stun gun is used.

"This is further evidence that law-enforcement agencies need to stop and ask if they have been sold a bill of goods," he said. "This (training) bulletin confirms what critics have said for years: that Taser has overstated its safety claims.. .. (It) has to be read as if Tasers can cause cardiac arrest." [LINK]

Update: "We've had concerns for a long time, first of all, about the dangers of Tasers, we know they can cause seriously injury and death," said Marjorie Esman of the Louisiana chapter of the ACLU. "I don't think they'd be saying this, if there wasn't an indication of possible danger. They might not want to admit it, but they wouldn't be issuing a statement like this, if they didn't know that there is in fact a real risk of serious danger." [LINK]

I think that the explanation offered by Taser International provides a useful trip-wire. If someone is willing to admit that they accept the finely nuanced explanation being offered, then they reveal themselves to either be a drooling moron, or they're in on it.

It is my view that these new taser targeting guidelines were issued for the primary purpose of limiting the growth of "excited delirium" deaths and "purely coincidental cardiac events". If my theory is correct, then we will see a noticable decrease in the monthly taser-associated death rate as tracked on the Truth...Not Tasers blog.

There's already been a decrease from about seven per month (long term running average) to more like five per month over more-recent months. The most logical explanation is that the public outcry is having the desired effect, saving lives. The effect in Canada, where the public reaction has been intense, is very clear. From five taser-associated deaths in a three month period during late-2007, six during all of 2008, and 'only' (sic) one so far during 2009.

If you're paying attention, these trends are crystal clear.

210717

Google News [LINK]



NY Times [LINK]

Best comment: "Hubris personified."


Update (Friday, 23 Oct.) - "BernardKerik" hasn't Twittered (Tweeted?) for 4 days now. I guess he's busy. Or maybe he's in a location with poor cell phone coverage.

JotD:
Q: "Bernard B. Kerik" - What's the middle initial for?
A: "Behind_Bars"

(Mr. Kerik was on the Board of Directors of Taser International during 2002 to 2005.)

Fort Worth police will improve "taser" training

FORT WORTH, TX - The Fort Worth Police Department will soon be facing a second lawsuit related to the use of taser devices by officers. An attorney for 29-year old Marcus Swiat is prepared to file a civil lawsuit in the next few days. A bystander captured video of Swiat being tased up to eight times by several officers outside a downtown bar last year. ... Officers are also seen kicking Swiat, who has since moved from the North Texas area. Swiat's attorney, Brian Eberstein says Swiat was later acquitted of the charges against him, including public intoxication. ...Chief Jeffrey Halstead has recently called for improved taser training, which is set to begin next year. [LINK]

Chief, it's not "improved" taser training. It's replacement training to repair the mental damage caused when police trainees have taser darts fired into their back, thereby electrically fusing their assholes directly to their brain stems. Judging by the outcomes, they're thinking with their poop-chutes.

So Chief, who exactly supplied your existing training? Is it fair to describe it as "defective"? Hey, just asking!


And all caught on video!

I swear to God that there will one day be an example of such feral cop abuse caught on fricken Imax 70mm 3D film with 7.1 channel surround sound.

The first question in court will be, "Officer, at what point did you and your collegues notice the 300-strong film crew from NHK Japan and the Discovery Channel USA filming your activities?"

Anyway, the city police in Ottawa Canada set up 'Use of Force' training and it appeared to help. It's not a cure-all, but they're doing better than localities that lack such training.

First grammatical tip: lawful 'force' is a noun, not a verb.

Second tip: do not trust people selling sh_t. They're salesmen. What? Did you really expect them to have your best interests at heart?

Taser QotW: on Bernie Kerik

A "toxic combination of self-minded focus and arrogance...", Judge Robinson.

...

Mr. Kerik sat on the Board of Directors of Taser International between 2002 and 2005.

The X26 taser was introduced in mid-2003.


By the way... Mr. Kerik's $500,000 bail was reportedly secured against his house (?). Does this mean that his house, or at least $500G of it, will be forfeited as a result of this? If so, then 'Ouch!'

False claims that an electrocution death is necessarily instant

Taser International minions have repeatedly claimed that death by simple (high power) electrocution is necessarily instantaneous. They use this argument to try to excuse themselves from any taser-associated death where the death was delayed by any noticeable amount of time.

I'm sure that death by simple electrocution often is instantaneous.

But not always...

"At approximately 8:40 PM on Monday, October 12, [three people] were putting up an antenna at night when they lost control of the antenna and it crashed into nearby overhead power lines. The impact sent 13,000 volts of electricity through the pole the three were holding. One was pronounced dead at the scene. When paramedics arrived, the other two were not breathing; rescue crews immediately tried to resuscitate them. They were transported to a hospital where they later died." [LINK] [LINK]

[My condolences to the family and friends. It's a horrific accident.]

To prove a claim false requires only a single counter-example. This is at least the second such incident that I've reported on this blog.

This post is NOT intended to compare being tasered to contacting a power line. Although the taser open circuit peak voltage is 50,000 volts, and the power line in this report is 13,000 volts, that's not the issue. The power line is much higher power than the taser. The only point of this post is to provide yet another counter example which indicates that things are perhaps not as simple as the some "experts" might think.

Death by electrocution, even in the simplest case, need not necessarily be instantaneous. The situation with the taser can only be more subtle and more complicated.

The existence of a time delay between being tasered and being dead provides only a very weak argument against causality. It can certainly be considered (fair is fair), but it certainly should not be weighted very highly.


And those "experts" using the argument described above, and not acknowledging the exceptions, should have their entire "expert" testimony discounted as being obviously not being from an informed friend of the court.

Bernie Kerik jailed

See [LINK].

Judge Robinson described him as a "toxic combination of self-minded focus and arrogance..."

...

Mr. Kerik sat on the Board of Directors of Taser International between 2002 and 2005.

The X26 taser was introduced in mid-2003.

Presented without comment: [LINK]

South Austrlian opposition leader opens mouth to reveal empty cranium

ABC News (Australia) - South Australian Opposition leader Isobel Redmond has offered to be tasered to prove the worth of the electrical stun guns for police. ... Ms Redmond says tasers are much safer than guns, and she has proposed police be provided with 500 of them. She says she is prepared to be tasered herself if it will help her argument. "If it'll prove the point yes I will, blah blah blah blah but you know, if you ask me the same question about blah blah blah blah would I be prepared to be shot, then no," she said. "We've got police who blah blah blah blah blah are out there confronting people who are in the midst of a psychotic outbreak [or speeding], the choice between gun shooting or a taser, I think that's a better option from both sides of the equation." [LINK]





Okay - go for it. But don't hold back now!

None of those FAKE [LINK] taser hits to the back.

No using using those short "training" darts [LINK] or clip-on wires.

No "underpowered training aide". [LINK]

Don't limit yourself to just one or two seconds, or not more than five seconds.

Make sure you fall down and roll around, dislodging the darts and/or breaking off the wires, with the 50,000 volt (peak, capable of jumping 2-inches) establishing new random current injection points between, perhaps, your left arm and buttocks (for example). [LINK] [LINK]

Let's see twenty-eight (28) [LINK] 5-second cycles with the two full-length taser darts firmly embedded: 1) just below your sternum, and 2) left shoulder.

And send the taser out for calibration first (typically, about 10% are defective). [LINK] [LINK]

Good luck.

Don't worry. If one ping-pong ball doesn't kill you, then two thousand, six-hundred and sixty-six (2666) won't kill you either.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Former Taser International Director Bernie Kerik jailed

It has been reported that Taser International's original Six-Million Dollar Man [LINK], Mr. Bernie Kerik [LINK], has been ordered to jail.

Before revoking the bail of Mr. Kerik, Judge Robinson described him as a “toxic combination of self-minded focus and arrogance, and I fear that combination leads him to believe his ends justify his means.” [LINK] [LINK]

[Okay... Sorry about that. I was attempting to post this from a mobile device and frankly, I was laughing so hard that it was nearly impossible to continue typing on the little tiny keyboard. So I had to switch to a full size keyboard.]

“He sees the court’s rulings as an inconvenience,” Judge Robinson said, “something to be ignored, and an obstacle to be circumvented.”



After the proceeding, Mr. Kerik loosened his tie and removed papers and a wallet from his pockets. He then carefully took off a chain and medallion and handed it to one of his lawyers. He was led away, not in handcuffs, by court officers.

See also Reuters: [LINK]

Bernie Kerik was on the Taser Board of Directors (2002-2005). He made $6.2M through stock options. The X26 taser was introduced in mid-2003 (during Kerik's tenure at Taser).

A question of credibility...

For years, Taser International has strenuously denied any possibility that tasers could ever affect the heart. Their denial was not half-hearted. It was a confident and self-assured denial.

Dr. (not a medical doctor) Mark Kroll intoned the various reasons why the taser was hugely, massively, essentially-perfectly safe with respect to inherent internal risk factors such as cardiac effects.

Even when presented with the cold hard facts of young men, healthy and drug free, being tasered in the chest and being dead within minutes, they still would not allow the possibility of any risk whatsoever.

And then, in late-September 2009, they quietly release new taser targeting guidelines that recommend avoiding the chest.

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed

It's way past time for political leaders and law enforcement decision makers to stop putting their utter faith in these people. Face facts, they're stun gun salesmen. Of course they're going to be able to stand in a bucket of turds and speak eloquently for hours without ever mentioning the bucket of turds. We would expect no less a performance. But facts are facts.

- They've denied the risk for years.

- Others, such as this blogger and many others, have been observing and reporting the obvious facts.

- Now they've essentially admitted that there actually is a cause for concern. And it's sufficiently serious for them to swallow their pride and advise avoiding taser chest hits. It is not some minor concession. Wouldn't you want to be a fly on the wall during that meeting?

So, what have we been friggen telling you all this time?



Best keep d'em d'ere ping-pong balls away from d'e chest, eh? LOL

Kroll: "If one ping-pong ball hit to the head does not kill you, 1,000 probably cannot either."

Too bad Prof Savard found a linear relationship between taser exposure time and risk of death.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Unreliable P.o.S.

Syracuse, NY (October 19, 2009) - A suspect allegedly trying to flee arrest during a traffic stop Saturday shook off three shots from a taser... Barasheen R. Moody, 27, ...pulled out of Officer Scott Prutsman’s grasp and ran north... When Moody ignored Prutsman’s order to stop the officer fired his taser but Moody shook off its effects.... Two other shots also had no effect on Moody and after the third one Moody grabbed Prutsman’s right arm and tried to turn the taser on him, the officer reported. ... [LINK]

What the heck is going on? The same thing has been reported twice before in recent days. [LINK]


Update: The trend continues...

Pinellas Park - ...a motorist reported that a wild boar was running down busy Park Boulevard... Several officers chased it into a backyard, where one tried to use his taser on it, but it did not slow the animal. Instead, it turned and charged another officer, knocking him down. [LINK]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

NYPD stumbles across new guidelines

The US media has been sleeping as Taser International issued new taser Targeting Guidelines.

Finally, the story has broken.

Gothamist (October 18, 2009) - "Taser International Inc. has issued a warning about taser chest-shots, suggesting that law enforcement officers aim their tasers at perpetrators' backs, arms, or abdomens. In response to the warning, the NYPD brass has formally ordered officers not to shoot tasers at suspects' chests. ...

...A source also tells the News that Taser International did not actually notify the NYPD about the warning.
" [LINK]


Really? Taser International didn't bother to explicitly inform them? Wow.

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed

Taser QotW: "Is that the best you've got?"

Australia - A North Queensland man, aged 21, has stunned police by proving impervious to a Taser deployment and casually removing the barbs - not once but three times. Octavian Borges casually removed the barbs fired into his upper body by police during a tense situation at Townsville on Monday.

...so the weapon was deployed with the barbs hitting him in the shoulder and rib area. Incredibly, the Taser appeared to have no effect on him and he removed the barbs, taunting police with “is that the best you’ve got?” Second and third taser deployments were also unsuccessful.
[LINK]

The most likely explanation for the first failure is defective equipment. Given the relatively high failure rate (10 to 12% of tasers in Canada were found to be out of spec) it just seems to be the most likely explanation.

Update - police will send the unreliable taser for testing. [LINK] Hey, suggest you test all of them. Double-digit failure rate is common in Canada.

The QA standards at Taser International are best described as erratic. I've not seen any mention that they're ISO9000 or CMMI certified. Perhaps they are, but most companies highlight such achievements prominently.

Given the life and death nature of their products, perhaps it's past the time when the P.O.s should include a clause demanding independently audited Quality Assurance standards such as ISO9000.


And in other news...

Tacoma - ...used a Taser on the driver, but with no effect. The driver and a passenger sped away, dragging the Kent police officer. ... [LINK]

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Taser International, Inc (TASR) - 3rd Quarter results

Taser International, Inc. (TASR), a leading manufacturer of stun guns that can - occasionally and almost-randomly - "cause death", has achieved the following results during the 3rd quarter of 2009 (July [LINK], August [LINK], and September [LINK] of 2009 [LINK]).

A total of fifteen (15) people have reportedly died in taser-associated incidents during this three-month period. [LINK]

Their average age was about 35 years.

#434 - July 2, 2009: Rory McKenzie, 25, Bakersfield, California
#435 - July 30, 2009: Jonathan Michael Nelson, 27, Riverside County, California
#436 - August 9, 2009: Terrace Clifton Smith, 52, Moreno Valley, California
#437 - August 12, 2009: Ernest Owen Ridlehuber III, 53, Greenwood, South Carolina
#438 - August 14, 2009: Hakim Jackson, 31, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
#439 - August 18, 2009: Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38, Greensboro, North Carolina
#440 - August 20, 2009: Francisco P. Sesate, 36, Mesa, Arizona
#441 - August 22, 2009: T.J. Nance, 37, Arizona City, Arizona
#442 - August 26, 2009: Miguel Molina, 27, Los Angeles, California
#443 - August 27, 2009: Manuel Dante Dent, 27, Modesto, California
#444 - September 7, 2009: Shane Ledbetter, 38, Aurora, Colorado
#445 - September 16, 2009: Alton Warren Ham, 45, Modesto, California
#446 - September 19, 2009: Yuceff W. Young II, Brooklyn, Ohio
#447 - September 21, 2009: Richard Battistata, 44, Laredo, Texas
#448 - September 28, 2009: Derrick Humbert, 38, Bradenton, Florida


The recent five-per-month average is down slightly from the long-term running average of seven-per-month [LINK], and this reduction can almost certainly be attributed to the slow realization of the real-world facts about taser safety (*). Most police officers have very good moral judgment; suspecting that the device can "cause death" will tend to eliminate some of the overuse.

(* An alternate explanation for the downturn in the monthly rate of taser-associated deaths is that perhaps excited delirium is carried by a virus, and the recent emphasis on hand-washing because of H1N1 influenza has reduced the number of excited delirium deaths. Right? Hey? Makes sense, eh? Right? {rolls-eyes})

During this reporting period, it was noted that some jurisdictions are equipping their taser-equipped police cruisers with Automatic Defibrillators. [LINK] Unlike the market for built-in taser cameras to capture the direct results of obviously-defective training [LINK], company management is, ah, ...ahem..., not considering entry into the Automatic Defibrillator market.

During this reporting period the X3 [LINK] was introduced. The new X3 emits approximately 40% less electrical charge than the X26 (~63 vs. 100+ uC), but there's nothing to see here... move along now. Nobody wants to discuss the shape of Bell Curves and the real-world impact of a 40% reduction in output. The output waveform shape (duty cycle?) and resultant spectrum (dangerous low frequency, safer high frequency?) is apparently being kept under wraps. Nothing to see here, move along now.

During this reporting period, the $3.7M Braidwood Inquiry into tasers and the killing of Mr. Dziekanski made some conclusions about how taser can "cause death" [LINK], "through a variety of mechanisms" [LINK] [LINK], "even with healthy adults". They also concluded that blaming deaths on excited delirium was "unhelpful" (legal terminology that it is a crock of sh_t). And that using tasers on agitated individuals was "the worst possible response." [LINK]

See also [LINK] about other organizations' views on taser and risk of death.

During this reporting period, the Boise "Mounted" Police sodomized a man with their taser. [LINK] [LINK] But that's enough about that...

During this reporting period, police used a taser to take down an extremely-dangerous 14-year-old little girl before she hurt herself. [LINK] [LINK]

During this reporting period, it was reported that Michael Patrick Jacobs Jr., 24, primary cause of death was "sudden death during neuromuscular incapacitation due to application of a conducted energy device." [LINK] Perfectly healthy, 24 years old, tasered-and-died. You do the math.

During this reporting period, it was reported that Derek Jones, 17, died Jan. 8 of "acute cardiac dysrhythmia of uncertain etiology (cause)..." [LINK] 17-years-old, possibly slightly drunk, tasered-and-died. You do the math.

During this reporting period, there were report-after-report of five or six-figure settlements for stupid taser abuse (a.k.a. defective training, flawed policy). [LINK][LINK][LINK][LINK][LINK][LINK]

It just goes on and on and on...


Forward-looking statements (October...) can be found here:
  • Taser XREP Projectile violates their new taser Targeting Guidelines [LINK]
  • New taser Targeting Guidelines include "avoiding chest" [LINK]

Aftershocks in the case of Michael Patrick Jacobs Jr.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Fort Worth police officer Stephanie A. Phillips, who used a taser on a mentally ill man who died as a result of the two high-voltage shocks will not be disciplined and remains on patrol. Police Chief Jeff Halstead said the administrative investigation into the April 18 death of Michael Patrick Jacobs Jr. is closed but declined to comment on it. He said he turned it over to the district attorney and expects a grand jury to review the case next month. ... [LINK]

There's an argument that could be made that such incidents should be filed under, "Hey Smith-4-brains! I thought you told me that this piece of sh_t was safe."

[Update: Except in this case the first shock was an extraordinary 49 seconds. This extended duration leads directly in a muddle, because Taser International slyly advises against long duration shocks. But their 'Cardiac Safety' webpage (written by Taser minion Kroll) - adopted as official corporate policy by its prominent position on their website - advises that taser hits are like being hit with ping pong balls. Taser the subject all day and all night and they claim it'll do no harm at all. This sort of false claim of safety is why Taser International must be bankrupted. And the plaintiffs should go after the management and minions too.]

[Update 2: See comment from 'Critical Mass' about how the officer's report fails the smell test.]

In other words, the officer was told and trained that the weapon was "safe". This logic might arguably apply in the case of an individual officer, but at the higher levels of police leadership there has been an obvious lack of due diligence. Police officials have been played by the stungun salesmen; they shouldn't have displayed such naievity. At that level there's plenty of blame for all.

In August the medical examiner ruled that Jacobs' death was a homicide. Phillips stunned the 24-year-old with a 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. ...

An autopsy concluded that the primary cause of death was "sudden death during neuromuscular incapacitation due to application of a conducted energy device," and said no traces of alcohol or drugs, electrolyte imbalances, or signs of heart or lung disease were found...

Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem

Faithful blog reader 'Critical Mass' left a comment on the post Taser Quote of the Week - "...syllogism..."

It's a valuable comment and well worth putting in its own post.


If the discussion about tasers, "cause and effect" and rational thought is going to take center stage ["Syllogism"], the logical principle "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem" needs to be invoked. It is known as "Occam's Razor" [LINK] and roughly translated it says that when two or more competing explanations describe a series of connected events, the one employing the least factors is usually also the correct explanation.

By way of example, if we encounter an individual, taser him and he then dies, the simplest conclusion is "the taser killed him". Some may want to argue that a postmortem exam of the dead person revealed a heart condition, but Occam's Razor reminds us that the chance the "heart condition" killed the individual at the very same moment of the tasering is so remote, that it just muddies the logical waters and needs to be discarded.

The suggestion by Taser International's lawyer that alcoholism killed Robert Dziekanski is perhaps the most ludicrous example of trying to violate Occam's Razor.

The sequence of events in all "in custody" / "excited delirium" deaths is ALWAYS and SIMPLY this: an official applies a "method of restraint" and the subject dies. Occam's Razor points the finger of causality squarely at the "method of restraint". It leads a logical person to simply conclude that all taser deaths are Homicides.



Thoughtful readers will already be aware that the issue of cause-and-effect is distinct and separate from the question of lawful justification for lethal force. The denial of inherent risk and false claims of safety, combined with training that has clearly been defective, leads directly to overuse, misuse and abuse of tasers. This means that the taser has been used in cases where the actions of the subject obviously did not rise to the level where potentially-lethal force could ever be justified. It also leads to incidents that are indistinguishable from torture.

The root of the problem is that the taser leaves no obvious postmortem clues. Medical Examiners are left scratching their head, while Taser International whispers in their ear: "excited delirium, excited delirium, excited delirium..."

The idea that tasers can cause death, directly or indirectly, through a variety of mechanisms, even in healthy adults... These acknowledgements are now becoming more and more widely accepted. The denials of Taser International are like a distant, long-delayed echo of the 1970's Big Tobacco industry.

Once this obvious conclusion about the real world risk of friggen DEATH is honestly adopted by the law enforcement community, then tasers will be placed back in their proper place along side of rubber bullets and other potentially-lethal policing weapons.

Except perhaps, if there is any justice, the manufacturer will have been bankrupted by lawsuits.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Officer faints on witness stand during taser lawsuit

Strange little story from Texas...

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - ...Officer Marsh Blackmore was on the stand when he apparently fainted... [LINK]

Too much stress?

... In July of 2006, Lubbock Police Officer Blackmore tased L.J. McCallan during a traffic stop. ... Dashcam video has been shown numerous times to the jury since the trial began on Tuesday. McCallan testified that he did not have time to react to the police officer before he was tased. McCallan is seeking medical expenses and punitive damages. ...

Update: More here [LINK].

UPDATE (20 October 2009): Officer Blackmore was given the benefit of the doubt and has been cleared.

Taser Quote of the Week - "...syllogism..."

Globe and Mail - Taser's faulty syllogism goes like this: People have always died in police custody. They still die in police custody. Therefore the taser does not kill them. Does this follow? No. Yet this is what a lawyer for Taser International of Scottsdale, Ariz., argued at the inquiry before former appeal-court judge Thomas Braidwood in Vancouver this week. [LINK]

US Media on "Avoiding Chest"

Taser International must be holding their breath, hoping not to awaken the sleeping US media.

Their new Taser Man taser Targeting Guidelines ...

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed

...are making dozens of headlines in Canada and Australia, one in the UK [LINK], and still a firm ZERO in the USA (except for a few bloggers and such).

Taser training and demos - FAKE FAKE FAKE

Keep in mind that, for years, Taser International has held up the many taser hits that occur during training and demonstrations as some sort of supporting evidence of the taser's cardiac safety. And many review-type "studies" and reports make mention of the same thing, and then use it to support their conclusions that tasers-R-safe.


1) It's already been pointed out that taser training and demonstration hits have virtually always been fired into the idiot volunteers' backs, never their chests. Scroll through the posts here [LINK].

That's the biggest difference (back versus chest) between these FAKE taser hits during training, and the real world where people sometimes die almost immediately after being tasered.

And I question the motivation of those that would obviously know about this difference, and yet fail to explicitly highlight it in their "studies".


2) And it was recently noted here that the "Training Cartridges" have darts that have a penetration depth about 40% shorter than the real world darts. [LINK] Again, nobody bothers to mention these details when they conduct their little "studies" and write their little reports.


Well tonight, the penny dropped. There's a third difference (4th if you include the typical duration delta between 1-5 seconds vs. 31 seconds).

3) If you've seen the FAKE taser training and demonstration hits, another constant factor are the two helpful folks providing support so that the idiot volunteer doesn't fall down and hurt themselves.

But, in the real world, the taser is intended to knock people off their feet. They fall down. And when, in the real world, the subject falls down, they will dislodge taser darts, break off wires, roll around so the dart and/or wire are making electrical contact with who-knows-where on their body?

By providing unrealistic anti-fall support, the training protocol ALSO ENSURES that the taser waveform current is making contact with the back, and ONLY the back.

With taser hits during training:
- No rolling around on live taser wires carrying 50,000 volts that can jump at least two inches.
- No unforeseen current injection points.
- No possibility of invisible, zero evidence transcardiac pathways.

When I watch the Dziekanski video again tonight it was clear that the Closing Submission from Taser International to the Braidwood Inquiry was a hopeless and misleading over-simplification.

THEY HAVE NO IDEA where the taser waveform current may have been injected as Mr. Dziekanski flailed his arms like a windmill, fell down, and then rolled and squirmed on the floor.

Mr. Dziekanski was dead within minutes. And Taser International would like us to believe it was due to a history of drinking. [LINK]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Taser International's new XREP includes "Hand Trap" feature that violates new Targeting Guidelines

Man-oh-man. What a cock-up...

(Taser International is going to hate me for making this observation public.)

As we've seen, Taser International recently released the new Taser Man taser targeting guidelines that clearly emphasized their considered advice to avoid shooting the taser anywhere on the subject's chest, while subtly including the arms too (for self-evident reasons, at least for the left arm...).

Well, guess what?

The new Taser XREP shotgun-fired, self-contained taser electroshock device specifically includes a feature (the "Hand Trap" wire) that is specifically intended to deliver the taser waveform current via the arm if the opportunity presents itself.

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed

Marketing nause: "...In fact, if the subject even grabs the tether, a live hand-trap wire makes a connection and the NMI effect is delivered through the hand, preventing the subject from letting go." [found in original marketing material]

There's a design-intent that some fraction of the subjects hit by the Taser XREP will instinctively reach for the device and thereby create a new current pathway that runs through the arm. It's a design feature put there for that very purpose.

To summarize, Taser International strongly advises that taser electroshock not be applied to the chest (and arms), shortly after introducing a new product (the XREP) the includes explicit features intended to apply the taser electroshock into the subject's hand (...arm, shoulder, chest).

Awkward, eh?

PS: Taser International also advises avoiding repeated X26 5-second cycles. But the XREP cycle is 20 seconds each. I've not seen any data on the waveform, but their marketing compares the XREP to the X26, implying the waveform currents are comparable in magnitude.


(Why-oh-why am I the only person on Earth that is reviewing this stuff and uncovering these sorts of obvious issues. I'm like a one-man government ECD Regulating Agency.)


UPDATE: On 12 October 2009, Taser International issued Revision 2 of the new guidelines. They've reinstated the hands and arms as preferred taser target regions. [LINK] They've not explained this change. But it does avoid having to recall all the XREP products.

A Simple Explanation...

See [LINK].

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The missing taser dart may explain the outcome

UPDATED - Re. 2nd dart location.

I read through the Closing Submission from Taser International to the Braidwood Inquiry. [LINK]

The big picture is that Taser International continues to control what they amusingly refer to as "the science". If you're not a member of their little club, then your findings are "junk science".


But more importantly, one series of reported facts caught my eye.

I may have spotted a possibility that perhaps no one else has considered. At least I haven't yet stumbled across any reports that the following possibility has been considered.


The submission reports that one taser dart hit Mr. Dziekanski in the chest just below the sternum. And that first taser dart reportedly buried itself in and left a good mark. This taser dart just below the sternum is Part A of a possible worst case taser current vector.

But where did the other taser dart land?

CORRECTED: The submission goes on to report that the location where the second taser dart landed was uncertain. Furthermore, the submission reports that the second taser dart apparently did not make good contact, didn't stay attached, didn't leave a puncture wound, the taser wire was broken at some point, and the dart itself was lost (reportedly never found).

Hmmmm...

Has anyone considered the possibility that Mr. Dziekanski, in the process of flailing his arms at the beginning of the taser incident (clearly visible on the YouTube video [LINK], starting at 5m30s), may have made contact with the second wire, thereby establishing a contact (an arc path, remember it is 50,000 volts peak for that exact purpose) from the second taser wire to his left arm?

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed.


It's not really that far-fetched a suggestion... Kinda obvious actually.

And if this occurred, then this would provide Part B of a worst case taser current vector, between the left arm and a point just below the sternum. (This is equivalent to the upper left chest to just below the sternum that I challenged Taser International to make their taser training protocol.)

Also, remember that the new Taser Man targeting guidelines explicitly exclude the arms. Probably because the left one makes a good taser conductor.

This seems like a possibility that may bridge the gap between the "science", and the real world results.


So why wasn't this fairly-obvious possibility raised by the Taser International's so-called Subject Matter Experts?

Oh sorry. Rhetorical question...


UPDATE: To make this post complete, I must point out that Taser International has issued a Revision 2 of the new taser targeting guidelines. For no apparent reason (LOL) they have reinstated the hands and arms as preferred taser target areas. This changes jives with their own financial motivation, but I'm not sure how it would make any sense from a taser current vector versus cardiac safety point of view.

14 October 2007

Pay attention to the dates.

...Canada slept...

#17 - Robert Dziekanski, 40 - Vancouver, BC - October 14, 2007 - RCMP - tasered 5 times - "Official" cause of death: Cardiac arrest

...Canada opened one eye...

#18 - Quilem Registre, 39 - Montreal, QC - October 17, 2007 - X26 - tasered 6 times - "Official" cause of death: Necrosis of the liver, small intenstine and colon with contributing factors of 60mg/100 ml blood alcohol level and non quantified level of metabolite cocaine

...Canada opened both eyes...

#19 - Howard Hyde, 45 - Halifax, NS - November 22, 2007 - tasered 2 times - "Official" cause of death: "Excited delirium" due to paranoid schizophrenia, with contributing factors of Coronary artery disease, obesity and restraint

...Canada sat bolt upright, wide awake...

#20 - Robert Knipstrom, 36 - Chilliwack, BC - November 24, 2007 - RCMP - # of times tasered: "no comment" from RCMP

...Canada exploded...


Did you notice the dates?

In case you're not from Canada, Yes, it made the news.

Everyone, and I mean everyone with a brainwave, noticed that people were being tasered_and_dying.

I started this blog the very next day:
November 25, 2007. [LINK]

This blog is: "Dedicated to Robert Dziekanski and all the others..."

Taser lawyer David Neave hurls insults

VANCOUVER — A lawyer representing Taser International attacked the medical opinions that Robert Dziekanski died as a result of being Tasered at Vancouver International Airport almost two years ago as “junk science.” Taser Lawyer David Neave told the Braidwood Commission inquiring into Dziekanski’s death that there was no evidence that “the Taser device caused or contributed to his death.” [LINK]


Really? No evidence whatsoever? None?

I guess if you choose to completely and utterly ignore the timeline. Disregard the universal axis of time, one of the four mutually-orthoganol directions in the space-time continuum. Why would anyone in their right mind choose to totally ignore the blatently obvious time sequence? Oh, I guess that's a rhetorical question, isn't it?

Mr. Dziekanski was tasered five times for a total of 31 seconds and was dead within minutes.

The most significant thing that occurred to Mr. Dziekanski during the last couple of minutes of his life was that he was tasered, and tasered, and tasered, and tasered, and tasered again. This would be 'the most significant' by a factor of, oh..., about one hundred.

His last words (in Polish) were: "Have you lost your mind?" Not exactly strong evidence that he was completely out-of-touch with reality. When I see the video, I want to ask the taser-happy RCMP officers the exact same question.

Here is the timeline [LINK] drawn to a fairly accurate scale.

Basing the claim of inherent safety on a lack of explicit postmortem evidence, when that is exactly what would be expected for a device that is sufficiantly low power as to not be capable of leaving any explicit postmortem clues, but is obviously strong enough to cause death in some percentage of cases where the taser darts happen to land in a critical location on the victim's body.

For example, ...ahem... the chest.

And as far as "speculation" is concerned, the real world evidence, for example the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry", or the finding by Prof. Savard that the risk of death is linearly proportional to taser exposure time, etc. ...these real world observations indicating direct cause-and-effect obviously take precedence over so-called "studies" where even I (a layman) can spot and describe the logical and systematic flaws.

For example, the inherent circular logic of excluding two taser-associated deaths, leaving zero, because there was no postmortem evidence. And this Wake Forest study was led by Dr. Bozeman who is quoted as saying (basically) that '...of course tasers are capable of killing...".

For example, all the so-called studies where they follow the training protocol and apply short taser hits (1, 2, or 5 seconds) to "various locations" using non-penetrating alligator clips. And we've recently noted that the darts used on training (always fired into the back) are about 40% shorter penetration depth than the real darts used on the street. And nobody but nobody ever mentions such details as the exact location of the "various" locations used.

For example, the pathetic computer model (Unileg Weeble man) that not only proved that taser were safe, but simultaneously proved they would have no effect whatsoever except to make one chest muscle twitch. [LINK]

For example, the many so-called studies that perhaps (at best) indicated that there was not a high risk of death. Duh. Strawman argument. We are arguing about low to moderate risk of death even under the worst taser darts on chest. Studying a small number of healthy volunteers not only does not answer The Main Question, it simply muddles the issue (I strongly suspect it is intentional).

For example, Taser International holding up studies of lower INJURY rates (where taser dart puncture wounds are defined as a non-injury while baton-induced injuries are counted - more circular logic), while failing to answer the mail on death rates per full deployment to the chest.

For example, where is the M26 versus X26 death rate per full deployment to the chest?

For example, where is the death rate for chest hits versus taser hits in locations that would obviously be safer?

Because the pipeline has been solidly plugged up with defectively-structured studies, many with flaws so obvious that even a layman can spot them a mile away, and with a history of nondisclosure of ties to Taser International, denial of negative findings to local government officials, redacting obviously critical technical information, etc...

And you complain about besmirching their reputation?!??!

Good night.

Taser Quote of the Week - "Please turn around..."

Queensland (Australia) Police Union general president Ian Leavers:

"It's just not practical to ask a suspect to turn around so they can be Tasered in the back."

[LINK] via TNT [LINK]

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Niagara Regional Police will avoid taser chest hits

Niagara Regional Police have joined the growing ranks of police forces changing their Taser policies following a warning by the weapon’s manufacturer. Last week, the NRP changed its use of Taser policy, instructing officers not to shoot the weapons into the chests of suspects after Taser International said it might be dangerous. ... (emphasis added) [LINK]

LOL. I'm really enjoying this...

It's because Taser International tried so hard to nuance the wording: "...avoid controversy...". But the fundamental truth, as so clearly indicated by the new Taser Man targeting guidelines image, has completely swamped their subtle intent.

They must be very frustrated by how this is being interpreted (i.e. correctly) by audiences in Canada and Australia.

In other words, the truth has squirmed free in spite of their attempt to muddle it.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed

An open letter to New Zealand

Comment left on the Eastern Courier, New Zealand. [LINK]

The fundamental issue with tasers is that they can, occassionally and randomly, cause death. The manufacturer has, until recently, strenuously denied that a taser could ever cause death. But within the past two weeks, they have issued new taser targeting guidelines that advise "avoiding the chest". As well as advising against excessive durations.

In the course of investigating, for the past two years, the issue of "taser-associated" deaths, I have uncovered many examples of Taser International muddling the issue, confusing decision makers, promoting "excited delirium" as an explanation for many of the 450+ deaths, and redacting critical technical information from technical documentation. My blog, that documents my findings and observations, has more than 1300 posts on this complex and sometimes subtle issue.

Provided that the police clearly understand that use of tasers carries risks, including the risk of death, then they can, at the very least, adapt their training and policies to minimize the harm.

But if the police are under the spell of the stungun salesmen, and fall for the false claims of essentially-perfect safety with respect to inherent internal risk factors such as cardiac effects, then people that did nothing to deserve lethal force will eventually be killed.

Some will claim that only raving loons would accept the view that tasers can kill. To refute that specious garbage, here is a brief list of those that have accepted that tasers can kill: US AMA, Canadian RCMP, UN, Amnesty International, Canadian Braidwood Inquiry, Wake Forest University's Dr. Bozeman, many distinguished experts, and more.

And now Taser International is subtly back-pedalling on the issue with their latest advice.

The Braidwood Inquiry has cost about $3.7M. New Zealand could skip learning this lesson the hard way and take advantage of the lessons learned in Canada.

Inappropriate taser ads on CBC.ca website

First of all, tasers are considered to be "prohibited firearms" in Canada. It is not legal for Canadian residents to possess them. CBC shouldn't be advertising them.

Second, given the controversy about tasers and death, we shouldn't encourage them.

Third, the irony doesn't look good.

I assume that CBC webmasters will block these inappropriate ads as soon as they can.

No blame, just a simple observation.

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kinda makes you wonder...

A friend of this blog pointed out that the new Taser Man targeting guidelines, which really hit the Canadian news starting late last week, is being completely ignored (up to now) by the media in the USA.

Fair Use / Fair Dealing claimed

I just checked for myself using Google.com News.

The story is very well covered by Canadian news outlets, in spite of this being the Canadian Thanksgiving Day weekend.

The story is making headlines in Australia.

Reuters news agency mentioned it.

And although it's logically impossible to prove a negative, I can find ZERO mention of this important development in any US news outlet.

More likely to be apathy and low journalistic standards than conspiracy. But it's enough to make you wonder...

Taser 'Quote of the Week' by George Hateley, Australian taser distributor

George Hateley, distibutor of tasers in Australia, "There have been about 2 million people who have been exposed to [a] taser....and no-one's been affected." [LINK]

"...no-one's been affected..."

"...no-one..."

Much more on Mr. Hateley... [LINK]

Outrageous False statement by Australian Taser distributor George Hateley

The Australian distributor of the device, George Hateley, says police in one Canadian province are following the advice. He says it is based on the findings of a single researcher who drilled into a pig's heart to test the Taser's effect on the animal. "That's going way beyond what you need to, and certainly pigs are different to humans," he said. "There have been about 2 million people who have been exposed to Taser - probably a million in training - and no-one's been affected." [LINK]

One could be forgiven for being tempted to call Mr. Hateley "a bald-faced liar", but I will try to resist that temptation. But his reported statement is outrageous. To claim that "...no-one's been affected..." is such an outrageous and bald-face false statement that there's only one possible conclusion...

Australians should take note of this approach by the distributor of tasers. If he is willing to make such outrageously false statements, then can you trust anything he says?


At least the new taser targeting guidelines have made the news Down Under.
See also The Australian [LINK].