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, November 30, 2009

Ozark police officer that tasered little girl - FIRED

Dustin Bradshaw, "...the [Ozark] police officer who used a stun gun on an unruly 10-year-old girl has been fired for violating department policy — not for using the taser but for failing to use the camera attached to it. ..." [LINK]

Sure...

Anyone else wondering if this is the real reason? Or maybe there's more to the story than is being discussed in public.

Deputy's taser ineffective, suspect's rifle works just fine

More news of deputies bringing a taser to a gun fight.

"...The taser apparently didn't work, and [the suspect] grabbed a .22 calibre bolt action rifle and squeezed off a shot [hitting the deputy, Lt. Craig Ammons, in the arm]..." [LINK]

[We wish Lt. Ammons a speedy recovery.]

Now, do you think that the suspect would have reached for his rifle if he had been staring back at a police revolver?

Geesh, do you think maybe tasers have been oversold?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Set your phasers on 'ineffective'

Taser Doesn't Phase Dog on Attack - Police eventually had to shoot the 120-pound Rottweiler/Pit Bull [LINK]

The only reason I mention this sort of incident is that Taser International continues to promote their stun gun weapons as generally "Safe and Effective". Well obviously they're not always effective. There are plenty of news items where the taser is not effective.

And if they're wrong on that half of the double-barreled claim, then maybe the bit about "safe" is equally invalid.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taser doesn't work (twice), gun doesn't kill (twice)

Meriden, CT - ...Officers deployed their tasers twice on the suspect, but they could not penetrate the clothing he was wearing. Police said the suspect, later identified as 47-year-old William Arnold of Meriden, pulled a knife and tried to attack one of the officers.  A second officer pulled out his gun and shot Arnold twice - once in the stomach and once in the leg. Arnold was taken to Hartford Hospital where he is listed in stable condition. ... [LINK]

Don't misunderstand my intent. I'm not "in favour" of police gun fire.

The first point is that tasers are ineffective at a rate that is disappointingly, and perhaps (to some) surprisingly, high. And these utterly failed deployments, if they're counted as deployments, tend to wash out the calculated real-world risk ratio inherent in tasers. It's a statistical adjustment worth keeping in mind when calculating the numerical value of the inherent risk of taser "associated" death from internal risk factors.

And the second point is that, contrary to instinct, police gun fire is not always fatal. That's another statistical adjustment worth keeping in mind when evaluating the selling points offered by the slick-talking stun gun salesmen.

Battle continues in Brattleboro

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

I have posted previously on that stupid taser torture incident in Brattleboro, VT. This is the incident where the police removed their thinking caps and replaced them with brain-stem-based taser brainwashing, and then (mis)used a taser to torture two protestors to force (verb) them to release themselves from the barrel to which they had chained themselves.

I had no idea of the magnitude of the directly resultant legal battles. Based on this latest news item [LINK], the legal sh_t storm is about three or four times bigger than I had imagined.

One important tidbit is that the police involved in this incident reportedly did not have permission from the land owner to evict the protestors from the vacant lot. Which obviously leaves open the option of doing nothing and allowing the protestors to protest until they get bored and go home. Or use non-violent methods such as negotiation, or lawful force (the noun).

But by bringing the taser into the situation "to save time" (sic), the police have made a dumbass tactical error with huge strategic consequences.

For example: "...former Brattleboro Police Chief John Martin, who was fired by the town in part for his handling of the incident. Martin later won a lawsuit against the town over his firing and received a cash settlement..."

Even though the former police chief won the lawsuit, the incident and his dismissal (and the lawsuit!) aren't going make his C.V. look attractive to any towns looking for a police chief.


Face facts: Tasers are very controversial. Taser use, overuse, misuse and abuse are always going to be in the spotlight. That makes them a very poor choice unless you wish to spend the next several years in court.


In the Brattleboro incident, imagine if the police had kept their thinking caps on. Brought coffee and doughnuts to the chained-up protestors. Calmly talked to them, identified them and issued tickets (if applicable). Dropped by every couple of hours with more coffee and to make sure that they're okay. More coffee. Maybe some root beer. Think!!! Protestors chained to barrel, bladders full to the point of bursting, a faint whiff of wee. Want more coffee?

If the police hadn't been brainwashed on the "usefulness" of their "handy-dandy" tasers, then perhaps they could have lined-up several functioning neurons and found a better approach that wouldn't make the national news and cost six or seven figures.

This stupid taser incident in Brattleboro is a clear example that tasers do not replace guns. They replace clever police work.

And non-clever police work is extremely expensive.

Taser QotW: Penny drops 90% of the way down in NJ

Opponents point out that stun guns can be dangerous, even fatal, if improperly used. If that is the reason for the attorney general's hesitancy to authorize broader use, maybe it's better to leave New Jersey's ban in place until lower-powered versions that can safely subdue a suspect with even less harm are developed. ... [LINK]

Consider the above in light of the following cold hard facts:

1) The X26 taser introduced in 2003 is the most dangerous taser ever made. This was even acknowledged by Taser International's own bought-and-paid-for minion.
2) The X26 taser is only slightly more effective (5% by their own numbers) than the previous model, the M26 "Advanced" (sic) taser introduced in 1999.
3) The monthly taser "associated" death toll ramped up from less than one per month to about seven per month starting in 2003, strangely coincident with the introduction of the X26.
4) The X26 taser waveform contains more dangerous low frequency spectral components that are also continuous 100% duty cycle. Taser International had previously claimed that the older M26 taser was "safe" because its output is high frequency and very, very low duty cycle.
5) The newest taser, the X3 just introduced, emits about 40% less electrical charge as compared to the X26.
6) Taser International, to the best of my ability to search, is keeping the X3 waveform shape under wraps.

These points just skim the surface. All these points have been explored in this blog.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"We have enough complaints already, thank you."

CBC News - [corrections added] The federal government will not be reappointing Paul Kennedy as the chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, CBC News has learned. Kennedy, whose last day on the job will be Dec. 31, reportedly would have accepted another term. He was interested in seeing through anticipated new legislation to bring in a civilian oversight agency for the RCMP. Kennedy recently completed an investigation into the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport and has investigated in-custody deaths, taser use [overuse, misuse and abuse] and how Mounties investigate [whitewash] themselves.

A statement from the office of Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan didn't actually indicate that the government is currently in negotiations with the Excited-Delirium.com blogger to take over the role effective with the start of the new year. The Excited-Delirium blogger was not available for interview by our deadline. ;-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

VT State Police deny wrongdoing, then issue $40k check

CHELSEA, Vt. (Thursday, November 26, 2009) - The Vermont Attorney General’s Office has paid $40,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a man who claims he was tasered in 2006 by state police as he was having a seizure that was mistaken as an attempt to resist arrest. Lawrence Fairbrother of Fairlee, 57, said he’s been unable to work for years because of a disorder that causes sudden, random seizures. He was shocked by an electric stun-gun by police who had been called to assist him with a medical problem. He was charged with driving under the influence, which was later dropped. ... State police deny wrongdoing, state assistant attorney general J.J. Tyzbir told the Valley News. ... [LINK]

An attempted Thanksgiving Day news burial. LOL.

Take a moment to think about the denial of wrong-doing that accompanies the $40,000 check. Is the VT AG seriously claiming that the police did nothing wrong, but that they folded like a cheap lawn chair and settled anyway? WTF? In other words, he is claiming that even in cases where they "did nothing wrong", they will issue five-figure settlements for any taser incidents?

Let's assume for the moment that his denial isn't the normal rubbish, toss-away garbage statement often made in these circumstances. If it is true, then it makes the taser one heck of an expensive way to conduct police business. There are many other approaches that wouldn't cost $40,000.

Other subjects that might have been tasered in similar circumstances should form an orderly queue.

Personally, I'd suggest that the amount of the settlement be adjusted to account for the lack of an explicit apology. Denial of wrong doing should be a very expensive option.

Update - See the BigBaldwin blog. [LINK]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Let's review that cost-benefit analysis again...

Ottawa, OntarioActing on a request [ouch!] by the Solicitor General of British Columbia, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) is expanding its Chair-initiated complaint and public interest investigation into all Taser-related in-custody deaths and to look specifically into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Clay Alvin Willey in Prince George, B.C. on July 22, 2003. ... [via LINK]


Taser International's distributor in Canada is located in British Columbia (B.C.).

Tasers were first introduced into Canada in B.C. [LINK] [LINK]

B.C. has historically been a bit of a taser hot spot in Canada in absolute numbers. [LINK] Or even in relative numbers. [LINK]

Taser use in B.C. is the subject of investigation after investigation [LINK], inquest after inquest [LINK], inquiry after inquiry [LINK], complaint after complaint [LINK] [LINK], report after report [LINK], etc.


At first glance, and second and third and fourth glance too, more tasers seems to lead to more problems.

Taser QotW: "didn't just happen stop"

ST. GEORGE — The St. George Citizen's Review Panel, a volunteer police watchdog group operating in St. George and Hurricane, issued a letter critical of the Hurricane Police Department's actions in the Brian Cardall tasering incident... "My feelings on that are this guy's heart didn't just happen to stop when he was hit by the taser," board member Ronald Smith... [LINK]

Read the letter included at the above link. OMG.

Lawsuit-magnet Taser International celebrates

Internationally-recognized lawsuit-magnet and full-time litigant Taser International, maker of the world famous lawsuit-magnet-in-itself (*) "Taser" stun-gun, proudly announces that they've wriggled out from under yet another lawsuit. Whippety doo dah.

"We are very proud of the fact that we spend far more money on legal costs and settlements disguised as wins than we actually make in net profit," a spokespuppet didn't actually say. "We sincerely hope that our long-suffering investors don't catch-on to the fact that it is never going to end," the spokespuppet didn't say.


* Headlines from just the past couple of days:
Tasered Utah man sues police for $200,000 [LINK]
Taser arrest man plans legal move [LINK]
Davis County man sues police for being shocked with Taser [LINK]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rape victim "...her own taser used against her..."

A while ago I got into a foolish Twitter war with an idiot that was selling tasers to women "for their own protection". Once it became apparent that the idiot was based in Scottsdale, AZ, I gave up the argument.

At the time, I commented that a taser was not really the best choice because it could be turned against the owner.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville police are investigating reports that a young woman was raped and may have had her own taser used against her. ... [LINK]

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Feds are on the case of the 10-year-old little girl

Boston Herald - FBI investigating use of stun gun on 10-year-old [LINK]


More details at The Star (Toronto): Officer Dustin Bradshaw ... After watching her mother attempt to get [redacted] into the bathtub with little success, Bradshaw took the [NAKED?] girl into the living room and threatened her with jail. [LINK]

Alarms bells going off. A regular and sane police officer would never get this involved, unless he's already "involved" with the Mommy and sees himself in the role of Daddy.

In other words: BOY FRIEND (?).

It's pure speculation, but it's a much simpler explanation for this level of intimate, family-like involvement than any other explanation that I can imagine. The alternative explanation that he's just a normal cop helping some lady put her little girl into the tub is just insanity-in-a-can.


By the way, Taser International has made a statement about this incident where a little 10-year-old girl was tasered. In short, not a word of concern. They apparently see nothing wrong with it.

Normal folks see plenty wrong with this incident - it's wrong on several levels, and satanic evil on another level.

This disconnect reveals that Taser International is an organization with abnormal and extremist views on "no limits" taser torture, even on a little girl. For those in the law enforcement community that are already far too close to Taser International, they should consider choosing their friends more carefully.


And consider this: What if the situation had continued to escalate? What if the little girl gave the officer another kick. And what if the officer then tasered her in the chest for several repeated cycles, and imagine if the girl had died. What then? Would that sort of outcome be clear enough?

Repost - Dying from 'excited delirium'

Repost from 9 July 2008:

Dying from 'excited delirium' [LINK]


When you scratch the surface of 'excited delirium', it is quickly admitted by the experts that it is nothing more than a name given to a collection of symptoms (that is pre-death behavioral symptoms, since nothing shows up at autopsy).

They might as well have called it 'Barney'.

Therefore, it appears to be bordering on indefensible to assign an empty name like 'excited delirium', or 'Barney', as a cause of death without a clear description of what this means.


It would be better if the autopsy report contained something like the following wording:


Cause of death: Unknown.

Additional Notes: Police reports indicate the subject displayed behavior consistent with an unknown and unexplained condition that has been named 'excited delirium', but the relationship between this condition and the exact mechanism of death is unknown. Oh, and by the way, the subject was tasered six times too.


So, based on the present state of medical knowledge, when you see 'excited delirium' assigned as a cause of death, just remember 'Barney'. It's obviously all Barney's fault.


It has been noted that a child can get to the limits of human knowledge with no more than about five innocent 'Why?' questions.

"Daddy, why is the sky blue?"
"Because the blue light is scattered by particles and molecules in the atmosphere."
"Daddy, why 'blue'?"
"Because the blue light is scattered more than the red light."
"Daddy, why is blue scattered more than red?"
"Because the red light has a longer wavelength than blue."
"Daddy, why do shorter wavelengths of light scatter more than longer?"
"Because, light scatters in accordance with the rules of quantum mechanics."
"Daddy, why 'quantum mechanics'?"
"Ah, go ask your mother."


With 'excited delirium', it needs only a couple of questions to reach the limit of human knowledge:

"Doctor, what caused, or contributed to, this person's death?"
"He died because of 'excited delirium'."
"Doctor, what is 'excited delirium' and how exactly does it lead to death?"
"Ah, to be honest we're not too sure about that. But Taser International sent me a nice brochure on the subject."



See also the difference between naming and knowing: [LINK].

By keeping in mind this CRITICAL difference between actually knowing what is going on, as compared to simply slapping a name on it, one can be mentally prepared to cut past the crap arguments and reveal that some folks are actually not as "expert" as they may seem. (Watch their eyes too. The eyes ALWAYS goes sideways and slightly up when they start "explaining" about things that they're actually just making up on the fly.)

Big list...

The Truth...Not Tasers blog's List of the Dead [LINK] is a big list.

The most recent addition is:
#456 - November 19, 2009: Jesus Gillard, 61, Bloomfield Township, Michigan

To give some insight into how big this list is, Mr. Gillard is the fourth "Jesus" on The List.
#218 - July 11, 2006: Jesus Negron, 29, New Britain, Connecticut
#231 - September 4, 2006, Jesus Mejia, 33, Los Angeles, California
#355 - April 2, 2008: Jason Jesus Gomez, 35, Santa Ana, California

X26 taser linked (DIRECTLY) to Cardell's death

[UPDATE: The pro-taser fanboy e-mails are all causing blog hits that are landing DIRECTLY on this post. See bottom of post for more.]

H/T to the It All Goes Here blog: Taser Linked To Death [LINK]


In June, Taser International's bought-and-paid-for minion "Dr." (not a real [medical] doctor) Mark Kroll wrote a letter to The Salt Lake Tribune in a pathetic attempt to blame "excited delirium" (solely) for the death of Brian Cardell. [LINK]

'Excited delirium,' not TASER, killed Brian Cardall, By Mark Kroll (26 June 2009) [LINK]

As is so often the case when dealing with Taser International's bought-and-paid-for minions, he was and is wrong. Dead wrong.


"Excited delirium theory nixed"...


The Salt Lake Tribune (19 November 2009) - A Taser that twice shocked Brian Cardall contributed to or caused heart irregularities in the 32-year-old man that led to his death on the side of southern Utah highway in June, the Utah Medical Examiner's Office has ruled.

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Erik Christensen cited "ventricular fibrillation following conducted energy weapon deployment during a manic episode with psychotic features" as Cardall's cause of death. ...

Christensen's report states that prongs from a Taser deployed by a Hurricane police officer struck Cardall over his heart. While Christensen acknowledged other factors could have contributed to Cardall's death, he pointed out several factors that indicate a Taser electrocuted a naked, unarmed Cardall.

Report: "...the circumstances in this case represent a combination of the factors that are believed to increase the risk of a potential electrical death. These include the placement of the barbs over the cardiac axis, the penetration of the barbs deeply into a thin chest wall directly over the heart, absence of intervening clothing and more than one cycle of electrical stimulation. Additionally, the initial cardiac rhythm of ventricular fibrillation is consistent with findings seen in cases of electrocution."

The conclusion that the X-26 Taser, manufactured by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser International, played a significant role in Cardall's death is a bold finding by Christensen. ...
...
Excited delirium theory nixed
...

[LINK]


Has anyone else noticed that there seems to be a statistical surplus of taser hits to the chest in those that die?


Note also the following facts:
1) Taser International recently recommended "avoiding the chest".
2) Taser International's training protocol has always been into the back, not the chest.
3) Training cartridges have darts that are about 40% shorter than regular.
4) Taser International hints at avoiding repeated cycles.

And for the benefit of those that might point to Mr. Cardell's mental state as being a contributing factor, are you willing to agree that tasers present a serious risk of death for those in such a condition?

So, WTF are tasers for?


2009 - interesting year, eh?


UPDATE2: See also [LINK].


UPDATE1: My tracking systems are revealing a flurry of blog hits from known and suspected pro-taser fanboy locations. These hits are landing DIRECTLY on this post. The word 'directly' doesn't mean that the blog hit happened in perfectly isolation. Their PC needs to be turned on, they have to get an e-mail, they have to click in the link embedded in the e-mail. But they there is a straightforward cause-and-effect relationship from the click to landing 'directly' on this post.

Taser International has, at times, taken refuge behind the word "directly". They toss into the air all the pre-existing medical conditions and circumstances of the incident, and then make a faulty logical leap to try to disconnect the cause-and-effect relationship between the taser, the electrical shocks it emits, the direct effect of those shocks on the subject, and the (directly) resultant death.

I'm not prepared to let them get away with an escape in the case of Brian Cardell. By any reasonable interpretation of the autopsy report (as reported in the media), it seems clear that there is, in this case, a direct link from being tasered to being dead.

And regarding the other circumstances? What they never highlight is the obvious fact that the taser is marketed for use on this exact population. If they imply that the taser is potentially deadly in such circumstances, but continue to Fail to Warn, then they're heavily liable.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Taser Myth: "Just obey and you won't be tasered."

Enhanced video shows student appears compliant as San Jose police strike, Taser him [LINK]

Video reveals that you're at risk of being tasered even if you are compliant.

Yes, even you.


UPDATE - Officer in question has used "lawful force" (sic) four times in ten weeks. This rate is considered by a 'Use of Force' expert to be unusual and indicative of a problem. [LINK]

Police report about tasering the 10-year-old little girl

On The Smoking Gun website [LINK]

Note the following facts and sequence:
1. Mommy works part time as detention officer [LINK]
2. Mommy calls police on 10-year-old.
3. Mommy tells officer to go ahead and taser her little girl.
4. Officer then decides - all on his own - to taser the little girl.

Combining the extremely unusual and perverse act of tasering a little girl, with the request to do so by the Mommy, this tasering stinks of being an on-demand punishment.


Hmmm... Wanna bet that it will be later revealed that the officer involved is a boy friend of (reportedly divorced) Mommy? I'm not saying it's true. I'm just speculating. Such a relationship would make things somewhat more explicable, even if it makes things more awkward to explain away. It's pure speculation on my part.

"Excited Delirium", not even a good lie

Attorneys working for the City of Portland are claiming a surprise new defense in the 2006 death in custody of James Chasse jr, a man with schizophrenia: That Chasse died of “excited delirium.” ... In the Chasse autopsy, however, (state M.E.) Gunson ruled out excited delirium as a cause of death, ruling instead that Chasse died of blunt force trauma to the chest, caused by another person or a fall. Gunson has since been quoted in depositions saying Chasse's 26 breaks to 16 ribs were most likely the result of kicks or a "dropped knee" by cops. Gunson found 48 separate abrasions or contusions on Chasse's body, including 16 possible blows to the head. ... [LINK]

It's nice to see the lies becoming even more bold.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ozark Police taser 10-year-old little girl

Police Officer Uses Taser On 10-Year-Old Girl [LINK]

OZARK, Ark. -- Ozark police said they were called to a home where a mother asked for help with her unruly child, but the 10-year-old's father said he's outraged at the force police used against his daughter.
"I would like to say Ozark police Tased this little girl right here. Ten years old and [they] shot electricity through her body, and I want to know how the heck in God's green earth can they get away with this," said the girl's father, Anthony Medlock.
Medlock said his daughter was at her mother's house when Ozark police Officer Dustin Bradshaw shocked her in the back with a Taser and arrested her. ...



All aboard the hand-basket, next stop Hell.


Update: The little girl was reportedly upset because Mommy ([redacted]) wanted her to take a shower and the little girl didn't want to take a shower. And therefore (??!!??) the police were called (??!!??). And since the little girl was, well, acting exactly as children are expected to act, the mother reportedly told the officer to "...go ahead a taser her." [redacted], has been a part-time dispatcher and detention officer in the Franklin County jail for several months, Chief Deputy James Hamilton said. [LINK]

[I've redacted Mommy's name even though the names of everyone involved are all over the web. But I strive to be responsible...]

UPDATES:
Feds on case, more to the story ? [LINK]
Hmmm... [LINK]
Chief FIRED his ass [LINK]

DeKalb police under fire for Taser purchase

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - "...Bob Gruder, CEO of Stinger Systems stun gun company, accused the DeKalb police department of overpaying for the weapons and failing to test both products.

Earlier this month, DeKalb police paid more than $1 million for 1,021 Tasers from Taser International in Scottsdale, Ariz. Tampa-based Stinger submitted a bid of about $450,000 less than Taser’s $1 million price tag, Gruder said.

In addition to taking the higher bid, DeKalb did not contact Stinger’s references – Fulton and Henry County Police -- nor review the free training offered, Gruder said.

The decision to go with Taser was made by a DeKalb officer whom is a certified Taser instructor and is paid by Taser International, according to Gruder. ...
" [LINK]


Procurement rules - ever heard of them?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Here's what "Drug Overdose" looks like

Via the Truth ... Not Tasers blog

The case of Clayton Alvin Willie [Willey]

Control theory tells us that 'systems' are either 'closed loop' or 'open loop'.

Closed loop (in general) means that the system is kept under control. There is a feedback mechanism so that errors are corrected, and the system does what it is supposed to do.

Open loop means that there is no feedback mechanism, and thus no control. The system will produce uncontrolled results. Sometimes acceptable, and sometimes completely unacceptable.

Even if there is a feedback loop, but the information is delayed by a very long time, then there is effectively no control; it might as well be open loop.



Truth ... Not Tasers blog [LINK], list of Canadian taser associated deaths:

#2 - Clayton Willey, 33 - Prince George, BC - July 22, 2003 - RCMP - X26 - "Official" cause of death: drug overdose

Note the year.

[Reportedly the correct surname is "Willey".]

VANCOUVER, BC, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Nov. 16, 2009) - Representatives of a leading aboriginal and civil society group, along with a forensic pathologist and a journalist gathered yesterday to demand the release of security footage taken in an RCMP lockup that shows the Taser-related death of Clayton Alvin Willie [Willey], an aboriginal man.

Willie was arrested in 2003 for creating a public disturbance in Prince George, British Columbia, and died that same day following his interaction with police with a head injury and multiple broken ribs. RCMP officials acknowledge he was repeatedly tasered while hog tied at the Prince George RCMP detachment.

...

What is the content of the video?
* There are no date or time codes in the edited videotape.
* The video shows an RCMP SUV arriving at the Prince George Detachment garage.
* The video cuts away before RCMP say Clayton is pulled, hog tied, from the back seat of the SUV and allowed to drop, full weight, on his chest and possibly on his face.
* Clayton is then dragged down a hallway, with his hands bound behind his back and tethered to his feet, into an elevator. His head hits the doorway on his way into the elevator and he does not register any response.
* In the elevator, an RCMP officer can be seen targeting his taser on Clayton's back and kneeling down and applying the device to Clayton's back.
* Clayton is then dragged out of the elevator into the booking area of the detachment. A number of RCMP officers, including senior officers are seen observing while the two male officers handling Mr. Willie taser him at least twice more.
* Mr. Willie appears to lose consciousness, and an ambulance attends the scene.
* The RCMP advise that ambulance attendants ask the officers present to loosen Mr. Willie's handcuffs because his hands are "black". The video shows officers loosening his handcuffs.
* Still hog tied, Mr. Willie is loaded onto the stretcher, wrapped in blankets, and taken to the local hospital.
* He has a massive heart attack en route to the hospital and dies, which is not shown on the video. ... [LINK] via [TNT]


"Drug overdose"? Seems like a stretch.


Political leaders should consider the implications of an open loop "law enforcement" (sic) system. It's not under control. It's not under their control. It's out of control. Stuff like this isn't supposed to happen. It could be almost anyone being victimized.

If the police would effectively police themselves, and I mean all the time, then there would be no need for any outsiders to be critical of them.

As it is, the video must be released. A public inquiry should follow. Based on the description, it really seems that some people should (metaphorically) hang.

Getting away with homicide

Fort Worth, TX - A Tarrant County grand jury has declined to indict the Fort Worth police officer who fatally shocked a mentally ill man with a taser earlier this year. The county medical examiner earlier ruled that the April 18 death of Michael Patrick Jacobs Jr. was a homicide. ... [LINK]

This case is walking a very fine line between it being "justifiable homicide" and it being an accidental killing. The question of the officer's intent seems to be a bit unclear. Did the officer intended to (justifiably?) kill Mr. Jacobs? Was it an accident that the officer held the trigger down for almost a minute?

One thing is very nearly certain. This case is not over.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Keep your eye on the time axis

Brian Cardall "...died within seconds of being shocked..." with a taser. [LINK]

The logic that Taser International and their minions use to try in their pathetic and laughable attempt to argue that such closely time-aligned events are not in a cause-and-effect relationship is exactly the same logic that can be used to show that it is possible that we are all just living in 'The Matrix' and nothing we see is actually real.

But back in the real world, the cause-and-effect relationship is crystal clear to anyone that is both informed and honest.

You can then move on to argue about the condition of the victim. But tasers are used ALL THE TIME on people that are having a mental health crisis or are drunk or high. If tasers can kill people in these circumstances, and such populations makes up about half [47%] of all taser deployments, then clearly tasers are not "safe".

And don't forget to Google the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry".

Tasers and drugs - think carefully

Darryl Bain, 43, was tasered twice and died in the Long Island home of his mother in Coram, New York. [LINK]

An important fact with this incident is that Mr. Bain was reportedly high on cocaine at the time.

This circumstance led the first commentor to suggest that the tasering was justified. It's a reasonable suggestion, but only if the underlying assumptions are true.

My comment in response was this:

The “justification” is certainly an important aspect. But the justification needs to include consideration of the actual safety. If the claims of taser safety are not accurate, then preference for use of the taser (replacing other approaches) may itself be unjustified.

In cases where the subject is a drug addict, and is high on drugs, one needs to be very careful with the logic.

An addict probably takes drugs on a regular basis. Then one day the police arrive and taser him, and he dies. Obviously there will be cases where the subject coincidentally took a lethal overdose, and the taser hit just happened to coincide with a death already in progress.

But that’s ‘unlikely squared’. Unlikely that this day was the day that he happened to take a lethal overdose, and unlikely that the timing would line up so exactly.

So – keeping a close eye on the time axis – it seems that the restraint (including, perhaps, the taser) was a contributor, if not a cause, of death.

And if that is true, then perhaps they should not have assumed it was safe in these circumstances. Perhaps other approaches might be safer. Making such decisions is difficult when Taser International will not admit that the taser can cause or contribute to death, “directly or indirectly” (to quote the AMA).

Here is a post I made on the subject of drug addicts and taser “associated” deaths.

http://excited-delirium.blogspot.com/2009/08/repost-on-drug-addicts-2008-april-9.html

Seeing my predictions come true...

On March 16, 2009, I posted a comment on the Truth...Not Tasers 'List of the Dead' [LINK].


"...I'd actually expect that Taser [International] would put an increased emphasis for aiming lower on the torso."


The context of this prediction was in relation to the FAKE taser training and demonstration hits to the back, always the back, almost never to the chest. I have repeatedly challenged Taser International to turn the trainees around and let's just see how "safe" the X26 taser really is.

Of course there is no way that they would allow that to happen. It would be difficult to explain away if they started to see police trainees occasionally dropping dead of "sudden death during taser training".

But even with the obviously-inverted context, my prediction is essentially an exact match for the new taser targeting guidelines that Taser International released about seven months after my prediction. These new taser targeting guidelines put an increased emphasis on aiming lower on the torso.

That's a 3-pointer.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Torture makes even the innocent appear guilty

This study [LINK] seems to provide an explanation for the strange reaction of some members of the public when the media reports that another person has been taser-tortured within an inch of their lives. With every such news report, no matter how outrageous the taser torture [LINK] , there will always be some folks adding comments that the person "got what they deserved".

Now that I understand that such reactions are simply non-cognitive, unthinking, reptilian brain stem responses, I will try to be more patient with those folks.


The study also provides another explanation as to why police love their tasers. Let the suspect wriggle around on the ground in utter agony, and it actually makes the suspect appear to be more guilty. What could be wrong with that?


In fact, for those that are using higher brain functions, this study raises serious concerns about the justifications for, and outcomes of, using tasers to apply street-level torture, both moral and legal.

DEFECTIVE TRAINING

It's been perfectly clear that a large part of the problem with tasers is that they're accompanied by training that is clearly defective. This training is almost entirely based on one-sided corporate propaganda from Taser International.

For example:

Training officer says using taser on handcuffed prisoners not always wrong [LINK]

Officer Peters is a taser training officer. "You are using the taser to gain and maintain control," says Officer Peters.

This statement might seem to be reasonable, but it actually subtly wrong on multiple levels.

  1. With the incident in Lansing [LINK], it is not likely that the officer would have been handed a two week suspension if tasering the handcuffed subject could be justified.
  2. Even if the subject is still struggling in handcuffs, is the taser then still the best option? Any consideration given to the subject making a face-plant into the concrete?
  3. Officer Peters shouldn't make these sorts of statements that might, perhaps, be applicable to the 0.1% of incidents without including very strong disclaimers noting that tasering subjects that are already handcuffed, for purposes of perverse street level 'justice', is not only wrong, it's also illegal.

Officer Peter's statement is "correct", but only perhaps 0.1% of the time (a generous guesstimate). That makes his sound-bite statement nothing more than a toss-away red herring that adds nothing to our understanding of the incident in Lansing. It contributes nothing except distraction.

Mark it down as "defending his Faith", in the Church of Taser.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lansing, MI holds officer accountable

Lansing, MI - Officer Ryan Smith has been suspended for two weeks, without pay, for violating policies. This is in connection with an incident where Smith tasered Rocky Allred after he had been subdued and was handcuffed. The taser hit caused Allred to fall and his face was injured, jaw broken, teeth chipped, stiches required. Charges against Allred were later dismissed. [LINK]

For those that think a two week suspension is not such a big deal, consider the legal jepordy that Officer Smith might find himself in. Perhaps Allred could launch a civil lawsuit against Smith for Civil Rights violations and injuries. We're talking way into six-figure territory (maybe nine-figures if Rocky is related to Gloria [LINK]).

The two week suspension without pay would be 'Exhibit A' in any such action.

Memo to police everywhere - The taser party is over.

Eugene, OR considering tightening taser policy

Eugene, OR - “The use of Tasers has been pretty controversial in the community and it keeps getting on the front page of the paper,” City Council President Alan Zelenka said. “With the number of incidents that have occurred around the use of Tasers, I just thought it was appropriate for the council to weigh in and see if there are changes that we may want to make.” [LINK]

Update: See also [LINK].

Changes to taser policies? To cut back on overuse, misuse and abuse? OMG.

Here, let me save you quite a bit of time and money. Google "Braidwood Inquiry".


Gee, I wonder if this is the begining of a new trend?

Fayetteville, AR - Sargent Bill Phelan says ... they're changing their taser rules just as a proactive measure. The old rule said police could tase anyone who displayed verbal non-compliance. For example, if an officer told you to put your hands up and you refused, you could have been tased. Now, the officer must percieve physical or verbal aggression before the weapon is used. ... [LINK]

Coincidental Pulmonary Resuscitation

Same old same old...

Police use Taser on man, then give CPR - Chief says man is surviving the incident, but doesn't know his condition - The officer then used a Taser. He said he didn’t know where the Taser struck the man, who police believe to be in his 50s. Officers cuffed the man and realized he wasn’t responsive and began CPR and called an ambulance... [LINK]

"Just a coincidence. Nothing to see here. Move along now."


Update: The 58-year-old man, reportedly from South Carolina, was removed from life support and died on Friday. [LINK]

According to the reports:

Corpus Christi, TX - Officers Ross Murray and Daryl Anderson arrived on the scene and Murray used a Taser, hitting the man in the lower back. The man appeared unaffected by the 50,000-volt stun gun, Green said, adding that police aren’t sure if the probe even penetrated the several layers of clothes the man was wearing. Murray then placed the Taser on the man’s shoulder blade and shocked him... The man continued to be combative, Green said.

First, the taser uses 50,000 volts and long pointy darts in order to be able to establish a conductive ionized path even through clothing. If the taser is not reliable in Texas in November, then what chance would it have in (for example) Michigan in February? It really seems that they're dealing cards from both sides of the deck. They claim that the taser is a useful and effective tool, and then when someone dies they claim '...it probably didn't even make contact this time.'

For the time being, let's assume it made contact into the subject's lower back. Was this with the darts? Was the next taser hit into the shoulder creating a three point contact (darts still wired in, then add a direct connection)? If so, then the taser current may have flowed from the area around the shoulders down to the lower back. It's not clear that this sort of deployment is necessarily inherently safe simply because it was directed into the back. Further details might provide more indication.

And note that the delay in the man's death has almost zero logical implications as to the cause. Yes, it may provide a clue as to the mechanism of death, but the death started at the point of arrest and is therefore connected to what happened at that time. In that sense, the delay provides no evidence of non-causality.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Preemptive taser deployments - see anything wrong with this?

An amazingly clear, if unintended, summary of one problem with tasers.

West Memphis Police Department Captain Donald Oakes says that the new taser targeting guidelines have forced a policy change. "It's a scary change and it's a step backwards."

Oakes' concern is when they can use the weapon. Before the policy change officers could fire the weapon before a physical altercation ensued. Now they have to wait until a suspect puts their hands on them, threatens them or physically resists arrest. [LINK]

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

Am I reading that correctly?

Captain Oakes is 'concerned' because his officers are no longer permitted to use the taser as a preemptive 'First Strike' weapon to be freely deployed at the first sign of trouble. Such as (for example) when a motorist dares to backtalk, or (for example) on any minority male that happens to be taller than 5' 11" (?). Now the brand new policy means that he is not permitted to dispense electro-violence until the behavior of the subject includes violence. Geesh... Is this a problem in his mind?

Taser International is constantly comparing itself to other "less lethal" weapons. So re-read Captain Oakes' statement of concern, but replace tasers with bean-bag gun, or rubber bullets, or tear gas, or baton strikes. Reveals a fundamental issue with how tasers have been marketed. And clearly demonstrates that taser training and policies are defective.

His 'concern' clearly raises much larger concerns. Civil rights. Ever heard of it?

How does Taser International define "extremely low"?

Stun gun maker Taser International has released studies saying a shot to the chest has an "extremely low" risk of causing a heart attack. [LINK]

So, anyone else notice that Taser International is extremely reluctant to put a numerical value on exactly what they mean by the phrase "extremely low"?

When I've had access to limited data sets that allow me to divide the taser-associated death rate by the estimated rate of taser darts hitting chest for a given region I consistently get values in the low end of single digits - about 3% as a rough order of magnitude. [LINK] Keep in mind that this is after all denominator washing [LINK] has been removed leaving only an estimated rate of taser chest hits. [LINK]

Taser International tries to leave the impression that the risk is always so low that it has never happened.

The "Cardiac Safety" page on their website makes outrageous claims, and compares being hit with a taser to being hit with a ping pong ball. Kroll makes the false claim that unlimited duration taser hits are no more dangerous than a single short duration hit. This claims is clearly false as indicated by the real world results as reviewed by Prof. Savard. He noted a linear proportionality between exposure time and risk of death [LINK]. See also [LINK].

I've noticed that the news reports of young healthy folks being tasered and more-or-less immediately begining the process of dying seems to have a high rate of chest hits. [LINK]

There's another 'smoking gun' that we're working on. We are still working on it, and we hope that we can bring it to you in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting it off my chest, Taser sponsored infomercials

I was going to write a detailed point-by-point rebuttal to the column "Getting it off my chest: TASER's new aiming guidelines", written by Greg Meyer. [LINK]

But I can't be bothered. His column is essentially just a repeat of another similar one I had addressed previously. [LINK]

I'm just going to quote one single phrase from Meyer's column. "This column is sponsored by TASER International..."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Isobel Redmond's tortured logic on taser safety

An opposition leader in Australia, Isobel Redmond [LINK], is setting new standards for abuse of logic.

In her inexplicable bid to demonstrate that "tasers are safe", she has booked an appointment with her physician, had a complete medical check-up, and is now ready for her carefully stage-crafted, limited duration, zero repeat, probably clipped-on wires, taser hit into her back or lower torso.

She said, "It is definitely happening. I have had a check-up with my GP. I am fighting fit." [LINK]

Let me guess. The doctor paid particular attention to the idiot's heart. Probably took an EKG. Listened to the heartbeat for about a minute or more. Ms. Redmond is certainly taking every possible precaution to stay well away from the overlapping Bell Curves between her personal circumstances and the effects of the taser.

This stunt, which may actually be illegal if the laws in Australia are at all similar to the laws in Canada, provides ZERO evidence of taser safety.

In fact, the ultra-careful approach being taken by Isobel Redmond provides clear cut evidence that the claims of safety are a thin layer of cheap wall-paper plastered over the quietly acknowledged reality that tasers are dangerous weapons, and are perfectly capable of causing or contributing to death.

That someone can actually hold that opinion, as revealed by the medical check-up, while espousing other views, reveals a sad truth about some politicians.

Taser-aided arrest, difficulty breathing, CPR, death

Coroner Rules In-Custody Death Homicide [LINK]

It's the usual sequence. Some trivial dispute. An arrest involving use of a taser. Almost immediately, someone notices that the subject is having difficulty breathing. Perform CPR (what does the letter "C" represent?). Subject dies.

Kern County supervising deputy coroner John Van Rensselaer said Thursday that 25-year-old Rory Romal McKenzie's death was a sudden death during restraint by police. Rensselaer said the manner of death is homicide.

Homicide simply means that the death was CAUSED by someone. It doesn't mean that it was or wasn't a justifiable killing, but it does mean that it was a killing.

So what device or method CAUSED the death?

Is it possible that perhaps there was some cardiac effect of the taser? An disturbed cardiac system that presented itself as "difficulty breathing"?

Or maybe it was the dog bite from the K9... [rolls eyes]

There's only one explanation that makes any sense. It's no great mystery.

It's no great mystery why Taser International now advises that police avoid the chest when aiming their tasers.

It's no great mystery why Taser International's newest model emits 40% less charge than the previous X26 model. Wanna bet which model was used in this deadly incident?

This isn't complicated.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More on Kerik's guilty pleas

White Plains, NY - Bernard Kerik [a former member of the Board of Directors of Taser International] said ('in a low but firm voice' [LINK]) "guilty" eight times as he admitted to eight felonies - which included lying about taxes, hiding income from the IRS, and faking a monetary contribution to a charity. Prosecutors suggested that Kerik be put behind bars for up to 33 months. The judge said the maximum sentence is 61 years. In addition to serving time in prison, Kerik may also be fined. He has already agreed to pay nearly $188,000 in restitution and to resubmit his personal tax returns for six years, paying past-due taxes and penalties.


Opinion: A sentence of a year or two should be sufficient. With good behavior, he might be out in under a year. And that's fine. I believe it's safe to conclude that his hubris has been surgically removed at this point. He just needs some quiet time to recover.

See: "...Kerik Cries..." [LINK]

Too fine a distinction for some to comprehend?

Rolando Demetrio Ruiz was tasered in spite of showing no signs of being violent. Lappegaard was the officer who held a Taser to the back of Ruiz's neck for at least 15 seconds. It seems likely that the taser attack was unjustifiable. Ruiz is now suing for "...among other things, reasonable damages between $75,000 and $400,000 as well as punitive damages and a jury trial." [LINK]


Compare and contrast:

North Charleston, SC - Police say they had to taser a nude man after the man became violent towards officers in North Charleston. ... [LINK]

There is still the larger issue of the claimed degree of "non-lethality" (sic) of the taser, but at least (according to this report) the police waited until the subject's behavior had escalated to the point where they could use the taser without putting themselves into the legal cross-hairs.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bernie Kerik's 8-page plea agreement

Pleads guilty to several charges. Sentencing range 27 to 33 months. Pays tax due and applicable penalties. No appeal. No denying actual guilt. See document at www.scribd.com (mobile) [LINK]

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Former Taser International BoD member Bernie Kerik "plans guilty plea"

White Plains, N.Y. - Bernard Kerik, a former member of the Board of Directors of Taser International (his C.V. has a few other things mentioned...), will reportedly enter a guilty plea to resolve three pending criminal trials... Kerik plans to enter the plea in a federal courtroom on Thursday in a deal that could bring him a recommended prison term of around two and one half years...

See [LINK]

Sources have mentioned that Mr. Kerik will plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy. This is not confirmed. (UPDATE: This turns out to be incorrect.)

Note - Mr. Kerik's legal problems are apparently not directly connected to Taser International. There is no proven cause-and-effect relationship between his ethical missteps and his association with Taser International.

Police defend taser use on newborn baby

Okay, post title is pure sarcasm.

But more seriously, are there any limits?

From little girls [LINK] and school children [LINK] [LINK], all the way up to 80+ year old men [LINK], there doesn't appear to be any limits. And it's very obvious that relying on common sense is not an effective approach.

If there are no limits, if police or "Security" (sic) can taser 16-year-old girls, or can taser a 14-year-old autistic boy until he is unconcious [LINK], and can carry tasers in middle schools and elementary schools [ibid], then nursaries are next. If you disagree, then what's the limit?

How about a six year old? [LINK]

Are staff in nursing homes going to start using electro-torture to keep the elderly in line?

I can't accuse Taser International of remaining silent on the issue of tasering children. They have no problem with it at all, and assure everyone that tasers-R-safe for anyone at all, even children, so long as they weigh at least 60 pounds. I'm not sure what happens to 59 pound children; perhaps they explode (?).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dziekanski taser trigger-man sues CBC

RCMP Const. Kwesi Millingto, the officer at Vancouver Airport that tasered (1) Robert Dziekanski, and tasered (2) him again, and tasered (3) him again, and tasered (4) him again, and tasered (5) him again, is suing the CBC for libel. [LINK]

I'm carefully numbering and counting off the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (that's five) taser hits because I certainly wouldn't want to make any factual errors and be sued for libel. Five taser hits. Yes, that is the correct number. 31 seconds total is what was reported. And Mr. Dziekanski, ah, died.



...Millington says his reputation has been seriously injured, he has suffered embarrassment and distress, and has been brought into public ridicule. ...

Yes. Agreed.

Now think, why?

Hint: [LINK]

More: [LINK] [LINK]

Compare and contrast...

Toyota: "In the last 10 years, more than 2,000 Toyota owners have reported their cars surged out of control at high speeds, according to safety analyst Sean Kane. There have been more than two hundred serious injuries and at least 16 deaths, Kane said..." In a statement this afternoon, the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Safety Administration said, "This matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the vehicle defect by providing a suitable remedy." In other words, there are probably hundreds of people, both in the various government organizations, and at Toyota, working on this issue.

Taser International: About 450 taser-associated deaths (mostly since 2003). Denial from the manufacturer of any cause-and-effect relationship whatsoever from tasers to death. Investigation reveals that about one-third (50 of 150 reviewed) of taser-associated deaths have autopsy reports that mention the taser as a cause or contributing factor. Even the US AMA concludes that tasers can kill, "directly or indirectly". Governments, with few exceptions, sit on their hands. Nobody is regulating tasers. A few dedicated media organizations fund and report investigations, a few informed and honest investigators work the issue, and a growing number of bloggers. Period. That's it. Governments are totally AWOL.


Perhaps you noticed that the number 450 is much larger than the number 16.

Taser International would want to argue their number down to zero. But I'm sure that Toyota would want to argue their number down too. Zilch difference between them, except that the floor mat explanation is far less ridiculous than "excited delirium".


The Braidwood Inquiry used the phrase something like "abdication of responsibility" when discussing the role of governments in regulating tasers, their safety, their application.

Hello?

Anyone there?

Excellent police work, until the taser is pulled

This may be the best taser video of the year.

As far as can be seen in the video, the two police officers are doing an amazing job. They show extreme patience and restraint. All they need to do is slip the cuffs on. Just slip the cuffs on. Nothing complicated, just slip the cuffs on. Two burly officers, one smaller subject. Cuffs. Wrists.

But then, one of the officers decides to draw his handy-dandy taser. Within seconds the subject has completely escaped. Watch the video...



"Effective" my ass.


H/T to Jonathan Turley: [LINK]

Rolando Ruiz tasered in neck for at least 13 seconds

More on the Rolando Ruiz tasered in neck while hands on hood incident.

(Previous post: Man Tasered in neck for no apparent reason. [LINK] )


Mr. Ruiz was tasered in the neck while his hands were clearly shown to be firmly on the patrol car hood. This incident occurred on April 30, 2009, near the Minneapolis Second Precinct off Central Avenue.

What I noticed is the clock:

Hopefully soon-to-former [see update just below] Officer Todd Lappegaard [LINK] applies the taser to Mr. Ruiz's neck at 22:52:18 and holds it there while Mr. Ruiz falls to the ground screaming in agony. It continues until at least 22:52:31 when the released video terminates.

That's at least 13 seconds of taser torture. For no apparent reason.

UPDATE2 "15 seconds" See [LINK]

UPDATE (WCCO) - The FBI will be reviewing dash cam video of a Minneapolis police officer using a taser on a man as a possible civil rights violation, according to a statement released by the Minneapolis police chief Tuesday evening. Chief Tim Dolan said the Minneapolis City Attorney will also review the case for possible criminal charges against the officer. [LINK]

Video available at [LINK].

See also Jonathan Turley [LINK].

Fair Use screen capture


It been a while since the 'Getting it Right' blog [LINK] has nominated a Taser Nazi of the Week [LINK], but I can guess who will be in the running...

UPDATE: And the winner is: [LINK]

PS: Minneapolis? That's Kroll's neck of the woods, isn't it? And other known minions. I wonder if they feel any embarrassment at all? Any? Hello?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A sensible proposal in NS

Some potentially very good news from the east coast of Canada.

Halifax, NS - Nova Scotia's Opposition Liberals have introduced an amendment to legislation that calls for the creation of a mental illness training program for police and correctional officers. ... [LINK]

Isn't it amazing that, in the year 2009, the very people (police, etc.) who are called upon to deal with those that are experiencing a mental health crisis have had little or zero training on the proper approaches? Probably the only "training" (sic) they've had is how to taser subjects in the chest. Oh, I mean in the back (sorry).

Imagine if you called the Fire Department to help you deal with a possible house fire and a bunch of untrained folks showed up with buckets full of gasoline and started tossing the fuel into your smoldering house.

Using a taser on someone that is experiencing a mental health crisis seems to be a similar approach as tossing gasoline into a smoldering house fire. Bad idea.

This proposal from the NS Liberals is common sense and should be mandatory in all juridictions.

And don't forget the sort of annual 'Use of Force' (force: noun, not a verb) refresher training as implemented by Ottawa City Police.

Taser QotW: "magic wand"

"The misapprehension by many police officers is that the taser is a magic wand," Cal Potter (lawyer). "What it does is it compounds the situation exponentially." [LINK]

I wonder where the police officers might have gotten the idea that the taser is a "magic wand"? Maybe from the clearly defective training standards supplied by the manufacturer?

Other taser critical commentators have said the some police seem to consider the taser to be a "mute button" for subjects that they consider are talking back too much.

Kaching!! $100,000 settlement for police abuse (incl taser)

RENO, Nev.—A former track star at Reno High School has agreed to accept $100,000 to settle a lawsuit accusing law officers of using excessive force against him at a country music concert in Yerington three years ago.

Cody Herbst, 25, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Reno last summer against two Yerington police officers, two Lyon County sheriff's deputies, the city and the county.

Herbst said in the lawsuit that the officers slammed him to the ground and knocked him unconscious after he was ordered to leave the VIP area at the Neal McCoy concert at the county fairgrounds in July 2006. He said the officers shot him multiple times with a Taser gun and pepper spray.

He was arrested for trespassing but the charges later were dropped. His lawyers, Terri Keyser-Cooper and Diane Vaillancourt, said Monday the county has agreed to pay him $100,000 and the city $8,000. ... [LINK]

Man tasered in neck for no apparent reason

A man is standing with his hands on the hood of a police car when an officer approaches him and gives him a good solid tasering into the neck. Street-level punishment? [LINK]

The man is obviously a racial minority. Right wing nut-job law-and-order types will try to claim that minorities bring this sort of police abuse on themselves through their own actions.

Yeah sure, like this gentleman, standing there with his hands on the police car.


It seems pretty clear that this incident is exactly what it appears to be: street-level electro-whipping.

Kerik offered plea deal

Former member of the board of directors of Taser International, Mr. Bernie Kerik, has been offered a plea deal that, if accepted, would see him plead guilty to consolidated criminal charges and would serve about three years. [LINK]

Reports indicate that Mr. Kerik has not yet accepted the offer.

UPDATE: But he's reportedly thinking about it. He has to decide by Thursday (5 Nov. 2009). Wanna bet that he'll take the Guilty plea, and then later (much later, like 27 months later), complain about how he was actually innocent and was forced to plea bargain in spite of his "innocence"? Wanna bet? The court should make him personally and explicitly discuss the nature of his guilt, for the record, before accepting the plea. Such an approach might preclude future revisionist nonsense.

Bernie Kerik regains his composure

White Plains, NY - Bernard B. Kerik, a former member of the Taser International’s Board of Directors, was transferred out of a special mental health unit in a Westchester County jail on Monday after psychiatric officials determined that he was psychologically stable. ... [LINK]

That's nice.

One week until 9 November 2009, when the first of his several trials is supposed to start.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Deputies 'fail to heed memo' are fired

Naples News - Two Lee County Sheriff's court deputies were fired after internal investigations found that one test fired his stun gun near inmates and that both lied about the event. ... [LINK]


I guess they didn't heed my memo [LINK]:

Memo to taser-happy officers everywhere:
The party is over.

Analysis of "Analysis of new taser recommendations"

The e-mail Subject line from a friend provides the final conclusion: "Such BS!!!"

Lt. Dan Marcou (ret.), writing on a known taser fan-boy website, offers up an amazingly imaginative explanation [LINK] as to why Taser International issued new taser targeting guidelines that recommend "avoiding the chest".

The first thing I noticed is that Lt. Dan somehow, inexplicably, in his entire article, he completely fails to mention the phrase "avoid controversy" (regarding concerns about cardiac safety and related lawsuits). Taser International has used that phrase ("avoid controversy") many, many times in their pathetically amusing attempt at whitewashing the new guidelines.

Lt. Dan also manages to avoid the Church of Taser cuss-word "cardiac".

Lt. Dan tries to make the case, totally unconvincingly, that the sole motivation for Taser International issuing the new guidelines is that a taser hit between the front abdomen and a leg can be effective. Somehow he mixes in further details about the subject's back, and then totally skips over where his word "more" comes from.

Using Lt. Dan's 'logic' (sic), then the ideal taser deployment would be to turn the taser sideways like a downtown gangster, and try to hit the subject's ankles. One dart per ankle. The the taser current would run up one leg and down the other. The subject leg's would almost certainly buckle and down he'd go. That'd be effective. "More effective" LOL.

Lt. Dan's first foray from a lifetime of police SWAT work into the world of logic has not been a success.

Perhaps, if only, he had contacted Taser International before they had issued the new taser targeting guidelines, he could have encouraged them to avoid controversy by not using the phrase "avoid controversy". Taser International might have picked-up Lt. Dan's suggestions and they could have issued the new taser targeting guidelines using the sole justification of the new guidelines being "...(more?) effective"...

...and nothing to do with "AVOIDING" anything, like, ah, for example, "THE CHEST".

Hey - I'm quoting Taser International.

Those words, "avoiding the chest" to "avoid controversy" (sic) reveal Lt. Dan's theory to be exactly what it is - a pathetic, after-the-fact, too damn late, sorry excuse for a half-hearted attempt at whitewashing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pathologist Michael Baden, bless his heart...

Clarion Ledger - ...world-renowned pathologist Michael Baden of New York City warns these high-voltage devices "can be a deadly weapon - just like a gun." [LINK]

...He recently examined a case in which 21-year-old Baron Pikes was stunned by a Taser after he tried to run from police in Winnfield, La., in January 2008. Pikes' death was ruled a homicide, and then-officer Scott Nugent is charged with manslaughter. Baden concluded Pikes' death "was directly caused by the cumulative effects of approximately nine 50,000-volt electroshocks from a conductive electric weapon administered during an approximately 30-minute time period after he had been handcuffed." According to the coroner's report, Pikes stopped twitching after the seventh time he was shocked. Winnfield police said Taser officials had told them multiple shocks didn't affect a person. ...


There is essentially zero doubt that repeated or long duration taser hits are associated with increased risk of death. This was even noted by the NIJ [LINK], in spite of the panel including at least one self-confessed taser fan boy [LINK]. And Prof Savard noted a linear proportionality between exposure time and risk of death [LINK]. This relationship pulls the foundation out from any arguments about non-causality.

Last time I checked, Taser International still had a webpage entitled "Cardiac Safety" that compares being tasered to being hit with a ping pong ball. [LINK] The basic argument being presented is that police should feel free to taser subjects all day long... because they claim there are no safety concerns to worry about. This webpage, written by "Dr." Mark Kroll is way past its best before date.


Pay close attention to Taser International. They've positioned themselves in the legal cross-hairs and their corporate Berlin Wall is starting to crumble. They're now caught in the sudden glare of a spotlight and they're very tempted to run. But if they run, they'll be mowed down by legal machine guns.

They can't stand still. They can't run.

Watch their feet. They're doing that subtle heel-and-toe sideways movement while pretending to be a statue. They've already moved about 20% of the distance and their face is betraying a subtle grin because they think that they're getting away with it.

"Don't aim at the chest to avoid controversy."


Personally, I don't think they have a snowball's chance in hell. There are way too many people watching, and they have a very long distance to reach the legal cover of a clear cut warning.

Everyone with an interest in this issue should grab a copy of Kroll's Cardiac Safety "masterpiece" before it gets yanked. [LINK]

An administrative solution to closing the gap

Everyone that is both informed and honest now acknowedges that tasers are capable of occasionally, almost randomly, causing death.

But some police forces are still seduced by the promise of a Star Trek 'Phaser' with it's dial set to "Stun*". Since they are uncritical and lack attention to detail, they didn't notice the asterisk and didn't follow it to the disclaimer where Taser International subtly hints at the risks and glosses over the rate of them being ineffective.

So how does the gap get closed?

I have a suggestion:

It is very common for Purchase Orders to also include conditions and demands for very specific certification paperwork.

Why not include a mandatory line item on your next purchase order?

The requirement for a legally-binding acknowledgement and certification, signed in permanent ink by authorized Company officials, that they admit that tasers are inherently dangerous, that they agree that tasers are capable of directly contributing to death through inherent internal risk factors, and given certain ill-defined conditions tasers can cause death, and that they agree that tasers must therefore be used sparingly and only in those limited circumstances where the subject's behaviour has risen to the level where potentially-lethal force is morally and legally justifiable.

No signed certification, then no order.

Given the present state of denial, political and police leaders should consider the ethics of procuring devices that are potentially lethal from a company that continues to deny these risks.

Taser "played role" in man's death

A coroner has concluded that use of a taser "played a role" in a man's death. [LINK]

Given the description of the circumstances, it seems like a perfectly reasonable and rational determination. We can expect an unreasonable and irrational response from the company.

FNP: "The Taser is a lethal weapon."

Frederick News-Post editorial: Heart-stopping [LINK]

"The Taser is a lethal weapon."

Ouch.

Looks like Taser International's PR folks are failing to keep a lid on it.