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 22, 2010

Trevor Grimolfson Inquiry

CBC News - Mother represents son at Taser inquiry [LINK]

Sometimes it seems like the debate has multiple battle-fronts. There will be one bunch still holding onto, or even propagating, the myth (lie) that tasers are safe; and another bunch that accept that use of tasers carries risks (including death) but they state that the police in a given incident were justified in using potentially lethal force.

The first bunch are either being deceptive, or are simply ill-informed. The fact is that use of tasers DOES carry risks, including the risk of death. One of the conclusions of the Braidwood Inquiry was that tasers can cause or contribute to death, even with healthy adults. Even Taser International has incrementally updated their legal warnings to now (1 May 2010) allow that death-by-taser is a risk with each deployment.

The second bunch are starting from a more-reasonable position, and it's worth taking their argument forward to maturity...

Given that tasers can occasionally (almost randomly) kill even healthy adults, then how much more risky are they for use on those already in a crisis? Do the police involved accept that there are risks? Or are they still in a state of denial?

I've stated my position many times before and I'll repeat it again here:

I don't care if the police are equipped with fricken flame-throwers, but when they start blaming 'Spontaneous Human Combustion' for the crispy-fried victims, then the salesmen should be arrested. 'Excited delirium' is to tasers what 'Spontaneous Human Combustion' would be to flame-throwers.

Braidwood pointed out that as an explanation for death, 'excited delirium' was "unhelpful". It's actually worse than unhelpful. One only has to examine the connections from those that make a career out of 'excited delirium', the links from them to Taser International (incompetently whitewashed through IPICD), and how Taser International has been actively promoting an essentially evidence-free conclusion to supplant death-by-taser (also essentially evidence-free). It's all way too convenient for those that might wish to conduct a deceptive marketing campaign based on false claims of safety.

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Many of the commenters on the above CBC News website are not showing much sympathy for the family of Trevor Grimolfson. Many are quoting the "drug-fueled rage" report, and using that to justify the decision to use the potentially-lethal taser.

It has the potential to be a rational argument, but the entire law enforcement community first needs to get fully on-side with Braidwood. They all need to acknowledge that tasers are potentially lethal (with each deployment), especially with those that may already be in crisis.

It is not acceptable to first claim that "tasers are safe", and then (in cases where the subject does not survive) use the fall-back position that the death was justifiable.

It's not rational to permit the debate to be conducted on two fronts: "Tasers-R-safe, and he deserved it anyway."

Once everyone is fully on-side that tasers can occasionally (almost randomly) kill even healthy adults, and that the risks can only be higher with those in crisis, then they can tighten their Taser Use Policies.

I'd be happy if we could move the debate that far along.

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