Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

Yeah right, 'Excited Delirium' my ass...

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

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, July 31, 2010

Details emerging about the death of Victor Steen, 17

In October 2009, 17-year-old Victor Steen was riding a bicycle at night while black. At 1:45am, Officer Jerald Ard spotted Steen and assumed that he may have stolen something from somewhere. So Officer Ard drove his car onto the sidewalk, and gave chase. He eventually fired his taser at Steen, causing him to fall down, and Officer Ard ran over Steen killing him.

The story is insane even at this point. But it gets much worse...

... The day after the funeral, Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigator Eli Lawson called Cassandra Steen's newly-hired attorney Aaron Watson and told him that TV news was about to report that a paramedic had found a gun in Victor's pocket.

A video, taken from the dashboard of another officer's car, recorded what happened in the minutes before the discovery:

Three officers squatted next to Ard's car, looking under it at Victor. Ard unlocked the passenger side of his car and got something out. The object is light-colored and floppy, but isn't clearly visible. Ard, holding the object, crawled under the car next to Victor's body and stayed there for 40 seconds. Two minutes later, paramedics found a 9mm silver and black semi-automatic in Victor's pocket.

Lab tests showed the gun had been wiped clean. No fingerprints were on it — not Victor's, not anyone's. Victor's family, as well as his pastors and friends, were aghast. Victor was scared of guns, they said. He would not have carried a gun around. ...
[LINK]

Thursday, July 29, 2010

DAZER LASER to start trials with police soon

The Dazer Laser, "non-lethal" like the taser, but without all that risk of death.

As I previously noted, the biggest advantage of this technology would be the inability to deny causality in the event of dazer-induced eye injury. Well, hopefully...

Police trials starting soon: [LINK]

Taser associated death at Denver Jail - those pesky witnesses

After Booker's death, a city official asked Wicks if he wanted to make a statement. "I'd just watched them kill a man and sweep it up. As long as I was (in) their custody, I couldn't take the risk," he says.

I'm struck by a moment when witnesses say it was obvious that Booker had no pulse, yet an officer started speaking to his limp body, telling him to stop resisting. "All of a sudden, the charade had started and they're pretending he's not dead," Wicks says.

After Booker's body was wheeled away with a towel over his face, the same officer insisted to the crowd that he had a faint pulse.
[LINK]

Video tapes are being withheld. Note - the witnesses clearly understand that video tapes exist. Keep that in mind in case you wish to discount what they report seeing.

Jermaine Williams - death attributed to taser

Bolivar, MS - Jermaine Williams, 30, killed on July 23.

Bolivar County Deputy Coroner J.O. Trice said he considered the death of Williams a homicide and attributed it solely to the TASER. "The cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia that was induced by the electrical tasing device (TASER)," he said on Saturday. "The young man was quite healthy for a 30-year-old fellow."

Toxicology test results are pending. Drugs may have played a role. There's been no mention of "excited delirium".

What's nice at this point is that, unlike even a couple of years ago, Taser International doesn't [corrected typo] have what it would take to be able to influence or change these findings. Their grip on coroners has slipped.

Findings like this are about to become a whole lot more common.

"$500,000 to family of man Tasered to death by Chicago police"

The City Council today agreed to pay $500,000 to the family of a man who died in 2005 after being Tasered by a Chicago police sergeant.
The sergeant used a Taser on Ronald Hasse, 45, for 62 seconds when he resisted police trying to take him into custody. Hasse later died from “electrocution due to taser application” with crystal methamphetamine intoxication as a “significant contributing factor.” Since then, police have learned of potential harm from long Taser applications, especially if used on people who have taken narcotics, according to a Law Department statement. The payment settles a lawsuit filed by Hasse’s family.
[LINK]

It looks like the coroner in this case (bless his heart) got them in the right order. No problem mentioning other contributing factors, so long as the meaning of cause-and-effect (taser and death) are respected.

And before the moronic taser fan-boys go insane about the mention of drugs, shall we agree that tasers are not fit for purpose if they kill anyone with any amount of drugs in their system? You want to go down THAT road? Taser International sure doesn't.

PERF's "quasi-experimental" report on CEDs (Tasers)

It looks like they've missed the ACTUAL concern about tasers and death.

Another concern raised by critics of CEDs is that they may lead to higher death rates for agencies that deploy CEDs.
[PDF]

No, not quite. That description of the concern is crude and misses the point. It's not a simple numbers game. This will be explained in detail below...


But first, the report goes on to report that the death rate in Officer Use-of-force pre-taser was 0.2% and this death rate doubled to 0.4% after tasers were introduced. This must be the "can be rounded to zero" that Taser International sometimes mentions.

[By the way, normalize for 'taser darts on chest', removing external 'safety factors' such as misses, to reveal the inherent risks, and what do you get? "Low end single digits", exactly what I've been saying.]

But, to be fair, this seemingly-obvious increase in death rate is confounded by the parallel finding that the control groups (no tasers before or after) had a death rate of 0.9%.

These numbers are frighteningly high. If you're jay walking, then you're probably safer doing the "dangerous" offense than if an agitated, excited and delirious police officer subsequently approaches you with the view of applying some street-level Use-of-force as sidewalk level corporal punishment. Strange.


Now - let me explain the ACTUAL concern one more time, slowly.

It's obvious that once in a while, use of a taser arguably "saves a life". Some brainwashed morons believe that every taser use replaces use of lethal force; such beliefs are off-base by a ratio of about 100-to-1 (roughly, YMMV).

The lives actually saved (i.e. those incidents where use of lethal force was perfectly justifiable), are obviously those cases where use of lethal force was perfectly justifiable. Stupidly circular, but obviously true.

Meanwhile, on the Taser-Death side of the balance sheet, we have back-talking motorists being tasered to death. We have people that are not a threat being tasered to death. We have people already in custody being electro-tortured to death. And these deaths are typically white-washed away (or poor attempts to do so).

So if bringing in tasers results in a doubling (or no significant change) of the death rate per Officer Use-of-force, but the deaths are being randomly redistributed away from those that are violently attacking the police and use of lethal force would be perfectly justifiable (a "life saved"), and towards average citizens that are simply upset because of a traffic ticket and do not represent an actual threat, THAT REDISTRIBUTION OF THE RISK OF DEATH IS EVIL. PURE EVIL.

Even if the numbers balance, it's pure evil.

Search this blog for the word "Karma" and you will discover that this point has been repeatedly explained, in great detail, several times starting in May 2008. See [LINK] and [LINK].

PERF Taser Use Guidelines - widely ignored since 2005

Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) 2005 Conducted Energy Device (CED) guidelines [PDF]

{NOTE: CED = Taser}

1. CEDs should only be used against persons who are actively resisting or exhibiting active aggression, or to prevent individuals from harming themselves or others. CEDs should not be used against a passive suspect.

This guideline is essentially ignored. And not just in practice, but ignored as documented in written policy. It's the #1 recommendation and it's widely ignored. WTF! Good ammo for plaintiffs against extremely common overuse.

2. No more than one officer should activate a CED against a person at a time.

There are some infamous cases where multiple tasers were simultaneously and repeatedly discharged. Although such incidents are rare among all taser deployments, they're not as rare in cases where the victim of such taser torture ends up dead. This is an 'interesting' correlation in itself.

3. When activating a CED, law enforcement officers should use it for one standard cycle and stop to evaluate the situation (a standard cycle is five seconds). If subsequent cycles are necessary, agency policy should restrict the number and duration of those cycles to the minimum activations necessary to place the subject in custody.

This one is in a weird Taser International Twilight Zone. On the one hand, Taser International includes the same guidance. Meanwhile, on the other hand, Taser's own director Mark Kroll compares endless taser hits to ping pong balls (claiming infinity hits is exactly as safe as one). Discrepancies such as this are common with such false taser safety claims.

4. Training protocols should emphasize that multiple activations and continuous cycling of a CED appear to increase the risk of death or serious injury and should be avoided where practical.

I beg your pardon? Did PERF say "risk of death"?


More later...

Will the B.C. government defeat Braidwood’s purpose?

The Dziekanski whitewash could go full circle. Responding to Robert Dziekanski’s death at the hands of four RCMP officers, Thomas Braidwood wants police investigated by a new civilian agency answerable to the ombudsperson. The B.C. government has agreed to create the agency but might instead put it under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. That means Stan Lowe and his crew of ex-cops. Lowe is the same guy who exonerated the Dziekanski death squad in the first place. ...
[LINK]

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ALERT!! - PERF Taser Guidelines from 2005 good ammo for plaintiffs

Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) 2005 Conducted Energy Device (CED) guidelines [PDF].

This document is from 2005.

Many many many of the worst examples of taser overuse, misuse and abuse are in direct contradiction to the recommendations contained in this document. In other words, it is perfect ammunition to win lawsuits against those departments that have Taser Use policies that follow advice from the slick-talking stun gun salesmen as opposed to the common sense recommendations found in this document.

As a rough guess, many-to-most taser deaths could be avoided if these guidelines were adopted.

One question: why do we (society) allow this 2005 document to acknowledge the risk of death, while Taser International denies the same? How has this obvious discrepancy been allowed to fester and kill for all these years?

Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) singing from Taser International song sheet

The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), with support from the Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS), is convening an executive-level meeting on August 3, 2010 to review and consider revisions to PERF’s 2005 Conducted Energy Device (CED) guidelines. While PERF’s 2005 CED guidelines are generally considered strong, we believe it is time to revisit the guidelines and update them as necessary to reflect the current CED research, the experience of police departments that have been using CEDs, and recent legal developments. ...
[via TNT]

Their next paragraph uses the key-phrases "injury rates" and "injury risks". This is a classic trick, a simple redirection of the readers attention, so that the concept of DEATH is subtly replaced with 'injury'.

(By the way, on the subject of injuries, inherent taser dart injuries are arbitrarily defined to be insignificant, but a sprained finger would be counted.)

Anyway, it disturbs me that PERF is using the deceptive language of Taser International. I'll assume that it is innocent cut-and-paste, but I suspect it might be an indication of something more.

If any PERF people happen to be reading this, here's your homework: Google "Braidwood Inquiry".

Taser International doesn't want you to know about those two reports.

UPDATE: They've been around for decades. No obvious connection to Taser International. Their 2005 guidelines [PDF] include an explicit statement (4.) that multiple repeated or continuous taser cycles appear to increase risk of DEATH. Many of the other recommendations are in direct contradiction to the false and misleading safety claims made by Taser International et al.

Where have these guys been hiding?

And why aren't plaintiffs' lawyers using these guidelines to win lawsuits?

Edward Stevenson - the ole Excited Delirium and Enlarged Heart tale

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said the preliminary results indicate Edward Stevenson died July 18 as a result of a condition called excited delirium, which was due to cocaine intoxication. Kitchens said the results cite an enlarged heart and an altercation during an attempted police restraint as secondary contributing factors. Stevenson, 46, Lansing, died after he reportedly became combative with police officers in downtown Leavenworth. He was Tasered three times as officers attempted to subdue him. Officers ultimately used physical force to restrain him, according to Kitchens. Stevenson was placed on a gurney and Leavenworth County EMS personnel began to treat him. He then suffered what Kitchens has described as “severe medical issues.”
[LINK]

Excited delirium - typically associated with in-custody deaths, often taser deaths.

Cocaine - lethal? Just a coincidence that he perhaps used drugs more than once but died starting seconds after being repeatedly tasered?

Enlarged heart - seeing that a lot with taser deaths. Does the taser make the heart larger? Not likely. So why was the supposedly enlarged heart mentioned? Why is the victim's heart almost always mentioned in taser deaths?

You know, there is a simpler explanation...

Taser International (TASR) 2nd Qtr results - no mention of Braidwood Inquiry

I just read through the transcript of the Taser International (TASR) second quarter (2nd Qtr) results. The primary reason I read it was to see if they mentioned anything about the Braidwood Inquiry, or not.

Not.

So, let's review.

When Taser International appeals the Braidwood Inquiry to the BC Supreme Court, they complain that the Braidwood Inquiry is being raised at every meeting with customers and potential customers.

But when they discuss their 2nd Quarter results, they fail to mention anything about the effects of the Braidwood Inquiry.

Failure To Disclose is a habit.

The SEC should investigate in case they've strayed over a legal boundary.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taser International admits a litigation settlement for an injury during arrest claim?

The scent of blood in the water...
The second quarter expense includes a total of approximately $1.2 million related to one-time restructuring charges and a litigation settlement for an injury during arrest claim.
[LINK]

UPDATE
...offset by $1.2 million in Q2 of one-time restructuring charges related to reduction in force, as well as litigation settlement expenses for an officer injury claim.
[SeekingAlpha]

I think I know that incident. Shoplifter, ineffective taser, officer shot in face as a result of the taser being so unreliable. Is that the one? (Just guessing.)

DAZER LASER - "Sudden Blindness During Restraint" ???

As was previously posted, on the horizon there's a new alternative to the sometimes-deadly, randomly-ineffective Taser.

The DAZER LASER is supposed to temporarily (?) blind and disorient the subject using moderately-powerful laser flashes.

I think it's obvious that this technology has to be inherently safer than blasting the subjects with 50,000 volts and "2 mA average" (150+ mA RMS, probably 30-50 mA Effective). Other than secondary effects such as falling, eye injury is probably the major concern. Although inducing fatal seizures in some populations should be carefully considered, and such explicitly-quantified risks disclosed in a prominent manner.

Another huge advantage of a DAZER would be that if someone actually is blinded at the exact time that they were DAZER'ed, nobody but nobody would be so gullible, naive and stupid to accept that the explanation was "Sudden Blindness During Restraint".

"Excited Blindness", anyone?

NOTE - This does not constitute endorsement of the DAZER LASER product / concept. But I'm open minded.

The RCMP are revolting

CBC National News - According to a report on CBC, top RCMP brass are in open revolt against RCMP Commissioner William Elliott.

UPDATE: Here's the [LINK].

In summary:
ROCK{Prime Minister Harper}HARD PLACE

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Making it personal - lawsuit against two Columbia police officers

Two Columbia police officers are the focus of a civil lawsuit concerning an incident last year in which a man was tasered after a traffic stop. Attorney Samuel Trapp filed the civil suit yesterday in federal court in Jefferson City on behalf of Cadilac Derrick, 23, of Columbia. [LINK]

Mr. Derrick's crime? Nothing; or (let's be frank) maybe Driving While Black. The classic "cover charge" of resisting arrest was dropped (of course).

Police claim he was tasered because he was "reaching for his waistband". Sounds like a fairy tale to me, but that's just my intuition speaking.

This incident appears to be a classic taser incident where if the taser hadn't been there, then it's very likely that nothing would have happened. Mr. Derrick wasn't reaching for a weapon. There was no reason to attack him with the death-dealing electro-torture device. None of this should have happened.

I hope that the lawsuit sticks. Nothing personal. But something needs to be done to counteract the trigger-happy taser wielding idiots.

Tasers becoming very painful for those that wield them

Taser Victim is Awarded $250,000 in Excessive Force Case Against Three Pittsburg Police Officers [LINK]

San Francisco, California (23 July 2010) — An 8-person Federal Court jury awarded a quarter million dollars in compensatory damages for excessive force to plaintiff Frederick Jackson of Pittsburg, who was simultaneously tasered by three police officers. He was hospitalized for five days following the incident in March 2008.

$250,000 judgment for taser overuse.

Apparently against the three officers themselves.

I wonder if they're still in denial. Probably.

UPDATE: See [LINK].

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Taser QotW: "Obviously we don't want a tool that causes death."

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens:
"Obviously we don't want a tool that causes death."
[LINK]

Obviously.

Cold hard fact: Tasers do, occasionally and almost-randomly, cause or contribute to death.

DAZER LASER - a truly non-lethal alternative to the unreliable death-lottery of the TASER ?

The DAZER LASER uses strong light to temporarily (?) blind and disorient the subject.

Having long ago learned to be skeptical, I'm not yet prepared to offer a full endorsement, but it's obviously time for the law enforcement community to examine other options than the unreliable and occasionally lethal taser.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Well-known civil rights lawyer Cameron Ward wins in Supreme Court of Canada

CBC News - The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld $5,000 in damages against British Columbia for breaching the charter rights of Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward who was unnecessarily strip-searched by police who wrongly thought [anyone really believe that?] he was going to throw a pie at Jean Chrétien. [LINK]

The unintended consequences of the surveillance society

Surveillance cameras are almost everywhere. And mobile telephones with video cameras are almost everywhere else.

I believe that we're in a transition period. There still exists within the law enforcement community a certain percentage of folks that really shouldn't be in that line of work. And they've not yet figured out that they're being recorded.

This week's incident involves a "thug" working for the Vancouver Police Department who was caught on video shoving a disabled woman to the sidewalk. Various explanations don't fit with the fact that the three officers then turned and walked away. [LINK]

Reading between the lines, I suspect that when three Vancouver Police officers are waddling three-abreast along a sidewalk in Vancouver's Eastside, the locals are expected to move to the side, avert their eyes, and display respect and fear. But perhaps I'm reading too much into what I'm seeing on the video.

At this point in the debate, someone always chimes in with how the police have a difficult and dangerous job, and only a minority are bad apples.

The problem with the "Bad Apple" theory is that most, and I mean the vast majority, other officers appear to be more than willing to turn a blind eye, cover-up, and even lie, to protect their brother officers.

It's time that any action or inaction by any police officer regarding the misconduct by any of his fellow officers should result in serious consequences. The only way that citizens will be protected from the "bad apples" is if we (society) apply serious sanctions on those that would fail to act against the bad apples.

Smile - you're being recorded.

Taser deployment triggers off violent assault on officer

Middletown, OH Police Officer Jason Deaton is facing surgery to repair serious facial injuries after his use of his taser against Eric German, 45, goes badly wrong.

... Deaton deployed his Taser, hitting German in the lower back. That seems to set off German into a raging attack, and he lunges toward the officer, hitting him several times in the face and wrestling him on the police cruiser and the sidewalk. ... Officer Deaton was taken to the hospital, but was released later that day. He will have to have surgery for serious facial injuries.
[LINK]

A second officer shows up, decides to roll the dice again, deploys his taser and is able to assist in completing the arrest.

UPDATE: Another report [LINK] mentions that the subject, Eric German, is much larger than Officer Deaton. Reading between the lines, it seems likely that Deaton was under the false impression that tasers are reliable and would allow him to proceed with the arrest even before backup arrives. I guess that nobody told him that tasers are ineffective somewhere between 13 and 33% of the time. Given those odds, provided that such critical information wasn't being intentionally withheld, would certainly indicate that it might be best to wait for backup rather than relying on the relatively unreliable taser. Deaton should sue the company that makes the unreliable product AND controls the training that (I assume) fails to provide complete disclosure (?).

Deaton is lucky that his name isn't going to be painted on the Taser Foundation's Hummer truck that they sometimes drive around.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kid killed by "a sequelae of confrontation of Taser use"

A 17-year-old East Lake boy, William Owens, who died after being struck with a Taser was killed by stress-induced arrhythmia, according to Jefferson County Chief Deputy Coroner Pat Curry. [LINK]

The coroner's office classified the cause of death as a "sequelae of confrontation of Taser use." The manner of death is classified as a homicide.

Homicide means he was KILLED (homicide is "a deliberate act by one person that results in the death of another"). Using the word "died" tends to obscure the cause and effect.

Wiki...a sequela is a chronic condition that is a complication of an acute condition that begins during the acute condition.

In this case, the resultant "chronic condition" seems to be death.

And the most acute causation condition was:

...the teen had four Taser-type puncture wounds to the anterior torso

"anterior torso" means chest and belly.

Given the overall tip-toe style of this report, I'll guess that a transcardiac vector is being obscured by this word choice.

Taser International (TASR) 2nd Quarter results

Taser International (TASR)
Second Quarter (2nd Qtr) results
Covering April, May and June 2010.

Things started off slow in April with only two taser-associated deaths reported. But we got back on track in May and June with six taser-associated deaths each month. Six per month is on track with our new long-term running average.

The last death in June was in Canada, a particularly troublesome market, what with them having 'broken our codes' and formally concluded that tasers are, in fact, potentially lethal.


478. April 10, 2010: Daniel Joseph Barga, 24, Cornelius, Oregon
479. April 30, 2010: Adil Jouamai, 32, Arlington, Virginia
480. May 9, 2010: Audreacus Davis, 29, DeKalb County, Georgia
481. May 14, 2010: Sukeba Olawunmi, 39, Clarkston (Dekalb County), Georgia
482. May 24, 2010: Efrain Carrion, 35, Middletown, Connecticut
483. May 28, 2010: Carl D'Andre Johnson, 48, Baltimore, Maryland
484. May 29, 2010: Anastasio Hernandez, 42, San Ysidro (San Diego), California
485. May 29, 2010: Jose Martinez, 53, Waukegan, Illinois
486. June 9, 2010: Terrelle Leray Houston, 22, Hempstead, Texas
487. June 13, 2010: William Owens, 17, Homewood, Alabama
488. June 14, 2010: Jose Alfredo Jimenez, 42, Harris County, Texas
489. June 15, 2010: Michael White, 47, Vallejo, California
490. June 22, 2010: Daniel Sylvester, 35, Crescent City, California
491. June 24, 2010: Aron Firman, 27, Collingwood, Ontario
[LINK]

In other news, that whole Braidwood Inquiry thingy in British Columbia, Canada, sorry that we forgot to mention it in our Annual Report. He he. Use of tasers on that side of Canada is down 90-odd percent. But since our investors are almost as naive as our customers, we figure we'll get away with it.

Anyway, we think that our appeal is going well because the judge seemed to be enjoying our arguments. He seemed to be smirking and suppressing the urge to laugh. Yeah, seems to be going well...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Taser International faces lawsuit for taser-death of Michael Langan

Michael Langan's death was attributed to heart arrhythmia caused by the taser. Taser International denies that tasers could ever cause a death. [LINK]

An alternative to the taser

A stopwatch.

Instead of deploying a taser against an agitated subject, the attending officer simply yells "Imaginary Taser!", takes several steps back, and starts the stopwatch.

According to the theory of "excited delirium", by the time the stopwatch reaches a minute or so, the subject would be unresponsive. And dead shortly after that.

There's no need for tasers.

{ROLLS-EYES}

Leavenworth, Kansas - [46-year-old Edward G. Stephenson] who fought with police Sunday night in Leavenworth was shot with a stun gun several times and ended up dying at a local hospital. ... "He had been combative, head butting and kicking towards officers," said Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens. "There's a condition called excited delirium that is life-threatening," he said. ... A recording device inside the Taser showed that the officers hit the man three times.
[LINK]

They should have used the stopwatch. There wouldn't be so many awkward questions.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Anastasio Hernandez cause of death - think about it...

The autopsy released Friday confirmed preliminary findings that Anastasio Hernandez died of a heart attack, with a heart condition and methamphetamine use listed as contributing factors. ... The report by the San Diego County medical examiner's office said Hernandez, 42, became unresponsive shortly after he was shot by the Taser, apparently three or four times. He had Taser marks on his right side and left buttock, the report said. ... Hernandez had 0.16 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood, which the autopsy characterized as acute. ...
[LINK]

I'm not an expert in typical concentrations of drugs in blood, but a quick Google search reveals that it's perfectly legal to drive an automobile in the state of Virginia provided that your blood has a concentration LESS THAN "0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood". [LINK] So it's difficult to make a rational argument that a blood concentration less than twice the legal drugged-drive limit is somehow lethal (excluding the taser hits). It seems like a bit of a stretch to blame what appears to be distinctly NON-overdose.

Especially when you look at the temporal sequence.

Don't get me wrong. Absolutely the drug use has to be considered to be a contributing factor, but what was the immediate cause of death?

Repost from April 2008 on drug addicts, tasers, and death

Right from the start, if the pro-taser fanboys wish to invoke the argument that of course tasers are potentially deadly when used on drug users, that would be a good first step. And logically, such an acknowledgement of the real world RISK OF DEATH should be incorporated into 'Taser DON'T Use' Policy.

To be crystal clear, Taser International has repeatedly denied that drug users are at increased risk of death in the minutes after being tasered.

Repost from 9 April 2008:

Drug addicts - get past the image, use logic [LINK]

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

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

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

{ROLLS EYES}

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

New Zealand police defend tasers, while admitting 13% failure rate

Tasers had been discharged 30 times since they were rolled out nationally, and in all but four cases their use had been successful. They were also discharged 16 times during initial trials, two of which were unsuccessful.
[LINK]

See also [LINK], [LINK], and [LINK].

4/30, 2/16.

That's a consistent 13% rate of deployment failure. Other reports have the failure rate at about twice that level. In any case, it's a very significant rate.

Deployment failures often represent an escalation that goes badly wrong. Deployment failures endanger the lives of everyone involved (one recent failed taser deployment in New Zealand resulted in two officers being shot, nearly killed). And that's just the negative consequences of these acknowledged failures, let alone the overuse, misuse and abuse.

Considering that tasers are used many, many, many times more often than police would have historically used bullets, it's obvious that the moral negatives are at least on the same order of magnitude as any moral positives.

Next consider that the moral negatives are randomly distributed among those that often do not deserve them. And consider the risk of DEATH by taser (claims that the risk of DEATH by taser is zero, or essentially zero, are false advertising, deceptive marketing and dangerously incorrect).

It seems perfectly clear that an outright moratorium would be safer moral ground than the present all-too-typical overuse, misuse and abuse.

And even if you wish to believe that tasers can bring occasional positive benefits, you'd logically be forced to accept the very tight restrictions of the sort recommended by the Canadian Braidwood Inquiry.

In the Canadian province of British Columbia, that equates to a reported 91% drop in taser use. Not a bad start.

This sort of moral mathematics is perfectly obvious.

Police mindlessly defending tasers is probably a sign that the stun gun salesmen have infiltrated the ranks. An unbiased decision maker would acknowledge the moral balancing act, and not wait until a national incident forces an expensive inquiry.

Learn the lessons from Canada (Braidwood Inquiry).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Marvin Booker tasered, last words, "I can't breathe..."

A fifth deputy put Booker in a headlock just as the female deputy began shocking him with a Taser with encouragement from one of the deputies, who kept repeating, "Probe his ---," Maten said. He could hear the Taser crackle repeatedly. Booker said, "'I can't breath...," Yedo heard. Then, Booker went limp.
[LINK]

He never moved again.

Tasered. Can't breathe. Dead. A very familiar pattern.

To be fair, the news report also mentions "headlock". It's either the taser, or the headlock, or a fairy tale of coincidental death from unrelated pre-existing conditions.

Incomplete list: "lawful, reasonable and proportionate"

But the Home Office stressed police could use any weapon they saw fit as long as its use was "lawful, reasonable and proportionate".
[via TNT]

"lawful, reasonable and proportionate"

How about the following?

Not marketed with false promises of effectivity and non-lethality?

Accompanied by honest, unbiased, complete training that isn't controlled by the slick-talking, fork-tongued(*) stun gun salesmen?

(* The test for honesty is very simple - if they claim that the X26 taser {for example} is inherently safe, as opposed to carrying a risk of death, then they're not being honest. By this simple test can the honesty of your local stun gun salesmen be judged.)

Man killed by police after taser ineffective twice

Oakland and BART police officers shot and killed a man Saturday morning near the Fruitvale BART Station... An Oakland officer fired his Taser at the man..., but he kept running... Oakland police again unsuccessfully tried to subdue him with a stun gun... That's when the man charged an officer, whose colleagues opened fire.
[LINK]

If this report is reasonably accurate, then the police involved in this incident made only one error - relying on their tasers. They tried to use their tasers TWICE and neither time were they effective (for whatever reasons). The situation escalated until the man reportedly charged the police - he was reportedly armed with knives. At that point, the police (several of them?) opened fire killing the man.

It's not clear that the attempted and failed taser deployments actually increased the man's chances, or if reliance on the unreliable tasers actually led to an ever-increasing spiral.

At the very least, it's clear that two unsuccessful deployments in sequence and a man killed should be recorded as a DOUBLE FAIL for the taser.

UPDATE: See also Fred Collins, 48, dies in a hail of police bullets, after taser gun fails [LINK] for other reports that do not align with original police story.

Anastasio Hernandez autopsy results "unclear"

The autopsy report fails to draw any clear conclusions about the cause of death for Anastasio Hernandez who was killed (died?) at the US Border at San Diego on May 29.

AP - In a report released Friday, San Diego County Chief Medical Examiner Glenn Wagner characterizes Hernandez' methamphetamine blood level of 0.16 milligrams per liter as acute but lists it as only one of several potential causes. He says it's also unclear how much blame to assign to the stun gun, Hernandez' agitated state and the position in which he was restrained by law enforcement officers.

Geesh. Four factors. How about we start with 25% each?

What would NOT make any sense would be to give the taser a free pass on the deceptive say-so of the stun gun salesmen.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tasers stopping pacemakers vs. tasers stopping hearts

I thought that electronic pacemakers just monitored the heart and stepped in when required. I'm not an expert, but I don't think that pacemakers were sitting there initiating every heartbeat (how long would the batteries last?).

So if a pacemaker is "stopped" by a taser, then it might not affect you until some other time.

On the other hand, if the taser stopped your heart, then you would IMMEDIATELY collapse, would be unresponsive, and would die.

If I'm right (?), then one theory is a stretch and the other fits the reported facts.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oregon officials still denying the obvious

Oregon "officials" (?) are still searching for a reason why the elderly, 87-year-old woman who was hit with a taser (with a transcardiac vector no less, LEFT arm to hip) IMMEDIATELY (!) collapsed, was unresponsive, and died.

Now they're wondering if her pacemaker was stopped by the taser. [LINK]

Gee, maybe the taser had something to do with her IMMEDIATE reaction? God gave us the axis of time so that cause-and-effect makes sense. Ignore the temporal sequence and you enter a world where logic goes out the window.

It's pretty damn naive to explicitly exclude the taser as a possible cause of death on the say-so of those that make them.

Follow some links provided in the right hand column.

Officer uses taser, is charged with "Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon"

An arbitrary line in the dirt makes all the difference.

...The brawl ended when one cop used his department-issued Taser to subdue the other. Joshua Wallar, who is a patrolman in neighboring New Hampshire, intervened in a domestic dispute between Massachusetts cop Daron Fraser and his pregnant girlfriend. As Fraser tried to drive away from the scene of the argument, Wallar apparently stopped his car, opened the door and shot the Taser at his chest. Waller was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon because, as authorities pointed out, he is not authorized to use the Taser in Massachusetts. "He is not a police officer in Massachusetts," Haverhill Deputy Police Chief Donald Thompson told the Eagle Tribune. "He's a civilian."
[LINK]

Note: "Dangerous Weapon"

The "logic" of pre-existing medical conditions

According to the "logic" being applied by some medical examiners, the older you are, the more frail you are, the more pre-existing medical conditions you have - the LESS likely it is that a taser deployment (or several taser deployments) would ever be found to be a cause of your death.

So if you're an elderly person (for example), inevitably with multiple pre-existing conditions, it is essentially impossible that your taser "associated" death could ever be attributed to the taser. No matter what the circumstances, the medical examiner will inevitably find your several pre-existing medical conditions and the taser will thus (?) be absolved.

Same thing if you're obese (even slightly). Or just about ANYTHING... Even caffeine has been mentioned for gosh sakes.

Your corpse, still trailing taser wires from the two taser darts embedded in your lifeless chest, would thus (?) become yet another example of how people are constantly dropping dead (?), and with a formal conclusion that the taser had nothing to do with it (no matter how tight the timing).

So the 90% of us that are not perfect physical specimens, we can all sleep soundly (?) knowing that we are "logically" immune to the potentially-lethal effects of tasers.


Welcome to the insane and illogical world that supports the inexplicable assumption that "tasers-R-safe".

Taser QotW: "He attacked her with that taser."

CNN -
...Stewart County Sheriff Larry Jones, who knows Wells, arrived at the scene just after the stun gun incident concluded. "When I arrived, Mrs. Janice Wells, 57, was screaming 'I didn't do anything, I didn't do anything.' She was seated in the car and she was screaming 'Larry help me, I hadn't done anything.'" On the dashcam tape, Wells can be heard yelling as the sheriff described. "When I saw the tape, I thought, 'This can't be true.' You don't do an aminal like this. One time, maybe (with the taser). If she was physically fighting back maybe, but she was just sitting there," Jones said. "He attacked her with that taser." ...
[LINK]

It helps that Mrs. Wells knows the Sheriff on a first name basis ("Larry").

Otherwise this attack would very likely have been brushed under the carpet, as probably happens most of the time...

Australia Police treating tasers as toys

ABC News (Australia) -
Two senior officers have been stood down and two others confined to office duties at the Rockingham station, after claims they tasered colleagues as punishment or as part of an initiation ritual. It is believed there were multiple victims, some of them female officers, over a number of months at the station south of Perth. ...
[LINK]

See also [LINK].

Treating these potentially-lethal, electro-torture devices as toys can usually be traced along the training brainwashing chain, right back to the distributor and manufacturer.

As an immediate first step, political leaders need to read the Riot Act to those involved. Criminal charges would probably be appropriate.

If not, then imagine what taser overuse, misuse and abuse on citizens would be encouraged.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Buenos Aires, Argentina court bans tasers

"Torture" mentioned as a consideration.

See story via Truth ... Not Tasers blog [LINK].

Considering their history, I can see why they'd be a bit concerned about damp sponges and booster cables, or even the newer portable version.

"Excited Delirium", compare 1849 to 2007

Excited delirium is killing coked-up, stun-gunned Miamians? [LINK]

Bell observed 40 such befuddling cases of unexplained sudden mania from 1836 to 1849, with 30 of them ending in death. The "exhaustive mania" spurned him to publish an October 1849 study in the American Journal of Insanity. He described the typical afflicted patient as uncomprehending and "suspicious," with dilated eyes and a "pinched-up... florid and greasy" face. "Oftentimes [the] sensation of danger will exhibit itself in the patient attacking any one who approaches him with a blind fury,'' Bell wrote. "If held, he will struggle with the utmost desperation, irrespective of the number or strength of those who may be endeavoring to restrain him... At the expiration of two or three weeks, your patient will sink in death."

Two or three WEEKS.

"Who cares about the Taser?" Dr. Mash squawks. "I don't care about the Taser, and I'll tell you why. Excited delirium was happening before the Taser. Excited delirium was happening in the 1800s, in Bell's institutionalized psych patients. ..."

Dr. Mash was wheeled out by Taser International to claim that Robert Dziekanski died of "excited delirium". This explanation was utterly rejected by the Braidwood Inquiry.

Mr. Dziekanski was dead within A MINUTE OR TWO of being tasered repeatedly.

Dr. Mash is peddling a far too convenient excuse for taser-deaths.

And her claims do not hold up to even causal scrutiny.

There's something about the axis of time (for example, weeks versus minutes) that confuses some people.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Is Excited Delirium Killing Coked-Up, Stun-Gunned Miamians?"

Miami New Times News (12 July 2010) - Is Excited Delirium Killing Coked-Up, Stun-Gunned Miamians? [LINK], By Gus Garcia-Roberts

One unimportant factual error is describing Taser International as a "2-billion dollar company" (unless it's liability you're referring to, then it might be an understatement). The market capitalization of Taser International (TASR), maker of stun guns that are far more dangerous than they admit, is about $250M.

Otherwise, the article is very, very good. It exposes some of the bizarre snake-oil history of "excited delirium", and how such excuses have been used in the past.

More later, especially a review of the relationships from Taser International, via their lawyer Mr. Brave, the Taser International funded "IPICD", their various "excited delirium" URLs, and links to the University of Miami and Dr. Mash. Not all of these connections were above-board.

Woman, 87, had Pellet Gun before Taser Death

The elderly woman recently killed by the taser who recently died of "heart disease" starting "immediately" coincident with the taser hit, didn't actually have a firearm, just a pellet gun. [LINK]

"repeated application of Tasers amounted to deliberate torture"

A prosecutor told a B.C. court Monday that a group of men convicted in the richest kidnapping scheme in Canadian history could have easily killed their victims with repeated beatings and Taser jolts. ... [LINK]

If the stun guns in question were actually Taser International-brand TASERS, then we need to ask about the supposed "activation" process, and the supposed "Anti-felon ID Tags"...

Effective measures? Or BS window-dressing?

Hey! I'm just asking.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tasers make outrageous normal, and normal outrageous

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Janice Wells, age 57, a third-grade teacher, called the Richland Police Department when she feared a prowler was outside her clapboard house in the rural west Georgia town. ... within minutes of an officer coming to her backdoor, she was screaming in pain and begging not to be shocked again with a Taser. With each scream and cry, the officer threatened her with more shocks. ...Ryan Smith of the nearby Lumpkin Police Department. ...Smith, who quit eight days after the incident, remains unrepentant. ... [LINK]

Ms. Wells is black. The directly-involved officers are white. Probably just a coincidence.

Having 'rights' shouldn't just be about huge lawsuits and settlements years after the fact. It should be about ACTUALLY HAVING rights. And those rights should be enforced by the direct intervention of the Federal government. After all, isn't protecting citizens one of the prime roles of government? From enemies "both foreign AND DOMESTIC".

Being TORTURED, and that's exactly what it was, is not something that should be actually happening in rural Georgia, nor in a New Orleans hospital, nor anywhere.

Defending basic rights means that Smith needs to be sent to prison.

Maybe then he'll get it.

Dog tasered_and_died

Altoona, PA city police killed what an officer said was an aggressive pit bull Saturday evening after a neighbor of the dog's owner called the police. Cpl. Bill Boyles, who did not respond to the scene but was briefed on the incident, said two pit bulls were running loose in the area of Howard Avenue and First Street about 6:30 p.m. After attempts to find the dogs' owner failed, Boyles said Sgt. William Gibbons struck one of the dogs with a Taser. Boyles said he assumed that is what killed the animal.
[LINK]

A spokespuppet from Taser International should be along shortly to claim that the dog coincidentally died of 'excited delirium', had a history of drug use, had a pre-existing heart condition, was drunk, was suffering from alcohol withdrawal, and would have died anyway on that day, at that hour, at that minute...

UPDATE: You think I'm joking? See [LINK]. It's not me that's laughing at you.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

SCOTUS Nephew Tasered - More details make the incident even more outrageous...

ABC26.com - [LINK] The nephew of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says he was tased and beaten at West Jefferson Medical Center.

24 year old Derek Thomas was admitted to West Jeff Thursday afternoon. Shortly after arriving, he was asked to put on a hospital gown. Thomas says he refused, and wanted to leave the facility. Within minutes, Thomas says things got very ugly, very fast. "The guy asked me, you're either going to do it or we're going to tase you" Thomas says.

Before being tased, Thomas says he was punched in the lip and had a fist full of his hair pulled out. To make matters worse, he is epileptic, and says he suffered a massive seizure as he was being tased. His sister Kimberly says he could've died. "This was not only put on his chart letting them know he already had a health condition … this should not have happened at a hospital" Kimberly Thomas comments.

Minutes after the incident allegedly happened Kimberly called her uncle. She says he was completely shocked and outraged. Justice Clarence Thomas will be coming to New Orleans this weekend to investigate what happened at the hospital.

Thomas meanwhile, says he will take legal action. "I would like to sue the hospital because it was uncalled for. Where in America can you go and, from you not putting on a robe, should the consequence be tased, punched in the face?"

Derek Thomas is also hoping his uncle, a man who is often the final word when it comes to right and wrong, can help to make sure this alleged abuse doesn't happen to anyone else.



There's nothing unusual about this sort of taser use. The so-called 'Drive Stun' or Touch-Torture mode is intentionally designed into the device to allow it to be used as a torture device.

That's what it's designed to do.

That's what it was used for - torture.

In America.

Torture.

Nephew of a Supreme Court Justice.

I've written several times before that NO ONE IS SAFE.

If Justice Thomas shows up unannounced and in casual clothes, and starts asking questions in a loud voice - then he too (if unidentified) might get a good solid taser torture session for his troubles.

Coroner speaking in tongues

"Tasers-R-Safe."

Here's what they mean:

An autopsy revealed that Owens suffered from heart disease and had a pacemaker. A deputy state medical examiner said the electric shock from the Taser stun gun would not have killed a healthy person.
[LINK]

NOTE: The woman was tasered with a trans-cardiac vector (left arm to hip), was "immediately" (!) unconscious and unresponsive, and did not recover.

The coroner, with an incredible ability to ignore what the close temporal sequence is screaming at him, claims that cause of death is a pre-existing "heart condition".

Let's follow this "logic" forward a few more steps...

According to the coroner, the taser was not a cause of death. Therefore, this was not a taser-caused death. I've not seen even an admission that the taser might even be considered a contributing factor.

"Therefore" (sic) this incident doesn't indicate that tasers are potentially deadly. It's not an example of an elderly subject at extremely high risk if exposed to the taser.

It was just "heart disease".

No lessons to learn.

It doesn't indicate any risk.

The older the subject, the less the chance that their death would be attributed to the taser.

The take-away is that the elderly are a Taser Free-Fire Zone 'because' it's 'impossible' to kill them with a taser.

Right? {ROLLS-EYES}

Nothing to see, move along.



Actually, this is a good example of 'something'...

Repost: Regarding "a Pre-existing Medical Condition"

Repost from 8 January 2008 [LINK]

Regarding "a Pre-existing Medical Condition"

[I've changed the gender of the victim to female, but her age (for example, say 87 years old) is not explicitly mentioned. I've resisted the temptation to replace 'thin skull' with 'heart condition' - after all, it's called The Thin Skull Doctrine, one of the foundations of Common Law.]


Once upon a time:

You're walking along the sidewalk, and decide to punch someone in the face just because it's been a lousy day. Okay, here comes someone... POW! Ah, that felt good.

Oh dear, she appears to have coincidentally died. The death occurred sometime after you punched her, but evidently before her lifeless corpse hit the sidewalk in a heap.

How strange that she died, because you really didn't punch her any harder than all the other people you've been punching over the years. It's very strange that this one would die so easily. But you did notice that her head felt quite a bit softer than normal. Very unusual.

At this point Inspector Plod of The Yard fingers your collar and drags you up before The Beak. (Translation from UK English into normal English: At this point a police officer arrests you and takes you to see the judge.)

The judge demands, "How did the victim die?"

You tentatively offer the suggestion, "Why, it twas Excited Delirium, m'Lord."

Sometime later that day, after everyone recovers from laughing-their-asses-off, the court reconvenes. The judge, still wiping tears of laughter from his eyes, tries again, "Okay, let's ask the coroner what's what."

The coroner explains that the victim has had, for her entire life, a very thin skull. The thin skull was adequate for day-to-day living and never caused the victim any problems. At least not until the defendant punched her in the face - then she died. The coroner, giving you a quick wink, then concludes, "Such punches are not normally fatal, therefore the primary cause of death was obviously the victim's thin skull." [Sound familiar?]

You exchange imperceptible smiles with the coroner.

Your defense attorney leaps to his feet and says, "See? It isn't the fault of the defendant. The victim had a, ahem, ah, yes, here it is: a Pre-ex-is-ting Med-i-cal Con-di-tion."

The judge slowly pushes his glasses down to the very end of his nose and then fixes you and your attorney with a hard stare that pierces your very souls. You turn slightly pale and quiver; the room suddenly seems 10 degrees colder. Even the ceiling fan with the noisy bearing instantly and inexplicably spins in perfect silence; perhaps it knows what is about to happen.

The judge clears his throat.

"Idiots! It's Common Law and common sense...

You take your victims as you find them.

Guilty as hell.
"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Taser International (TASR) just 'lost' Supreme Court of USA

Making it personal...

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' epileptic nephew suffered a massive seizure after being beaten and hit with a stun gun during a scuffle at a New Orleans area hospital. ... Derek Thomas, 25, was admitted to West Jefferson Hospital on Thursday after what some news outlets described as a possible suicide attempt. When orderlies asked Thomas to put on a hospital gown, he refused and tried to flee the facility. That's when security guards stepped in, and a scuffle ensued. ... One of the guards punched Thomas, pulled out his hair and then shocked him with a Taser, the patient's sister... Because of the fight, Thomas suffered a serious seizure...
[LINK]

A Boring and predictable autopsy report on 87-year-old woman

UPDATE: The woman was identified as Phyllis A. Owens, a resident of the Big Valley Woods Mobile Home Park, 32700 S.E. Leewood Lane, since 1991. [LINK]

(AP) The probes of the officer's Taser hit her left arm and hip [That's TRANSCARDIAC in case you didn't notice], said Dr. Larry Lewman of the state medical examiner's office. Owens had a history of heart disease and that was the cause of death, Lewman said Friday. He said he would do more research to determine what effect the electrical shock had on her pacemaker. "A healthy person would not have died this way," Lewman said. The autopsy report said her heart disease was the cause of death.

"A healthy person would not have died this way."

But an un-tasered person would very likely not have coincidentally died of 'heart disease' on that day, that hour, THAT EXACT MINUTE*.

(* "...immediately..." [LINK])

This is a clear example of a taser "associated" death where the taser is given a free pass.

Thank you Dr. Lewman for proving such a crystal clear example of how this sausage is made. Yes Siree Bob, heart disease death starting "immediately" coincident with the application of the taser. The taser that is so "safe" that it can be used on anyone, even elderly women with heart disease, because a taser death is "impossible".

Even the NIJ had concerns about using tasers on the elderly!!

Dr. Lewman et al might wish to review the following: [LINK].

UK Most Wanted Raoul Moat shot with taser, and then kills himself with shotgun

(Welcome UK Readers. This blog about tasers has nearly 2000 posts on the subject of tasers, and the many false claims made by Taser International. Canada has been slowly dismantling the "tasers-R-safe" and "taser are effective" claims that have resulted in over-reliance on tasers, and huge problems including unnecessary death.)

UPDATE 1: See The Telegraph (UK) [LINK]. Everything being reported most-easily explained by my hypothesis of how it unfolded. But others are apparently unwilling to make the logical and obvious leap to map it out as I've described. Mark my words and we'll see...

UPDATE 2 - Two, not one, tasers were fired and yet he still managed to use his shotgun to kill himself. [LINK] Time to review the promises-to-truth ratio of Taser marketing.

Another [DOUBLE] entry for the Taser International FAIL-blog.

Sky News - Police have confirmed they shot Raoul Moat, 37, with a taser stun gun (UPDATE: XREP [LINK], twice) during last night's stand-off with Britain's most wanted man. [LINK] [ALSO]

News reports indicate that Moat killed himself with a shotgun.

So assuming that the police didn't fire the taser at Moat after he was already dead, then is it reasonable to assume that the police attempted to use the taser but it was, apparently, ineffective (twice)?

Furthermore, is it reasonable to assume that the attempt to use the ineffective taser might have actually prompted Moat into ending the standoff by killing himself?

The above sequence seems to be the simplest explanation that matches the reported facts.

(Others have pointed out the possibility of involuntary taser-caused muscle reactions pulling the trigger. That's certainly possible, but perhaps less likely.

UPDATE 3: Or is it? [LINK])

If so, then from a 'Taser-Use Policy' point of view, these news reports indicate a massive FAIL for depending on the unpredictable taser given such circumstances.

To be clear, I'm not overly-disturbed by Moat ending his own life - tragic, but he was the author of his own destiny; plus-or-minus other factors... ("steroid addict" [LINK]).


But it is EXTREMELY important to mark down a massive Taser-Use Policy "FAIL" if the use of the taser was, 1) ineffective (twice?), and 2) led directly to, or even allowed, gunfire.


Police weapons that are so consistently unreliable (some reports have the rate of ineffectivity as high as 30%) are dangerous in so many ways, to everyone in the vicinity.

Remember: Taser International claims that tasers are ...safe and effective.... I bet that they won't be issuing a glowing press release about how their product didn't accomplish anything as promised by the marketing.

Effective?

(Safe?)

And WTF is this? [Star]

Friday, July 9, 2010

Google News juxtaposition of disingenuous claim with yet another taser death

Taser maker denies weapon poses risk for the heart
CTV.ca
VANCOUVER — Taser International says a training document that appears to suggest its weapons pose a risk to the heart has been taken out of context. ...

Sandy woman shot with Taser dies
Sandy Post
By Jim Hart - An 87-year-old woman was shot with a taser at her home by a Clackamas County deputy sheriff mid-afternoon Thursday, July 8. ...

The woman immediately became unconscious and unresponsive and died at the scene.

Taser International would ask us to ignore the close temporal alignment of the taser deployment and the IMMEDIATE consequences.

Killing Them Safely

Taser International denies that words "remote potential risk of cardiac effect" have anything to do with the remote potential risk of a cardiac effect

CTV News - In an affidavit [!!!] filed with the court, co-founder Rick Smith [4Brains] says the bulletin was only designed to protect the company from potential lawsuits. Smith says it was not an admission that tasers can affect the heart [*], despite the fact that the document recommends officers aim away from the heart because of a "remote potential risk of cardiac effect." [LINK]

* -> Taser International's very own legal warning:
"The ECD can produce... changes in... heart rate and rhythm..."
Parsed from: Volunteer Warnings, Risks, Liability Release and Covenant Not to Sue [LINK]

Filing an obviously-false and blatantly self-serving affidavit (!!!) with a court is about as serious as it gets. He might as well 'moon' the judge.

Update: I want to put this prediction (10 July 2010) on the record. It is: not only an utter and complete rejection of Taser International's appeal of Braidwood, but I also foresee sanctions against Taser International and/or their lawyer. I obviously can't be sure, but if I had behaved in court like that (based on news reports), I'd sure be nervously awaiting the Court's reaction. And not just simple win or lose the appeal.

Former BART-4-Brains Johannes Mehserle convicted of "involuntary manslaughter"

LA Times [LINK]

On a scale of 0 to 3, it's a 1.

To anyone disappointed with this outcome: Please remember the lessons of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Violence is not the answer; it's counter-productive. Non-violence is far more effective in the long run.

Killing Them Safely

Killing Them Safely is the gripping investigation into how Stanley Harlan was murdered by the police, and how he is not alone. Several hundred North Americans have died following a taser application, while the private company that makes the weapon insists that it is physically impossible to kill someone with a taser. Killing Them Safely promises to leave you on the edge of your seat, guessing for answers to unthinkable questions.

Film Website: [LINK]

"Killing Them Safely" Trailer On Vimeo:

Killing Them Safely - Trailer from Nick Berardini on Vimeo.


"Killing Them Safely" Trailer On YouTube:



TinyURL this post: [TinyURL]

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tasers most often used on the unarmed in NSW Australia

If this report [LINK 1] doesn't make your blood boil, then this one [LINK 2] should.

1: ...Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, said the weapon would be a valuable replacement to the use of lethal force. ...Only one-third of people stunned or threatened with Tasers by NSW police were armed at the time during a controversial 2008 trial of the weapon. ...MP Sylvia Hale, in a letter to the Minister for Police, Michael Daley, called for an inquiry into the trial and resultant cover-up...

2: The police watchdog is investigating whether riot squad officers, unhappy with a magistrate's judgment, may have fed false information to a radio station and a newspaper to discredit him. In what would be a highly improper assault on the NSW courts if proven, officers from the public order riot squad allegedly took umbrage when a Local Court magistrate, David Heilpern, found three policemen - including two riot squad officers - had possibly "tweaked" their evidence in a Taser case.

It really seems like the first thing to be tasered by tasers is the truth.

Taser International's appeal derailed by their own fine print

Taser International's lawyer David Neave must be wondering if he could wear a paper bag over his head this morning. I suppose if a client started coughing-up bits of BBQ Panda during a WWF convention it might be almost as awkward as representing Taser International under these circumstances. Whatever they're paying him, it's not enough.

The Province - Manufacturer's 'fine print' on Taser's risks backs Braidwood [LINK]

The directive, released just two months after Braidwood's first report, is entitled "TASER Training Bulletin 15.0, Medical Research Updated and Revised Warnings."

Jones said the bulletin went even farther than Braidwood in recommending how it should be deployed against human beings. "Aiming away from the heart was not among the commissioner's recommendations, though he recognized its value in training situations."

The government lawyer questioned why Taser is pressing its case if it doesn't disagree with the commissioner.

"It's hard to say why. Perhaps it is because Commissioner Braidwood's views were clear, plainspoken and widely and prominently disseminated, where Taser's own indistinguishable conclusion . . . is tucked away among fine print," Jones said.

The Taser admission renders the petition "futile" and thus unsuitable for judicial review, he argued. ...


Crazy times.

'Bucket of turds' - an important concept when listening to taser spokespuppets

Explanation extracted from [LINK] (11 Jan. 2008).

You need to know this concept if you're to stay sane and prevent your head from exploding when forced to listen to certain pro-taser 'front men' giving their crazy, truth-defying "tasers-R-safe" spiels.


'Bucket of turds' explained:

Some people have an amazing skill. They can walk out onto a stage in front of a thousand people and in front of the world media, plop down a large bucket of turds, gently step into the bucket of turds with both feet, then make a one-hour speech and take one hour of questions, and somehow - throughout the entire event - never make any mention of, nor any reference to, the bucket of turds.

If any explicit or direct questions are asked about the bucket of turds, then a long-winded answer will ensue that inexplicably spins around and amazingly continues to avoid any mention of the bucket of turds.

Sometimes I think that the subsequent applause is for the actual skill involved; not for the typically inane position taken by such people on important issues.

'Bucket of turds' - once you know what it's called, then you can start to see it everywhere.

An imaginary discourse about taser safety margins

Repost from February 2008 [LINK]

An imaginary discourse with someone we'll just call Mr. Smith.

Q: What is the inherent safety margin for 'the taser'?
A: 15 to 1. [LINK]

[The remainder of these answers are predicted - these are not actual answers. If only someone was able to follow this line of questioning...]

Q: Upon what is this 15 to 1 safety margin for 'the taser' based?
A: Many years of medical and scientific studies.

Q: Many years? Many many years? Going back how far?
A: Yes, many many years. Going back into the 1990s. Huge thick stack of reports.

Q: When you refer to 'the taser', or answer questions about 'the taser', to which model are you referring?
A: There are several models, including the M26 and the X26.

Q: Are they all the same?
A: No.

Q: So which friggen' taser model are you referring to?
A: Whichever one I want to at the time. If you're not asking specific-enough questions, then my answer will be based on the model providing the most favorable-sounding answers.

Q: When was the X26 introduced?
A: In 2003.

Q: Does it have the same electric discharge waveform as the M26?
A: No. It is slightly lower amplitude, much lower frequency, and 100% continuous duty cycle at 19Hz.

Q: So any safety studies applicable to the M26 would not apply to the X26, would they?
A: It would be reasonable to conclude that your statement is, at its fundamental core, essentially not incorrect.

Q: So, is the "15 to 1" safety margin (being based on many many years of studies) applicable to the M26 or the X26? Which of 'the taser' is this safety margin applicable to?
A: No comment.

Q: What safety advantage results from using the high frequency waveform, such as the 50,000 Hz in the case of the waveform used on the older M26 model?
A: According to our experts, high frequency provides a 100 to 1 safety improvement over power line frequencies. This is what makes 'the taser' safe.

Q: Does 'the taser' use such high frequencies?
A: Ah, yes.

Q: What is your most popular model.
A: The X26 introduced in 2003 is our best seller by far.

Q: Does the X26 taser use high frequency waveform?
A: Ah, no.

Q: I beg your pardon?
A: Ah, no.

Q: Explain yourself.
A: The X26 has a distracting burst of 100,000 Hz noise on the leading edge, but then there is a large DC pulse that repeats at 19 Hz.

Q: So the X26 taser is only 19 Hz?
A: Yes, we have called the X26 waveform "19 Hz" in various publications.

Q: Is 19 Hz considered to be a high frequency or a low frequency?
A: Oh hell no. 19 Hz is not considered to be a high frequency. It's low. Damn low.

Q: Power line?
A: Oh yeah. Definitely in that range. Power is 50 or 60 Hz. 19 Hz is just below.

Q: So what happened to your 100:1 safety advantage of high frequency?
A: Oh, in the case of the popular X26 model? Bye-bye!

Q: What compensating factors exist for the X26?
A: Well, we dropped the peak current from 15 amperes on the M26, to 3 amperes on the X26. And the 19 Hz component of the waveform on the X26 is not even 3 amperes, in fact not even one ampere.

Q: So help with the math here. Bye bye 100:1 for the frequency change. Hello maybe 50:1 for the reduced current. But duty cycle at 19 Hz on the X26 is 100%. But you started with 15:1 - on the M26? I'm confused...
A: Yeah, indecipherable isn't it.

Q: Is the safety margin for the X26 lower than for the M26?
A: Well, some critics might claim that.

Q: Did Taser ever advertise that the X26 provided more take-down power than the M26?
A: Ah, maybe. Well okay, yeah.

Q: So, what is the inherent safety margin of 'the taser'?
A: 15 to 1.

Q: Okay smarty-pants. What is the inherent safety margin of the X26 taser? With all these changes to the waveform since the M26, is it still coincidently 15 to 1?
A: Well, that's a damn fine question, and...

At this point, a 45kg pig that has escaped from a medical experiment burst into the conference room, makes very threatening 'Oinking' noises, and refuses to cooperate with verbal instructions from Security personal to put his front legs behind his head and lie down. The pig is tasered several times with an X26 directly across the chest and unfortunately dies of extreme Excited Delirium.

The hearing is adjourned.

Excited Delirium as an excuse for In-Custody Deaths

'Excited Delirium' is to tasers as 'Spontaneous Human Combustion' is to flame-throwers.

South Bend, Indiana paying $150,000 for taser+dog arrest of child

The city of South Bend has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed in relation to a March 2005 incident where three police officers (allegedly) used excessive force on a 14-year-old boy. The officers (alledgedly) unnecessarily shocked the boy with a stun gun and (allegedly) let a police dog bite him.

The city (allegedly) did not admit wrong-doing.

(No admission: $100,000 :=> $150,000 ?!?)

More on Taser International's disingenuous claims about taser safety

Taser officials admitted weapons are lethal, lawyer tells B.C. court [LINK]

Prima facia evidence.

Slam dunk for BC government.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Taser International, "most prominent" - ...again

Taser International complaining that they didn't get a chance to prove that the Earth is flat...

"The courtesies and accommodations extended to Taser — which was, in sheer volume of submissions, easily the most-prominent presenter — were extraordinary," wrote Mr. Jones, a lawyer for B.C.’s attorney-general. [LINK]

OPP Comish and Taser fan Julian Fantino leaving

CBC News - Julian Fantino's controversial tenure as the head of the Ontario Provincial Police is ending. [LINK]

Notable taser-related quotations:

Fantino said that the taser debate is "...off the rails...", meaning that the public were incorrect to be concerned about tasers, their false safety claims, or the thus defective Taser-Use Policies. [LINK] Well, I guess the debate still is "off the rails", what with Braidwood and all that, eh? LOL.

Here [LINK] Fantino is found reading from a very carefully-worded script, almost certainly directly traceable back to Taser International. Not a chance in Hell he would have got the words so exactly matching the most up-to-date Taser claims without their help. One should choose one's friends (sic) more carefully.

Here's another Fantino quote where the subtitles of the taser problem washed around him. [LINK]

I really hope that he enjoys a very quiet retirement.

Please.

Taser Internation (TASR) caught in taser-death-risk discrepancy

When you find yourself in a hole, Stop Digging!!!

Reading about the discrepancies from Taser International's safety claims versus their legal risk warnings is amusing. Amusing except for the tragic outcomes that arose from their deceptive marketing.

Times Colonist (JULY 7, 2010) - Taser shooting itself in the foot [LINK]

... Taser International's refusal to acknowledge the risk has created trouble for the company and police forces that accepted the claims. Officers made decisions on Taser use based on the belief there was no risk. That led to inappropriate use, injuries, death and damage to respect for the police forces. ...

A long time ago, I posted about my observation that tasers were being used about one-hundred times as often as police had historically used bullets. This 100x ratio is a rough ratio and varies with jurisdiction and time. But it's a fair and reasonable value.

Based on that, I suggested that taser use should be reduced by at least 95% from the insane taser-everyone peak around 2007/2008. The extra four percentage points is me being extremely generous and reasonable in allowing that the pyramid of lawful force might be just a bit wider one step below bullets.

I recently saw a report that taser use (BC?) in 2009 was down 91% compared to 2008.

This sort of more-limited use of tasers would obviously have an impact on the bottom line of Taser International.

Which explains everything.

What's needed are significant legal liability to hold them responsible for the tragic outcomes that arose directly from their deceptive marketing, combined with the organization naivety of their law enforcement customers.

The only language they understand is money. The courts need to explain this issue to them in those terms.

Liability.

Vast liability.

Taser International (TASR) appeal of Braidwood not going well

Vancouver (Reuters) - TASER International Inc issued the same safety warning about its stun guns as did a British Columbia inquiry, government lawyers said on Tuesday in urging a court to reject the company's bid to quash the findings. ... The inquiry's report warned that the weapons could be lethal, but Taser disputed the finding and said it had ignored evidence. The U.S.-based company, however, included the safety warning in a product bulletin to police three months after inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood issued his report, provincial lawyer Craig Jones told the B.C. Supreme Court. "The difference, I suppose, is that commissioner Braidwood did it in plain language, and it was broadcast more widely," Jones told British Columbia Supreme Court Judge Robert Sewell. [LINK]

These are the sort of meta-discrepancies for which Taser International has become famous.


Here's another example of a meta-discrepancy (from [LINK]):

Compare this BS claim:
"The TASER ECD Affects the Nerves and Muscles but not the Heart" [Kroll, 2007]

To this legal warning:
"The ECD can produce... changes in... heart rate and rhythm..."
Parsed from: Volunteer Warnings, Risks, Liability Release and Covenant Not to Sue [LINK]



Another difficult-to-answer question would be something along the lines of:

At one time, Taser International prominently featured Kroll's infamous "ping pong paper" [TEXT COPY] on the Taser.com website under "Cardiac Safety".
In other words, if you are not electrocuted by a certain level of electrical current after five seconds, you will not be electrocuted by a 60 second exposure either. If one ping-pong ball hit to the head does not kill you, 1,000 probably cannot either.
Since the latest evidence about repeated taser hits being associated with - ah... - DEATH, this so-called paper was (apparently, and apparently silently!) pulled from the Taser website. Why pulled? AND WHY SILENTLY?


Hey! Still here? See also [LINK].

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Neave: Taser International ill-prepared for Braidwood

File under: WTF?

Vancouver (Canadian Press) - ... During arguments in B.C. Supreme Court, Judge Robert Sewell asked Taser's lawyer David Neave why the company's presence at the hearings in 2008 wasn't enough. ... Neave responded by saying the company still had no reason to believe Braidwood would reach the conclusions he did, leaving Taser with no opportunity to properly respond. ... [LINK]

You may have to read that a couple more times to get it.

He's saying they didn't anticipate Braidwood's conclusions about taser safety claims... ...and so they failed to prepare an adequate defense.

Word of the day: "Disingenuous"

I'm no lawyer, but that "Lack-of-Defense" defense is not something that is typically accepted.

And it'd be shocking if Neave doesn't know that...

So I'm suspicious that they're laying the ground work for a sobbing "We had NO idea tasers can sometimes kill" strategic defense to the larger issue of liability.

Crazy times...

Quoting Taser Chief Tom Smith about lives lost

Tom Smith, 12 May 2008:
Tasers save 70 lives for every life lost.
[LINK]

The argument du jour isn't about the 70-to-1 ratio, we can argue about the 70 later.

It's the devastating admission by Taser International's head that the "1" (as in "70-to-1") is NOT ZERO.

Yes, he accidentally admitted that the lethal downside of taser use is non-zero.

Compare with Taser lawyer Neave's outrageous claim in BC Supreme Court that ZERO deaths can be fairly attributed to taser use.

Discrepancies like these tend to surface, ah, in these circumstances.

Braccarius scores own-goal with list of organizations

A young and naive pro-taser commenter on CBC, the only pro-taser commenter as far as I can see, is getting spanked pretty good by the crowd.

Braccarius offered a list of what he assumed were reputable organizations that support "excited delirium" as an excuse for taser deaths:

  • Canadian Police Research Centre
  • Defense Research and Development Canada
  • National Institute of Justice
  • Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths

To anyone following the issue, some of these "organizations" are excellent examples. Because they clearly demonstrate what's actually been going on with Taser International and all their sleezy connections, both revealed and not yet revealed, to many such organizations.

CPRC had its chain yanked by its masters (see below). [LINK]

DRDC - they're probably okay (now). They're the ones that yanked CPRC back into line. [LINK]  I've not seen anything that reflects poorly on DRDC.

NIJ's report didn't actually state that tasers are safe. Their report actually raised a red flag about the risks of repeated taser hits. [LINK]

IPICD is, in my opinion, just a front for Taser International. See [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] and many, many more [LINK]. They're by far the worst of this list. Direct sleezy connections to Taser International and to those that promote "excited delirium". Whatever they were doing, they weren't very good at it...


All of these organizations have been mentioned on this blog before many times. Use the various blog search functions to look up more details.

It's an excellent list, but it doesn't prove what Braccarius thinks it proves.

His list indicates things that are much more interesting...

Taser International lawyer drops Stupid-Bomb at Braidwood appeal

Toronto Star - Taser lawyer David Neave reportedly [via TNT] said:

...there is no evidence a Taser either caused or contributed to any of the deaths associated with the weapon.

Well - I can think of at least one obvious counter-example: Robert Dziekanski. And there are many more individually-identifiable cases where the role of the taser in the death has been identified as a cause or contributing factor.

And that's in spite of the extraordinary efforts made by Taser International to twist the obvious facts.

This statement is amazing, because their own outrageous claims destroy their own credibility in a way that can't be matched by others.

Flat-Earth, Moon Landing Hoax, and Tasers-R-Safe

Based on the news reports, the basic gist of Taser International's appeal of the conclusions of the Braidwood Inquiry regarding the capacity of tasers to cause or contribute to death is (if I understand it) that the Inquiry didn't provide redline corrections to all the flawed, misinterpreted, or misrepresented studies that Taser International claims prove that tasers-R-safe.

That's not his job.

As with the Flat-Earth and Moon Landing Hoax people, the ability to manufacture reams of paper doesn't necessarily prove anything. Especially when the real-world empirical evidence that tasers really can cause or contribute to death is so overwhelming and crystal clear.

I'm confident that the Braidwood Inquiry gave Taser International a more-than-fair hearing. He was actually very courteous and gentle with them. Reading some of the testimony, if I was in his position, I probably would have lost it.

But it's not Braidwood's mandate to individually categorize all the pro-taser "evidence" into neat piles marked as follows:

- Sample size too small to address the question
- Studies lumping injuries together with death
- Studies that excluded two taser-deaths (circular logic)
- Studies that even mention deceptive garbage such as "2mA average"
- Studies that also indicate tasers have no effect
- Studies from deceptive people
- Studies from those that misapply Latin language logic

Some of the studies that Taser International has held-up as evidence have been so utterly flawed that even I, an average Joe, can spot the errors instantly. Many of these have been reviewed on this blog.


What next?

Taser International, in reference to the nearly 500 people listed as dying after being tasered, issues a study that proves that these people are not actually dead.

There comes a point where the evidence is clear.

Taser International (TASR): Corporate 'goodwill' = negative billions

Wow.

CBC News - Taser maker challenges Braidwood report [LINK]

I just waded through the first 30 or so pages (sorted by most 'Agreed') of comments posted to the above news item, and not one, not one, had anything nice to say about the management of Taser International. Most commenters were spitting-venom angry (and justifiably so).

It was also extremely satisfying to see that almost all commenters were uniformly very highly informed about the taser-death causality topic. For example, the basic concept of the taser's 'Curious Temporal Asymmetry' has taken firm root into the national consciousness.

And virtually all of the comments were based on factually-correct information and logic.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Australia taser scandal: "Taser abuse covered up by police"

Sydney Morning Herald - A 12-MONTH trial of police Tasers, which was used to justify arming every frontline officer in the state with the controversial weapon, was characterised by a litany of misuses and abuses that were covered up by police and the government. The proof comes in internal police documents relating to the trial in 2008-09, which the Herald obtained after a year-long freedom-of-information battle. The documents reveal that police and the government used the trial as window dressing to affirm a decision they had already made - to give the weapon to all general duties police - and ignored worrying results. ... [LINK]

Just another day in the world of tasers...