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.

Monday, April 21, 2008

In critical condition - from "Excited Delirium"?

Oxford, OH - Kevin Piskura, 24, of Chicago, was listed in critical condition Sunday, April 20, at University Hospital after being tasered. ... The officer used the Taser once against Piskura, hitting him in the chest. Piskura then fell to the ground and was handcuffed. Police said they noticed he was having trouble breathing while assessing his condition and he was taken by the Oxford Life Squad to McCullough-Hyde Hospital, then later flown to University Hospital.


But let's not jump to any conclusions about the safety of tasers... no no no.

I really hope he comes out okay.


Katie said...

I've been tased... by the department in question. It was part of a demonstration, and other than sore abs the next day, I was fine. I am a juvenile diabetic with a heart condition, so not in such great health. I was NOT, however, drunk or on cocaine at the time. I also believe the officer was justified in his/her use of force and think the "victim" is lucky OPD uses tasers... in their absence, a firearm would have been the next step--and THOSE are deadly with or without outside factors like drugs or heart conditions.

Anonymous said...

Hi Katie. Although your comment is brief, it makes several points. And as usual, it takes longer to rebutt than your original comment.

I've already posted about these FAKE taser demonstrations where the taser current is applied across the waist, or down one leg, or in the back in Drive Mode. What I don't see is the X26 taser being fired at the chest exactly as is normal practice on the street. For that reason, all that these FAKE demonstrations do is allow Taser to build-up the demoninator in their claimed safety number ratio. Even if these demos hurt, they obviously don't put as much current through vital organs as would a normal street deployment that happens to land on the chest. And any even small reduction is probably very significant since it seems to be on the hairly edge of risky. For that reason I call these demos FAKE. This point has already been discussed in some detail in the blog.

Taser has been claiming that the tasers are safe - period. If they're now willing to admit that they're potentially lethal to people on drugs or drunks, then that is a nice change. Given that many of the people they're being used against are drug users or drunk, then that admission multiplies through to mean that they'd be admitting that the devices are actually potentially lethal in the real world. If this is their admission (?), then Excited Delirum is just a name for the drugs-or-beer+taser=death scenario. Is that what Taser is now admitting? I think that they're still on the fence on that issue.

Also, note that many people that have died after being tasered were not on drugs nor anything else.

And many of the drug addicts have been using drugs for many months and died moments after being tasered. Coincidence? This point was also recently discussed.

If an officer is justified in using lethal force, and they choose to use a taser instead, then that is just great. They deserve a commendation for taking an added risk to save a life. This is common sense and there is no argument on this point.

Unfortunately, tasers are being used about 100 times as often as guns ever were. So this ratio exposes that lovely fairly tale for the lie that it often is (not always, but mostly). But in those occasional success stories, there is some rare good news.

The Taser Issue is this:

They appear to be more risky than we were led to believe, and they're certainly being used much more than would appear to be reasonable.

And the intersection of risk and misuse means that innocent people might die.

The blog contains almost 200 posts. I hope that you'll have time to review and see if it addresses some the arguments that you seem to be proposing. Most of these topics we've already been over several times.

Also, don't miss the right hand column for some elementary logic of use of force issues.


Katie said...

My argument is not that tasers are absolutely safe... simply that this particular case is probably not the best poster-child for your side. There were outside risk factors involved (ie, drunkeness, heart condition, drug use, etc) that almost certainly exacerbated the effect on Mr. Piskura. Not that he in any way deserves what he is now going through, of course. I don't really feel like getting into the whole debate now... maybe that's something I'll research on my own time (when I have it finally this summer!), I just wanted to point out that the Piskura case is not particularly strong support for the arguments here.

Anonymous said...

Drunks and drug addicts will obviously and inevitably provide a large fraction of the taser "client base". So if the taser is not safe for those people, then it is really not safe for its intended purpose.

In fact, if that risk is ever admitted or proven, then Taser would be probably be liable for huge damages in such cases for missing that obvious safety issue. I don't believe that they've ever stated that the taser should not be used on drunks or drug addicts due to increased risks. In fact, I don't think that taser would ever be willing to explicitly make the sort of connection that you're proposing.

The primary reason that this news item was posted on the blog is because we have someone that was tasered, and is now in critical condition.

Taser has made the statement that "electricity doesn't linger in the body like a poison" - true, but it misses the point. This incident may prove (or maybe not) to be an example of a lingering EFFECT. That alone makes it worth following.