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, June 30, 2008

AMA to study tasers

See the story at the Truth...Not Tasers blog: [LINK]

Unabashed taser fan-boy on NIJ panel

This connection was first noted on the It all goes here blog. [LINK]

William Oliver is sitting on the NIJ's panel studying taser safety. The final report is not expected until sometime in 2009.

William Oliver is the owner [LINK] of a blog called Billoblog.com. On that blog, dated August 2005 (three years ago!), is a post praising the virtues of tasers. [LINK] Upon reading that post, it is clear that the author has made his mind up regarding taser safety. And the subsequent comments firmly link the viewpoints to the blog owner, William Oliver.

In 2007, he posted some pro-taser propaganda here [LINK]. His cutting-and-pasting of the pro-taser material directly from Taser's website was noticed, and he was accused of being a "...shill for the Taser company...". He did not deny the accusation.

In 2008 he visited this blog to, first defend the phrase excited delirium, and then to defend the safety of tasers.

And now he sits on the NIJ panel "studying" the safety of tasers.

I say leave him on the panel. If the panel finds any taser safety issues in spite of the fan-boy(s), then there will be less room for argument from Taser. And if the final report is obviously slanted, then we taser critics can go back and pick at this loose thread to see if the whole report unravels. The risk of a discredited report is entirely theirs. They'd be smart to toss him off the panel, but they're not that smart.

Why are these people so clumsy?

Billo talks of 'naked skinny guys'

Billo wrote: "The bottom line is that to induce ventricular fibrillation, it is necessary to get the probe very close to the myocardium. That means, essentially, that it is necessary to shoot a naked skinny guy between ribs in the lower chest on the left just next to the sternum."

Taser proudly states that the taser can penetrate up to two inches of insulating clothing using the 50kV arc phase to generate an ionized path. They claim that the device works in exactly the same manner up to this two inch limit. Therefore the words 'naked skinny' are in direct contradiction to the manufacturer's product specification and claims. In this instance I believe that Taser is correct and Billo's statement ("naked skinny") is therefore obviously not correct.

Also, once the current enters the body, it will travel in a path (or paths) set by Kirchhoff's circuit laws. And anyone that claims to have made a computer model of the human body sufficiently complicated to achieve an accurate outcome, complete with Monte Carlo variations of all variables... I seriously doubt it. And the current path can be set with only one dart landing in a critical area. The second dart placement would be less critical by those same circuit laws.

IIRC, Taser has made tests that demonstrate the superior accuracy of the taser of the similar products from Stinger Systems. In other words, if the officer aims at the chest, the top barb is likely to land on the chest. To claim multi-million odds of having a dart land in the sensitive location is simply very poor math. A subject would have to be 10m wide and 10m tall to get a 0ne-square cm location into the 1-in-a-million odds. And that assumes that the aim is random. It is just nonsense.

And finally, if you're now admitting that the taser waveform is capable of causing ventricular fibrillation and that a major part of the safety factor is simply dart placement (literally, the luck of the draw), then we are finding something that we can agree on.

Consider your arguments shredded.

NIJ findings are not '1-in-a-million'

Billo claims that the risk of significant taser-induced (internal) injury (I think he intends to include death in this figure) is "1-in-a-million". But that isn't what the interim NIJ report stated. The NIJ report uses words that are more compatible with risks in the range of 1-in-100. The report uses words like "low", the report doesn't use words like "extremely low".

In fact, they said almost the opposite: "...found no conclusive evidence of a high risk..." [LINK]

Billo is vastly exaggerating the NIJ's findings of safety (in spite of him being on the panel).

And to be clear - some taser critics might settle for a risk figure in the single-digit percentage range.

The NIJ panel was forced to conclude that multiple taser hits are possibly dangerous. These must be the steepest bell curves in history if two or more hits are sufficiently dangerous to be worth mentioning, while one taser hit is essentially perfectly safe ("1-in-a-million"). Does not make sense on its face.

This eagerly-awaited 'major' study fails to make any distinction between drive-stun mode or dart-firing mode. Even for an interim report, this is a mile-wide hole.

And here are the NIJ safety findings in graphical format. The areas are approximately in proportion to the population. And if you think that tasers are less likely to be used on children and the elderly (weighting), then they're more than compensated for by the population of drug users with heart problems or those 'at risk'. The graphic speaks for itself.

Billo the blogger

Who is Billo the blogger? We first met him here [LINK].

Fairly right-wing. Seems to dislike liberals and socialist countries like Canada. Seems to be a 'law and order' type (which can be dangerous). Seems to love Bush. Spouts words that sound exactly like those coming from well-known Taser spokespuppets. Also treats the word taser carefully, writing it in all uppercase letters like he was told to. Religious, but might be flummoxed by the question, "What would Jesus do, with a taser?"

And he's on the NIJ panel. Which explains a lot.

And given his middling qualifications, how did he end up on the panel? Hey, I'm just asking!

He denies that there is any possibility of the taser causing any internal risks. Only allows external risks. Might as well be another Kroll.

Be advised that I'm not going to get into a back-and-forth argument with Taser spokespuppets. Waste of time.

But I will continue to shred pro-taser arguments.

[Update: toned down a notch]

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Canadian law regarding 'Drive-Stun' mode

A series of recent posts [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] covered the (10-year-old) news that tasers are explicitly listed as a 'Prohibited Firearm' in Canada. The keyword is 'firearm'. It is important because there are many laws covering the use of firearms in Canada.

One key Canadian law that I raised a few posts back is this one:

Pointing a firearm: 87.(1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, points a firearm at another person, whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded. [LINK]

I'd like to point out that a firearm is a firearm; loaded or not, it is still a firearm. And thus, a taser without the dart & wire cartridge installed and being used in 'Drive-Stun' mode is still a firearm. And it is still being pointed. There is literally no way around this conclusion. The taser's cartridge is logically, technically and legally equivalent to the gun's bullet. And the taser is still a firearm no matter if the cartridge is installed or not. There's no argument that can break this obvious equivalency.

And so the taser being used in 'Drive-Stun' mode is still a firearm. Using it in 'Drive-Stun' mode obviously includes pointing it. Thus, by the above Canadian law, an officer using it in this mode had better have a lawful excuse good enough to justify pointing a fiream (a gun) at the subject.

And thus, it would appear that the police in Canada are wide open to a huge number of straightforward lawsuits for all the many, many, many cases where the circumstances would provide them no such lawful excuse. There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of incidents across Canada that are now hanging over the various police forces and governments like the Sword of Damocles.

This is huge.

Local governments could do worse that issuing an immediate recall of these weapons until the policy and training catch up with the laws that have been in place for the past decade. To fail to do so, opens them up to the risk of additional multi-million dollar lawsuits; in addition to those that might already be gathering in the legal storm clouds on the horizon.

And to those governments and police forces that took a conservative and cautious approach to the taser sales pitch, this is the payback. Your legal exposure is considerably reduced. A justifiable reward for being skeptical and clever.

But for those governments and police forces that got fully sucked-in, you had better go through your taser procurement files to see if you can find anything to bring the distributor and Taser into the inevitable lawsuits. One misspoke word, one poorly-worded brochure, from a taser salesman might transfer millions in liability from your government to them.

I also wonder how many other laws might have been broken by those that didn't follow the many other rules governing firearms.

Are prisons permitted to use firearms on misbehaving prisoners?

Oh, one more point. I read through the Firearms Act to see what sort of natural allowances are made for peace officiers. There are a few, but those allowances are primarily related to handling and modifying (that sort of thing). There didn't seem to be any blanket allowance for running around town pointing firearms at people such as drunks. In case you were wondering...

What a mess.

How is TASR stock doing recently?

TASR - as of Friday, 27 June 2008.

1 Day: down 1.17%
1 Week: down 12.48%
1 Month: down 29.17%
3 Months: down 47.18%
6 Months: down 65.62%

Tasering an elderly man - six times

[North County Gazette] Pinellas County, FL (28 June 2008) - "Charles Faybik....75-year-old....Dec. 28, 2005 ...deputies zapped him six times. He posed no threat and had broken no laws. ..." [LINK] This story (from 2005) is back in the news because Mr. Faybik is now "...suing Sheriff Jim Coats and the sheriff’s office for use of excessive force and violation of his civil rights."

This incident appears to cover all three taser usage patterns: misuse, abuse, and overuse.

Another sentence in the story that is nice to see is the following: "Tasers kill people."

Even just eight months ago, such a statement would have resulted in Taser's non-PR and less-than-Legal departments flying into an incandescent rage. Black helicopters would hover silently overhead while teams of crack litigation lawyers dressed in nifty black turtlenecks slide down ropes and kick down doors (slight exaggeration). These days the Taser lawyers are probably busy with other matters. And the facts have slowly stacked up against them. Maybe NCG will get an whiny e-mail from Taser. Maybe they won't.

Criminal Code of Canada on Firearms (incl tasers)

Criminal Code of Canada

Pointing a firearm: 87.(1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, points a firearm at another person, whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded. [LINK]

Now, I'm not a lawyer, but I can read the Queen's English. It seems pretty clear to me that if someone, anyone, uses (points) a taser (firearm) in a manner that would not be acceptable if they used (pointed) a normal gun (firearm), then they've just broken the above law.

In other words, if their lawful excuse isn't good enough to justify pointing a gun (firearm), then why would it be good enough for pointing a taser (firearm)? In the eyes of the law in Canada (unlike the USA), tasers are firearms.

It seems that our law enforcement officials have been making a humongous series of mistakes with the introduction and deployment of tasers in Canada.

Canada Firearms Centre on tasers

Background information and links:

Canada Firearms Centre [LINK]

The Canada Firearms Centre (CAFC) was created in 1996 to oversee the administration of the Firearms Act and regulations. In 2003, it was established as a stand-alone agency within the portfolio of Public Safety Canada. As of May 17, 2006, the Canadian Firearms Program has been transferred under the responsibility of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). ...

List of Restricted and Prohibited Firearms [LINK]

Firearms Prescribed as Prohibited

As with restricted firearms, a Criminal Code regulation listing all the firearms previously prohibited by Order in Council came into effect December 1, 1998. Those firearms are:

Former Prohibited Weapons Order No. 3
  • Any firearm capable of discharging a dart or other object carrying an electrical current or substance, including the firearm of the design commonly known as the Taser Public Defender and any variant or modified version of it.

Important Facts Police/Public Agents [LINK]

The Criminal Code and Firearm Regulations have defined tasers as prohibited firearms. The Criminal Code section 84(1), under the extensive definition of “prohibited firearm” subsection (d) states “any firearm that is prescribed to be a prohibited firearm”. The Regulations prescribing prohibited firearm state under Former Prohibited Weapons Order No 3 that; “Any firearm capable of discharging a dart or other object carrying an electrical current or substance including the firearm of the design commonly known as the Taser Public Defender and any variant of modified version of it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tasers are 'Prohibited Firearms' in Canada

The Truth...Not Tasers blog has broken the news [LINK] into the taser-blogosphere that the taser is actually a 'Prohibited Firearm' in Canada.

The keyword is FIREARM.

This is huge news!!!!

Background: Taser states that "A Taser ...is not classified as firearm...", but the words that follow are important ("... within the United States...").

The Star (28 June 2008) - ...operating under wrong assumption taser not a 'Prohibited Firearm'... [LINK]

Ottawa - Evidence at BC's Taser inquiry may mean police forces across Canada ... could be slapped with Criminal Code charges and wrongful death lawsuits. ...most police agencies in Canada are wrongly operating, likely illegally, under the assumption that the taser is not a "prohibited firearm."

[That's because Taser told them that the taser is 'not a firearm', and they were foolish enough to believe it and not check the laws of Canada.]

In fact, research by Ottawa-based consultant John Kiedrowski indicates taser guns are actually explicitly defined in Canadian criminal law as "prohibited firearms" – a designation that brings much stiffer rules around storage, training, certification and usage. Likewise, any offence with a firearm, such as unauthorized use, would bring harsher mandatory minimum jail penalties.

...Regulations passed in 1998 when the federal Firearms Act came into effect define a "prohibited firearm" as "any firearm capable of discharging a dart or other object carrying an electrical current or substance, including the firearm of the design commonly known as the Taser Public Defender and any variant or modified version of it."

Kiedrowski discovered that provincial policing codes that authorize officers to carry firearms are required to list, by name, the firearms in use. None listed the taser stun gun – theoretically making any discharge of a taser, by definition, "unauthorized."

Instead, tasers are treated as "prohibited weapons" and on the "use of force" spectrum, most police forces in Canada, including the RCMP and the OPP, classified them as "intermediate weapons." "If this is a prohibited firearm, it must be authorized for use," said Ryneveld.

Based on my understanding of the background information, it seems very likely that this monstrous screw-up is a direct result of the police forces in Canada being sucked-in by the hubris-soaked dimwits at Taser. Taser is quite proud of the fact that their products are not classified as 'firearms' in the USA. And they have structured their training and their model policies on that assumption. But it appears that the 49th parallel was forgotten. Oops. Not just an Oops by Taser, but an Opps by many of the police forces in Canada.

Let me put it bluntly: Canadian police forces forgot to check the Canadian laws (??!!??). And they had to call in a consultant (bless his heart) to find the basic rules (??!!??).

For immediate action by all Canadian police forces:
  1. Immediate moratorium because the rules and paperwork are borked.
  2. Cancel all pending purchase-orders for tasers.
  3. Consider demanding a refund for those you have.
  4. Consider class-action lawsuit against Taser and its Canadian distributor.
You have been hoodwinked and sold a 'bill-of-goods'. As I have previously stated, by the time that the taser issue is fully sorted out in Canada, they will be about as useful to the average police officer as a flame-thrower.

What a mess.

And it reveals clearly the level of professionalism (very low) in the ranks of those Taser-brainwashed police officers and officials that have been promoting tasers from within the Canadian police forces.

'I hope you don't get tasered'

An artist leaves his mark in Vancouver...

Flickr picture: [LINK]

Abstracts of Two Humans

Taser released a press release [LINK] today about a couple of papers. The authors lists include some famous Taser insiders, Mark Kroll and Jeffrey Ho.

Who is Kroll? [LINK] [LINK] [SEARCH E-D]

Who is Ho? [SEARCH E-D]

Friday, June 27, 2008

Misadventures in nomenclaturism

'billo' recently left an otherwise well-written comment [LINK] about the so-called medical condition 'excited delirium' on an older post [LINK] on this blog, and I responded with my own fairly gentle rebuttal comment [ibid].

I then took the time to follow the tracks back to his own personal blog (Billoblog [LINK]) to see who he is, and to learn more about his interests (just innocent curiosity, not stalking). Yikes...

There was one taser-related post on his blog, posted in August 2005. Here is an extract: "A person hit with a taser stands a one-in-a-million chance of significant injury..." Yep - he actually wrote that, "...one-in-a-million...", regarding the risk of significant injury. (Keep in mind that Taser claims 700,000 total taser deployments. You do the math...)

Now, Billo is (according to his blog) quite well educated and he seems to be involved with medicine (pathology of some sort). I present this as an example of someone having a good education, but their ignorance of the taser issue is immense. Or perhaps he just hasn't been following the news...

I must add that we did seem to agree on this: 'Excited Delirium' is just a placeholder name. It marks the spot where expert knowledge ends and professional ignorance begins. It's a name for nothing except a collection of symptoms that occurred BEFORE the death. It leaves no postmortem clues, otherwise it wouldn't be such an unknown.

And therefore, logically, it shouldn't be assigned as a cause of death. If the expert cannot connect the dots (leading to the exact mechanism of death), then they shouldn't be permitted to slap a name on the unknown, blame the name, and thereby lay the blame at the feet of nothingness.

The real culprit's escape may be aided by such a misdirection.

And that's the crux of the complaint about Excited Delirium.

A disturbing look inside Canadian prisons

Apparently compliance is achieved using such techniques as pepper spray and tasers.

See the Creekside1 blog regarding Ashley Smith [LINK]

Keep in mind that tasers (M26 and X26) are designed to incapacitate, achieved with waveform currents reportedly about 2000 times what would be required to cause intolerable pain.

So if pain compliance is the goal (ignoring for the moment all the issues swirling around that, addressed below), then at least realize that perhaps tasers (designed to incapacitate) are not a reasonable and appropriate device for pain compliance.

Years ago, there was a Canadian Moment TV ad (public service / history) where Canada's first female MP (Agnes Macphail) brought a prison whip to Parliament and snapped it in order to make her point about inhumane punishment methods in Canadian prisons. Perhaps it is time for a group of modern MPs to get their brave faces on, visit some prisons, and see what's what.

Whips / electronic whips (tasers) - what's the diff?
Seriously, what's the difference?

Hey MPs, your country is rolling backwards. Did someone leave it in neutral?

'Tasers prevent (a) suicide'

Globe and Mail (26 June 2008) - 'Amid the growing taser controversy, one man's life is saved by the device' In a week when RCMP faced growing scrutiny over taser-related deaths, Nanaimo police are pointing to the recent use of a stun gun on a suicidal man outside a local motel as an example of the weapon's life-saving potential. The man had slashed his wrists at a Nanaimo motel. ... [LINK]

It's a nice outcome when police can prevent a suicide.

But let's examine the larger picture in British Columbia regarding suicides (and remember: BC is the province where where tasers seem to be most endemic, and their use appears to be the most out-of-control).

The Province (22 June 2008) on BC suicide rates - ...More people died at their own hands in B.C. in 2006 than in motor-vehicle accidents. The silent, self-inflicted epidemic has claimed over 10,000 lives in the province over the last 20 years, and the raw number of suicides has remained steady at about 500 a year. ... [LINK]

So, aside from the occasional successful suicide-prevention incident, all those tasers flowing onto BC over the past few years haven't really done a damn thing for the actual suicide rate. This incident in Nanaimo, while seemingly noble, is not a true reflection of the relationship between tasers and suicide in BC (which is apparently 'none whatsoever').

The increasing number, and increasing use, of tasers has not helped.

The news story at top is being presented (by the Nanaimo police) in a manner that amounts to subtle pro-taser propaganda. It's an example that indicates that the police are, in some cases, unmitigated taser fan-boys. Someone could probably write a PhD thesis on the psychology of the relationship between Taser and the police.

"Tasers prevent (a) suicide..."

One little letter changes the whole meaning.

Reminds me of the famous line: "That's one small step for (a) man..."

Taser investors tasered again

For those keeping score in raw financial terms...

TASR closed yesterday (25 June 2008) at $5.40. It opened today (26 June 2008) at $5.30, set a new multi-year low at $5.09, and closed at $5.11.

NIJ: 'Safe. Except for you & you & you & you...'

The US National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has carefully studied the propaganda and their interim report on 'conducted energy weapons' (tasers) has concluded that they are sometimes generally safe.


...except for that 43% of the time when they're used repeatedly,

...or used on that up to 8% of the population known to have heart problems,

...or used on the elderly, ...or used on children,

...or used on the other ill-defined and unknown-size population that is 'at risk' (I guess known only after the fact, when their 'unique anatomical makeup' [LINK] is discovered at autopsy- this is just ONE example). And some would say that those that tend to come into contact with the police tend to be those 'at risk'.

So there you have it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

RCMP watchdog vows to encourage action

(CP) Vancouver, BC (25 June 2008) - The Commissioner for Complaints Against the RCMP [Paul Kennedy] says he's trying to "create enough heat publicly" to force the national police agency to change the way it uses tasers. ... [LINK]

There is a history of ignoring such recommendations. A report with similar recommendation issued several years ago in BC has been more-or-less ignored. Kennedy's interim report was not fully adopted. The all-party SECU committee is theatening a moratorium, and the RCMP appears to be yawning back at them. Mr. Day has been effectively unresponsive.

I think that there are many votes available to the political party that pledges to rein-in unacceptable RCMP corporate behaviour and mind-set. In other words, the taser problem is at least 50% political.

Another option would be a visit to the Supreme Court of Canada (bypass the government of the 'Day'). Ask the judges to review taser deployments in light of CC section 269.1. I'm sure you'd get a quick response about the legality (not!) of using extremely (off-the-scale) painful electric shock (the modern tasers are reportedly about 2000 times more current than that required to cause 'intolerable pain') for day-to-day street level pain compliance.

TASR sets new multi-year low in after hours trading

25 June 2008 (after hours trading 7:34PM ET): $5.30/share

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Looking for 'proof' in all the wrong places (2)

Further to #21, Jeffrey Marreel [LINK]

Ottawa Citizen (25 June 2008) - ...An autopsy performed yesterday was inconclusive and further forensic tests have been ordered to assist in determining the cause of death. [LINK]

A hypothetical taser-death would leave no evidence. [LINK] [LINK]

Dr. Zian Tseng, a San Francisco cardiologist and electrophysiologist, said, "If there's a person that dropped dead suddenly after Taser application and you can find nothing else on the autopsy, I would venture to say that's due to arrhythmic death." [LINK]

So, in addition to looking for clues, you need to be prepared for the situation where, ahem, you don't have a clue.

Deju vu - all over again - a 4th (or 5th?) time

(CP) Vancouver, BC (25 June 2008) - British Columbia's police complaints commissioner, Dirk Ryneveld, on the subject of tasers: [LINK]
  1. doesn't advocate a moratorium
  2. they've become a 'tool of convenience'
  3. more testing, study and training is required
  4. had a long-standing concern with the taser and how it's being used
  5. issues raised several years ago still haven't been resolved.
  6. needs to be placed higher on the use-of-force scale
  7. a national protocol

Gee, that all sounds very familiar...

But here is the kicker. You are unlikely to see any significant results until a (temporary?) moratorium is declared. This view is based on item 5 in the above list. Recommendations have been ignored and ignored and ignored.

It's time to stop 'boiling the frog' and toss him into the frying pan.

Some strange "people"

According to EDGAR Online Pro [LINK]:

"The following individuals have appeared in one or more SEC filings related to TASR. "

[Cut-and-paste extracts from list at link above (gently formatted).]

Last Name, First Name

I think that the parsing software at EDGAR is about as good as the proof-readers at Taser.

Rearranging the furniture

Prime Minister Harper is shuffling his cabinet. [LINK]

It would be a nice Day for a change. Or perhaps a nice change for a Day.

Certainty du jour

Further to the previous post [LINK], the second e-mail was from 'K'. The e-mail addresses the relationship between the wisdom of the time versus the Canadian taser-associated deaths.

Here is the e-mail (lightly edited):

Canadian deaths related to the wisdom of the time:

2003 (3 deaths) - Tasers don't hurt anybody, use them lots. Shock the person until they produce their hands for cuffing (still being done says Victoria police report).

2004 (6 deaths) - ditto

2005 (4 deaths by summer) - That summer Taser yields to pressure from the Securities people and the Arizona Attorney General, and issues a warning about multiple shocks. This follows egregious use like the Heston death [19 Feb 2005] where the guy was shot 25 times, including 3 or more weapons, some simultaneously. The lack of warning was what cost Taser the punitive judgment. RCMP issue policy re multiple use. (1 death in December 2005 makes 5 for the year)

2006 (1 death)

2007 - During 2007 or late 2006, there is a big conference with speakers on excited delirium. From that, I think, comes the "new wisdom"- the best way to handle "excited delirium" is to hit hard and fast so the person can be subdued and delivered to medical care quickly. Also, the concept of "handcuffing under power"- keep the person shocked while your partner cuffs them.

September to November 2007 - 5 deaths.

Since then, none-- BUT: April 28, 2008 - Taser announces new wisdom: medical science has proven tasers are harmless, more or less. No harm will come from prolonged/multiple shocks, though they aren't nice. This follows selling the commercial version, which users are told to leave firing for a 30 second burst while they run away. User warnings are modified to eliminate reference to over-shocking.

This is why we need explicit policy- so our various police forces use what is decided by careful appraisal and not what the trainer or medical "expert" just got told at the convention. And why we need independent training. Otherwise by this fall, after the trainers promulgate the new "Safe Taser" propaganda, we might have another death cycle.

Excellent points. Thanks 'K'.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"The next revolution will be televised"

In a previous post entitled 'An Interesting Question...' [LINK], I had observed that the public outcry (in Canada) starting in late-2007 apparently caused (?) a sharp reduction in the number of taser-associated deaths in Canada. From FIVE in a 3-month period in late-2007, to zero (total) for about the next six months (up until 23 June 2008, when the peaceful run was broken).

I received a couple of interesting e-mails responding to that post.

One e-mail was from the family of Robert Bagnell (who died in a taser-associated incident in Vancouver on 23 June 2004). They publish the TNT blog [LINK].

(The other e-mail I will address in another post ASAP.)

The Bagnell family pointed out the following way of looking at the same data:

Taser-associated deaths in Canada:

#1 - Apr 2003, no public outcry
#2 - Jul 2003, no public outcry
#3 - Sep 2003, no public outcry
#4 - Mar 2004, no public outcry
#5 - May 2004, no public outcry
#6 - May 2004, no public outcry
#7 - Jun 2004, no public outcry
#8 - Jul 2004, no public outcry
#9 - Aug 2004, no public outcry
#10 - May 2005, no public outcry
#11 - Jun 2005, no public outcry
#12 - Jul 2005, no public outcry
#13 - Jul 2005, no public outcry
#14 - Dec 2005, no public outcry
#15 - Aug 2006, no public outcry
#16 - Sep 2007, no public outcry
#17 - Oct 2007, VIDEO AVAILABLE -> Public Outcry
#18 - Oct 2007, Public Outcry builds
#19 - Nov 2007, Public Outcry continues...
#20 - Nov 2007, Public Outcry continues...
#21 - Jun 2008, Public Outcry continues...

The video obviously made the difference. That makes Paul Pritchard, the man that videoed the Dziekanski incident [LINK] and bravely stood his ground in the face of RCMP's stated intention to keep the video for up to two years, a hero.

I had made a similar observation in a previous post back in May 2008 [LINK].

"(By the way - We really owe an apology to those 16 or so Canadians that died before this point and their families for neglecting their incidents. But unfortunately that's the way it often goes. It's like boiling a frog - if you start with cold water and apply heat slowly then perhaps the frog won't notice. But the Dziekanski incident on 2007 October 14 was like a pot of boiling water in the face of all Canadians. We woke up that day.)"

Video is certainly the most powerful medium.

Tasers and drugs

When one reads in the news that a particular taser victim was a drug user, the natural instinct is to think that the victim might have somehow contributed to his own fate.

In other words: many people naturally think, 'drugs + tasers = increased risk of death'.

Police and other pro-taser fan-boys will take advantage of this natural reaction and will always highlight that the victim had drugs '...in their system', or '...in their car' [LINK], or '...in their socks' [LINK]. I suppose if the victim had drugs in their cottage, two-hundred miles away, they would mention that as well.

Although this drugs+tasers... argument seems logical on its surface, there are major problems with it:

Taser (the manufacturer) doesn't allow that there is any such increased risk.

In fact, they (and their minions and spokespuppets) barely acknowledge that there are any risks at all [LINK].

The only risks that I've seen them ever acknowledge explicitly are external risks such as 'falling down and banging the head', and 'falling into water and drowning' (while the police taser continuously for several minutes while the victim drowns? Huh?).

So far as I am aware, they have never admitted any specific internal risk mechanisms (direct or indirect) for causing, or contributing, or hastening death. But, unfortunately for them, they have recently been found liable ($6.2M) for failure to warn regarding repeated taserings leading to changed blood pH levels leading to fatal cardiac arrest [LINK]. But Taser still pooh-poohs the concept and will appeal.

And if there is any increased risk arising from the combination of drugs+tasers, then the product might quite reasonably be considered to be unfit for it's intended market (street level police work). That's a monstrous liability issue for Taser and that's why you won't see them ever admit this increased risk. But they might crack a small smile when some 'unconnected to Taser' pro-taser fan-boy makes this claim (review the comments section of any taser news story and you'll see many such mindless claims from taser fan-boys).

So if your natural reaction to the news reports is as described at the top, then please think the argument through to its natural outcome. You will soon see that the argument is untenable - from Taser's point of view. After all, just a 15% apportioning of blame costs them $6.2M (and about $40M+ in lost market cap.) last time [LINK]. Imagine if they were found to be 50% (!) liable (for the taser-half of drugs+tasers...) for dozens and dozens of drugs+tasers associated deaths...

I'm not saying that the argument 'drugs+tasers...' is wrong... I'm just saying that it's not fair to assume or consider or allow such an 'escape clause' for Taser if they (themselves) are not willing to publicly acknowledge that such internal risks exist, and that drugs increase those risks.

And they can't afford to make any such admission.

It's a '50%-off sale' that they simply cannot afford.

So they're left trying to pin the blame exclusively on the drugs, or something (anything) else.

Blaming the drugs is difficult in those incidents where the dose '...in their system' was not lethal.

And especially in those incidents where the drugs were "...in their car" or "...in their socks" (as opposed to being in the victim).

Birmingham, AL city council votes for moratorium

Unanimously no less.

Birmingham, AL (NBC13 HD, 24 June 2008) - ...Birmingham City Council voted unanimously to ask Mayor Larry Langford to suspend police use of tasers and explore other non-lethal weapons following the death of a suspect. Willie Maye died June 5th after police used a taser to subdue him during a traffic stop and chase. ... Police said at the time that they found a “large amount” of marijuana in Maye’s car. The incident is under investigation. There’s no word on whether Langford will halt the use of tasers. [LINK]

Marijuana... ...in his car. Another young male taser victim, Darryl Turner, "...had marijuana hidden in his socks." [LINK] At the time I posted, "So what?" This sort of pathetic attempt at subtle blame-shifting is disgraceful . What next? - 'The victim had seven unpaid parking tickets and two overdue library books.' ??

Anyway - back to the main point:

A city council has voted to shelve the taser.

Canada #21 - updated

Canada has had its 21st taser-associated death.

21. Jeffrey Marreel, 36 - Simcoe, ON - June 23, 2008 - OPP

CBC News [LINK] - 67 comments overnight, now 216
The Toronto Star [LINK]
The Toronto Sun [LINK]
Globe&Mail [LINK]
National Post [LINK]
Sydney Morning Herald [LINK]
UPI (via iStockAnalyst.com) [LINK]
Associated Press [LINK]
Canadian Press [LINK]
International Herald Tribune [LINK]
London Free Press [LINK]
CanWest News Service [LINK]
Newswire.ca [LINK]
The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) [LINK]
Edmonton Journal [LINK]
CityNews [LINK]
680 News [LINK] & [LINK]
PR Inside [LINK]

Monday, June 23, 2008

23 June 2004

On 23 June in 2004, Robert Bagnell died after being tasered repeatedly. He was the 7th Canadian known to have died in a taser incident. The blog Truth ... Not Tasers [LINK] is published by his sister.

'Robert Bagnell' on TNT [LINK]

'Protecting life', and knocking over Wal*Mart

ABC15.com (Phoenix) reports [LINK] that a man with "a stun gun-like device" (maybe a taser?) robbed Scottsdale Wal-Mart.

Yes, that's Scottsdale, Arizona - home of our laugh-a-minute friends at Taser.

An interesting question...

In a previous post [LINK] I had mentioned an interesting question. Allow me to repeat the question very clearly here. It relates to the data for Canada only.

(Data source: TNT [LINK], right hand column: Deaths in Canada)

2007 Sept. - 1 taser-associated death in Canada
2007 Oct. - 2 taser-associated deaths in Canada - public outcry begins
2007 Nov. - 2 taser-associated deaths in Canada - public outcry extreme
2007 Dec. - none - public outcry continues
2008 Jan. - none
2008 Feb. - none
2008 Mar. - none
2008 Apr. - none
2008 May - none
2008 Jun. - none so far (to 22 June)

The Question:

Why does a massive public outcry in late-2007 affect the lethality of arrest techniques involving (or not) the taser?

(I think that the answer is exceedingly obvious. ...)

And the next logical step is direct civilian oversight bodies - with teeth - for every single police force in Canada. After all (for example), there's no evidence that the government-of-the-day is exercising any control over the RCMP. Has anyone seen anything from Mr. Day yet? Anything at all?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

YouTube meltdown coming soon...

The brain trust at Taser is introducing a new walkie-talkie video-audio recording thingy gadget.

It's called ASSON or something like that. I guess after the phrase Asses On... (...flash memory, as opposed to video tape).

It's yet another device to hang onto the already-overloaded officers' belt.

If these well-equipped police officers ever fall face-first into a 4-inch deep puddle after a short, staggering and ultimately unsuccessful jog chasing after a sprinting perpetrator, they'll probably drown due to the excess weight hung onto their belt. (Psst: You might want to consider a quick-release buckle for those belts.)

The actual long-term effects, completely unpredicted by Taser, will be:
  • This ASSON system will force YouTube to install another bank of video servers into their underground lair beneath the hollowed-out volcano. A new coal-fired electric power station will be built just to supply the 'taser-abuse' section of YouTube.
  • This ASSON system will provide vastly-improved evidence (of taser abuse, etc.) that will result in many more massive lawsuits, huge settlements, and some smaller jurisdictions actually going bankrupt.

Do you think that ASSON will help to solve the taser-abuse issue? No, of course it won't...

YouTube is ALREADY full of taser-abuse videos leading directly to huge payouts. The police in these famous cases abused their tasers already knowing that they were being recorded. In the heat of the moment, video recording doesn't seem to matter (perhaps because the taser training is SO bad). But video evidence will help the plaintiffs in securing a quick ~$40,000 settlement, or a much-slower, much-larger settlement.

In fact, I expect that there will eventually be some blow-back. Sooner or later some of the ASSON video will be used against Taser. A product failure caught 'on tape'. An immediate taser-associated death caught 'on tape' for the jury's benefit. The irony will be delicious.

Taser claims that the ASSON will 'protect truth'. To paraphrase the words of the fictional Col. Nathan R. Jessep [LINK], I'm not sure if Taser can "...handle the truth!"

Tip: Searching this blog...

If you're researching a particular taser or Taser related topic and you need to search this blog, then you can use Google's Blog Search engine.

1) First, navigate to the Google Blog Search engine. [LINK]

2) As well as the keywords that you're looking for, include the following BlogURL search term in your search to limit the results to this blog:


Other than those two steps, it's just like Google.

Here are two example searches:

Search this blog for 'SECU':
http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?q=blogurl:http://excited-delirium.blogspot.com+SECU [LINK]

Search this blog for 'Kroll':
http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?q=blogurl:http://excited-delirium.blogspot.com+Kroll [LINK]

Update: Or you can just use the search box and button at the very top left of the blog page.

There is also an Advance Blog Search facility on Google. [LINK]

Related blogs

In the right hand column, not too far down from the top, I have a list of Related Blogs.

Some of these blogs are more-or-less inactive; others are just getting started. I've listed many of them there just for future reference.

But the blog at the top of my list is Truth ... Not Tasers [LINK]. This blog has more than a thousand posts. It is a very valuable resource. It is generally updated daily and contains extracts from all taser news of interest. It also often contains useful links embedded in those extracts.

Interesting letters to The Toronto Star

Toronto - Letters to The Star (22 June 2008)

... Relying strictly on manufacturers' specifications is completely unacceptable. ... The fact that the head of the RCMP's watchdog agency did not recommend that standards for these devices be developed is simply mind-boggling and inexcusable. ... Emile Therien, past president, Canada Safety Council, Ottawa [LINK]

Interesting how a past president of the Canada Safety Council seems to have some concerns about taser safety. In spite of the heaping piles of "evidence" about the safety of tasers (which is contradicted by the ever-growing taser-associated death count). [Those heaping piles of "evidence" are certainly evidence of 'something'...]

Stinger Systems [LINK] claims that their products use 75% less current than the similar devices from Taser, and they also claim that their devices have never been involved in proximal death (perhaps due to numbers, but also perhaps due to the 4:1 increase in safety margin that gets you away from the overlapping bell curves [LINK][LINK]). I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not a friend of Stinger, but it would be worth looking into their products to see what's going on; what's different, etc.

... RCMP ... misused the Tasers ..., have fudged....reports, and ...cover up... . The RCMP have become the antithesis of their former ranking as one of the top forces in the world and, as the English bobby once was in Britain, the pride of the nation. They are in danger of denigrating themselves in the public eye to an untrustworthy embarrassment, politicized and arrogantly above the law and the very principles by which they exist. Is there no one in authority with the will and vision to bring this force back to its former glory? Is there no one who sees the need? Peter Cronin, Grimsby, Ont. [LINK]

The failure to act is mostly the fault of Mr. Stockwell Day [LINK]. He is the Minister in charge. His is the desk that should have the plaque the states, "The buck stops here." The RCMP should have a Compliance Plan written by now (they've known what's coming for months), and Mr. Day should be receiving daily status reports from the RCMP head.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Making a mountain out of a Weighill

Saskatoon - The StarPhoenix (20 June 2008)

Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill said he disagrees with a recommendation that only police officers with at least five years of experience be allowed to carry tasers. ... Most of the Saskatoon officers on patrol have about four to five years of experience, he told the Saskatoon board of police commissioners Thursday. ... [LINK]

There is almost no problem at all. Simply wait until December 15th (about six months from now) and most of your officers will then have about 4.5 to 5.5 years of experience. And then, over the next six months after that, your so-called problem will have mostly evaporated (+/- staff turnover and new green recruits).

... In Saskatchewan, police forces have suspended the use of tasers pending the commission's probe into the death last fall of Robert Dziekanski. ... [ibid]

You've survived this long without the taser pending the inquiry findings. And the taser (M26, X26) was only introduced into Canada a few years ago. It's not that big a deal for some of your police officers to do without the taser for a few months. This not-quite-five problem is next to no problem at all.

Kennedy has a very good reason for his recommendation (it is based on his examination of documented taser incidents). This recommendation is not worth abandoning because of an impatient chief.

I think that Chief Weighill is complaining about nothing.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Demand for tasers tied to unacceptable usage patterns?

Will the police still be demanding that they have the taser on their belt when they realize that they're no longer allowed to use it in perhaps 95% [LINK] of the cases where they would have used it in the past (when their use of the taser was uncontrolled and, some would say, out-of-control)?

Once we rein-in the misuse, abuse, and over-use, then the taser becomes about as useful to the average police officer as a flamethrower.

Setting the goal post: a 95% reduction

As has been already proven ([LINK], [LINK], and many more), tasers are used about 100 times as often as guns ever were.

What this means is that if the taser is going to go back to its original justification as 'a replacement for the gun', or 'a less-than-lethal alternative' (keyword 'alternative'), or "saving lives everyday" [sic(k)], then we need to see a 99% reduction in the number of times that the taser is being deployed in Canada.

That sort of reduction is extremely unlikely. Which makes the original justification for the taser's introduction to Canada into a damn lie.

And even if we allow the taser to be justifiably deployed in situations where gun-fire has traditionally not been employed, even by a generosity-allowance of 'several' times (for example: accepting a very generous usage rate of five times more than guns), then we are still looking for a 95% reduction!!!!

A 20-to-1 reduction, even if we're generous!!!!

I don't believe that this has sunk into the skulls of those that will have to make this happen.
  • The taser-use policy is all wrong.
  • All the training is wrong.
  • All the trainers are wrong.
  • The 'qualifications' from Taser are a sign of brainwashing.
  • Procedures need to be put in place for medical attention.
  • Disciplinary policies need to be put in place.
A 95% reduction!!!!
That's a 20-to-1 reduction!!!!
And we're being generous
(allowing 5:1).

And the approach so far has been to more-or-less, agree-in-principle, maybe. Even Kennedy's initial report was not fully adopted.


What stage have we reached in this process?

Well, we have paper and we have talk .

So we're right about at this stage:
[LINK] (PS: the Nazi reference is incidental.)

Prediction: zero tolerance

My prediction: If there is even one more taser-associated death in Canada during the rest of 2008, there will be a very large public/political/media reaction (a complete 'sh_t storm' raining down). I guess this isn't really a very risky prediction. I hope we have no opportunity to test it.

Background: After five taser-associated deaths in just three months (September to November) in Canada in late-2007, there have been none since (more than six months). This step-change occured at the same time that the Canadian public became outraged over the taser issue.

Related Question: By the way, this is step-change is extremely significant evidence in itself. Why does a massive public outcry in late-2007 affect the lethality of arrest techniques involving (or not) the taser? This is a very interesting question worth exploring further. More data: [LINK]

Editorials (20 June 2008) - updated

Montreal: The Gazette - Guidelines for Tasers must be clear - and followed

...the RCMP should make no mistake: They are on a short leash with tasers. An all-party Commons public-safety committee has called for the RCMP to scale back their use of the devices sharply by year's end. Any more of the same indiscriminate, careless use of these machines will have to lead to a moratorium. ... [LINK]

Halifax: The Chronicle Herald - Drawing the line on Taser use

The Mounties have been officially warned: Stop inappropriate use of tasers by mid-December or the stun guns will be put off-limits to RCMP officers altogether. That ultimatum – which we endorse, although we think the moratorium should start now and only be lifted once proper training and usage rules have been firmly established – came unanimously from the all-party Commons committee on public safety this week. ... [LINK]

The Kingston Whig-Standard - RCMP should power down Taser use

The RCMP got zapped Wednesday by its complaints commissioner, who issued a damning report on Taser use by Canada's national police force. Commission chairman Paul Kennedy stopped just short of calling for a moratorium on the use of the stun guns. But he was highly critical of officers' over-use of the weapons, poor reporting of incidents and the lack of followup medical treatment for victims. ... [LINK]

Victoria Times Colonist - Poor response to Taser report

The latest recommendations for Taser use make perfect sense. But based on the response of RCMP and other police forces to similar recommendations in the past, they will almost certainly be ignored. RCMP complaints commissioner Paul Kennedy rejected calls for a moratorium on Taser use. But he called for the RCMP to treat the weapon much more seriously in light of its potential deadliness. The only thing shocking about his 12 recommendations is the fact that they are necessary. ... [LINK]

The small problem of the 11-to-1 ratio...

SECU's Report - ...The Committee was told of a study in the United States of 37 autopsy reports ... taser-associated deaths. Of these 37 cases, a disproportionately large number [20, or 54%] involved individuals with heart problems... This is significantly higher than the incidence of such heart problems in the general population, which is between two and eight per cent. [LINK]

In other words, people with heart problems are about 5% of the general population (2% to 8% averages to 5%), but they represent 54% of the (tasered-then-dead) victims. That's about an 11-to-1 ratio that needs to be explained.

Well obviously [sic] there's no connection [sic] between the taser and the heart. None at all... [ROLLS EYES]

Look: the simplest explanation is that the taser can somehow, directly or indirectly, affect the heart and therefore victims with pre-existing heart problems are dying at a much higher rate (11 times higher!!) than the rest of the population. And thus there seems to be some connection from taser to heart that needs to be further investigated.

Such real world statistics are generally much more trustworthy than wishful-thinking theories coming from the pro-taser minions and spokespuppets.

But the SECU report offers a very peculiar alternate explanation:

...statistics suggests that there is a significant level of heart disease among those who suffer from mental illness and/or use illicit drugs. The Committee was also told that users of cocaine and methamphetamine are known to suffer from heart problems as a consequence of their drug use. ...

What is being proposed here as an alternate explanation is that people with heart problems are over-represented (by about 11-to-1 !!) in the population of those that are going to get tasered. And the implication is that their heart problems are statistically linked to mental health issues or to them being users of extreme drugs such as cocaine and/or methamphetamine (and [to paraphrase] '...their mental and/or drug issues are why they make up so much of the to-be-tasered population...').

This is a very clever theory. I suspect that SECU has been fed this explanation by someone working for or within the pro-taser propaganda machine. It's a very nice pro-taser theory, because it would explain the raw data without leading to any logically-necessary conclusion about a link between the taser and the heart.

There's just one little tiny problem with this alternate theory...

It's wrong.

Here are the facts:

According to a report this week by RCMP watchdog Paul Kennedy, when Canadian police use high-voltage stun guns, or Tasers, their most frequent target is a young, drunk male creating a disturbance between midnight and 4 a.m. [LINK]

So young male weekend drunks are the most frequent taser target in Canada. But they're not the ones being killed (in proportion to their frequency). The ones that are dying - massively out of proportion to their frequency - are those with heart problems. So unless someone can prove that young male rowdy drunks all have bad hearts, then the only explanation left standing (*) is that the taser can affect the heart.

(* Note - One other escape route that will be claimed is that the USA and Canada have vastly different taser victim populations. More data would reveal if this next layer to their overly-complicated alternate explanation can be backed up with real data, or if it is just wishful thinking...)

If you're having difficulty understanding this whole argument, then revisit the logic again, but pretend for the moment that the number '54%' has been replaced with '100%' (this is just a mental-aid trick to make things perfectly clear to those that don't have have good instincts for numbers). The problematic ratio would thus be 20-to-1 (for this mental exercise) instead of the real-world 11-to-1.

So, imagine that it had been found at autopsy that 100% of tasered-then-dead victims had heart problems, but such people are only about 5% of the general populations, then what conclusions would YOU draw? What is YOUR natural gut reaction? Would you instinctively think that the taser might have reacted in some way with the preexisting heart condition to lead to death? Seems logical doesn't it?

And the alternate argument would become that the only people being tasered (100%) are those with heart conditions. The silliness of the alternate explanation is revealed in all its glory.

Now carry those instinctive reactions (which are probably correct) back to the original data (54%) and it'll all make sense.

And if you're confused about the legal issues surrounding pre-existing medical conditions (such as heart conditions), then review this previous post. [LINK]

Tasers will be banned...

"...if the RCMP doesn't begin restricting use of the weapons by the end of the year." [LINK]

A Canadian Parliamentary committee has threatened to call for a moratorium on the use of stun guns if the RCMP doesn't begin restricting use of the weapons before the end of the year.

The House of Commons Public Safety and National Security Committee (SECU) [LINK] made its report on taser use public in the hours following the release of the final report from the RCMP watchdog, Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. [LINK]

The committee's report echos many of Kennedy's recommendations. But the Members of Parliament went one step further [because they, unlike Kennedy, have the power to do so]. They threatened to introduce a motion in the House of Commons calling for a stun gun moratorium if the RCMP doesn't restrict use of the weapon by 15 December 2008. [LINK]

The report received the unanimous support of its 12 members. These 12 members are from all the major parties (5 Conservation [government], 4 Liberal, 2 Bloc Québécois, and 1 NDP). [LINK]

How is Taser (and their minions) involved in this 'internal' Canadian matter?
  • They are responsible for the lie that tasers are "safe under all circumstances" [LINK]
  • They have been involved in taser-use policy (no matter what their denials [LINK][LINK][LINK])
  • They are deeply involved in training standards (which should be based on policy)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SECU also issued a report yesterday

Visit website of The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) at you can download a .pdf copy of their fourth report entitled "STUDY OF THE CONDUCTIVE ENERGY WEAPON–TASER®".

Here [LINK]

Taser fails to stun wee feisty terrier dog

An 'aggressive' Staffordshire bull terrier - which belonged to a 13-year-old boy - has been shot dead by police in London after the repeated use of a taser stun gun failed to stun it. [LINK]

International Media notes Kennedy's report

Kennedy's report has made headlines around the world. All the major news agencies (AP, Reuters, AFP, BBC) are covering the story.
  • BBC News [LINK] - Taser ban threat to Canada police
  • New York Times [LINK] - Taser Limits Urged for Canadian Police
  • AFP News Agency [LINK] - Canadian police must restrict, or scrap tasers: watchdog
  • Thomson Reuters [LINK] - Canadian Mounties should use Tasers less-watchdog
  • Associated Press [LINK] - Police watchdog calls for better medical aid in Taser zapping
  • WNBC New York [LINK] - Dudley Do-Right And His Taser
  • TV New Zealand [LINK] - Mounties to curb Taser use

The coverage in Canada is of course wall-to-wall.

Interactive graphic: RCMP Taser use by province

Available at CBC.ca [LINK]

Look at BC for example (this is JUST the RCMP):
Tasers drawn 502 times in one year (2007).
Fired once 216, fired multiple times 148.
Total taser uses (fired one or more times) : (216+148=) 364 in one year

'Better than a gun' my ass.

Do you think that the RCMP, in one province (BC), in one year (2007), would have fired their guns at citizens and visitors 364 times (probably killing hundreds)?

And it isn't just BC. The other provinces have similar insane taser numbers that PROVE that they are not being used as a replacement for the gun. Tasers are being used roughly 100 times as often as guns ever were - this is a statistical FACT.

The argument that tasers are 'better than a gun' is just so much crap. It's an indicator of someone that is not following the issue; a badge of ignorance. Or if they know the facts, then they're lying.

And by the way, CBC previously noted that the police gun-fire isn't reduced by having tasers anyway.

Another comment by Excited-Delirium.com

I posted this comment on-line [link if & when published]:

The facts are that tasers are being used about 100 times as much as guns ever were; and they're being used in situations where police gun-fire would result in murder charges. These sad facts makes a lie of many of the pro-taser arguments. The present abuse, misuse and over-use of tasers simply has to be stopped, and stopped hard.

Most of the problems with tasers stem from the mindless propaganda coming from the manufacturer. These clowns have claimed, and continue to claim, that tasers are perfectly safe; except that the victim might bang their head on the way down. They deny any possibility of cardiac or other dangerous side-effects, no matter what. Their in-house medical expert has reportedly claimed that tasers are safe "under all circumstances". And these same idiots are involved with taser-use policy, and they set the training agenda. And thus they've recently been found liable for US$6.2M judgment because they knew, and failed to warn, about the dangers of multiple taserings; this related to an incident where a man died after being tasered at least 25 times.

All you have to do is study the issue a bit and you quickly see that Kennedy's recommendations are an excellent first step. Unfortunately, the message I see from Stockwell Day and the RCMP head is that they plan to MORE-OR-LESS (!!??!!) adopt those recommendations. ...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

TASR tasered

Down 3.84% in one day. Closed at $5.51 (down $0.22).

RCMP promise to MORE-OR-LESS adopt recommendations

Canadian Press (18 June 2008) - ...Day said the government "accepts the report and its recommendations in principle," including further restrictions on how Tasers are used. Day added he had already met with RCMP Commissioner William Elliott to discuss the implications. "He has indicated to me that he intends to act on the recommendations in a manner that takes into consideration the operational requirements of the RCMP," Day said. "We agree on the need to move forward in ways that will help to maintain the safety of the public and the men and women that protect our communities." In its statement, the RCMP said specific steps to adjust policies and practices in response to Kennedy's recommendations will need to "appropriately consider the diverse and geographically dispersed communities we serve" and operational needs. ... [LINK]

Wriggle wriggle wriggle...

Sounds to me like we're going to see a partial, incomplete, adapted-to-their-'needs' adoption of Kennedy's perfectly-reasonable, common-sense recommendations.

Update (20 June 2008):

The Victoria Times Colonist newspaper makes the same point in their editorial published 20 June 2008

... Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said he accepts the new recommendations "in principle." Commissioner William Elliott will act on them "in a manner that takes into consideration the operational requirements of the RCMP," Day said. Based on past practice, that means no real change. [LINK]

E-D straightens out NP's John Turley-Ewart

National Post (18 June 2008) - ... Mr. Kennedy suggests RCMP officers with less than 5 years experience should not be allowed to use a taser stun gun. Ok ... then what should they be allowed to use? The answer? A gun. ... [LINK]

My Comment (published [LINK]):

One of the most commonly-held myths regarding tasers is that they're a replacement for a gun. Anyone holding this view is simply exposing the fact that they haven't paid the slightest attention to the taser issue.

Fact: Tasers are used about 100 times as often as guns ever were. This figure varies widely, but it is a good round number.

Would the RCMP have shot Mr. Dziekanski with a gun if they'd lacked the taser? Would the RCMP have shot 82-year old Mr. Lasser in his hospital bed if they'd lacked a taser. The examples are endless.

The statistics tell the same story, hundreds of taser deployments per year. If the police have been firing their pistols at this rate, then they'd be the biggest band of serial killers in history.

Tasers are not a replacement for the gun. Not even close.

Tasers have been way too far down the Force Scale. Kennedy is recommending that they be moved up the scale to where they should have been all along.

And allowing only mature officers to have a weapon that has been so widely abused, misused and over-used is a perfectly reasonable recommendation.

We've tried it one way and the results are absolutely unacceptable ('mysterious' deaths, and national embarrassment). It is time for a bunch of changes and Kennedy's recommendations are a very good first step. ...

"Combative" - a likely loophole

Kennedy Recommendation #1 (previously #1):

"...allowed only in situations where an individual is 'combative' or ..." [LINK]

I hope that the word 'combative' is officially defined somewhere to mean the end of the definition spectrum towards violent. As opposed to the other end of the definition spectrum, as exemplified by these alternate definitions [LINK]:
  • inclined or showing an inclination to dispute or disagree...
  • ...even to engage in law suits
  • argumentative to the point of being cantankerous
  • striving to overcome in argument
It would be annoying if we have gone through all this, and we end up with the police tasering people because they're being argumentative and cantankerous.

There is also the issue of the very common taser-excuse that the victim "took a combative stance".

Although there are clear examples where such stances can actually represent a genuine threat, there is an overly-wide latitude for making this claim even when it is clearly not justified. In other words, 'combative stance' is a likely free-pass for any officer that really wants to taser someone (unless a video camera is rolling).

If anyone has any information regarding an official definition for 'combative' (hopefully tighter than the dictionary definitions), please leave a comment.

Update 20 June 2008: A newspaper, The Halifax Chronicle Herald, has made the same point about 'combative' being too open and allowing over-use to continue. Their editorial is here: [LINK]

RCMP Watchdog issues final report

Message from the Chair and Executive Summary [LINK]

Report Executive Summary: ...Simply put, if the RCMP cannot account for the use of this weapon and properly instruct its members to appropriately deploy the CEW in an operational setting, then such use should be prohibited until proper and strict accountability and training measures can be fully implemented. ... [ibid]

Use it PROPERLY, or lose it.

'Excited Delirium' defined

Homard Simson (12 June 2008): Those Mounties are some excited about delirium, so Homard is wondering if they are gonna sulk when Ottawa takes their new toys away. A bunch of MPs are studying up on those tasers and now they think the Mounties should never use them on guys who are having 'excited delirium.' Homard is not sure what this is; maybe a new "medical term" the Mounties made up because they are not allowed to say in their official report "the guy was being an arsehole so I tasered him." ... [LINK]