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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

WPXI.com - Allegheny County officials are forming a committee to investigate the physical effects of being stunned. District Attorney Stephen Zappala said the group will include medical professionals and law enforcement personnel. The group is being formed after two recent police Taser incidents in the Pittsburgh area.

[I guess they are starting to doubt Taser's spin and propaganda.]

Last week, Jason Schmidt, 29, was hospitalized after police used a Taser on him. Officials were called to a house on Observatory Hill on Friday, where they said Schmidt was acting erratically and was having convulsions. It took four stuns by two officers to subdue him, police said. Schmidt is currently in intensive care at Allegheny General Hospital.

Earlier this month, police in Swissvale stunned Andre Thomas, 37, who later died. On Monday night, more than 60 people attended a meeting focusing on Thomas' death. Two autopsies on the body were inconclusive. The medical examiner is waiting for the results of toxicology tests. Thomas' family said they believe police used excessive force. [LINK]

So Allegheny County's committee is going to figure it all out are they?

Here is my suggestion for a starting point (just a sanity check):

You now have the beginings of a data set; it might not yet be strictly statistically significant, but it might still be common-sense indicative. You have one taser-associated death and another taser victim in the ICU. Let's call this numerator 1.5 to split the difference. It's within a heartbeat of being either 1 or 2, so 1.5 is perfectly reasonable for this type of rough estimate.

Next, estimate the approximate number of taser deployments over some reasonable period of time. To be fair, it doesn't have to be just the past month. Take the past several months (this is being generous to the pro-taser side). You can decide how many months to include: 6, 8, or even 12. The exact number of months to include is not very critical since we're just trying to establish a rough order of magnitude (ROM) estimate of the risk of death from a taser deployment.

Now, remove from the denominator all the Touch-Torture (non-dart) mode deployments unless they were fired directly into the subject's chest (a la Pikes). Remove any misses. Remove any other denominator washing (for example, don't include any taser training hits to the back). Don't include any 'displays' of the taser spark. You want to denominator to be a reasonable reflection of real taser deployments that actually had darts on the chest and thereby should be included in the risk calculation.

Finally, divide the numerator (1.5) by the denominator (more or less about 100?).

So, is this taser risk of death ratio close to 1-in-10 million ?

Does it seem to be "safer than Tylenol" ?

These are Taser's claims (or those of their spokes-puppets or pro-taser minions).

Or is your result more like a single digit percentage result (within sight of 5%)?

To obtain Webster's 1-in-10 million number, you would have had to taser every living soul in Allegheny County on a weekly basis for several months and still have had just two casualties. Not likely.

So, what are your conclusions?

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