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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Taser wriggles free of majority of $6.2 judgment

On Fool.com [LINK]

I read somewhere else that this decision had more to do with a point of law about punitive damages in California not being provided on 'Failure to Warn' cases than any sort of moral victory.

More later when I find any further details.

Another "coincidence"...

Edmonton, AB - Man is tasered (twice) and dies [LINK]

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Criminal Code of Canada s.269.1

An anonymous commenter left a comment claiming that my interpretation of the Criminal Code of Canada s.269.1 ("Torture") is somehow incorrect. I 'moderated' the comment into the garbage, but it still calls for a quick response.

I've examined this aspect of the taser issue in some detail in this blog and also in the right hand column. I thought that it was already perfectly clear. But perhaps some don't have the attention span to follow the complete argument.

Let's make it extremely simple:

If using a taser, in Touch Torture mode, to apply severe pain to force (verb) a subject to comply with police orders is legal and ethical, then what distinguishes this from using the glowing end of a lit cigarette to accomplish the same degree of forced compliance?

Answer: there is nothing to distinguish the two. Both are severe pain and both can leave burn marks. They are both "Torture" and are both clearly illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada s.269.1.

The fact that the implementation of this Criminal Code section hasn't legally 'caught-up' with tasers (yet) is just an indication of the glacial pace of the legal system.

Conclusion: Using the taser in Touch Torture mode to force (verb) compliance is a clear cut violation of the Criminal Code of Canada s.269.1.

If tasers are allowed to be used to force (verb) compliance, then so are lit cigarettes.

There is nothing complicated about this argument. I apologize if this simple logic shatters your belief system about the operation of law enforcement in Canada.

"Coroner says taser a factor in death"

Cincinnati.Com - A shock from a police taser played a role in the death of a Miami University graduate in April, the Hamilton County Coroner's Office ruled. ...report states that the evidence clearly shows that the taser had been used only once, and that the barbs hit Piskura in the chest. [LINK] [faulty link fixed]

Let's review the implications of this finding ("taser played a role in the death").

According the Taser's worldview, this can't possibly be true. They believe, and I mean 'BELIEVE!' in a religious sense (utter faith); they believe that their product is safe.

Oh sure, they warn about some common sense dangers such as falling from heights, or drowning in water, but I have not seen any evidence or information indicating that they acknowledge any (ANY!) internal risk factor associated with or related to cardiac mechanisms. I believe it is fair to summarize their position as: the taser cannot possible affect the heart.

But here we have yet-another-coroner finding that the taser played a role in a death.

If the coroner is right, then Taser's worldview and faith is wrong.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cook County Medical Examiner's Office working overtime again

A man in Chicago was drinking and might have also been on drugs. He was tasered and (coincidentally? again?) died. An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday.

Chicago Tribune: [LINK]

Dziekanski Inquiry to begin on Monday

Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski was killed (or coincidentally died) when he was tasered at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14, 2007. Now, about a year later, the second phase of the Braidwood Inquiry will get underway. [LINK]

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stoopid article of the month

Well, if you want to see just how ill-informed people can be, review the following article found on the Alberni Valley News. [LINK] [B.C. natch...]

This mindless drivel, written by some group called Rural Crime Watch, offers the helpful suggestion that if you just obey the police then you won't get tasered.

Oh thanks for that. A Police State are we? I guess I didn't get the memo about the switch from a society based on the Rule of Law to the one based on the Rule of Lawmen.

What about those incidents (outside BC) where people in diabetic comas, or fast asleep, were tasered because they weren't obeying the police instructions? Should they be tasered because they didn't obey?

What about the delirious old man in his hospital bed (in Kamloops, B.C.)?

What about the man that didn't understand the English language, just Polish (at Vancouver Airport, in B.C.)? How was he supposed to obey when he didn't understand English? What about the police in that deadly incident already having decided (reportedly) to use the taser even before they had arrived on the scene?

Follow the news? Duh. Stoopid stoopid stoopid.

How about we try this?

How about the police stop handing out on-the-spot extra-judicial electrocution as punishment, or to induce compliance? Even the courts cannot order electrocution as punishment. And using severe pain to induce compliance is a crystal clear violation of the Criminal Code of Canada s.269.1.

In the article, an example is given of the police using a taser to force (verb) a women to exit her car. In my opinion, such an action is a crystal clear violation of s.269.1 wherein severe pain is meted out to induce compliance. Read it and try to explain why torture would be allowed to force (verb) compliance? Lawful 'force' is a noun. I challenge anyone to provide me an example where the laws of Canada refer to lawful force as a verb.

The article is a clear indictment of the taser policies and training in place in B.C. (and elsewhere).

The person (or people) that wrote that article should not be allowed anywhere near law enforcement. They haven't got a clue about the basics of common law, nor the laws of Canada.

The strange case of Othello Pierre

Regarding #356. July 4, 2008: Othello Pierre, 23, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

St. Martin Parish Taser Victim to be Laid to Rest - A St. Martinville man who died after being tasered by a St. Martin Parish Sheriff's deputy is being laid to rest Saturday, October 19th. The attorney for Othello Pierre told Eyewitness News earlier this month his client was shot in the head with a taser, not because he was posing a threat to the deputy or to anyone else, but simply because the deputy was tired of chasing him. "Deputies weren't chasing Pierre because he was wanted for committing a serious crime. His only offense was failing to show up for a misdemeanor court appearance." The Saint Martin Parish Sheriff's Department has thus far refused to discuss the case or to make release a copy of its policy on when its deputies are authorized to use tasers. [LINK]

Another story on the same incident claims that the subject died due to drugs in his system. "...the coroner points to high levels of cocaine, marijuana and alcohol in his system as the reason for his death..." [LINK]

High levels of marijuana? Where was the fire department?

On the subject of drug addicts and taser-associated deaths, here is something to think about: [LINK]

The tide has definitely started to turn

A police officer in Eustis, central-Florida has been drop-kick fired for using a taser on a 15-year old at a party.

See story at [LINK].

This 'You're fired!!' reaction to taser abuse, misuse and overuse is the new world order. Even a few months ago we saw nothing but excuses, red herrings and semi-official cover-ups for such incidents. Today you will still see a mix of outcomes, but at least we're making progress by having the clearest incidents addressed appropriately (sometimes).

Taser ineffective at least 5 times, uses car

I was tempted to entitle this post Moth + Light when I saw the number of times the police tried to use the ineffective taser.

See story at [LINK].

At least we can be thankful that an ineffective taser is a safe taser.

Disturbing keyword: "expert"

Crown wants more evidence on fatal YVR Taser incident

Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun, 16 October 2008 - The Crown is seeking further materials before deciding whether charges are warranted against RCMP officers involved in a fatal incident a year ago when a Polish man was jolted with a Taser at Vancouver International Airport. "We're awaiting further materials, including expert reports," Stan Lowe of the B.C. criminal justice branch said Wednesday. "Once we have those, we will continue to expedite the process." Lowe declined to provide an estimate of how much longer the charge assessment process may take. [LINK]

This news comes about one year after the famous incident where Robert Dziekanski, age 40, was killed (or coincidentally died) at Vancouver airport immediately after being tasered several times.

When I see them seeking 'expert reports' it makes me wonder what they want to see in such reports... And who are the so-called 'experts' that will write these reports?

I'm very suspicious of this.

Mark these words and we'll see...

Old and stale arguments...

There is a serial commenter 'seagulling' (crapping out many ill-informed comments) all over the Truth...Not Tasers blog. Most of the comments are short and sweet and oh-so completely wrong.

For example, this commenter is using the old and stale argument that tasers replace guns.

This is probably the first thing to learn during your Taser-101 education:

The tasers replace guns argument is ancient history and has been completely shredded by the inconvenient statistic that tasers tend to be used roughly one-hundred times as often as the same police historically used their guns. The '100x' is a rough estimate and varies widely.

Even Taser and their various semi-official fan clubs have officially given up on that old 'better than guns' argument. They held a meeting in some back room and passed a motion to start using the new and improved argument that tasers reduce police injuries.

There were several intermediate arguments that we have shredded one-by-one. Review this blog for the entertaining history of the pro-taser arguments.

For the recent tasers reduce police injuries argument, it was initially stated that tasers even reduce injuries for the subject (victim), but then CBC pointed out that tasers inherently (in dart deployment mode) caused injuries that required medical attention. So the most recent edition of 'Why tasers are good (edition 8 or 9?)' drops that part of the claim.

The comments being left by this seagull are simply a clear indication of the level of ignorance on the basics of the issue. The old better than guns argument is quaint and oh-so wrong. Using this argument simple reveals that the seagull has not been paying the slightest attention to the taser issue.

They should review the issue further before further seagulling all over the TNT blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Police arrest head of French Taser stungun firm

LOL. What a riot.

Police arrested nine people including the French head of the Taser stungun firm and a police civil servant Tuesday on suspicion of spying on Trotskyist leader Olivier Besancenot, sources said. Paris prosecutors launched a probe in May after a magazine reported that a private detective firm was tailing the 34-year-old former presidential candidate, prompting his far-left party to sue for violation of privacy.

Those arrested include Taser France head Antoine Di Zazzo and a police department official who was recently transferred from his job in the capital to one in the provinces, according to an official close to the investigation. The head of the controversial stun gun company was being held in custody in connection with the investigation.
... [LINK]

No word if Di Zazzo was tasered during the arrest, but one can only hope so.

Previously on this blog: [LINK]

Update: Taser has taken pains to distance themselves from Di Zappoo [or something like that] stating that he is not an employee of Taser. Di Zappoo is however a close business partner to Taser, being head of their french distributor.

Rotten apples fall especially close to the tree. Cough Cough Kerik Cough Cough Ahem. Excuse me...

Unless Taser is going to go all ethical on us and terminate their agreement with this distributor.

...waiting... ...waiting... ...waiting...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

So, how bad is the training????

Very bad. Bad to the point of being evil.

In an article called Tasers reduce injuries in police ranks [LINK], the police taser experts reveal the depths of ignorance and propaganda in the taser training.

"Tasers can operate as stun weapons at close range..." Stun has nothing to do with it. The Touch Torture mode is pure pain. The current path is so short that it does nothing except cause excruciating pain (a.k.a. torture) and cause localize burn injuries. You might as well use a lit cigarette and press that into the victim's flesh - same thing.

"There’s not enough amperage — about .00162 — to kill a mouse." Good grief. ".00162" refers (inaccurately) to the 162 milliamperes (162mA) of RMS current. Taser has tried strenuously to divert attention from this RMS value to the much lower 'average' current value of about 2mA. The reason for this switch is that 30mA is considered dangerous. Thus Taser now claims the average current and claims a 15-to-1 safety factor. 162mA RMS is normally considered to be dangerous. Make up your own mind.

"Tasers are the best compliance weapon we have." In other words: Do what I say or I will torture you. Who gave you the right to hand out on-the-spot torture? Even Judges sitting on the Supreme Court would not be allowed to hand out torture as an inducement. Your attitude is a violation of the laws against torture. You should read up on lawful force (which is a noun).

"...guidelines covered during training, including the size, age and gender of the subject, as well as the type of crime committed." Taser has clearly stated that even small, young children may be tasered. As for type of crime, apparently even failing to obey 'deserves' a 5-second torture session to induce compliant behavior... Who needs courts?

"Sgt. Jonathan Freeman, a training deputy with the Sheriff’s Office, said an officer is justified in using a Taser when he believes putting hands on a subject will lead to injuries, when the subject has an edged weapon or refuses to comply." 'Refuses to comply' can be the same thing as the victim being in a diabetic coma. This has already happened several times. Your policies are a violation of fundamental rights.

This is the sort of brainwashed so-called training being provided by the manufacturer. Appears to have had ZERO constitutional review.

Sgt. Mark Tonner, Vancouver police officer

Sgt. Mark Tonner, a Vancouver police officer, wrote a thoughtful op-ed piece for The Province which was published today.

The article is entitled: Price in public opinion could outweigh good that Tasers do bring [LINK]

Sgt Tonner is making some good points. But his entire argument is based upon the relatively new position that tasers are used to replace going hands-on (fighting) with resistive subjects. This is the new "Reducing Police Injuries" argument (introduced after all previous pro-taser arguments have been shredded).

But tasers were brought into Canada on the promise that they would be used sparingly and their use would replace gunfire. Now here we have a front-line police officer clearly stating that tasers are primarily used to replace basic hands-on techniques. That wasn't the original justification for tasers.

Okay, so let's back-up on tasers and start the trade-off analysis again. Is it worth the actual overuse, abuse and misuse, and the risk of death? Many people agree with Sgt Tonner that it might be time to package these devices up and send them back.

On the issue of public opinion - public perception didn't arrive on a silver platter from an alien source. This negative public perception of tasers and their all-too-frequent overuse, abuse and misuse arrived on the nightly news. And the news organizations didn't make it up. Elderly men really are being tasered in their hospital bed. Children really are being tasered in their own bedrooms. And a tired and confused immigrant was tasered and died almost immediately.

This blog, and others such as Truth ... Not Tasers, document many, many, many such crazy un-Canadian examples of police misusing, abusing and over-using tasers (and BC seems to lead the pack for some reason).

Not to mention the very bad karma of handing out a moderate risk of death to people that did nothing to deserve it.

Not to mention that such typical use of tasers in Canada is on an extremely weak legal footing, what with being classified as a Prohibited Firearm and being used to apply 'torture' to the victim in order to force (verb) them to comply. Lawful force is a noun. Force (as a verb) is also called 'torture' (CC s. 269.1).

I agree with Sgt Tonner's conclusion: tasers are not worth the negatives.

Taser distributor in France tries to muzzle elected official

Two bailiffs presented Monday to the mayor of the French city of Lille a summons from the company SMP Technologies, the exclusive distributor in France of the X26 taser. Asked last Sunday on Canal, whether she would equip municipal police officers in her city with the X23 the Mayor [Martine Aubry WIKI] responded, "It's dangerous there have already been 290 deaths in North America".

Antoine Di Zappo
[or something like that], owner of PMS Technologies [or something like that], said he was shocked [but not killed] by the statements of Martine Aubry he has since tried in vain to call her. He therefore decided to send a summons giving her 48 hours to "prove the facts of the 290 victims of which she spoke." "When we assume the highest responsibilities, we must therefore speak responsibly with out outlandish accusations." he says. If she does not give the names, we will sue for derogatory slander of our product. SMP Technologies has already a defamation suit against Olivier Besancenot who also spoke of Taser deaths. [LINK]

The names, 378+ now, are listed on the Truth ... Not Tasers blog [LINK].

For legal reasons, we tend to refer to these deaths as being "taser-associated" or "taser-related". Taser often calls them "taser-proximal".

Common sense indicates a connection, but the direct taser-shock-to-death causality has only been clearly legally established in a few cases. This is a result of the 'Proof Issue' wherein the weapon leaves no internal postmortem evidence.

But to be clear, Taser has been hit with a $6.2M judgment for 'Failure to Warn' in relation to the death of someone that was tasered and died. Also, some brave coroners are pointing directly at the taser as the cause of death (Pikes case).

Keep in mind that it only takes ONE example to prove Taser wrong in their claims of safety.

Just one.

Most reasonable observers would agree that we're now beyond that point. [LINK][LINK]

Which leaves only one possible conclusion...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hot winds of change blow in...

OC sheriff's deputy charged with illegal Taser use

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Orange County sheriff's deputy Christopher Hibbs has been charged with felony assault or battery by a public officer and assault with a taser. Prosecutors allege Hibbs used his taser on a handcuffed suspect, Ignacio Gomez Lares, in the back of a patrol car on Sept. 13, 2007, when the man didn't give his full name. Hibbs, who has entered a not guilty plea, is on unpaid leave and faces up to three years in prison if convicted. [LINK]

It's nice to see prosecutors (and police leadership, note the 'unpaid leave') living up to their responsibilities and doing their job.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Memo to police that skipped 'Civics' in Grade 6


You're not allowed to beat civilians. You're not allowed to taser someone a dozen times. These acts are assault and torture respectively and if you commit these acts you really should be fired, charged, convicted, and put in jail.

See [LINK] for some unproven accusations against the Toronto police.

You're allowed to apply legally justifiable force to the subject. The word 'force' in this context is a noun. You can apply lawful force, such as lifting the subject into the paddy wagon or applying handcuffs.

Force is not a verb. You're not allowed to torture the subject to 'force' (verb) them to place themselves into or out of the back of the police car (for example). Torture is a criminal act and is clearly defined in s. 269.1 in case you wish to review it first hand. It's been discussed endlessly on this blog.

If someone resists your application of legal force, then you're perfectly entitled to apply more force (noun). And then you can charge them with resisting. Provided your force was lawful, then they should be convicted for such resistance. Another 30-days would seem appropriate for resisting arrest or similar crimes.

But if your application of force was not lawful, then victims are permitted to resist. Thus it is critical for you to act correctly and not make legal mistakes (such as going into a wrong bedroom after the wrong person).

If someone attacks you while you are applying legal force, then you are entitled to defend yourself. And then you can charge them with assaulting a police officer and they, if convicted, should spend six-months to a couple of years in jail for such a crime.

If someone aims a gun at you, no reasonable person would object if you shot them dead.

If someone has a knife, then clear the area and wait them out. There is no time limit. They'll eventually give up. You do not need to be proactive and attack in many cases. There may be some cases where the SWAT Team needs to attack, but there should be a reason why waiting was not an option.

At no time are you permitted to boot someone in the face (unless, perhaps, the subject is attempting to bite your foot). Leave the punishment to the courts.

This isn't rocket science. The basics of these society ground rules were taught in Grade 6 in Civics class. And they all fit together logically.

Bringing violence into police work when not perfectly justifiable is extremely evil and leads to a direct negative impact on society.

Why do I have to explain this to the police? Where is the leadership?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Up to end-September 2008

The taser-associated death rate for North America is fairly steady at seven per month. This chart is based on the information listed at the Truth ... Not Tasers blog [LINK].

For those new to the taser issue and wondering about the very obvious step function in this graph, just keep an open mind and be aware that the X26 taser was introduced in mid-2003.

It must just be a coincidence... {rolls eyes}

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A man is in critical condition after Casper police shocked him repeatedly with a taser. Troy Tackett, age 38, was taken to the Wyoming Medical Center on Friday afternoon after he stopped breathing when police shocked him three times with a taser. A hospital spokesman said he remained in critical condition there on Monday. ... [LINK]

Lawsuits here and there...

Tasers in the bedroom again... We're not even safe when we're tucked into bed.

North York, Ontario - Emergency [not really] Task Force officers barged into a house and zapped an innocent man in his own bedroom. [LINK]

Tonight it may be you. Good night - sleep tight.

By the way - the Google News Alerts for the keyword 'taser' over the past few days have been wall-to-wall with taser-related lawsuits. I'm not going to repeat them all here...

Trading in tasers...

City of Fife, Washington State - Assistant Chief Mark Mears stated, "When the department found out there was an alternative to tasers, we felt that we had a responsibility to our citizens and police officers to take a look at it. Having reviewed the features and capabilities of the S-200 as well as having several officers attend Stinger's training, we concluded that the S-200 is utilizing state of the art technology for Electronic Control Devices. We liked the fact that the Stinger puts less [reportedly 75% less] electrical current into the body than the taser. Not only does the S-200 meet our requirements, it also is a great economic decision for our tax payers. We therefore, decided to take advantage of Stinger's trade in our taser program and will be sending them back our existing units." [LINK]

My summary would be that the X26 tasers 'suck'; and Stinger Systems 'suck 75% less' (the reported reduction in electrical current as compared to the X26 taser). The 75% reduction in waveform current would make a huge change in the actual level of safety when one considers the shape of the bell curve.

Stinger Systems is also better in another way - they do not make false claims of safety even in spite of their improved safety margin.

Police departments may wish to consider that there may be a liability issue if you choose to purchase tasers when a safer alternative exists. Something to think about...

Disclaimer - I'm not a fan of Stinger Systems, but they're a step in the right direction.

Monday, October 6, 2008

More spin from Taser

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The family of a man who died after he was shocked with a taser by North Charleston police has sued. The Post and Courier of Charleston reports that the suit filed last month names North Charleston police, Charleston County and the company that makes the taser. The family of 38-year-old Kip Darrell Black says officers should have known he could die when they shocked him up to 10 times with a taser in October 2006. ... A Taser spokespuppet says the company has had 75 product liability lawsuits dismissed or ruled in its favor. [LINK]

Actually, at least ten of those so-called "dismissed" lawsuits were settled.

And they have lost a "Failure to Warn" case to the tune of $6.2M.

Their corporate spin never openly admits these inconvenient details

Sunday, October 5, 2008

First hand report - argument results in torture

A Burnaby man claims police were quick to Taser him during an altercation at Locarno Beach [Vancouver, in British Columbia of course] and that the experience was so excruciating and debilitating that he understands why other victims die. Jean-Pierre Rouilles said yesterday he was jumped by three policemen after getting into an aggressive argument with a lifeguard on Aug. 17, and instead of talking to him the officers pinned him to the sand and tasered him multiple times.

"I felt like I was being electrocuted, I was cooked from inside," he said, adding that after each jolt police ordered him to stop resisting arrest, but that he couldn’t stop convulsing. "It was the most violent experience I’ve ever had … I didn’t have a weapon, I didn’t hurt anyone. ... I’ve been suffering so much because of this," Rouilles said, adding that he’s had convulsions and chronic pain since then. "This is happening to other people all the time … It’s just not right." [LINK]

Tasers do not reduce violence. They are the most evil form of violence: torture.

In Canada they are also legally considered to be a Prohibited Firearm. This classification brings with it many legal restrictions on their use - restrictions which are almost-universally being ignored by Canadian police forces.

There appears to be enough here for a darn good lawsuit.

Emotionally-disturbed patient 'subdued' with taser

CBC News - A 43-year-old patient at a medical facility in Delta, B.C., was jolted by a police taser Friday morning, police said. Staff at the facility called 911 around 11:40 a.m. and sought help from police because they were unable to control an "emotionally disturbed" man, Const. Paul Eisenzimmer said Friday night. ... [LINK]

British Columbia again.

The Simpsons a sad reflection of reality

Homer Simpson ... gets a stun gun. He then shocks Ned's coffee - "just warming it up" - and uses the device to melt cheese in a croissant, to loosen earwax and to light a cigar. He sticks it in his pants, and you guessed it, zaps himself. Taser spokespuppet Steve Tuttle told The Buzz he thought the episode was funny. [LINK]

No Steve, it isn't funny. Given the number of taser-associated deaths, it is disgusting. The fact that you find it "funny" is a crystal-clear reflection on you and your employer.

Also, this Simpson episode provided an ideal opportunity for Taser to take a stand against taser abuse, over-use and misuse. You've let it pass, thereby endangering more victims.

Hey Steve, do you also find this taser-tragedy "funny"? [LINK]

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Tasers Save Lives Everyday"

This is all over the news today:

NEW YORK -- The NYPD lieutenant who authorized the fatal use of a taser stun gun on a naked Brooklyn psychiatric patient has committed suicide at Floyd Bennett Field this morning. ... [LINK]