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, September 30, 2009

More "tasers saving money"

"Deputy Constable Christopher Bieze [the taser instructor - what did I tell you about taser certified brainwashing?] pulled over Kathryn Winkfein's 2004 Toyota pickup on Texas 71 in western Travis County on May 11 for allegedly driving 60 mph in a 45-mph construction zone. Winkfein, of Granite Shoals, a 4-foot-11 great-grandmother, told Bieze in the video that she wouldn't sign the citation. That led to a confrontation in which Bieze threatened to use his stun gun on Winkfein unless she complied with his orders. She dared him to use it, and he eventually did." [LINK]

They're now negotiating a settlement between $40,000 and $135,000.

How about $40k with an apology, or $135k if they wish to maintain the pathetic illusion that tasering 72-year old ladies is not actually an inherently stupid and despicable action.

By a certified taser trainer. LOL.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Taser abuse costing a fortune - didja get the memo?

This is probably the best column on the subject of tasers that I've seen in many weeks.

It's basically a review of various taser-abuse settlements.

Golden Valley Taser case leads to significant payout [LINK]

Political leaders and law enforcement decision makers need to review this article and realize that taser abuse is now squarely in the legal crosshairs.

Are you still relying on Taser Use Policy and taser training standards and material that can be traced directly back to Taser International? What, are you stupid?

Use of force and risk of death - compare...

Taser International likes to compare the risk of INJURY, or Injury_and_Death (all one word), of the taser as compared to other forms of force such as batons or pepperspray. And that is certainly a fair point that can be debated. But one needs to be very careful to keep the issue of injury rates separate from the issue of death rates. I've caught them attempting to muddle the taser-associated death issue by mixing in studies of injury rates.

And Braidwood noted that the rate of death (DEATH, not injury) seemed to be higher with tasers than with other forms of force such as batons or pepperspray.

But there's another thing worth pointing out...

If a baton is used and the subject dies, the death might be attributed to the cracked skull. The baton manufacturer wouldn't ever see the need to claim that the baton is incapable of causing death. And because of the obvious risk, the baton manufacturer shouldn't be held liable for Failure to Warn.

Same thing with pepperspray. If someone chokes to death due to pepperspray, there's not going to be much reason to deny the cause.

But with tasers, it's different. There's a death rate associated with taser use, especially (it seems) when the darts happen to hit the young, healthy, non-excited, non-delirious subject in the upper left chest. Or with subjects that are acutely agitated.

But these taser-associated deaths are "never (never ever) caused in any way by the taser [so they claim...].

The entire approach is completely different.

We should not allow Taser International to compare injury rates if they're unwilling to ever admit the risk of death.

Glenrock, Wyoming (not in the GDR)

A good overview of exactly how the usage pattern of tasers is sometimes an indicator of 'police state' mentality. [LINK]

There is also an interesting comment (from 'Glenrock') from a relative of 76-year old Bud Grose, who was driving the tractor when the two police officers went wild with the taser and other abusive behaviour.

The Fake Forest Study

He cited studies such as the work of Dr. William Bozeman at Wake Forest University, who examined 1,200 cases of Taser use by police and found serious injuries occurred less than one percent of the time.

The Wake Forest study included a data set with two (2) taser-associated deaths. But those deaths "didn't count" because they were not found to be taser deaths. They were "excited delirium" or other 'nothing-to-see-here-move-along' deaths.

For those that step back and note the larger picture of Taser International promoting "excited delirium", suing coroners, and manipulating the entire system - this exclusion of these two deaths is circular logic at the very highest level.

Furthermore, my quick review of the study indicates that the two taser-associated deaths would be considered low for the size of the population as compared to the rate of taser-associated deaths in the whole USA. If the data set was representative, it should have included about five taser associated deaths. This is based only on population numbers. But it makes one suspicious.

It's probably a good time to remind readers that the American Medical Association found that tasers can cause death, directly or indirectly. That's the AMA! Not to mention the UN, the RCMP, Amnesty International, and others.

The Wake Forest study, by naively excluding the two taser-associated deaths included in its raw data set, and by using a data set that appears to be unrepresentative of the larger US experience, provides nothing on the question of taser safety (with respect to death).

And those that hold this study up as evidence on The Main Issue, they are revealing themselves as propagandists.


The heart of the issue

Peter Holran, Taser International's vice president for public relations and government affairs, told CBS News, "The electrical output of a Taser device is incapable of causing death." [all over the 'net]

The ONLY way this statement could ever be judged as being partially true is to twist the meaning of words into insanity. By any normal interpretation of this statement (.: "tasers-R-safe"), it is clearly false.

This false claim is at the very center of the entire family of taser problems, including overuse, misuse, and abuse.

It's the root if ALL taser evil.

Quote of the Week - "...it's a toy."

Prof. Savard quipped, “If it’s not a weapon and it’s not medical equipment, it’s a toy.

Weapons manufacturers also undergo strict objective scrutiny from outside safety agencies. Tasers, however, qualify as neither medical instruments nor weapons, and are therefore subject only to the manufacturer’s testing standards. [LINK]

At least the safety of toys would be regulated (in the USA) by the Consumer Product Safety agency.

A spokesman for Taser International defended the quality standards. Which, if you've followed the issue, is obviously empty nonsense. Real-world testing sponsored by CBC/RC found that about 10% of tasers in the field were out of spec. Taser International was apparently unaware of this issue.

Tasers that fail low are not safe; their lack of full effectivity can escalate an incident and lead directly to death by gun fire. This sequence has actually happened quite a few times. It opens a new avenue for lawsuits. One was recently filed by an officer shot in the face by a shoplift suspect after the taser was ineffective.

An organization with moral maturity would address these sorts of issues differently. It's as if we're dealing with children. They need a good spanking.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Merced police taser wheelchair-bound double-amputee

The Merced, CA Police Department's Internal Affairs Division is investigating a complaint alleging that an officer twice used a taser against an unarmed, wheelchair-bound man with no legs. The incident occurred Sept. 11. The man who was tasered, 40-year-old Gregory Williams, a double-leg amputee, spent six days in jail on suspicion of domestic violence and resisting arrest, although the Merced County District Attorney's Office hasn't filed charges in the case. ...Williams, who was released from jail Friday, said he was violently manhandled and tasered by police, even though he claims he was never physically aggressive toward the officers or resisted arrest. ...A handful of residents who live in Williams' apartment complex claim they witnessed the incident and support Williams' charges. ... [LINK] [MORE]

It'll be interesting to see the ultimate outcome in this case of taser-abuse of a black man driving a wheelchair, as compares to the outcome in the case of the taser-abuse of a white man driving an antique tractor. [LINK]

Bernie Kerik faces 15 count indictment

White Plains, NY - Former member of the Board of Directors of Taser International, and a former NYC Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik faces up to 142 years in prison and $4.75 million in fines if convicted on all 15 counts of a federal indictment that was announced Monday. Kerik, whose nomination for Homeland Security secretary in 2004 was derailed when it was revealed he had employed an undocumented nanny, is charged with tax fraud, obstructing the IRS, theft of honest services, and making false statements to the federal government and on a loan application. [LINK]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

RCMP's moral compass

Vancouver, BC - ...RCMP Chief Supt. Dick Bent told the Braidwood inquiry Tuesday morning that he stands by the accuracy of his e-mail that said four Mounties had decided to use a Taser on a Polish immigrant before they even met him. ... And the third e-mail, this time from Supt. Bent to his superior officer on Nov. 22, 2007, outlines seven policies that the four RCMP officers at the airport were supposed to follow but ignored. They include talking to the distraught person to find out what language he speaks, talking to other passengers and crew, checking identification and visa, trying to find a translator, checking with partner agencies, or finding a 24-hour police interpreter. ... [LINK]

Wow. Nice job.

Supt. Bent single-handedly restores much of my faith in the old-school RCMP.

Bless his heart.

(Update: I'm not too sure about the missing emails though... Wouldn't a good sampling of them be available by searching others' email accounts for the missing sent items? It's not as if an email is only stored in one location. I find it very difficult to believe that the experts couldn't track down a good sampling of his emails from the missing period. Very strange...)

Cleaning up the connections, too late...

According to this report [LINK], Taser International's clumsy lawyer Micheal Brave has excused himself from the IPICD(L). It's the "Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Death (Lawsuits) (*)".

"Brave, now listed as an inactive director, says he remains a legal adviser at IPICD."

(* They don't actually include the word "...Lawsuits" in their name, but let's be honest - it's the true purpose.)

Peters sees nothing inappropriate about his Taser connections. "We are not aligned with them at all," he says, although "we did not distinguish ourselves enough" at the start.

No. The mistake was allowing Mr. Brave to do the IT work, leaving a trail of clues, firmly linking IPICD(L) to Taser International, ...evidence that could be seen from orbit (literally, since the ISS has access to the Internet).

Critics of Taser International have been vastly "misunderestimated".

Cheyenne, WY fires two officers

Cheyenne, WY - The town has fired the two police officers (Sgt. Paul Brown and Officer Michael Kavenius) involved in the tasering of 76-year old Bud Grose, who wanted to drive his antique tractor just a bit further down the road during a parade in August. [LINK]

Memo to taser-happy officers everywhere:

The party is over.

Taser incidents heading up-market

Golden Valley, Minnisota is making their 'we-admit-nothing' [LOL] cheque in the amount of $200,000. [LINK] [Hat-tip]

Yikes. Previous settlements were in the 'nice car' price range; now it's a modest house in a small town.

Braidwood Inquiry set to resume

The Braidwood Inquiry is set to resume on Tuesday, 22 September 2009.

It's been just about two months since the Braidwood Inquiry report Phase 1 was released. During that period, it has been reported that ten people have died after having been tasered. [LINK]

It's worth pointing out that two of that ten were in Modesto, California.

Reportedly, they've had three taser-associated deaths in five months.

#422: April 13, 2009: Craig Prescott, 38, Modesto, California
#442: August 26, 2009: Manuel Dante Dent, 27, Modesto, California
#444: September 16, 2009: Alton Warren Ham, 45, Modesto, California

Perhaps there is something in the municipal water supply...

I'll leave it up to a professional epidemiologist to calculate the odds of the causes of these deaths being at one end of the taser wires versus the other.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another stupid taser incident, another $55k judgment

(To be fair, the incident included more than just taser abuse.)

An jury ordered the city of Portland, OR to pay $55,000 to Frank Waterhouse, Jr. He was shot with beanbags, zapped with a taser and jailed after he videotaped Portland police officers searching for a jaywalker. Mr. Waterhouse was acquitted in Multnomah County Circuit Court of disorderly conduct and criminal trespass [cover] charges in October 2006. [LINK]

Baser on the "2006", there must be quite the backlog of similar lawsuits.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Is 'excited delirium' contagious?

Can fatal amounts of the 'excited delirium' virus be transfered from subject to subject through contact with unwashed surfaces?

If so, then there's one hell of an outbreak at the downtown Modesto jail...

"This is the third time in five months an inmate has died while in custody after law enforcement officials used Tasers to subdue the men. All three were being held at the sheriff's downtown Modesto jail when they died." [LINK] [Hat-tip]

(To be perfectly fair, these deaths have not [...yet...] been attributed to 'excited delirium'.)

But given this extraordinary outbreak, jail officials might wish to take some proactive measures as follows:

1) Wash down all surfaces with a disinfectant that can kill the 'excited delirium' virus
2) Read the Braidwood Inquiry report on tasers
3) Replace the jail uniforms with fresh and clean ones
4) Stop tasering inmates
5) Wipe off all door handles
6) Stop tasering inmates
7) Add a dash of bleach to the laundry
8) Stop tasering inmates

I'm sure they'll be able to bring this outbreak of jail deaths under control shortly.

Remember the old military rule of thumb?

"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is Enemy Action."

Even the most rabid and thick-headed must be able to see the pattern by now.

Don't mention the mob...

Bernie Kerik [a former member of the Board of Directors of Taser International] doesn't want his alleged mob connections tainting his upcoming corruption trial.

In a White Plains federal court filing, the former NYPD commissioner claims jurors "may be ... prejudiced" if prosecutors are allowed to reveal alleged organized-crime ties to Interstate Industrial Corp., which paid for $165,000 in renovations to Kerik's apartment in the Riverdale section of The Bronx. [LINK] The feds believe that the construction work was a bribe for Kerik to help Interstate win city contracts.

Kerik also wants to keep under wraps the identities of "numerous co-defendants"
(*) in the securities-fraud case against Larry Ray [LINK], who was best man at Kerik's 1998 wedding and who introduced him to Interstate owner Frank DiTommaso. [LINK]

* March 2, 2000. Larry Ray is indicted in a stock fraud conspiracy with Garafola and 18 others, including members of the Colombo and Bonnano crime families. [TIMELINE] [LINK]

Six degrees of separation...? Some senior Canadian police leaders, in the course of dealing with stun-gun salesmen, will have been socializing (almost certainly unknowingly) with folks only about two or three steps from the mob [allegedly].

Permission granted in case you feel the need to have a long hot shower right about now.


Bernie Kerik joined the board of Taser International in spring of 2002.

June 3, 2002 - TASER International, Inc., ... today announced with great pleasure the appointment of former NYPD Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to the Board of Directors of TASER International, Inc. "We are delighted to have such an outstanding and world-renowned law enforcement professional join our ranks," said Phillips Smith, Chairman... [LINK]

...it is the relationship Kerik has had since the spring of 2002 with Taser International, a Scottsdale, Ariz., manufacturer of stun guns, that has by far been the biggest source of his newfound wealth, earning him more than $6.2 million in pre-tax profits through stock options... [LINK]

11 Apr 2005 - Taser International, a maker of advanced non-lethal weapons, today announced the appointment of former Montana Governor Judy Martz to replace Bernard Kerik, who is resigning from the board to "focus on his consulting business" [LOL]. Controversial former New York police commissioner Kerik had withdrawn his name from consideration to head the US Department of Homeland Security in December 2004, due to the fact he had employed a nanny who was an illegal alien, without paying required Social Security payments. [LINK]

June 30, 2006 - Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, pleaded guilty today to two misdemeanor charges as the result of accepting tens of thousands of dollars of gifts and a loan while he was a city official in the late 1990's.

Quote of the week (for 10 Dec. 2004): "...there are growing concerns about whether the stun guns are truly as non-lethal as advertised." [LINK] (Published on Friday, December 10, 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle)

Note - Everyone is entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Many of these allegations have not (yet) been proven in court.

Distraction here: "Federal authorities are reporting increased chatter..." [LINK] Bernie, terrorist 'chatter' is not the only thing that Federal Authorities are reporting - LOL.

Tasered, unresponsive, CPR, pronounced dead.

Modesto, CA - A Stanislaus County Jail inmate ... Alton Warren Ham, 45, ... a Taser gun was used to subdue him. ...became unresponsive... staff immediately began CPR... ...unable to revive him. [LINK]

When searching for explanations of cause and effect, the time axis is your friend. Unless you are trying to muddle things, then the time axis is your worst enemy.

Officials said according to an autopsy, Ham had an enlarged heart.

List the enlarged heart as a contributing factor if you wish. But it would seem to be a form of insanity to list the enlarged heart, and not mention the taser-incident.

Toxicology results on Ham are pending.

Is the postmortem test for VF [LINK] also pending?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"...raise question about Taser effectiveness"

QUAD CITIES, Iowa-Ill. - For the second time in less than 8 weeks a taser failed to stop a suspect in a high profile confrontation. ... [LINK]

"safe and effective"

Maybe not always so effective.

Maybe not always so safe.

Federal Court sides with Brattleboro police in torture case

Brattleboro, VT - A lawsuit brought against four Brattleboro police officers by a pair of protesters who were stunned with Tasers two years ago was dismissed Monday by the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont. Through their attorney, David Sleigh of Sleigh and Williams in St. Johnsbury, Jonathan Crowell and Samantha Kilmurray contended that the officers used excessive force when they used Tasers to evict them from private property, which violated their Fourth Amendment rights. [LINK]

Let's review force the noun versus force the verb:

"When police efforts to cajole them into leaving the lot failed, they used Tasers to force compliance."

Read the above sentence very very very carefully and then answer the following question: Is the word "force" in the above sentence a noun or a verb?

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Conroy in his decision wrote, "The plaintiffs ... could have avoided the use of force entirely by complying with a lawful order."

Read the above quotation very very very carefully and then answer the following question: Is the word "force" in the above quotation a noun or a verb?

The next mental exercise would be to replace the nifty taser with the glowing end of a lit cigarette. What's the difference?

Another taser incident, another $45,000 settlement

The Journal Review - Crawfordsville, Indiana has settled (for $45,000) a lawsuit with Rick and Tonia Wheeler and their son Craig, resulting from an July 2, 2007 incident involving the use of a taser. The lawsuit was filed against Patrolman Jason Spires, Sgt. Geoff Payne and Patrolman Jared Colley and the city of Crawfordsville. [LINK]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fear of needles...

The law enforcement community often use their purported fear of dirty ("...possibly HIV-infected!") needles as some sort of justification for their taser trigger-happy approach to dealing with the public.

But these same police, during their idiotic taser-training, are all too happy to have two taser darts fired into their back (always the back), fully puncturing the skin after passing through their dirty old T-shirt, and removed by their marginally-trained co-trainees.

Question: Are these taser darts properly sterilized after having been sneezed and coughed upon by Taser International's assembly staff?

Since the completed cartridge apparently contains a highly-pressurized canister of nitrogen, I wonder if it is even possible to cycle the completed cartridge through an approved medical sterilization autoclave.

I wonder if the dart section of the cartridge assembly is even completely sealed to FDA standards for medical needles?

It seems like a bit of a contradiction to profess a fear of needles, and then subject yourself to two needles (darts) during the moronic taser training.

Hey - I'm just asking questions. If Taser International or anyone else cares to provide a response to this possible issue, then I'll be more than happy to copy it into this post. Blog e-mail address in found near the top of the right hand column.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Over-reliance on tasers - the other side of the coin

Jacksonville, FL - Officer Jared Reston, shot six times by a shop-lifting suspect after his taser is alledged to have "failed safe", is suing Taser International. [LINK]

Oh well. I'm sure that this lawsuit will get di$$mi$$ed with prejudice.

What's former Taser Director Bernie Kerik up to?

There are some that have noted a propaganda campaign to rehabilitate Mr. Kerik's tattered reputation. See [LINK].

"...legal battles alleging tax evasion, conspiracy, and lying under oath. Next month, Kerik will stand before a Judge to answer these charges that have been dropped several times only to be filed again under different jurisdictions." [LINK]

"In fact, those charges were dropped specifically so they could be filed in D.C. The judge essentially told prosecutors to do exactly what they did..." [LINK]

Mr. Kerik was on the Board of Directors of Taser International during a critical period. He made millions of dollars during his tenure.

Ancient history: Slipping between the cracks

Way back when, there was a debate about which government department would regulate the taser of the day. The debate seemed to be about if tasers were firearms or not.

From what can grasp from the memo-war, if tasers were firearms then they'd be regulated by the ATF. Or if they weren't firearms, then they'd be regulated under the Consumer Product Safety regulations. See this for details [LINK].

I wonder which government department(s) is regulating the ECD (taser) industry these days?

Anyone care to offer up any information?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"no evidence", temporal sequence, and pure luck

"Nova Scotia’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Matthew Bowes, a member of the expert panel, concluded that Hyde died accidentally of excited delirium due to paranoid schizophrenia, and that there was no evidence the stun gun caused his death." [LINK]

"...no evidence..." If we assume... (just for the purpose of following the logic to see where it leads)... If we assume that Mr. Hyde was outright killed by the taser, then what postmortem evidence would be expected? Was the postmortem test for VF done? What conclusive test was done to explicitly exclude the taser as a possible cause or contributing factor in this death?

It's not just me asking. The Braidwood Inquiry concluded that listing "excited delirium" as a cause of death is "unhelpful". The US AMA noted that tasers can cause death "directly or indirectly".

Saying that there is no evidence in situations where that may be an expected finding, given the state of the taser and excited delirium 'science', really is unhelpful.

Also, Mr. Hyde was reportedly acting irrationally for hours, then got into a scuffle as an officer approached with a tool/knife (What could possibly go wrong with that?), was tasered_and_required_CPR, and just happened to be revived. He died later during another scuffle, so obviously there is some "separation" in this case - but only because of the after-the-fact heroic efforts by the police officers to revive Mr. Hyde after he was tasered_and_required_CPR.

That tasered_and_required_CPR incident is actually the part of the sequence that speaks to the issue of taser safety.

"Hey, wanna play around with my gun?"

A police officer on off-duty rent-a-cop detail reportedly loaned his taser to a full time security employee who then promptly fired it off into another employee. Just fooling around in the way encouraged by the obviously-defective (incomplete? ineffective?) taser training (compare with how police generally treat their sidearms). [LINK]

I don't know what sort of mikey-moose operation they're running there, but this sort of goofing around can be dangerous.

Quote of the Week

"Taser failures are not uncommon." [LINK]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another stupid taser incident, another $50,000 settlement

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Madison woman who was tasered by UW police officers as they ejected her from a Badger football game at Camp Randall stadium will receive $50,000 in a settlement of a federal lawsuit. ... [LINK]

So who was in the wrong and who was in the right in this incident? Well, who is making out the cheque to who?

Another example of how the training that accompanies tasers is self-evidently defective (hey, judging by results!). They're taught that tasers are safe and effective and can be used freely on anyone for almost any reason.

Perhaps decision makers might wish to toss any policy guidance they might have received from the stungun salesmen, and review the findings of the $3.7M Canadian Braidwood Inquiry.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference calls for nationwide taser ban

Fort Worth - Southern Christian Leadership Conference calls for nationwide taser ban [LINK]

"...tools of torture..."

Globe and Mail sums it up very nicely

Globe and Mail - 'Vunerable Targets' [LINK]

Note the moronic comment, posted to the online article at the above link, from 'wisewon' (sic) posted at 3:35am. 3:35am!! Sign of a professional being paid to be first to comment, or someone with significant 'issues'.

I assume it's the former and I also take it as a sign of the desparate and borderline unethical approach that some will take to influence public opinion on this important public policy issue.

Amusingly, such extreme right-wing 'nut job' opinions generally do not play well in Canada. They're doing themselves a disservice because of their own ignorance of the subtle nuances of Canadian culture. Which I find amusing.

Nova Scotia report on "Excited Delirium"

The recent Nova Scotia report on the topic of "excited delirium" [LINK] had a tone that seemed almost defensive of this all-too-convenient excuse for far-too-many taser-associated deaths.

It's a bit like taking your car to a transmission shop, there's a fair chance your car's transmission is going to get taken apart and rebuilt, no matter if it really needed it or not. Without intending to be disrespectful to the panel of experts, it appears that they didn't include any excited delirium skeptics. If you ask for a report on "excited delirium", then you're gonna get a report on "excited delirium". It would have be amusing if they had submitted a one-page report with the response, "No such thing." - but that might be a bit much to expect.

The issue is not about the existance of a mental condition, or a set of behaviours, whose name the panel was just a bit too happy to adjust. 'Adventures in nomenclaturism.'

The issue is the rate of fatal outcomes with the application of the taser as compared to other approaches starting with de-escalation. In that respect the Nova Scotia report was a bit closer to the mark.

Also, very critically for the taser-safety issue which is larger than the topic of "excited delirium", there are plenty of reports of young, healthy, drug-free, non-excited, non-delirious people being tasered and ending up dead. The taser darts landing on the chest seem to be a suspiciously-common characteristic of such taser-associated deaths that obviously have nothing whatsoever to do with any "excited delirium" excuses.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Safe and Effective"

Proponents often describe tasers as "safe and effective".

Here's an example of "effective"...

Brunswick County: 'Taser failed to stop man before he was shot...' - "After giving a warning, Hardee shot Walters with a Taser, but Walters removed the Taser’s electronic probes and continued advancing toward the deputy, according to the statement." [LINK]

So "effective" sometimes means completely ineffective. This is not the only example.

I wonder what they mean by "safe"?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Who has the data?

Someone, somewhere has access to a key part of the puzzle. But this information is apparently not readily available. I've looked for it and it appears to be redacted from the available databases and reports.

What info?

The taser-associated death rate per deployment of the older 1999-era M26 taser model versus the newer 2003-era X26 taser model. This death rate needs to include deaths from all "causes".

Science is about making predictions. Here is mine: The data will show that the use of X26 taser is significantly more often associated with fatal outcomes than the M26 on a per deployment basis. This is just a prediction.

I don't have access to the well-buried reports that provide the necessary data to prove or refute this prediction. But the apples to oranges data sets seem to indicate an inexplicable imbalance.

Why is this data not readily available?

Nova Scotia report on "Excited Delirium" misses the entire point

"...Excited delirium is real and anyone showing symptoms of it should be 'considered at risk of sudden death,' according to a report commissioned by the Nova Scotia government...." [LINK]

What is real is that tasers "can cause death", ESPECIALLY when used on those that are acutely agitated.

There is an "excited delirium" industry, and each scratch of the surface turns up the smell of Taser International. You only have to review the findings of this blog to find pointers to factual observations linking Taser International to the "excited delirium" industry.

And for those that still don't get it, please review the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry" and then explain it.

If... - as some would claim in hindsight - ...if someone is "mere seconds from cardiac failure", then the taser may be the worst possible approach. This conclusion is being made over and over again.

"Excited Delirium" is way too convenient an excuse for taser-associated deaths. One should be extremely careful not to provide backing for a meaningless term that is all too often used as a placeholder for ignorance while the truth slinks away.

How can I put it?

If you wish to believe in the Tooth Fairy, that's fine. But if visits from the "Tooth Fairy" are coincident with the silverware going missing - time after time after time after time - then perhaps it's time to stop being so open to 'harmless' names; names that may be being assumed by someone other than an innocent midnight visitor.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Queensland, Aus. := British Columbia, Can.

The Queensland CMC report concludes that tasers can kill, but it stops short of scrapping them.

Basically, it's very nearly an Australian version of the Canadian Braidwood Inquiry into tasers.

The conclusion that tasers can kill is critically important. With such an acknowledgement, more reasonable policy will naturally flow. In the absence of such a taser-death link, the tasers will continue to be used on elderly drivers of antique tractors, or on little girls, or other abhorent examples.

What's still missing is the inevitable result of Taser International's liability-multiplying denials of any such risks. They've basically bet the company that nobody would ever connect the dots. And now the dots have been connected by many. Tasers "can kill".

Quote of the Week on tasers

Holyoke, Massachusetts Police Chief Anthony R. Scott wrote,

"I am not ready to see an individual on the six o'clock news bouncing around on the ground like a basketball with 50,000 volts of electricity being pumped into their body." [LINK]

A very wise man. He obviously understands "optics". And his judgment on tasers is exactly right.

Bless his heart.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Unrestricted taser use policy leads to political blowback

When police in Glenrock, Wyoming decided that it was a brilliant plan to taser 76-year-old Bud Grose because he wanted to drive his antique tractor just a bit further than they wanted him too, they absolutely outraged many members of their community. These outraged folks are not criminals, not drug addicts, not people with mental health issues. Good, honest, hard-working, normal folks. Voters. [LINK]

Gee, do ya think? Honestly, if anyone is surprised that many normal folks would be incadescent with rage at the sight of local police electro-torturing an elderly man over such a trivial incident as driving his antique tractor a bit further down the road, then those surprised people need to get a brain and have it installed. This is common sense.

Local decision makers everywhere need to consider the "optics" of what their police officers have been trained is Standard Operating Procedure for their over-reliance on tasers. A bad taser use policy can absolutely positively result in local leaders being unelected at the next election.

If anyone needs guidance on what might be something approaching a reasonable taser use policy, review the conclusions and recommendations of the Canadian Braidwood Inquiry. This review cost about $3.7M and is available on the web for the benefit of all.

Tasers may be "banned" in Queensland (Australia)

Oh my, what an "Annus horribilis" Taser International is having in 2009. The Taser minions love Latin, so they'll understand that the phrase means 'horrible year' [LINK].

(Not to be confused with the world-famous "Anus horribilis" taser anal probing incident perform by an upstanding member of the Boise "Mounted" Police.)

Canada, France, now Australia...

"The controversial Taser stun guns may be scrapped in Queensland after a review warned that the weapons could kill and could not be modified to prevent a repeat of the death of a man this year when he was shot 28 times with the 50,000-volt device. The joint Crime and Misconduct Commission-police review, launched after the June heart-attack death of north Queensland man Antonio Galeano, has ordered an overhaul of police training and operational policy, requiring the stun guns to be used only when there is a 'risk of serious injury'. The review, to be released today and obtained exclusively by The Australian, marks the first time an Australian authority has recognised the possibility the stun guns can injure or kill, especially when fired repeatedly at a person." [LINK]

UPDATE: Another news report says an outright ban is not likely. [LINK]

Sounds almost like a repeat of the $3.7M Canadian Braidwood Inquiry.

I suppose we should expect that Taser International will shortly announce that they will be launching a lawsuit agaist the joint Crime and Misconduct Commission... LOL.

And are they daring to imply that the 'Cardiac Safety' webpage on the Taser International website, the page authored by their in-house taser safety "expert" Dr. (not a real, Medical Doctor) Mark W. Kroll, the safety information that compares multiple taser hits to being hit repeatedly by ping pong balls, ...are they daring to imply that this webpage is poor science and is wrong? Is that what they're saying? How dare they...

It must be terrible to be a scientist and find yourself on the wrong side of the growing consensus about taser safety. Especially when so many people and organizations have made life-and-death policy decisions based on your expert and professional advice.

"ping pong balls" my ass.

A certain je ne sais quoi

A French court has imposed an immediate moratorium on tasers, for all local (municipal) police, until the training, and I presume the associated Taser Use Policies, are brought up to acceptable standards. [LINK]

"Documents leaked from the Interior Ministry in November 2008 claimed that the Taser has been moved from the category of 'non-lethal' weapon to 'reduced lethality'."

"reduced lethality" as compared to what? Guns? But are tasers used strictly in place of guns? Or whenever the officer feels like it?

If tasers are used in place of lower and safer (with respect to death) forms of force, then they should categorized as "increased lethality" weapons.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Death . Death Death"

Taser International stock (TASR) closed at $4.44 today.

The digit '4' is considered to be very unlucky in many Asian cultures because in some languages it sounds similar to the word for "death". [LINK]

I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

Police Chief says tasers "too dangerous" for civilians to have

Johnson Testifies For TASER Ban - Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson Tuesday urged the county council to pass a bill prohibiting a private individual from using an electronic control device for personal protection. Johnson said the devices, best known under the brand name TASER, are too dangerous for individuals to use. Johnson said that the bill would expand the ban on individuals using stun guns. Johnson said the need for this bill is urgent, because next month, a new state law would allow anyone over 18, to possess one of these devices. Under the county ordinance, anyone other than a police officer who is caught using the devices, would face six months in jail, or a $1,000 fine. [LINK]

Johnson had better ensure his department's taser use policy is in accordance with his view of the possible risks. If he requires guidance, he should refer to the conclusions and recommendations of the Canadian Braidwood Inquiry.