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.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gascón's Golden Gate Tasergate

Previous post - "San Francisco Police Chief George Gascón, who ordered the study shortly after coming on the job in July 2009, wants to bring tasers into his department’s arsenal." [LINK]

The above sequence makes me wonder what's going on. Gascón arrives on the job, immediately orders up a "study" to "prove" that tasers are "required" in San Fransisco, receives a report that actually indicates that tasers might save perhaps two lives per five year period, while the inherent overuse of tasers would result in daily taser deployments and an ill-defined number of taser caused or contributed deaths (as high as 7 using Taser International's own claim), all the while bringing endless new problems.

Even from here, I can detect some unknown force acting on Chief Gascón. Is it internal or external?

Wiki - George Gascon is the current chief of police of the San Francisco Police Department. He has held the position since August 7, 2009, succeeding Heather Fong. Gascon previously served as chief of police with the Mesa Police Department for three years...

Mesa? Isn't that in Arizona? Taser International is based close by. Coincidence?

So, how many taser "associated" deaths have they had in Mesa, AZ?

1 - #69 on The List [TNT]: July 23, 2004: Milton Salazar, 29, Mesa Arizona

Autopsy Links Taser To Death In Mesa

Arizona Republic (Jan 14, 2005) - The Maricopa County medical examiner says shocks from a Taser stun gun contributed to the death of Milton Salazar, 29 in Mesa, ... Maricopa County Medical Examiner Phillip Keen said Thursday that Taser was one of several factors that contributed to Salazar's death. He called it "part of a triggering event." [LINK]

2 - #265 on The List [TNT]:February 11, 2007: Stephen Krohn, 44, Mesa, Arizona

3 - #440 on The List [TNT]: August 20, 2009: Francisco P. Sesate, 36, Mesa, Arizona

This is a more recent taser-associated death of Francisco P. Sesate, 36. He was tasered-and-died on August 20, 2009, in Mesa, Arizona. [LINK][LINK]

That's THREE in SIX years.

The city of Mesa, AZ likes to remind everyone that it has a larger population than you might expect, but it is still only about half that of San Fransisco. Also, Mesa is a bedroom community, not a metropolis. And yet they've had at least three taser associated deaths in just over five years. And in at least one of those, in spite of all efforts to the contrary, the taser deployment was listed as a contributing factor.

If you adjust for population size, then it's indisputable that the rate of taser associated deaths in San Fransisco could very easily be in the range of about six in a five year period. And statistics have indicated that tasers are explicitly named as causes or contributing factors in about one-third of all taser-associated deaths. That's a low ball ratio considering that Taser International actually launches lawsuits against Coroners to keep them in line. The real honest ratio can only be higher. Probably much higher.

Chief Gascón's own attempt at a pro-taser study clearly indicates that it's only reasonable to estimate that tasers might save about two lives per five year period. His report found five "opportunities" per five year period, but only about two of those would actually save a live (adding a layer of common sense to the sound bite "five").

Even if we're generous, at best, it's pretty close to "a wash" (no lives saved, net). Might be worse.

Which leaves only the massive expense, the innumerable legal problems, the moral and ethical problems, and the immoral redistribution of the risk of death from the most violent to all.

Any informed observer should know all this, instinctively. So what's going on?

Political leaders need to button hole Chief Gascón and ask him straight out if he is proposing that tasers would only be deployed about five times in five years (about once per year). Just a quick sanity check on his cute little report and his pro-taser arguments.

Related posts:

Taser pros and cons - do the math

Taser pros and cons (short version)

Attn: San Francisco Police Chief George Gascón

Update - see subsequent post: [LINK]

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