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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Child Labor Laws...

Taser International CEO du jour Patrick Smith-4-brains is probably stunned and shocked by his 88% pay cut in 2009 (compared to 2008). [LINK]

$265,000 salary for a "CEO"?

Overpaid in my opinion.

Taser Understatement of the Decade - "It's clearly not a magic bullet."

In response to reports of an incident where one or more tasers were completely ineffective, Taser International spokespuppet Steve Tuttle abandoned the Corporate lie that tasers are "...safe and effective", and was forced to let slip a brand new admission:

Mr. Tuttle stated that tasers are "...clearly not a magic bullet."

No sh_t Einstein.

...Donald Barry Minter of Martinsville... Another officer shot Minter with high-voltage stun gun darts, but he apparently wasn't fazed. ... An officer broke the car window and blasted Minter again with Taser darts. Again, he was unaffected. ...Police shot Minter twice more with Taser darts -- again without effect... [LINK]

Since the various tasers were ineffective, ineffective, ineffective, ineffective, police were forced to shoot the subject dead. According to the report, the killing was perfectly justifiable on all levels.

Tragic, unfortunate, sad. But I don't see any legal, ethical, nor moral issues associated with the police...

...Except focused on the obviously and repeatedly-ineffective tasers. That's simply loaded with legal, ethical and moral issues.

"Not a magic bullet..."

Street-level death lottery is a more accurate description.

Adil Jouamai - tasered, "difficulty breathing", "died"

Washington Post - ...An officer deployed a Taser...and shortly after, Adil Jouamai did not appear to be breathing... ...dead. [LINK]

It really strikes me that this is a fairly common pattern; tasered, virtually immediate medical distress, dead.

It was the second death in a police Taser incident in Arlington this year, coming after a January case in which a District man died shortly after a Taser was used on him at the Pentagon City Metro platform. [ibid]

See also the Truth...Not Tasers blog:

50% of people tasered in Arlington, Virginia die [LINK]

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How about this? Mandatory CIT training if you want tasers.

EDITORIAL: Talk, not action (April 23, 2010) - Salt Lake Tribune [LINK] [via TNT]

Crisis Intervention Team training is considered the national standard for teaching law enforcement officers to deal effectively with the mentally ill. The program emphasizes an empathetic approach, scenario-based training, site visits to mental health facilities, interaction with mental health patients and instruction from mental health professionals. Officers are taught to identify characteristics of mental disorders and utilize de-escalation tactics and techniques to provide a safer intervention. ... ...proven effectiveness of the program -- injuries and deaths are reduced, clients are less likely to repeat offenses and more likely to see the inside of a treatment clinic than a jail cell...

Taser International, if they were honestly interested in "saving lives everyday" (sic), would be screaming from the roof tops about this alternative approach to dealing with such incidents (Crisis Intervention Team training instead of just mindless tasering). The fact that they market the opposite, more lethal, more dangerous, less effective approach should make them liable. At the very least it reveals their true nature in a way that is obvious to anyone.

It's nice to see the obvious truth about de-escalation techniques being more widely accepted.

Political and law enforcement leaders should take note. It would be perfectly reasonable and rational to insist upon CIT training (as well as Use Of Force refresher training) before allowing tasers into circulation.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Taser International - a very poor grasp of the temporal axis

"Tasers with cameras attached to them to record what happens when the weapons are deployed have made their way to New Brunswick." [via TNT]

"...to record what happens when the weapons are deployed..."

The taser camera is mounted on the taser. If I understand it correctly, the camera is activated and starts recording when the taser's safety switch is flicked. And then the taser gun is aimed directly at the subject.

The ConOps (concept of operations) of this sequence is all screwy. By definition, it's not going to record what happened to cause the officer to draw his taser in the first place. By design (sic), it's late.

Furthermore, it muddles the Taser Use Policy regarding the point when the potentially-lethal weapon should be drawn, safety switched, and aimed directly at the citizen. What is it? A camcorder, or a weapon? How many incidents are escalated to active violence because the officer thinks it's a camcorder, and the subject thinks it's a weapon?

Besides, once the taser is fired, we know exactly what will happen:
~Maybe it's effective.
~Maybe it's ineffective.
~Maybe it's a cause or contributor to death.

There are also reports about how these taser cams are sometimes blocked by the officer's grip on the weapon. And other reports that the device sometimes is a victim of the electromagnetic interference from the high voltage, noisy waveform being generated just inches away.

Taser-mounted cameras are defective in concept.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

TASR Quote of the Quarter

"I am tired of losing money, Oren Clark. [LINK]

Oren, you ain't seen nothing yet. Wait till the taser-death lawsuits start to stick.

Taser ineffective (twice!), and gun doesn't kill

This post might look like a repost of a previous post titled "Taser doesn't work (twice), gun doesn't kill (twice)" [LINK].

But no, it's yet another example of the sort of real world incident where tasers are ineffective for various reasons. And the police revolver worked fine, its use appears to be perfectly justified (according to the report), the subject was stopped, the officer protected (no thanks to the ineffective taser), and the injured subject will reportedly recover to face charges.

...The man (Richard Anthony Malczewski Jr.) jumped to the pavement and ran toward the officer. ...the officer deployed a Taser, but the man pulled the prongs from his skin and continued to charge. ...[etc.]... The officer ordered the man to stop. When the man continued to assault the woman, the officer deployed a Taser for a second time. And again, the electrical charge from the Taser did not seem to affect the man. Police said he pulled the prongs from his body and picked up an unknown object. The man began waving the object over his head and ran toward theseveral times, the officer fired his gun several times, striking the man at least once. [LINK]

See also the AP story on the Washington Post [LINK].

Repeat after me: 'Unreliable and ineffective P.o.S.'

Putting the lives of our brave police officers in danger.

Report states that he pulled the prongs out. Prongs (plural). Implies a good two-dart hit.

Taser International (TASR) stock plummets 12.66% in one day

And in others news...

On April 23, 2010, Mr. Jasjit Dhillon voluntarily resigned from his position as Chief Strategy Officer of Taser International, Inc (TASR) and General Manager of Taser Virtual Systems, a division the Company.

This resignation was apparently a complete surprise to the (mis)management of Taser International. According to one report, this little tidbit of information wasn't mentioned in the recent conference call with the moronic investors and other amused listeners.

In a recent post [LINK] I had noted my observation that I can't find the word "Braidwood" in the recent Annual Report of Taser International. Given the potential worldwide impact [LINK] of the Canadian findings, it's something that perhaps should be highlighted under the heading, "We're screwed."

For some reason, the phrase "serial non-disclosers" pops into my mind.

UPDATE: Taser International is now just a $300M company ($306M at close to be exact). Golly - last time that they lost an important taser-death lawsuit, about $50M worth of market capitalization was wiped off their smug faces. IM (not so) HO, they're lined up to lose another important taser-death lawsuit, hopefully during this calender year (2010). I doubt that the Mkt Cap impact would be only $50M next time. Maybe $100M or so? Just a guess.

To be crystal clear. I have zero financial interest in this pathetic company or anything even remotely-related. I'm just a detached observer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Taser International (TASR) reports "lower demand" (No sh_t Einstein...)

File under: Just Deserts

Taser International, Inc (TASR), maker of Electroshock Torture Weapons (ECW) that can sometimes kill, and serial under-reporter of such risks, posted a wider quarterly loss, hurt by lower margins, sending the stun-gun maker's shares down as much as 7.5 13% (at close). ... The decline was due to lower yields on new product lines and some product rework costs, the company said. ... Sales fell 3 percent.... [LINK]

Repost - The how and why of failure...

From Sunday, January 25, 2009

(Vocus) January 23, 2009: "...the taser deliver a high-frequency, high-voltage current..." (emphasis added).

This is an ideal opportunity to remind blog readers that the latest taser model in wide use, the X26 introduced in 2003, unlike the other previous high power taser (the M26 from 1999), has an output current waveform that contains a significant 19 Hz (low frequency) component.

It seems that everyone on both sides of the taser issue continues to assume that tasers are strictly (the safer) high frequency - but it is not true in the case of the X26 due to an often-overlooked DC-offset pulse after the arc phase.

This also has huge implications for the duty cycle - the low frequency component at 19 Hz and all related harmonics are 100% continuous duty cycle for the entire 5-second cycle.

So the X26 is both low frequency and 100% continuous duty cycle - both of which reduce safety independently (double effect) as compared to the older M26 (invalidating many older studies, as well as invalidating many of Taser's previous explanations for the root of their product's claimed safety).

Based on Taser's and Kroll's continued reliance on the "short duty cycle" (sic) and "chronaxie" (ditto) for their safety assumptions, and that they've apparently never admitted that the duty cycle of the X26 at 19 Hz is 100% continuous, it really seems like they forgot about the basics of Fourier transforms and the significant impact of that little DC pulse that they added to the X26 in 2003.

If they really do fail to understand why their 'harmless little taser' (sic) might be more dangerous than they previously calculated, then perhaps ignorance of Fourier is the reason why.

Even Kroll's late-2007 IEEE Spectrum article was still talking about "chronaxie" which depends on short pulses. This indicates that he failed to grasp that important detail.

It's another smoking gun (we've found others).

This important technical detail has, as far as I know, not been highlighted anywhere except on this blog.

See para 2 of this post 2008 - a year in review... [LINK] for an overview and links to the earlier posts where this technical details were first noted.

Then see the following three key posts:

Forgetting Fourier are we ? [LINK]

Guesstimated Spectrograms [LINK]

Up to end-September 2008 [LINK] (*)

(* Note the steep rise in the monthly taser-associated North American death rate, almost a step function, from less than one/month to about seven/month, starting in mid-2003 - strangely coincidental with the introduction of the X26.)

My conclusions about the spectrum and duty cycle implications of the little DC pulse added to the X26 taser can be reviewed and confirmed by any electrical engineer.


As if this needed any further support, but consider this... The M26 has a peak current of about 15 to 18 amps. The newer X26 is only about 3 amps. But even Taser International's own analysis indicates that the M26 is safer (wider margin). What could explain this? Why is seemingly-less actually more? Hey, I've explained it above.

Weebles wobble but they don't fall down...

Estimation of TASER Current Flow and Effects on Human Body

Available here [LINK] (833KB .pdf)

This human body model (bought and paid-for by Taser International) was intended to show that the distribution of taser current in the "worst case" could not possibly affect the heart.

But notice also that the calculated taser current (in this case) is tightly confined to the very small area on the chest.

Let that sink in for a second...  ...ready?

When someone is struck in the chest with a taser, a direct hit to the chest over the heart as shown in this model, does the subject simply stand there blinking, with one pectoral chest muscle twitching, and no other affect?

That seems to be what this model is indicating.

The current is so tightly confined in the model, to protect the heart (and to attempt to protect Taser International's bottom line) that there's nothing left to knock the subject over.

The only muscle affected by the direct taser hit is one pectoral muscle.

So this Weeble wobbles, but he doesn't fall down.

But the computer model analysis collapses under its own weight.

Repost - Presentation to Braidwood Inquiry by Dorin Panescu

From Thursday, April 30, 2009

Estimation of TASER Current Flow and Effects on Human Body

Available here [LINK] (833KB .pdf)

This report is an example of why many well-run high-tech companies avoid hiring too many PhDs.

The modeling of the human body presented in this report is primitive to the extreme. The ratio of the complexity of a real human body to this model must be at least 100,000-to-1. Medical school would last an hour if the human body was as trivially simple as this crude model.

At best, this sort of crude model might be good for some rough order of magnitude approximations. Providing two-digit results implies approximately 1% accuracy ('significant figures') which is completely laughable.

And where the hell is the tolerance analysis? You know? ...where you use actual population Bell Curves to calculate the actual population risk ratios? Remember your first year statistics? Monte Carlo analysis? Oh Hellllloooo?

Even given all of the above, on Slide 23, it appears to indicate that the safety margin for 'capture' can be as low as 1.7 times. I assume that 'capture' means roughly the same thing as 'affecting the heart'.

And this is with a very crude model that is really only good for rough estimating. When I see a safety margin for affecting the heart of just 1.7x, given the utter crudeness of the modeling effort, then this causes alarms bells to go off. I'll bet that the tolerance of the accuracy of this crude model firmly overlaps with the real-world population Bell Curve. Quote me: "Low end single digits."

In my opinion, this counts as a huge I Told You So.

PS: Slide 23: "**TASER CEW M26 margins are wider..."  

I Told You So on that as well.

Bermudas Big Blunder

Bermuda Police Commissioner - "...We have examined significant research conducted in the US, Canada and the UK before taking the decision to introduce TASER. The BPS is satisfied, based on all the research, that the TASER device is safe. ..." [LINK]

The first step on the road to Hell is to believe the fairly tales that tasers-R-safe.

It is slowly dawning on those that are paying attention that tasers can sometimes kill. In other words, they are Less-Than-OR-EQUAL-TO-Lethal.

If tasers only replaced more lethal forms of force (guns), then there would be nothing to complain about. But the cold hard fact is that tasers have been used at a rate that is roughly ONE HUNDRED times as often as police have used gunfire.

The other logical error made by the Bermuda Police Commissioner is to muddle the data between injury and death. This muddle is to the benefit of Taser International because they know that baton strikes can be controlled by the officer to fit the circumstances. But the taser brings a risk of death that is emitted in crude five-second chunks. Braidwood concluded that tasers are more lethal than other options. Even the US 9th Circuit Court called tasers the most intrusive form of force. It's stupid and naive to place tasers below batons.

I strongly suggest that the Bemuda Police Commissioner clarify the official position to match the findings in Canada (Braidwood, RCMP watchdog, and RCMP themselves) to define the taser as a potentially lethal weapon to be used only in the sort of circumstances as recommended by Braidwood et al.

And the Bermuda Police Commissioner should go back to his sources and demand to know why he wasn't informed about the Canadian Braidwood Inquiry. Has he been intentionally misled by Taser's moles?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Taser International's recent 'Sheep Study' is fatally flawed

The recycle bin awaits...

Ref. Dawes, D., Ho, J., Cole, J., Reardon, R., Lundin, E., Terwey, K., Falvey, D., & Miner, J. (2010). Effect of an Electronic Control Device Exposure on a Methamphetamine-intoxicated Animal Model, Academic Emergency Medicine, 17 (4), 436-443 DOI: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00708.x

If You're Going to Taser a Sheep, at Least Do It Right!

...in this experiment the authors have failed profoundly in their anesthesia choice. ...in a study designed to look at the incidence of cardiac arrythmia, these folks used an anesthesia well-documented to have effects on the L-type calcium channel and calcium in the heart... You can't study cardiac and vascular regulation when you use an agent that directly affects them. So, we don't use it. ...So, it's unclear how the effects of methamphetamine and exposure of the TASER are supposed to be teased apart from the influence of isoflurane on cardiac contractile function. It's also unclear how to interpret the dosages of methamphetamine and electrical current from a risk management standpoint. If you're going to do a study, it's great to use anesthesia, but you have to be very certain that you know how that anesthesia works and its potential to confound your work. Otherwise, your data are really not useful. [LINK]


Poor sheep.

Hundreds of faulty RCMP Tasers destroyed or pulled

Ottawa (18 April 2010, CP) - The RCMP has destroyed or retired hundreds of Tasers after laboratory tests found some Mountie stun guns were not performing properly. ...15 per cent of the older M26 model Tasers and one per cent of the newer X26 models did not test within technical tolerances. ...as of December, 149 M26s and 60 X26s from across the country had not performed within specifications. ...In some of the test firings the police weapons delivered 50 per cent more current. ...As of mid-March there were 1,114 M26 Tasers in use by the RCMP, down from 1,623 when testing began, and 2,262 X26 Tasers in the Mountie inventory, up from 1,561. ... [LINK]

Some really poor math in the above. If  60  X26 tasers failed, and the total inventory is 2262 (or 1561) X26 tasers, then that's not "one per cent"; it's THREE (or FOUR) percent.

There's some evidence that the X26 taser, with its low frequency waveform and continuous duty cycle, is more lethal per deployment than the older M26 taser. This is supported by the previous safety claims made by Taser International for the older M26, and by their own sponsored research.

This suspicion is supported by the taser-associated deaths being strongly coincident with X26 taser usage, even during periods when the M26 taser was being used more often by the RCMP. But this observation is of overlapping data sets and needs further information.

This suspicion is also supported by the month-by-month plot of taser-associated deaths that shows a clear ramping-up function starting in 2003, coincident with the introduction of the X26.

All of these issues and questions have been addressed repeatedly in this blog. If I have time, I'll add some links to this post later (for those that require spoon-feeding).

The Men Who Stare at Goats, and believe in tasers

Oh... My... Gawd...

We just watched the movie The Men Who Stare At Goats [IMDB]. It's a subtly-hilarious movie about some new-age loons with some insane (unreal, non-scientific) ideas. The bonus features on the DVD include a short video about the actual history behind the movie...

...And one of the folks interviewed is a certain John Alexander.

It took me a minute or two to realize and to make the connection.

We've met this Mr. Alexander before:

See  [LINK]  [LINK]  [LINK] and [LINK].

Mr. Alexander is a firm believer (in the religious sense) in "non-lethal" weapons, such as - according to him - tasers (sic).

But judging by some of the other things that he is, or has been, willing to believe in (you have to see the movie, including the interview)...  ...cue the theremin music... LOL.

[WIKI] Currently he is a member of the (Canadian) National Research Council Committee for Assessment of Non-Lethal Weapons Science and Technology.

Uh, excuse me. WHY? I hope that we're not paying him any actual real money.

PS: The same movie also contains the following dialog: "Well, different Jedi had different techniques. Mel Landau used to visualize packing all his troubles into a little suitcase to clear his mind, and Steve Tuttle would recite Bible verse, which was..."

A different (?) Steve Tuttle is the spokespuppet [LINK] for Taser International.

Letter to Pres. Obama: "21st Century Electronic Lynching"

The President of The United States has been sent a letter intended to draw his attention to the many civil rights violations inherent with, even encouraged by, tasers.

See copy of letter on the Truth...Not Tasers blog. [LINK]

The letter pulls no punches. It accuses Taser International and its associates of serious corporate and personal malfeasance.

"Representatives of the company that manufacturers electronic torture devices lied to Police Officials when they told them that the devices had been tested and were found to be non-lethal. They bragged instead about the excruciating agony and terror caused by their use. ... They scammed an all-too-willing law enforcement community with half truths and outright lies." [emphasis added]

This open letter puts Taser International and its associates into an awkward quandary. Do they just let it pass, thereby passively acknowledging the accuracy of the accusations? Or do they want to take it to court, thereby opening themselves to a detailed judicial review of their past and present corporate behaviour (including all their up-to-now private communications)?

Their best option is to issue a pseudo-indignant press release, then file a formal civil complaint as late as is reasonably possible, and then ever-so-slowly drag it through the courts for years and years and years.

Eventually, when they might be forced to open their Corporate kimono (potentially very embarrassing and legally-lethal for them), they'll just quietly drop the whole matter.

Friday, April 16, 2010

More evidence of dangerously-defective taser training

British police taser epileptic man [LINK] (via [TNT])

Taser insiders reportedly involved with barnyard animals (a "study")

Taser International's very own "Medical Director" (sic) and others reportedly involved in the restraining, drugging, taser-torturing and killing of sheep at the Hennepin County Medical Center.

See [LINK] (via [TNT]).

The legality of this "animal study" is being questioned by PETA on several key points.

There's little question on the morality.

Given the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry" [LINK], electro-torturing and killing helpless animals seems a bit redundant and cruel at this point in the slow implosion of Taser International.

BART yanks tasers

The BART (SF Bay Area Rapid Transit) Police Department has stripped its officers of tasers on Thursday, after a veteran sergeant in a moving patrol car fired his taser several days ago at the 13-year-old boy, who was fleeing from an altercation at BART's Richmond station on a bicycle. ... BART officials, who said officers would be retrained to use the [potentially-deadly, much-abused, propaganda-laced] devices. ... [LINK]

Repeat after me:

So-called "training" (traceable to the manufacturer) that is so bad that the only word to describe it is DEFECTIVE.

It's so bad that BART has to yank tasers (effectively a self-imposed moratorium) to gain the full attention of the taser-happy officers.

Is there anyone out there still in denial that there are major problems with tasers?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Collier County deputy Wilmer Arencibia's 'horseplay' is evidence of much worse

Collier Co, FL - NBC2 has obtain a video from the Collier County Sheriff's Office that shows a Collier County deputy tasing his female colleague in her rear end! ...What seemed like a regular morning inside the Collier County Jail, suddenly took a stunning twist when a deputy walked over to Corporal Wilmer Arencibia and showed him something on her iPod. That seemed to set him off. The video shows him pull out his taser, chase her down and shock her with it from behind. The entire situation played out in front of at least three other deputies. "It wasn't done as a malicious act, but it was horseplay utilizing a Taser," said Lieutenant Rich Gibbons with the Collier County Sheriff's Office.

Full story and video available here: [LINK]

This couldn't happen if tasers were respected as serious weapons. This can only happen if they're considered toys. And that couldn't happen unless the taser training is defective (is it "training", or just a big joke? ha ha ha...)

If this happened to a fellow deputy, then imagine how quick they'll be to taser-torture an inmate for anything - or nothing.

Tip of the iceberg, folks. Tip of the iceberg.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Taser International might have forgotten to mention something...

TASER INTERNATIONAL INC, Form: 10-K, Filing Date: 3/15/2010 [LINK]

I searched their 119-page Annual Report for any mention of "Braidwood", "Inquiry", "British Columbia", or "Canada". I didn't find any explicit mention of the Braidwood Inquiry. Did I miss it?

Taser International's endless legal woes...

TASER INTERNATIONAL INC, Form: 10-K, Filing Date: 3/15/2010 [LINK]

With respect to each of the pending 42 lawsuits, the following table lists the name of plaintiff, the date the Company was served with process, the jurisdiction in which the case is pending, the type of claim and the status of the matter.

In my opinion, they've shaken off too many many lawsuits. But some of their legal tricks, such as Daubert motions, have gone all stale on them. Their bag of such tricks isn't endless. In fact, it's probably empty.

Potential customers should note their treatment of "training injuries".

Repost - Smoking Gun Number Three (X26 vs. M26)

Repost from about a year ago...

Smoking Gun Number Three [LINK] (6 April 2009)

CPC has released a report with a wealth of information.

Please continue reading this post before wandering off to review the report.

One thing caught my eye:

Table 15: CEW Deployment Characteristics...
2002-2007 (%)
X26 Model 26000 24.3%
M26 Model 44000 75.7%

In other words, during the period 2002 to 2007, the older M26 taser was used (actually deployed) about three times as often as the newer X26 taser.

But when you look at the taser-associated deaths [in Canada] covering this same period, in every case where I have access to information indicating the model of taser used, it is X26 in all cases. Nine out of nine. [LINK]

(The following data needs to be further checked. See [LINK].)

Deaths in Canada (2002 to 2005 only)
1. Terry Hanna, 51 – Burnaby, BC - April 19, 2003 - RCMP - X26 [?? before 30 May 2003 ??]
2. Clayton Willey, 33 – Prince George, BC - July 22, 2003 - RCMP - X26 - Cause of death: drug overdose
3. Clark Whitehouse, 34 – Whitehorse, YK - September 2003 - RCMP - X26
4. Ronald Perry, 28 – Edmonton, AB - March 23, 2004 - X26
5. Roman Andreichikov, 25 – Vancouver, BC - May 1, 2004 - X26
6. Peter Lamonday, 33 – London, ON - May 13, 2004 - X26
7. Robert Bagnell, 44 – Vancouver, BC - June 23, 2004 - X26 - Cause of death: "restraint-associated cardiac arrest" due to acute cocaine intoxication and psychosis
8. Jerry Knight, 29 – Mississauga, ON - July 17, 2004 - X26 - Cause of death: “restraint asphyxia” with cocaine-related excited delirium
9. Samuel Truscott, 43 – Kingston, ON - August 8, 2004 - X26 - Cause of death: drug overdose (Coroner Jim Cairns)
10. Kevin Geldart, 34 – Moncton, NB - May 5, 2005 - RCMP - Cause of death: excited delirium with contributing factors including repeated shocks with a taser and pepper spray
11. Gurmeet Sandhu, 41 – Surrey, BC - June 30, 2005 - RCMP
12. James Foldi, 39 – Beamsville, ON - July 1, 2005 - Niagara Regional Police, X26 - tasered 12 times

***UPDATED as more X26 statistical 'hits' are recorded (mid-2005  to 2007)***
13. Paul Saulnier, 42 – Digby, NS - July 15, 2005 - RCMP - tasered 1 time with dart, multiple times with touch stun - "Official" cause of death: heart attack brought on by excited delirium, linked to his paranoid schizophrenia (Medical Examiner Dr. Matthew Bowes) (Ontario Chief Coroner Jim Cairns reviewed the case and "concluded that the taser played no role in Saulnier's death")
14. Alesandro Fiacco, 33 – Edmonton, AB - December 24, 2005 - tasered 3 times - "Official" cause of death: "acute cocaine toxicity," and "a complete lack of evidence" the Taser contributed to his death (Medical Examiner Dr. Graham Dowling)
15. Jason Doan, 28 – Red Deer, AB - August 30, 2006 - RCMP - tasered 3 times in 38 seconds - "Official" cause of death: undeterminable
# ?? James Barber, 25, Ottawa, ON - January 2007
16. Claudio Castagnetta, 32 - Quebec City, QC - September 20, 2007 - tasered 5 times - "Official" cause of death: accidental severe cerebral edema (Coroner Dr. Jean Brochu)
17. Robert Dziekanski, 40 - Vancouver, BC - October 14, 2007 - X26 - RCMP - tasered 5 times - "Official" cause of death: Cardiac arrest
18. Quilem Registre, 39 - Montreal, QC - October 17, 2007 - X26 - tasered 6 times - "Official" cause of death: Necrosis of the liver, small intenstine and colon with contributing factors of 60mg/100 ml blood alcohol level and non quantified level of metabolite cocaine
19. Howard Hyde, 45 - Halifax, NS - November 22, 2007 - tasered 2 times - "Official" cause of death: "Excited delirium" due to paranoid schizophrenia, with contributing factors of Coronary artery disease, obesity and restraint
20. Robert Knipstrom, 36 - Chilliwack, BC - November 24, 2007 - RCMP - tasered at least 6 times - "Official" cause of death: acute ecstasy intoxication and excited delirium

[2008 and on..., no overlapping data about M26/X26 usage]
21. Jeffrey Marreel, 36 - Norfolk, Ontario - June 23, 2008 - OPP - # of times tasered: "no comment" from SIU
22. Michael Langan, 17, Winnipeg, MB - July 22, 2008 - tasered 1 time
23. Sean Reilly, 42 - Brampton, ON - September 17, 2008 - X26 - tasered 2 times
24. Frank Frachette, 49 - Langley, BC - September 30, 2008 - RCMP - # of times tasered: "no comment" from RCMP
25. Trevor Grimolfson, 38 - Edmonton, AB - October 29, 2008, X26 - tasered 3 times - "Official" cause of death: excited delirium brought on by drugs
26. Gordon Walker Bowe, 30, Calgary, AB - November 2, 2008 - tasered 1 time - "Official" cause of death: excited delirium due to cocaine
27. Grant William Prentice, 40 - Brooks, AB - May 6, 2009 - RCMP - tasered 2 times - "Official" cause of death: acute cocaine toxicity and "the medical examiner also concluded the taser did not play a role in the death"

Why do the taser-associated deaths actually seem to be the X26-taser-associated deaths?

This observation raises some very interesting questions doesn't it?

It casts doubt on many of the blame-the-victim excuses, doesn't it?

CPC Report [LINK]
Table 15 [LINK]

Monday, April 12, 2010

"...bias and even dishonesty on the part of some witnesses..."

"...the Arizona-based weapons manufacturer alleges bias and even dishonesty on the part of some witnesses..." at the Braidwood Inquiry. [LINK]

I agree.

But I suspect that we may disagree about which witnesses are the ones being completely honest and forthright, and which less so.

Hmmm... See [LINK].

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Eugene, OR - closing the gap between the justification and the ugly reality

Eugene, OR - Eugene residents are collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to restrict the use of tasers by police officers. Randy Prince, a teacher, says the initiative would allow police to use tasers only in situations where deadly force is justified. Critics say the effort to classify tasers as a deadly weapon would hamstring police. ... A new report from the Eugene police department says officers are now using tasers more frequently than pepper spray when confronting resistant people. [LINK]

If tasers were pure-good, then there wouldn't be any controversy surrounding them. These sorts of initiatives to restrict the use of tasers are simply trying to force the Taser Use Policies into some reasonable alignment with the purportedly pure-as-the-driven-snow justification for tasers.

The pro-taser forces make wild claims that "tasers save lives" (as an alternative to police gun fire), and then squeal when someone tries to hold them to this purpose.

The facts are plain. Tasers are used about 100 times as often as the police have historically used their guns. This figure varies with location and with time. After a few taser-deaths, the rate of taser overuse tends to drop a bit as the more switched-on officers figure it out on their own.

But this 100-to-1 overuse ratio is a good round number. So the argument that "tasers save lives" ignores about 99% of the taser debate.

The tasers themselves are not really the issue. It's the damn lies about their safety, the defective training, and the propaganda-based Taser Use Policies cut-and-paste from Taser International - those are the problems.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't care if the police have fricken' Flame Throwers. So long as the burnt citizens are not blamed on Spontaneous Human Combustion.

"...the officer acted in accordance with his [defective] training."

Salt Lake City, UT - Relatives of Brian Cardall, a bipolar man who was tasered_and_died, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court. The family is suing the city of Hurricane, police officer Kenneth Thompson who fired the stungun and Hurricane Police Chief Lynn Excell. The lawsuit says police used excessive force on the 32-year-old man, who was running naked along Route 59 in southern Utah during a manic episode in June 2009. It also accuses police of detaining Cardall's wife, Anna, and interrogating her without probable cause after her husband was taken away in an ambulance. An autopsy report said Cardall died from heart irregularities. He was hit twice with the taser, which the family feels was not necessary to subdue a naked, unarmed man who was pleading with police not to shoot, according to the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, neither Thompson nor Excell attempted to check Cardall's vital signs or to verify that he was still breathing after he was taken down by the taser's electric shock despite Anna Cardall's inquiries about her husband. ...[LINK]

Why would they even need to check his condition? After all, the taser is so perfectly harmless that there's absolutely zero risk of any cardiac impact whatsoever. [sic - false claims in BS brown]

At least, that's what the training says...

Springfield, IL - the poster child for the taser problem

The State Journal-Register: A question of force: Tasers can be deadly but also can save lives [LINK]

(Note - "Tasers can be deadly")

Last year, Springfield police and Sangamon County sheriff’s deputies used tasers on people 125 times. ... The Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office, whose deputies were involved in both fatal incidents, has seen a decline in Taser use since the death of A. Paul Carlock after an altercation with county jailers on Nov. 16, 2007. Springfield police say the number of times they have used Tasers also has leveled off in the past two years. The sheriff’s office deployed Tasers 57 times in 2007, shortly after it first started using them. That number dropped to 51 times in 2008 and 44 in 2009.

Sheriff Neil Williamson said there has been no change in the department’s policy on Taser use; he said he wasn’t sure why the numbers have gone down.

Hey Sheriff. Maybe if you think about it you'll figure it out (late-2007 taser death, usage dropped in 2008). Duh. It's not difficult to figure it out. Most police officers know what's going on with the safety claims of Taser International.

The most recent Springfield man who died after being shot with tasers — Patrick Burns, in January - was shocked as many as 21 times. ...the 50-year-old man lost consciousness and died after Sangamon County sheriff’s deputies arrested him and shot him with a taser while he was in handcuffs Jan. 23. According to reports, deputies deployed their tasers against Burns 21 times.

Those involved in tasering-while-subject-handcuffed should read this and quiver in fear: [LINK]

I hope that he picked-up some leads for alternate employment

Leadville, CO - Lake County sheriff's Deputy John Ortega has been suspended for one week [my guess - more to follow] for using a stun gun on 30 high school students attending a job fair and who said they wanted to know what it felt like. Officials say some students suffered burns of varying degrees when the taser was applied to their legs. At least one student was treated at a hospital. Authorities are considering whether to file criminal charges. ... [LINK]

There's stupid.

There's incredibly stupid.

And then there's 'taser stupid'.

Taser International's 'offensive and abusive' petition goes to court Monday

Serial litigant and manufacturer of stunguns that are more dangerous than they'll admit, Taser International, heads to court in BC on Monday in an amazingly bald-faced attempt to subvert the conclusion of the Braidwood Inquiry.

Canadian Press - ...The BC government will ask the court to toss the weapon manufacturer's legal challenge of the findings from Braidwood's report from the first phase of a public inquiry prompted by the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport. The 550-page report released last year found that a jolt from a taser could be fatal, and the weapons' use should be restricted. Arizona-based Taser, which has a long history of litigation against any suggestion the stun guns are unsafe [even though they are unsafe, especially (it appears) the X26], responded with a blistering legal challenge alleging bias on the part of Braidwood, the inquiry's lead lawyer and a medical expert involved with the proceedings. The province has now filed its own equally biting reply, calling Taser's petition "offensive and abusive." ...

Taser International's lawyer, David Neave, would be well-advised to arrange some soft mattresses and pads in front of the courthouse steps.

My guess is '25 to 30 feet' (*).

(* How far he'll fly when tossed out of court..)

Friday, April 9, 2010

More evidence of Taser International's incompetence

See story about taser malfunction [via TNT] that caused a taser to emit an uncontrolled 20 second duration shock.

The gist of the story is that the taser in question was reportedly rebooting and "therefore" the taser continued to emit the shock while it was going through the lengthy boot-up sequence.

If you're unfamiliar with the intimate details of how embedded processors function, then this explanation might appear to be reasonable. But that's not a correct conclusion.

In fact, this explanation reveals that the systems designers and the management of Taser International are flaming idiots (as if we didn't already know). Stupid and obviously ill-informed of normal best practices for embedded design.

To be clear - It is absolutely trivial to choose a circuit architecture and default hardware logic polarities such that uncontrolled shocks would be inherently eliminated. For example, when making a choice between active-high versus active-low logic for a given internal control signal, you simply stop and think which choice is safer. It adds 5 seconds to the design process. But you have to have to concept of "safe" somewhere in the corporate thought process.

Given this hardware design mistake, then the obvious workaround is to update the software so that 'hardware state cleanup' is done as the FIRST order of business at boot-up. You change the code so that it makes sure that (for example) the shock is OFF as the first thing on boot-up. This fix would at least reduce the duration of the uncontrolled shock to a small fraction of a second. This sort of work-around is a poor second choice compared to designing the hardware properly in the first place.

Plaintiff lawyers could use this as yet another example that clearly highlights the incompetence of the designers and management of Taser International.

Assumning the reported facts are correct, my follow-on conclusions (above) are beyond dispute.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What does 470+ look like?

See the Truth...Not Tasers blog [LINK].

The Feds are here. Are you next?

Here's some news that should scare the living bejesus out of innumerable taser wielding Law Enforcement and Corrections Officers...

The Press-Enterprise (6 April 2010) - Two Desert Hot Springs police officers were federally indicted today on charges that they used a Taser on inmates who were handcuffed. Desert Hot Springs Sgt. Anthony Sclafani, 40, and former Officer David Raymond Henderson, 51, are scheduled to appear in Los Angeles federal court after being indicted by a grand jury, according to the U.S. attorney's office following an FBI investigation.

Sclafani is charged with two counts of deprivation of rights under the color of law on charges that he used a X26 Taser to stun suspects twice in February 2005. In one case, a man was stunned while handcuffed, court documents allege. In a second incident, a woman was doused with pepper spray and Tasered after being taken into custody, according to court documents.

Henderson is charged with using a Taser on a handcuffed suspect in 2004.

Each charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison.
[LINK]  via [TNT]

See also LA Times [LINK].

I wonder if word of this will spread like wildfire through the Law Enforcement and Corrections community?

I wonder what percentage of professionals will suddenly realize that they've done worse over the past few years? Perhaps MUCH worse...

Note that these alleged offenses occurred in 2004 and 2005. Five or six years ago. The Feds are probably combing through the files seeing if any other such incidents occurred since then. It may take them years to finish up this investigation into this massive and systematic violation of rights that stems from the lies of stungun salesmen and the clearly-defective training.

I strongly suggest that those folks might want to stock up on sleeping pills. They'll be needing them as they lay awake at 3:00am tonight struggling to remember all those time that they tasered arrestees or inmates already handcuffed (or similar).

Lights will be burning late tonight at The Church of Taser.

Officers are tasering their own careers

Martinsville, IN - Two Martinsville police officers accused of using a stun gun on a 10-year-old boy have now been suspended without pay. Capt. William Jennings and Officer Darren Johnson had been on administrative leave following last week's incident at a home day care. ... A closed-door meeting will be held on Wednesday to discuss further discipline, which could include dismissal, suspension or a demotion of rank... Both officers have been disciplined in the past for other incidents. [LINK]

Taser trained and certified, eh?

UPDATE - The phrase "criminal charges" has been mentioned.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The 800lb gorilla sitting quietly in the corner of the room...

RCMP apology and statement to Zofia Cisowski ([LINK] PDF)

"...and an increased emphasis on the risks associated with CEWs [tasers]."

What? The manufacturer failed to highlight those risks?

What? The manufacturer significantly understated the risks? [LINK]

I'm very satisfied that Zofia Cisowski and the RCMP have reached an agreement and settlement. And the apology is not bad either...

But the larger issue isn't settled.

Taser International still needs to be taken out back behind the shed and given a good beating... (legally speaking).

This entire issue stems from their false claims of safety.

And the divergent views should preclude any further procurement.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

RCMP: "Sorry..."

CBC News - The RCMP intends to offer a formal apology and a financial settlement to compensate the mother of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish man who died at the Vancouver airport after RCMP officers used a Taser to subdue him. The CBC has learned that Gary Bass, the RCMP deputy commissioner for the Pacific region, is scheduled to appear at a news conference Thursday morning, where he will offer the RCMP's apology to Zofia Cisowski, Dziekanski's mother. ... [LINK]

It's a good step.

"... police tasers contributed to the death."

A 22-year old Elkhart man, Delano Smith who apparently suffered from schizophrenia and manic depression, died while in police custody in January and police tasers contributed to the death. That was the conclusion of an investigation conducted by the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office... Smith was shot by police tasers a total of three times. One shot may have lasted as long as 20-seconds, while another seems to have malfunctioned and produced no shock at all. ... An autopsy concluded that the confrontation with police and the restraint that officers used were contributing factors in Smith’s death. ... the primary cause of Smith’s death was “excited delirium...” ... [LINK]

So multiple taser deployments, both ineffective and contributing to death, all in one incident.

If the taser were a horse, the farmer would have shot it by now.

All aboard the handbasket. Next stop, Hell.

Two Martinsville, Indiana police officers have been suspended after they used a taser on an "out of control" 10-year-old child at a day care. [LINK] [LINK]

Satan walks the Earth. And he apparently does taser sales and training on the side.

The basic facts of the case - Ryan Wilson, 22

Quoting from:

Document 284
Filed 03/29/10 USDC Colorado
Judge Philip A. Brimmer
Civil Case No. 07-cv-01844-PAB-KLM

This case arises out of the [August 4, 2006] death of Ryan Wilson after a police pursuit. The pursuit ended when a police officer shot Mr. Wilson with a TASER and, shortly thereafter, Mr. Wilson died. ... At the same time Officer Harris shot Mr. Wilson with the TASER, Mr. Wilson immediately fell to the ground, face down, and was unresponsive to Officer Harris’ commands. Upon reaching Mr. Wilson, the pursuing officers turned him over and detected breathing and a pulse. Between ten seconds and a minute later, however, Mr. Wilson stopped breathing, and the officers could no longer detect a pulse. The officers’ attempts to resuscitate him failed. An autopsy showed that Mr. Wilson suffered from hypoplastic coronary artery disease and myocardial bridging near his heart.

It's worth noting that Taser International (Kroll-4-brains) claims a statistically-massive 15-to-1 safety margin. If you understand bell curves, it's essentially zero overlap (that is, if the claim were true... ...which it's not).

So if Taser International tries to hang their defense on these pre-existing medical conditions, then they need to show that one effect of these conditions is a dramatic 15-to-1 increase in sensitivity to electrocution. Otherwise, it's a red herring and a distraction.

Taser International has to face a jury.

My guess, they'll be seeking a dismissed with prejudice (settlement) conference. If so, let's hope that the amount shows up in the annual report as an explicit line item swallowing several years' profit.

2010 is going to be an even interestinger year.

Taser International - a 'Hail Mary' shot, and a miss...

Quoting from:

Document 284
Filed 03/29/10 USDC Colorado
Judge Philip A. Brimmer
Civil Case No. 07-cv-01844-PAB-KLM

Finally, Taser’s reliance on the "sophisticated purchaser/learned intermediary doctrine" is misplaced. ... Even assuming Colorado courts would apply the doctrine to a TASER under appropriate circumstances, the doctrine does not assist Taser under the facts of this case. As an initial matter, Taser’s arguments elsewhere in its brief conflict with any contention that its products, like prescription drugs, are "‘unavoidably unsafe,’" ...in their own right.

[Taser International caught in yet another WASC (Wide Area Self-Contradiction), LOL.]

The warnings cited by Taser do not clearly indicate that, even if misused, a TASER device could cause death absent other circumstances inherent to the use of force. Taser does not, and cannot contend, that the police have the expertise to independently determine, as a matter of electrical engineering and cardiology, the safe and proper use of a TASER device. ... In fact, Taser’s warning can be read to assure police that they can apply their expertise regarding the inherent risks of force application without fear that the TASER will cause a fatality in a manner distinct from other non-lethal applications of force.

If there's any doubt about the magnitude of their (misplaced) confidence, take a close look at the Cardiac Safety webpage, found on Taser International's very own website. It's very much an example of 'Go Big or Stay Home' - it would have been better if they'd stayed home.