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 29, 2010

"Taser shotgun firm shoots itself in foot"

More about the UK Taser X12 debacle. [LINK]

Taser CEO Smith in one e-mail writes the phrase, "SCRIPT OUTLINE"

Taser Wars: Stocks, Lies and Audiotapes [LINK]
... Taser CEO Smith in one e-mail writes the phrase, "SCRIPT OUTLINE," and goes on to describe how Feldman should solicit information from McNulty, including coaching Feldman to claim he was "afraid" of Taser. In an e-mail to Taser's general counsel, Doug Klint, Smith proceeds to outline what he thinks should be Feldman's question areas, including finding out information on journalists McNulty may be speaking to. ...

Even snails leave trails with less slime...

Law Enforcement decision-makers should have a shower and keep their distance.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moat Taser firm licence 'revoked'

Taser distributor in the UK has their license revoked.

UPDATE - According to BBC radio, criminal charges are being considered. [see more-recent news above...]
The company which supplied the Tasers used during the six-hour stand-off with gunman Raoul Moat has had its licence revoked. It was believed at the time of Moat's death, that although the Home Office had not approved the weapons, their use was at the police's discretion. But it has now emerged supplier Pro-Tect Systems breached its licence by supplying X12 Tasers direct to police. The Home Office confirmed the firm had had its licence revoked. Home Secretary Theresa May said the company had only been permitted to supply the X12 Tasers to its science and development branch for testing. ...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Taser International sued for Patent Infringement

...James McNulty, [yawn, sorry...] ...who was a member of the research staff of the late Taser inventor John/Jack Cover and instrumental in development of the early law enforcement model Tasers [barely worked], announced today that he has sued Taser International (TASR) for patent infringement...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Define "subdue" in the context of using tasers to apply electric shock

Pet peeve of the month

The '1984'-style use of the word "subdue" to describe what happens when a taser is used to apply excruciatingly-painful and potentially-fatal electric shocks to a person.

And nobody has ever been able to provide an answer, or even a response, to The 'glowing cigarette' Taser Challenge [LINK] from February 2009; not a single response, not one.

See also [LINK] and [LINK].

Tasers ARE torture.

Add a black hood and clip the wires to the subject's hands if it helps you to complete your mental image...

Quintrell T. Brannon taser-associated death settled out-of-court

An out-of-court settlement has been made in a lawsuit over the June 8, 2008, death of Quintrell T. Brannon, 25, at the Knox County Jail. He died at the jail less than an hour after Knox County Sheriff's deputies and Vincennes Police Department officers used a Taser to apply incredibly painful and potentially dangerous electric shocks to his person during an arrest. Pepper spray and reportedly-abusive physical restraint were also used. Terms of the settlement were not released.

See [LINK]

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Australia - Liberal National Party proposes "Tasers For Teachers"

Leaked document leaves Langbroek red-faced over tasers for teachers idea [LINK]

The document, which was shared among policy advisers, said giving teachers Tasers would provide a valuable discipline tool, allow control of the entire class without physical contact and ensure class concentration. It also noted that the cost of a roll-out could be offset by financial and social benefits including decreased expenditure on stress leave for teachers and decreased rates of anti-social behaviour.

Funny? Not. A staffer has reportedly been fired.

Thing is, the above stupid-joke argument is essentially exactly the same argument used to justify Tasers For Police.

Political leaders and decision-makers should sit down, allow some quiet time, and think about that very carefully.

Leland Keane gamely tries to ignore the lessons of Dziekanski & Braidwood

Leland Keane (member, B.C. Mounted Police Professional Association) wrote a letter to the Chilliwack Times to complain that they'd used the headline "Taser Death" to described the Knipstrom death. Rather than repeat the whole letter here, you can read it [via TNT] or at source [LINK].
My concern is the misleading and sensational headline. ...The use of the phrase, "Taser death" portrays [most?] BCMPPA members in a negative and incorrect light.

[Please note that I have correct his obviously-incorrect statement by adding the word "most" where it is so-obviously required. I wonder if the BCMPPA have a formal position on the evil problem of The Blue Brotherhood of Silence where many (perhaps even most?) officers will remain passive and silent when they have witnessed their brother officers violating policy and even the law. If they do have such a position, then I'd be pleased as punch to celebrate it by publishing a copy on this blog, and publicly acknowledging the fact. Seriously, send me a copy. Please...]

Leland Keane (assuming that I've found the same person, see [LINK]) is a "Training Consultant at RCMP"; from February 2007 to present "Basic Firearms Instructor and Police and Public Safety Instructor at the Pacific Region Training Center". [Note that Mr. Robert Dziekanski was killed by taser-happy RCMP officers at Vancouver airport on 14 October 2007; but there's no information to suggest that Keane was in any way associated with the clearly-defective training of those four officers that behaved so atrociously as documented by the Braidwood Inquiry.] It's an interesting coincidence that Keane's bio mentions that he recently attended the University of Phoenix (that's essentially the home town of Taser International, but perhaps it was one of those remote-learning courses).

Getting back to the main point...

Here is my reaction [LINK] to Keane's letter:
Tasers are quite often not (officially) found to be a cause of death, even in cases where the use of the taser CLEARLY played a significant role. One clear example is the case of Robert Dziekanski, where it required a multi-million dollar inquiry (!) to peel away the bald-face lies and failed attempts at deception. Some even suggested that Mr. Dziekanski might have died of "excited delirium" (**), but this "explanation" (it really isn't an explanation) was rejected as unhelpful by Braidwood. After the inquiry, the taser was implicated as the most significant cause of his death.

** REJECTED THEORY [CBC] where Dr. Mash was wheeled-out on a dolly by Taser International:
And while the B.C. coroner’s service has not yet determined what killed Dziekanski — an autopsy failed to reveal a clear cause — RCMP have speculated the 40-year-old was also suffering from excited delirium. "This is not due to a Taser," says Deborah Mash, a neurology professor at the University of Miami who has been studying excited delirium for 20 years. "This is in the brain and they die because the mechanisms that control the heart and the lungs fail."

"Excited Delirium" as a theory to explain-away taser-associated deaths can be linked to Taser International via connections from the University of Miami, incompetently-whitewashed through the IPICD and Taser-lawyer Brave, and then directly to Taser International.

It's still an open question about what percentage of the 500+ taser-associated deaths should be fairly attributed to the taser. Amnesty International reviewed as many autopsy reports (for taser-associated deaths) as they could obtain and found that about one-third mentioned the taser as a cause or contributor to death. And I believe that one-third ratio MUST BE a low-ball number, due to the inherent lack of direct evidence associated with taser deaths, and the extraordinary efforts made by Taser International with the goal of minimizing the body-count linked to them.

And if anyone is still under the misconception that tasers-R-safe, then they need to catch-up on the latest legal warnings issued 1 May 2010 by Taser International where they finally acknowledge what we've been saying for years, that taser CAN affect the heart and those effects include risk of death.

If "Taser Death" is not exactly correct in one particular case, then at least it is not as inaccurate and deceptive as a phrase as "excited delirium".

Monday, September 20, 2010

Inane "Nine tips to prevent being tasered" letter shredded

LETTER: Nine tips to prevent being shocked by a Taser [LINK]

By David L. Miller, Columbia:
The following tips are offered to the .005 percent of the citizens who are at risk to be shot by a Taser.
1. When the police turn on the lights, STOP.
2. Be respectful of authority.
3. Obey commands of the officer that are time-honored requests that assure the safety of you, your passengers and the officer.
4. Shut your mouth. Don't start into a rant that shows your great command of the French and English languages.
5. Don't step on the gas and take off, endangering everyone in your path.
6. Don't challenge the officer to a foot race.
7. Don't drive with a suspended or revoked license or an outstanding warrant.
8. Don't down a few beers or smoke a couple of joints to enhance your courage.
9. Obey the darned law.

Gregg Bush responds:
10. Don't be a grandmother during a routine traffic stop.
11. Don't be restrained by law enforcment while on the ground.
12. Don't be a grandmother in your own bed on an oxygen machine.
13. Don't be unarmed and put your hands on the hood of a police crusier.
14. Don't be in your own home and call for the paramedics.
15. Don't go to the YMCA.
16. Don't go through police training in Columbia, South Carolina.
Anyone think of any more?

My additional response:

Gregg Bush has it perfectly! Here's the back-story:

Tasers were originally sold as being essentially perfectly safe. Many less-informed folks still operate under this misconception. In fact, as even Taser International has now been forced to admit (Training package, 1 May 2010), tasers can sometimes, almost randomly, kill.

Those departments that still haven't 'got the memo' allow tasers to be used even in non-violent circumstances. Basically as a human cattle-prods to electro-torture citizens to, as so eloquently explained by Mr. Miller, "Be respectful of authority", "Obey (without question) commands of the officer...", and "Shut your mouth." Yes indeed and 'Sieg Heil!' to you too.

Even the common sense advice to "Obey the darned law", if ignored, should lead to arrest and charges. Not a session of police-administered street-level electro-torture.

The fact is that tasers are fully capable of causing death and must be treated as such. Existing Taser Use Policy, too often cut-and-paste from Taser International, typically 'permits' civil rights violations and increases the risk of death where it is honestly not warranted.

The old ethical maxim of 'First, Do No Harm' applies to this quandary. Tasers can do, and actually do!, a great deal of harm in the torture and risk of death. At the very least, the Taser Use Policies need to be vastly tightened to permit tasers ONLY when the subject has already exhibited explicit violence. But even then, why would the police risk THEIR lives to a weapon that is ineffective in 10 to 30% of the real-world deployments?

They are still monitoring the blog

"Do these reports make my corporate liability look fat?"

United States arrived from login2.radian6.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com: Blog hit of the Week: Kroll receives my memo". -- 2 hour ago

Radian6 is an Internet firm that is hired by other companies to track social media. [LINK]

Heisenberg would be so proud. [LINK]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Winnipeg Police lose yet another taser cartridge, 4th this year (so far)

...Police say the cartridge could pose a risk, especially if it's placed in a pocket. A build-up of static [electricity] could activate the cartridge, causing the probes to be propelled.
[via TNT]

Seeing this report reminds me that the product designers and management of Taser International have expended very little of their rather limited supply of intellectual capabilities on the task of embedding safety features into their products.

For example, if the pyrotechnic device is so sensitive that there's a risk of it being triggered by static electricity, then why not design the cartridge with a shorting device (short circuiting the two terminals) that is only opened when the cartridge is installed onto the taser?

Even considering the extremely high voltages involved, I can still imagine about a half-dozen different conceptual mechanisms that could accomplish this at next to zero cost.

Another example: if you want to eliminate the risk that the darts would be propelled when the cartridge is not installed on the taser gun, then you simply design the pressure channel (running from the pyrotechnic device / CO2 cylinder to the dart cavities) so that it is completed by the interface with the front of the gun itself. A loose cartridge would thus be open to the atmosphere and therefore inherently incapable of firing the darts. It would be inherently safe unless it was installed on the taser gun.

The design of the interface would have to consider the pressures involved, but it's not Rocket Science.

That they apparently haven't included enough safety features to render loose cartridges safe reflects on their entire approach.


By the way, I'm still curious about how much of the muzzle velocity comes from the CO2 cylinder and how much comes from the pyrotechnic devices. I wouldn't put it past them that the CO2 cartridge is primarily a decorative prop to distract firearms regulators. After all, how much pyrotechnic does it require to pry open a CO2 cartridge, as compares to shooting a couple of darts 20 or 30 feet?

Perhaps I'm being too suspicious...

But perhaps an investigator with time on their hands could drill a little hole (carefully) to release the CO2 and then compare the muzzle velocities and range relying on just the pyrotechnic device.

UPI: "Deputy's stun gun shot kills Calif. man "

Headline writers getting their mojo back.

Deputy's stun gun shot kills Calif. man [LINK]

[Assuming that the 'stungun' was a Taser-brand taser such as the X26...]

Given that Taser International has (1 May 2010, Training Package) confessed that tasers are in fact perfectly capable of causing death, it is certainly reasonable to conclude that at least some (many?, most?) taser-associated deaths were actually (meaning that even Taser International is forced to agree) caused directly by the taser.

It's now time to correlate the news reports against the taser's Curious Temporal Asymmetry [LINK].

Taser "Training" handbag fight in Iowa raises disturbing questions

Judging by the results, I've come to the conclusion that the so-called "Training" promulgated by Taser International over the years amounts to corporate propaganda; propaganda that leaves the unwitting trainees with an incomplete understanding of the inherent risks of tasers.

Honest training would have entire chapters dedicated to the possibility of death-dealing cardiac effects, acidosis risks from long duration or repeated taser hits, and on the uncontrollable risk of tasers being ineffective. Honest training would not assume that "excited delirium" is a genuine condition that is also coincidentally fatal in the minutes after a taser hit.

Trainees emerging from honest and accurate training would naturally not use tasers except in those relatively rare instances where it might actually be an ethical choice. Back-talking motorists and cranky elderly folks would be safe from the risk of death by electro-torture.

Given that the official Taser International training program is obviously failing to achieve these common-sense goals, it's my opinion that the official training is dishonest, incomplete, immoral, and amounts to a form of corporate propaganda from The Church of Taser.

...Iowa Law Enforcement Academy... ...Academy Director E.A. "Penny" Westfall has faced harsh criticism from officers around the state... They reported allegations that Gil Hansen, a longtime instructor at the academy, told a class that he once falsified a police report to make it appear that a colleague on the Waterloo police force had died of an accidental gun discharge rather than suicide. Hansen allegedly told the class he did it to "protect the brotherhood" and "would do it again today" if faced with the same circumstances. ...some Iowa officers attended Taser classes taught by Hansen at a time when Hansen was not certified by Taser International....

[Geesus H...]

So when I read the above [LINK][via TNT] about an "unofficial", NON-Taser International approved taser 'trainer' getting into a handbag fight with the vertically-integrated marketing 'training' pyramid-scheme promoted by the fork-tongue stungun salesmen, it raises some disturbing questions...

If the bedrock beliefs (about taser safety) of The Church of Taser are demonstrably incorrect, then who the hell are they to "certify" the entire pyramid-scheme of the official "training" process?

If the trainees are walking out of the official taser training scheme and are immediately MORE LIKELY to use lethal force against citizens (gunfire found to increase post-taser training), then what exactly is going on?

One of the root evils of the entire taser issue is that the training and policy have been controlled or influence by an unregulated cartel of fork-tongue stungun salesmen that have promoted a falsehood: that tasers are not capable of causing, or contributing to, death.

Allowing Taser International to control the taser training, essentially without adult supervision, is an incredibly dangerous abdication by the chain of command that should be traceable to elected political leadership. As it is now, it branches off to Taser International.

PS: How do you like those accusations about alledged confessions of falsifying a police report to protect the brotherhood? Is anyone following THAT up? Geesus H...

The Law Enforcement Community really needs to get 'an Ethic' and have it installed.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

BHC: "Police officer taser's man to death outside La Mirada hotel"

Beverly Hills Courier: "Police officer taser's man to death outside La Mirada hotel" [LINK]

The above headline is not exactly correct.

Because the apostrophe in "taser's" is not required.

"Police officer tasers man to death..." would be a bit more accurate.

Direct any indignant protestations to:
Beverly Hills Courier, Phone: (310) 278-1322

David Cornelius Smith, 28, has been declared legally brain-dead

David Cornelius Smith: tasered, cardiac arrest, presumably suffered massive anoxic brain injury. [LINK]

UPDATE: Mr. Smith has died. [LINK]

My deepest condolences to the family and friends.

But it seems like a familiar pattern...

Steven Butler: tasered, cardiac arrest, suffered anoxic brain injury. He survives, but with permanent brain injury. Taser International is sued and settles for $2.85 million. They tried to keep the settlement quiet, but the judge was having none of that nonsense.

Free advice:

Ammunition for the forth-coming legal battle should include Taser International's own "Dr." Mark W. Kroll, a Director of Taser International. His infamous "Cardiac Safety" Ping Pong paper was featured prominently on Taser International's webpage, but was silently yanked some months ago.

A massive lawsuit against Taser International is not about the money. It's about making them pay for their persistent and false claims over the years that tasers could not possibly affect the heart.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Middletown, CT School Board 'expels' taser-happy SROs

Best taser story of the month.

Geesh. It's only September and the taser-happy School Resource Officers / Police have gotten themselves expelled from Middletown, CT schools. [LINK]

The Middletown Board of Education made the decision on Tuesday during an executive session to permanently remove officers from the three schools to which officers are assigned, the Middletown Press reports.

It's nice to see that the outraged and concerned parents, and the thoughtful and wise School Board have the basic common sense to see what's wrong and what obviously needs to be done...

"It is not acceptable to subject the kids to any electrocution as a form of discipline."

...Because the SROs and associated police have ZERO common sense, to the point that they just don't get it.

"The (Police) Union 100 percent backs the officers. In this case, the use of force was completely appropriate. It’s clear that (the SROs) did nothing wrong," Derek Puorro, the union president...

Blah blah blah...

Yeah, but you're still expelled.

Amusing blog hit of the week

Ventura, California arrived from google.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com: Who is "Dr." Mark W. Kroll" by searching for dr. Mark W. Kroll Expert witness.
20 minutes ago

"Expert witness"

Taser deaths: homicides by internal causes

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Greenville's police chief said that though the death of a man who was shocked with a Taser was ruled a homicide, it is not considered criminal.
It's not difficult to accept that a homicide might sometimes be lawful, as opposed to criminal. (But it might be best if such decisions were made by way of a public inquiry - not just the opinion of a coroner, a police chief, or a local DA.)
An autopsy report stated that Andrew Torres, who police shocked with Tasers, died from cardiac arrhythmia caused by an enlarged heart and that the physical exertion of the altercation with officers may have contributed to his death.

So it's a homicide ('by the hand of another', i.e. EXTERNAL), but was caused by an enlarged heart (i.e. an INTERNAL condition).


Greenville cops getting (new) training after Taser death

Greenville police to learn how to spot "enlarged hearts"

Oh, sorry. No. That's not correct.

Greenville police are getting new training on dealing with the mentally ill after the death of a man stunned by officers with Tasers. Officers will get up to 40 hours of crisis intervention training. State police are investigating the Aug. 9 death of Andrew Torres, 39. Coroner Parks Evans says the mentally ill man died from an irregular heart beat as the result of having an enlarged heart, the physical strain of fighting with police and being stunned with Tasers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Andrew Torres "died of an enlarged heart"

Greenville, SC - An autopsy report released Tuesday said a man who police shocked with tasers died from cardiac arrhythmia caused by an enlarged heart and that the physical exertion of the altercation with officers may have contributed to his death, but because tasers are so perfectly safe, the multiple and repeated taser hits that occurred immediately before his death had absolutely nothing to do with the death. Last month, Andrew Torres' family had called police to help escort him to the hospital for mental health treatment. According to family, Torres, 39, suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Greenville police officers went to the family's home on Augusta Street as part of an involuntary commitment. Officers said Torres became violent and officers shocked him with tasers. Torres was taken to Greenville Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later. ...


I wonder how long he had had the enlarged heart?

Symptoms of "excited delirium" now include robbery and escape?

It's getting weirder and weirder...
...Police say that Freddie Lee Lockett, 30, of Irving told the arresting officers he had used "wet," a street name for PCP-laced marijuana. He died early Sunday, shortly after officers tried to subdue him multiple times with a Taser. It will probably take months before the Dallas County medical examiner determines what caused Lockett's death, but the preliminary indications are that the man's symptoms are consistent with excited delirium, a medical state in which an overdose of adrenaline typically associated with drug use contributes to sudden death. Officers responding to a robbery call in the 2900 block of South Westmoreland Road near West Kiest Boulevard about 11:30 p.m. Saturday spotted Lockett. He matched the description of the robbery suspect, so officers tried to detain him and a scuffle ensued, police said. Lockett fled on foot and continued to resist arrest. Officers used a Taser on him multiple times, though it did not appear to have an effect, police said. Several additional officers responded to the scene, and Lockett was eventually captured. An ambulance was called to check Lockett and his condition worsened, police said. He died at Methodist Dallas Medical Center about 1:05 Sunday morning, police said. ...

So, the guy is perhaps using drugs, allegedly goes out and robs someone, and then attempts to evade capture. As opposed to stacking boxes against doors and being worried by reflections. What's this? A new version of "excited delirium" du jour to fit the situation of another taser associate death?

And what's this about the taser "...did not appear to have an effect..."? What's with THAT? Taser International ASSURES us that tasers directly affect the neuromusclular system, and do not depend on pain. If true, then it should JUST WORK, no matter what else may be going on with drugs and mental state. That was their claim. If they're (obviously) wrong about that, then perhaps their previous claims of taser safety were wrong too.

The Dallas County medical examiner should be sure to get the latest information from Taser International - see [LINK].

Tasers are nothing but trouble...

Alberta’s police oversight board, the Law Enforcement Review Board (LERB), has ordered Edmonton police Chief Mike Boydto lay charges against Const. Aubrey Zalaski for allegedly using excessive force when he tasered Timothy Ferguson four times on Dec. 24, 2003. "The Board finds that an objectively reasonable person might not consider the tasering of the Appellant reasonable given that it was deployed four times while the appellant was being held down by several large male officers, was handcuffed, was wearing a spit mask, and was displaying symptoms of excited delirium." The board found that the actions of other officers accused of excessive force were reasonable "given the urgency of the situation and the intensely violent and aggressive nature of the appellant." [LINK]


I wouldn't be surprised if many police officers simply decide that tasers are just not worth the career risk.

Keep your eye on the ball, ah, their feet.

Remember back in autumn-2009 when Taser International issued updated Targeting Guidelines that advised police to avoid targeting the chest? Remember that? [LINK] [LINK] [LINK]

When called on it, they then claimed that these new recommendations to "avoid the chest" were strictly intended "to avoid the controversy" about if tasers do or don't affect the heart. It would not be unreasonable to view their clarification about the intent of the new Targeting Guidelines as a bald-face deception.

Fast forward to 1 May 2010:
"When possible avoiding chest shots with ECDs reduces the risk of affecting the heart and avoids the controversy about whether ECDs do or do not affect the human heart."

See what they've done? They've added in (the red text) EXACTLY what they had previously denied was a reason.

Keep your eye on them. They're micro-stepping, in the tiniest possible quanta of changes (probably according to a carefully-planned long-term schedule), from the previous position that Tasers-R-safe to their new position that "Hey! We TOLD you that these damn things are potentially deadly! You should be careful!"

I've noticed it before; see [LINK].

And I know why they're doing it; see [LINK].

Monday, September 13, 2010

Marin County Sheriff's Department - Peter McFarland - 29 June 2009

To Serve and Protect, or To Torture and Abuse?

30 August 2010 - Man sues Marin Sheriff after being tasered half-to-death in own home [LINK] [via PHB]

I guess I may have missed this story at the time.

It's obviously an evil incident and I hope Mr. McFarland wins a huge settlement or judgment.

As I've mentioned before, make 'em pay dearly for denial of wrong-doing. In this case it should be a million dollar option, on top of any other considerations.

The apparent silence from the overall law enforcement community regarding this incident is an embarrassing mark on them all. The evil Blue Brotherhood of Silence is a major part of the problem.

Or perhaps they just missed the news too...

The law enforcement community really needs to Get an Ethic and Have It Installed.


Blog hit of the Week: Kroll receives my memo

Mound, Minnesota [Kroll's ISP location, as far as I know] arrived from email01.secureserver.net [direct hit from an email server used by Taser International, probably] on "www.Excited-Delirium.com: A call for IEEE Spectrum to retract Kroll's incorrect claims about taser safety". - about 24 hours ago.

Hey Kroll, why did Taser International yank your infamous "Cardiac Safety" webpage article? Was it because it was WRONG and DANGEROUSLY MISLEADING? Hey, I'm just asking.

I'm also just asking IEEE Spectrum to consider doing roughly the same thing to your infamous IEEE Spectrum article as Taser International did to your "Cardiac Safety".

Actually I'd like IEEE Spectrum to leave the article on-line, but prominently marked as false and linked to a formal retraction with corrected details. That way, rather than just disappear, it could serve as a warning to future generations of the dangers of hubris.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dallas, Texas - man tasered, medical emergency, "died"

UPDATE: Freddie Lee Lockett, 30. [LINK]
UPDATE2: Drugs, "excited delirium", getting weird... [LINK]

Few details are being released.

[via TNT] [LINK] [LINK]

The man was a suspect because "he matched the description" of someone involved in an alleged robbery.

Perhaps trying to escape, or perhaps just fearing the police, he ran away.

Now he's dead.

The police did not intend to kill him.

But he's dead.

Taser International (quietly) updated their legal warnings in May 2010. This led Palo Alto to restrict use of tasers to actual violent situations (as opposed to suspects running away).

Obviously Dallas is using stale policy.

Call in the lawyers. Dallas can start looking for their checkbook.

David Cornelius Smith, 28, unlikely to survive taser-caused cardiac effects

A Minneapolis man, David Cornelius Smith, 28, shot by police with a Taser last Thursday during an altercation at the downtown Minneapolis YMCA is on life support and is not expected to survive, a family member said Saturday. ... Larry Smith said the initial jolt from the Taser caused David Smith to go into cardiac arrest. "It didn't stop his heart; it killed him," he said. "Paramedics restarted his heart on scene." Since he arrived at the hospital Thursday, Smith's heart has stopped again and once again he was revived, his uncle said. He said David Smith did not have any underlying physical health issues. "To the best of my knowledge, he was a healthy young man who loved to play basketball," Larry Smith said. ...

Let me guess. X26 Taser. Chest hit with a transcardiac vector.

I wonder if Dr. Jeffrey Ho (a well-known Taser International 'apologist', and he works at the same hospital) is keeping a very low profile? Hiding in a broom closet? Maybe taking the month off? Certainly not marching in and trying to explain "excited delirium" to the family...?

It's tragic that people are still dying BECAUSE OF the denial of risks.

NOTE: It might be worth correlating the Taser Use Policy in effect at the time (even now) with the latest taser safety information released by Taser International on May 1st, 2010 [LINK]. I'll bet that the local police have not yet incorporated the new warnings, they're probably still using 'stale' policy based on Taser International's previous false claims of taser safety. This case is a perfect nightmare for the police, and for Taser International.

The Minneapolis police will eventually update their policy (as Palo Alto recently did), and it's going to be very awkward for them to explain why they didn't do so in May.

I wish the family of David Smith the best. My thoughts are with you.

Interesting Taser Quote of the Week on typical taser usage

...investigations into the use of tasers are finding that 1/3 of uses are in cases where no crime was committed, and 1/3 of cases result in the victim needing medical attention, then you have to ask why is the taser being used so much? ...

"...making accurate estimates is very difficult." vs. Low end of single digits

Taser International:

"The risk of an ECD causing cardiac arrest in humans from VENTRICULAR FIBRILLATION is sufficiently remote that making accurate estimates is very difficult."

"...making accurate estimates is very difficult."

Stupid red-herring. We don't need an "accurate estimate". An approximate estimate would allow decisions to be made. Real world data suggests that, once the taser darts land on chest, then the percentage risk that the subject will end up dead is roughly at the low end of single digits.

My long-standing ball-park estimate (going back to at least March 2009 [LINK]) of "...in the range of about 1 %..." matches the one-in-56 rate observed by Dr. Swerdlow [LINK].

Sufficiently remote ...my ass.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A call for IEEE Spectrum to retract Kroll's incorrect claims about taser safety

How a Taser Works
The stun gun shocks without killing--but how safe is it? Two experts take a look

IEEE Spectrum magazine - December 2007 [LINK]

By Mark W. Kroll [LINK][LINK], Patrick Tchou

[technical errors highlighted]
...about 1 percent of what's needed to cause the heart of the typical male to fibrillate. So the Taser's average current is far from the danger zone for healthy human hearts. ...a Taser's 100-us pulses are such a small fraction of the heart's chronaxie... ...you wind up with a pretty large margin of safety.

Compare and contrast the above wildly-inaccurate claims with what was released on May 1st, 2010:

Taser International admits that tasers can kill [LINK]

The basic technical mistakes are:

1) Assuming that "average" waveform currents are applicable when in fact the correct measurement would be 'effective'. Nobody knows exactly what the effective current is, but it seems likely to be in the range of about 30 to 50 mA considering the effects. The RMS current is about 150 mA, that's clearly not right either (a bit too high). But the "average" of about 2mA is also clearly not the correct measure (duh-obviously too low, considering the effects). See [LINK].See also [LINK].

2) Forgetting Fourier and failing to consider that the DC pulse after the arc phase is low frequency and thus those spectral components are continuous 100% duty cycle [LINK]. So the incorrectly-assumed chronaxie safety factor disappears for all low frequency spectral components. Even mentioning "chronaxie" without addressing the DC pulse is an obvious oversight. Again, nobody knows exactly what percentage of the current is low frequency and what percentage is high frequency. But this blogger was (as far as I know) the first to point out that the "experts" at Taser International appear to have slept through the Fourier class during EE 101.

These errors are really quite elementary.

And these errors perfectly explain the apparent discrepancy between what Kroll et al erroneously believed (that tasers were cardiac safe by a wide margin), and the cold hard fact that they aren't as safe as was claimed.

I don't mind dumb errors, but when combined with hubris... 

*** An URGENT call to IEEE Spectrum ***

This above referenced article, especially the section written by Dr. Mark Kroll where he argued that tasers are essentially cardiac-safe, should be formally retracted, or somehow marked as "taser safety claims now known to be incorrect".

Taser International, in their latest training bulletin released 1 May 2010 [LINK], has abandoned their long-standing position that tasers are essentially inherently safe. They now formally acknowledge that tasers can significantly affect the heart if a dart happens to land too close. They also now acknowledge that tasers may cause acidosis. And they acknowledge that these are potentially lethal impacts.

The position taken by Kroll in this article was wrong at the time, and has now been contradicted by the position recently adopted by Taser International themselves. Again, see [LINK].

Because of the human-safety aspect to those false claims of taser safety, it is essential that this article be formally acknowledged as being wrong in those areas where Kroll argued (incorrectly) that tasers are essentially cardiac-safe.

This situation represents an important test for the editors and management of IEEE Spectrum to demonstrate the basic ethics that are such an important part of engineering where it intersects with human safety.

Safety claims now revealed to have been incorrect MUST be formally corrected.

Tasers "may effect heart rhythm and rate" and "cardiac capture"

What's it all mean? Is it dangerous?

The term "cardiac capture" means that the taser has randomly connected itself to the subject such that it is trying to pace the heart.

The common X26 taser pulses at 19 times per SECOND.

This would imply that the heart is a quivering mass trying, and failing, to beat at over 1000 beats per minute.

Imagine if this continued for, say, more than about 10 to 15 seconds.

Dangerous? Gee, do ya think?

Remember that "Dr." Mark Kroll persistently claimed that the taser would not affect the heart. He wrote an article actually published in IEEE Spectrum. He wrote an article about "Cardiac Safety" that was prominently published on Taser International's website (recently deleted without comment). And many more... All of these argued that tasers are "cardiac safe".

Keep in mind that this "Dr." (of EE, not medicine) headed Taser International's Medical Safety Panel.

But now even Taser International, in their latest bulletin (May 2010) admits that tasers CAN affect the heart. Especially if a dart happens to land on the wrong location on the chest.

In my personal opinion, the liability is not just civil ($), but seems to reach the level of criminal liability. It's just my opinion. But professional and corporate negligence at this level, blind to the obvious evidence that surrounds them, negligence that is associated with an unknown number of deaths (hundreds?) deserves more than a slap on the wrist.

But these are just my personal opinions.

Weird blog hit of the Day: "most painful torture methods in canada"

Ottawa, Ontario (our nation's Capital) arrived from google.ca on "www.Excited-Delirium.com: Criminal Code of Canada - on 'torture' (analysis)" by searching for most painful torture methods in canada. -- 18 hours ago

In an ideal world, the search for the "most painful torture methods in canada" would lead to webpages about taxation.

But Google is probably correct.

Tasers are most often used in a manner that exactly matches the legal definition of torture. See the right column where it's all explained in exquisite detail with reference to the Criminal Code of Canada, s.269.

Tasers are torture.

Legally, they're completely indistinguishable from the glowing end of a lit cigarette used to torture. Completely indistinguishable.

Torture, dressed up as "high tech".

York Regional Police US-style 'Stupid Wankers And Tasers' (SWAT) raid destroys lives, leads to $7M suit

Two young men who were allegedly beaten and Tasered repeatedly when they were caught up in a drug raid in a Richmond Hill hotel room two years ago have launched a $7 million lawsuit against York Regional Police.

Brandon Talon, then 23, whose battered face appeared on the front page of the Toronto Sun in the wake of the raid, and Jonathan Fontela, then 22, claim they have been left physically and mentally scarred since the wee hours of the morning of Sept. 6, 2008, when they claim they were “brutally” awakened by rifle butts, boot heels and jolt after jolt of electricity.
[LINK] [via TNT]

Suggestion: Bust down the door, flick on the lights, keep things calm, continuously announce "Police!" over and over and over again, 'cover' any and all persons found inside but don't be so stupid as to forget that the persons will still be half-asleep, remember that even an innocent might have their hands under the sheets or under their pillow (and it doesn't mean that they have a gun), and F.F.S. GIVE THEM A REASONABLE CHANCE TO COMPLY!

EVEN IF (!) the persons inside are actual criminals, they still have rights (otherwise nobody has rights). For example, being provided with a reasonable opportunity to comply before being set-upon by armed thugs. Busting down a door and IMMEDIATELY starting to inflict violence upon those persons found inside would be a crystal-clear violation of their rights.

Police leadership must set policy so that basic rights are not violated.

REMEMBER THIS OTHER EXAMPLE?: Vancouver Police "beat wrong man" [LINK]

Incidents where non-criminals are caught in the swirl of obviously-unnecessary state-sponsored violence provides clear examples, but EVEN ACTUAL CRIMINALS must be provided the opportunity to be lawfully arrested without being subjected to a good beating and an electo-torture session at the hands of the police.

If this lawsuit is proven in court, then I'd love to see the court add-on some punitive damages that will force change.

There should be no argument about this issue!! Anyone can be caught up in a police error where they bust down the wrong door. Such errors should result in a broken door, PERIOD. The occupants should not be set-upon in a mindless session of state-sponsored violence, leaving them shattered physically and mentally.

I'm a perfectly average Canadian. Incidents such as these disgust me. I'm outraged.

But I'm also a sensitive enough observer to discern that cases like this reveal that it's highly likely that suspects' right are probably being systematically violated during this sort of arrests-with-violence. And that is totally unacceptable.

David Cornelius Smith, age 28, has no idea who he might be about to meet...

David Cornelius Smith, age 28, was brought down by a Minneapolis police Taser yesterday afternoon at the downtown YMCA after a confrontation with authorities, and for a few moments it appeared he was dead. He lived, but he's in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center. ... Smith experienced what police call a "medical emergency" after being shot with the stun gun. ...

Dr. (an actual MD) Jeffrey Ho , Dept. of Emergency Medicine, Hennepin County Medical Center.

You couldn't make this sh_t up, even if you tried.

Dr. Ho is a well-known Taser 'insider'.

It's to the point where it is perfectly reasonable to suspect his many Taser reports and 'studies' (invariably proving yet again that Tasers-R-safe) as perhaps being unreasonably influenced by his way-too-close-to-be-healthy relationship to Taser International and their merry band of idiot minions.

One report that he authored actually documented [LINK] a case where a New and Improved (not really) taser, one supposedly even safer than before (?), actually was found to cause cardiac capture in one of just eight tests (an amazingly clear indication of risk). Cardiac capture is a likely precursor to sometimes-deadly VF, which I supposed might sometimes be accompanied by "difficulty breathing" (sound familiar?). Anyway, his cute little report admitted the existence of this minor problem, but then he brushed it off by claiming that the manufacturer had made some minor adjustment (probably tweaked the knibbling pin on the Johnson rod) to restore the missing safety margin.

Yeah, right... If it doesn't make sense to you, then you've got it nailed.

Here's another one: Dr. Ho's testimony at the Braidwood Inquiry was described by Justice Braidwood as "an insult to the intelligence" [LINK]. That's got to be embarrassing. But that's the sort of thing that can happen when one hangs around with the wrong crowd. One is often judged by the friends (sic) one keeps. Stungun salesmen? Not good. Not good at all. Run away.

PS: All the latest (May 2010) Taser legal warnings [LINK] sort-of leave all the bought and paid-for Tasers-R-safe studies looking just a bit like a waste of perfectly good paper. Must be devastating to have one's sponsor abandon the Corporate myth that you spent so much effort trying to support.

My heart goes out to the family of Mr. Smith. I hope that he recovers. We have more than enough taser "associated" deaths already.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Palo Alto adopts much tighter Taser Use Policy

The new policy creates a stricter standard and requires that the suspect "pose an immediate threat of physical injury before firing a Taser is appropriate."
...previous department policy, which permited Taser use when suspects are "actively resisting," which includes such actions as "tensing" or "bracing" to resist arrest.

Do I agree with this change?

That's almost a stupid question.

I've stated more than once that if the police are under ACTUAL (not imagined) "...immediate threat of physical injury...", then I don't care what they have to do to protect themselves (hopefully proportional to the magnitude of the ACTUAL threat). I've even stated that I don't care if they are forced to "use a fricken flame-thrower", so long as the resultant burnt humans are not blamed on 'Spontaneous Human Combustion'.

This new policy, assuming it is implemented honestly, and assuming that Palo Alto had the usual rate of taser overuse, should result in a reduction in taser use of about 90% or so (roughly). Might be 75%, might be 97%. but it SHOULD be significant. That's what happened in BC (about 90% reduction).

One last question: What naive moron (or, more likely, Church of Taser infiltrator within the department) cut-and-paste the previous rights-violating, unconstitutional, electro-torture advising Palo Alto Taser Overuse Policy directly from Taser International's propaganda?

Is he allowed a clean getaway? Even though "his" defective policy led directly to multiple instances of civil rights violations?

Is that okay with you?

Hey, I'm just asking!

PS: Those whose rights were violated should seek legal advice. Might be some compensation available (hint: 6-figures minimum).

Yes, Bernie Kerik is still in prison

It's worth mentioning this once in a while.

Mr. Bernard (Bernie "I'm a victim") Kerik was a valued member of the Board of Directors of Taser International (TASR) during the period 2002 to 2005. He is now in prison serving a 4-year sentence for assorted crimes committed during a period that overlaps his time at Taser International. But there is no evidence to suggest that any of his criminal wrongdoing was in any way related to his membership on the Board of Directors of Taser International.

Weird blog hit - ultra-subtle death threat or just a coincidence?

Phoenix, Arizona arrived from google.com on "www.Excited-Delirium.com: Taser International and Steve Ward, their ex-VP of Malarkeyting, squabble over cameras" by searching for steven ward homicide arizona.
5 hours 48 mins ago

Weird. Too bizarre to be real. Probably.

OPB: "Are Electric Stun Guns Always 'Non-Lethal' Weapons?"

Oregon Public Broadcasting [LINK]

[This blogger's response:]

The answer to the question, "Are tasers always 'non-lethal' weapons?" has already been provided by the British Columbia Braidwood Inquiry: No, they can and do cause or contribute to death, even with healthy adults. Taser International may pretend to deny the risk of death, but buried in the depths of the most-recent version of their ever-changing training package is a clear-cut acknowledgment that tasers can kill. Their admission is in direct contradiction to their previous false claims of safety. Which is why they've clamed-up recently.

The tragic thing is that most Taser Use Policies are still based on the previous false claims that tasers cannot, ever, kill. Taser International isn't exactly highlighting the discrepancies between what they previously claimed and what they now admit; their corporate liability is almost unimaginable.

By the way, with new policy arising from the Braidwood Inquiry, taser (over) use in BC is down about 90% or more, taser "associated" deaths have been reduced by an equal amount, and all the nightmares predicted (such as wholesale slaughter of citizens) have not happened.

Concerned citizens have investigated the corporate activities of the stun gun salesmen and reported the findings on blogs. All link to sources so you can fact check. Excited-Delirium and Truth Not Tasers.

Good luck.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Taser "contributes" to yet another death

The sudden death of a 22-year-old Hempstead man, Terrelle Houston, in June was ruled a homicide caused by an enlarged heart, drug intoxication and three jolts from a Taser, an autopsy report concluded after a three-month probe.

Only one of those three factors fits the definition of homicide: the taser.

If Mr. Houston was taking drugs, then it's not likely that that day was the first time he ever took drugs. And unless someone jammed the drugs into him, then they have nothing to do with it being a homicide.

If Mr. Houston had an enlarged heart, he probably had the enlarged heart for months or years. And it's not a homicide by way of an enlarged heart.

He was tasered, had "difficulty breathing" (sound familar?), and died.
After Houston was zapped three times by the Taser, he appeared to gasp for breath, and CPR was administered by an officer and EMS employees. He later died...

Do you think that Taser International will come right out and state that tasers, when used on people that may be under the influence of drugs, have an unacceptable risk of death ?

Do you think that Taser International will come right out and explain why tasers, that they have repeatedly claimed have no effect on the heart, somehow find the weaknesses in anyone's heart - weaknesses not otherwise not known until post-taser, postmortem?

So the ruling's wording defies logic. If it's a homicide, then it was caused by the taser. The other elements (drugs, heart condition) can be listed as contributing factors. But it's the taser that killed him; on that day, at that time.

Taser "associated" death rate per month - up to August 2010

Click image for a larger view.
The trend line is a 12-month running average.
Recent months (June 2010 to present) show a disturbing increase.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Are you getting this?

Acting Chief Patrick McMahon would not comment. ... Sgt. Mike Marino told The Middletown Press the 17-year-old student was stunned to cause pain and not to incapacitate him.

"To cause pain."

Yes indeed. This is the role of the police (?), to cause pain.

Think about it.

Taser associated death: inconclusive findings

If someone is killed by a taser, the taser would leave few if any postmortem clues.

Everett, WA - The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s announced Monday afternoon that an autopsy had not revealed the cause of death of a Sultan man who was Tasered by sheriff’s deputies over the weekend in Gold Bar. A spokeswoman for the ME’s office said medical examiners had completed an examination on the body of 25-year old Adam Colliers who died Sept 4th at Valley General Hospital after being involved in a scuffle with county sheriff's deputies in which he was shocked with a Taser weapon. The spokeswoman said, “Cause and manner of death are pending further studies.

This is the same conclusion that a different medical examiner’s office reached recently in the death of a Spanaway man. On Tuesday of last week a man from Spanaway, WA died after police used a Taser weapon on him in a similar situation to that of Colliers in Gold Bar. The Medical Examiner’s office in that case has ruled cause of death for the 27-year old Spanaway man as “inconclusive” with more tests pending.

The 25-year old Colliers died suddenly after being shocked with a police Taser weapon in the early hours of Saturday morning. He simply stopped breathing according to officers making the arrest. Colliers was the 2nd young man in the region to die in one week after being Tasered in a confrontation with police. ...

When these deaths occur in clumps, it's impossible to accept the insane explanations. The obvious truth about taser safety becomes obvious, even for the less sensitive observers.

Taser International is screwed.

No wonder the idiot Taser fan-boys and professional spokespuppets are keeping a lower profile since, oh, about May 2010. Never have so many been quite so exposed as being so completely in the wrong.

Tasers-R-safe ...my ass.

Taser burns indicate false claims about taser current, voltage

Taser International claims that "the taser" (they mean the X26) emits a current of only 2.1 mA "average". They also claim that the subject "only" (FFS!) receives about 1200 volts (a random value that changes with each false claim) of the 50,000 volt peak output. They also claim that the output is very low duty cycle, and that pigs can fly.

Basic EE: 2.1 mA times 1200 volts is not more than about 2.5 watts. Peak. "Low duty cycle." Presumably distributed between two locations. About one watt per dart-on-skin location.

Using this information these false and misleading claims from Taser International, one would never expect to see any burning or significant heating effects from a taser.

Cases reported to Jury Verdict Research in Horsham, Pa., which doesn’t receive information on all cases, show that of 16 lawsuits filed that involve excessive force and Tasers... ...settled, one for $750,000 for an Orlando student who was burned and suffered permanent scarring... ... $1.08 million for an Arkansas man who was burned... ...an Albuquerque, N.M., man was awarded $307,030 for his burns...

How do you tell that a stungun salesman is lying?
His mouth is moving.

[H/T K]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What if... The death rate PER DEPLOYMENT of the X26 is about twice that of the M26?

What if the death rate, on a per deployment basis (everything else being equal), of the newer 2003-era X26 taser is about twice that of the older 1999-era M26 taser?

Hey! I'm not saying it is.

I'm just asking What if...?


Taser International admits that tasers can kill

One comment left at The Raw Story article [LINK] is worth highlighting:

[Formatted for clarity, emphasis added, original available at above link.]

A new Taser International Training Bulletin was quietly released on May 1, 2010 on its website. The language in the new bulletin is much stronger; the meaning more overt, but it is proof positive that for the first time the company is admitting its electronic guns can cause deadly cardiac and metabolic effects.

This is ironic and contradictory, considering the company spent ten days trying to discredit Judge Thomas Braidwood who made the same conclusion in his Inquiry Commission report in Vancouver, Canada. How can Taser International justify wasting Canadian court time and subverting our system of accountability, while at the same time they are telling their trainers and other insiders that the weapons are more dangerous than they ever admitted before?

How can our police justify the continued use of the devices when they compare what they were told by Taser International a decade ago, with what the manufacturer now recognizes as very real risks to human health and what could now carry considerable [additional] legal liability, if nothing is done to acknowledge this new development?

This new Bulletin goes further than last fall's warning about the avoidance of chest shots. Taser International said then, that they simply did this, so officers could "avoid the controversy" of having to try to explain why a suspect dies in a Taser-related incident. The controversy was that it can't be proven if their weapons contribute to fatal cardiac events, not that people actually DO die because of Taser shocks. That is a subtle but crucial difference.

The new Training Bulletin is currently on Taser International's website, although acquiring the details is difficult. It is buried in a 458 Megabyte document! It takes 35-minutes to download! The salient points can be found in the Cardiac section on pages 22 to 30, in the PowerPoint presentation on the X-26 model.

Here are some direct quotes I have pulled out from the Bulletin's PowerPoint presentation:

"The risk of an ECD application having a negative effect on a person's heart rate and/or rhythm is not zero."

(In other words, cardiac capture CAN happen)

"The risk of an ECD causing cardiac arrest in humans from VENTRICULAR FIBRILLATION is sufficiently remote that making accurate estimates is very difficult."

(Thus, though rare, VF can happen from ECD strikes-- something Taser International has denied until now)

"Experts have indentified heart-to-dart distance as being a key determining factor in whether an ECD can affect the heart."

(Darts landing closer to the heart can affect it-- possibly adversely!)

"The further an ECD dart is away from the heart, the lower the risk of affecting the heart."

(Again, an admittance that the heart can be affected adversely)

"When possible avoiding chest shots with ECDs reduces the risk of affecting the heart and avoids the controversy about whether ECDs do or do not affect the human heart."

(Last Fall's red-herring warning about 'controversy' aside, it is now implicit that if you avoid chest shots, you will reduce cardiac dangers.)

"The available human data directly contradicts animal studies and does not reveal evidence of breathing impairment or respiratory acidosis."

(Another bit of trickery-- the 'available human data' is biased-- taken from Taser International's own paid researchers, while the 'animal studies' (pig studies from Kumar at U of T and Walters at Cook County Trauma Centre) are derived independently. Also, what about metabolic acidosis? That is conveniently side-stepped).

"The ECD can produce physiologic or metabolic effects."

(Like the aforementioned concern of metabolic acidosis, this is an admittance that lower PH levels in the blood from Taser shocks, can cause the muscles in the chest to stop working-- which can lead to heart failure. The frequency of the Taser waveform causes 'fibrillation', which produces lactic acid, which floods the bloodstream, leading to acidosis, which can be deadly, especially with prolonged 'applications').

"Reasonable effort should be made to minimize the number of ECD exposure and resulting physiologic and metabolic effects."

(That's because there are consequences of the number and duration of stuns, causing serious and possibly deadly changes to body chemistry; in early promotional material, Taser International wrote, "The rapid work cycle instantly depletes the attacker's blood sugar level by converting it to lactic acid..." That IS metabolic acidosis, something Taser International later claimed to be impossible. It now appears they have changed their tune again. They didn't pull one vial of blood for acidosis testing with the one pig and five dogs tested before they went to market with the M-26).

"ECD use has not been scientifically tested on pregnant women, the infirm, the elderly, small children and low body-mass index (BMI) persons, ECD Use on these individuals could increase the risk of death or serious injury."

(That risk of death is mentioned again; this warning is a far cry from the company's first promotional material that said Tasers are "non-lethal, with the stopping power of a .38... safe to use... on any attacker").

"Any physiologic or metabolic change may cause or contribute to death or serious injury."

(A chicken-or-egg scenario-- if deadly metabolic change is brought on by Taser shocks, is it the weapons or the metabolic changes that may lead to serious injury or death? IE: It wasn't the snake that killed the man-- it was the effects of venom).

Also in the SAFETY fine print, some oxymorons, and 'washing-of-hands' of liability:

"Disregarding this information could result in death or serious injury..."

(And yet...)

"These warnings are state of the art but cannot address all possible ECD application circumstances or permutations."

(User beware!)

"These warnings do not create a standard for care."

"Law enforcement agencies are force tools experts and are solely responsible for their own guidance... Taser has no power or authority to mandate or require guidance, set policy, require training or establish standards of care or conduct."

(Use at your own risk... and the risk of endangering anyone you use it on)

"Incapacitation involves risks that a person may get hurt or die."

(So Taser stuns can kill!)

"The signal word WARNING indicates a hazardous situation which, if not avoided or heeded, could result in death or serious injury."

(That seems plain enough)

"The ECD can produce physiologic or metabolic effects, which include changes in: acidosis, adrenergic states, blood pressure... heart rate and rhythm..."

"Risks of severe acidosis and cardiac arrest may exist prior to, during or after law enforcement intervention or ECD use."

(A bolder admittance-- again in the fine print-- there are risks of cardiac arrest during ECD use... and of course acidosis is generally a delayed response to shock, not instantaneous...)

"Recommend all Taser ECD users conduct their own research, analysis and evaluation."

(Above is my personal favorite from page 8 of the X-26 Powerpoint found in the new Training Manual. It is a real cop-out-- as one would think the manufacturer would have conducted all neccessary research before the devices were marketed, and that the user shouldn`t be expected to conduct the research! Verify safety claims-- sure-- but actually DO the research?).

So in summary: Taser International and so-called "experts" such as their minion "Dr." (LOL) Mark W. Kroll were WRONG, dead wrong, when they made persistent claims that tasers could not affect the heart and carried no risk of death.

We bloggers and campaigners were correct when we pointed to the blatantly-obvious real-world evidence and stated that tasers are not as safe as was being claimed at the time.

They were wrong. We were right. People were killed. Many. Probably hundreds.

Here's the tragic punchline. A long time ago it was reported that about 95% of law enforcement agencies (the ones that have tasers), are using Taser Use Policies that can be traced back to Taser International.

Not The New Taser International, but the old one that claimed that repeatedly claimed that tasers-R-safe.

So almost all the currently-in-use Taser Use Policies are based on lies. They're all defective.

How many have been updated? Very few. Canada. Palo Alto. A few other places.

People will continue to be killed where there is no intention by the naive policeman to kill.

If someone dies at the other end of your taser wires, you'd better be prepared to justify it as a lawful and moral killing.

What a fricken mess.

Raw Story: "Analysis: Taser-related deaths in US accelerating"

... Truth Not Tasers, which maintains an extensive list of deaths linked to conducted energy weapons going back to the 1980s, says Colliers is the 507th person in [North America] to die in incidents linked to the weapons. ...
[LINK] [via TNT]

Probably time for me to update my chart...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tasered, "wasn't breathing", died. Deja vu

UPDATE: Adam Colliers [LINK]

Prediction: it was probably a hit from an X26 Taser, with a transcardiac vector.

A 25-year old Sultan man is dead after a Taser shock during an encounter with Snohomish County sheriff's deputies. ... After the man was hit, the deputies found he wasn't breathing. They began CPR and called for medical aid. The man was taken to a hospital but could not be revived. This is the second time in a week that a man has died in Western Washington after being shocked by a Taser. A 27-year-old stopped breathing in Spanaway on Tuesday during an encounter with Pierce County police.

Stopped breathing.

Sound familiar?

Conclusion: tasers can kill.

Anyone that denies this obvious fact is either ill-informed, misled or an evil liar.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tasered, "stopped breathing", died. Sound familiar?

... A Taser brand stun gun was used to subdue the man, who died. The News Tribune reports paramedics were called when he stopped breathing but he could not be revived. ...

Stopped breathing.

False claims

The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based TASER International stands by its product, stating that the energy emitted by the Taser does not affect internal organs. Rather, the tool’s energy follows the grain of a human’s muscle, impacting sensory motion and motor control. According to the company there has never been a proven case of a death directly caused by a Taser.

Three claims.

All three claims are false.

These sorts of false claims enhance the liability of Taser International.

"Success" and failure - putting things into perspective

Taser International was recently celebrating the sale of about 2700 potentially-lethal X26 tasers to Texas. This was reported to be one of their largest sales ever. If we assume that the selling price was about $1000 each (probably a bit less), and generously assume that their gross margin is 40% (please, stop laughing...), then they stand to make a gross profit of about $1M (gross profit because they essentially never make net profits).

Compare the numbers:

One lawsuit recently cost them about $3M. One lawsuit. [LINK] An Taser International didn't settle for any other reason than the cold hard fact that they are as liable as hell. And they knew it. They were headed for a loss. So they caved and settled.

And now...
The parents of a mentally ill Sonoma County man who died after a sheriff's deputy shot him with a Taser are suing the manufacturer of the stun gun in federal court, claiming the weapon is unreasonably dangerous and unfit for use on human beings. Nathan Vaughn, 39, had been fighting with his father on Dec. 20, 2008 when his mother called deputies to come to their Larkfield home. When they arrived the fight was over and Vaughn had retreated into the rear of the house. A deputy entered and fired his Taser at least three times into Vaughn's chest, according to the lawsuit. Vaughn had a heart attack and died less than an hour later. ...

Taser International typically has several dozen lawsuits against it at any point in time. And their previously-impenetrable legal defense schemes lie shattered.

Do the math.

Friday, September 3, 2010

In other words: 87-year-old Phyllis A. Owens was killed by the taser

Rick Bella, The Oregonian (September 2, 2010)
Cause of death for an 87-year-old Boring woman who collapsed after being hit by a police stun gun is officially listed as chronic heart disease, the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office said Thursday. However, Dr. Larry Lewman, deputy state medical examiner, said the manner of death for Phyllis A. Owens, who had a pacemaker since 2007, was receiving a 50,000-volt jolt from a Taser fired by a Clackamas County sheriff's deputy. "The cause of her death is hypertensive cardio-vascular disease," Lewman said. "But it occurred because of the electric stun gun, which probably intercepted a pacemaker wire."
[via TNT] [LINK]

Anyone can play semantic games with the wording of this case.

But the plain facts are that the taser was the immediate cause of death.

(I'm using the word cause in the sense of cause-and-effect. Medical Examiners sometimes use the word in a way where the meaning has been twisted out of shape.)

The lady had cardiac conditions, was tasered, and died at that time because of the taser. She might have lived for many more years if she hadn't been tasered.

The cardiac conditions are part of the landscape, essentially a given, with an elderly person.

And if the taser has no effect on the heart (I'm quoting "Dr." Mark Kroll, who is wrong), then why are cardiac conditions such a big deal with tasers?

This case is clear cut evidence that tasers DO affect the heart and CAN cause death.

If the police hadn't been misled about "taser safety", would they have used it in this case?

Tasering children

Crime Scene KC:

In theory, you could Taser a fifth-grader ... but the cops might object

A Florida man is accused of using a stun gun to threaten a fifth-grader, police say. The man allegedly thought the boy had been bullying his son and confronted the victim as he was leaving school. posted by James Hart on Thursday, September 02, 2010 [LINK]

Comment [ibid]:

Ok, let me get this strait. If an Officer uses a stun gun on a child its A-OKAY, he was acting withing his/her role to subdue a child. If an adult does this then its a felony count of child abuse.Something wrong with this picture?
Cops using a stun gun on a children:
here <- 4 links to other similar articles

Taser International has clearly stated that children are fair game for tasers. So long as they weigh more than 60 pounds.

Because if the child weighs 59 pounds... ...they might die (?).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Paramedic charged for interfering with police tasering

AP reports that 31-year-old paramedic Jodi Kerr-Rummel, of Derry, PA, has been ordered to stand trial on charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing justice because police say she interfered when an officer tried to use a stun gun on a suicidal woman. [LINK]

Local police, the local DA (prosecution service), the judge, and local political leaders should Google "Braidwood". If they would allow the concept that tasers are occasionally and randomly deadly into their minds then perhaps they'd understand the paramedic's point of view.

I hope that other local paramedics in western Pennsylvania will support Kerr-Rummel in this matter.

Also, perhaps the local paramedics should stay well away from all incidents where the local taser-happy police are still on-scene. No sense taking any chances that the skills, world-views and training of the paramedics might clash with the views of the police. Best to give them room and not run the risk of interfering.

Same old thing: Tasered, difficulty breathing, dead within minutes

At least eight taser "associated" deaths during August. The monthly death rate is showing an obvious increase. Late last year it had shown a hint of a drop-off (from seven per month to five or six) after Taser International blinked and advised police to avoid aiming at the chest. Perhaps the message has worn off.

A 27-year old man stopped breathing and died after a Pierce County sheriff's deputy stunned him with a Taser.
[LINK] [via TNT]