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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Whose decision is it anyway?

"We know a Taser can indeed kill an adult," Colorado Senator Hagedorn said. "We need to have a thorough discussion about the use of Tasers in our schools," he said, adding that discussion should occur at the school districts, not in the legislature.

I could not disagree more strongly - this is not a discussion for the school districts! This is a discussion that needs to go further by far. The top lawmakers in both of our countries have long been ignoring this issue and allowing police, school districts and town councils to make these lethal decisions, often without any public consultation. Most of the people who comprise these councils and committees would be uniquely unqualified to discuss tasers with any knowledge.

Our government is no more qualified to make this decision; however, it is in a position to facilitate a wider forum and public consultation. One that isn't driven by the manufacturer or by any police or police association. Only through full public consultation, including citizens who are not on the same government's payroll nor biased in favour of the manufacturer or law enforcement: only then can any discussion be considered "thorough" and only then can we consider the issue completely and intelligently.

I wonder who made the decision this month to equip all seven El Paso County school resource officers with tasers. The Sherriff's office cited the taser's main purpose is to deal with people coming into the schools - intruders. "But a Taser might be used against an armed student," said a spokesperson. From what I've seen of children being tasered, an armed student may mean "any student with at least one arm".

Today, I received a message from a stranger who said: "I did not even know that people could be seriously injured or die from those things. I can see why you would be angry about tasers."

I'm afraid that this seems to be Joe Public's common reaction. And that, friends, is part of what drives me here every day. I'm here to help people see the other side - the dark side. As of today, my blog has had 1,000 hits and I hope that many of my visitors have gone away somewhat the wiser. Thanks to all who enter - I'll be here for awhile and I hope you'll come again.

New Jersey panel to study police use of non-lethal ammo

July 31, 2007
Rick Hepp, newjersey.com

According to this article, New Jersey is the only state that prohibits police from using "less-lethal" weapons such as a stun gun or Taser.

The Attorney General wants an advisory group to "recommend whether the state's current use of force policy should be revised to authorize the use of less lethal ammunition or stun guns in specific circumstances where deadly force might not be justified under current law. The group, which will have at least one public hearing, is expected to issue a report by December 1st."

It will be co-chaired by a retired Superior Court appellate judge, the executive director of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, a couple of prosecutors and the executive director of the Mental Health Association of Essex County.

What about an addictions expert? A social worker? A human rights advocate? A risk manager? This tree needs to grow branches. Others would - and should - have something to add to this discussion. And they should not be made to come up with a 5-minute presentation at a public hearing. They should be at this table.

You can bet the manufacturer will jump at this chance to help the group make its decision. (The manufacturer was granted "standing" at the Inquest into my brother's death, if you can believe it.) There is no way this little news item has escaped them.

I can see the headline now: "Stocks soar as tasers jolt all 52 states." That's what it's all about, you know.

Officers cleared in soccer scuffle

Jul 31, 2007
Betsy Powell and Daniel Dale, Toronto Star

Monday, July 30, 2007

Police 'conduct of the highest standard' at soccer melee: chief

July 30, 2007
CBC News

"Players not charged with assaulting police so games could go on, says Blair"

"... Responding to a media question as to why no charges were laid against the players if officers were assaulted, Blair said police "exercised discretion" in order not to disrupt the tournament."

Town (Brattleboro) suspends taser use

July 30, 2007
Associated Press

"After police stunned two protesters with Tasers, the town has suspended the use of the stun guns while it reviews police policy."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Man dies after struggle with police (Phoenix)

July 29, 2007
Paul Davenport, The Associated Press

This is a most disturbing story. And I know many will think that grandpa had it coming. However, his egregious actions notwithstanding, he should not have died. The man obviously needed help of another kind.

Ronald Marquez, 49

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Edmonton police to tape Taser use

July 28, 2007
Elise Stolte, CanWest News Service

Friday, July 27, 2007

Brattleboro (Vermont) - Rescue Volunteer Suspended For Criticizing Taser Use

July 27, 2007

"A volunteer emergency medical technician who spoke out at Tuesday's Selectboard meeting against police use of Tasers on nonviolent protesters was suspended pending an investigation, said David Dunn, executive director of the emergency ambulance service."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fulton County deputy fired for using Taser

July 26, 2007
Rhonda Cook, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Autopsy of the latest Taser victim expected today

July 26, 2007
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Carlos Rodriguez, 27, UNARMED

Sheriff deputy was involved in previous Taser death

July 26, 2007
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Carlos Rodriguez, 27, UNARMED

Brattleboro (Vermont) police chief to investigate Tasering

July 26, 2007
Susan Smallheer, Rutland Herald

Stunning oversight

July 26, 2007
Alan Young, NOW Magazine, Toronto

Despite the fact that most British cops still patrol without a gun, I don't think there's a compelling case for disarming our police. And if cops are authorized to discharge a firearm to subdue a belligerent and aggressive target, why should we object to the use of tasers?

It's a question we should be addressing following reports last week that our cops used tasers against some angry soccer players from Chile.

It's generally accepted that prolonged or continuous exposure to the charge of the taser, a conducted energy weapon, can lead to serious medical complications, including respiratory failure.

In "touch-stun" mode, the weapon sends a 50,000-volt shock that causes overwhelming but momentary pain, while in "probe" mode it can fire dart-like electrodes up to 9 metres that override the target's sensory and nervous systems, resulting in temporary paralysis.

Amnesty International has documented 245 taser-related deaths worldwide, 15 of them in Canada, since 2001. No doubt these numbers are troubling, but the firearm is clearly still more dangerous than the taser.

Although data are difficult to obtain, it appears that on average police shootings kill 10 Canadians every year; 16 deaths a year occurred in 2004 and 2005.

The numbers actually mean very little, as the real question is whether the infliction of deadly force was justifiable in the circumstances.

The Criminal Code says little about police use of force. Use "reasonable force" is the Code's only sage advice. A brief perusal of the June 2007 report from the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP shows that some officers have a very unreasonable idea of what is reasonable.

The commission condemned the force for using attack dogs and tasers in a casual, routine manner. In one case, a police service dog was sent in to attack a fleeing suspect hiding in a bush despite the fact that officers were close by who could easily have caught the suspect if they had not been so averse to running.

In another, a short, intoxicated and belligerent woman was tasered twice in touch-stun mode after she had already been handcuffed. Apparently, the suspect was reluctant to enter the jail cell, and police tasered her as if "using a cattle prod" to move her into the cell.

The Special Investigations Unit in Ontario has been busy looking into fatalities and serious injuries caused by police use of force in the past few years. Since 2004, the unit has reviewed over 550 cases, and just last month it laid charges of assault against three Halton police officers for the alleged tasering of a 79-year-old man who fell and broke his hip.

But out of hundreds of cases, only eight charges against police have been laid as a result of the investigations.

The idealist will say the low charge rate demonstrates that most officers exercise good judgment and reasonable force, while the cynic will say the SIU is just a bunch of cops whitewashing their colleagues' actions.

The credibility of the cynics' view was enhanced a couple of weeks back when the provincial ombudsman, André Marin, was moved to initiate an investigation into the SIU after hearing numerous "serious allegations" that the unit was "not doing its job properly."

Enforcing the criminal law is not an exercise in etiquette and grace. Shit happens, and people get hurt whether the police are bare-fisted, wielding a baton, discharging a firearm or sparking a taser. So it is impossible to take an absolute position on the justifiability of packing a taser.

The focus of concern should always be on the mechanisms for accountability when someone claims that the police acted like bullies with dangerous toys.

If there is a mechanism for independently investigating allegations of police misconduct, with the possibility of real disciplinary sanctions, it's more likely that officers will act reasonably in the exercise of their duties.

As it stands, the unfortunate reality is that our current mechanisms for policing the police are woefully inadequate. Investigations are usually haphazard and incomplete, and when on rare occasions misconduct is found, disciplinary sanctions are toothless.

After the RCMP Commission found that an officer had used the taser like a cattle prod, the official response amounted to no more than an apology and some retraining of the aggressive officer. This is nonsense. If the tasering of a handcuffed woman was unjustified, then this particular act of policing constitutes the criminal offence of assault, and as a general rule, offering an apology does not give most people a free pass from prosecution.

So the real problem is not the weapon per se, but the lack of courage and resolve of those with the authority to punish taser-happy officers.


July 26, 2007
Gayle Reaves, Fort Worth Weekly

The chorus of voices calling for reform of Taser policies is growing — and so is the list of deaths.

Fulton County deputy fired for using Taser

July 26, 2007
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Colorado officer injured girl with taser

A veteran officer with the Broomfield Police Department who shot a child in the eye with a Taser gun while he was off-duty pleaded guilty to a charge of child abuse, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.

Brattleboro (Vermont) - Taser use by cops blasted

July 25, 2007
Bob Audette, Reformer

Today's question: Is it appropriate to use a Taser on non-violent protesters?

"All they had to do was take our water away from us and we would have been gone in 48 hours" said one protestor. Another said: "We were surprised that they were going to resort to such extreme tactics so quickly."

Norcross man dies after Taser shock

July 25, 2007
By George Chidi, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Carlos Rodriguez, 27, UNARMED

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

July 2004 - Inquest to be held in the death of Jerry Knight

On July 19, 2004, two days after the death of Jerry Knight, the Chief Coroner for Ontario announced that an inquest would be held to review the events surrounding the death. At the time of the announcement, the autopsy had been completed and the results had been forwarded to the SIU. The announcement noted that the date, time and location for the inquest would be announced following the completion of the investigation by the Special Investigations Unit.

In September 2004, although they said that the actions of the police appeared to have played a role in Mr. Knight's death, the SIU cleared the officer of any wrongdoing and Jerry Knight's death was blamed on cocaine and not the taser.

Curious as to why THREE YEARS have passed since the Chief Coroner announced his intent to hold an inquest, I sent a written inquiry to his office. The reply I received came from the Regional Supervising Coroner, Central Region (Brampton) who wrote the following:

"To date, the announced inquest has not taken place due to constraints relating to manpower and resources within our office. It is our intention to proceed with this inquest as soon as we are able."

Cops tortured suspect with Tasers, lawyer says

July 24, 2007
Gary Craig, Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, New York)

Tasers off the table for Northfield (Vermont) cops

July 24, 2007
Peter Hirschfeld, The Barre Montpelier Times Argus (Vermont)

"Officials here are still dealing with the fallout from confusion over how the Taser guns were acquired without public notification or input."

Guelph police chief wants tasers on every officer's belt

July 23, 2007
Thana Dharmarajah, Guelph Mercury

Guelph Police Chief Rob Davis says he'd like to see stun guns in the hands of all front-line officers.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Missouri man dies in confrontation with police

July 21, 2007
Joyce Tsai, The Kansas City Star

Jermaine Thompson, 36, UNARMED

Melee a global dust-up

July 21, 2007
Morgan Campbell and Daniel Dale, Toronto Star

Tasered driver gets reduced sentence

July 21, 2007
Tony Blais, The Edmonton Sun

During the arrest Hector Patricio Jara, 22, was kicked in the head, hit twice with a TASER and had several fingers broken.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sterling Sanderman said the kick might have been "a cheap shot," but ruled it wasn't excessive and said he had no issue with the broken fingers since Jara was resisting. However, regarding the use of the TASER, Sanderman said he found the constable had "personalized" the events and did not use his restraint.

Chattanooga police question Taser malfunctions

July 20, 2007
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga police officials have asked Taser International to explain why 20 percent of their department's stun guns are malfunctioning.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Chilean government complains

July 20, 2007
Canadian Press

Firm but fair, says Blair

July 20, 2007
Brett Clarkson, Toronto Sun

Outrage over police methods in soccer brawl, but T.O. chief says reaction 'firm but fair'.

FIFA Chilean soccer team member subdued by Toronto police taser

July 20, 2007
Canadian Press

A member of the Chilean delegation was subdued by taser during the brawl.

Canadian Press photographer Nathan Denette witnessed the post-match incident outside the stadium and said it was like a "big dogfight." He said at one point, "fists were flying everywhere" after players saw that one of their own had been tasered.

A FIFA spokesman said early Friday that no arrests had been made.

RCMP often rewrote critical reports, watchdog says

July 20, 2007
Tim Naumetz, CanWest News Service

In one case, however, where an RCMP officer used a Taser stun gun on a handcuffed woman in a police station, the RCMP commissioner of the day agreed with the commission's findings that use of the Taser in that situation was "totally inappropriate" and denied the officer access to Tasers until he finished a new training course in their use.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Edmonton to add taser cams

July 19, 2007
Brookes Merritt, Sun Media

"The theory is that once they [the suspects] realize they are being recorded they are less likely to fib about being mistreated by an officer."

Perhaps once the officers know the incident is being recorded, they (the police) are less likely to experience "excited delirium"!!

Controversial Edmonton cop back in trouble

July 19, 2007
Andrew Hanon, Sun Media

"Wasylyshen earned notoriety for repeatedly using his stun gun on an unconscious teen (Randy Fryingpan) in 2002. Charges for breaching conditions of bail against Randy Fryingpan were stayed in 2005 after Judge Jack Easton labelled Wasylyshen's behaviour while arresting him "cruel and unusual." Fryingpan, who was 16 at the time, had been drinking and smoking pot with three other youths when Wasylyshen and two other cops found him. The teen was passed out in a car when Wasylyshen zapped him the first time. Wasylyshen used the stun gun five more times on the youth as he hauled Fryingpan out of the car. Despite the judge's ruling, Crown prosecutors who reviewed the case decided not to pursue criminal charges against Wasylyshen because they believed Wasylyshen was justified in using his stun gun."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tasers in cross hairs again

July 17, 2007
John Ingold, Denver Post

Albert Romero, 47, UNARMED

"When you pull a Taser on someone and use it, you just never know how they're going to react to it. It could be lethal." - Jack Wilson, father of 22-year-old Ryan Wilson who died after he was tasered for the crime of running from police.

I agree - using a taser is like playing Russian Roulette.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Man dies in Denver after police use taser

July 16, 2007
Megan Bengtson, 9News, Colorado

Albert Romero, 47, UNARMED

This is the 7th death in Colorado since 2002.

Records show frequent firings of Taser

July 16, 2007
Rhonda Cook - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Fulton deputy's weapon used more than 30 times in seven months

Previous Report:
Fulton seizes its jail's Tasers
June 29, 2007
Rhonda Cook - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Toronto taser plan on hold, more information needed: Police board

July 11, 2007
Tamara Cherry, Toronto Star

Toronto police Chief William Blair's plan to equip all officers on the street with Taser guns was put on hold Tuesday, when the police board said it wouldn't go to the province for funding without more information.

Deputies cleared in death of Daniel Young

Meanwhile, down in Largo, Flordida, the State Attorney's office ruled Tuesday that deputies’ actions were not the cause of the May 5 death of 33 year old Daniel Bradley Young. Looks excessive to me:

Officer A applied his taser to Young’s back, Officer B deployed her taser to Young’s lower back, Officer C used her taser to “drive stun” Young on the stomach. Officers D, E and F arrived and Young was tasered additional times on the chest, shoulder, thigh and knees. Finally, when Young was handcuffed and rolled onto his back, they realized he was in medical distress. Young was transported to Largo Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy found several puncture marks on the body consistent with marks that would be left behind from a Taser. The medical examiner concluded that Young died as a result of his preexisting condition of excited delirium syndrome due to cocaine toxicity.

“In this case, the use of force resulting in blunt trauma, including the use of a Taser or restraint, individually or collectively contributed to but did not cause the death of Daniel Young,” the medical examiner said.

I wonder if the Medical Examiner referred to his manufacturer-supplied pamphlet on excited delirium to help with his diagnosis.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Here's what our future looks like

July 09, 2007: 11:30 AM EST

Shockwave Arrives At Annual TASER Conference

"Addressing an audience of several hundred law enforcement and military officers, [Rick] Smith [CEO] explained that when activated, Shockwave units saturate an area with TASER Neuro Muscular Incapacitation (NMI), providing the first area-target system capable of not only denying personnel but also incapacitating persons utilizing reversible non-lethal effects by delivering five seconds of NMI, much like the current TASER X26 electronic control device."

It looks like good news for the Taser manufacturer's stock and that, after all, is what it's all about. Taser advanced today on a sharp increase in volume. The stock traded with uncertainty during the first 90 minutes of the session with a subdued volume level before the climb. At 12:35 pm, shares of Taser traded at a mark of $15.29. This was a gain of $1.23 for the day. The stock rose above near-term resistance.
What the hell is the world coming to?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Toronto seeking approval to equip ALL OFFICERS with Tasers

July 7, 2007
Betsy Powell, Toronto Star

"The chief disagrees with the recommendation from a coroner's jury that the tasers, if issued, require "full accountability features including the video recorder." He cites the size, the cost and the fragility of the video equipment, which will "only add to the already high rate of unit failure." He says 25 per cent of Toronto's tasers have been returned to the manufacturer for replacement. In its most recent semi-regular bulletin, the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition referred to a website called www.truthnottasers.blogspot.com established by a Vancouver woman after her brother died in 2004 after police used a Taser."

Contrary to this article, while my brother died in Vancouver, I'm not a Vancouver woman. I'm an Ontario taxpayer. It's ironic that, if this $8.5 million taser purchase is approved, my tax dollars will help to finance it.

Anti-taser letter from Newark, California Chief of Police

What follows is a letter from Ray Samuels, Chief of Police of Newark, California to the City of Palo Alto Taser Task Force. Click on the link above to watch a video of the presentation of this letter earlier this year to the Taser Task Force. In the end, Palo Alto city council approved the use of tasers in a very narrow vote - 5 to 4 - but ONLY in situations where lethal force would otherwise be allowed. Thank you to Chief Samuels and Aram James for permission to post this important viewpoint.

The Newark Police Department has been plagued in recent years by an increasing number of assaults on police officers. These assaults are often extremely violent and have resulted in officer injuries. The department is constantly looking for ways to reduce the risk of injury to the officers and the community they protect. Advances in less lethal technology are of significant interest to the department. In the recent past we have made a variety of less lethal devices available to officers including the flexible baton (bean bag) and rapid fire OC distribution weapons. Electro-muscular disruption (EMD) technology is also of interest to the department. The purpose of this document is to share with you my thoughts related to the use of conducted energy devices by the Newark Police Department.

Before I do that, I believe it is appropriate to provide you with some information related to my professional and educational background. I have been a police officer for more than 32 years working in three different Bay Area agencies. I have worked in many uniformed and non-uniformed assignments as an officer, supervisor and manager; however my primary focus prior to my appointment to police chief was in the area of police misconduct/internal affairs investigations. I have an undergraduate degree from Golden Gate University and a graduate degree from San Diego State University. I am a graduate of the state of California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training Command College, the FBI National Academy, and the Senior Management Institute for Police, Boston, MA. Specific to less-lethal technology, I have twice attended symposiums on the topic sponsored by the United States Department of Justice. Most recently, I attended a symposium in Arlington, Virginia on April 4-5, 2005, which focused exclusively on conducted energy devices.

My interest in conducted energy devices has allowed me to assist other agencies refine their policies related to their use before the model policies drafted by the Police Executive Research Forum and the International Association of Chiefs of Police were available. That said, I want to make it clear that it is not my intention to directly or indirectly criticize or influence the policy of other law enforcement agencies. My jurisdiction is limited to the city of Newark, CA. Police Department. I fully understand that any use of force by law enforcement involves risk. It is the responsibility of the chief of police to manage that risk, and in doing so, the balance can result in differing views amongst reasonable people. I strive to stay abreast of all of the information available on the subject and anxiously await the latest independent scientific research into EMD technology. That said, I am steadfast in my refusal to modify my position on conducted energy devices primarily because the risk of unintended death is too high. I say primarily, because there are a host of conditions that breed a multitude of other concerns. For the purposes of this writing, I will assume these other concerns are mitigated with a fully developed use of force policy coupled with aggressive monitoring of all force applications by police employees.

For a conducted energy device to be useful, the threshold for use cannot be on a par with the threshold for the use of deadly force. And, in fact, it is almost universally agreed that these devices represent an unacceptable substitute for deadly force when deadly force is necessary and justified. Yet, the risk of death when a conducted energy device is applied properly and in accordance with the aforementioned model policies is too high. Some proponents argue that the risk of death from a conducted energy device is no higher than the risk associated with all other uses of force by the police. While I have not conducted research to support or deny this assertion, I am aware that the collection of use of force data is not uniform throughout the United States. In fact, many agencies only collect data in cases involving significant applications of force, if at all. Therefore, I suggest that this statement cannot be supported on a national level and I am unaware of any reports comparing the death rate in all police use of force cases to that of conducted energy devices.

In conclusion, I view the evolution of conducted energy devices and their use much the same as I view the evolution of the carotid restraint. Both had been around for a long period of time and both saw a dramatic upsurge in use as the number of violent assaults on officers increased. With increased use, law enforcement personnel and medical practitioners recognized a substantially higher risk of death, particularly when used on persons that have a predisposition to cardiac arrhythmias arising from alcohol or drug use, pre-existing heart disease or other genetic factors. It is interesting that more than a decade ago, most law enforcement agencies outlawed the use of the carotid restraint or placed it use on a level equivalent to the application of deadly force.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Trent Yohe death ruled homicide

July 6, 2007
Thomas Clouse, Spokesman Review
Spokane, Washington

UPDATE - July 7, 2007: Spokane police detectives will not seek criminal charges against the Spokane Valley police officers.

Dr. John Howard listed the cause of death as "Hypoxic encephalopathy with pneumonia; cardiac arrest with resuscitation; methamphetamine associated excited delirium with restraint stress; and contributory Atherosclerotic cardio vascular disease,” according to a member ME Office’s administrative staff. That essentially means Yohe died as a result of not getting enough oxygen to his brain through a combination of factors including how he was restrained, drugs in his system and heart disease."

Police identify Taser victim - Pasadena, California

July 6, 2007
Patricia Jiayi Ho, Whittier Daily News

Richard Baisner, 36, UNARMED

Though he was unarmed, Baisner's behavior justified the use of force, police said, adding that the taser is considered a non-lethal weapon.

British Columbia couple claim RCMP brutality, including use of a taser

A Vernon, British Columbia RCMP spokesperson says: "The file will end up in our office and it will be duly investigated."

Yes, we were afraid of that.

Farmington, Illinois council buys 2 tasers

July 4, 2007
Amber Krosel, The Journal Star (Illinois)

The Farmington Chief of Police says that the Illinois Training Board is adopting a policy on the escalation of the use of force. It will regulate the use of Tasers to start sometime after verbal commands but before pepper spray or police dog force.

This is the scariest policy I've ever seen. It's certainly the only one I've ever heard of that places taser use BEFORE pepper spray or police dog force and "sometime" after verbal commands.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Renewed plea for independent investigation into deaths in police custody

July 5, 2007
CKNW, Vancouver

The sister of a man who died after being stunned with a Vancouver police taser three years ago has renewed her plea for an independent body to investigate the deaths of people in police custody. Patti Gillman has been closely watching the Ian Bush inquest in Houston. Gillman has long been lobbying against the practice of police investigating themselves.

In May, a coroner's jury investigating the death of her brother --Robert Bagnell -- did not make any recommendations for changes in how police custody fatalities are reviewed. Gillman says she was disappointed to hear the coroner overseeing the Bush inquest has also decided not to factor that issue into his investigation.

In a statement on her blog, she's demanding changes at the federal level ... saying "only through unbiased police oversight will we ever hope to see a reduction in excessive force and corruption in Canadian police forces."

The inquest into the October, 2005 death of Ian Bush is expected to wrap up tomorrow.

The 22-year old mill worker was shot in the back of the head during a struggle with rookie officer Paul Koester at the Houston RCMP detachment.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Death by Electrocutioner

June 28, 2007
By Paul Rubin

In a worst-case scenario for stun guns, a Phoenix cop kills a suspect with an 84-second tasing. Apparently, Keith Graff didn't resist for the entire 84 seconds, or anything close to it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Update: The jury recommended that the RCMP install audio-video equipment in all detachments and that its use be mandatory. It also suggested that a police officer not be left alone with someone he or she had arrested. It proposed that RCMP members conduct an "annual self assessment" and have a "continuing education plan to maintain competency." No one was quite sure what that meant.

Our thoughts are with the family of Ian Bush this week, as they continue the agony of the reconvened Coroner's Inquest into their son and brother's death. In case you've been living on a deserted island and haven't heard, 22-year-old Ian Bush was shot in the back of the head in the Houston (British Columbia) RCMP detachment on Oct. 29, 2005 by Const. Paul Koester after being arrested for the crime of holding an open bottle of beer in public and providing false information to the police.

The RCMP's version of events does NOT compute and it has only become more bizarre this week.

This entry has nothing to do with tasers. This is, instead, all about the practice in Canada of police investigating themselves and each other. This is a public service announcement. Only through unbiased police oversight will we ever hope to see a reduction in excessive force and corruption in Canadian police forces - from muncipal police straight up to the beleaguered RCMP. As Ian Bush's sister Andrea said, "If the police knew there would be a real investigation, then that would stand as a warning to them." And, if a Coroner's Inquest is *not* the forum for this urgent debate, then what is?! Knock! Knock! ... Who's there? ... Is Stephen Harper in? We, the families of people who have died in police custody, need to see him about a small matter of national urgency. Another sister of a person slain in police custody questions Mr. Harper's bias in favour of the law enforcers. Knock! Knock! ... Who's there? ... Is the opposition home?

Another issue that we strongly agree with is that families of people who die in custody of police in this country must be provided with funding so that they may be properly represented by legal counsel. The Globe and Mail's Gary Mason puts it this way: "Here we have this contemptible situation where Mrs. Bush is cashing in RRSPs to finance her fight on her son's behalf and yet the Department of Justice and the B.C. Attorney-General's Ministry have three lawyers here, all working on behalf of the RCMP, all at taxpayers' expense ... The entire onus for getting at the truth in this sordid affair is on the Bush family. And that's wrong. That's not how the system should work." BINGO!!

If the jury is unable to agree on any other LIFE-SAVING recommendations, the least it must do is recommend that Mrs. Bush’s LIFE SAVINGS be returned to her.

Globe and Mail reporter Gary Mason has been on this case from the beginning like a pitbull. Unfortunately, his reports are not available to non-Globe and Mail subscribers. HOWEVER, it takes less than a minute and a credit card number to create a free member account, which provides 14 days of unlimited access to everything on their site. Before the end of the 14 days, you can simply cancel your account. I strongly urge all of my readers to create an account and do a search for "Ian Bush" - you have to read this to believe it!!

What is happening in Houston, British Columbia this week should be sounding alarms across the country.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Taser Use on Children

What kind of police policy and government allows police to taser a child?! One has to wonder what police would have done if they didn't have the Tasers. Would they have shot these kids with service revolvers? I suspect not!
A 15-year-old boy in California was tasered last week after reportedly trying to run away from police.

In September 2006, Amnesty International condemned the repeated use of a Taser gun on a 17-year-old boy by RCMP officers at a house party in Hampton, New Brunswick.

In November 2005, Fort Myers, Florida police used their taser on an autistic 15-year-old when he was already down.

In June 2005, in Lorain, Ohio, police tasered a 12-year-old boy on a school bus for the crime of trying to steal another boy's CD case.

That same week, the Lorain police department said it was forced to use a Taser gun on an "unruly child" - a 16-year-old boy was tasered after an officer chased him from a fight.

In February 2005, a 14-year-old boy tasered at a group home in Chicago went into cardiac arrest. He did recover, physically at least.

In May 2004, a South Tucson, Arizona police sergeant was under investigation for firing his stun gun to subdue a handcuffed 9-year-old girl. The sergeant was one of at least two officers who responded to a call from the Arizona Children's Home, a school for special needs children. "It had to do with a runaway from the institution," the chief said. He declined to provide further details.

In January 2004, Miami police tasered a 12-year-old girl for the "crime" of skipping school, drinking and smoking. Good thing tasers weren't around when I was 12!!

A month earlier, Miami police also tasered a 6-year-old boy!!

An Edmonton police officer shocked a 15-year-old boy during a strip search in a police cell. The youth testified that the officer told him he was being zapped with the Taser because he had lied to police. The officer was found not guilty and charges were stayed against the youth. "By accusing, charging, detaining, strip-searching, convicting and punishing the boy before he was ever brought before the court, the police officer abused the power placed in his hands," the judge said in her 16-page ruling.

In October 2002, 16-year-old Randy Fryingpan was tasered seven times by an Edmonton police officer who used the taser to "roust" him when he - drunk and unconscious - failed to respond to police commands to exit his friend's car.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Police relying on Taser as a fix-all on the force

July 1, 2007
Jeremiah Stettler, The Salt Lake Tribune

"Like duct tape, the weapons have become a fix-all for potentially volatile situations."