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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pregnant woman tasered

August 30, 2007
WTSP Tampa Bay News, Florida

"She raised her arm to the deputy. The deputy felt threatened like she was going to hit him potentially," said Alachua County Sheriff's Lieutenant David Clark. Clark is a certified taser instructor with the Sheriff's Office. He says when he tasered her stomach, he didn't realize she was 8 months pregnant." The deputy is under investigation.

Taser's Product Warnings - Law Enforcement webpage says: persons who are physically infirm or pregnant are among those who may be at higher risk.

Family attacks inquest ruling on Taser death

August 30, 2007
Northern Echo, England

A Coroner's Inquest into the death of England's Brian Loan has concluded that his death was from natural causes.

Coroner Terence Carney said "It may be in five or ten years' time somebody may find a link, but no one has found one in this case." Mr. Loan's sister, Barbara Hodgson, said: "The evidence might not exist at the minute, but I am sure we will be proved right as more cases come to light."

She's right, you know. It's only a matter of time before the missing link is located. In the meantime, it's still Russian Roulette.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Taser paid lobbyist $120,000 in 2007

August 29, 2007
Associated Press

Taser use kills dog during police search

August 29, 2007
Daphne Larkin, Barre Montpelier Times Argus, Vermont

Police said they did not know why the dog died but it was shocked by the device more than once, they said. The first shock apparently wasn't effective to stop the dog so it was shocked more than once and the dog "stopped breathing."

A police spokesperson said police do not know if the dog had a medical condition that contributed to its death. "In this particular case with the dog, (Tasing) turned out to be lethal, and there wasn't any type of autopsy so we don't know why (the dog) died," he said.

They'd better do some toxicology testing on the poor dog to see if he was hopped up on drugs!

Animal deaths

A dog died in Vermont on August 9, 2007 when it was shocked more than once with a taser.

A bear died in Orlando, Florida on August 15, 2007 after police shocked it with a taser.

A dog died on June 8, 2007 after it was shocked with a police officer's Taser in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

A dog died on October 4, 2006 in Albany, New York after it was shocked at least twice with a police officer's Taser, one cycle lasting at least 30 continuous seconds. "When police stopped using the Taser, they saw the dog was dead." - Albany Democrat-Herald

A three year old bear died on May 21, 2006 in Seattle, Washington after it was shocked at least twice with a police officer's Taser.

A dog died on May 23, 2006 in Forth Worth, Texas after being shocked at least six times with a police officer's Taser.

A cow died on April 12, 2006 in Spokane Valley, Washington after it was zapped repeatedly with a police officer's Taser. No charges are pending against the cow's owner.

A research project being conducted by John Webster, professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has showed that Tasers can kill pigs.

A horse also died sometime over the last couple of years but I am unable to find the date and location details. I'll keep digging.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Victim’s sister speaks out against tasers in Britain

August 28, 2007
Neil McKay, The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The inquest into the October 11, 2006 death of Brian Loan in England is set to begin tomorrow. His sister, Barbara Hodgson, is expecting that the inquest will be told he died of natural causes. But she said that she would not accept the findings and fears more deaths will follow if officers are made to carry stun guns. Says Ms. Hodgson: “My brother had 50,000 volts pumped into him. How can anybody say that did not contribute to his death? If he died of heart failure, as the police say, then there is no doubt in my mind that his death was caused by what happened to him. To say his arrest and his death three days later were not linked beggars belief.”

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pittsburgh incident baffles police

August 25, 2007
Jill King Greenwood, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

An autopsy was performed on Chad Cekas yesterday. According to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office, the cause of death is pending the results of toxicology tests.

Pittsburgh police probing strange death

August 25, 2007
Michael A. Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pittsburgh man dies

August 24, 2007
Michael Hasch, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Chad Cekas, 27, unarmed

"A stun gun was used several times. It is not known why the man lost consciousness, but within minutes police officers on the scene were telling dispatchers that paramedics were urgently needed because they could find no pulse."

Chad Cekas died last night. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office will perform an autopsy today.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Summerside woman continues anti-Taser campaign

August 23, 2007
Nigel Armstrong, The Guardian, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Summerside woman continues anti-Taser campaign
Riki Bagnell, whose son Robert was Tasered and died in Vancouver, has letter published in Mississippi newspaper

Summerside mother Riki Bagnell and her daughter are maintaining a North American-wide lobby against the Taser weapon used by police. Bagnell had one of her letters published today in the on-line edition of the Clarion Ledger newspaper which serves the Jackson area of Mississippi. Bagnell’s letter is in response to news articles about the death of Rafael Forbes on Aug. 15 this year. Jackson police used a Taser on the 21-year-old. Bagnell’s son Robert also died following a jolt from a Taser. Vancouver police used a Taser on Robert, then 44, in June 2004.

Since then Bagnell and her daughter Patti Gillman have been active in opposing the use of the Taser. Patti has been an active contributor to an on-going blog that opposes the Taser weapon. The blog states that eight people and one bear have been Tasered to death in this month of August, bringing the death toll to 286 from a technique that police often say is a “less than lethal” use of force.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

State of shock

August 22, 2007
Steve Palopoli, Metro Active, Silicon Valley (California)

"To use it [the taser] in a deadly force situation implicates officer safety, and it's not safe for the cops to use it on unarmed individuals. So when is it safe?" asks Aram James [retired public defender and Palo Alto resident who campaigns against tasers and helped found the Coalition for Justice and Accountability in 2003]. Nor does he think better training is a viable solution. "Even with the best of training, the result is no different," he says. "You can't draft a safe policy for an unsafe device."

"My position personally is that they should be banned, and the coalition's position is that they should be banned," says James. "But at the minimum there should be a moratorium until there is independent testing to determine whether they can be used safely on unarmed citizens and vulnerable populations."

The national stories about stupid taser tricks aren't going away, taser-related lawsuits keep piling up and more people than ever are demanding answers that so far law enforcement has been unwilling to provide.

San Jose has had its share of taser-related incidents, most recently the May 25 death of Steve Salinas, who died after being tased while naked and unarmed outside a motel room.

Salinas' daughter Noreen has experienced the lack of transparency in such incidents firsthand. She's still waiting for key information about the circumstances surrounding her father's death, though she's been told autopsy results will be released this month. She's been frustrated at every stage of the discovery process, with toxicology reports shipped to Pennsylvania and what she feels is a longer than necessary wait for the department to collect reports from the officers involved.

"It's just absurd," she says. "They're holding back a lot of information they shouldn't be. If they're so confident," she asks, "then why are people dying?"

Autopsy: tasered man's heart stopped

August 22, 2007
Mike McPhee, The Denver Post

"The Denver Medical Examiner has ruled that a man who died after police Tasered him early one morning in July died because his heart stopped beating.

Albert Romero's death was aggravated by the Taser, disease in his arteries and marijuana in his blood, according to the autopsy released today.

Albert Romero, 47 [and unarmed], died after police confronted him in front of his home around 3:30 a.m., July 16. Police said they had been looking for suspects when they came upon Romero, who was alone. They said Romero became enraged with officers and attempted to pull a stop sign out of the ground, then charged a police car when they Tasered him into submission.

They handcuffed Romero and transported him to a hospital, where he died a short while later.

Medical Examiner Dr. James Wahe concluded that Romero's "manner of death is undetermined." The cause of death was "a cardiopulmonary arrest which occurred in a setting of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, probably excited delirium state, electrical restraint administration and marijuana in the blood toxicology," Dr. Wahe wrote in the autopsy report."

Albert Romero's wife, Debbie Romero, has been quoted as saying "I feel the Taser is an electric chair without a trial."

New Zealand taser opponents disappointed

August 22, 2007
New Zealand City Limited

"One year Taser trial ending; opponents believe the stun gun will be used regardless."

Baltimore man dies after taser use

August 22, 2007
Baltimore Sun

Thomas Campbell, 50, unarmed

A city police spokesman said autopsy results were not in and that the cause of Thomas Campbell's death had not been officially determined. Campbell resisted arrest and was shocked twice with a Taser.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Zealand: Taser shocks to stop as future considered

August 22, 2007
The Dominion Post, Wellington, New Zealand

"Police are to consider the future of using taser stun guns to subdue dangerous offenders as their trial period draws to a close. The high-voltage stun guns will be withdrawn next week after a year-long trial. A report on their effectiveness is due out by the end of November."

"In America, dozens of people died after being hit with Tasers but the gun issued to American police was more powerful than the gun on trial in New Zealand."

I'm not sure where the reporter got that information but according to the New Zealand police's Taser Trial web page "the only currently approved EMI device for use by the New Zealand Police is the Taser X26" which is the model I believe is most prevalent in the US and Canada.

Madison County constables to carry tasers

August 21, 2007
Elizabeth Crisp, Clarion Ledger (Mississippi)

"Authorities have not determined why Rafael Forbes, 21, died after a Jackson police officer stunned him with a Taser after a car chase and foot chase in the city last week. Officials are awaiting toxicology results. Madison County officials say the death is not a concern to them, and on Monday, the supervisors reaffirmed their decision by giving final approval for the purchase with little discussion."

Monday, August 20, 2007

TASER: Myth of Menace?

May 10, 1999
Darren Stewart, The Martlet, Victoria

A fascinating report from 1999 re the taser's introduction into Canadian law enforcement via the Victoria Police Department.

According to the report, Victoria Police Officer "[Darren] Laur who has been shot with a TASER himself, calls the weapon extremely humane, and says it doesn't cause the subject any extended pain. He likens the experience to getting a shock while changing the spark plugs on your lawnmower."

The article goes on to quote Terence Allen, a specialist in forensic pathology who served as deputy medical examiner for both the Los Angeles and San Francisco coroners' offices: "The problem is when it starts getting used in less than critical situations," said Allen. "In L.A. they'll shoot you for reaching for your wallet. People need to realize that this isn't 100 per cent safe, and it doesn't have a very good track record. As pathologists, we should warn law-enforcement agencies that the TASER can cause death."

In a 1991 letter to the Journal of Forensic Sciences, he noted that he was one of only two medical examiners in the L.A. office to list the TASER on a death certificate. "This was because pathologists in L.A. were under pressure from law enforcement agencies to exclude the TASER as a cause of death," wrote Allen. He suggested that the L.A. coroner's office has a strong bias and exonerates the law enforcement agencies of that city. "The L.A. coroner's office is the handmaiden of law enforcement [in that city,]" he said. Allen also said that the TASER could cause heart defibrillation depending on where the two probes strike the targeted subject, suggesting that the use of this weapon could have dire effects on the hearts of weaker or older individuals or those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Too bad no one was listening.

TASER: Myth of Menace?
darren stewart, the martlet, victoria

Police cornered a dangerously violent woman in a Victoria bathroom last month. High on drugs and not responding to pain, she wasn't affected by pepper spray. She began to threaten suicide, and the officers were trying to decide when to go in after her, risking injury to the woman and themselves. She decided for them. The woman burst through the door and rushed the officers with a pair of scissors in her hand. But the officers stopped her cold and were able to handcuff her calmly. Thanks to Victoria police's new TASER unit, the incident ended without injury.

According to Sgt. Darren Laur of the Victoria police, the peaceful end to this situation was only realistic because of the TASER, a new weapon his department is test-running. The TASER shoots two electrically charged barbs that catch into the clothing of a subject up to four metres away and deliver a debilitating electrical charge intended to override the brain's message to the muscles, knocking the person to the ground. The TASER can penetrate up to two inches of clothing and penetrate a bulletproof vest.

"The police officer supervisor said right in his report that if it wasn't for the TASER there could have been dire consequences," said Laur. "They probably would have had to use lethal force in that situation."

With advanced anti-terrorist technology and special permission from the Office of the Attorney General, Victoria police don't have to wait until the 24th century for effective weaponry intended to stop a violent subject with less risk of killing them. Similar to Spock and Kirk's phasers-on-stun approach, they can shoot a subject with less risk of seriously injuring them than if they had to draw a gun. The police are testing two new TASER units (short for Tom A. Swift Electric Rifle, after the inventor) similar to ones already used by many American policing agencies to detain potentially hostile individuals without causing them bodily harm.

Attention from across the country is focused on Victoria's proposed six-month TASER test period that ends in June 1999. According to Laur, the officer overseeing the test, other departments and agencies across the country may follow Victoria and put the TASER into general use if the test is successful. Laur suggests that the units are being tested in Victoria because the local police and its administration are one of the most progressive in the country. In the six Victoria incidents the TASER has been used in, all have ended without injury. In two of these incidents the sight of the unit alone was enough to calm the individual, and the officers didn't have to fire the barbs.

But Terence Allen, a specialist in forensic pathology who served as deputy medical examiner for both the Los Angeles and San Francisco coroners' offices, has a more grim view of the "non-lethal" weapon. "The problem is when it starts getting used in less than critical situations," said Allen. "In L.A. they'll shoot you for reaching for your wallet. People need to realize that this isn't 100 per cent safe, and it doesn't have a very good track record. As pathologists, we should warn law-enforcement agencies that the TASER can cause death."

Laur, who has been shot with a TASER himself, calls the weapon extremely humane, and says it doesn't cause the subject any extended pain. He likens the experience to getting a shock while changing the spark plugs on your lawnmower. Laur estimates that the TASER has been employed by over 350 policing agencies in the U.S. since the 1970s.

According to Steve Tuttle of Taser International, the company responsible for manufacturing and marketing TASERs for private use in the U.S., the weapon's inventor created the weapon in the late 1960s to be used against airplane terrorists.

"The TASER was perfect for such circumstances as the probes that are fired are not lethal and will not penetrate the hull of an airplane," said Tuttle. This prevented an extremely dangerous situation should a bullet pierce the skin of the plane and depressurize it.

Tuttle explains why police would be particularly interested in the weapon. "[The TASER] reduces the injuries to both suspects and officers alike," said Tuttle. "The remaining options are fists, blunt instruments and chemical sprays, which are very effective, but since they use pain to stop individuals, [drug] users can overcome the pain and swarm tactics, resulting in potential injuries for all involved."

Tuttle also suggests that the TASER has significantly reduced injuries in U.S. prisons where pepper spray is commonly used in removing unco-operative and violent prisoners from their cells.

"[Pepper spray] drifts to other cells, contaminates the air conditioning and requires cleanup," said Tuttle. "Meanwhile you have an inmate who is not real pleased and is going to have burning lungs and eyes, with lots of salivation for 30 minutes to an hour or more."

But shoot the inmate with a TASER and cuff them while they are stunned, and they recover in a moment without injury or incident. Another advantage to the TASER over other force options is that it doesn't rely on pain to be effective. The TASER will still take down a subject under the influence of drugs or having a psychiatric episode who isn't responding to pain.

According to Tuttle, the concept of the original inventor's dream expanded when he realized the new weapon's potential. He believed he could create a powerful self-defence tool for law enforcement and public use.

Now, according to Taser International, there are 60,000 TASERs owned by private individuals for personal self-defense in the U.S. Americans can order a $250 U.S. TASER unit complete with a practice target and free fanny pack, "great for carrying (the weapon) while jogging or biking," according to the catalogue, on the company's internet site, with the option of black or "sports yellow" handles. For a couple hundred dollars more, you can buy a unit fitted with a laser sight.

It's illegal for a member of the public to own a TASER in Canada. In the U.S. the TASER was classed as a firearm until 1993 when Taser International redesigned the weapon enabling it to be classified differently by the American Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The redesigned Air TASER hit the market using compressed air as a propellant rather than gunpowder, and the weapon is now available to registered owners in all but seven states.

Lobbyists for the TASER tout it as a perfect public self-defence tool and suggest that government control of the weapon is based on fallacies of its potential harmfulness. Laur supports the use of the weapon in policing agencies and hopes the Victoria police's test period will dispel the myths regarding the TASER.

"Canada has never, ever used an electronic stunning device," said Laur. "It was hard for me to understand why it hadn't been adopted here sooner when you look to the United States and look at how effective this tool is. There's still a lack of knowledge surrounding it. Most people think it's just a cattle prod."

According to a report on the effects of the TASER in The Journal of Forensic Sciences by Dr. Sara Reddy and Dr. Ronald Kornblum, chief medical examiner in Los Angeles, the TASER has been used several thousand times by the Los Angeles police department in attempts to control violent suspects. During that time the TASER has been an effective immobilizer 80 per cent of the time. There have been 16 deaths associated with its use in L.A. County.

The report, which Laur read when he researched the TASER's potential for use in Victoria, explains that the TASER doesn't rely on damage or destruction of tissues or organs to be effective; instead, it knocks the target to the ground after causing a generalized muscle contraction. Under ordinary circumstances, these effects are temporary and completely reversible. But used on an older individual, somebody with heart trouble, or somebody weakened by excessive drug use, the weapon can be fatal. Included in the report were accounts of volunteer targets that described the experience as painful and who required several minutes to recover from the experience. The electrical current generated by the TASER is not lethal when the weapon is used as directed on an average healthy adult.

But Allen suggested the report may be misleading. In a 1991 letter to the journal he noted that he was one of only two medical examiners in the L.A. office to list the TASER on a death certificate.

"This was because pathologists in L.A. were under pressure from law enforcement agencies to exclude the TASER as a cause of death," wrote Allen. He suggested that the L.A. coroner's office has a strong bias and exonerates the law enforcement agencies of that city. "The L.A. coroner's office is the handmaiden of law enforcement [in that city,]" he said.

Allen says that the TASER could cause heart defibrillation depending on where the two probes strike the targeted subject. He suggests that the use of this weapon could have dire effects on the hearts of weaker or older individuals or those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

UVic criminologist Daniel Koenig suggests that the introduction of this weapon will be a positive influence on Victoria policing but adds there are some drawbacks to be considered.

"Police are operating on the same plane of existence as the rest of us," suggests Koenig. "So there's always the danger that [the TASER] will be used inappropriately. We're talking about humans here."

The U.S. exportation of stun guns was listed as one of the top 10 censored articles of 1997 by Project Censored, an annual nationwide media research project that casts a revealing spotlight on relevant issues that don't make the news.

The article, titled "Shock Value: U.S. Stun Devices Pose Human-Rights Risk" by Anne-Marie Cusac, suggests that the potential misuse of these weapons in countries with poor human rights records means the U.S. ranks as the leading producer and seller of instruments of torture. According to the article, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Amnesty International both claim the devices are unsafe and may encourage sadistic acts by police officers and prison guards, both here and abroad.

The article suggests that, though the non-lethal weapons leave no visible mark on the flesh or tissue damage, they can cause long-lasting injury and even death. This prompts groups like Amnesty to argue that these weapons give police officers the freedom to use extreme force with impunity. But according to Laur, the Victoria police have implemented proper training, education and supervision to ensure the weapon will not be misused.

"Any tool we give police officers can be used excessively," said Laur. "If a member uses this tool or any other tool in an excessive manner they should be held criminally and civilly liable for their actions. I can't emphasize that enough."

Murray Mollard, policy director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, suggests that their only concern regarding the TASER will be to ensure that there's adequate training for those using it and an accountability process each time it gets used. "And there are these things in terms of citizen complaints," said Mollard. "And the police can set up internal procedures for reporting on the incidents whenever it gets used."

Without some longer-term experience in knowing its major effects, Mollard sees no reason to be opposed to the introduction of the weapon.

Similarly, Andrew Hume, spoke-sperson for the Capital Region Mental Health district in Victoria, suggests that any negative effects are yet to be seen. "We'll wait and see what effects this will have on the mental health community. If we see any negatives we'll certainly be initiating some discussion with the police. Right now we don't know anything about the TASER's possible effects."

The Victoria police are aware of the potential risks the TASER poses and feel the pros of its introduction will outweigh the cons. "You've got to put this in perspective," said Laur. "This unit is going to be used on individuals who're extremely violent and needing to be controlled. Prior to the use of this tool these people could get shot or seriously injured by a baton strike. Nothing's 100 per cent safe. Anything used to control an individual always has the potential to cause injury or death."

Use of the units will be under strict control during the six-month test period. According to Laur, the units will be used when there is a violent individual that needs to be controlled, and it's up to the road supervisor to decide when it will be used.

"Our ultimate goal as a police officer is to solve by voluntary compliance," said Laur. "When we have to physically control somebody who doesn't want to be controlled it gets ugly real quick, and there's no easy way to control those people. We're looking to technology to give us a hand, but we have to understand that technology has its limitations. It's not the cure-all."

Greetings to the Victoria Police Department

I just wanted to say a quick hello to the Victoria Police Department staff who have visited this blog - I'm glad you stopped by and I hope you'll come again.

When should police shoot?

August 18, 2007
Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun

"According to Sgt. Joel Johnston, a Vancouver Police Department officer working for the British Columbia government as its provincial use-of-force coordinator, tasers and bean-bag rounds, which shoot out a spray of pellets, mainly work through "pain compliance": they hurt, so the suspect stops. But many assailants -- especially those who are mentally ill or high on drugs -- are impervious to pain, he said, making such devices impractical."

It begs the practical question: Then why do tasers continue to be used on those who are mentally ill and/or high on drugs?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Quotes about police use of Taser stun guns

August 18, 2007
The Associated Press

"It's just really non-sensical, in a lot of these incidents, to use this weapon. If they had more information, they wouldn't be pulling it when they really ought to be looking at other options."

Dalia Hashad, human rights violations specialist, Amnesty International.

"I'm interested in changing the policy so that Tasers are not used on non-violent people, particularly protesters taking a dignified stance. I see the points police make in using Tasers as an alternative to lethal force. But it seems like they're lowering the threshold so they can use it for a wide variety of uses."

Jonathan Crowell, who was shot with a Taser during a peaceful demonstration in Brattleboro, Vt.

"The use-of-force training and procedures and policy are up to the individual agencies, based on their community standard, their expertise and their own policies."

Steve Tuttle, spokesman, Taser International.

"Whether it's coincidence or circumstance, we have several incidents of use of a Taser gun involving a person with a serious mental problem or presumed serious mental health problem. The use of a Taser intervention is not a minor situation, and it is not state-of-the-art mental health care."

Ken Libertoff, executive director of the Vermont Association for Mental Health.

"You have to remember: Officers going in are not all-knowing. They don't have the luxury of knowing a person's medical history."

Brattleboro (Vt.) Police Chief John Martin.

"It's simple. If you do what you're told and you comply, you won't be Tased."

Richard Leighton, police chief in St. Johnsbury, Vt., where two men who were shocked with stun guns in a 2005 incident won a $10,000 settlement after claiming police used excessive force.

Rash of Taser incidents renews debate over when and where it's OK

August 18, 2007
JOHN CURRAN, The Associated Press

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ohio man's cause of death is investigated

August 13, 2007
Associated Press

Craig Burdine, 37, unarmed

The coroner has announced it could be another month before anyone knows what caused Craig Burdine's death, saying "Toxicology studies need to be completed to determine his cause of death." The sheriff's office is conducting an investigation that is expected to be completed once autopsy results are available. The sherriff says "I'm quite confident everything we did was OK. I'm sure it wasn't the Taser that killed him. I'm pretty confident of that."

Police were called to a home early Saturday (August 11th) about a fight and found that Burdine was hostile and appeared drunk. After being shocked several times, he stopped breathing in an ambulance and later died.

Update (November 7, 2007) - According to Coroner John Wukie, Craig Burdine died from "combined drug toxicity," not from the Taser's use.

Police investigate death of man in Jackson, Mississippi

August 15, 2007
Richard Lake, Clarion Ledger

Rafael Forbes, 21, unarmed

Authorities are awaiting toxicology results to determine why Rafael Forbes died. The Hinds County Coroner said a preliminary autopsy has been completed on Rafael Forbes, but the cause of death could not yet be identified.

According to police, they had attempted to stop a car that was being driven in an erratic manner. The driver attempted to elude police before pulling over. The occupants attempted to flee on foot. The driver was apprehended and also tased; he has been charged with felony false pretense, no seatbelt, resisting arrest, felony possession of marijuana and felony fleeing from law enforcement. Rafael Forbes, who also fled on foot, was tased after he resisted arrest, according to JPD. When he showed signs of shortness of breath, he was taken to the Central Mississippi Medical Center.

He died around 12:15 a.m. on August 15th.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Man in California dies after deputies use taser gun

August 15, 2007
KCRA, Waterford, California

James Wells, 43, unarmed

An autopsy has been conducted but officials will not determine the cause of death until they have the results of a toxicology screening, which could take as many as three weeks.

According the police, James Wells resisted arrest, prompting deputies to use a Taser gun on him. He stopped breathing and was taken to a local hospital where he died on August 15th.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bear tasered twice by police officers dies

August 15, 2007
WFTV, Orlando, Florida

A bear wandering around an Orlando neighbourhood died today after it was tasered twice by Orlando police officers. Police said they never intended to kill the bear, but did what they could to keep citizens safe. "We observed the bear appeared to have passed out. A short time later, we determined the animal had passed away." The cause of death will be determined after a necropsy ordered by state Fish and Wildlife.

Surely the taser didn't kill the bear?! According to the manufacturer, the taser doesn't kill. Then it had to be drug-induced excited delirium! Would someone please tell the animals to lay off the cocaine? See here for more reports of taser use on animals.

Friday, August 10, 2007

How to electrocute your suspect

Less lethal issues in law enforcement
Sponsored by TASER International
written by Capt. Greg Meyer (ret.)

"When you’re in tight with your suspect, the pushes and shoves start, and you don’t break contact, consider using the “3-point contact.” Leave the cartridge in your Taser and fire it at contact range just like a drive-stun. Then, with one or both darts deployed on the person, move the TASER device away from the darts and drive-stun the person on another part of the body. A few inches would work, but a couple of feet between the darts and the drive-stun would be more effective. If you tilt the business end of the Taser so that just one of the electrodes is against the body, you’ll achieve a better circuit and full neuromuscular incapacitation just as you would with a wide dart spread! If you have not yet been trained on this tactic, check with your Taser instructor. This tactic is being taught by master instructors, and it is very effective."

It's just basic Russian Roulette.

Vermont AG to do statewide review of stun gun use

August 10, 2007
Associated Press

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell says his office will undertake a statewide review of the use of non-lethal force - including electronic stun guns - by police in the wake of a pair of controversial incidents in Brattleboro.

Ousted Taser cop takes aim at city

August 9, 2007
Joel Stonington, Aspen Times

Former police officer Melinda Calvano has hit the city of Aspen with a lawsuit, claiming that it wrongfully fired her after she used a stun gun on a homeless woman in a downtown alley. In June 2006, Calvano confronted Carol Alexy - a then 63-year-old homeless woman - whom Calvano suspected of stealing a sweater from The Thrift Store's drop box. Calvano used a stun gun to zap Alexy, who was later treated at Aspen Valley Hospital and released.

Judge Jim Carrigan wrote that while departmental policies "strongly urge officers to de-escalate the level of physical threats," Calvano "escalated the situation from an informative conversation, to an unprovable petty theft case, to asserted charges of resisting arrest, obstruction of an officer, and assault of an officer. None of these charges were ever filed, leaving the police department in the embarrassing position of having fired a Taser and inflicted pain on an old, homeless woman who had committed no provable offense."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Brattleboro lifts ban on stun guns

Last week, Brattleboro suspended the use of tasers after two nonviolent protesters were stunned. On Monday the ban was lifted, before the completion of the investigation. Huh?!

A stunning protest

August 7, 2007

Armed with anti-Taser signs, protestors marched through the streets of downtown Brattleboro. For many taking part, stun guns have no place in the community.

"I do understand that there are occasions that would require tasers in place of more lethal force such as guns; but that does not seem to come up in our community that often, so I seriously do question if they are appropriate for our community," said Sara Longsmith.

The demonstration comes on the heels of two separate incidents. The first happened in the beginning of July when officers used a Taser on an unruly juvenile at the Brattleboro Retreat hospital. The second was at the end of July, when these two activists were Tased by police during a non-violent protest. Both were at Tuesday's march, walking quietly towards the back of the pack. But others were quick to say that police violence in Brattleboro dates back several years.

In 2001, Brattleboro police officers shot and killed Robert Woodward after he allegedly pulled a knife in front of the congregation at the All Souls Church. However, a state investigation cleared the officers of any wrong-doing.

"This is part of a pattern of excessive force by the Brattleboro PD. They clearly have some problems with leadership and with training and we feel the need to speak out," said Leo Schiff.

Though not everybody along the route agreed.

"If these people want to run the thing this way then have them form their own town, they can do their own police force, their own hospital their own naked people, do what they want," said Richard Austin.

The state is reviewing Brattleboro Police's use of the Taser in at least one of the incidents.

"My belief is that the Taser is a very safe device," said Chief John Martin.

He would not comment on the current investigations directly, however he did say that Tasers are a good way to subdue a suspect during a potentially harmful, or even deadly situation.

"I've been shot with it, I know first hand the experience one goes through, and I would much rather see someone stunned with a Taser than beaten with a club," Martin said.

The town had suspended the use of Tasers while the investigation into the latest incident was conducted. But, Chief Martin said that as of Tuesday, the tools were being re-deployed to the officers back on the street.

Brattleboro police first got three Tasers in 2002-- shortly after the Woodward shooting. Today the department has eight Tasers.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Protest planned over police use of Tasers

Brattleboro, Vermont

An uproar over police use of Tasers continues in Brattleboro, where a protest is being planned for Tuesday.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Omaha man dies after being tasered

August 4, 2007

James Barnes, 21, unarmed

An Omaha, Nebraska man injured this week while Omaha police officers were trying to arrest him has died.

Michigan man dies after tasering

August 4, 2007

Steven Spears, 49, unarmed

According to police, Spears was seen running through traffic wearing only his underwear and socks. Police called for an ambulance because officers believed the man was having psychiatric problems. But when paramedics arrived, he broke away and ran into traffic. Officers caught up with him and used the taser when he continued to struggle with them, according to the release. Spears lost consciousness after he was struck by the taser. He was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

On September 12, 2007, the Oakland County Medical Examiner concluded that the cause of death was "cocaine induced excited delirium," with phyical restraint as a contributing factor. Shelby Township police said the medical examiner ruled the death as accidental. The report was forwarded to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, which is conducting an independent investigation.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Ljubisa Dragovic conducted the autopsy Aug. 4, and on Sept. 20, after getting a toxicology report that showed Spears had one milligram of cocaine in his system, Dragovich determined Spears died of cocaine-induced delirium. Dragovich determined that Spears' death was accidental, but said the Tasers were a contributing factor.

Chicago man tasered by police dies on the way to hospital

August 5, 2007
Chicago Tribune

Gefery Johnson, 42, unarmed

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Alabama man dies

August 4, 2007
WALTER BRYANT, Birmingham News

Clyde Patrick, 44, unarmed

Friday, August 03, 2007

Edmonton police officer faces five criminal charges

August 2, 2007
Trish Audette, CanWest News Service

An Edmonton police officer who Tasered a drunken teen six times in one minute -- but was never disciplined for the act -- now faces five new criminal charges. Const. Mike Wasylyshen, son of former Edmonton police chief Bob Wasylyshen, has been charged with assaulting and threatening to cause death or bodily harm to a 24-year-old Edmonton man, assaulting two more men and threatening to cause death or bodily harm to the family of a fourth man, age 21. All of the charges stem from an incident on Edmonton's Whyte Avenue, a popular bar and nightclub strip, on Dec. 18, 2005.

The 31-year-old officer, who has been with the Edmonton service for eight years, faces the following charges:

- one count of assaulting a 24-year-old Edmonton man;
- one count of threatening to cause death or bodily harm to the same man;
- one count of assaulting a second 24-year-old Edmonton man;
- one count of assaulting a third man;
- one count of threatening to cause death or bodily harm to the family of a 21-year-old Edmonton man.

Edmonton police laid the charges last month, but did not release further details -- except to say they began investigating after another officer came forward with information.

It's not the first time Wasylyshen has been accused of using unnecessary force. In October, 2002, Randy Fryingpan was 16 years old and passed out drunk in the back of a parked car at an Edmonton townhouse project. Wasylyshen roused the teen from his drunken slumber by shocking him six times in 66 seconds, knocked out his front tooth and left him with burn marks and bruises. Another officer later strip-searched the young man. Although a provincial court judge called the arrest "cruel and unusual punishment,"and Wasylyshen's Taser use "absolutely unnecessary," police refused to conduct an outside investigation.

Then-acting police chief Darryl da Costa said even an internal disciplinary hearing was unnecessary, and cleared Wasylyshen of allegations he had breached the Police Act -- including discreditable conduct, insubordination and unnecessary exercise of authority.

In the end, Wasylyshen faced neither criminal nor internal discipline for the incident. He remains on duty as a patrol officer and is scheduled to appear in court to face the new charges September 7th.

His father is former chief Bob Wasylyshen.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Brattleboro (Vermont) - Clear rules on Tasers are needed

August 2, 2007
Editorial, Bennington Banner

"... the debate still comes back to the fact that the two were unarmed and not posing a threat to public safety. That is why Brattleboro's police need clear guidelines on the use of Tasers and what constitutes appropriate use of force."

Taser settled 10 of 52 cases it told investors were "dismissed"

August 2, 2007
Margaret Cronin Fisk and Jon Steinman, Bloomberg

"Taser stock has climbed 51 percent in the past two years as it issued press releases on rulings in its favor. The shares have risen an average of 2 percent, and as much as 11 percent, on the day of the announcements. Lawsuits and other allegations that the weapons were unsafe pummeled the company's shares in 2005, when they fell 78 percent."

Taser General Counsel Doug Klint said he considers it a "win" when, for example, the company settles for $10,000 rather than pays $250,000 to litigate a case.

Report criticizes use of taser on UCLA student

August 2, 2007
Scott Glover, LA Times

A cellphone clip of the incident was posted on You Tube.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cut-rate taser zaps on Capitol Hill?

August 1, 2007
Paul Rolly, Tribune Columnist

"As some folks who have participated in the legislative process know, those who speak in committee meetings on a position not favored by the Legislature's political majority often get shouted down, have their time cut short and are insulted. But it could become more dangerous next year. If you get too uppity with the powers that be, you might get zapped by a Taser. Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, who has publicly expressed his contempt for "socialists" in response to Michael Moore's film "Sicko," has sent an e-mail to his legislative colleagues offering to get them a discount on the Taser C2, with an optional laser sight, for the great low price of $330. He can get that deal for legislators' family members, too. And the best part? You don't need a concealed-weapons permit to have an activated Taser, Wimmer says. Although you do have to pass a background check. Wimmer, a career police officer, points out in his e-mail that being a high-profile person like a legislator can be a risky endeavor and some legislators have been reluctant to carry a gun, even though Wimmer's fellow Republican Rep. Curtis Oda, of Clearfield, has been more than generous in arranging for concealed-weapons permit classes for the lawmakers. The Taser is the way to go, he says."

Tasered suspect in critical condition in Omaha

An Omaha man was hospitalized in critical condition yesterday after police deployed a Taser while trying to take him into custody. The suspect is identified as 21-year-old James Barnes. Barnes had warrants and police say officers went to his home at 2860 Manderson to locate him at 9:50 Tuesday morning. They say the front door was open and the house appeared to be abandoned. The officers entered the house and found Barnes hiding behind a door. While trying to take him into custody police say the Taser was deployed as Barnes jumped through a closed window and fell to the ground. Barnes was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition with an injury that police say could potentially be life threatening.