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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Taser death predictable

June 12, 2009
Westender (Brisbane, Australia)

Former-MP and former-Queensland Police Service sergeant Peter Pyke has taken aim at Senior Queensland Police who, he says, have misinformed the Bligh Government, the Police Service, and the community about the dangers of Tasers whose use are likely to have caused the death of a man in North Queensland.

Pyke is just one commentator on police issues who has campaigned ardently against the Queensland Bligh Government’s controversial decision to equip all General Duties police officers in Queensland with Taser electro-shock stun-weapons, whilst adopting the position that Tasers cannot kill.

As early as 18 April 2009, former-sergeant Pyke had predicted: “because the Queensland Police Service denies Tasers can kill, a Queenslander will die during 2009 from a Taser incident.”

“While the QPS and Police Union pretend Tasers don’t kill,” Pyke had said, “they will risk Queenslanders lives every time a Taser is deployed.”

On 18 April 2009 Pyke called on senior police “to demonstrate leadership on the Taser issue and to act quickly to warn all officers of the potentially-lethal consequences of using a Taser.”

Pyke has previously accused the Queensland Police Service leadership of “playing God with Queenslanders lives by untruthfully denying Tasers can be a lethal weapon”.

As late as April 2009 (Courier Mail Qweekend magazine 16 April 2009), Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders denied Tasers can kill, despite Queensland police watchdog body the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) admitting Tasers “may kill” in the same story.

Pyke says that one of the clear dangers of Taser use is the effect of the electroshock weapon on a person who is on medication or has been taking drugs, which early media reports indicate was the case of a man in Brandon, North Queensland, who has died in police custody after being Tasered.

Pyke has campaigned unsuccessfully for the Police Service to take heed of dire warnings made about Taser dangers by the NSW Ombudsman, Mr Barbour, last year. Barbour noted that certain people are at higher risk of having heart-related effects following the use of a Taser.

”People who are at added risk of death from the application of a stun-gun are people of small stature, substance abusers, people who are affected by alcohol, elderly people, women who might be pregnant, also people who have mental health issues and who may be on medication,” Pyke has constantly said.

“Again,” Pyke has said, “because the Queensland Police Service’s highest ranks constantly lie about the potentially lethal nature of Tasers, or have collectively failed to comprehend the dangers, these added risk factors are not being taken into consideration in Queensland.”

"Tasers are not the 'non-lethal' weapons the QPS leadership claims," Pyke has said repeatedly. “They can kill and should only be used with that consideration in mind, as a last resort before using a firearm.”

“While other Australian police agencies and many overseas can join the dots and make the call that Tasers can kill, and advise their operational officers accordingly, every public utterance by senior members of the Queensland Police and the Service’s protocols for Taser-use continue to fly in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. How long can this fraudulent act or incompetence be permitted to continue?” Pyke asked earlier this month.

“The Bligh Government and the Police Service have chosen to ignore these real concerns. Now, the inevitable has happened,” says Pyke today. “A man has died after being Tasered.”

Pyke says the Police Service top brass is now in “full-on damage control “.

“The MO of the Police Service top brass does not encourage confidence that they will be truthful about this tragic event, and it is predictable that the top brass will say the Taser did not cause that death, regardless,” says Pyke.

Pyke called on Police Minister Neil Roberts to immediately establish a credible independent inquiry into the Taser death in Brandon, North Queensland, and to sack Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson and the deputy commissioners who have misled the Bligh Government and Queenslanders about the potentially lethal risks associated with Taser-use.

1 comment:

Critical Mass said...

Your brother's memory will be blessed with the inevitable finding that the weapon which was the proximate cause of his death, was known by its manufacturer to be undeniably lethal.

My personal hope is that your brother's assailants, one level removed (Taser International) will be brought into a court of competent jurisdiction, charged with selling essentially a Non-FDA Approved device which uses the medical principles equivalent to a de-fibrillator, or the fibrillators which were formerly used in open heart surgery.

The venal principles running Taser International have known for over twenty years that the devices they wantonly sell to law enforcement, has a high propensity to send the lower heart chamber into irregular and potentially deadly arrhythmia.

Your long journey on bringing out the truth of how a Taser ended your brother's life, will bring you to a good place, where you will know you played an important role in ending what is essentially a crime spree by a company with no ethics, and a reckless disregard for the sanctity of life.