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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Groups debate potential dangers of Tasers

October 31, 2010
Dan Claxton, Missourian

COLUMBIA — With the contentious vote on the prohibition of Taser use in Columbia only days away, experts continue to argue the relative danger of the devices.

Police officials contend that Tasers, when used properly, pose little risk to those they are used against. Opponents say the devices are unreliable and that many factors can make them dangerous.

Detective Jerry Staten is a former Texas police detective that now appears as an expert witness and consultant in Taser-related lawsuits.

Staten said that Tasers deployed correctly are safe. “They are specifically designed to reduce the likelihood of causing serious injury or death,” he said.

That sentiment is echoed by Las Vegas, N.M., Police Chief Garry Gold, who said, “Any mechanical tool is as good as its user. It’s just a tool of choice.”

In June, Gold decided to stop using Tasers in his department. He said the decision wasn’t because of any danger posed by Tasers. Rather, he cited complaints about officers misusing the devices, the growing threat of litigation and the expense of renewing his department’s accreditation.

But Gold said he supports the use of Tasers by law enforcement. “There’s a lot of pros and cons; it’s just dependent on the needs of a particular city,” he said.

Marjorie Lundquist disagrees. An expert on the effects of electricity and radiation on the human body, Lundquist said Tasers too often can be lethal, even though in certain circumstances they can be used without ill effect.

She cited several factors that must be present to keep the risk of serious physical injury from a Taser low:

■It must be administered only on physically fit young adults in good health who are free from drugs, who have no recognized genetic disease and who have not been engaged in vigorous physical activity in the five minutes immediately preceding the Taser shock.
■It must be used only against people whose limbs are not fettered or immobilized in any way.
■The shock should last for no more than five seconds.
Lundquist considers Tasers “very dangerous weapons” because there are many variables involved that police can’t see.

Lundquist said sickle cell trait is one genetic condition that makes Tasers potentially lethal. The trait is most commonly found in people of African ancestry. Lundquist said that even one shock from a Taser can induce a sickle cell crisis, which can be fatal.

Lundquist conducted an extensive study of Taser incidents resulting in death, and found that the more applications of Taser shocks, the greater the likelihood of death.

“My data indicate that it is risky for a person to be shocked more than once," Lundquist said. "And I have concluded that for some people, even one Taser shock is too many."

Lundquist said that when people are shocked with a Taser after being handcuffed, the risk of death increases dramatically because muscle contractions under those conditions are inhibited.

“When a muscle is forced to contract but is physically unable to shorten in length, the only thing that can happen is that the muscle tissue tears,” Lundquist said, adding that it could potentially cause kidney or heart damage, which could lead to death.

The Columbia Police Department recently adopted a set of 52 guidelines for the use of Tasers that includes a prohibition on using Tasers on handcuffed subjects, unless the subject is resisting or showing active aggression.

Lundquist said a major danger in electric shocks is the chemical changes they cause in the body. “What makes Taser shocks most dangerous is the lactic acid that they cause to be released into the blood. This can partially deplete the blood of oxygen,” she said.

Staten argues that it’s all about judgment. “There’s a problem out there with the use of the equipment," he said. "There’s not a problem with the equipment.”

Gold said his department is switching to a less-lethal weapon – the pepperball gun. This weapon fires balls of a pepper-based irritant that burst on impact, allowing an officer to pepper-spray a subject from a distance.

Gold said he believes the pepperball technology is “the next mechanical weapon of choice” that will be used by law enforcement agencies.

Voters in Columbia will decide on Tuesday whether both law enforcement and private individuals will be denied the use but not the possession of Tasers within the city limits. A yes vote will prohibit its use; a no vote will result in no change to the current laws.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Radio-Canada sells its television documentaries on the taser controversy to Canal+ in France

Le Groupe Canal+, en France, a acheté et diffusera sur ses ondes un condensé de la série de reportages de Radio-Canada Taser: l'arme de la controverse. La série, qui faisait le point sur cette arme de défense, avait été diffusée dans le cadre des émissions Enjeux et Enquête à la SRC et The National sur CBC. Canal+ a acquis les quatre volets de la série pour en faire une version courte, de 26 minutes, présentée dans le cadre de Spécial investigation à différentes heures de la journée entre le 18 et le 24 octobre, sur les ondes de Canal+ et Canal+ Décalé.

And now, back to our regular programming.

Jurors find ex-officer not guilty in Taser case

The verdict does not, however, end the case. The mother of Pikes' 4-year-old son has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against Nugent and city officials. A malfeasance-in-office charge is also still pending against Nugent.

Friday, October 29, 2010

‘Outrage and advocacy’: Speaker at mental illness conference urges change

“If you have a heart attack, they send an ambulance ... If you have a psychiatric crisis, a cop comes with a pair of handcuffs and a Taser. I wish I wasn’t saying this but it’s true.” - Angela Kimball, director of Montana state policy for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Defense rests its case in Taser death trial in Winnfield

I couldn't MAKE THIS STUFF UP if I tried!!!

One of today's "expert witnesses" in the manslaughter trail against former Winnfield, Louisiana Police Officer Scott Nugent was Dr. Jeffrey Ho. According to the publication, Mother Jones, Taser International pays Dr. Ho to conduct studies and testify — he got $70,000 during one 12-month stretch (see Mother Jones - Taser's Delirium Defense) - it's a fascinating read. According to sources, Dr. Ho got a ride to the Canadian Braidwood Inquiry, where he admitted he is not a heart specialist, in a Taser jet. Ho also admitted some of his research was co-authored by a former Taser employee who has no medical expertise. Ho is apparently a shareholder in Taser International and some of his research is funded by the company.

According to the news report that follows (see below), the expertise of today's other "expert witness", Dr. Charles Wetli, is sudden death caused by "sickle cell trait". In an article called "Is excited delirium killing coked-up, stun-gunned Miamians?" Dr. Wetli was described as the world's leading expert on excited delirium. Another article said that Wetli is paid to testify as an expert on the "excited delirium" syndrome in "four or five" cases each year, often to defend the police ... Wetli, who said he does not fully understand how excited delirium causes death, said he has cited it "once or twice a year," mostly in police custody deaths. So, in the case of Barron Pikes, it seems Dr. Wetli avoided the very controversial "excited delirium" defense in favour of the "sickle cell trait" defense. WTF??

And then we have the rest of the merry band of Taser-friendlies who have had input into this trial:

Jerry Glas, one of the attorneys defending former Winnfield Police Officer Scott Nugent against manSLAUGHTER, represents Taser International.

"Expert witness" Mark Kroll, Taser shareholder, serves on the corporate board of Taser and has been paid more than $800,000 over the past three years as he has been used as a witness in cases involving Tasers

"Expert witness" Hugh Calkins is a paid consultant for TASER International and sits on one of their Boards.

Taser International is apparently paying for their appearance at the trial.

Renowned New York City medical examiner Michael Baden testified that Pikes, 21, died from cardiac arrest suffered from the repeated Taser shocks. "He was healthy. He was Tasered. He died," Baden testified. "There was no other reason for his death."

October 28, 2010
By Bret H. McCormick, The Town Talk

WINNFIELD — Scott Nugent’s defense team called its final two witnesses to the stand today, Oct. 28, and then rested its case as the former Winnfield police officer’s manslaughter trial nears its end.

Defense attorney Jerry Glas called two more experts in his attempt to paint reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors that Nugent’s repeated use of a Taser led to the Jan. 17, 2008, death of Barron “Scooter” Pikes.

Dr. Jeff Ho, an emergency medicine expert who studies the effects of Tasers on the human body, testified that he’d “never heard” the theory proposed by the prosecution’s star witness, forensic pathologist Michael Baden, who testified earlier that the Taser’s electrical current could have traveled through blood vessels to Pikes’ heart and caused cardiac arrest.

Forensic pathologist Charles Wetli, whose specialty is sudden death caused by sickle cell trait, also provided testimony that attempted to discredit Baden.

Wetli concluded that it wasn’t the “eight or nine” Taser drive stuns administered by Nugent that led Pikes’ death, but rather the fact that Pikes suffered from sickle cell trait.

The prosecution and defense will make their closing arguments beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 29, in the Winn Parish Courthouse before Nugent’s fate is left in the hands of the jury. If convicted, he would face up to 40 years in prison.

Arizona Deputy Fired For Zapping Frog With Taser

FLORENCE, Ariz. -- A Pinal County sheriff's deputy was fired for allegedly using his Taser on a frog, but now the sheriff's office is being forced to take him back.

CBS 5 News obtained the internal investigation on Deputy Raul Alvarado, who other sheriff's office employees said tortured a frog in August of 2009.

Another deputy told investigators that he saw Alvarado apply his Taser to the frog's back for five seconds and the frog's legs shot straight out. "He's taking it like a champion," Alvarado then reportedly told the other deputy. Alvarado allegedly told a female dispatcher that he planned to take the frog into the desert and perform sexual acts on it.

After the internal investigation was complete, the sheriff's office fired Alvarado but he appealed to the county's merit commission and they ruled that he should get his job back. "Alvarado's polygraph was inconclusive so the county couldn't prove its case," said Joe Robison, chairman of the commission. "We are 100 percent sure he did this. The sheriff wouldn't fire someone, especially for being untruthful, unless he was sure," said PCSO spokesman Tim Gaffney.

The sheriff's office has asked the Pinal County Superior Court to uphold the firing.

In the meantime, the Casa Grande Police Department did a criminal investigation on Alvarado and recommended that prosecutors file charges for felony animal cruelty.

As of now, no charges have been filed against Alvarado.

Defense experts begin testimony in Taser death trial in Winnfield

Jerry Glas, one of the attorneys defending former Winnfield Police Officer Scott Nugent against manSLAUGHTER, represents Taser International.

"Expert witness" Mark Kroll, Taser shareholder, serves on the corporate board of Taser and has been paid more than $800,000 over the past three years as he has been used as a witness in cases involving Tasers

"Expert witness" Hugh Calkins is a paid consultant for TASER International and sits on one of their Boards.

Taser International is apparently paying for their appearance at the trial.

Renowned New York City medical examiner Michael Baden testified that Pikes, 21, died from cardiac arrest suffered from the repeated Taser shocks. "He was healthy. He was Tasered. He died," Baden testified. "There was no other reason for his death."

October 28, 2010
Bret H. McCormick, The Town Talk

WINNFIELD -- The defense team in the manslaughter trial of former Winnfield Police Officer Scott Nugent rolled out its first two expert witnesses Wednesday in an attempt to convince the jury that Nugent was not responsible for the death of Barron "Scooter" Pikes.

Nugent, 24, is accused by prosecutors of using a Taser on Pikes, also known as Barron Collins, "eight or nine times," which they say led to Pikes' death following his arrest on an outstanding felony drug warrant on Jan. 17, 2008.

The two expert witnesses -- one who took the stand in the Winn Parish Courthouse and the other who appeared via a videotaped deposition -- attempted to poke holes in the testimony of one of the prosecution's key witnesses.

That witness, renowned New York City medical examiner Michael Baden, testified earlier that Pikes, 21, died from cardiac arrest suffered from the repeated Taser shocks. "He was healthy. He was Tasered. He died," Baden testified. "There was no other reason for his death."

Mark Kroll, a biomedical engineering professor at the University of Minnesota whom the defense submitted as an expert in bioelectricity, and Dr. Hugh Calkins, a cardiology professor at Johns Hopkins University, both disputed Baden's theory.
Kroll and Calkins were the first two defense witnesses called by defense attorney Jerry Glas, a New Orleans attorney who also represents Taser International.

Dressed in a long-sleeve white shirt and black dress pants, Nugent sat stoically between his Pineville attorneys, George Higgins and Phillip Terrell, while Glas presented the defense's case.

Calkins particularly took Baden to task, saying his statement "was not consistent with anyone who has any knowledge of the Taser device." Calkins' deposition was recorded Monday night because he was unable to attend the trial.

The defense's two experts testified that research shows Tasers, particularly the TaserX26 model used by Nugent and the "drive stun" method of using the Taser directly against a suspect's body, cause pain but would not lead to the death of a 6-foot, 250-pound, 21-year-old like Pikes.

"It hurts, but there's zero negative effect on the body," Kroll said.

"That's what the drive stun does," Calkins said. "It doesn't cause arrhythmia. It causes discomfort."

Winn Parish chief prosecutor Steve Crews tried to punch holes in the experts' credibility by showing their close relationships with Taser International, which is paying for their appearance at the Nugent trial.

Both Kroll and Calkins have paid positions on Taser International boards, while Kroll has received nearly $800,000 in compensation over the past three years for his role on the board of directors and as a consultant for Taser.

Those relationships, Crews said, show "bias and prejudice" on the experts' part.
The experts said they haven't hidden their relationships with Taser International, but those relationships give them a unique perspective and knowledge on the effects of the devices.

Crews said Pikes' combination of sickle cell trait, an enlarged heart, high blood pressure from trying to escape arrest and being Tased eight or nine times over a 15-minute span formed a lethal combination that could have led to his death.

Calkins, however, said there is "no evidence" that Tasers can lead to someone's death because the electricity only causes blood pressure to rise "a trivial amount," and the electricity charge is "very superficial. "The Taser ECD (Electronic Control Device) played no role, did not cause or contribute to the death of Mr. Collins (Pikes)," Calkins said.

Judge John Joyce, who earlier in the day seated one of the two alternate jurors because one of the jurors was dismissed "due to unusual circumstances," recessed the trial early Wednesday afternoon as the defense's third witness was not in town yet.
The trial will continue at 9 a.m. today with more defense testimony, and the defense could rest its case as early as this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


What the hell is up with Jerry Glas "who also represents Taser International" and Mark Kroll, who "serves on the corporate board of Taser and has been paid more than $800,000 over the past three years as he has been used as a witness in cases involving Tasers" being front and center at the MAN-SLAUGHTER trial of Former Winnfield Police Officer Scott Nugent????? Jerry Glas, as one of Nugent's attorneys and Mark Kroll as an "expert witness"?????? Mark Kroll, who's been known to say "If one ping-pong ball hit to the head does not kill you, 1,000 probably cannot either"?????

If it looks like a conflict of interest, smells like a conflict of interest, sounds like a conflict of interest, walks, talks and acts like a conflict of interest and GETS PAID like a conflict of interest, then it MUST BE a conflict of interest.

Justice must be seen to be done, to be done.

Bioelectricity expert in Winnfield manslaughter trial says Taser did not cause suspect's death

October 27, 2010

WINNFIELD – The Taser shocks administered to Barron "Scooter" Pikes by police were not the cause of Pikes’ death, a bioelectricity expert testified today, Oct. 27, in a trial in Winnfield.

Former Winnfield Police Officer Scott Nugent, 24, is on trial for manslaughter. He is accused of using a Taser to cause Pikes’ death as Pikes, 21, was being arrested in 2008.

The bioelectricity expert, Mark Kroll of the University of Minnesota, testified for two hours today as the defense began presenting witnesses.

Kroll said the Taser X26 used on Pikes generates 2,000 times less electricity than a defibrillator and that the electric shocks “never came close to the heart” as Pikes was Tasered.

Kroll serves on the corporate board of Taser and has been paid more than $800,000 over the past three years as he has been used as a witness in cases involving Tasers. The prosecution said Kroll is biased.

Concerning a shock by the Taser, Kroll said, “It hurts, but there’s zero negative effect on the body.”

If convicted of manslaughter, Nugent could face up to 40 years in prison.

Ontario Provincial Police closer to getting defibrillator

The lawyer for the family of James Foldi made the same recommendation at the inquest into Mr. Foldi's death, but the recommendation was NOT SUPPORTED by the Niagara Regional Police lawyer, who argued in court that officers are not medical personnel.

So, which is it??

October 27, 2010

OPP are getting closer to putting defibrillators in detachments across the province in light of the recommendation of an inquest jury, says the head of the Norfolk County detachment.

"We're in discussions now," said Insp. Zvonko Horvat. "We're moving in that direction. It'll happen sooner rather than later."

Two weeks ago, the jury at the inquest into the death of Jeffrey Marreel, a Delhi man who collapsed at the Norfolk detachment after being tasered and later died, urged all police stations to get the devices.

Any decision, said Horvat, will apply across Ontario, not just in Simcoe.

"It is a decision being made corporately with regional staff and the risk management unit in Orillia," he said. "In all likelihood, that recommendation will be implemented . . . It only makes sense we have them."

Recommendations from inquest juries are not mandatory but are usually acted upon.

The inquest, held in Hamilton, heard that Marreel, 36, a known drug user with a long history of arrests, died from cocaine poisoning. In June 2008, police answered a call at the lakeside hamlet of Fisher's Glen where they found Marreel acting erratically. Police used a Taser to try to subdue him. He was taken to the Norfolk detachment in Simcoe and then rushed to hospital after he collapsed. Evidence at the inquest suggested Marreel may have been suffering from what's known as excited delirium, a potentially fatal condition.

As a result, the jury also urged all police forces to consider excited delirium as a "medical emergency" that requires immediate medical intervention and that police be trained to recognize its signs.

The jury made nine recommendations.

Horvat said "training is always good . . . We felt the jury was fair. Th e recommendations are legitimate concerns."

Federal Judge allows Civil Rights lawsuit in Texas taser case

October 27, 2010
Jessica Miller, Fox34 News

Lubbock federal judge Sam Cummings rules a civil rights lawsuit filed against a Lubbock police officer can continue to trial on two of the plaintiff's three claims. Belinda Sarabia's suit stems from a 2009 traffic stop during which she was tased by officer Sadie Hockenberry.

Sarabia admits she had been drinking and was a passenger in the vehicle pulled over in a residential neighborhood after the driver ran a stop sign.

Sarabia also admits she did not get out of the car when ordered to do so by the officer.

According to Sarabia, Officer Hockenberry tried to drag her from the vehicle then tased her more than 20 times to force her to exit.

According to court documents, the taser was activated six times.

Sarabia complains of extreme pain, burns and scarring from the tasings.

Judge Cummings rules Sarabia's claims of excessive force and assault can proceed but dismisses a claim of false arrest.

Police-related deaths higher in British Columbia

October 27, 2010
Ian Bailey, Globe and Mail

British Columbia had twice as many jail and police-related deaths as much more populous Ontario in a recent 15-year period that was the focus of a study on the issue for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

The study, released Wednesday and calling for reforms in the investigation and prevention of such incidents, also finds that B.C. had the highest number of deaths a year of any of six provinces and territories for which numbers were available.

“We have what looks like people dying at a higher rate in British Columbia than in any other jurisdiction in the country that provided data,” said David MacAlister, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University and author of the report.

The study covered 1992 to 2007 – the period for which statistics were available. It crunched data from B.C., New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, the Yukon and Ontario. Statistics were not available elsewhere.

In that period, 267 people died in police custody in B.C. – 53 per cent of them accidentally – though the numbers declined from 24 in 1992 to 11 in 2007. That compares with 113 people in Ontario, which provided data only from 1992 to 2006 and has three times the population of B.C.

B.C had the greatest number of deaths per capita, with one per 254,550 people a year, compared with one for every 1.63 million people in Ontario.

Mr. MacAlister, director of SFU’s Institute for Studies in Criminal Justice Policy, said he did not have a theory or explanation to explain why the numbers are so different in B.C.

His research concluded that one person died every three weeks in B.C., every 6.5 weeks in Ontario, every 19.5 weeks in Saskatchewan, every 31 weeks in New Brunswick, every 45.5 weeks in the Northwest Territories and every 71 weeks in the Yukon.

David Eby, executive director for the civil liberties association, said the findings speak to failings in the manner in which B.C. deals with such cases.

“It’s safe to say the safeguards that are supposed to be in place to prevent these deaths in B.C. are not working,” he said in an interview.

He said he was referring specifically to recommendations from various coroners’ inquests and accountability measures when police are accused of using excessive force.

Mr. Eby said the association is hoping the report spurs the government to step up its plans to establish a civilian-led Independent Investigation Office, which would probe in-custody deaths or police cases involving serious injury.

Currently, the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, which is a civilian oversight body, investigates public complaints against officers in B.C.’s non-RCMP municipal forces. The federal Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP deals with complaints against the Mounties.

Former solicitor-general Mike de Jong has said legislation creating the agency could be tabled next year. Rich Coleman, this week named Solicitor-General in a cabinet shuffle, was not available for comment.

Mr. Eby also said he hopes the report will encourage B.C. to look at how to make recommendations from relevant coroners’ inquests more meaningful.

“It’s embarrassing that B.C.’s numbers are so out of whack,” he said.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

AUSTRALIA: Kevin Spratt demands release of second Taser footage

October 25, 2010
David Prestipino, PerthNow

TASER victim Kevin Spratt has written to Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan and Attorney General Christian Porter demanding access to vision of a second Taser attack and a copy of his criminal record by 2pm tomorrow.

Mr Spratt was Tasered up to 13 times by police officers in the East Perth Watch House in September 2008.

A week later he was Tasered a further 11 times at the watch house by officers from the Department of Corrective Services while being removed from his holding cell, an incident he says left him with serious injuries including a punctured lung.

Mr Porter told State Parliament Mr Spratt could have access to vision of the second attack so he could determine whether to press charges against those involved.

But Mr Spratt today claimed Mr Porter was deliberately finding ways to stall the vision being released.

"It must show shocking violence against me because, after the Corrective Services Officers took me out of the cell, I had a busted shoulder, a punctured lung and had to be admitted through the emergency department of Royal Perth Hospital for surgery," he said.

Mr Spratt has also asked Mr O'Callaghan for a copy of his criminal record after it was leaked to the media.

The leak is currently being investigated by the Corruption and Crime Commission, with Mr Spratt saying it was misleading and inaccurate.

"The flow chart handed out by the commissioner and deputy commissioners of police and their motivation behind producing the flow chart, I am assured, is currently under investigation by the CCC," Mr Spratt said.

"That is, that the actions of the commissioner of police and deputy commissioner of police are now under direct investigation by the CCC.

"The flow chart itself is seriously misleading and contains serious inaccuracies, which the CCC is obviously very concerned about and inquiring into at this time.

"I am of the opinion that there has been an obvious attempt to publicly destroy me in advance of any criminal trial of the police.

"I have also therefore asked the CCC to closely examine the police commissioner and his deputy as to the actual motivation behind what the Premier has called an 'unprecedented' attack upon a person who has come forward to make a complaint about police misconduct.

"Accordingly I requested a copy of my record of convictions ... so that I could directly address the inaccuracies."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Two B.C. cops charged over Taser jolt on 73-year-old

October 25, 2010
Ian Bailey, Globe and Mail

A member of the RCMP and a member of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service have been charged with assault in the tasering of a 73-year-old man while in hospital.

The charges relate to an incident on April 22, 2010 in which RCMP, responding to a report of a man with a knife causing a disturbance, took the 73-year-old Surrey resident to hospital for treatment and assessment after apprehending him under the Mental Health Act

Statements released Monday by the RCMP and transit police say the man, while in hospital, was subjected to a single application of force from a Taser wielded by the RCMP officer in the push-stun mode.

The transit officer, who happened to be at the hospital at the time, became involved in the situation, say the statements.

The 73-year-old man suffered a facial laceration requiring sutures.

Following an investigation, Constable Mitchell Spears, a member of the RCMP with two years experience, has been charged with one count of assault and one count of assault with a weapon.

Constable Ken Jensen of the transit police has been charged with one count of assault.

Both officers have been suspended with pay.

“Allegations of this nature are troubling for all of us who are entrusted with the public’s confidence. We must now rely on the full process as set out in law to deal with these allegations,” George Beattie, acting chief for the transit police, said in a statement.

Taser shocker

October 25, 2010

TWO cops Tasered a man and punched him repeatedly in the head as dozens of horrified witnesses looked on.

The heavy-handed tactics came after they had already wrestled the man to the ground. While one officer pinned the man down with a knee on his neck, his colleague fired a Taser at the inside of the man's left thigh at point-blank range. The man yelled in agony before the other cop landed four punches in his face.

As around 30 people booed and jeered at the violent scenes, one of the officers shouted: "He's resisting arrest."

But marketing student Chris Parsons - who filmed the incident in Swansea, South Wales, on his mobile phone - said: "It was shocking and really over the top. The cops were just talking to him and then all of a sudden for no reason it just kicked off. They were being really heavy-handed and you can see from the film how they tried to Taser him once before dragging him across the floor and finally doing it. He was shouting, 'What are you doing to me?' And then the second cop hit him over and over in the head."

Chris, 21 - on a night out with pals in the city - added: "The only way they could justify what happened was if the man had been fighting them, but I didn't see any sign of that. I didn't hang around to see how it ended because they'd seen me filming and I wasn't taking any chances after what I'd just witnessed. You'd think they'd show a little more caution these days when everyone has got a phone and camera with them."

After viewing the footage, South Wales Police said: "We have had no formal complaints but we are aware of this incident and are reviewing the operational response. Due to the matter going to court, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

A 29-year-old man has been charged with criminal damage and released on bail.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It’s tough to be a pit bull

Thanks to KV, who provided the following information:

Oct 18, 2010, Deuce the Neopolitan mastiff, Corvallis, Wa. Bit officer, tased, died of suffocation (in his regular muzzle) while being transported to Humane Society. A previous injury caused swelling in his throat. First report said he was a pit bull.

July 12, 2010, Apollo the pit bull, Altoona Pa. Also was pepper sprayed. “After attempts to find the dog's owner failed, Cpl Boyles said Sgt. William Gibbons struck one of the dogs with a Taser. Boyles said he assumed that is what killed the animal."

Jan 3, 2010, Hershey the pit bull, Salem, Or. Fighting another pit bull, still fighting after 4 shocks, collapsed after 5th one.

Aug 27, 2009, Peatross’s pit bull, Danville, Va. Fighting pitbulls were tased, one lived, one died immediately. Also pepper sprayed. Catch pole choking was blamed.

June 5, 2007, Muscub the boxer, Fredericton, New Brunswick. Tasered, died en route to SPCA Police thought he was a pit bull.

June 5, 2005, Palfoss's pit bull, Portland, Or. 3 or more shocks. The Oregon State University's veterinary lab performed a necropsy on the dog. A preliminarly report concludes the pit bull died from circulatory collapse but reaches no judgement on whether repeated taser shocks killed it. Police insist that tasers didn't kill the dog; rather, they say it died from "over-excitement" after multiple 50,000-volt zaps. Earlier that week (June 1) Portland had issued tasers to all street police.

Oct 3, 2003, unidentified pit bull, Albany, NY. 30 sec+ in 5 second bursts, dead when tasing ended. Could not be revived with heart compressions.

In a September 2008 letter, entitled "Taser safety", published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Mark Kroll explains to Canadian doctors why dogs are better models for the human heart than pigs are: “The second erroneous implication is that small swine provide a reasonable model with which to measure the risk of electrical induction of ventricular fibrillation in humans. Swine, especially small ones, are extremely sensitive to the electrical induction of ventricular fibrillation. In pigs, the Purkinje fibers cross the entire ventricular wall whereas in dogs and humans they are confined to a very thin endocardial layer. Activation in swine proceeds from the epicardium to the endocardium, whereas it occurs in the reverse direction in dogs and humans. Thus, swine are much more sensitive to external electrical currents. In humans, even if the barbs of an electronic control device are placed directly on the cardiac axis, no effect is captured with echocardiographic monitoring.”

Expert testifies in Winnfield trial that Taser killed Pikes

... a day full of testimony and sometimes testy back and forth between one of Nugent's attorneys, Jerry Glas, who also represents Taser International, and one of the state's expert witnesses -- renowned medical examiner Michael Baden from New York City ... "He was healthy. He was Tasered. He died," Baden said. "There was no other reason for his death."

October 24, 2010
By Billy Gunn, The Town Talk

WINNFIELD -- Barron "Scooter" Pikes lay incoherent on the floor of the police station, eyes wide, mumbling, "I wanna go home," and "Somebody help me," with froth on his lips.

Winnfield Police officers, whom Pikes reportedly told he'd done crack cocaine and PCP, offered bad suggestions: "I wish we had a cart, we could put him in the hole," and "Somebody get a wheelbarrow."

Among the voices heard on a video of the scene talking to Pikes as he lay on the floor was Scott Nugent, who at the time was a police officer. Nugent is now a former police officer on trial for manslaughter in connection with Pikes' death.

"Get up, Barron, the ambulance is on the way. Come on, get up," said Nugent, who later drove the ambulance to Winn Medical Center while two paramedics tried to revive Pikes.

The suspect who officers thought was a drug addict too high for conversation and standing upright turned out to be a young man dying in front of their eyes.
What the trial of Nugent, 24, is about is whether Nugent's eight or nine shocks to Pikes with a Taser led to the 21-year-old felon's heart stopping.

Friday was the second day of testimony in Nugent's manslaughter trial in the death of Pikes, whom some in Winnfield called Barron Collins, the name of Pikes' father.
Pikes was wanted on a felony warrant when Nugent and other officers saw him just after lunch on Jan. 17, 2008, chased him and then handcuffed him. Nugent, in 14 to 15 minutes, used a Tasing technique called a "drive stun" eight or nine times as a way to get Pikes off the ground and into a police car.

Witnesses and lawyers said Pikes was afraid of going to jail.

The video, which defense attorneys wanted kept out of the trial, came almost at the end of a day full of testimony and sometimes testy back and forth between one of Nugent's attorneys, Jerry Glas, who also represents Taser International, and one of the state's expert witnesses -- renowned medical examiner Michael Baden from New York City.

Baden, who was featured in the HBO series "Autopsy," said there was no other way to explain a healthy young man dying of cardiac arrest than to rule it came from a Taser stun gun.

"He was healthy. He was Tasered. He died," Baden said. "There was no other reason for his death."

Glas tried to poke holes in Baden's reasoning -- and thereby try to set up reasonable doubt in the minds of 12 jurors and two alternates -- by saying the way the Taser works is administering pain with electricity in a localized area of the body not near the heart.

He said Baden's theory of Pikes' cardiac arrest about 15 minutes after the last Taser shock was unfounded. Baden at one point noted that Glas didn't have a medical degree.

Baden said that just because the stuns were not administered near the heart -- most of the shocks were on Pikes' back -- electricity can course through blood vessels to the heart, damaging it.

At one point, Judge John Joyce had to reprimand both men for a back-and-forth dialogue that was becoming uncivil.

Also testifying Friday was Alexandria cardiologist Harry Hawthorne, who said Pikes could have died from sickle cell disease. In an autopsy report, Youngsville forensics pathologist Joel Carney said Pikes had the sickle cell trait.

The trial resumes Monday in the Winn Parish Courthouse.

If convicted of manslaughter, Nugent could face up to 40 years in prison.

A question of safety - Columbia voters to decide fate of taser use

The company [Taser International] for the first time issued a warning to users to avoid deploying Taser probes into the chest area. “They want to sell the product, but they are still finding out the effects,” Parke said. “The truth is that they do not know the effects of the Taser. Until they can ensure it is not an uncertain weapon, then we should stop using it.”

October 24, 2010
Brennan David, Columbia Daily Tribune

Are Columbia residents safer when police deploy a Taser than when an officer has to get into an all-out brawl with someone resisting arrest?

Those are questions voters might consider Nov. 2 when they decide whether the use of conducted electrical devices, or CEDs, should be banned in the city. The issue comes to voters after a grass-roots organization and the city couldn’t reach common ground when it comes to the safety of Taser use.

People for a Taser-Free Columbia — the group seeking the ban — and those who support Tasers as a law enforcement tool each have data and anecdotal evidence to support their cases.

On the pro-Taser side, there are stories of aggressive suspects and violent situations that have been curtailed when police displayed or deployed a Taser. In those cases, the Taser is a safer choice because officers don’t have to wrestle with suspects to take them into custody, Columbia police training Sgt. John Worden said.

On the flip side, CED incidents gone wrong have raised eyebrows, including in two Mid-Missouri cases. In 2008, Columbia police tased Phillip McDuffy while he was on a bridge over Interstate 70. McDuffy — who’d earlier threatened to jump from the bridge — suffered two broken arms and a skull fracture and eventually reached a $300,000 cash settlement with the city. That same year, a 23-year-old Moberly man, Stanley Harlan, died after a struggle with police that included several Taser deployments. The city of Moberly agreed last year to pay $2.4 million to his survivors.

With some Taser deployments contributing to injuries or death, coalition organizer Mary Hussmann said she hopes Columbia residents realize CEDs are unpredictable.

After more than three years of discussion, one common denominator has surfaced: Both sides are committed to public safety, but each has a different idea of what constitutes a safe, lawful arrest.

If Proposition 2 passes, it will create an ordinance making it illegal for any Columbia police officer, assistant law enforcement officer or resident to threaten to use or activate any CED within the city limits. That includes, but is not limited to, Tasers, stun guns, stun belts or shock sticks.

A violation of the ordinance would be a Class A misdemeanor that could result in up to a one-year prison sentence.

The ordinance would affect personal CED owners: They, too, would be prohibited from using or threatening to use Tasers within city limits. However, individuals would still be able to own, sell or purchase Tasers. The law would be similar to the municipal ordinance on the books that allows residents to own a gun but not brandish or use it in the city limits. Because people would still be allowed to own Tasers, the ordinance would not conflict with the Second Amendment.

If voters approve Proposition 2, Columbia will join a handful of states and cities with bans or restrictions on Tasers and stun guns. Along the East Coast, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have Taser bans. Some states, including Indiana and North Dakota, require individuals to obtain a license to carry Tasers or stun guns, and in other states, only law enforcement officers are allowed to possess them.

People for a Taser-Free Columbia argues that CEDs have caused unacceptable physical and psychological pain and that thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths across the country have occurred after Taser use. The group also objects to the fact officers are allowed to use CEDs against children and the mentally ill, elderly and disabled “merely to obtain compliance.”

Although no death in the United States has been attributed solely to Taser use, supporters of the ban think it’s too risky to deploy a CED on a subject without knowing the person’s medical history. Substance abuse or other health factors combined with a CED deployment can be deadly, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report from June 2008.

Supporters of the ban also believe the device is cruel and is used to punish subjects resisting arrest, Hussmann said.

Columbia police say otherwise.

“We don’t want to hurt anybody, but we have a job to get done,” Worden said. “The public expects us to get it done with a justifiable and reasonable use of force. … If we thought this was unsafe, we wouldn’t subject our officers and citizens to it.”

Taser instructor Officer Jason Baillargeon said the Taser X26 requires 50,000 volts to deploy the probes and shoot them as far as 25 feet. Upon impact, only 1,200 volts are transferred to the subject, he said.

Hussmann counters that officers don’t know how many volts they transfer to the subject. She said she has seen several reports that claim as much as 80,000 volts can be transferred.

The amount depends on a number of factors, Columbia police Chief Ken Burton said Tuesday at a Columbia/Boone County League of Women Voters forum.

“No police use of force is completely reliable and completely predictable,” he said. “Every contact in which a police officer is required to use force in the course of their duties has several variables, one of which is the size of the officer. The size of the suspect. The mental state of the suspect. The physical condition of the officer and suspect are all variables that are completely out of our control. … The use of force by police is never a pretty thing.”

Between Nov. 15 and May 15, Columbia police deployed a Taser 12 of the 27 times officers displayed the device. In three of those cases, officers also combined deployment with a drive stun — when the gun itself is placed against the skin or clothing of a subject. Although internal investigations into officers’ conduct in these cases are incomplete, no injuries were recorded as a result of the Taser use.

During that same six-month period, 30 arrests involved physical strikes or “other” force. “Other” is a Columbia police category to classify any form of use that results in injury to the suspect. Of those arrests, seven resulted in injury to the subject or officer, police records show.

One suspect was allegedly high on PCP, and his arrest required a prolonged struggle that resulted in a concussion, abrasions and bruises to the officer, records show. In another case, a burglary suspect suffered a separated shoulder after he was tackled while resisting arrest.

Residents can expect more of those types of incidents if Proposition 2 is approved because officers would have to resort to strikes and other uses of force, police say.

“Rotator-cuff injuries, broken arms and fingers, ligament and tendon damage, lacerations, back injuries, broken noses, teeth and jaw are injuries that can occur,” Worden said. “You are wrestling a person into custody. If you can think about how you would get hurt in a fight, those things will happen.”

In 2009, Columbia police made 154,591 citizen contacts and 6,833 in-custody arrests, according to a year-end report. Only one baton use was recorded for the entire year; pepper spray was more common, with 85 uses. There were 46 strikes and 11 uses categorized as “other.”

The Taser was deployed or displayed 59 times for the year, 21 of which involved actual deployment. Officers were found to have acted properly in all cases. The 2009 report did not document injuries.

Columbia police began using CEDs in 2005, which, at the time, sparked some interest from the public. But more eyebrows rose when the Columbia City Council approved buying 44 additional Tasers with a $33,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant in 2008. The department had 38 CEDs when that grant was approved.

Hussmann said several concerned residents organized The Coalition to Control Tasers in response to the purchase because little was known about the devices. A justice department report released that year said there was no conclusive evidence indicating a high risk of serious injury or death from the direct effects of CED exposure but acknowledged the device is not risk-free.

“CED technology may be a contributor to ‘stress’ when stress is an issue related to cause of death determination,” the report concluded. “All aspects of an altercation (including verbal altercation, physical struggle or physical restraint) constitute stress that may represent a heightened risk in individuals who have pre-existing cardiac or other significant disease.”

The newly founded organization wanted reports of Columbia police incidents to determine whether CEDs were being properly used and whether they were safe.

But obtaining those reports was difficult, Hussmann said, because police wanted to charge hundreds of dollars to produce those records. The Missouri Sunshine Law allows such fees for public records.

In some cases, records were closed because charges were dropped or never issued on suspects who were tased. Those cases are especially of interest, though, because they might flag instances in which police did not follow protocol, Hussmann said.

“The real essence of what is happening with Tasers is in the details and circumstances of when they are being used,” Hussmann said. “A lot of tasing is not in the public view. The only way to get that is to come up with hundreds of dollars.”

With more officers carrying CEDs — 87 of 110 patrol officers have them — and the difficulty in obtaining CED records, the not-for-profit People for a Taser Free Columbia organized.

Also contributing to the group’s concerns was an October 2009 warning from Taser International, spokeswoman Catherine Parke said. The company for the first time issued a warning to users to avoid deploying Taser probes into the chest area.

“They want to sell the product, but they are still finding out the effects,” Parke said. “The truth is that they do not know the effects of the Taser. Until they can ensure it is not an uncertain weapon, then we should stop using it.”

Columbia police have adopted the guideline.

“Taser is recommending that this is better,” Baillargeon said. “I’m not sure why they changed the policy. Remember, this is not a ‘no shoot,’ but an area that should be avoided.”

People for a Taser Free Columbia eventually gathered more than 4,000 signatures of registered Columbia voters and requested that the city council approve the petition as an ordinance. The council denied that request, instead sending it to the Nov. 2 ballot.

During the same period, Taser policies within the Columbia Police Department were evolving as more information about the device became available. Initially, Columbia police used guidelines provided by Taser International, Worden said. Eventually, they began to adopt Police Executive Research Forum, or PERF, guidelines to distance the department from the manufacturer’s guidelines, which some considered biased.

“Our Taser policy has probably changed more and more than any other policy we have over the last two or three years,” Worden said. “We have gone from a very heavy Taser International policy to one that is PERF guideline-heavy.”

Despite solid policies, though, Worden acknowledged that officers will make mistakes.

Columbia police officers aren’t the only ones who would be affected if Proposition 2 is approved.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department also would have to revisit its Taser use. Fifty-eight Boone County employees are certified to carry Tasers during patrol and other law enforcement activities that often bring deputies into the city limits to make arrests or follow up on investigations, Sheriff Dwayne Carey said. Deputies also are responsible for serving a significant number of court orders and ex partes within the city limits.

“I call it the fertile circle of Columbia,” Carey said. “It is not uncommon for part of a road to be in the county and the other half in the city. We would be asking a deputy in a high-stress situation trying to decide what use of force will stop the threat then have to think, ‘Am I in the city or county?’ ”

The Boone County Jail also is in the city limits and would fall within the requirements of the proposed Taser ordinance. CEDs were introduced to the jail in 2004, with three Tasers in service, according to jail statistics. Today, there are 11 Tasers at the jail.

Jail Chief Warren Brewer said most Taser use in the jail is in response to physical force that does not rise to the point of deadly force.

“Most individuals that are tased are in a situation where they are being combative or violently self-abusive,” Brewer said. “We have a 20-1 ratio. The last thing we want is for a firearm to get into the hands of 20 to 25 inmates.”

Prisoners have apparently caught on, and just seeing the device is enough to calm some situations. Records show Taser probe deployments have been cut in half since 2004; there were 18 deployments that year and nine last year. On the flip side, jailers have displayed the weapon six times this year, compared to zero times in 2004.

“Some individuals that might have been subject to use before of them don’t want to mess with them anymore,” Brewer said. “If necessary, they voluntarily comply. Word gets around.”

Brewer did not categorize the device as necessary for jailers — they got by for years without them. But the concrete and steel jail environment makes for a dangerous wrestling ring, he said.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the University of Missouri Police Department often assist Columbia police but do not carry Tasers or other CEDs. MU police Capt. Brian Weimer said the cost of CEDs, their upkeep and training are the biggest reasons for not investing.

The state highway patrol is also satisfied with the equipment and tools troopers already have at their disposal. Only the highway patrol’s gaming division and SWAT team use CEDs, spokesman Capt. Tim Hull said.

“Our gaming division uses them because of the close proximity of people in a casino setting. Pepper spray couldn’t be used in those situations,” Hull said. “Our SWAT team uses them for the obvious reasons, but road officers are not assigned Tasers because we have too many other options.”

Hull said those options include the baton and OC spray, also known as pepper spray. He also said the issuance of thousands of Tasers, their upkeep and the continued training would be a much more daunting task for the highway patrol than for a police force of 200 officers.

Taser use by the highway patrol would require legislative approval.

The proposed Taser ban in Columbia has drawn opposition from various city leaders and groups. Mayor Bob McDavid has publicly expressed concern about taking a tool away from police. The Columbia Chamber of Commerce this month announced its opposition to the ban, citing the need for a safe community to draw visitors and businesses.

Keep Columbia Safe also opposes the ban. That’s the group responsible for the April election victory to place cameras in downtown Columbia. Organizer Karen Taylor said CEDs are tools that aid law enforcement.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Med examiner: Minneapolis man's death by police Taser a homicide

Contributing conditions: "prone restraint position, mixed chlorpheniramine and dextromethorphan intoxication, schizoaffective disorder, recent conducted energy device [Taser] use and physical exertion during [the] struggle." The medications mentioned are commonly used to treat allergies and severe coughs.

October 23, 2010
Abby Simons and Paul Walsh, Star Tribune

The death of a 28-year-old Minneapolis man shot with a Taser by Minneapolis police last month was ruled a homicide Friday by the Hennepin County medical examiner.

David Cornelius Smith, whose family has said he suffered from mental illness, died Sept. 17 at Hennepin County Medical Center, eight days after his confrontation with police at the downtown Minneapolis YMCA.

According to the medical examiner, Smith "suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained" and died of "anoxic encephalopathy" caused by the heart having stopped, though it was restarted via CPR.

The medical examiner's report listed contributing conditions as "prone restraint position, mixed chlorpheniramine and dextromethorphan intoxication, schizoaffective disorder, recent conducted energy device [Taser] use and physical exertion during [the] struggle." The medications mentioned are commonly used to treat allergies and severe coughs.

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said Friday that the officers who shot Smith with a Taser "followed proper protocol and policies."

Smith's uncle, Larry Smith of Oak Park, Ill., said the finding confirmed what the family suspected all along. Smith added that tests finding only cold medicine was in his nephew's system -- not drugs or alcohol -- also is vindication.

"It's been one of those rollercoaster rides -- you can't get excited, you can't do anything because we're still waiting to see what else is going on," Larry Smith said. "We still haven't heard one thing from the police. Not one word of apology, except for 'Too bad, all of this would have been avoided if Smith left the gym.' "

Police say they were responding to a complaint that Smith had harassed a 13-year-old boy and observed that he appeared to be under the influence of something or having a mental health episode.

When officers tried to take Smith into custody, he fought, according to a police warrant. He punched one officer in the face; the other officer's back was injured in the scuffle. The officers shot Smith with a Taser and handcuffed him. When Smith lost consciousness, the officers called for an ambulance and began CPR.

"This is a tragic situation," Dolan said, "and ... I would like to extend our sympathies to the family. ... The unfortunate reality is that in any situation where use of force is required, police officers can act appropriately and still have a tragic result."

The death is being investigated by internal affairs and homicide units, and findings will be forwarded to the Hennepin County attorney's office for review, the chief said.

Smith, who came to Minneapolis from Peoria, Ill., about eight years ago, was buried recently in Peoria.

Larry Smith said the chief's condolences mean little. "His words are not comforting," he said. "It's a little too late."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Forensic expert says Taser caused death

October 22, 2010
Associated Press

WINNFIELD, La. (AP) - A well known forensic pathologist testifies that the shocks that ex-cop Scott Nugent administered to a handcuffed man caused his death.

Prosecutors called Dr. Michael Baden as an expert witness in the death of Baron Pikes.

baden testified in the O.J. Simpson trial and was the host of the HBO program "Autopsy." Baden told jurors that Pikes did not have any medical conditions that would have killed him, and he did not find any other reason a healthy man would die so suddenly.

Nugent administered eight or nine shocks with a Taser when Pikes refused to comply with orders. Pikes was handcuffed at the time.

On cross examination, defense attorney Jerry Glas worked to discredit Baden, asking him about his qualifications as an expert on electricity and on the Taser.

Pit bull Tased by police later dies

October 21, 2010
Gazette Times

The complaint of a vicious dog at large Monday ended with a pit bull biting one police officer, that officer Tasing the pit bull, and with the dog dying somewhere between its owner’s backyard and the animal shelter.

...Mable Akina said she arrived home Monday to find officers at her door. They told her the dogs were out loose and that they had been alarmed about the aggressive behavior of the big one (Deuce). It was after Akina went to the backyard to check on the dogs that the officers told her that they’d used a Taser (a device that shoots out a temporarily disabling electric shock) — on Deuce. The device is meant to be an alternative to lethal force.

Mable Akina said that both Deuce and the puppy looked fine, however, and she agreed to bring Deuce to the front and put a muzzle on him so that the officers could take him to Heartland Humane Society. That is the normal procedure after an owner is cited in connection with a dog attack.

“When he went into the truck he was fine,” she said. “Just scared.”

An officer later returned to the Akina house to tell them that when the doors to the animal control transport were opened at Heartland’s shelter in south Corvallis, Deuce was dead.

Mable Akina said that the officer suspected that the Tasing might be to blame, but Deuce’s body was transported to Oregon State University for testing to determine a cause of death.

As of Thursday, the pit bull’s body remained at OSU.

“We’re still waiting” to learn the official cause of death, she said

Nugent jurors hear audio interview in first day of Taser trial in Winnfield

October 22, 2010
Billy Gunn, The Town Talk

WINNFIELD -- After he was shocked for an eighth and final time, Barron "Scooter" Pikes didn't scream in pain anymore, the former police officer accused of killing Pikes said in a taped interview with investigators.

Former Winnfield Police Officer Scott Nugent said he and another officer then helped Pikes out of a police car and into the police station, sat him down in a chair and listened as Pikes told them he had asthma, was on PCP and crack cocaine, and that they'd be sorry for his death.

"He kept falling out of his chair," Nugent said on the recording to State Police investigator Chad Gremillion and others in a Jan. 31, 2008, interview. "He said we were going to regret what we did to him."

The audio recording was played Thursday to a jury of 12, along with two alternates, in the first day of the manslaughter trial of Nugent, 24, who is accused of using a Taser to shock Pikes multiple times before the drug suspect was pronounced dead at a local hospital in January 2008.

Nugent and two other officers were trying to arrest Pikes, who was wanted on an outstanding felony drug warrant. Nugent shocked the resisting Pikes, who attorneys said knew he was going to prison, multiple times after he was handcuffed to get him into a police car.

Nugent also told State Police that he recorded a video of Pikes at the police station. The use of the video as evidence was opposed by Nugent's attorneys, who last week asked Judge John Joyce to suppress it. Joyce has not ruled on the motion, though jurors heard about its existence on Thursday.

The case has generated some racial tensions in Winnfield, a town of about 5,700, which was evident in the eight days it took to seat a jury.

Winn Parish District Attorney Chris Nevils at one point asked Judge Joyce to move the trial to another locale, citing the difficulty in finding black jurors who hadn't formed hardened opinions.

The jury, seated Wednesday, is composed of one black male, one black female, two white males and the rest white females. Both alternates are white females.

Both Nevils and one of Nugent's attorneys, Jerry Glas, said race was not a factor in Pikes' death. Pikes was black. Nugent is white.

In opening statements, Glas blasted some media accounts of Jan. 17, 2008, that Pikes might have been dead before the last two shocks were administered, a claim disputed by witnesses.

Glas said the way Nugent used the Taser on Pikes -- administering "drive stuns," where the Taser itself is pressed against the skin and probes are not stuck into the skin -- threw out the possibility that shocking Pikes caused cardiac arrest.

Glas also said Nugent's actions when the ambulance arrived -- Nugent drove the vehicle so the two paramedics could work to try to save Pikes -- showed the former officer was concerned.

But Nevils had a different take on Jan. 17, 2008, saying Pikes "died at the hands of this man, Scott Nugent."

Pikes "did nothing more than say he didn't want to go to jail," Nevils said. The DA also said Nugent used a Taser on Pikes nine times instead of eight.

"We're going to show you "» that the force used in the case was unreasonable, unwarranted and unnecessary," Nevils told the jury.

Among the witnesses the state will call are a cardiologist; a forensic pathologist; and a doctor who performs autopsies -- Michael Baden, a nationally renowned doctor who had a show on HBO, "Autopsy."

Glas mocked the credibility of Baden, who he said "never met a camera he didn't like," and said a more credible account of Pikes' death is a report by Youngsville forensic pathologist Dr. Joel Carney.

In a report dated March 10, 2008, Carney ruled that the cause of Pikes' death was inconclusive. Carney wrote that sickle cell trait and an enlarged heart could have contributed to the death of the 21-year-old, 6-foot-tall, 247-pound man.

The report also did not show any PCP or cocaine in Pikes' body.

The trial continues today in the Winn Parish Courthouse.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Scotland: Amnesty International calls for probe into 'unlawful' use of Taser stun guns

Oct 21 2010
Daily Record

A HUMAN rights group today called for a "thorough evaluation" of the use of Taser stun guns by police forces. Amnesty International has already branded a six-month pilot scheme in the Strathclyde force area as "unlawful" - a position rejected by the First Minister and police.

Now, one day after the trial ended, the group demanded a probe and called on the Scottish Government to take control.

John Watson, Scottish programme director for Amnesty International, said: "The Firearms Act clearly states that new police deployments of Taser must have written authorisation from Government ministers. And court judgements have made it clear that police use of Tasers must be bound by an appropriate legal and administrative framework. Alas, Strathclyde Police do not want to be bound by these controls and the Scottish Government are failing to exercise them."

Thirty officers took part in the latest trial in South Lanarkshire.

Amnesty said Tasers, which deliver electric shocks to their targets, "have a role" in policing but should be handled by properly-trained people acting on decisions by senior officers. Mr Watson added: "It is controls such as these which have set our policing apart from countries such as the USA and Australia, where the use of Tasers to force compliance on non-violent subjects has become commonplace. The Strathclyde pilot reduces the threshold for use of Taser, removes key safeguards governing their use and normalises the presence of these weapons on Scottish streets."

Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Robert Brown MSP backed the group's call and said: "For months now I have been calling on the SNP Justice Secretary to take full policy responsibility for the use of Tasers in Scottish police forces.

"The Justice Secretary must also clear up the issue over the legality of tasers that Amnesty International Scotland continues to raise."

Campbell Corrigan, Assistant Chief Constable at Strathclyde Police, said: "Our position is that the chief constable has the lawful authority to carry out the Taser pilot and that it was European Convention on Human Rights-compliant."

Australia: Sergeant could lose job over Taser initiation rituals

October 21, 2010
WA News

A former Rockingham police sergeant will have to fight to save his job following an investigation into bizarre claims of Taser initiation rituals of junior officers.

The 53-year-old senior officer was one of four police being investigated over allegations Tasers were used in initiation ceremonies on new recruits at the Rockingham police station.

The misuse of Tasers is suspected to have gone on for months and involved up to 22 complaints.

Advertisement: Story continues below The sergeant and a senior constable were stood down from duty, on full pay, while two constables were confined to office work, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The complaints, which came from within the Rockingham station, also included the use of Tasers in a general hooligan way.

The sergeant has been served with a "Loss of Confidence" notice and is now required to show cause as to why Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan should not sack him.

He has 21 days to reply and his response will then undergo an extensive review process before a final decision is reached.

The sergeant has been a member of the WA Police for more than 36 years.

The internal investigation into the conduct of a senior constable involved in the same matter is continuing.

The two contables were considered to have committed only a minor role in the Taserings and underwent internal disciplinary action. This can take the form of fines and/or counselling, but police would not reveal what punishments were received in this case. Both have resumed full active duties.

WA Police recently made international headlines over the Tasering of an Aboriginal man 13 times in August 2008.

Damning internal footage of the East Perth watch house showed nine officers Taser Kevin Spratt, as he lay on the ground screaming in agony.

The matter, which police acknowledged was indefensible, has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate whether any officers should be charged over the incident and police are also holding an internal inquiry.

However Mr O'Callaghan has stopped short of saying that Tasers should be banned from the force.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Family absent from Marreel inquest

October 20, 2010
By Barbara Simpson — Delhi News-Record
Posted 12 hours ago

Jeffrey Marreel would become a father. He just wouldn't be alive to experience it.

The 36-year-old Delhi man had a daughter seven months after his death, his mother Margaret said. His now two-year- old daughter is missing out on a father who adored children.

Marreel had a special bond with his two nieces, Margaret recalled. He loved to colour, tickle and wrestle with his sister's children.

Becoming a father may have also been enough for him to kick his cocaine addiction.

"Maybe that would have turned him around," Margaret said. "Who knows?"

This question will remain unanswered. Marreel died in June 2008 after acting erratically in Fisher's Glen. After a weekend cocaine binge, he was discovered chopping a tree and talking to himself by police, a jury at the inquest into his death heard last week.

Marreel was zapped three times with a Taser to no effect. He was taken to the Norfolk OPP detachment in Simcoe where he fell into unconsciousness. Later he died at Norfolk General Hospital.

The use of a Taser was not a factor in his death, testified medical experts last week. Instead Marreel may have been suffering from excited delirium. It is a fatal condition whose symptoms mimic that of cocaine intoxication. Symptoms include agitation, paranoia and unexpected strength.

On Friday, the five-member panel took this condition into consideration, offering suggestions to improve medical care for suspected cases of mental illness and drug abuse.

If paramedics suspect either mental health or drug issues, they must transport the patient immediately for medical care, the jury recommended Friday. Ambulances should also be outfitted with appropriate medication for these incidents and utilize police for medical transportation if the patient cannot be calmed down.

A lack of medical care was offered to her son, Margaret believes. Instead of being taken into the hospital, Marreel was transported to the police detachment.

"That's the mistake they made," she said.

The inquest also heard a defibrillator was not available at the police detachment when Marreel collapsed. The Norfolk detachment still isn't equipped with the device.

In its verdict the jury urged all OPP detachments to be outfitted with an automatic emergency defibrillator. Station personnel should also be trained to utilize the life-saving machine.

While the jury was urged to speak for Jeffrey, the Marreel family was noticeable absent from the inquest. His death has been hard on the family of former tobacco growers.

"It bothers me every day," Margaret said.

Marreel was a naturally hyperactive child, she recalls. A harrowing ordeal, however, changed the behaviour of her then 14-year-old son. The family asked that details about this event not be published.

As Marreel grew up, she didn't keep atop of all his activities, she admitted. She didn't know too much about his drug habit. She also only learned about her son's girlfriend expecting a child at her son's funeral.

"Well, when they're gone, you don't know what they're doing," she said. "Delhi is full of drug addicts. Are they (police) going to do that to them too?"

The Marreel family is awaiting a copy of the recommendations. They are trying to stay away from all the information published on their late relative.

"The less I know, the better," Margaret added.

Keep Columbia Safe says ‘no’ on Taser ban

October 20, 2010
Columbia Daily Tribune

Grass-roots organization Keep Columbia Safe has announced its opposition to a city ban on the use of Tasers and other conducted electrical devices, or CEDs.

Columbia voters will decide Nov. 2 whether CED use should be allowed within city limits. Keep Columbia Safe, which led a successful effort earlier this year to allow the placement of downtown surveillance cameras, is encouraging voters not to support the ban proposed in Proposition 2.

Passage of Proposition 2 would make it illegal for law enforcement or any other individuals to threaten to use or activate any CED. The ordinance would ban Tasers, stun guns, stun belts and shock sticks within city limits.

The measure originated with a petition drive by the local coalition People for a Taser-Free Columbia.

“We believe Columbia police officers and other public safety professionals deserve the best tools available as they do their duty in difficult, and often dangerous, situations,” said Karen Taylor, Keep Columbia Safe organizer.

Keep Columbia Safe will host a Taser education forum at 5 p.m. next Wednesday at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, 300 S. Providence Road. Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey will speak.

Australia: Tasers become a 'last resort'

October 20, 2010
Jodie Minus, The Australian

THE NSW government has bowed to pressure from the state Ombudsman to make Tasers a weapon of last resort.

The move follows a series of controversial uses of the stun guns.

But police have failed to act on a recommendation by NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour that an adverse complaint finding be made against a riot squad officer who used inappropriate and excessive force when he tasered a Sydney man, his 2009-10 annual report released yesterday reveals.

The changes in Taser operating procedures within the NSW police come amid a national debate about the use of the weapon by police forces, brought to the fore by an incident in Western Australia in which police tasered an unthreatening man 13 times.

Mr Barbour said standard operating procedures for Tasers were left too open to interpretation and the discretion of individual officers. In the annual report he called for them to be upgraded, to make clear that stun guns should only be used in situations where a person is violently confronting or resisting police.

Mr Barbour made the same recommendations in his 2008 report to parliament, The Use of Tasers in the NSW Police Force, but police so far "refused to do this".

But six hours after the annual report was released yesterday, Police Minister Michael Daley and Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione issued a joint statement saying the procedures would be tightened.

"This amendment will simply leave no doubt in (officers') minds that Tasers are to be used as a last resort and that they are no substitution for using negotiation and conflict-resolution skills," Mr Daley said.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Australia: Premier puzzled by release of criminal history

October 18, 2010
ABC News

The Premier Colin Barnett says it is unusual that police chose to release the criminal history of the man at the centre of a taser scandal.

Yesterday, the Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan released a timeline of events detailing the original arrest of Kevin Spratt and subsequent incidents where they allege he was violent.

In one of three incidents, Mr Spratt was tasered 13 times at the East Perth Watch House in 2008. On another occasion he was tasered 11 times by officers from the Department of Corrective Services.

Mr Barnett says he was surprised to hear that police had taken the step. "Ah it was unusual. I guess you've got to ask the Police Commissioner why he's done that," he said. "I don't think it detracts or draws us away from the issue that the treatment of that person, Mr Spratt in that situation was unacceptable."

The Taser debate, Down Under

October 18, 2010
Patricia Treble, Macleans Magazine

The video is chilling. Police in Western Australia surround a man writhing and screaming on the floor of a police station after being repeatedly tasered for refusing to comply with a strip search. “Do you want to go again?” one asks. Moments later the Aboriginal man, Kevin Spratt, is tasered again. And again. In total, two officers tasered him 13 times, while nine cops watched. The 2008 incident is only coming to attention after video of it was released last week by the state’s Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) as part of a report into the use of Tasers by police. The reaction was horror. “That particular incident was wrong,” said Western Australia’s acting police commissioner, Chris Dawson. “Clearly, in my view, the officers overreacted.” Premier Colin Barnett echoed the sentiment: “It was excessive use of a Taser that could not be justified.”

And like the video of four RCMP officers confronting Robert Dziekanski—who died after being tasered—at Vancouver’s airport in 2007, this Australian footage, along with the report, has sparked a debate about how Tasers are used. The weapons, which disable a person with up to 50,000 volts of electricity, were introduced in Western Australia in 2007 to prevent injury. Now they account for 65 per cent of reported “uses of force.” (The use of pepper spray, another option, decreased significantly, while the use of firearms has doubled.) And Tasers are being used not to prevent injury, as intended, but to enforce compliance with police orders, especially against Aboriginals and the mentally ill.

Now the Australian Council for Civil Liberties wants a national inquest into use of the Taser. They could look to Canada for help. In June, after an exhaustive inquiry into the Dziekanski death, retired justice Thomas Braidwood concluded in June that “the five deployments of the Taser and the physical struggle with the four RCMP officers contributed substantially to Mr. Dziekanski’s death.” He also blasted the officers for their “shameful conduct.” Earlier he urged police to restrict the use of Tasers until their safety was studied.

As for the two Australian police officers who tasered Spratt, they were fined $750 and $1,200 respectively for using the weapon “for compliance rather than to prevent injury.” Police say criminal charges weren’t considered because Spratt didn’t ask for them. Spratt, now out of custody, is outraged: “I have been tortured in police custody and the police are trying to put a further injustice upon me by blaming me for the failure to prosecute the officers.” The attorney general has called for a review of disciplinary procedures.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Justice ministers issue national guidelines on Tasers

October 15, 2010
The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - Federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers have agreed to new general guidelines on Taser use, but the broad recommendations come months after many provinces enacted similar rules on their own.

The new guidelines say "where possible" Taser use should be "avoided" on the pregnant, frail and elderly, as well as on children.

The guidelines add Tasers generally shouldn't be used on people who are already restrained, or who are driving a vehicle, bicycle or snowmobile.

Police officers are also urged to avoid zapping sensitive areas of the body such as the head, throat and genitals.

The guidelines echo those announced in Ontario this past March. Alberta, Nova Scotia and British Columbia clamped down on their Taser use policies last year.

"The development of these new national guidelines is another significant step in strengthening public confidence in police use of this important tool," federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said after a meeting of his provincial and territorial counterparts in Vancouver.

The new guidelines say police should avoid giving people successive jolts with a conducted energy weapon — the generic term — or zapping them for too long unless a single deployment fails to allow police to gain physical control of the person.

As well, police forces should establish a training policy and minimum training requirements for officers authorized to use a Taser, as well as for those who train others.

The latter point was underscored in an in-depth review of the Victoria Police Department's use of force policies that was also released Friday.

The report, by Vince Bevan, a retired Ottawa police chief, found that although the Victoria force was among the first in Canada to start using Tasers, its training in the use of the weapons had fallen drastically behind.

The report found that in 2005, all front-line Victoria police officers were trained and certified to use Tasers. But there has only been refresher training twice since then.

The Justice Institute of B.C. had included Taser training in their recruit program, but that was discontinued in 2006. As a result, no Victoria police officer hired since then has been certified to use the weapon.

"Because of the gaps in training, the effect of the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver Airport and the subsequent Braidwood inquiry, few of the qualified officers are carrying the Taser as part of their regular equipment," wrote Bevan.

Among his 80 recommendations, Bevan urged the Victoria force to overhaul its Taser training program.

Bevan's report also noted a lax structure of keeping track of the Tasers in Victoria. Bevan noted they could be signed out by officers to be carried on patrol, but there was no process to ensure they were later returned.

The justice ministers also agreed that better tracking of the devices was needed. The guidelines include a requirement that an accurate inventory of the weapons be maintained, including their location.

Officers should be required to check their conducted energy weapon before and after their shifts and they should be required to submit a report whenever they've discharged one.

Those reports should be available to the public.

David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the national guidelines introduced Friday are hardly a breakthrough.

"It's frustrating for us because they're so far behind," Eby said in an interview. "Most of what we understand they're recommending has already been done."

Eby said the justice ministers would have been better served to look at policy changes around the introduction and testing of new weapons.

When Ontario brought in its guidelines, critics panned the changes as "grossly inadequate," saying they do little to address concerns raised amid incidents that have seen police use Tasers against youths or the mentally ill.

At least 20 people in Canada are known to have died after being struck with a Taser.

Taser International has long insisted the weapon cannot kill.

Despite the myriad of bad publicity surrounding police use of the Taser, the head of the B.C. inquiry into their use rejected calls for an outright ban on the weapons.

Police groups across the country argue conducted energy weapons are less lethal than guns and save lives as a result.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Train police to recognize cocaine-induced delirium, inquest hears

As our friend over at Excited-Delirium said just yesterday: "Justice Braidwood (see Braidwood Inquiry) described 'excited delirium' as "unhelpful". It's looking more and more that the entire concept may be far worse than just a neutral "unhelpful". It's used to justify a response, but ignore the medical risks of whatever is ACTUALLY going on."

Even the RCMP has removed itself from the term "excited delirium."

It's time for ONTARIO to wake the hell up and extricate itself from the church of taser!!

October 15, 2010
Barb Brown, Hamilton Spectator

Ontario Provincial Police should equip every detachment with automatic defibrillators and ensure that all officers are trained to use them and to recognize a potentially fatal medical condition known as excited delirium.

These are among five recommendations jointly agreed to by coroner's counsel and lawyers with standing at the inquest into the sudden death of a 36-year-old Delhi man who was in the custody at the OPP's Norfolk detachment on June 23, 2008.

Jeffrey Marreel was arrested that morning for creating a public disturbance in the hamlet of Fisher's Glen, about 10 kilometres southwest of Port Dover. An autopsy concluded he died of a fatal cardiac arrest brought on by acute cocaine toxicity.

Dr. Margaret Thompson, an emergency room physician with expertise in cocaine poisoning and the rare, but related medical emergency known as "excited delirium," testified there was enough cocaine in Marreel's system to kill him. She said his aggressive behaviour, including attacking trees and traffic signs, hitting himself with a piece of metal, ranting and shouting incoherently, were indications that he was experiencing excited delirium, which was likely a contributing factor to his death.

The inquest heard Marreel exhibited "superhuman strength" and appeared impervious to pain as up to six police officer struggled to control and restrain him. A senior officer zapped Marreel with a Taser on stun mode several times, however, a report of a cardiologist who has researched Taser effects said the electroshock weapon did not appear to be a factor in Marreel's death.

Coroner's counsel Karen Shea argued that Marreel's death should be classified as an accident, as opposed to have occurred by natural causes, suicide, homicide and undetermined causes. Shea made five recommendations to the jurors at the inquest that were adopted by lawyers for the OPP and the provincial police officer's professional association. The lawyers recommend that:

--The OPP should equip all detachments with automatic emergency defibrillators and ensure officers are properly trained to use the machine.

--Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and base hospitals responsible for the training paramedics ensure that all medical emergency personnel are trained to recognize excited delirium as a medical emergency that can potentially be fatal.

--The OPP and Ontario Police College enhance training to ensure that all new recruits of police services in the province are trained to recognize indicators and the potentially lethal effects of excited delirium.

-- The OPP provide updated training annually for its front-line officers on the recognition of excited delirium.

--Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services issue directives to all police services in the province to ensure that all police officers receive annual training on the signs and risks associated with excited delirium.

Coroner Jack Stanborough told the jury it must reach a majority decision on each of five questions, including, who was killed, where, when, how and by what means? The jury retired to deliberate at 11:30 a.m.

Taser jolts didn’t kill man, coroner’s inquest hears

Every time an inquest is held in this province after a person was tasered and died, the coroner parades the same cast of characters, whose testimony goes completely unquestioned and is counterproductive to finding out what really caused the person to die.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that cardiologist Paul Dorion has testified in the past that tasers aren’t quite as non-lethal as they might seem. But he's not being paid to say that here.

See, for example, this post:

Taser jolts didn’t kill man, coroner’s inquest hears

It’s pathetic that no one is at the inquest to ask these “expert witnesses” any tough questions!!

October 14, 2010
Barbara Brown, Hamilton Spectator

A Taser deployed by an OPP officer on a paranoid and out-of-control cocaine binger did not cause the Norfolk man’s fatal heart attack nearly one hour later, says a cardiologist’s report to a coroner’s jury.

Dr. Paul Dorian, a research scientist, cardiologist and pharmacologist, submitted his report to Coroner Jack Stanborough, but was not available to testify Thursday during a third day of evidence at the inquest in Hamilton into the death of Jeffrey Mark Marreel, 36.

The Delhi man suffered a fatal cardiac arrest while in police custody the morning of June 23, 2008, approximately 55 minutes after being jolted several times with a Taser on “stun mode.”

Marreel, who was erratic and agitated from a weekend of snorting, smoking and injecting cocaine, displayed almost “superhuman strength” and showed no response to the Taser or other pain during a struggle with up to six police officers.

Witnesses called Norfolk OPP because the man had been walking around destroying property and generally wreaking havoc near Fisher’s Glen Road and Front Road.

Marreel was eventually restrained by police and placed in the back of a cruiser, where he was briefly examined by a paramedic. He continued to be incoherent and combative and refused medical treatment for two lacerations to his head. Marreel was taken to Simcoe provincial police station.

The prisoner lost consciousness and was observed to have no vital signs. CPR efforts failed and the man was pronounced dead at Norfolk General Hospital.

Dorian noted there has been considerable debate about the potential for Tasers to have cardiac effects and possibly contribute to life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. But to have this effect, he said, the Taser would have to be applied to the torso with its current path crossing the heart. In that situation, he said, the cardiac effect would occur “within seconds of application.”

“In (this) situation, the Taser application was approximately one hour prior to the observed loss of consciousness, and appears to have been applied to the subject’s extremities (two jolts to the back of the shoulder and one to the arm). In this circumstance, there is no possibility that the Taser application played any role in the subject’s subsequent cardiac arrest.”

Dorian concluded Marreel’s sudden cardiac death was caused by acute cocaine toxicity.

In other evidence, Dr. Margaret Thompson, a specialist in emergency medicine and medical director of the Ontario Poison Centre, said she believes excited delirium (once called cocaine psychosis) was a contributing factor in Marreel’s death, secondary to acute cocaine toxicity.

The paramedic who examined Marreel in the back seat of the police cruiser noted a somewhat elevated heart rate, but was not able to do a proper assessment because of his combativeness. Thompson said she would not have released such a patient from medical care, given that he was exhibiting symptoms of excited delirium can lead to sudden death.

Coroner’s counsel Karen Shea, Lorenzo Policelli, counsel for the Ontario Provincial Police and William MacKenzie, the lawyer for the police association, are to make closing arguments to the jury on Friday.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Australia: Officers using tasers with inbuilt cameras obscured

The Greens have MY vote!!

October 14, 2010
Brisbane Times

The NSW government should conduct an inquiry into police use of tasers, after it was revealed that officers were using them with their inbuilt cameras obscured, the Greens say.

The 146 instances where cameras were obscured in the 18 months to September this year represented 13 per cent of all taser incidents during that period, figures released by the government showed.

NSW Greens MP John Kaye said the high number of times where the safeguard mechanism was being turned off is evidence of systematic abuse.

"It's very clear the training of police and the regulation of the use of tasers is inadequate," Mr Kaye told ABC Radio on Friday.

"It is time for the NSW government to conduct a thorough inquiry into the use of tasers, into the way the training is working and into the way the police are responding to the opportunities to use tasers," he said.

Virginia man dies after police taser him

Karreem A. Ali, 65, Montgomery County, Virginia

(The man had been in critical condition since police tasered him on Sunday)

Three hits from Taser failed to subdue Delhi man

October 14, 2010
By Barbara Simpson — Delhi News-Record

HAMILTON — A Norfolk OPP sergeant zapped Jeffrey Marreel three times with a Taser in an attempt to subdue him, an inquest jury into the death of the Delhi man heard Wednesday.

The Taser was set in dry stun mode, which has been proven ineffective for people with excited delirium.

An OPP training video presented as evidence by the Crown at the John Sopinka Courthouse says operating a Taser in the dry stun mode — where the probes remain on the Taser as opposed to being fired off — is "not effective" in ensuring pain compliance for people with excited delirium.

Norfolk OPP Sgt. Dean Skelding operated his Taser in such a manner when he zapped Marreel on the neck and shoulder area, back and rear left arm on June 23, 2008. He was attempting to have Marreel comply with an order to lie flat on the ground, Skelding said.

He opted for the dry stun mode as opposed to firing off the probes for the safety of surrounding officers.

Skelding's first attempt to administer the five-second zap was unsuccessful on Marreel, who was in a crouched position on Fisher's Glen Road, the jury heard.

"He bucked me off at the one to 1.5 (seconds) one," Skelding recalled.

The next two attempts — on Marreel's back and later on his rear left arm — were administered for the full length of time. This didn't deter Marreel, who eventually ripped off Skelding's body armour.

"The whole front piece came off which made it more dangerous for me," Skelding testified.

Marreel was eventually taken to the Norfolk OPP detachment in Simcoe where officers noticed he had stopped moving as they tried to put a waist restraint on him.

Officers performed CPR while an ambulance was en route to the detachment.

Marreel, 36, was pronounced dead at Norfolk General Hospital shortly after 12 p.m. His cause of death has been ruled "acute cocaine poisoning" by the Ontario Special Investigations Unit.

A juror asked whether Norfolk OPP or Norfolk EMS made the decision to take Marreel straight to the detachment as opposed to the hospital. Skelding reiterated it was the "cooperation of the two," adding paramedics had cleared him.

"As I said, in my notes here, I have, 'EMS has no concerns,'" he said.

Skelding was unable to recall if he had informed paramedics that Marreel had been using cocaine.

"I don't recall," he said. "I had a lot going on at that time."

Skelding was concerned about Const. Ken Decloet who may have been exposed to Hepatitis C through Marreel. He also had to tend to public safety and damage to a cruiser.

While Marreel displayed erratic behaviour, he was able to state his name and the drug he was on, noted lawyer William MacKenzie, who is representing the OPP Association. MacKenzie suggested this reasoning ability may not have been consistent with excited delirium.

OPP Sgt. Liam Brennan, who trains officers in the OPP's western region, agreed with this suggestion. He also stated Skelding did an "excellent job" and he would have "done the same thing" at that scene.

Dr. Jack Stanborough, western regional supervising coroner who is hearing the inquest, was taken aback by this statement.

"I'm a little surprised as an instructor that you would have handled the situation the same way," he said.

Many of Marreel's behaviours — paranoia, incoherent speech and unexpected strength — are listed as symptoms of excited delirium, he pointed out.

"It sounds an awful like what I've heard over the last two days," he said.

Medical testimony is expected to be delivered in the inquest today.

Barbara Simpson
519-426-3528, ext. 112

Jeffrey Marreel inquest continues

October 14, 2010
CD 98.9

Day two of an inquest into the death of a Delhi man in June of 2008 found a senior OPP officer saying he had no choice but to use his taser. 36 year old Jeffrey Marreel died at Norfolk General Hospital after being hit with a taser by OPP in Fishers Glen. The cause of Marreel's death is said to be acute cocaine poisoning. Staff Sergeant Dean Skelding told the court five officers were struggling with Marreel and he put his taser on stun mode and delivered three shocks to the man's body. The officer claims Marreel did not respond to being tased. The inquest continues today.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Officer used Taser to stun addict

October 13, 2010
Barbara Brown - hamilton spectator

With five police officers struggling to control a crazed, violent coke addict, a senior OPP officer said he had no choice but to fire his Taser several times.

Staff Sergeant Dean Skelding said he delivered three shocks to the body of Jeffrey Mark Marreel, 36, but set the device on “stun mode” only. Skelding said he did not want to risk striking any of his officers with the full impact of the electroshock weapon.

In stun mode, the Taser is held against the person’s body to deliver a penetrating pain but does not completely incapacitate the suspect’s muscles, as it does when the weapon is fired from a short distance with its small, dartlike projectiles attached.

Marreel showed no response to being stunned three times, Dr. Jack Stanborough and the coroner’s jury heard.

The confrontation on June 23, 2008, began when Marreel jumped out from behind a dumpster, wielding a piece of metal at the officers, near Front Road and Fisher’s Glen Road in Norfolk, just northeast of Turkey Point. The man appeared to be in state of “excited delirium” after a weekend of smoking, snorting and injecting cocaine.

Marreel was ranting to himself and shouting obscenities at the police. He ran barefoot up a steep hill and tried to pull down the “Welcome to Fisher’s Glen” sign.

Five officers attempted to restrain Marreel and were joined by a sixth officer, said coroner’s counsel Karen Shea.

Marreel, who was in and out of jail and well known to police, was checked out at the scene by paramedics, who noted lacerations to his head but deemed him fit enough to go to the Simcoe OPP station.

About an hour after his detention, Marreel went into medical distress and was taken to Norfolk General Hospital, where he died from acute cocaine poisoning.

OPP training officer Liam Brennan told the inquest that front-line officers have viewed a training video on excited delirium and have a prisoner care manual usually posted in custody areas, which sets out the signs and symptoms. But Norfolk Constable Ken DeCloet said he felt the training on excited delirium was “woefully inadequate,” given the prevalence of crack addiction.

Excited delirium is a controversial term used to explain the deaths of some individuals in police custody who have exhibited a combination of bizarre symptoms, including agitation, paranoia, violent behaviour, insensitivity to pain, profuse sweating, elevated body temperature, superhuman strength and rapid heart rate.

Lawyer William MacKenzie, who represents the Ontario Provincial Police Association, asked the training officer if he believed Marreel actually experienced excited delirium, given that he was examined by paramedics and not considered in need of medical treatment.

“Not from what I heard, sir,” Brennan said.

A suspect in police custody who is thought to be in the throes of excited delirium, which can be fatal, is supposed to be taken for immediate medical treatment.

The inquest continues today.