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Friday, November 05, 2010

Delaware man dies after police taser him

November 4, 2010 - Eugene Lamott Allen, 40, Wilmington, Delaware

UPDATE (see below): "We believe that Taser technology protects life, and if called upon we are prepared to help the investigation of this unfortunate incident," said Steve Tuttle of Taser.

Death renews outcry against use of Taser
Sean O'Sullivan, Delaware Online

Olagbaju said that in many cases, like the one in Delaware, the person who died did not have a weapon and it does not seem apparent that the life of the officer involved was at serious risk. According to Amnesty International, more than 351 people have died since 2001 after being stunned by police Tasers.

After Thursday's reports that a Wilmington man died after a police Taser was used on him, the regional director of Amnesty International renewed his organization's call for a moratorium on the use of the devices, citing misuse by police and hundreds of resulting deaths.

But Newport Police Chief Michael Capriglione, president of the Delaware Police Chiefs' Council, continued to express confidence in the Taser, describing it as a valuable tool. And a spokesman for Taser International cautioned that it would be inappropriate to quickly jump to a conclusion on the cause of death in this case.
"We believe that Taser technology protects life, and if called upon we are prepared to help the investigation of this unfortunate incident," said Steve Tuttle of Taser.
Folabi Olagbaju, director of the mid-Atlantic region for Amnesty International USA, said the Delaware incident is "part of a national trend. We hear these stories almost every month."

As a result, he said, Amnesty International has called for a moratorium on the use of Tasers until an independent evaluation of the weapons and their use is completed and reviewed. The human rights group believes earlier studies have been limited in scope or "unduly influenced by the weapon's primary manufacturer."

He said Amnesty International's concern is not so much with individual officers and their use of the devices, but the policies of the police agencies. "Oftentimes the policy ... is not well defined as to when to use and when not to use it," he said. "It has become a weapon of first resort, not last resort," he said.

Tuttle responded that Taser continues to stand by "independent peer reviewed medical studies that have shown that the Taser electronic control devices are generally safe and effective.

"It is complete absurdity to continually state that Taser has not been studied. It is the most researched, less lethal tool on an officer's belt today," Tuttle said, adding a U.S. Department of Justice study showed that 99.75 percent of suspects hit by a Taser suffered no significant injury.

Taser officials noted that Amnesty International's own report does not suggest there is necessarily a causal relationship between the use of the Taser and each of the deaths.

"Suspending Tasers would only result in an increase of officers injured as well as suspects," Tuttle said.

As for requiring rigorous training, Tuttle said Taser and Amnesty International agree. "The use of Tasers requires sound polices, appropriate training, supervision and accountability. ... These items must be set in stone for a successful Taser program," Tuttle said.

Capriglione said he was not familiar with the details of Thursday's fatal incident but said every police agency in Delaware should review its policies regarding the use of the devices, and some might have to be changed. But, he said, "99.99 percent of the time it [a Taser] is going to be very effective."

"If used properly, it is a tool to save lives, not take lives," he said, adding it has been used by officers "thousands" of times without incident in the state.
Capriglione said a Taser has been issued to every officer in Newport for the past three years, and they have generally been available to police in the state for the past seven years.

Most, but not all, police agencies in Delaware now have Tasers, he said, adding some smaller police forces do not simply because of the cost involved. Capriglione said a single police Taser can cost $1,000.

"You have to weigh the good and the bad. I strongly believe in the use of the Taser," he said.

1 comment:

Excited-Delirium blog said...

"99.99 percent of the time it [a Taser] is going to be very effective."

Bull sh_t. Utter bull sh_t. And he has to know it, which makes it a lie. A damn lie.

The real world failure rate is about THREE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE HIGHER than 0.01 percent. More like 10% or more rate of ineffective deployments.