You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Student death by Taser raises questions for campus security


August 9, 2011
Whit Richardson, Security Director News

With campus security departments preparing for the imminent return of students, the recent news of a student’s death after being Tased by a campus security officer at the University of Cincinnati may force a re-examination of policies dictating when Tasers should and shouldn’t be used.

Here’s what happened: UC police officers were responding to an early morning 911 call that reported an assault at a dorm when they encountered an agitated 18-year-old student who wouldn’t back off after being asked multiple times, according to an article from the Cincinnati Enquirer. The student was shot with a Taser stun gun and died of a heart attack, according to the newspaper. UC police have temporarily stopped using Tasers as a result, the newspaper reported.

The newspaper’s report also discusses the liabilities surrounding the use of Tasers and a new weapon being deployed by law enforcement officials: the Mark 63 Trident device from Virginia-based Aegis.

This may be an issue worth a deeper examination by Security Director News. What do you think?

Concerned Canadian says:

August 23rd, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Unfortunately, no police agencies have any ‘black box’ testers to regularly test for output irregularities of Tasers. ‘Output variance’ was proven by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News several years ago — and subsequent government testing reveals numerous weapons perform outside of the safety allowables set by the manufacturers. In British Columbia (Canada), 80% of the M26 models failed; the older devices were eventually shelved across the country. Whenever there is a death proximal to a Taser, it is imperative for a third party to measure the device, to do so accurately with a proper electrical safety standard brought to bear. Medical Examiners cannot rule out a Taser as a contributing factor without proper measurement being done first to ensure it is performing within the manufacturer’s specifications. This is rarely done.

‘Excited Delirium’ is often cited as the cause-of-death, yet this is not a diagnosis that is recognized by either the American Medical Association or its Canadian counterpart. It is a very wide, diverse list of symptoms, which came from a certain Dr. Bell at the Boston Sanatorium For the Insane in the1840’s. They were still using leeches and doing blood-letting back then—but this is where ED was first observed in several dozen patients in as many years. It would be interesting to know who introduced the term to police. You never hear about Excited Delirium until a Taser-related death occurs.

Also of grave concern(and something that must be haunting Taser International in the two major product liability lawsuits it has lost – and the dozens it has settled out of court) is there is no electrical safety standard for shocks IN the body. The electrical safety standard bodies UL, IEC and CSA will tell you, they have never tested Tasers or Conducted Energy Weapons in general — nor would they- because up until the Mark 63, all devices have been INVASIVE, allowing electrical current to pierce the skin, entering the body and passing through it. The Ul says not enough is known about the actual mechanism of shocks, the ‘paths’ such current takes within the body and the physiological effects and/or damage inside the body, where resistance is negligible. No one has ever done any body density mapping to see what damage such current can do. No company testing was ever done to predict effects due to age, weight, gender, ethnicity, mood, electrolyte levels, adrenaline in the system, salt content in the blood, dart placement, dart size, dart depth, number + duration of stuns, etc. The real question is how the devices were approved without anyone in government in either the U-S or Canada,verifying the manufacturer’s safety claims.

Tasers are implicated as either the cause or contributing factor in 682 deaths in North America since they were deployed just over a decade ago. Amnesty International hasn’t updated the numbers but the blog TRUTH NOT TASERS HAS been logging the deaths, regularly and accurately, based on media reports. There is now an average of two deaths per week in the U-S. Yet since the Braidwood Inquiry recommended a tightening of CEW use by Canadian police, there hasn’t been one single death. The weapons are not to be used as compliance tools in Canada – only in truly life threatening situations. In other words, Tasers are now treated as deadly weapons, not cattle prods.

These remain untested, unregulated electrical devices. They do not bear certification marks like every other electrical product sold or used in Canada and the U-S. Police in Canada are in violation of the Electrical Safety Standards Act. Because of this, the liabilities could be huge. Now the manufacturer has abdicated legal responsibility with its long list of risks and warnings, hanging law enforcement out to dry when someone dies. All you need to read is the fine print of Training Bulletin # 17 and the latest Volunteer Waiver, which tells the whole story. In a decade, we have gone from non-lethal to less-lethal… and now an admittance the devices are LETHAL. Has human physiology changed in that ten years? Or the design of the device? No – the only change is the manufacturer’s opinion of the safety of its products. What should insurers, shareholders and forward-thinking police officers make of all this,now that the Braidwood Inquiry, the U-S Courts and Taser International itself are in agreement that Tasers KILL? This is not what anyone was told a decade ago, when the promotional material maintained the devices were “safe to use on any attacker”?

Individuals in government and law enforcement in both countries either dropped the ball- or worse, co-operated— in allowing a weapon to be deployed prematurely without enough scientific scrutiny to ensure the manufacturer’s medical & safety claims were true. The promise of public safety was broken. And people continue to die.

Concerned Canadian

No comments: