Monday, November 12, 2007

Tasers - Use and Abuse

To Serve and Protect
*******If tasers are being used to subdue dangerous criminals then I believe the police officers have a right to protect themselves and the public. However, this is not always the case. Victims of tasers range from children to the elderly and in some instance their misuse have caused deaths. Governments worldwide are supplying their police officers with tasers with little regard for the consequences. Think about this for a moment: Is there the possibility that the use of tasers is just the beginning of a police state where crowds, peaceful or unruly, will soon be controlled by tasers or other weapons that inflict terrible pain?
Report says RCMP were wrong to Taser 15-year-old handcuffed girl in N.W.T.
Fri Dec 11, 2:46 PM
By The Canadian Press
YELLOWKNIFE - A report says a Mountie was wrong to use a Taser on a 15-year-old girl as she lay face down on the floor of Inuvik's young offenders centre with her hands cuffed behind her back under the control of three guards.
The investigation by the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP is the second time this week that Mounties have been censured over their Taser policy.
The report found that Const. Noella Cockney wasn't certified to use the Taser when she zapped the girl on March 13, 2007, and that she failed to consider other options before using the conducted energy weapon.
Commission chairman Paul Kennedy said many of the problems found during the investigation parallel deficiencies found in earlier reports about how RCMP use Tasers.
"This incident is a compelling case which ought to cause the RCMP itself to be concerned and take action," Kennedy said in the report.
"Most important among those conclusions, as they relate to this case, was the need for the RCMP to clarify to its members and to the public when it is permissible to deploy the Taser. It is clear that confusion in this area continues to reign."
The report also found the RCMP mishandled a complaint filed by the girl's mother about what happened, saying the investigation by Mounties into her complaint was biased.
RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said he accepts most of the report's recommendations, including the call for the RCMP to restrict the use of Tasers to qualified officers and for the force to do a better job of dealing with public complaints.
"Obviously your report identifies a number of significant failures on the part of the RCMP and members involved in this matter," Elliott said in a letter to Kennedy.
"I will discuss the report and your findings and recommendations with my senior executive committee."
In a separate report released on Tuesday, Kennedy found that Mounties acted inappropriately when they repeatedly shocked Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport on Oct. 14, 2007, before he died.
Kennedy said although he had access to the four officers' notes and to their testimony before a public inquiry, he found that evidence unreliable.
In his scathing report, Kennedy criticized nearly everything the officers did at the airport and chastised the force overall for inadequate training and an unwillingness to heed commission recommendations.
RCMP leaders have long defended the actions of the four officers, who have not been charged or faced any formal discipline for what happened.
Kennedy said their repeated use of a Taser was wrong and their explanations unconvincing.
The report said the officers made no meaningful attempt to de-escalate the situation or approach Dziekanski with a measured or appropriate response.
Kennedy's recommendations aren't binding on the RCMP or the federal government.
-By John Cotter in Edmonton
Doctors Condemn "Threatening" Taser Court Ruling
Physicians speak out on bullying tactics of Taser International over its "less than lethal" weapons
'Doctors Condemn Threatening Taser Court Ruling'
'Doctors have condemned as corporate intimidation a court decision ordering a chief medical examiner to remove any reference to the use of a taser as an antecedent in the deaths of three men.'
Steve Watson
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Doctors have condemned as corporate "intimidation" a court decision ordering a chief medical examiner to remove any reference to the use of a taser as an antecedent in the deaths of three men.
Ohio examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler had noted in her autopsy reports that electrical shocks from Tasers were partially to blame for the deaths of individuals in three separate confrontations with police.
Taser International, now notorious for it's stern legal defense having won 68 out of 68 lawsuits, filed and won a civil suit, forcing Kohler to delete all mentions of the weapons and to term the deaths "accidental".
Jeffrey Jentzen, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, an organization that represents the majority of medical examiners in the United States, has warned that the actions of Taser International and the court ruling have set a dangerous precedent:
"Our membership is very concerned about these cases and the reaction of Taser to these cases," he said last night.
"Our membership is looking into the area and although Taser has developed its own opinion, there are certainly opposing opinions as to their involvement in causing sudden death in individuals.
"Our organization feels that it violates the physician's ability to make a medical decision. Ordering a professional physician to change or alter their records is in violation of their right to practice medicine.
"Taser has sued a number of medical examiners for making informed medical opinions in an attempt, I think, to both protect their product and send a threatening message to medical examiners.
"It is dangerously close to intimidation," he said. "They are attempting to send a message to medical examiners that if they elect to make that determination they may face a civil suit."
Dr. Matthew Stanbrook of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) also voiced his concern over the legal ruling, stating that the decision fails to take into account the difficulty of determining an exact cause of death in almost every case.
"If we were required to have at the level of scientific and medical certainty that something was the cause of death, before we were permitted to declare it, most of the people who died in North America would have died of unknown causes," Stanbrook said.
"It is a physician making their best judgment given all the facts available."
Stanbrook has called for an independent review of the stun guns and has intimated that most of the existing research into the effects of the weapon has been carried out by, or at the behest of, Taser International itself.
Steve Tuttle, Taser's vice-president of communications responded to the comments stating:
"Taser International's products have been demonstrated by numerous medical studies to be safe and effective. Taser International therefore aggressively defends our products in all litigation brought against the company with the best legal, scientific and medical expertise available."
Despite Tuttle's claims, many scientists and doctors have raised concerns about possible links between Tasers and potential heart and respiration problems, mental health and an individual’s state of exhaustion or agitation in confrontations with authorities.
Taser International CEO Rick Smith told CBC News in January that medical examiners had to be sure of their facts because if they made what he called a careless opinion, they will be held accountable in court.
However, It is not just physicians that are raising such concerns. Amnesty International has also cited hundreds deaths around the world after Taser use and has called for a full taser suspension while a thorough investigation into the impact of the weapon is conducted.
More recently, a UN Committee said the stun gun "causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture".
Deaths occurring where tasers have been used are now a daily occurrence, yet police and private security forces worldwide continue to be equipped with the weapons.
Recent reports have revealed that police are using the Taser as soon as someone displays a "fighting stance" or simply to get a non-violent suspect to do what they are told, rather than for their intended purpose as the last line of defense before lethal action.
Most recently police in Vancouver have been using the devices on transit fare dodgers.
As we previously reported, The Department of Homeland Security is now looking to evolve the technology in pursuing the introduction of a device known as the Security Bracelet, a wearable tag that would allow authorities to inflict pain compliance on suspects from a distance, while also recommending law enforcement applications and potential use in "crowd control situations".
Many Civil Liberties Associations and police departments across North America have called for a moratorium on the weapons. The stun gun is under particular scrutiny in British Columbia, Canada as part of an ongoing inquiry following the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport in October.
Taser FAQsLast Updated October 19, 2007
CBC News
What are Tasers?
They are hand-held weapons that deliver a jolt of electricity — up to 50,000 volts — from up to 10.6 metres away. The shot can penetrate up to five centimetres of clothing.
It stuns the target by causing an uncontrollable contraction of the muscle tissue. He/she is immobilized and falls to the ground — regardless of pain tolerance or mental focus.
TASER stands for Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle, from the Tom Swift series of children's novels written in the early 20th century, including Tom Swift and his Electric Rifle. The real stars of the series of science-fiction novels were potential advances in technology.
Who makes them?
Arizona-based Taser International makes virtually all of the "stun guns" being used today. In fact, Taser is the brand name and the technical term for a stun gun, a conductive energy device, or CED.
Taser International says more than 11,000 law enforcement, correctional and military organizations, in 44 countries, use its devices. Of these agencies, more than 3,500 of them equip all of their patrol officers with Tasers. Since 1998, more than 260,000 Taser brand immobilizers have been sold to law enforcement agencies.
There are two main types of stun guns made by Taser, used by law-enforcement agencies:
M26: a high-powered weapon marketed to police forces to stop "highly combative individuals." A burst of compressed nitrogen launches two small probes attached to the device by conductive wires. From as far as 10.6 metres, the device transmits electrical pulses through the wires to immobilize a person. Also has a laser sight for aiming.
X26: A smaller model introduced in 2003. Launches two small probes as far as 10.6 metres.
The company also makes a stun guns for personal use:
C2: Smaller than its predecessors and comes in four colours. Launches two probes as far as 4.5 metres.
X26C: Modelled after the X26, but formatted for personal use. Has a range of 4.5 metres.
Advanced Taser M18/M18L - Modelled after the M26, and has a range of 4.5 metres.
In the United States, Tasers are not considered firearms and are legal for civilian use in most states. Some cities, counties and states do restrict — or ban — their use by people who are not police officers. The company will not ship its product outside the United States, unless the person placing the order holds a valid import/export permit.
In Canada, however, Tasers are a prohibited weapon. Only one company can import them into Canada under a special permit, and they can only sell the devices to law enforcement agencies, said RCMP Cpl. Greg Gillis, who trains police officers how to use Tasers. Each Taser sale is registered and tracked, much like a handgun, he said.
What are the benefits of stun guns?
Tasers are supposed to allow police officers to subdue violent individuals without killing them. A police officer can "take down" a threatening suspect without worrying that a stray bullet might kill or injure an innocent bystander.
"There's no question that there are certainly lots of documented examples in Canada where had we not had the Taser and had to respond with more traditional options, that it could have resulted in a higher level of force," said Cpl. Gillis. "For, example, the firearm. And with a firearm there are only two outcomes … it's going to be a permanent injury or a loss of life."
What are the drawbacks?
The company says there are none. Critics argue that there hasn't been enough research into the safety of stun guns. They point to the deaths since 2001 of more than 50 people in North America after Taser shocks.
On its website, the company states that "Independent medical and scientific experts have determined Taser devices to be among the safest use-of-force options available."
While there have been several accounts of deaths involving Tasers, the exact cause of death is often contentious.
In July 2005 for example, a Chicago medical examiner ruled that the death of a man in February 2005 was the result of being shot with a Taser by Chicago police. Media reports said it was the first time a death had been linked directly to a police stun gun, although the medical examiner said the victim also had a lot of methamphetamine in his system.
On Oct. 14, 2007, 40-year-old Robert Dziekanski of Pieszyce, Poland, died at Vancouver International Airport after being shocked with a Taser by police. Airport security called the RCMP for help after Dziekanski allegedly was pounding on windows and throwing chairs and computer equipment.
The Mounties speculated that he died from a rare condition called excited delirium, though the coroner's office has not concluded the cause of death. Excited delirium is described as an agitated state, when a person experiences an irregular heartbeat and suddenly dies. It can happen to psychiatric patients and people using drugs such as cocaine. But critics charge that excited delirium is not a valid medical term.
Dziekanski's death renewed calls for a moratorium on Taser use. The sentiment intensified when, less than a week later, a Montreal man died after being zapped by a Taser by police.
Quilem Registre, 38, was intoxicated when he was stopped by police on Oct. 14 for a traffic violation. Police say he became aggressive when questioned and officers were forced to use a Taser. He was sent to hospital in critical condition, where he died Oct. 17.
Registre was the 17th person to die from a stun-gun-related death in Canada.
The company notes that about 100,000 police officers have volunteered to take hits from Taser weapons — with no deaths.
What does the research say?
In 1989, a Canadian study found that stun guns induced heart attacks in pigs with pacemakers. Ten years later, an American study concluded that weapons delivering a jolt weaker than Tasers increased the risk of cardiac arrest in people with heart conditions.
But Steve Palmer of Canadian Police Research Centre — a partnership among the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the RCMP, and the National Research Council Canada — said there have been several international studies that demonstrate their harmlessness.
"There is a growing body of knowledge out there that these devices are safe when used properly," said Palmer, the organization's executive director. "We don't speak often enough about the number of lives that have been saved, the number of people that are up and walking around today that might not have been had it not been for a Taser."
Figures compiled by the CPRC suggest that most mid-size police forces only use stun guns between 50 to 60 times a year, on average. They were only used 51 times in 2006 by police officers in Quebec.
What's the Canadian perspective?
Canadian police say Tasers have saved 4,000 lives since police forces started using them in this country in 1999.
Still, Staff Sgt. Peter Sherstan, of the RCMP's Emergency Response Team in Edmonton, says Tasers should not be considered non-lethal.
"The RCMP's position is that Tasers are a less-lethal alternative," Sherstan told CBC Radio. "There are still risks. There could be a situation where a person hit with a Taser shot could fall and hit his head. But we have to balance that out. We have several cases where if Tasers weren't present, guns would have been the alternative."
Amnesty International Canada has been calling for a suspension in the use of Tasers until studies can determine how they can be safely used. The organization repeated that call after two people died in one week after being shocked with a Taser by police in October 2007.
"Obviously police should be using non-lethal alternatives," Alex Neve, the organization's secretary general, said. "But the standards say those non-lethal alternatives should be fully investigated. We need to have a study, we need to understand what those risks are."
Beatrice Veaugrante, head of the human right's organization's Quebec branch, told Canadian Press that there has yet to be an independent study in Canada about the safety of Tasers.
Neve says tests on police and members of the military may have gone well, but he notes they're among the fittest people around and not likely to suffer adverse reactions to a Taser shot. Studies, he says, have suggested that people who abuse drugs or who have heart conditions could be at risk.
Amnesty International also worries that officers might be tempted to use weapons like Tasers too often if they believe they're not lethal. Sherstan argues that shouldn't be an issue if officers are properly trained in their use.
How many are in use within Canada's law enforcement agencies?
There aren't concrete numbers, but Cpl. Gillis estimates there are 2,000 to 3,000 available to RCMP officers across Canada.
When do police officers use Tasers? What are the rules of engagement?
Police do follow the police use of force framework, which outlines when certain approaches are warranted. But, an RCMP officer can use his or her own discretion to decide when to deploy a Taser, according to Cpl. Gillis.
"What we generally suggest is if it's a situation where O.C. spray, or pepper spray, would be appropriate for use, and that usually means I'm demonstrating some sort of combative or assault-like behaviour … that might be an appropriate choice for a Taser."
Const. George Schuurman, of the Toronto Police Service's public information department, also said there were no blanket guidelines. An officer would assess the situation based on their training, and use their judgment, he said.
Officers would also look at the environment, and if using pepper spray could possibly injure people nearby, or, for example, be sucked into the ventilation system and hurt innocent bystanders, Gillis said.
And, he added, there are three groups of people that pepper spray may fail to subdue: 1) people suffering from a mental health crisis; 2) people determined to charge/inflict harm; and 3) people under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The main mechanism of pepper spray, pain, may not stop these types of individuals from continuing combative behaviours, Gillis said. Since a Taser immobilizes them, it's the better option, he said.
"A general rule of thumb is maybe three times. But, it's like any other tool. If I spray you with [pepper] spray and it doesn't work, try a second application … but if you're confident that, 'Yup, I'm getting [pepper] spray all over,' and he's somebody that's working through it, then transition to something else. Go to a different technique."
As well, RCMP officers are required to report every time the Taser is used and must justify its application, Gillis said. Officers must also report an incident if the mention of a Taser — such as an officer saying, "I'm going to use a Taser" — causes an individual to calm down their behaviour, Gillis said.
Chicago Police Tasered 82-Year-Old Woman
Chicago Police Investigating Use of Taser on 82-Year-Old Woman
Nov 6, 2007
Chicago's Police Department is investigating an officer's use of a Taser last month on an 82-year-old woman who was swinging a hammer when police arrived.
Officials with the city's Department on Aging went to Lillian Fletcher's home Oct. 29 to make a welfare check, and called police when they saw Fletcher in a window swinging a hammer back and forth, police spokeswoman Monique Bond said Tuesday.
Officers arrived and in an attempt to subdue Fletcher one of them used their Taser, Bond said. The department is trying to determine if the officer violated department policy regarding the use of stun guns.
Fletcher's granddaughter, Traci Taylor, told the Chicago Sun-Times that her grandmother suffers from schizophrenia and dementia.
"My grandmother is easily confused," Taylor told the newspaper, adding that the elderly woman can be belligerent but is about 5 feet 1 and no more than 160 pounds.
"I just don't think they should be Tasing 82-year-old women. That's ridiculous," Taylor said.
Police departments around the country have come under fire for the use of Tasers following several deaths.
The human rights group Amnesty International USA has voiced concerns that police departments are starting to use tasers more routinely rather than in cases of serious danger.
Taser use by police drew national attention recently when police stunned and arrested a University of Florida student after his fervent, videotaped outburst at an event with Sen. John Kerry in September.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Taser implicated in death of Quebec man
National Post
Published Thursday, October 18, 2007 11:01 AM by Karen Hawthorne
If a police officer is aiming a Taser at you, it is in your best interest to listen to what they are saying. This may seem like obvious advice, but it may just save your life.
For the second time in a week, a man has died after being zapped by officers attempting to restrain him. A 39-year-old man died in hospital on Wednesday night after being shocked by thousand of volts after he was stopped by Montreal officers on suspicion of drunk driving on Sunday night.
This follows the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who was also tasered on Sunday night, by RCMP officers at the Vancouver International Airport.
Tasers are used to take down violent individuals without using lethal force and police say Tasers have saved thousands of lives since forces started using them in 1999. Amnesty International Canada has called for a suspension of their use until studies of their impact are completed.
Airport death video shows man's final moments
Updated Wed. Nov. 14 2007 10:26 PM ET News Staff
Disturbing video of a confrontation between the RCMP and a distraught man who died after officers used a Taser on him was made public on Wednesday.
The video shows Polish national Robert Dziekanski in the early morning hours at the international arrivals terminal of Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14.
Dziekanski appears to be agitated and breathing heavily. At one point in the video, he barricades himself behind glass doors of a secure area. He then throws a small wooden table and a computer at the doors.
Four policemen arrive on the scene, and Dzienkanksi appears to calm down.
Police seem to gesture to Dziekanski to back up, and he responds by raising his hands and retreating from the door.
The officers don't attempt to subdue the 40-year-old man as they surround him. But seconds later Dzienkanski screams in pain, staggers, and then falls to the ground after being shot by an electric stun gun, or Taser.
He appears to writhe in pain, while police pin his arms, legs, and head to the ground and handcuff him.
As three officers hold Dziekanski down, there appears to be a second attempt to Taser him. After he's restrained, an officer places his knee on his neck and holds it there.
After several seconds Dziekanski appears to stop writhing as he lies pinned on his stomach and appears to lose consciousness. An officer takes his pulse at his neck. None of the officers appear attempting to revive him.
Police reaction
Hours before the video was aired on newscasts, police cautioned the public to wait for all of the evidence to come out during a coroner's inquest before jumping to conclusions.
"This video that has been released is merely one small piece of evidence that is going to be presented in a big investigation," RCMP spokesperson Dale Carr told a news conference Wednesday evening.
"We would never dream of presenting a case based on one small piece of evidence."
Emergency radio logs leaked to CTV British Columbia show a 12-minute gap from when Dziekanski lost consciousness and when B.C. Ambulance arrived.
The airport has its own paramedics who could have been at the scene within two minutes, but the airport supervisor did not call them, CTV British Columbia reported.
Dziekanski, who didn't speak English, had just arrived from Poland on his first airliner trip ever. He had come to Canada to be with his mother, Zofia Cisowski, who lives in Kamloops.
But for reasons that are still not clear, it took 10 hours for him to clear customs. Dziekanski and his mother never connected, and she left the airport to return to Kamloops.
The Polish government wants the tragedy to be thoroughly examined.
"We would be grateful for the speediest investigation and if there was wrong-doing we need to know about it," Maciej Krych, the Polish consul general told CTV British Columbia on Oct. 23.
The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has filed its own complaint about the case. The RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is also investigating the incident.
Another cellphone video of the fatal confrontation had been released previously but this latest video is of much higher quality.
Witnesses shocked at police reaction
Sima Ashrafina, a witness to the incident who appears in the video, told CTV News that memories of the incident have troubled her for a month.
Ashrafina said she tried desperately to communicate with Dziekanski, even trying Italian at one point, before resorting to sign language.
"I never felt threatened by him," she said through tears after watching the footage. "I'm facing him and there's a glass door and I was signing: 'Just calm down,' and he was ... quiet. He was asking for help, and I couldn't help him."
Ashrafinia claims she heard the RCMP officers talk of Tasers before they entered the secure area. Within 30 seconds, Dziekanski was Tasered.
"Why (did) none of these officers tackle him?" she said.
Paul Pritchard, the witness who taped the incident on his video camera, turned the video over to the RCMP, who then told him it could be up to two years before they returned the footage. When he threatened to sue, they returned it to him.
Pritchard told CTV Newsnet's The Verdict on Wednesday that he was disturbed by how quickly police decided to use the Taser.
"That's what bothers me so much. There were no other steps taken," he told host Paula Todd.
"The first step was Tasering him ... There are so many other things (they could have done). There's four big officers -- they tackle the guy down, take him down. It just didn't need to happen."
Pritchard told The Verdict that media outlets in B.C. paid him for access to the video, but he did not sell it to the highest bidder. He said he did not ask for money, but reporters offered him a fee for the video.
A lawyer for Dziekanski's mother told CTV News that his client has seen selected portions of the video, but would not say what her reaction was. Last week, Cisowski seemed to support the decision to release the video to the public. She will bury her son on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Kamloops.
With a report from CTV British Columbia Bureau Chief Todd Battis
Tasered man was lost, seeking help, mother saysUpdated Thu. Nov. 15 2007 4:40 PM ET News Staff
The mother of a Polish immigrant who died after RCMP officers used a Taser on him can't understand why police didn't simply arrest her son before using force.
Walter Kosteckyj, the lawyer for Zofia Cisowski, said his client was stunned after watching a video of the confrontation that resulted in her son's death.
"Her position is basically this: 'I see my son lost, looking for help. When he sees the police he's calling out for them, I tried to get help, he tried to get help and this is the way things have ended up.'"
The video shows Polish national Robert Dziekanski in the early morning hours of Oct. 14 at the international arrivals terminal of Vancouver International Airport.
Dziekanski is breathing heavily and appears agitated. At one point he barricades himself behind glass doors and throws a computer and small table at the doors.
But he appears to calm down when four officers arrive on the scene, raising his hands and backing up in what appears to be a gesture of surrender.
The officers don't attempt to subdue the 40-year-old man as they surround him. But seconds later Dziekanski screams in pain, staggers, and then falls to the ground after being shot by an electric stun gun, or Taser.
Kosteckyj said his client doesn't understand why police apparently acted with such force. He said the four officers arrived on the scene and headed straight to the suspect without securing the scene, asking questions or getting background, or even moving a nearby witness -- steps he suggested could have resulted in a peaceful end to the confrontation.
After the Taser is used, Dziekanski appears to writhe in pain, while police pin his arms, legs, and head to the ground and handcuff him.
As three officers hold Dziekanski down, there appears to be a second attempt to Taser him. After he's restrained, an officer places his knee on his neck and holds it there.
After several seconds, Dziekanski seems to stop writhing as he lies pinned on his stomach and appears to lose consciousness. An officer takes his pulse at his neck. None of the officers appear to try and revive him.
Police reaction
Cpl. Dale Carr, a spokesperson for the RCMP, said judgment should not be cast until all the information has been gathered.
"Our reaction is that our testimony will come out at the coroner's inquest and it will offer perspective on what the police officers were going through and what all the other witnesses were going through at the time and they'll be testifying under oath," Carr told CTV's Canada AM on Thursday.
He said a much more complete picture will develop as the result of the police investigation, which is still ongoing, and a coroner's inquest that will probe the circumstances of Dziekanski's death.
Emergency radio logs leaked to CTV British Columbia show a 12-minute gap from when Dziekanski lost consciousness and when B.C. Ambulance arrived.
The airport has its own paramedics who could have been at the scene within two minutes, but the airport supervisor did not call them, CTV British Columbia reported.
For reasons that are still not clear, it took 10 hours for Dziekanski to clear customs. He and his mother never connected, and she left the airport to return to Kamloops.
The Polish government has called for a full probe of the tragedy.
Paul Pritchard, the witness who taped the incident on his video camera, told Canada AM on Thursday that Dziekanski appeared scared and seeking help when police arrived. He said he never felt threatened by the man.
"He was acting irrationally, but in my opinion he was acting scared," Pritchard said.
He said Dziekanski even put his arms out in a gesture of defeat and showed no signs he was going to resist arrest.
He said the four officers seemed intent on using a Taser despite Dziekanski's apparent willingness to surrender. The situation escalated quickly once they did.
"It became a real situation all of a sudden. I was just filming for the sake of an entertainment standpoint, but once they Tasered him you heard this bloodcurdling scream. I still think about it," Pritchard said.
Another cellphone video of the fatal confrontation had been released previously but this latest video is of much higher quality.
Other witnesses also said they didn't feel threatened by Dziekanski.
The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has filed its own complaint about the case. The RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is also investigating the incident.
Dziekanski will be buried on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Kamloops.
Liberals call for national review of Tasers
The Liberals are demanding a formal national review of Taser use by police officers. The party's public safety critic, Ujjal Dosanjh, said in a press release that the review should be commenced in light of Dziekanski's death "and the release of video of that incident."
"While we understand the need of law enforcement to be able to subdue suspects in dangerous situations, Mr. Dziekanski's tragic death and other incidents have led to questions about whether Tasers are being used appropriately," said Dosanjh.
Dosanjh said the government must appoint an appropriate body to look into Taser use and consequences. He suggested that the RCMP Public Complaints Commission may look into the matter. It's already investigating the Dziekanski death.
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said he hasn't seen the Dziekanski video and stopped short of calling for an outright ban of Tasers. But he said he wants the RCMP to review its use of the weapon.
Taser on children OK, police say
Datona Beach News-Journal November 26, 2004 By Lyda Longa
Officials from a majority of law enforcement agencies in Volusia and Flagler counties say they would not hesitate to shoot a child with a Taser stun gun to keep the youngster from harming himself or someone else.
The Taser policies of law enforcement agencies in both counties require police to consider everything from a suspect's age to physical and mental condition, but no local agency specifically prohibits using the weapon on a child.
"There are those youths out there that are just as capable of hurting someone as any 18-year-old," said Sgt. Pete Moon of the DeLand Police Department. "Each scenario is different."
Debra Johnson, a spokeswoman with the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, agreed that age wasn't the only deciding factor. "There are some 12 year-olds out there that are bigger than some adults," she said.
The weapons are equipped with electric barbs that penetrate the skin and transmit an electric shock of up to 50,000 volts from the Taser. Tasers also may be used as a stun gun by pressing the weapon against the skin.
Law enforcement agencies in the area discussed their policies with The News-Journal after two separate incidents in Miami in which police were accused of using their Taser guns on children -- a 12-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy -- who officers claimed were endangering themselves.
The incidents prompted a review of the Miami-Dade Police Department's Taser policy, said Miami-Dade Detective Nelda Fonticella , because that policy does not specifically address the issue of Tasers and children.
Local police said officers are expected to use discretion and consider whether the suspect poses a threat to himself or another person.
Of the local police agencies surveyed, only the Daytona Beach police reported using a Taser on a child under 17.
Volusia County Sheriff's Office spokesman Brandon Haught said Sheriff Ben Johnson is "fully against" using Tasers on children.
"He feels it should be used only as a last resort," Haught said.
Spokesman Gary Davidson described the department's Taser use as "very conservative." Deputies have deployed the weapons 175 times in the last three years.
Resource officers who patrol Volusia or Flagler schools do not carry Tasers, officials said, but do carry service weapons and can call on sheriff's deputies with Tasers for backup.
Daytona Beach Shores police -- who have deployed Tasers more often this year than any other law enforcement agency in the county, according to police reports -- declined comment on the issue.
Police agencies in Central Florida have had to decide whether to allow officers to use Tasers only in cases of active physical resistance, or in any case of resistance, including verbal refusals to cooperate.
In the Daytona Beach police incidents earlier this year where Tasers were deployed against two 16-year-old boys in two separate incidents, the suspects were running away from police, said Lt. Jesse Godfrey, a spokesman for the department.
An officer may fire his or her Taser at a running suspect if the officer believes the person has committed a crime, Godfrey said. The officer must shout verbal commands at the suspect and warn that the Taser will be used.
"In a foot pursuit, either the officer or the person can hurt their leg or ankle, they can get hit by a car or they can fall," Godfrey said. "By using the Taser, we reduce the danger to both."
Yvonne Herrera, R.N., an pediatric intensive care nurse in charge of Night Lite Pediatrics in Orlando, said little information is available about the medical effects of a Taser on a child and the pediatricians there had never heard of a Taser being used on a local child.
"I don't think that was the intended use," she said.
As an emergency room nurse, though, Herrera said she has seen adults brought in after being hit with Tasers. She said the Taser's current doesn't knock suspects from their feet, but causes their knees to buckle, so they crumple to the ground. Patients who have received a Taser blast usually have no serious injuries, she said, and are treated for pain and small lacerations at the site of the stun.
Many officers said that as much as they would dislike having to shoot a child with a Taser, they recognize the time might come when it would be necessary.
"The child would have to reach the same level (of behavior) as an adult," said Ormond Beach training division Officer Vince Champion.
Police review policy after Tasers used on kids
Officers defend nonlethal use of force
Monday, November 15, 2004 Posted: 8:43 AM EST (1343 GMT)
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Miami-Dade County Police are reviewing their policy on using Tasers after officers stunned two children with the weapons in the past few weeks.
Miami-Dade police planned to hold a news conference Monday to discuss the incidents and possible disciplinary action stemming from them. The names of both children were being withheld by CNN.
The Taser temporarily immobilizes someone from as far away as 21 feet with 50,000 volts of electricity.
The more recent of the two incidents occurred November 5, when a 12-year-old girl who was skipping school was found drinking and smoking in a swimming pool, Miami-Dade police officer William Nelson stated in an incident report. He said he responded to an anonymous call about the activities.
He said he told the girl he was taking her to school. As they walked to the police car, she ran away.
"I advised her to stop several times," he said in the report. She "continued running even to the point of starting to run into lanes of traffic."
Nelson said he used the Taser for his and the girl's safety, striking her in the base of the neck and lower right back.
The girl was released into her mother's custody and taken to a doctor.
"I couldn't breathe, and I was, like, nervous, and I was scared at the same time," the girl told CNN.
About two weeks earlier, a first-grader was shot with a Taser at school when he threatened to cut his leg with a piece of broken glass, authorities said. The boy's family said he vomited after the jolt.
"If there's three officers, it's nothing to tell a 6-year-old holding a glass, if you feel threatened, 'Hey, here's a piece of candy, hey, here's a toy. Let the glass go,'" the boy's mother told CNN.
But police insisted using the gun was the only option.
"We're happy [to be] here talking about this as opposed to injuries he might have caused to himself with that piece of glass," detective Juan del Castillo said.
Community activists are calling for a meeting with police.
"There needs to be more in-depth study on using the Taser on children," Georgia Ayers said.
Taser International says more than 5,000 police agencies use its product, that it is safe to use on anyone weighing at least 60 pounds.
Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.
TASER Danger?
70 Deaths After Use Of Stun Gun Lead To Questions Over Its SafetyOct. 12, 2004
(CBS) When CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andews first started looking into police use of the TASER stun gun a year ago, the weapon had been connected to more than 40 deaths. The company that makes the weapon insisted that none of the deaths was the TASER's fault. So, says Andrews, "We began asking, simply, how could that be? What was the real safety record of this weapon?" "Today, in what clearly is a law-enforcement revolution, tens of thousands of police officers see the TASER as a godsend. "The gun shoots two barbed fish hooks into the body, bringing 50 thousand volts. Most of the time, the suspect goes down--and the cop's revolver stays put." "You can use it before you would have to use the revolver," asserts Rick Smith, CEO of TASER International. "If you have someone who has a knife, who is threatening other people but isn't quite at the level where you'd use lethal force, you'd pre-empt with the TASER, get them safely under control before it escalates." But, Andrews points out, using the TASER to bring down a threatening suspect isn't always the way the gun is used. In Glendale, Colo., Glen Leyba was on his apartment floor, thrashing violently. A police officer, hoping to control him, stunned him three times, before he died. While the coroner blamed a drug overdose, the family blames multiple, unnecessary electric shocks, Andrews reports. Shelly Leyba, Glen's sister, says, "Glen was in a medical emergency, down on the ground, no threat." In Indiana, inmate James Borden was stunned six times by an officer, then died on the jailhouse floor. Borden was also high on drugs, and again his family blames overuse of the TASER. "They juiced him to death," charges Steve Borden, James' brother. On Long Island, David Glowczenski was suffering a mental breakdown, so his family called police for help. His sister, Jean Griffin, says, "We called them for safety because he was disoriented. …And an hour later he was dead." Glowzenski died after a confrontation in which an officer stunned him nine times with a TASER, and he wasn't on drugs or alcohol, Andrews notes. "He committed no crime; he didn't do anything wrong," Griffin says. TASER Intenational is adamant the weapon simply lacks the power to kill or injure, Andrews says. CEO Smith said TASER tested dogs and pigs and determined the TASER's shock can not injure the heart: "If we knew there was a problem, we would certainly want to disclose that. We've researched it and have not found it." Technically, stresses Andrews, when the company says the TASER has never caused a death, it is right. However, since 2000, five different medical examiners have listed the stun gun or the TASER specifically as a factor in someone's death. Dr. Roland Kohr, Indiana regional medical examiner, called a death in his state "the straw that broke the camel's back." In the Indiana case of James Borden, Dr. Roland Kohr says TASER is overlooking the stress that muliple shots from the weapon can cause, especially to someone high on drugs. Kohr ruled TASER a factor in Borden's death. "The application of the TASER was the trigger factor or the stressful event that caused the elevation of blood pressure, the elevation of heart rate which stressed an already damaged heart to the point that it went into cartiac arrest," Kohn says. Smith says he does not accept that finding. "I rely on the advice of medical experts who have told me that there is absolutely no basis to conclude the TASER contributed to this death." But Borden's mother, Dorothy, says flatly, "I believe it killed my son." Today, by the count of CBS News, 70 people have died after being TASERed, including 10 in August alone, Andrews observes. And while the company asserts every one of these victims died of something else, many critics believe the company has not done enough research to know that with certainty, Andrews adds.
©MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Taser International, Inc.

TASER International's products protect life. TASER provides advanced Electronic Control Devices (ECDs) for use in the law enforcement, medical, military, corrections, professional security, and personal protection markets. TASER devices use proprietary technology to incapacitate dangerous, combative, or high-risk subjects who pose a risk to law enforcement officers, innocent citizens, or themselves in a manner that is generally recognized as a safer alternative to other uses of force.
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FBI reviewing Tasering of sleeping man; no charges file The Associated Press, 11/03/07 12:53 PM EDT
Two North Braddock police officers won't face criminal charges for Tasering a man who was asleep at home. But the FBI will review the incident for possible civil rights violations.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. says county police determined Officers Gerard Kraly and Lukas Laeuricia (loo-REE'-see-uh) didn't commit a crime when they Tasered Shawn Hicks, who was sleeping on his couch.
Police came to Hicks home because they were alerted by a silent security alarm at his home about 2 a.m.
Hicks says the officers Tasered him again after he woke up and showed them ID to prove he lived at the home. Hicks' attorney says he will pursue civil action.
Police Taser Man in Coma16 November 2007
We all know that cops and taser guns don't mix well. We also know that taser guns are not non-lethal, maybe less lethal than a real gun. Worst of all after so many reports of taser deaths we continue to see people electrocuted to death by cops.Well it has happened again, even worse the police in Leeds, England have tasered a man who was in a diabetic coma. Luckily the man survived. Nicholas Gaubert was on a bus in Leeds when he fell in to a diabetic coma. When the authorities arrived they found Mr Gaubert slumped over and unresponsive in his seat. The police fearing that Mr Gaubert (unresponsive) was a terrorist threat began to taser him. After a few minutes the pigs realized that it was a medical emergency. Well if your a criminal, terrorist, or a diabetic, don't expect them trigger happy pigs to think twice to use that taser on your ass.
Tasers: the next generation
Taser XREP delivers wireless shocks from 100 feet away

Alarmed by recent incidents? Wait'll you see what the company is planning for 2008
Dec 02, 2007 04:30 AM Andrew Chung Staff Reporter
The Taser is going wireless.
Until now, the electric-shock gun consisted of two barbed darts attached to wires that shoot out and strike the victim, immobilizing the person with 50,000 volts of electricity, causing severe pain and intense muscle contraction.
But the wires could only extend a few metres. With the new "extended range electronic projectile," or XREP, the Taser has been turned into a kind of self-contained shotgun shell and can be fired, wire-free, from a standard shotgun, which police typically have in their arsenal already.
The first electrode hooks on to the target, the second electrode falls and makes contact elsewhere on the body, completing the circuit and activating the shock. It can blast someone as far as 30 metres away, and, unlike the current stun guns, whose shock lasts five seconds, the XREP lasts 20 seconds, enough time to "take the offender into custody without risking injury to officers."
Taser International spokesperson Steve Tuttle says the XREP would be perfect in a standoff. "Here's someone you just don't want to get anywhere near," he says.
The XREP is one of two major new applications the Scottsdale, Ariz., company is preparing to field test, a prospect that makes Taser's critics anxious. They say more study is needed of the old products, let alone the new.
Tasers are sparking all sorts of questions and concerns these days.
Like death after Tasing. Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died after the RCMP Tased him when he'd become agitated after spending 10 hours inside the secure area at the Vancouver airport.
Or questionable Tasing. University of Florida student Andrew Meyer was Tased even though a handful of officers had already piled on top of him after he refused to stop asking former presidential candidate John Kerry questions at the microphone. (He's the one who uttered that now infamous plea that has spawned bumper stickers and T-shirts: "Don't Tase me, bro!")
Tasers are now used by more than 11,000 law enforcement agencies in 44 countries. There are more than 428,000 Tasers in the field, not to mention the tens of thousands of Tasers that have been sold to civilians.
And the innovations keep coming.
Besides the XREP, the company has developed a device meant to keep someone from approaching a certain area – a tactic called "area denial." "What if you could drop everyone in a given area to the ground with the simple push of a button?" asks a dramatic promotional video for the "Shockwave."
Taser has turned its weapon into a connected series of six darts arranged in an arc. The company says the device can be extended in a chain or stacked "like Lego," depending on the needs of the user.
So an army platoon, for instance, could use it to prevent unwanted people from approaching their camp, and not have to risk getting close to their targets.
Amnesty International, which has raised concerns for years, says the Shockwave poses serious risks of inappropriate use. When you target an entire area, or a crowd, you can't distinguish between the individuals you're trying to restrain, says Hilary Homes, a security and human rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada.
"It targets everybody to the same intensity or effect," Homes says. "With materials like that, you worry about ...arbitrary and indiscriminate use."
Tuttle says the technology will be used for military applications, "not for a riot in Toronto."

Amnesty says that between 2001 and Sept. 30, 2007, there were more than 290 deaths of individuals struck by police Tasers in North America, including 16 in Canada.

It reports that only 25 of those electroshocked were armed, and none with firearms. It's calling for a moratorium on their use by police until a full, independent inquiry is held.
Homes says the new shotgun-style Taser doesn't pose any risks that aren't already there with the older weapon, except that "this allows more things to be done from a greater distance."
Mostly, it's the concern over the expansion of this technology even as there is heated debate over the devices' safety. "We'd prefer there weren't new variations until a study of the central technology was done," she says.
The safety concerns revolve around the growing number of deaths following Tasering and the increasing use of the term "excited delirium" by the company and other experts to explain the deaths, while denying the weapon any culpability.
Excited delirium is a catchall phrase to describe symptoms of extreme stress, such as disorientation, profuse sweating, paranoia, and superhuman strength.
When someone is in such a condition – heart racing, blood pressure bursting, fight-or-flight hormones like adrenalin coursing through their body – wouldn't a giant electrical jolt just make things worse?
"Show me the medical and mechanical reasons why it would make it worse when doctors are telling us, when someone is in that situation you should treat it as a medical emergency and get that person to a medical trauma centre in the quickest way," Tuttle says. "With no Taser, he's impervious to pain, agitated, slippery with sweat – you won't get control in five seconds. Maybe you'll use batons, which won't work, pepper spray, which is much more stressful, a bean-bag round, maybe deadly force because the situation spins out of control?"
Dr. David Evans, the Toronto regional supervising coroner for investigations, says that while there's no proof to say the shock could make things worse, "I agree potentially it could." But, he adds, "why aren't they dropping dead immediately?"
Evans says that it doesn't seem to make sense that the Taser is at fault in the deaths, because the deaths have not been instantaneous. "Normally you'd expect that if someone was going to die from electrocution related to electrical discharge, they'd die right there and then, within a few seconds," he says.
Tasering doesn't cause changes in the heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, which leads to death, he says.
It's a view that Ontario's deputy coroner, Dr. Jim Cairns, has used to help shape the Toronto Police Services Board policy toward allowing Toronto police to use Tasers. Cairns also spoke at a Taser tactical conference in Chicago last July about excited delirium.
Taser points out that the weapon has not been implicated in any of the deaths in Canada. "We're just repeating what the medical examiners are saying," says Tuttle. "The vast majority of those cases have been excited delirium or (drug) overdose."
Even though "excited delirium" isn't an accepted medical diagnosis, it may be listed as a "contributory factor" in police-custody deaths, Evans says, but not as the primary cause.
Taser isn't the only company developing electrical stun weapons. Indiana-based Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems has, in a prototype phase, a futuristic weapon that sends out a streak of lightning, apparently by projecting an ionized gas or ionizing the air itself with a laser, which conducts the electricity forward. The technology could potentially also be used to disable vehicles and, in the future, to help militaries neutralize incoming rocket propelled grenades.
Taser expects its new products to be available by mid-2008.

ENDNOTETaser International has taken the classic marketing of fear, wrapped it up in the joyful colours of Christmas, and made Santa its salesman.
For the latest push of its civilian- and female-aimed Taser product, the compact C2 – about the size of a TV remote and available in pink – the catch line is: "What does Santa bring you when you have been good but the world is getting bad?"
A scornful Santa is apparently reading the world's "naughty" list. For $300 to $350 (U.S.), you could have a C2 of your own.
Should images of Christmas, traditionally linked with peace and goodwill, be used to sell something encircled by violence and fear?
Taser makes no apologies. "On the contrary," says spokesperson Steve Tuttle. "When there's over 1.4 million violent attacks in America, you're doing the responsible thing for a loved one if you can provide them with protection."
Taser has sold more than 161,000 devices to civilians since 1994. (None in Canada. They're not legal for civilians and won't be shipped here.)
Brash marketing is Taser's forte. Yesterday it sponsored a poker tournament in Las Vegas called "Beauty and the Bet" in which the winners got to party with the Playboy Playmates. It was a benefit for the families of fallen police officers.

Chicago study calls Taser's safety claims into question
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 6:05 AM ET
CBC News

Taser stun guns may not be as safe as their manufacturer claims, according to a study carried out by Chicago researchers, CBC News has learned.
The team of doctors and scientists at the trauma centre in Chicago's Cook County hospital stunned 11 pigs with Taser guns in 2006, hitting their chests with 40-second jolts of electricity, pausing for 10 to 15 seconds, then hitting them for 40 more seconds.
When the jolts ended, every animal was left with heart rhythm problems, the researchers said. Two of the animals died from cardiac arrest, one three minutes after receiving a shock.
The findings call into question safety claims made by Taser International, the Arizona company that makes the stun guns, which are used by dozens of police departments across Canada.
Wasn't The Suspense Terrific?
by William M. Grigg Saturday, December 01, 2007
The suspense was hardly unbearable when the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) announced that it would “review” the criminal assault committed by Trooper Jon Gardner last September 14, when he attacked Jared Massey – an agitated motorist whose behavior was non-threatening – with a Taser.
A “review” of this kind is almost always an exercise in ratifying the illegal use of force by a police officer. The UHP performed as expected, announcing at a press conference yesterday (November 30) that Gardner's attack was “lawful and justified under the circumstances” -- despite the fact that the department's policy does not authorize the use of a Taser against someone who does not pose a threat.
The now-notorious video of the incident demonstrates beyond dispute that Massey posed no actual or potential threat to Gardner. The video record also shows that it was Gardner who needlessly escalated the encounter by ordering the driver from the vehicle, rather than handing him the unsigned ticket and scurrying off to wherever it is that malodorous revenue farmers like himself go after committing their acts of highway robbery.
Massey, who had admitted to driving 68 miles per hour in what he thought was a 65 mph zone, believed that Gardner was inviting him out of the car to show him a sign announcing the beginning of a 40 mph construction zone. Gardner apparently ordered Massey from the car for the purpose of arresting him for refusing to sign the citation, which isn't a crime since in Utah a signature is unnecessary.

Abuse of Force (3 Parts) by Jon Christian Ryter
10 July 2008
Two very public stun gun incidents in September, 2007 caused ABC News to raise the question that should have been asked long before that day: "Are cops using Tasers too often?" (Quote from ABC News article, Sept. 21, 2007) ABC News reported that on Mon., Sept. 10, 2007 deputies from the Orange County, California Sheriff's Department shocked a 15-year old old autistic boy with 50 thousand volts of electricity because he was "acting suspicious," but without doing anything violent. Deputies found 15-year old Taylor Karras, who disappeared while attending a counseling session at the Orange County Regional Center in Westminister, was reported pushing a shopping cart down Newport Avenue. Police were asked to find the autistic boy by his mother, Doris Karras. Thus, the police knew the "subject" was a 15-year old with diminished capacity even though he stood 5'10" and had a beard. Karras told the Los Angeles Times that had the police officers spoken to her son in a non-threatening manner, he would have followed their directions without question or hesitation. A pedestrian spotted Taylor Karras 16 miles from the clinic in Tustin. The pedestrian called the Tustin police department to report a "suspicious" person. The Tustin police called the Sheriff's office which responded.
A spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, Jim Amormino, told ABC News "...the use of the Taser was definitely justified. The deputy had two seconds of contact with the suspect before he started screaming and running into traffic. If he hadn't been Tasered, he could easily have been killed by a car. The suspect, the officers, drivers on the road and pedestrians all could have been at risk if the suspect continued into traffic." Amormino said deputies were justified because when the officers commanded him to stop, Karras purportedly yelled something back at them and ran across Newport Avenue. Lost on Amormino in his justification to use a stun gun on a mentally challenged boy who posed no physical threat to anyone was the fact that stun guns are supposed to be an alternative to deadly force in subduing subjects who pose a deadly threat to law enforcement officers.
That same evening a University of Florida senior, Andrew Meyers (who was described by frequent Fox News guest correspondent Michelle Malkin as a "goofball," a celebrity-taunter and a YouTube publicity hound who was seeking his YouTube moment in history), staged his own date with the stun gun after Meyers grabbed a microphone in a roomful of people listening to Sen. John Kerry [D-MA] in order to ask the Senator a series of questions designed to provoke him—and campus police. Meyers wantd to know whether or not Kerry had ever been a member of Yale's Skull & Bones secret society. In Meyer's case, because he brought along his own videographer, we know he staged his own assault by campus police in order to achieve his own very painful 15-minutes of fame.
On Tuesday as Meyers was making YouTube fame pleading with campus police not to use the stun gun on him, University of Florida president J. Bernard Machen called the incident, and the arrest, of the college senior "regretful." Machen launched a university inquiry and asked the Florida Highway Patrol to investigate the justification of the campus police to use a stun gun on a student who simply refused to surrender a microphone. Like ABC News I found both stun gun assaults—and they were assaults—troubling.
[read remainder of article at:]
When 48-year old Horace Owen broke into the Fort Lauderdale home of MacArthur Hodges on June 12, 2005, he was high on cocaine and hallucinating. Owen was screaming that someone was trying to kill him. Hodges called the Broward County Sheriff's Department to get the intruder out of his house. Deputies pulsed Owen. He collapsed. He was pronounced dead an hour later at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Ignoring the electrical charge that cause the heart arrhythmia, the coroner ruled that Owen's death resulted from pharmacological intoxication—due to a cocaine overdose. His crime? Breaking into someone's home because he thought his life was in danger. It was—at the hands of Broward County Sheriff's deputies.
Mental patients like drug addicts use chemical mood enhancers that compromise heart rhythm when electrical shock is introduced. On Jan. 12, 2005 the parents of 30-year old Greg Saulsbury called 911 asking for help with their son who was mentally ill. They were trying to calm him down. Instead of paramedics, Pacifica, California police arrived a few minutes later. The Saulsbury's assured the police their son had calmed down and they did not need help. Officers attempted to handcuff Saulsbury and take him into custody. He fought back. Police pulsed him several times. Saulsbury cried out to his father for help. When the elder Saulsbury tried to help his son, police pulsed him as well. As police dragged the father from the room, 30-year old Greg Saulsbury collapsed and died.
Two days before Christmas in 2004 Sacramento, California mental hospital patient Ronnie Pino, 31 shattered a glass door at the mental facility. Police were called. During the struggle to take him into custody, Pino was subdued twice with a stun gun. He died in the medical ward of the county jail.
Patrick Fleming, 35, of Metairie, Louisiana had been arrested on drug charges several times. On Dec. 4, 2004 police sought to arrest him on a warrant of criminal family neglect (deserting a spouse and children and rendering them destitute). Police shocked him once as they attempted to cuff him. When he was booked, he became combative again. He was stunned again. It appears he was not given medical attention. He died in his cell the next day.
The parents of Ricardo Zaragoza, 40, of Elk Grove, California could not get their son to go to the hospital for scheduled mental health exam. Zaragoza was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. While he was taking his medications, he had not eaten in several days. When he refused to go to the hospital, his parents called 911 on Nov. 8, 2004. Sacramento sheriff's deputies arrived at the home. Zaragoza was in his bedroom and refused to come out. Deputies entered the bedroom and sprayed him with pepper spray and shocked him twice with a stun gun. Zaragoza stopped breathing and was pronounced dead. Cardiologist Dr. Kathy Glalter, a UC Davis Medical Center electrophysiologist who specializes in sudden death heart rhythm orders was at a loss to explain not only Zaragpza's death but that of Gordon Rauch as well. Both men were diagnosed with mental illness. Both were taking medications. Both were shocked with stun guns. And both died as a result of the electrical shock. Glaltier said that much more research is needed to definitively show the effect of stun guns on people taking prescription medications or illegal drugs, or whether those with preexisting heart conditions are more at risk of sudden death. Dah.
Like Zaragoza, Rauch met his death at the hands of the Sacramento sheriff's department. His appointment with the grim reaper took place on Aug. 17, 2003. Rauch's father called the police and said his son, who was medicated with psychotropic drugs, had threatened to kill him. Police said Rauch charged them when they attempted to take him into custody. Two officers shot him with their stun guns simultaneously. Rauch fell to the floor. Officers said he "went limp" when they cuffed him. He died about an hour later.
Neighbors called Miami-Dade police on Sept. 20, 2004 to report that 40-year old John Merkle, a lawyer with a serious drug problem was running through the backyards of the neighborhood with a big stick, acting erratically. Police found him in an abandoned home beating the walls and smashing the windows with the stick. Ordered to drop the stick, Merkle did so. But, according to police, when they attempted to take him into custody, he fought back. They shot him with a stun gun. Police said Merkle was feverish and asked to lay down. Police ordered him to lay on his stomach. Merkle stopped breathing. Police said he was high on cocaine. The coroner ruled Merkle's death was caused by excited delirium associated with cocaine use.
Experienced police officers are trained to recognize drug intoxication. With police departments around the country seeing an influx of sudden death due to "suspects" who experience cardiac arrest triggered by cocaine or methamphetamine intoxication it would seem, by this time, police officers would have an inkling that known addicts were likely candidates for cardiac arrest if shocked multiple times with a stun gun. It would seem the risk of killing suspects who [a] do not pose a deadly threat to law enforcement officers who are [b] attempting to arrest them for misdemeanor offenses whose penalty would likely be a fine or a weekend in jail. When police officers abuse the authority with which they are entrusted, they need to be held accountable. Likewise, when a coroner or medical examiner fabricates causes of death to protect the police or the purse of the county, that coroner or medical examiner needs to lose his or her medical license and face appropriate charges.
[read remainder of article at:]
... If you listen to law enforcement officials or their public relations spinmeisters they will assure you that stun guns are used only on violent offenders, or on those who threaten cops with physical violence. However, the reality doesn't match the rhetoric. The youngest person on record disabled by a stun gun was a 6-year old Miami boy who was threatening to cut himself with a piece of glass. In another incident with a minor child, a police officer was physically forced to chase down a 12-year old who was attempting to skip school. To teach her a lesson the cop, who chased her in a foot race, brought her to her knees with a stun gun. Once again, the 12-year old posed no threat to the police officer. He used the stun gun on her not to defuse a volatile, life-threatening situation, he did it because he was mad. Both incidents show an abuse of force. Both police officers should have been terminated.
A Rock Hill, South Carolina police officer used a stun gun to subdue a 75-year old woman whose only crime was becoming distraught when asked to leave a nursing home after getting upset because she couldn't find the room of a sick friend. In April, 2005 a Minnesota man died after local police shot him with a stun gun because he refused to stop shouting in the middle of the street. A Riviera Beach, California police officer used a stun gun on a derelict he found sleeping on a park bench. Awakened abruptly, the homeless man cursed at the officer and refused to let the cop search him for "contraband." The derelict died. Homelessness is now a capital offense in Riviera Beach. And, about the same time at the Houston County Jail in Georgia, a man died after being jolted three times with a stun gun. His crime? He refused to pay a $700 fine.
Pulse technology energy weapons (stun guns) are the most abused weapons used by America's local, county and State law enforcement agencies. It is time those agencies were held accountable for those abuses. As the rising death toll for the use of pulse technology affirms, stun guns do not represent the use of "non-lethal" force. Rather, as defined by the Milwaukee police department, stuns guns are merely "less-lethal" than firearms. Yet, they are used to subdue people for the most minor infractions of the law.
Let's suppose for a moment that the Minnesota man who died after being pulsed with a stun gun because he was standing in the middle of the street shouting at drivers and pedestrians, was shot with the officer's 9mm handgun. What would happen to the cop? He would have been charged with wrongful death. Today, he would be just another inmate in a correctional facility. Why should those who "accidentally" kill a citizen with a "less-lethal" weapon be excused? Because every State that uses pulse technology energy weapons (stun guns) defines their use as a non-lethal use of force, arguing that if they are used properly, stun guns are safe law enforcement tools, and when death occurs it's merely a freak accident.
Fifty-six year old, wheel chair-bound schizophrenic Emily Marie Delafield of Green Cove Springs, Florida would disagree that stun guns are safe if she was still alive. Police were called to settle a family spat on April 24, 2006. When Green Cove Springs police arrived, Delafield was holding a hammer and, according to the two officers, James Acres and Barbara Luedtke, a kitchen knife. They ordered her to drop her weapons. She refused. The police were in no danger from the 56-woman even though Luedtke said it appeared that Delafield was going to throw the knife at them. Delafield's medical problems severely limited her range of motion so, while she may have been able to raise her arm, it was unlikely she could have thrown the knife. Over the past couple of years police had been to her home a total of 28-times. Everyone in the Green Cove Springs police department knew, or knew of, Delafield. She lived with an oxygen tank which was attached to her motorized wheel chair. This alone should have told the officers she was "at risk," and being pulsed just one time could have had fatal consequences. Only Officer Luedtke, using the female officers "weapon of choice"—the gender equalizer—pulsed her nine times. Acre pulsed her once. Fifty thousand volts coursed through her body for 121 seconds. She died. The State of Florida ruled Delafield's death a homicide. The prosecutor decided it was a justified homicide because Delafield had two weapons. Regardless what the State's attorney said, Delafield's death was not justified since the officers should have had every expectation that pulsing her ten times for 121 seconds would result in her death. Three months after Delafield's death the medical examiner had still not issued a cause of death, or produced a death certificate for Emily Marie Delafield.
[read remainder of article at:]
Judge orders stun gun references removed from autopsies
May 3rd, 2008 @ 9:04am
by Associated Press
AKRON, Ohio - A medical examiner must change her autopsy findings to delete any reference that stun guns contributed to the deaths of three people involved in confrontations with law enforcement officers, a judge ruled.
Friday's decision was a victory for Taser International Inc., which had challenged rulings by Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler, including a case in which five sheriff's deputies are charged in the death a jail inmate who was restrained by the wrists and ankles and hit with pepper spray and a stun gun.
Kohler ruled that the 2006 death of Mark McCullaugh Jr., 28, was a homicide and that he died from asphyxiation due to the ``combined effects of chemical, mechanical and electrical restraint.''
Visiting Judge Ted Schneiderman said in his ruling that there was no expert evidence to indicate that Taser devices impaired McCullaugh's respiration. ``More likely, the death was due to a fatal cardiac arrhythmia brought on by severe heart disease,'' the judge wrote.
Schneiderman ordered Kohler to rule McCullaugh's death undetermined and to delete any references to homicide.
The judge also said references to stun guns contributing to the deaths of two other men must be deleted from autopsy findings. Dennis Hyde, 30, died in 2005 after a confrontation with Akron police, and Richard Holcomb, 18, died the same year after being hit with a stun by a police officer in suburban Springfield Township.
It was unclear what affect Schneiderman's ruling may have on the upcoming criminal trial of the five sheriff's deputies. One of them, Deputy Stephen Krendick, is charged with murder. Other deputies face charges of reckless homicide or felonious assault. All have pleaded not guilty.
Krendick's trial is scheduled to begin June 16. A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office, which is handling the case, said its lawyers are prepared to go forward.
Steve Tuttle, vice president of communications for Taser International, said the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company is pleased with Schneiderman's ruling.
``Taser International believed from the beginning that these determinations of cause of death must be supported by facts, medical research and scientific evidence,'' Tuttle said.
John Manley, a Summit County prosecutor who represented Kohler, said the judge's order went too far. The county is considering an appeal, he said.
``Taser is quite a force to be reckoned with and does everything to protect their golden egg, which is the Model X26,'' Manley said.
June 10, 2008, 10:17 am
Taser Suffers a Rare Loss in Court
By Mike Nizza
Taser International’s five-day stock chart.
Despite a steady stream of negative news coverage, Taser International’s business has sailed above it all, rolling with the punches before coming out on top of a growing industry.
To the frustration of the company’s many critics, orders keep coming in, from cities like Las Vegas and even from a country that remains nameless. The brand’s dominance in the electric-shock weapons market prompts comparisons to Kleenex’s hold on the facial-tissue market segment. Academic studies have supported the company’s claims that its products are safe to use. And incidents that hit the papers do not always engender outrage: some are even hilarious. New product lines from the company seek to lure female consumers as well.
Perhaps most importantly, the company has been remarkably successful inside the courtroom. With 69 straight trial victories, according to one count, Taser had assembled a nearly unmatchable record — 3 more wins than this year’s much-vaunted Boston Celtics, with none of the embarrassing losses.
None until Friday evening, that is, when an unfavorable verdict represented the first chink in the taser-proof body armor. From The Herald of Monterey County, Calif., the local paper on the case:
A federal jury has held Taser International responsible for the death of a Salinas man in U.S. District Court in San Jose on Friday, and awarded his family more than $6 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
An attorney for the family called the verdict a “landmark decision,” and indicated that it was the first time Taser International had been held responsible for a death or injury linked to its product.
During trading on Monday, the company’s stock dropped almost 12 percent. “Investors will assume heightened operating risk in the Taser model in the short-term,” one analyst told Barron’s, adding that shrinking police budgets also threatened business. Bloomberg News reported last month that more than half of Taser’s top 10 shareholders sold some of their shares this year.
Meanwhile, Taser is trying mightily to blunt the impact of the verdict and reassure Wall Street. Unlike the more cut-and-dried headlines seen on some news reports, the company stressed the nuances of the verdict, that the product was only found to be one of several contributing factors in the man’s death, and not the main one. In its a news release, titled “Jury Finds Extended Taser Device Application 15 Percent Responsible for Arrest Related Death,” the company’s general counsel, Doug Klint, vowed to appeal the jury’s decision and to vindicate its product:
We however do not feel that the verdict is supported by the facts including the testimony of the world class experts who testified on our behalf with scientific and medical evidence. Our commitment to continue to defend our life-saving products and to support law enforcement remains unchanged.
The news release also sought to reassure its customers, stressing that the police officers in the case were “exonerated for their actions” and that “all parties, including the plaintiff, agreed that the Taser devices were the best option available to these officers.”
Luckily, the company soon received a fortuitous boost in New York City. As The New York Times reported this morning, the New York Police Department is being urged by consultants to use Tasers more often, and avoid the kind of “reflexive shooting” incidents that led to the death of Sean Bell in 2006.
As Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly reviews to the recommendations from the Rand Corporation, investors will be waiting to see if he’s inspired to sign a big purchase order from the largest police force in the country.
How Does a 'Non-Lethal' Weapon Kill 400 PeopleBy Susie Madrak Saturday
Dec 13, 2008 12:00pm
It's always hard to know where to begin with Tasers. I mean, they're a nightmare for the citizens against whom they're used, the lawsuits will end up costing millions of taxpayer dollars and they inevitably suppress freedom of speech and assembly. Why are they still in such widespread use? I suppose it didn't hurt that right-wing heroes Rudy Guiliani and Bernie Kerik were so heavily involved in marketing them to police departments around the country. (Did you know the police officers recruited to demonstrate them to their departments receive stock options and/or payments? That explains a lot.)
On Sept. 24, in Brooklyn, N.Y., a 35-year-old man named Iman Morales fell to his death after a 22-minute standoff with New York Police. Morales, who was described as "emotionally disturbed," had climbed onto the fire escape of a building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, naked and waving a metal pole. Unable to talk him down, one officer, under order from his lieutenant, shot Morales with a Taser gun, at which point he fell to the sidewalk, head-first.
He was taken to the hospital, where he was declared dead.
One week later, the officer who gave the order, Lt. Michael W. Pigott, drove to Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field, a former air base used by the NYPD, took a 9mm Glock from a locker room, and shot himself in the head.
It's hard to know which are more ubiquitous at this point: stories of accidental death by Tasers, or stories of police brutality involving bullets. Just this week, in New York, a Bronx man was shot and killed after he allegedly waved a baseball bat at police officers who entered his home. In theory, these sorts of confrontations are the reason such "non-lethal" weapons as Tasers exist. But news reports tell a different tale. In the United States and Canada, more than 400 people have died after being Tasered since 2001.
Hmm. Do you suppose the fact that the Tasers shoot a lot more voltage than claimed by their manufacturer might explain things?
A new study has found that the type of Taser stun gun used most by police officers can fire more electricity than the company says is possible, which the study's authors say raises the risk of cardiac arrest as much as 50 percent in some people.
The study, led by a Montreal biomedical engineer and a U.S. defense contractor at the request of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., also concluded that even stun guns firing at expected electrical levels carry some risk of inducing a heart attack, depending on the circumstances.
The researchers' analysis contradicts Taser's position that electric shocks from the weapons cannot kill. The study said the results raise questions about quality control in the stun gun's manufacturing and decline in performance over time.
[...] Researchers said the fact that 9 percent of the guns tested abnormally high was significant enough to recommend a freeze in using X26 stun guns made before 2005. They also recommended more electrical tests on Tasers now in use by Canadian and U.S. law enforcement. The well-connected company released a statement saying the test results had "no bearing" on safety. So we can all relax!
New Canadian police policy restricts stun gun use
Canadian police restrict stun gun use, saying the guns are potentially lethalThe Associated Press
2/12/2009 4:37:00 PM
TORONTO - Canada's federal police will no longer use stun guns against suspects who are merely resisting arrest or refusing to cooperate saying the guns can cause death."Tasers hurt like hell," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner William Elliot said Thursday of his reaction to being shot with a stun gun as a test. "Taser" is one brand name for the guns."The RCMP's revised policy underscores that there are risks associated with the deployment of the device and emphasizes that those risks include the risk of death, particularly for agitated individuals," Elliot told members of Parliament's public safety committee.At least 20 Canadians have died after being zapped by stun guns. Federal police officers have used the guns more than 5,000 times in the last seven years.An analysis of incidents by The Canadian Press between 2002 and 2005 found that three in four suspects zapped by the RCMP were unarmed.Elliot said stun gun use must now be justified as a necessary and reasonable use of force including cases that are serious enough to warrant an officer using his real gun if the stun gun does not calm down the suspect.
Officers had previously been told that stun guns are a good way to control suspects in a state of so-called "excited delirium," or in an agitated or delirious state.Elliot said the term will no longer appear in police manuals."(Police officers) are highly trained, but they're not medical experts and we don't think it's fair or reasonable to have policy based on a medical condition or diagnosis," Elliot said.The term was widely used after a Polish man died in 2007 when police at Vancouver International Airport repeatedly zapped him and pinned him to the floor. The RCMP have maintained Robert Dziekanski was in a state of excited delirium when they shot him.International attention and intense criticism of police followed when a bystander released video of the incident. The case is the subject of a public inquiry into police actions.Amnesty International is among groups that have urged a ban on the weapons, pending conclusive impartial study.