Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Taser Used by Police the RIGHT Way, Everyone Lived

Macon County Sheriff's Deputies saved a life and avoided killing or seriously injuring the intoxicated, knife wielding aggressor.

“I saw Johnny Hopkins Jr. with a knife in his left hand held to the throat of … [the homeowner],” wrote Farmer in the police report.

The report states he immediately drew his service weapon and Willis pulled and activated her taser. A female who was also in the room was able to get to the door and open it for the officers.

“In this type of situation, lethal force was justified,” Farmer said regarding the preparation of using his handgun. “We had tasers available, however, and we were able to react quickly, so that was not necessary.”

Hopkins did not respond to repeated demands to drop his weapon.

“I drew on him instantly through the window and shined my flashlight at him. When I warned him, he did back up, but he did not drop the knife,” Hopkins said.

Because of scattered items in the room, deputies only entered partway so as to keep a clear line of site of the victim and Hopkins.

When he and Willis were able to enter the home, he said Willis waited for his go-ahead before deploying her taser.

“Willis was to my right, and she said, ‘Just say when,’” Farmer said.

He gave the go-ahead and Willis deployed her taser striking Hopkins just left of the stomach and in his right shoulder.

“It was enough of a stun to make him drop the knife, but he still continued to resist,” Farmer said. It was at this point he and Willis “assisted” him to the ground.

Note: The Taser stun forced the subject to drop the knife, but did not incapacitate him. The deputies then "assisted" the subject to the ground without further Taser use. Despite being heavily intoxicated -- a factor Taser insists is to blame for Taser related deaths along with drug use and mental problems -- the subject is alive and not seriously harmed. In the other cases presented in this and other forums multiple Taser hits were used by police and subjects died.

Can we add 2 + 2 yet?

Teamwork, training, and the proper use of the tools at their disposal allowed these two deputies to difuse a lethal situation with no harm to anyone.

“[The homeowner] told us he believed [Hopkins] was going to kill him if we had not shown up,” Farmer said.

Farmer credits teamwork as the reason that no one was hurt in this situation. He said that officers are trained to the point of working step-in-step with one another.

“As far as teamwork, we don’t even need to talk to know what the other one is going to do. That’s how tightly we work together,” he said, crediting Willis for her quick response on the scene. “I trust these guys with my back in any given situation.”

He said he was glad the situation ended as well as it did, because the scene he walked in on could have ended very badly.

“We call that a success if we can walk away without anyone getting hurt and every officer able to go home to their family,” he said.

Job Well Done!

[UPDATE] Another case in Wisconsin: Police used the Taser ONCE, knife wielding, intoxicated subject is not incapcitated, officers then "assist" the subject to the ground. One Taser hit, no one died.

And another subject with a knife gets tasered in Omaha... What is it with all these idiots holding knives to other people's throats? It's almost enough for another edition of You Could Get Tasered!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

If You Do This, You'll Get Tased (2)...

If you:
-drive around in Texas without a rear license plate,
-make the nice officer ask three times for your license and proof of insurance,
-get out of the car and start arguing with the officer instead of producing said license and proof of insurance...

You Could Get Tasered!

I'm surprised this guy's mouth didn't earn him a second hit... I grew up in and around Texas. There are signs all over the place admonishing people to Not Mess With Texas. Do not, under any circumstances, mess with Texas peace officers.
If You Do This, You'll Get Tasered...

Death After Taser Use, This Time in Texas

Another man is hit by multiple Taser shocks, the fourth and last being a "contact stun" (cite: MSNBC). The man was "running naked" through a North Houston area apartment complex and broke into a woman's front door. The Harris County Sheriff was called and deputies responded.

(ABC-13 Houston)"I saw a naked man just running," she said. "I was like, 'What?' And when I saw him, maybe I was seeing things."

But no. There was a nude man running around at 4am Wednesday, banging on car windows and apartment doors at the Trails at Dominion Grove apartment complex on Dominion near Kuykendahl.

"I was just like, this is crazy, and now when I come back, all the police are around and he was killed," she said.

The man died shortly after deputies used a Taser on him four times.

The man's antics caught the attention of residents who called 911. The final straw was when he barged into a woman's apartment.

"She repeatedly asked him to leave," said Sgt. Greg Pinkins with the Harris County Sheriff's Department. "He eventually left."

But next was a run-in with a sheriff's deputy. Investigators say the man climbed into the front passenger seat of a patrol car and wouldn't get out and the deputy hit him with a Taser. It had little effect. He tried again. But the man wasn't subdued until a second deputy arrived, and the man was hit with a Taser twice more.

"He resisted, resisted instructions, and resisted them and they had to resort to deploying a Taser," said Sgt. Pinkins.

This is the third death in the last few days in cases where police have deployed the Taser. One consistent thread in the deaths are the repeated hits when the subject is not subdued on the initial, or even second, Taser hit.

Police do seem to be relying on the Taser and it's reputedly abilities more than they should. From our earlier post, a former police officer stated:

An officer wouldn’t use a baton unless they were being assaulted--that is extreme physical force. But the Taser is being used in passive resistance: when an officer confronts a suspect, gives an order and the suspect isn’t compliant. In that situation many officers have used it as a non-compliant rule, like getting mouthy. If a cop used a baton that would be police brutality but for some reason the public thinks that the Taser is different, not a dangerous device. And there is the visual aspect: when you see someone beaten with a baton that is extreme but when you see someone Tasered and he doesn't fall, it doesn't look bad. Even so, it is a violent act; it just doesn’t look that way. (op. cit.)

The Taser deserves a place in the peace officer tool box. However, as described by the former officer above, it and the reputation Taser has crafted about their product is being relied on too heavily by police. When will the public and the departments that serve the public wake up and study the effects multiple hits from a Taser have on the body, particularly the bodies of those who are the most likely targets, the mentally and physically ill? We watch with little amazement, and often with amusement, as officers "hit" subjects multiple times with incapacitating electric shocks. As Officer Dial states above, we would react with horror and anger if we witnessed an equal deployment of the police baton. The latter may result in broken bones, the former a stopped heart. Which is the more cruel and dangerous?

Police Officer Suffers Medical Problems After "Vol...
Another California Man Dead After Police Use Taser...
Taser Death Update: Family States Man Was Restrain...
Do We Need to Take the TASER Away from Law Enforce...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If You Do This, You'll Get Tased...

Following the example of Jeff Foxworthy's comedy routine You could be a redneck, Pax will be starting a series of jokes to be published as the mood dictates of You Could Get Tasered...

Today's runaway winner is the following:

If the police respond to your house on a disturbance call and you run out of the door naked and covered in blood, and then start kicking the nice officers...

...You Could Get Tasered! (see the video at the bottom of the item)shocked


Police Officer Suffers Medical Problems After "Voluntary" Taser Hit

A Mesa, Arizona police officer "volunteered" to take a Taser hit during a demonstration -- and now says he has severe back problems and debilitating headaches and dizzy spells.

After one 3 second Taser hit. And he says he isn't the only officer to develop career ending problems from the Taser hits.
Nick Dial was a police officer who volunteered to be Tasered. Since then his health has suffered to such an extent that he can no longer work. And he's not alone; other police officers have suffered serious health problems, from vertebrae misalignments to heart arrhythmia and stroke. "In its video, Taser International claims that nobody has suffered a serious injury or Taser death as a result of the Taser, but that just isn't true," says Dial.
Dial say he would not volunteer for the Taser hit if he knew then what he knows now.
Had I known better, I would never have volunteered to take the hit. As well, in the police department, there is a jock mentality--you have to step up and prove you are a man otherwise you're gonna get hazed for the next few weeks. Most of us say screw that, I'm gonna take the hit.

This is how they did it. Two officers took an arm each and rather than have the fish hooks go through my clothing, they cut the barbs off the end of the wire and connected the positive and negative to the back of my bare back and taped the wires on. One wire was taped below my right shoulder blade and the other wire was on my left back area so there was a perfect line going across my spine. I was hit with the Taser for three seconds, one surge. It was painful and my back arced. When it was over I was in a ton of pain--my entire back was throbbing and it was difficult to breathe.
Dial says that he can't work at all, he is "unreliable, I am tired all the time and sometimes I can't even make it to the grocery store. I can't even hold my daughter for long before my back starts throbbing." All because of that one Taser demonstration, according to Dial.

And he isn't alone among police officers.
Nick Dial's health problems led him to do a lot of research and he phoned some officers around the country who suffered after being Tasered. Dial says a police department in Chicago filed a suit against the weapons company but the city was forced to drop it because "it cost them too much money--Taser came at them with such force." In another incident Dial says a Chief of Police in southern Arizona was hooked up to an EKG and was Tasered during a demo to prove to his men that it was safe. "After he took the hit he had a stroke. He filed a lawsuit against Taser but lost the case."

"One young guy in Illinois was Tasered and he fractured 3 vertebrae in his neck," says Dial. "He had multiple surgeries and attempted to go back to work but the first time he had an encounter with physical force it opened his wound and ended his career as a cop. He can't do a whole lot. Like me, you kind of go through an identity crisis. You become a cop because you do it for the better good and you love your job. But now we don’t know what to do—we feel like our jobs have been stripped from us and it causes a state of depression--I want nothing more than to go back to work.
Doctors say that "he body runs on electricity and it is very possible that the Taser caused my adrenal glands to short circuit or damage my nervous system." This is much the same observation we had yesterday.

Dial says that Taser use is becoming an easy out for officers that otherwise would use no force at all.
An officer wouldn’t use a baton unless they were being assaulted--that is extreme physical force. But the Taser is being used in passive resistance: when an officer confronts a suspect, gives an order and the suspect isn’t compliant. In that situation many officers have used it as a non-compliant rule, like getting mouthy. If a cop used a baton that would be police brutality but for some reason the public thinks that the Taser is different, not a dangerous device. And there is the visual aspect: when you see someone beaten with a baton that is extreme but when you see someone Tasered and he doesn't fall, it doesn't look bad. Even so, it is a violent act; it just doesn’t look that way.
When even the officers tasked to use the tool are complaining it is past time to re-evaluate the tool's use in the field. Dial notes that every study of Taser's products have been funded by Taser... We need in depth, independently funded studies of the Taser. Until then peace officers need to examine the employement of this weapon in crisis situations.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Another California Man Dead After Police Use Taser

Maybe California officers need additional training in Taser use? This "combative" 39-year old with a criminal record and a history of mental problems was "hit" three times by a Taser. From the San Jose Mercury News:
When deputies arrived, they were confronted by a combative, 39-year-old Nathan Vaughn. A deputy fired a Taser gun once at Vaughn, who they say continued to resist. The sheriff's department says the deputy fired the stun gun twice more at Vaughn.

Authorities say after Vaughn was subdued, he showed signs of medical distress after being put in handcuffs. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Ok, I've held off stating the obvious. Tasers use Electro-Muscular Disruption technology that is designed to incapacitate neuromuscular function by delivering an electrical shock. Here's the obvious part: The heart is a muscle that operates on electrical impulse. Doesn't ANYONE see the obvious? It isn't a good idea to deliver clusters of Taser hits that disrupt the heart's natural operation; and it is even a worse idea to deliver Taser hits to persons on meds or that have other medical conditions.

If the subject does not go down after one Taser hit, or at the most two, then perhaps it is time for the officers involved to apply elbow grease to the situation and not risk stopping the subject's cardio system.

The question that the officer must ask is: When does the Taser progress from a non-lethal device into a lethal weapon?

The Taser is a tool that deserves a place in the peace officer's arsenal. However, there are limits to this tool's use as with every other tool. If officers can't or won't recognize the tool's limits they should not have them.

Please don't accuse me of being anti-police. I did my time as a peace officer (Mobile, Alabama Constable 2001-2005).

Taser Death Update: Family States Man Was Restrain...
Another Death After Taser Use
Do We Need to Take the TASER Away from Law Enforce...
Still Please Don't Tase Me, Bro! [UPDATED] Is Tase...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Taser Death Update: Family States Man Was Restrained When Tased

(See Another Death After Taser Use)

[UPDATE from the San Jose (CA) Mercury News]
The family of the man who died after being "tased" multiple times by a Campbell Police officer in San Jose, California states that the man was not resisting and was handcuffed "under" multiple officers from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and other departments.

The family of a man who died Friday after repeated Taser jolts dispute police accounts and say he already was pinned under several deputies, handcuffed and not fighting back when another officer used his stun gun.

Rather than the "strenuous, intense physical altercation" that police described, the family of 26-year-old Edwin Rodriguez said he was confused but not combative with officers that night. They also said Rodriguez suffered from schizophrenia, a chronic mental illness that can cause hallucinations.

"He wasn't violent at any point," said Emilia Centeno, 35, a cousin whose brother and mother witnessed the incident. They have cell-phone photos showing several officers on top of Rodriguez that they say they took before the officer used the Taser.

"That is what we don't understand. Why would you use it on him more than one time when there were so many officers already on top of him and he couldn't move and wasn't fighting back?"

The Campbell Police Department tells a different story.
But Capt. David Dehaan of the Campbell Police Department, which employs Gary Berg, the officer who fired the Taser, insists Rodriguez was still struggling and was not handcuffed when Berg used the stun gun.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident. Edwin Rodriguez suffered from mental illness and had himself called for help twice that day when he thought his meds were not working. Officers responding to the second visit suggested Rodriguez see a doctor. Rodriguez and family members took their advice and proceeded to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

But when they got there, he did not want to leave the car. When Centeno's brother, Dennis Centeno Jr., tried to coax him out, Rodriguez became testy. Someone at the hospital suggested that the family summon police for help, Centeno said.

Deputy sheriffs arrived shortly after 11:20 p.m. Rodriguez was hugging his mother at the time, relatives said, while Dennis Centeno Jr. warned them that he did not speak English and, pointing to his head, "is not all there."

Relatives said Rodriguez began walking away from officers, who demanded in English that he get on the ground while his cousin attempted to translate. Moments later, relatives said, five or more officers pinned Rodriguez to the ground — face down. Some knelt on his back, they said, and others punched and kicked him.

Dehaan said officer Berg noticed the struggle and offered to assist with his Taser. The deputies, who do not carry the stun guns, accepted the offer, Dehaan said. Berg pressed the device against Rodriguez's lower back and discharged it "multiple times," Dehaan said. At one point, the deputies had hold of one of Rodriguez's arms, but otherwise his hands were free and uncuffed, and he was pushing up off the ground, Dehaan said.

The family saw it differently. They say Rodriguez was "handcuffed, pinned and not resisting when the officer used the stun gun at least four times."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Death After Taser Use

This time in San Jose, California...
A 26-year-old San Jose man died early Friday after he was zapped with a Taser by a Campbell police officer who was helping quell a disturbance at Valley Medical Center.

The Santa Clara County medical examiner's office identified him as Edwin Rodriguez. The cause of death is pending.
The fight escalated to what police describe as a "strenuous, intense physical altercation'' with Rodriguez, who was 6 feet tall and weighed about 260 pounds.

In an effort to subdue the man, Berg discharged his Taser electric stun gun, directly on Rodriguez's lower back. Dehaan said Berg discharged his Taser "several'' times, but he did not know the exact number.

After being subdued, Rodriguez was put in handcuffs, but deputies soon realized he was unresponsive. They started CPR on the man, who was taken into the hospital's emergency room. He died at 12:11 a.m. Friday.

Do We Need to Take the TASER Away from Law Enforce...
Still Please Don't Tase Me, Bro! [UPDATED] Is Tase...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sammy Baugh -- March 17, 1914 – December 17, 2008

Slingin' Sammy Baugh passed away yesterday at the age of 94. Born Samuel Adrian Baugh in Temple, Texas, Baugh was the greatest single football player to have graced the gridiron.

HTTR, Sammy!

Quite a few bloggers memorialized #33 yesterday. Here are a few...

Rich Tandler
The Curly R
TOBOTWR here and here
Redskin Insider
Redskins Gab and here

The Other McCain, that Tide heretic, also noted Baugh's passing.

Do We Need to Take the TASER Away from Law Enforcement?


Amnesty International has released a report which links 334 deaths to the use of Taser guns between 2001 and August 2008. Contrary to claims by the manufacturer that the stun guns deliver non-lethal shocks, the Amnesty International indicates that the government should limit use of the weapons to life-threatening situations or stop using them altogether because of their potentially lethal effects and ease of abuse.

Taser International claims that their stun guns are safe and non-lethal. However, Amnesty International challenges these claims, releasing a detailed report about the safety of Taser guns, titled “USA: Less than lethal?”

That's a lot more than TASER claims, which is Zero...

According to Bloomberg News, Taser International is currently a party in at least 40 Taser gun wrongful death lawsuits or personal injury cases, and they have previously been dismissed from over 70 other cases.

The first Taser lawsuit that resulted in a verdict against the manufacturer of the weapon was returned in June 2008 by a California jury, who awarded $6.2 million to the family of a man who died after receiving multiple shocks from a Taser gun.

Perhaps it is time to look for an alternate "less than lethal" tool.

Still Please Don't Tase Me, Bro! [UPDATED] Is Tase...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Still Please Don't Tase Me, Bro! [UPDATED] Is Taser LYING?

(Hat Tip GannettBlog)

The Columbia Journalism Review released an item on Friday alleging that Taser International made false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Taser stated that Gannett Co, Inc -- publishers of numerous daily papers and the USA Today -- agreed to vet stories about Taser products before publishing in the settlement of a 2006 law suit filed by Taser against Gannett. Gannett and the two papers that ran the item about potential Taser deaths yesterday.

The CJR item states:
  • There was no such agreement according to Gannett.
  • In two SEC filings, Taser claimed that the newspapers “would review articles regarding the Taser device with us prior to publication”—an extraordinary breach of journalistic standards.
  • Taser’s general counsel initially stated the claim to Wall Street analysts in an earnings conference call, adding that it was “in order to ensure accuracy.”
  • Gannett denies ever making such an agreement.
  • The initial suit was dismissed and a summary judgement was issued forbidding taser from suing again.

Current San Francisco Chronicle editor Ward Bushee, the Republic’s editor at the time of the settlement, and Randy Lovely, the Republic’s current editor, said they were unaware of Taser’s statements until asked about them recently by CIR, and denied that any such agreement ever existed.

“Taser’s assertion in the SEC filing is completely false,” Lovely said. “The Arizona Republic would never allow a source to review a story prior to publication. To do so would completely violate our journalist principles and standards of independence. The Republic has aggressively reported on Taser during the past few years, and we stand behind the full scope and accuracy of our stories.”

If Taser is lying to the SEC about the circumsatnces of the law suit, are they lying to us about the lethality of their products?


A lot of LEO (Law Enforcement Officer for the uninitiated) types still defend the Taser as a non-lethal defense device for law enforcement. In comes the latest study...

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.

Taser predictably calls the study bogus.
Taser International Inc., based in Scottsdale, called the study flawed. "Regardless of whether or not the anomaly (high-firing guns) is accurate, it has no bearing on safety," Taser Vice President Steve Tuttle said.
The study had the highest to date number of devices and found that. "9 percent of the guns tested abnormally high was significant enough to recommend a freeze in using X26 stun guns made before 2005."

Further, more questions were raised by the study about Taser use on those with heart conditions.

Pierre Savard, a biomedical engineer in Montreal who co-authored the report with two Chicago doctors, said they may have understated the risk Tasers pose because there is little available research on the effects of the weapon on humans, especially those who have heart disease. Although Savard said he recognizes the value of less-lethal weapons, he added that he is convinced Tasers can kill in some circumstances.

"Scientists who had evaluated the Taser to start with said, 'Well, there's zero probability of death.' I'm sure that's not the case," Savard said in an interview with The Arizona Republic.

"I'm 100 percent certain that cardiac diseases increase the risk of death after receiving Taser shock. I think there's enough scientific evidence for that."

The impact of use of Tasers on those under the influence of narcotics is also unknown according to the article.

You Still Better Not Tase Me, Bro!