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Taser abuse: how many have to die before something is done about it?

By pams
Thursday, September 24, 2009 17:20 EDT
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I point you over to Electronic Village, where Villager is keeping track of some sobering stats — the number of deaths due to the misuse or abuse of the Taser. We're up to 36 deaths this year, with 39% of the pre-trial, extra-judicial electrocutions and executions were perpetrated against black men, who represent only 6% of the population in the U.S.

  1. Jan 9, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17, Black, Martinsville, Virginia
  2. Jan 11, 2009: Rodolfo Lepe, 31, Hispanic, Bakersfield, California
  3. Jan 22, 2009: Roger Redden, 52, Caucasian, Soddy Daisy, Tennessee
  4. Feb 2, 2009: Garrett Jones, 45, Caucasian, Stockton, California
  5. Feb 11, 2009: Richard Lua, 28, Hispanic, San Jose, California
  6. Feb 13, 2009: Rudolph Byrd, Age Unknown, Race Unknown, Quincy, Florida
  7. Feb 13, 2009: Michael Jones, 43, Black, Iberia, Louisiana
  8. Feb 14, 2009: Chenard Kierre Winfield, 32, Black, Los Angeles, California
  9. Feb 28, 2009: Robert Lee Welch, 40, Caucasian, Conroe, Texas
  10. Mar 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15, Caucasian, Bay City, Michigan
  11. Mar 26, 2009: Marcus D. Moore, 40, Black, Freeport, Illinois
  12. Apr 1, 2009: John J. Meier Jr., 48, Caucasian, Tamarac, Florida
  13. Apr 6, 2009: Ricardo Varela, 41, Hispanic, Fresno, California
  14. Apr 10, 2009: Robert Mitchell, 16, Black, Detroit, Michigan
  15. Apr 16, 2009: Gary A. Decker, 50, Black, Tuscon, Arizona
  16. Apr 18, 2009: Michael Jacobs Jr., 24, Black, Fort Worth, Texas
  17. Apr 30, 2009: Kevin LaDay, 35, Black, Lumberton, Texas
  18. May 4, 2009: Gilbert Tafoya, 53, Caucasian, Holbrook, Arizona
  19. May 17, 2009: Jamaal Valentine, 27, Black, La Marque, Texas
  20. May 23, 2009: Gregory Rold, 37, Black, Salem, Oregon
  21. Jun 9, 2009: Brian Cardall, 32, Caucasian, Hurricane, Utah
  22. Jun 13, 2009: Dwight Madison, 48, Black, Bel Air, Maryland
  23. Jun 20, 2009 Derrek Kairney, 36, Race: Unknown, South Windsor, Connecticut
  24. Jun 30, 2009, Shawn Iinuma, 37, Race: Unknown, Fontana, California
  25. Jul 2, 2009, Rory McKenzie, 25, Black, Bakersfield, California
  26. Jul 20, 2009, Charles Anthony Torrence, 35, Caucasian, Simi Valley, California
  27. Jul 30, 2009, Johnathan Michael Nelson, 27, Caucasian, Riverside County, California
  28. Aug 9, 2009, Terrace Clifton Smith, 52, Race: Unknown, Moreno Valley, California
  29. Aug 12, 2009, Ernest Ridlehuber, 53, Race: Unknown, Greenville, South Carolina
  30. Aug 14, 2009, Hakim Jackson, 31, Black, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  31. Aug 18, 2009, Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38, Black, Greensboro, North Carolina
  32. Aug 20, 2009, Francisco Sesate, 36, Hispanic, Mesa, Arizona
  33. Aug 22, 2009, T.J. Nance, 37, Race: Unknown, Arizona City, Arizona
  34. Aug 26, 2009, Unidentified Man, Age: TBD, Race: Unknown, Los Angeles, California
  35. Sep 3, 2009, Shane Ledbetter, Age: 38, Caucasian, Aurora, Colorado
  36. Sep 21, 2009, Richard Battistata, Age: 44, Race: Unknown, Laredo, Texas

***

In the above video, Stanley Harlen was pulled over for allegedly speeding; he stopped in front of his house. As his mother came out in her robe, she watched as officers wrestled with him. One officer fired the Taser three times for 31 seconds. For 14 minutes he received no medical attention; when paramedics arrived it was too late. He was dead. The Moberly city manager’s response is hardly reassuring. Andy Morris: Harlen’s death is “unanticipated and unintentional. Police officers must often make split-second decisions in tense, rapidly-evolving situations.”

Ken Burton, the Police Chief of nearby Columbia, MO’s PD also has officers who use Tasers but he strictly limits their use — no fleeing subjects are allowed to be tased, and when deployed, only for 5 seconds at at time.

This CBS report showed a graph of statistics, compiled by Taser International itself, and the growth in the use of these “non-lethal” devices has skyrocketed from 500 law enforcement agencies in 2000 to 14,201 in 2009. And there are no mandatory standards or training for Taser usage. Taser International has actually put out a disingenuous statement that defies reality, considering the rising body count.

The electrical output of a taser device is incapable of causing death.

Sure, the voltage alone in one blast itself may not kill, but what about the medical condition of the tasing victim? What about shocking someone for 31 seconds? What about repeated blasts to an elderly or disabled individual? This is a situation out of control.

 
 
 
 
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