Friday, July 25, 2008

Tased Until Dead: The Epidemic of Taser Crazy Cops

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Since 'Taser' use has become widespread more than 290 people have been killed, possibly murdered, by taser crazy cops. In response to this epidemic of violence, Amnesty International released a statement damning the use of "... tasers to subdue non-compliant or disturbed individuals who do not pose a serious danger to themselves or others." That --I daresay --describes most of the incidents.

Various police departments have said 'tasers save lives', an assertion unprovable on its face. Secondly, as tasers have proven popular with rogue cops who like to use them, it may be more accurate to conclude that as gun deaths have gone down, deaths by taser have increased.

Taser use has become an outrage, a threat to the rule of law, an overt violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, to say nothing of felony violations of US Codes, and state laws against murder. The epidemic of taser abuse is characteristic of fascist police states run riot when those sworn to uphold the law become nothing more than thugs and/or murderers.
We have serious concerns about the use of electro-shock devices in law enforcement, both as regards their safety and their potential for misuse. Portable and easy to use, with the capacity to inflict severe pain at the push of a button without leaving substantial marks, electro-shock weapons are particularly open to abuse, as our organization has documented in numerous cases around the world.

While in the United States police operate under professional standards,(8) we are concerned that many US police departments are using Tasers to subdue non-compliant or disturbed individuals who do not pose a serious danger to themselves or others. As our reports have documented, there are many cases where we believe use of Tasers has contravened international standards which require that police use force only when strictly necessary, in proportion to the threat posed, only for as long as the threat exists and in a manner designed to minimize pain or injury. We have documented disturbing instances where we believe that Taser use has amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment which is absolutely prohibited under international law. (Emphasis added)The UN Committee against Torture has called on the United States to deploy Tasers only as a non-lethal alternative to using firearms.

We are particularly concerned about the capacity of Tasers to be used in close contact situations as a stun weapon – including in situations where individuals appear to be already effectively in custody – and to inflict repeated shocks over a relatively prolonged period. While we believe the drive-stun mode is especially open to abuse, we note that in dart-mode also there have been instances of alleged abuse, with officers able to inflict repeated shocks once the darts have taken hold.

We are also concerned that Tasers are being widely deployed in the United States before the results of rigorous, independent and comprehensive testing of their safety and potential health risks.

--USA, Amnesty International’s concerns about Tasers: Statement to the US Justice Department inquiry into deaths in custody
The manufacture of tasers should be banned by law, their use made a felony, and the moron hot dogs who get their jollies by tasering people should be locked up for life or, in those cases in which the victims dies, the taser freaks should be charged with capital crimes. Tasers have become a symptom of the modern police state --atrocity 'lite'.

TSA personnel, specifically, are morons who can't walk and chew gum --unfit to be cops when cops themselves have devolved into morlocks. Yet --there is a place for anyone with a pulse in the TSA!
WINNFIELD, Louisiana (CNN) — A police officer shocked a handcuffed Baron “Scooter” Pikes nine times with a Taser after arresting him on a cocaine charge.

He stopped twitching after seven, according to a coroner’s report. Soon afterward, Pikes was dead.

Now the officer, since fired, could end up facing criminal charges in Pikes’ January death after medical examiners ruled it a homicide.

Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn Parish coroner, told CNN the 21-year-old sawmill worker was jolted so many times by the 50,000-volt Taser that he might have been dead before the last two shocks were delivered.

--Ex-cop may be charged in case of man tasered to death, Drew Griffin and David Fitzpatrick
Anyone who is repeatedly tasered until dead has been murdered. That this man was repeatedly tasered until dead may very well make this a capital offense.

It also took 'several months' for the case to be addressed! Why? Was it covered up because a crooked police department hoped they could sweep it under the rug?

I also dislike the term 'wrongful death' --a euphemism that is most often used to hide murders, wrongful deaths, indeed!

Raising eyebrows is the fact that Winnfield police Lt. Chuck Curry has told bald-faced lies about the incident in defense of a taser happy thug who committed murder pure and simple:
This has come down to a police officer that was trying to apprehend a suspect that they had warrants for. He done what he thought he was trained to do to bring that subject into custody. At some point, something happened with his body that caused him to go into cardiac arrest or whatever.

'What happened that caused him to go into cardiac arrest' is called 'death'! And, in this case, the victim was tasered at least three times after he died!!

Last time I checked: dead men are not a threat to 'police officers'! The dead do not try to allude arrest. It is rare that dead people require detention because they are rowdy or belligerent!

The Police Lt's statements are --prima facie --stupid! They are, more politely, lies told after the fact and, may, therefore be unlawful, instances of criminal 'obstruction of justice'. If I were a prosecutor, I would so charge the Police Lt and order his arrest as well.

Tasering International is a company I wish to see put out of business for good when its board of directors and complicit executives are themselves charged. Taser International has reportedly stated that “multiple Tasings do not affect a person.” Again --the onset of 'death', indeed, 'affects' one. But, certainly, repeated tasering will not affect those already murdered by it.

If America is a lawless nation, it is because 'lawlessness' trickles down. A man who seized power unlawfully has flouted every US Codes and worked overtly to subvert the will of the people via congress. This man has said of the rule of law: "The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper". Why should we be surprised then to find 'law enforcement' officials disdaining the very laws they are sworn to uphold.

The US is long overdue for a people's revolution to restore the rule of law, the Constitution. Those who have been loosed by Bush's lawless reign should, like Bush himself, be brought to justice that they might learn what the 'rule of law' truly means. The time may have come for a Taser moratorium but I lean toward an outright ban. The ease of use seems catpnip for cops and is without doubt behind the increased number of cases in which victims are repeatedly and unnecessarily 'tased', often until death!

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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why don't we fight back by calling Taser (a brand name) by something more in keeping with its historical precedents?

How about "the lash" (my vote) or "the whip". Because then you could put it in the context of a society in which punishment itself is administered by authorities before any adjudication of the offense.

Unfortunately "Taser" is a PR device to make such things seem new, and to force one to create new laws about the use of the thing. I am sure the caselaw of this nation and that of our common law ancestor, England, has much to say for centuries about the use of this device. Let us open the books on the rise and fall and revival of this brutal instrument.

Len Hart said...

anonymous sez...

Unfortunately "Taser" is a PR device to make such things seem new, and to force one to create new laws about the use of the thing.

Only extremists support this abuse of 'tasers'. And --as you point out --'taser' is the product of a focus group. For this mindset, there is no crime so heinous that it cannot be made palatable with a euphemism.

SadButTrue said...

These weapons are being used as a supposed alternative to deadly force. Well, if they kill people, (and not all that rarely) doesn't that make them a deadly weapon?

The case of Baron Pikes that you cite looks to me like a clear case of murder. The coroner's report says that he was probably already dead when the last two shocks were administered. How does that gibe with police policies that the device is only to be used when the person in custody poses a threat to the officer's safety?

The fact that murder charges have not been laid against this officer and others sends a chilling message: "in a police state, the police are never policed." If you want to have recurring nightmares just imagine the Blackwater and KBR thugs rotated back from Iraq and serving the Cheney agenda.

Despite tasers being responsible for a number of unnecessary and infamous deaths here, it's still being used in Canada too. Is there a sane safe haven anywhere on the planet?

Len Hart said...

SadButTrue said...

How does that gibe with police policies that the device is only to be used when the person in custody poses a threat to the officer's safety? The fact that murder charges have not been laid against this officer and others sends a chilling message: "in a police state, the police are never policed."

That's hits the target precisely and it is the reason this is such an important issue. If cops are out of control --and clearly they ARE --then the nation has descended into lawlessness. The 'taser' is just one of more overt symptoms of POLICE STATE!

opit said...

But how can police properly intimidate and publicly torture without free recourse to sadistic measures ? There's some pushback
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/080725/national/sask_no_tasers

Len Hart said...

opit said...

But how can police properly intimidate and publicly torture without free recourse to sadistic measures ?

As wise heads have opined: the wrong folk are behind bars! As a hardbitten reporter, I came to think of cops as criminals with badges. Sad when you think about it.

Excited-Delirium.com said...

In my view the whole problem starts with Taser. They falsely claim essentially a perfect degree of safety (with respect to internal risk factors, such as cardiac). This is reflected in the training, where trainees are brainwashed into believing that the taser is essentially perfectly safe. And thus the overuse, misuse and abuse.

Am I the only person in the world to notice that the training often includes a taser hit TO THE BACK, where on the street the police often aim AT THE CHEST? And there seems to be a statistical surplus of chest hits in the taser-associated deaths.

I've explored this issue in depth on my blog. More than 500 posts, aimed mostly at destroying the propaganda from Taser.

Len Hart said...

Excited-Delirium.com said...

Am I the only person in the world to notice that the training often includes a taser hit TO THE BACK, where on the street the police often aim AT THE CHEST? And there seems to be a statistical surplus of chest hits in the taser-associated deaths.

Where I come from shooting someone in the back is cowardly. At the very worst, the person is fleeing --but not a threat warranting his/her being shot.

I look forward to a statistical study. The OVERWHELMING number of incidences that have made news are instances in which the person was ALREADY subdued but REPEATEDLY tased.

I've explored this issue in depth on my blog. More than 500 posts, aimed mostly at destroying the propaganda from Taser.

'Destroying the propaganda' consists in ABSOLUTELY refuting EVERY lie told by the taser manufactuers and the cops. It will also consist of citizens organizing to OUTLAW the manufacture and use of these devices, exact penalties for their use by law enforcement, criminal charges and in some cases murder charges filed against the dumb ass hot dogs who have gotten the mistaken idea that they Bill of Rights no longer apply. LONG TERM PRISON TERMS result in an attitude adjustment.

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Anonymous said...

yet another case of police misconduct in the Gatineau city of the Quebec province, Gatineau police cop Pierre francois Blais assaults 73 year old grandmother according to complaint filed.

A Gatineau cop violated a man's Charter rights when he shot and killed him in 2008, according to a litany of charges filed under Quebec's Police Act.
On June 29, 2011 -- one day past the three-year anniversary of David Leclair's death and just five days after the Leclair family launched a $430,000 civil suit against the officer and the city -- the province's police ethics commissioner slapped Const. Pierre-Francois Blais with 10 charges.
Though he remains on active duty, he was unreachable for comment Wednesday.
"It'll never bring David back, it never should have happened to begin with," Leclair's sister, Donna told the Sun Wednesday. She is still pressing for a public inquiry into her brother's death.
A 35-year-old single father who was well-known to police, Leclair was shot three times outside his mother's Aylmer, Que. home after Blais responded to a domestic complaint involving Leclair's ex.
In February 2007, Leclair pleaded guilty and was handed an 11-month sentence for fraud.
Separate fraud and assault charges from 2006 were stayed, and he was also due to appear in court later in 2008 on theft and fraud charges.
On the day of Leclair's death, Blais had followed him into his mother's home, beat him with a club and pepper-sprayed him before shooting him three times outside, including once in the back. Blais said LeClair grabbed a crowbar in the confrontation but witnesses say he was unarmed.
The officer also struck Leclair's then 73-year-old mother, Dorothy, in the leg with his baton and, according to witnesses, threatened to shoot her and LeClair's brother Robert if they intervened.
"Personally, I would love him to have jail time, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen at this point," Donna said.
Blais, the son of chief justice of the Federal Court of Appeal Pierre Blais, was cleared in 2009 of any criminal wrongdoing after a provincial police investigation. The latest charges, which stem from a formal complaint filed to the police ethics commissioner, allege Blais acted carelessly and recklessly in his dealings with Leclair, used obscene or offensive language, displayed a lack of respect or courtesy, abused his authority, and violated Leclair's Charter right to life, liberty and security of the person.
Blais is also charged with using excessive force against Leclair's mother, along with four other charges.
"Will this bring us closure? I don't know, but I hope it helps ... Something is better than nothing right now," Donna said. "We'll see how it plays out."
No hearing date has been set yet.
The charges against Pierre-Francois Blais:
1. Acted carelessly and recklessly in his dealings with Leclair
2. Using obscene or offensive language
3. Displaying a lack of respect or courtesy
4. Abusing his authority
5. Violated Leclair's Charter right to life, liberty and security of the person
6. Using obscene or offensive language in his dealings with Dorothy Leclair
7. Displaying a lack of respect or courtesy
8. Excessive force
9. Making threats
10. Failing to prevent or contribute to preventing justice from taking its course
Key dates in the aftermath of David Leclair's death.