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Author Topic: AI's Report on US Taser Use released yesterday  (Read 3522 times)

NuclearDruid

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AI's Report on US Taser Use released yesterday
« on: November 30, 2004, 10:10:45 am »

Excessive and lethal force? Amnesty International’s concerns about deaths and ill-treatment involving police use of tasers

Long reading but details abuse cases that we've never even heard of. Mind-boggling!

ND

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Unlike the dart-firing probes, the touch stun function only acts on a small part of the body, and causes pain and debilitation rather than total incapacitation. A Taser International training manual states that "If only the stun mode is used, the M26 becomes a pain compliance technique…"(11) The advice given in the manual for "stun mode areas" is to "aggressively drive M26 into:
Carotid/brachial stun area(12)
Groin
Common Peronial(13)."

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Amnesty International welcomes any reduction in the use of lethal force. However, claims that tasers have led to a fall in police shootings need to be put into perspective, given that shootings constitute only a small percentage of all police use of force. In contrast, taser usage has increased dramatically, becoming the most prevalent force option in some departments. While police shootings in Phoenix fell from 28 to 13 in 2003, tasers were used that year in 354 use-of-force incidents, far more than would be needed to avoid a resort to lethal force.

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For example, a number of law enforcement agencies allow tasers to be used against "passive resisters" – people who refuse to comply with police commands but do not interfere with an officer and pose no physical threat.(36) Others authorize tasers at an entry level of "defensive resistance", typically defined as "physical actions which attempt to prevent officer’s control but do not attempt to harm the officer".(37) The Miramar Police Department, Florida, told Amnesty International (in response to concerns raised about the stunning of a schoolgirl during a minor disturbance) that tasers were available "prior to the use of intermediate weapons" such as batons. A Philadelphia Police Department directive states that tasers may be used, among other scenarios, to "overcome resistance to arrest". Indianapolis police told Amnesty International that the entry level at which tasers could be used was "at any point force is needed".(38) While many departments authorize tasers at the level of "active physical resistance", according to a number of policies Amnesty International has seen, this can be in the form of "bracing or tensing" or "attempts to push or pull away". These scenarios hardly depict the "combative" or "aggressive" individuals described in promotional literature.

Amnesty International believes that electro-shock weapons, which have a powerful impact on the body and can cause acute pain, should never be considered a "low" or "intermediate" force option. However, a review of reported cases suggests that some departments are deploying tasers in routine arrest situations, at the first sign of resistance or in the face of relatively minor resistance. Incidents include cases of people under the influence of alcohol or drugs who failed to comply promptly with commands, people who "mouthed off" at officers and people engaged in minor acts of public disturbance. The use of electro-shock weapons in such circumstances appear to breach international standards set out under the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms. These require that force should be used only as a last resort, in proportion to the threat posed and the legitimate objective to be achieved.(39)

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Florida
Local police agencies in Florida were among the first to adopt the new generation tasers on a wide scale. Twelve (nearly one in five) of the recent US taser-related deaths discussed under Chapter 2 occurred in Florida, with four in Orange County alone. In addition to those cases, Florida police have reportedly used tasers to subdue:

  a man who refused to be fingerprinted and wrestled and shoved officers (Pembroke Pines Police Department, Broward County)
  a woman who interrupted a seminar at a country club and pushed officers away, shouting that they were "sick with demons" (Pembroke Pines Police Department)
  a man who refused to discard the drink he was drinking in a park and refused to turn round and be handcuffed (Orange County Sheriff’s Office)
  a woman who, ordered out of a pool for swimming naked and once dressed, refused repeated commands to turn round and put her hands behind her back. (Orange County Sheriff’s Office)
  a 15-year-old schoolgirl, who was tasered and pepper sprayed after arguing with officers after she and other children were put off a bus during a disturbance. (Miramar Police Department, Broward County)
  a 14-year-old schoolgirl who was tasered after fighting with a school "resource officer" in a classroom. The officer first used the taser as a "stun gun" applying it directly to her chest; when she continued to struggle he deployed the "air cartridge" twice before she was handcuffed. (Putnam County Sheriff’s Office)(41)

In May 2004, the city of Melbourne, Brevard County, Florida, announced a review of police taser use after reports that officers had fired two tasers simultaneously at an unarmed 23-year-old man who had turned his back on officers when they called at his house to investigate a neighbour’s complaint about loud rap music. He was allegedly jolted multiple times, causing acute pain. A study of police incident reports conducted by a local newspaper found that Melbourne police had used tasers against 75 people in 18 months, most of whom were unarmed.(42) They included

  a 14-year-old boy who had allegedly broken a window and tried to run away;
  a 50-year-old man who refused to give police his date of birth during a disturbance at a picnic;
  a woman jolted at least five times with a taser as an officer held her down.

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Portland, Oregon
An investigation by a weekly journal, Willamette Week (WW), into taser use by the Portland Police Department, Oregon, published in February 2004, reported that, over a 19 month period, officers had deployed tasers in more than 400 cases, including on 25 people who were already in handcuffs.(46) The WW report, which was based on a review of police incident reports, stated that "numerous potentially lethal situations" had been averted using the taser, including suicidal individuals trying to force the police to kill them.(47) However, the WW also reported on incidents in which tasers were used against people who were not a serious threat but were merely verbally abusive or failed to comply with police commands. According to the newspaper, Oregon police had tasered people "after stopping them for non-violent offenses, such as littering and jaywalking, selling plastic flowers without a license, and failing to go away when told to". Police also used tasers on two 71-year-olds, one a woman who was blind in one eye, and the other a man who was trying to restrain a knife-wielding woman. The elderly man was shot with the taser after dropping onto his hands and knees instead of lying flat on the floor, as ordered by police. (See under Lawsuits, below, for details of the 71-year-old woman).

The paper also reported on the case of 20-year-old Dontae Marks, a bystander who protested when police tried to arrest a friend for being drunk outside a night-club. Police reportedly pointed a taser at Marks’ chest when he refused an order to leave, then tasered him in the back as he walked away shouting an obscenity. Six officers then reportedly grappled with him in a struggle in which Marks was pepper-sprayed and touch-stunned at least ten times while lying face-down on the ground. He was reported to have sustained 13 taser burn marks across his back, neck, buttocks and the rear of his legs. He was later acquitted on charges of affray and has filed a lawsuit. According to the WW report, an internal police review found the taser use to be justified.

Dontae Marks’ attorney is quoted as saying "They went straight for the Taser because it was quick and easy for them. He was doing what they wanted him to do, but because they didn’t believe him, they tased him. And that’s what blew the situation up." The following incidents were also cited in the article. All were reportedly found to be within police departmental policy.

  An 18-year-old was tasered when he told police responding to an under-age drinking party to "get the f…out of my house". He was tasered again when, after complying with an order to put his hands up, his hands started to drop.
  A driver pulled over on a bridge, angry that his car was being towed away for lack of insurance, was tased after repeatedly complaining and turning his head and body towards an officer.
  A woman who fell asleep in her parked car was tasered when officers woke her up when they opened her car door and, according to the police report, she glared at them and reached for her pocket. According to the WW review, police reports were inconsistent as to whether or not she was warned before the taser was used.

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Chandler, Arizona
The Chandler Police Department, Arizona, is one of several agencies to have compiled detailed statistics about its taser use in a publicly available report.(49) The report documented 86 uses of the taser from April through December 2003, 42 of which involved police firing darts at suspects. In 17 cases the taser was used in touch stun mode and in five cases both the probe deployment and touch stun mode were used.(50) There were also 24 incidents in which the taser was used in Display Mode only. 97% of dart or stun deployments were in response to "active physical resistance" or higher on the force scale. "Active physical resistance" is defined in departmental policy as "acts of fleeing or escaping" or "suspect attempts to resist arrest without assaulting officer".

The report included a summary of each incident. Most of the incidents involved unarmed suspects who were reportedly engaged in aggressive or disorderly behaviour, and were resisting arrest; many occurred after or during a police chase. A breakdown of taser usage by "call type" (incident to which the police responded) showed that most police responses were to reports of domestic violence (19% of cases), followed by "suicide attempt" (13%). Others ranged from minor offenses to burglary. There is no indication that any of the incidents were found to violate the Chandler Police Department policy. The reports included use of tasers to subdue:

  a female driver of a stolen vehicle being followed by police who, after she crashed the car and fled on foot and was caught by officers, "would not comply with verbal commands and made a move towards her waistband".
  A trespassing suspect who was tasered when he "resisted being handcuffed".
  a female suspect who had broken into her grandfather’s apartment and was tasered when she "attempted to walk away from the officer" and "pulled away" when he tried to stop her. The taser was applied five additional times before other officers arrived on the scene.
  a burglary suspect hiding in an attic when he "refused to comply with commands".
  a suspect who, stopped for driving with a suspended license, ran away from police.
  an autistic teenager after he assaulted his mother and wrestled an officer to the ground.
  a man standing on the sidewalk yelling and screaming at the sky. He was threatened with the taser if he did not comply with police commands to be quiet. He refused to comply and the taser was then deployed. The taser was effective but "as the subject began to get up, the taser was cycled a second time".
  A thirteen-year-old girl was tasered in a public library after she threw a book at someone and was "yelling obscenities". The case summary states: "The juvenile continued to be verbally disruptive and resisted when officers attempted to place her under arrest. The Taser was displayed and threatened. The juvenile continued to resist by curling into a ball. As the juvenile was preparing to kick at the officer, she was touch-stunned in the middle of her back". (51)

The Chandler Police Department study reported on 17 instances in which the taser was used solely as a touch stun gun. In most of the cases, it appears to have been used in order to gain compliance and included the following cases:

  An "out-of-control" high school student "continued to resist in the patrol car". The Taser was used on the leg as a touch stun to gain compliance.
  A suspect was stopped for "driving under the influence" and refused to comply with commands to place his hands behind his back to be handcuffed. The taser was displayed and he started to comply but placed his hands against his chest. The taser was then used in touch stun mode.
  During another arrest for "illegal consumption of alcohol", the "suspect resisted and the Taser was used in touch stun mode to gain compliance".
  The stun gun was used to gain compliance from a suspect in custody who was refusing to have blood drawn as per a court order. The taser was used a total of four times against the suspect.

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Kansas City, Missouri
In June 2004, a Kansas City police officer electro-shocked an unarmed 66-year-old African American woman in her home, as she resisted being issued with a ticket for honking her car horn at police. The incident started when Louise Jones honked her horn while parking behind a police car. The police officers, who were responding to an unrelated disturbance in the street, returned to Ms Jones’ house and tried to issue her with a ticket for unlawful use of her horn. She protested and a tussle ensued, during which an officer shocked her twice with his taser.

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The Colorado ACLU has reported on several cases in which individuals were touch stunned while already restrained. Some of the details are confirmed in police reports seen by Amnesty International.

  a man was shocked in the genitals for continuing to resist while he was handcuffed and sitting in the back of a police car. The officer admitted to applying a "drive stun to the groin". (Westminster Police Department, Colorado)
  Police responded to a report of a possible overdose and took an apparently intoxicated and possibly suicidal man to hospital. A police officer applied a taser to the man while he was restrained on a hospital bed, screaming for his wife. According to the police report, "Officer Furney repeatedly told Andre to be quiet and when he did not comply placed the Taser against Andre’s chest and tased him once". (Pueblo Police Department)
  A prisoner was strapped into a restraint chair for three hours for yelling and mouthing off. According to the ACLU "Officers periodically approached the prisoner, held a stun gun to his chest, and threatened to shock him. The prisoner has an enlarged heart and may be particularly vulnerable to adverse effects from electroshock weapons".(75) (Broomfield Detention Center, Colorado)

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Illinois: Pregnant woman sues police
In September 2004, a lawsuit was filed against police from Evergreen Park Police Department, Illinois, by Clarence Phelps and his pregnant daughter, Romona Madison, alleging that they were tasered and subjected to excessive force outside their home. The incident took place on 18 September 2004 at the daughter’s wedding reception, when police arrived in response to a complaint about loud music and people dancing in the driveway. According to police accounts reported in the media, Phelps was uncooperative, refusing to produce identification, and was stunned with the taser after he allegedly pushed two officers. The police claimed Madison struck and shoved several officers and ran into the house. She was discovered hiding in a clothes cupboard and, after being warned, was shot twice in the abdomen with a taser when she refused to come out. Lawyers for the family claim that neither Phelps nor Madison had fought with officers and that Madison was followed into the house by overzealous officers who tasered her despite being told by several guests that she was two months pregnant. Madison was taken to a police station and released the same night, after being charged in connection with the incident. She received no medical attention while in police custody, apart from having taser darts removed by paramedics. She went to a hospital immediately on her release and, according to her lawyer, was told her baby’s vital signs were weak. Her situation was still being monitored at the time of writing.

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Washington: immigrant woman tasered in front of sons
A lawsuit has also been filed in the case of Olga Rybak, a 5 feet 4 inches tall Russian immigrant woman who was tasered multiple times by an officer from the Washougal Police Department, Washington, in August 2003, after she refused to sign a citation for a dog violation. The officer had gone to her house with the citation after her dog had bitten an officer the previous day. Rybak, who spoke little English, at first refused to sign it, asking for a translator. While attempting to arrest her, the officer shocked her at least 12 times in 91 seconds in front of her two young sons – first using the weapon as a stun gun, then stepping back to insert a cartridge and twice firing darts at Rybak who was writhing around on the front porch. When the boys (aged 11 and 12) tried to help their mother, the officer reportedly threatened to taser them as well. Rybak’s attorney has informed Amnesty International that the boys have been receiving psychiatric treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the incident.

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In a letter to the ACLU of Colorado in February 2004 on deaths of people struck by police tasers, Taser International reiterated Dr Stratbucker’s findings, stating: "If the electrical stimulation of the TASER device were to play a causal role in the death, the death would be immediate (this has never happened)."(135)

I guess the military has this wrong. When I was working in the safety dept. on my ship anyone who reported a shock would be sent to sickbay for an immediate ECG and another one 24 hrs later.

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2.7. Taser and pregnancy
One of the cases included in Amnesty International’s review was the death of an unborn child in December 2001 after the pregnant mother was struck by an M26 taser. Although the coroner failed to establish a link between the taser and the foetal demise, the mother subsequently received substantial damages in an out-of-court settlement (see Cindy Grippi case under Lawsuits, 1.7. above). Two medical experts consulted by the woman’s lawyer reportedly found a likely causal connection between the foetal death and the electro-shock.

Taser International warns that police use of tasers is "not advisable" in the case of pregnant women because of the risk of the woman falling. Otherwise, the company maintains that the electrical output from tasers is not harmful to a foetus. However, Amnesty International is concerned by the absence of thorough, independent research into the medical effects of using low-amperage, high voltage taser shocks on pregnant women. One past study has suggested an association between between electrical injury from a (low powered) taser and miscarriage after reviewing a case report and the literature on electrical injuries during pregnancy. (150) The case concerned a woman 12 weeks pregnant who was shot with a taser after she refused to submit to a strip search in a Florida jail; she began to miscarry spontaneously seven days later. She was subsequently awarded $225,000 by a federal jury. (151) A study of the safety of tasers and any associated medical risks should include further research into this topic.
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"GREAT COMEBACK FOR STOCK MARKET" - Front page, Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 22nd, 1929

"I believe it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him. Admittedly, one man by himself cannot do the job. However, one man can make a difference..." -Adm. Hyman G. Rickover

Desertrat

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AI's Report on US Taser Use released yesterday
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2004, 06:13:03 pm »

I saw an article this AM (WND?) where the sales of tasers is way up.  Not just police, either.  Lots of citizen purchase.  I guess some jurisdictions haven't outlawed them as they have done with firearms...

Anybody heard of "armed robbery" with tasers?

'Rat
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NuclearDruid

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AI's Report on US Taser Use released yesterday
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2004, 09:22:48 pm »

'Rat,

It's only criminal use of a taser if a criminal assaults or threatens to assault someone with one, not a pure-as-the-driven-snow LEO.

ND

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Teenagers rob, attack victim using tasers

A Salinas man was assaulted with a stun gun by a 14-year-old boy and attacked by two other teen boys while walking through a parking lot Saturday.

Salinas police said that Edgar Martinez, 22, was walking through the Winchell's parking lot at 640 E. Laurel Drive about 2:30 p.m. when was attacked by the boy. The assault knocked Martinez to the ground, where two men began hitting him, police said.

The boys stole money and a cellular phone from Martinez, police said.

Martinez told an unidentified woman about the assault and described his attackers. She later called police and said she saw three boys who matched the description walking near Natividad Medical Center.

Soon after, police found the boys, who were in possession of the stun gun, money and Martinez's phone. The 14-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of robbery and assault with a taser. The two other boys, both 15, were released to their parents.
Monterey Herald
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"GREAT COMEBACK FOR STOCK MARKET" - Front page, Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 22nd, 1929

"I believe it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him. Admittedly, one man by himself cannot do the job. However, one man can make a difference..." -Adm. Hyman G. Rickover

Bono

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AI's Report on US Taser Use released yesterday
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2004, 01:38:28 pm »

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'Rat,

It's only criminal use of a taser if a criminal assaults or threatens to assault someone with one, not a pure-as-the-driven-snow LEO.

ND

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Teenagers rob, attack victim using tasers

A Salinas man was assaulted with a stun gun by a 14-year-old boy and attacked by two other teen boys while walking through a parking lot Saturday.

Salinas police said that Edgar Martinez, 22, was walking through the Winchell's parking lot at 640 E. Laurel Drive about 2:30 p.m. when was attacked by the boy. The assault knocked Martinez to the ground, where two men began hitting him, police said.

The boys stole money and a cellular phone from Martinez, police said.

Martinez told an unidentified woman about the assault and described his attackers. She later called police and said she saw three boys who matched the description walking near Natividad Medical Center.

Soon after, police found the boys, who were in possession of the stun gun, money and Martinez's phone. The 14-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of robbery and assault with a taser. The two other boys, both 15, were released to their parents.
Monterey Herald
That's scary.  :ph34r:

But, since they are probabily inner city scum, why don't they use real guns?
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DrillSgtK

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AI's Report on US Taser Use released yesterday
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2004, 08:10:32 pm »

Why don't they use guns? I can't say in that case but I would guess a few reasons. they were young kids and may not be able to get the $ for real guns off market, but could get a stun-gun in market. (the local news reports that some states don't have age limits on the sale of them) Or it could be a simple idea that if your caught with a real gun you won't get any breaks, but a stun-gun your not really meaning to hurt someone. (that is how I would play it in court)

I've had the opportunity to test Tasers new gun, but only from the shooters end. And I will say it's very safe to use, even when mounted on the bottom of the M-16 or M-4. And it does not interfere with the rifles function.

The whole idea behind the Stun-gun is it can be used when you don't want to shoot to kill, but don't want to close in with a stick and beat them to submission.  You may have to, but if you can start out 25 feet away your less likely to get hurt.  I think AI's report is going to get miss-used to ban civilian ownership of Stun-guns when the number of illegal use by citizens is out done 100 to 1 by cops.  All they will say is "look at all the deaths from Stun-gun use, ban them from civilians before they go nuts."  Not pointing out that the deaths and worse abuse if from government police.

Drill Sgt K
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NuclearDruid

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AI's Report on US Taser Use released yesterday
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2004, 11:49:16 am »

Institute of JBT's Release Report Praising TASER usage.

Should Cops Stop Using Tasers? Force Science Research Center Steps Into Taser Controversy

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Should a moratorium be declared on the use of Tasers?
Absolutely, says Amnesty International, the activist human rights organization, which has called for a cease fire in the use of "stun technology in law enforcement" until the true risk to targeted suspects can be thoroughly researched and verified.

Nonsense, says Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center (FSRC) at Minnesota State University-Mankato. Even a temporary ban on the use of Tasers, Lewinski asserts, "would literally create a catastrophe for peace officers. Lawsuits would increase, officer injuries would increase, subject injuries would increase-all guaranteed. We need additional research, but we don't need to stop using a unique tool that experience has proven is effective and overwhelmingly safe while more investigation is underway."

A "catastrophe for peace officers"? :blink: What did they do in the "catastrophic" period before Tasers?

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What is alarming, besides AI's call for an immediate and blanket moratorium, are some of the policies it recommends regarding Taser deployment in the event a moratorium is not imposed or agencies refuse to voluntarily suspend Taser use. These recommendations reflect a profound misunderstanding of the Force Continuum and of the control challenges officers face on the street.

A concern Everett expresses is that politicians and the media may be tempted to advocate these recommendations, to the ultimate disadvantage to law enforcement and disservice to the public.

Heaven forbid that politicians should respond to the outcry of the public instead of the FOP. :rolleyes:

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In some parts of the country, strong emotions have been stirred among civilians by the use of Tasers to control offenders who were children or elderly. In Florida, where the device was used, without known injury, in separate incidents against a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old, a county commissioner declared this week that she was "shaken," "angry," and "appalled" and would "go ballistic" if someone used the weapon on her 6-year-old grandchild. In South Carolina recently, the media headlined the fact that a Taser was used against a 75-year-old woman during an altercation at a nursing home.

"In a confrontation," Lewinski explains, "you don't look at age, sex, height, weight-you need to look at behavior, the violence and potential violence you're encountering. A 6-year-old in a complete psychotic temper tantrum can really hurt you.

Disbelief! I refuse to suspend it.

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Among other investigations, FSRC expects to be involved with the New Jersey Medical School and Wisconsin's Fox Valley Technical College in a detailed study of the health effects on 100 trainees after they are shocked with Tasers. A grant of more than $400,000 for the research is pending.

And who's funding that research?

ND
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"GREAT COMEBACK FOR STOCK MARKET" - Front page, Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 22nd, 1929

"I believe it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him. Admittedly, one man by himself cannot do the job. However, one man can make a difference..." -Adm. Hyman G. Rickover

UnstructuredAgain

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AI's Report on US Taser Use released yesterday
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2004, 11:59:06 am »

Just a side note, the other day the amnesty folks and some police officers appeared on NPR to "debate" the issue citing this study.   Well, we all know what amnesty has to say about it, but you know, one of the head honcho cops actually wanted to ban them for civilian use, saying something like it would endanger the officer and he'd have to use DEADLY force if he saw one, even though from what even he said, it's a non lethal weapon.  Now I understand the criminal could grab the officers gun and things but to go beyond that, he said that they shourld be outlawed for civilian use in All situations, not just threatening situations.   The CEO of Taser International(sp?)  was on and they are now implementing full backround checks and demanding SSNs to buy one.  And when you fire it, it leaves a tiny chip in the person shot, so that they can identify what tazer it came from.   Interesting interview and the BBC has been covering it as well.

PS.  It must be TAZER month with all of the media hype on them from every corner of the media.

Peace and Good Day oh and pardon the "Z's" in Taser I think it sounds better.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2004, 12:04:38 pm by UnstructuredAgain »
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