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Taser tribulation

30 May 2008 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in police, torture | No Comments »

I was going to post yet another taser death article today, but I kinda can’t stand looking at the fine details of the subject right now.

Instead, some commentary and some links.

Despite that the taser’s manufacturer, Taser International, claims with all sorts of paid experts and government shills to back them up that the device isn’t dangerous, people keep dying after being hit with tasers. The site Truth … Not Tasers is keeping a list, which currently runs to 345 in the US and Canada alone.

In the cases where internal police inquiry or survivors’ lawsuits force the issue, it’s now verboten to talk about the taser as having been a cause of death. The manufacturer has begun pursuing lawsuits against medical examiners who issue reports stating that the electric shocks delivered by the devices were contributory factors. Chilling effect, anyone?

Taser X26, jasonesbain @ flickr

Taser X26, jasonesbain @ flickr

The new term for the condition that kills people in police custody who have been subjected to 50,000-volt “non-lethal” discharges is “excited delirium“. One will note that the postmortem diagnosis of “excited delirium” seems to occur only in victimsthose who died after being shocked.

Apparently the theory that jolting a person with an electrical discharge might affect their cardiopulmonary performance just doesn’t matter when the jolts are being administered by the State’s clown-suited agents.

The deaths are really only the smallest portion of the abuse that’s going on here, though. Police are being encouraged to use the taser to “get control” of situations in which a suspect is being less than cooperative. Those I’ve read about include ones in which suspects failed to immediately respond to an order, struggled while being held in painful (and sometimes dangerous) restraint positions and holds, or simply seemed to be acting a bit “off”. And the rapid escalation from things like not behaving “properly” at traffic stops to the application of electroshock control seems to be increasing rapidly.

I have no faith whatsoever in the United Nations, but it’s worth quoting that its Committee Against Torture in 1997 “was worried that the use of TaserX26 weapons, provoking extreme pain, constituted a form of torture, and that in certain cases it could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that had happened after practical use.

And now the links. These are a few of the sites that are chronicling the taser story on a day-to-day basis, and quite instructive.


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