Thursday, July 08, 2010


Yowza! That's gotta smart if you're a Taser Inc. shareholder going long:
Taser International (NASDAQ:TASR) is one of today's worst performing low-priced stocks, down 2.1% to $3.71 on 0.2x average daily volume. Approximately 321,000 shares have traded hands today vs. 30-day average volume of 1.3 million shares.

High volume often signals a change in trends. Shares of Taser International are currently trading below their 50-day moving average (MA) of $4.36 and below their 200-day MA of $5.05. ...

SmarTrend is bearish on shares of Taser International and our subscribers were alerted to sell on March 29, 2010 at $5.99. The stock has fallen 38.1% since the alert was issued.

Friday, May 14, 2010

$2e6 in Fort Worth

Fort Worth is settling, for $2-million, a case in which a mentally ill man died after being tased for over 50 seconds. Per the standard operating procedure for most investigations of police activity in the US, the officer involved was cleared of wrongdoing and the city has not admitted liability. From the story:
FORT WORTH, TEXAS - The city of Fort Worth is offering $2 million to the family of a mentally ill man who died after being shocked by a Taser, even though the police officer involved has been cleared of wrongdoing.

Michael Patrick Jacobs, 24, died last year after being shocked for 54 seconds. The Tarrant County medical examiner's office ruled his death a homicide due to "application of conducted energy device."

In an effort to gain control, Cpl. Stephanie A. Phillips then shocked Jacobs twice with a city-issued Taser X26 Electronic Control Device, officials said. The first shock last for 49 seconds.

The second time for five seconds.

"The entire time I was yelling, 'You're killing my son; you're killing my son,'" his mother Charlotte Jacobs said.

The police officer who tased Jacobs, Stephanie Phillips, did not receive any discipline from the Fort Worth Police Department.

Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffery Halstead has defended Taser use, saying police shootings have dropped 30 percent in the eight years the city has used Tasers.

"The use of these devices provided a safer environment for officers dealing with possible violent situations," Halstead said last year.

The Jacobs family said this situation wasn't a violent one, and officers did not need to resort to using a Taser.

The $2 million offer could open up flood gates for other police tasing incidents. But the city of Fort Worth has not admitted liability in the case.

That's some expensive police work.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Firing Tasers At Kids On Bikes

More BART cop action:

Sources familiar with the matter, however, told The Chronicle that a veteran sergeant in a moving patrol car fired his Taser several days ago at the 13-year-old boy, who was fleeing from an altercation at BART's Richmond Station on a bicycle.

The darts missed the boy, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They said the sergeant, who has taught defensive tactics at BART, remained at work but had been removed from street duty.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Still Crazy

I might be taking a break from writing about them, but law enforcement officials are still crazy with the tasers:
Indiana police say two officers have been placed on administrative suspension after they used a stun gun on an unruly child at a home day care.

A news release from the mayor's office and the Martinsville Police Department said the officers responded to reports of a 10-year-old who was out of control at Tender Teddies Day Care Tuesday night, reports WRTV in Indianapolis. ...

The department says that when the officers arrived the boy was out of control, hitting and kicking and refusing to listen to them.

The department says the officers used a stun gun and slapped the boy to subdue him.

The chief said the boy cried after being shocked on Tuesday but is now fine, WRTV reports.

Martinsville Police Chief Jon Davis said Thursday that he believes two of his officers could have avoided using the stun gun on the 94-pound boy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tasing An 82-Year-Old

I can understand why the driver called the cops, but can't figure why the cops couldn't handle an 82-year-old man:

Authorities have charged an 82-year-old man for punching a Chicago Transit Authority bus driver in a confrontation allegedly over a fare dispute that led to him being tasered by police.

Junming Kuang, of the 3000 block of South Wentworth Avenue, was charged with felony counts of resisting or obstructing a peace officer, aggravated battery of a government employee and a misdemeanor count of aggravated assault to a police officer, said Officer John Mirabelli, a Police News Affairs spokesman.

He is expected to appear at a bond hearing Wednesday.

Police say that Kuang tried to get on a CTA bus in the 2300 block of South Wentworth Avenue about 9:15 a.m. Monday and got into a dispute with the driver after his bus pass failed to register, police said.

Kuang began to punch the bus driver, and when police arrived on the scene, the man began to fight with them too, leading to officers Tasering him.

So, is it braver to tase a 10-year-old or an 82-year-old? Just askin.

Fire Up The Lawyers

I'll admit that I don't know how these things go in Canada, but I know that here in the states, a statement like the following from a government sanctioned anything would have lawyers salivating. The RCMP have been slammed for their role in the death of Robert Dziekanski. From the inquiry's official report:
Prior to deploying the CEW, Constable Millington should have issued the required warning/challenge to Mr. Dziekanski as required by RCMP
Because no significant attempts were made by the RCMP members present to communicate with Mr. Dziekanski, to obtain clarification of information pertaining to Mr. Dziekanski's situation, or to communicate among themselves, deployment of the CEW by Constable Millington was premature and was not appropriate in the circumstances.
Constable Millington cycled the CEW multiple times against Mr. Dziekanski when those subsequent cycles were not known by him to be necessary for the control of Mr. Dziekanski.
The multiple cycles of the CEW against Mr. Dziekanski when no significant effort was made to determine the effect of the CEW on Mr. Dziekanski was an inappropriate use of the CEW.
Corporal Robinson did not adequately monitor Mr. Dziekanski's breathing and heart rate.
policy, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Dziekanski appeared not to understand the English language.
Not a lawyer here, and feel free to correct me, but the executive summary of the report linked above seems to clear the officers involved from prosecution. But, if this had happened in the States and we had been lucky enough to have a public inquiry (we would never be that lucky), I'd be willing to bet we'd see headlines in line with the following:

Man gets $100,000 in lawsuit

From that link:

WILKESBORO - A Wilkesboro police officer was dropped from a federal civil-rights lawsuit after a $100,000 settlement was reached with the plaintiff last month, town officials said yesterday.

Wilkesboro's insurance carrier will pay most of the money, with the town paying a $10,000 deductible.

The lawsuit alleges that Wilkes County law-enforcement officers had beaten Paul Douglas Absher of Boomer in 2007. Absher -- who was hospitalized for two weeks after his arrest on charges of assault on a law-enforcement officer and resisting an officer -- is seeking $20 million.

Wilkesboro Police Lt. Rocky Moore was dismissed from the lawsuit after mediation last month. In a response to the lawsuit, Moore said he used his Taser once on Absher, but did not beat him. The town's statement said that the settlement its insurance carrier made the settlement, and the council was not consulted.

"The Mayor and Town Council unanimously believe that Lieutenant Rocky L. Moore did nothing wrong in his actions on the occasion that resulted in this lawsuit," the statement said. It added that if the case had gone to trial "Lieutenant Rocky L. Moore would not have been found liable for any of his actions, in that all of his actions on this occasion were entirely proper and in accordance with good police procedure."

State law requires such settlements to be made public after a reasonable time period. The town council was told about it Monday in closed session; then it was announced in open session.

Three Wilkes County sheriff's deputies --Harper Hartley, Harold Martin and Gene Wyatt -- as well as Sheriff Dane Mastin and the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office remain as defendants in the lawsuit.

The suit contends that Absher was standing by a road waiting for his girlfriend when he was approached by a deputy, kicked, shocked at least 10 times with a Taser, and beaten with flashlights and batons -- an assault that continued after his hands were cuffed behind his back.

His skull was fractured, and he was hospitalized at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center for 14 days, five of them in a medically induced coma, the suit says.

A judge dismissed criminal charges against Absher this past summer after testimony that the county had lost part of a video at the jail intake. Absher claims that he was beaten there, too. The prosecutor has appealed the dismissal of the criminal charges to the N.C. Court of Appeals.

Absher's attorney, John Vermitsky of Winston-Salem, said yesterday that he expects the civil case against the remaining defendants to go to trial. "We think our client has a very strong case at trial," Vermitsky said.

I'm betting that Canadian tasers prove to be nearly as expensive as their American counterparts.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Another 10-Year-Old Tased

In this week's cowardly police work corner, cops tase a 10-year-old boy, and their sheriff says it was justified:
Sheriff's deputies who stunned with a Taser a 10-year-old child they said was "out of control" were justified in their use of force, the sheriff said Thursday.

The boy was Tasered by sheriff's deputies in Pueblo West on Monday, after officers were called to the boy's foster home on a report that he was destroying property and threatening a foster parent with a pipe and a stick. He had already thrown a landscaping timber at the foster father, the sheriff's office said.

The sheriff said Thursday that the deputies involved in the arrest did what they had to do. ...

"They followed all policies and procedures. This was appropriate use of the Taser device," said Capt. Jeff Teschner.

He said that the juvenile was not hurt when deputies took action.

The boy refused to throw down a 2-foot pipe he was holding when deputies cornered him outside, Teschner said.

The boy was booked into Pueblo Youth Center on suspicion of menacing with a deadly weapon. The foster parent said he intends to press charges against the boy.

The boy has a history of violence.

Teschner said his department's policy on the use of Tasers is not age specific."
More details, including the names of the officers involved come from this article:
Capt. Jeff Teschner, head of patrol at the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department, said Wednesday that the deputies involved were justified in their use of force.

"They followed all policies and procedures. This was appropriate use of the Taser device," Teschner said.

The boy did not sustain injuries in the 3:30 p.m. incident in the 300 block of West Morning Glory Drive, Teschner said.

Deputies Mark Myers and Randy Mondragon were sent to foster parent Daniel Biby's home to help with an "out of control juvenile" who was reportedly destroying property. Mondragon said the boy had threatened Biby with a pipe and a stick, and had thrown a landscape timber at Biby.

Mondragon said that when deputies arrived, the boy ran away from them holding a 2-foot-long pipe.

"This lad, we have a long history of (him) running away. I don't know what his entire psychological profile is, but obviously he has emotional distress," Teschner said.

The boy ran to a neighbor's yard where he cornered himself between a camper trailer, pontoon boat and a fence, Mondragon


The boy ignored a deputy's commands to drop the pipe. "I'm not going to drop the pipe," the boy is quoted as saying in a report. ...

Teschner said that because of the tight quarters the boy was in, stunning the child with a Taser was a more effective way of arresting the youth rather than using pepper spray.

"They couldn't get close enough to deploy pepper spray without putting themselves in danger," Teschner said.

Myers deployed the Taser at the boy, who then dropped the pipe, and Mondragon arrested the boy.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Stop Taser Torture Today!

Enough is enough is enough.

They're not less than lethal. They're less than or equal to lethal, at best. They're not gun replacements. They're replacements for good police practices. They're not reliable devices. They fail in the field regularly. In short, they are 'teh' suck.

For details, click on the big red button and explore the site's links.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Witness To A Tasing

Daniel Buckner is dead after being tased 3-times:
Police say while they were trying to put Buckner in the van, he got combative with Erlanger and Hamilton County corrections officers. They wound up shocking him with a Taser. Once they subdued him, officers then loaded the 53-year-old into the van.

But when they got to Moccasin Bend, Buckner was unresponsive. Officers drove him back to Erlanger. He was pronounced dead.

"Y'all have to show me a camera, show my husband standing up there fighting with them before I believe them," Buckner says, fighting back tears.

His wife and children say at the time of the incident, Buckner was in a wheelchair, weak from weight loss and dehydration. They say they were told by Erlanger staff he'd fallen out of the wheelchair and onto the ground. And they say Erlanger administrators told them officers shocked him with the Taser three times, all while he was still on the ground. ...

Chattanooga police are now questioning the Erlanger and Hamilton County corrections officers involved in the incident. A department spokesperson says they'll be looking into how many times Buckner was shocked with the Taser and if it caused his death.

The investigation hinges on the medical examiner's autopsy which, as of Monday evening, was not yet complete.

Alice Buckner is hoping that report will give her family the answers they need.

"There was no cause for three Tasers," Buckner cries. "I wanna know why you had to do that three times to my husband. And him already sick and weak and coming out of that hospital like that?"

An account from an eyewitness, of course, differs from police claims that Buckner was combative:

A witness has come forward in the case of the man who died after Erlanger officers shocked him with a Taser. ...

The witness tells us she was at the hospital that day, waiting on family member who was receiving treatment, when she saw a man being escorted out of the west wing door by a man and a woman.

The witness says she saw Buckner fall to his knees and the woman holding him began asking him, why are you doing this? The witness says Buckner appeared weak, as though he was having trouble standing.

While Buckner was on the ground, staff brought out a wheelchair, but the witness says they couldn't lift Buckner into the chair. That's when Erlanger Police came out.

The witness took a picture showing what happened next. You can see a man on the ground, surrounded by hospital staff and uniformed officers.

The witness says one of those officers put her fist into Buckner's chest, and he began screaming in pain. Then she says the officer grabbed Buckner by the back of the head and told him to get up. The woman says Buckner rolled over, onto his stomach and when he didn't get off the ground, the witness says, that's when another officer pulled out his Taser. She says the male officer shocked him three times with the Taser. She says he was on the ground the entire time.

Erlanger officers told detectives handling the case that Buckner he got combative. The witness, who says she was there when the van originally pulled up and also says she stayed for the entire incident responds: "I never saw that. Never. At no point." She says she also never saw him struggle, fight or even yell at anyone at anytime.

"The only thing I heard him say was 'Aaaah' when she was putting her fist in his chest," the witness says.

When do we stop paying law enforcement to tase us into submission and then lie about it?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tasers Come To NJ

Last year I wrote about the possibility of tasers making their way in police hands in NJ, the only state keeping them from police. The NJ Attorney General has given the green light to tasers in the state:
TRENTON — For the first time, New Jersey police have been given the right to use stun guns in certain situations by Attorney General Anne Milgram — for example, on armed, emotionally disturbed persons who refuse to surrender.

Ewing Police Chief Robert Coulton, president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, called Milgram’s decision “a good first step, since we’ve advocated use of them.”

How could it be a good first step? he was asked.

“Because anything that we can do to save lives is good.”

New Jersey is the last state to authorize stun-gun usage, and this comes only after approval by a blue ribbon advisory committee that included retired Superior Court Appellate Judge Dennis J. Braithwaite and the executive director of the chiefs’ association, Mitchell Sklar.
The following paragraph from the same article demonstrates why I'm confidant that tasers will be abused in the Garden State, just like they've been everywhere they've been deployed:
Asked about nightmare videos depicting rogue police use of the stun guns, Coulton said, “Any level of force can be lethal in dealing with combative people, individuals who sometimes resist arrest, any level of force can be lethal, from firearms, to hand-to-hand altercations.

“So with anything, when you’re dealing with controlling violent and aggressive individuals, sometimes those worst-case scenarios that are unfortunate do occur. And they will continue to occur in a profession when you deal with people that are combative and resisting arrest and are dangerous.”

Coulton said it’s important that the appropriate reprecussions happen, “whether it be departmental discipline, or criminal charges and dismissal from police service. It’s a reality. They do happen from time to time, they do occur.
With an attitude like that, there's little hope for restrained use of any randomly death-dispensing implement.

Welcome to our united torture states, NJ.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Surrendered And Tased

I'll write this once. It doesn't matter what was going on before this tasing to the neck. The suspect had his hands on the hood of the car. He was not even in the infamous "aggressive stance" that people get tased for. He had surrendered.

The video:

As RawStory notes, Minneapolis is quite the town for tasing. They've removed guidelines for avoiding tasing of the head, neck, and genitals:
"They removed restrictions on more than one officer Tasering a person at a time, or intentionally using the Taser on the head, neck, face, or genitalia," wrote civil liberties advocate Dave Bicking. "They did this without consulting, or even notifying, the City Council or the [civilian review authority]. They said that they had just moved the policy to their training manuals. When we finally were able to look at a training manual, it was clear that almost all of the important provisions were gone, and officers were given much greater discretion."
Have we become such cowards in America - afraid of news-generated bogeymen around every corner - that we're willing to pay our taxes and happily surrender our liberties to agents of the law?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

As If

As if there is any reasonable justification under the sky for tasing a TEN YEAR-OLD:

OZARK, Ark. — A police officer who used a stun gun on an unruly 10-year-old girl after he said her mother gave him permission has been suspended — not for using the Taser but for not having a video camera attached when he used it.

Mayor Vernon McDaniel said officer Dustin Bradshaw was suspended Wednesday for seven days with pay. McDaniel said the suspension is for not following department procedures because he didn't have the camera on.

McDaniel wants Arkansas State Police or the FBI to look into whether the use of the Taser was proper. The girl, who hasn't been identified, wasn't injured and is now at the Western Arkansas Youth Shelter in Cecil.

Police were called to the home Nov. 11 after the girl's mother couldn't get her to take a shower.

Bradshaw's report says the girl was "violently kicking and verbally combative" when Bradshaw tried to take her into custody, and she kicked him in the groin. He said he delivered "a very brief drive stun to her back."

"Her mother told me to tase her if I needed to," Bradshaw wrote.

Kim Brunell, a spokeswoman with the FBI in Little Rock, said her office neither confirms nor denies when it's involved an investigation and declined to comment Wednesday. State police have declined McDaniel's request to investigate.

Police Chief Jim Noggle said Wednesday that Tasers are a safe way to subdue people who are a danger to themselves or others.

"We didn't use the Taser to punish the child — just to bring the child under control so she wouldn't hurt herself or somebody else," Noggle said.

If the officer tried to forcefully put the girl in handcuffs, he could have accidentally broken her arm or leg, Noggle said.

He said a touch of the stun gun — "less than a second" — stopped the girl from being unruly, and she was handcuffed.

"She got up immediately and they put her in the patrol car," McDaniel said.

Noggle said the girl will face disorderly conduct charges as a juvenile in the incident.

The girl's father, Anthony Medlock, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that his daughter has emotional problems, but that she didn't have a weapon and shouldn't have been Tasered.

"My daughter does not deserve to be tased and be treated like an animal," said Medlock, who is divorced from the girl's mother and does not have custody.

Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser International, said it's up to individual law enforcement agencies to decide when Taser use is appropriate.

In some cases, a Taser "presents the safer response to resistance compared with the alternatives such as fists, kicks, baton strikes, bean bag guns, chemical agents, or canine response," Tuttle said in a statement.

The police chief, who has been Tasered twice himself during training sessions, said his department has never had to use a stun gun on a child or elderly person before, but that in some instances, that could be necessary to ensure safety.

"We don't want to do things like this," Noggle said. "This is something we have to do. We're required to maintain order and keep the peace."

"Have to do"? "To keep the peace"? Really? Really? Is the world a scary place because of unruly ten year-olds? Really? WTF?

Please taser fanboys, come to the defense of these morons.

Taser Linked To Death

Not that we didn't know that already, but it's always affirming to see it in print:

A Taser that twice shocked Brian Cardall contributed to or caused heart irregularities in the 32-year-old man that led to his death on the side of southern Utah highway in June, the Utah Medical Examiner's Office has ruled.

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Erik Christensen cited "ventricular fibrillation following conducted energy weapon deployment during a manic episode with psychotic features" as Cardall's cause of death.

The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a copy of the autopsy report Thursday from an attorney representing the Cardalls. The family chose to release the autopsy after Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap announced he will not prosecute the officer who deployed a Taser on Cardall.

Belnap said Hurricane police Officer Ken Thompson was justified in using a Taser on Cardall as the man suffered a manic episode June 9.

The Cardall family disagrees with Belnap's decision, said Karra Porter, who is advising the Cardalls on their legal options in the wake of Belnap's decision.

Christensen's report states that prongs from a Taser deployed by a Hurricane police officer struck Cardall over his heart. While Christensen acknowledged other factors could have contributed to Cardall's death, he pointed out several factors that indicate a Taser electrocuted a naked, unarmed Cardall.

"While it is generally acknowledged that [Taser] use is safe and represents an extremely low risk due to the electrical activity of the weapon, the circumstances in this case represent a combination of the factors that are believed to increase the risk of a potential electrical death," Christensen's report reads.

"These include the placement of the barbs over the cardiac axis, the penetration of the barbs deeply into a thin chest wall directly over the heart, absence of intervening clothing and more than one cycle of electrical stimulation.

"Additionally, the initial cardiac rhythm of ventricular fibrillation is consistent with findings seen in cases of electrocution," Christensen wrote.

The conclusion that the X-26 Taser, manufactured by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser International, played a significant role in Cardall's death is a bold finding by Christensen.

While Taser International has claimed its products are not risk free, the company has publicly stated its products do not cause cardiac arrest. It has filed numerous lawsuits against medical examiners across the country who have cited Tasers as a cause of death.

Get that bolded bit? Note "placement of the barbs" and "consistent with findings seen in cases of electrocution.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

More Post-Tasing Death

Another death following tasing in CA:
San Bernardino police say a 19-year-old man has died after officers used a Taser to subdue him at a board-and-care facility.
And note that three news sources list the location where this occurred as a mental health facility.


A 19-year-old man died late Friday after San Bernardino city police used a Taser on him at a residential mental health facility, authorities said.

Police were called to Orchid Court, 307 S. Arrowhead Ave. around 11:30 p.m. regarding a fight involving three subjects, according to a police statement.

Officers separated the three, but one of them became combative and a Taser was used, police said.

Officers called paramedics to treat the unidentified man. Paramedics started to examine the man, who had stopped breathing, police said.

The man was taken to a St. Bernardine Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to the San Bernardino County coroner's office.

A 19-year-old youth collapsed after being hit with an electric jolt. The incident occurred at Orchid Court, a half-way house for mentally-challenged men.

Police said the youth was wearing a gas mask and appeared agitated at the scene of a reported stabbing. Officers tried to subdue him with the Taser weapon. He became unresponsive and could not be revived at St. Bernardine’s Medical Center.

A 19-year-old man died late Friday after San Bernardino city police used a Taser on him at a residential mental health facility, authorities said.

Police were called to Orchid Court, 307 S. Arrowhead Ave., around 11:30 p.m. regarding a fight involving three people, according to a news release.

Officers separated the three, but one of them became combative and was "tased," police said.

Following standard procedure, officers called paramedics to treat the unidentified man. Paramedics started to examine the man, who stopped breathing, police said.

The man was taken to a St. Bernardine Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to the San Bernardino County coroner's office. An autopsy is pending to determine the cause of death.

Friday's fatality occurred at a residential mental health center listed as one of the partners of the county's Office of Behavioral Health. Orchid Court is a state-licensed assisted living facility. ...

San Bernardino officers are not instructed to use Tasers any differently on people suspected of mental illness or drug use, Lt. Gwendolyn Waters said.

It looks as if police have implemented another post-tasing death of a mentally ill person.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This Is How It Will Go

The author at Excited-Delirium, affectionately referred to here as Mr. E-D, notes that American media is widely ignoring Taser International's recommendation (or here) that people not aim Tasers at other peoples' chests.

Mr. E-D is, of course, correct. Even as taser horror stories pick up in Canada, Australia, and Europe, American PDs continue to add Tasers to their arsenals (see
here for a fitting example), seemingly oblivious to problems with taser overuse, the manufacturer's chest recommendation, and the mounting number of successful large settlements against cities in cases involving tasers.

The sad short of the long is that while the rest of the world may become outraged over taser abuse, don't expect most of America to blink.

Part of the reason for this lies with our media. Reporting on police activity is widely absent from our news. It's sometimes there in the back pages, or occasionally on the front pages when a huge incident like the Sean Bell shooting happens. But, to the largest extent, here in America, the police always receive the benefit of the doubt starting with
a lack of critical examination from the press. After that, we have a large contingent of police apologists ready to attack anyone wanting to exam law enforcement implementation. Our police are kept in a protected hero class.

Another aspect of America that makes any resistance to taser, and police brutality in general, difficult, is that we love to see minorities suffer. We have a long tradition of enjoying that. We are the home of Bull Connor and the show Cops.

So, to my international friends who find the lack of American attention to taser abuse shocking, I have sad little to offer. We're a nation of fat savages and don't change unless we're forced to.

Oh, and to my fellow Americans. I'll complain as much as I like, you can stick your "love it or leave it" up your arse.