Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Death in Kentuky after Tasing

A man in Kentuky is dead after being tased, apparently while unarmed (emphasis mine):
A man died late last night after a Louisville Metro Police officer used a Taser on him to break up a fight between the man and his brother, a police spokeswoman said.

The incident began about 10 p.m. when an officer responded to a fight between the brothers in the 5000 block of Delaware Drive off Shepherdsville Road in the Buechel area, spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said.

The officer called for backup and, during the struggle to break up the fight, one of the officers used the Taser, Smiley said. She said she was not sure at what point the officer used the device, which stuns with an electrical shock.

"The struggle was very prolonged," she said, adding that she had not heard of any weapons being brandished.

She said whether the fight took place inside or outside the home was still being investigated. It was not immediately clear whether the men lived at the address.

After the Taser was used, the man appeared to be having a "medical emergency," Smiley said. One officer began CPR and continued as EMS arrived, Smiley said. The man was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The first responding officer was treated at the scene for minor injuries, police Sgt. Bobby Biven said.

The victim, his brother and the two officers were not identified.

Tony Johnson, 25, who said he lives down the street, said the man who died was well known in the neighborhood.

"This was just a family dispute," Johnson said. "I'm pretty sure it could've been done a better way."

He said the neighborhood of modest one-story houses with small, neat yards is normally quiet.

"I call it an 'old folks' neighborhood," he said.

An argument I read from many taser proponents and police apologists in reaction to post-tasing deaths goes something like, "that's why you listen to the police when they tell you to do something."

First, that reaction to someone's death is pretty callous and one I can almost guarantee the taser proponent wouldn't hold if their loved one was dead post-tasing.

Second, is that the America people are ready to live in? Is it really? Are people really ready for police with unbridled authority employing devices that implement a death lottery for anyone getting out of line?

This morning, the day before our American Independence Day, I can't help thinking of these famous quotes on liberty:
  • Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. - Patrick Henry
  • They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety - Ben Franklin
What's happened to us that we accept our agents of law killing people for misbehaving?