Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another Death in Rockford

In June, a Rockford, Illinois man died after being tased three times while running from the police.

Last Sunday, August 10th, another man died after being tased for running away:

Kiethedric Hines fought with police and fought for his life Sunday night. He lost both times.

The 31-year-old Rockford man was pronounced dead at Rockford Memorial Hospital’s emergency room shortly before 7 p.m. But why Hines died is unknown.

What is known is that Hines was shot at with a Taser gun. He was also showered with pepper spray in the face but was still conscious — and struggling with emergency workers — when he was taken to the emergency room after complaining about shortness of breath.

But whether it was the Taser, the pepper spray, the fighting, the running, a combination of those or something else entirely different, that ultimately led to his death remained unclear late Monday night.

“This is still an ongoing investigation,” Rockford police Chief Chet Epperson said during an afternoon news conference in the downtown Public Safety Building. “We have not drawn any conclusion that the cause (was related) to the Taser.”

Less lethal weapons

The use of the Taser, an electroshock weapon that several police departments employ as part of their less lethal arsenal, has become a focal point of the incident because of the uncertainty many, from international human rights groups to local lawmakers, feel about its safety.

Rep. Chuck Jefferson, D-Rockford, said he plans to call for a meeting with city officials to discuss the recent Taser-related deaths.

“If the consequences are going to continue to be death, and in a nonlife-threatening situation for (police), then we may need to look at other options,” he said.

The Rockford police chief arrogantly thinks that citizens - you know, the people who pay him and his force - have no rights to access taser usage policy, and he's not shy about letting a member of the press know it:

[Police chief] Epperson said the officers “responded appropriately” and “within department policy” in chasing and attempting to subdue Hines. He said department policy allows officers to use Tasers on fleeing suspects or when officers feel they are in danger.

He added that there are no plans to change the department policy of when Tasers can be used.

The chief would not, however, release a copy of the policy to the Rockford Register Star.

“We don’t do that, per city legal,” Epperson said. “You can (file a Freedom of Information request for) it, but it’ll be denied.”

That attitude is typical accross our great nation (Go ahead and try getting your hands on tasing policies or guidelines from any US city.). Welcome to America, the police state brought to you by Taser International.