Friday, November 21, 2008

Taser, That's a FAIL

A man in Florida was able to fend off taser probes three times, resulting in an officer drawing a gun:

At mile marker 383 southbound - between Archer and Williston roads - the truck crashed into the center guardrail that separates the southbound and northbound lanes. Chalker said Gomez broke out the driver side window of the truck and ran across the northbound lanes on the eastern shoulder of the freeway.

Chalker reportedly fired his Taser the first time when Gomez turned and began running toward him.

Gomez “hunched over, grabbed the Taser wires and ripped them out,” Chalker wrote in the arrest report. Gomex “again ran towards me. I reloaded a new cartridge and deployed again.”

Gomez fell to the ground after being hit a second time with the Taser. “But (he) was again able to rip off the Taser probes,” Chalker wrote. “I reloaded my last cartridge and deployed a third time,” but Gomez was able to roll and break the wires between the Taser’s probes and gun.

“Still fearing for my safety, I drew my firearm and ordered the defendant to the ground. The defendant finally complied and was restrained in handcuffs.”

Gomez was take to North Florida Regional Medical Center for treatment of his crash-related injuries before being booked into the Alachua County Jail. Gomez reportedly told Chalker that he had one or two beers and ran because he was “freaked out.”

I haven't read much in the way of failure rates for tasers. There are certainly enough news stories about their ineffectiveness in dangerous situations; if that's what's making it to the news, there are bound to be more field failures.

Coupling a chance of device failure with the numerous taser-proximal deaths results in a weapon I would want no part of carrying if I were an officer of the law. In other words, imagine you're a cop and you're told, "Here's this awesome new weapon. It's intent is to safely subdue extremely dangerous suspects. But, be aware that it might not work. In fact, it will probably require multiple applications to work at all. Oh, and bringing that up, you might want to know that there's a chance that the suspect could die sometime following those multiple, or even single, applications. There'll be a lot of bad press if that happens, but don't sweat it. The coroners and examiners have this awesome excited delirium thing worked up."

Seriously, what cop would want to carry one of these things after learning of its potential issues? Oh wait...

EAST BANK, W.Va. (AP) - A Kanawha County police officer has been fired after he admitted using a Taser on a pregnant teenager and a firefighter.

East Bank Mayor Chuck Blair says Sgt. Steve Smith was fired after the Town Council learned of the incidents in September. Smith had been on probation because he had not been an officer for more than a year.

Eighteen-year-old Candice White told the Council she was sitting on her porch when Smith, who is a friend of her mother, showed up and began playing around with the Taser. She says Smith used it on her leg several times.

Smith told the Council White had asked him to use the Taser on her and that the power setting was very low.

An East Bank volunteer firefighter also told the Council that Smith used the Taser on him because it was his birthday.