• AlterNetYour turn

Support AlterNet
Do you value the information you're getting from AlterNet? Please show your support with a tax-deductible donation.

Tell us how we're doing.

Rights and Liberties

Death by Taser: The Killer Alternative to Guns

By Silja J.A. Talvi, In These Times. Posted November 18, 2006.

Long touted as a safer alternative to handguns for law enforcement, tasers are potentially deadly weapons that have a growing history of abuse by police and security guards.

Editor's note: This article is especially relevant given the recent unwarranted and brutal taser attack on a UCLA student. The video to the right is the taped recording of the attack this week.

Taser International Inc. maintains that its stun-guns are "changing the world and saving lives everyday." There is no question that they changed Jack Wilson's life. On Aug. 4, in Lafayette, Colo., policemen on a stakeout approached Jack's son Ryan as he entered a field of a dozen young marijuana plants. When Ryan took off running, officer John Harris pursued the 22-year-old for a half-mile and then shot him once with an X-26 Taser. Ryan fell to the ground and began to convulse. The officer attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but Ryan died.

According to his family and friends, Ryan was in very good physical shape. The county coroner found no evidence of alcohol or drugs in his system and ruled that Ryan's death could be attributed to the Taser shock, physical exertion from the chase and the fact that one of his heart arteries was unusually small.

In October, an internal investigation cleared Officer Harris of any wrongdoing and concluded that he had used appropriate force.

Wilson says that while his son had had brushes with the law as a juvenile and struggled financially, he was a gentle and sensitive young man who always looked out for his disabled younger brother's welfare, and was trying to better his job prospects by becoming a plumber's apprentice.

"Ryan was not a defiant kid," says his father. "I don't understand why the cop would chase him for a half-mile, and then 'Tase' him while he had an elevated heart rate. If [the officer] hadn't done that, we know that he would still be alive today."

Ryan is one of nearly 200 people who have died in the last five years after being shot by a Taser stun gun. In June, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would review these deaths.

Over the same period, Taser has developed a near-monopoly in the market for non-lethal weaponry. Increasingly, law enforcement officials use such weapons to subdue society's most vulnerable members: prisoners, drug addicts and the mentally ill, along with "passive resisters," like the protesters demonstrating against Florida Governor Jeb Bush's attendance of a Rick Santorum fundraiser in Pittsburgh on Oct. 9.

Taser has built this monopoly through influence peddling, savvy public relations and by hiring former law enforcement and military officers -- including one-time Homeland Security chief hopeful, Bernard Kerik. And now that questions are being raised about the safety of Taser weaponry, the company is fighting back with legal and marketing campaigns.

Birth of a Taser

In 1974, a NASA scientist named Jack Cover invented the first stun gun, which he named the TASER, or "Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle," after Tom Swift, a fictional young inventor who was the hero of a series of early 20th century adventure novels. Because it relied on gunpowder, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms classified Tasers as registered firearms.

That changed in the early '90s. According to Taser's corporate creation story, co-founder Rick Smith became interested in the device after friends of his "were brutally murdered by an angry motorist." Smith contacted Cover in the hopes of bringing the Taser as a self-defense weapon to a larger market. In 1993, with money from Smith's brother Tom, they created Air Taser Inc., which would later become Taser International Inc. When Tasers were re-engineered to work with a nitrogen propellant rather than gunpowder, the weapon was no longer categorized as a firearm. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department adopted the guns, but they were not widely embraced by other departments.

Taser's fortunes improved in 1998, after the company embarked on a new development program, named "Project Stealth." The goal was to streamline stun gun design and deliver enough voltage to stop "extremely combative, violent individuals," especially those who couldn't be controlled by non-lethal chemicals like mace.

Out of Project Stealth, the Advanced Taser was born. When the weapon premiered in 2000 -- a model eventually redesigned as the M-26 -- the company brought on a cadre of active and retired military and law enforcement personnel to vouch for the weapon's efficacy. The new spokespersons ranged from Arizona SWAT members to a former Chief Instructor of hand-to-hand combat for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Taser began to showcase the Advanced Taser at technology-related conventions throughout North America and Europe, billing it as a non-lethal weapon that could take down even the toughest adversary. Soon to be among those "dangerous" opponents were the protesters assembling in Philadelphia for the 2000 Republican National Convention.

By the following year, 750 law enforcement agencies had either tested or deployed the weapon. Today, more than 9,500 law enforcement, correctional and military agencies in 43 countries use Taser weaponry. In the past eight years, more than 184,000 Tasers have been sold to law enforcement agencies, with another 115,000 to citizens in the 43 states where it is legal to possess a stun gun.

When the electricity hits

Taser's stun guns are designed to shoot a maximum of 50,000 volts into a person's body through two compressed nitrogen-fueled probes, thereby disrupting the target's electromuscular system. The probes are connected to the Taser gun by insulated wires, and can deliver repeat shocks in quick succession. The probes can pierce clothing and skin from a distance or be directly applied to a person's body -- a process known as "dry stunning" -- for an ostensibly less-incapacitating, cattle-prod effect.

"The impetus for Tasers came from the often community-led search for 'less-than-lethal' police weapons," explains Norm Stamper, former chief of the Seattle Police Department and author of Breaking Rank. "[There were] too many questionable or bad police shootings, and cops saying, correctly, that there are many ambiguous situations where a moment's hesitation could lead to their own deaths or the death of an innocent other."

According to Taser's promotional materials, its stun guns are designed to "temporarily override the nervous system [and take] over muscular control." People who have experienced the effect of a Taser typically liken it to a debilitating, full-body seizure, complete with mental disorientation and loss of control over bodily functions.

Many Taser-associated deaths have been written up by coroners as being attributable to "excited delirium," a condition that includes frenzied or aggressive behavior, rapid heart rate and aggravating factors related to an acute mental state and/or drug-related psychosis. When such suspects are stunned, especially while already being held down or hogtied, deaths seem to occur after a period of "sudden tranquility," as Taser explains in its CD-ROM training material entitled, "Sudden Custody Death: Who's Right and Who's Wrong." In that same material, the company warns officers to "try to minimize the appearance of mishandling suspects."

Taser did not respond to requests for an interview. But its press and business-related statements have consistently echoed the company's official position: "TASER devices use proprietary technology to quickly incapacitate dangerous, combative or high-risk subjects who pose a risk to law enforcement officers, innocent citizens or themselves." Another brochure, specifically designed for law enforcement, clearly states that the X26 has "no after effects."

Ryan Wilson's family can attest otherwise, as can many others.

Casualties and cruelties

In the span of three months -- July, August and September -- Wilson's Taser-related death was only one among several. Larry Noles, 52, died after being stunned three times on his body (and finally on his neck) after walking around naked and "behaving erratically." An autopsy found no drugs or alcohol in his system. Mark L. Lee, 30, was suffering from an inoperable brain tumor and having a seizure when a Rochester, N.Y., police officer stunned him. In Cookeville, Ala., 31-year-old Jason Dockery was stunned because police maintain he was being combative while on hallucinogenic mushrooms. Family members believe he was having an aneurysm. And Nickolos Cyrus, a 29-year-old man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was shocked 12 times with a Taser stun gun after a Mukwonago, Wis., police officer caught him trespassing on a home under construction. An inquest jury has already ruled that the officer who shot Cyrus -- who was delusional and naked from the waist down when he was stunned -- was within his rights to act as he did.

Although the company spins it otherwise, Taser-associated deaths are definitely on the rise. In 2001, Amnesty International documented three Taser-associated deaths. The number has steadily increased each year, peaking at 61 in 2005. So far almost 50 deaths have occurred in 2006, for an approximate total of 200 deaths in the last five years.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have also drawn attention to the use of Tasers on captive populations in hospitals, jails and prisons.

In fact, the first field tests relating to the efficacy of the "Advanced Taser" model in North America were conducted on incarcerated men. In December 1999, the weapon was used, with "success," against a Clackamas County (Ore.) Jail inmate. The following year, the first-ever Canadian use of an Advanced Taser was by the Victoria Police, on an inmate in psychiatric lockdown. Since that time, Taser deployment in jails and prisons has become increasingly commonplace, raising concerns about violations of 8th Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.

This summer, the ACLU of Colorado filed a class action suit on behalf of prisoners in the Garfield County Jail, where jail staff have allegedly used Tasers and electroshock belts, restraint chairs, pepper spray and pepperball guns as methods of torture. According to Mark Silverstein, legal director for ACLU of Colorado, inmates have told him that Tasers are pulled out and "displayed" by officers on a daily basis, either as a form of intimidation and threat compliance, or to shock the inmates for disobeying orders.

A recent report from the ACLU's National Prison Project (NPP), "Abandoned and Abused: Orleans Parish Prisoners in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina," concerns the plight of the estimated 6,500 New Orleans prisoners left to fend for themselves in the days after the monumental New Orleans flood. The NPP's Tom Jawetz says that the organization has been looking into abuses at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) since 1999, but that the incidents that took place in jails and prisons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were unprecedented.

Take the case of New Orleans resident Ivy Gisclair. Held at OPP for unpaid parking tickets, Gisclair was about to be released on his own recognizance when Hurricane Katrina hit. After languishing with thousands of other prisoners in a flooded jail, Gisclair was sent to the Bossier Parish Maximum Security Prison. Once there, Gisclair apparently had the nerve to inquire about being held past his release date. Gisclair has testified that he was then restrained and stunned repeatedly with a Taser, before being thrown, naked and unconscious, into solitary confinement.

"I can't imagine any justification for that," says Jawetz. "[Prison guards] were kicking, beating and 'Tasing' him until he lost consciousness. A line was crossed that should never have been crossed."

In March, Reuben Heath, a handcuffed and subdued Montana inmate, was shocked while lying prone in his bed. The deputy involved -- a one-time candidate for sheriff -- now faces felony charges.

Gisclair and Heath are among the inmates who have survived in-custody incidents involving the abuse of Tasers. Others haven't been as fortunate. This year alone, those who have died in custody in the aftermath of being stunned by Tasers include Arapahoe County Jail (Colorado) inmate Raul Gallegos-Reyes, 34, who was strapped to a restraint chair and stunned; Jerry Preyer, 45, who suffered from a severe mental illness in an Escambia County, Fla., jail and was shocked twice by a Taser; and Karl Marshall, 32, who died in Kansas City police custody two hours after he was stunned with PCP and crack cocaine in his system.

Appropriate uses

"We are seeing far too many cases where Tasers are not being used for their intended purposes," says Sheley Secrest, president of NAACP Seattle. "And many of these cases don't end up getting reported or properly investigated because people are so humiliated by the experience."

Former U.S. Marshal Matthew Fogg, a long-time SWAT specialist and vice president of Blacks in Government, says that if stun guns are going to be used by law enforcement, training on their use should be extensive, and that the weapons should also be placed high up on what police officers call the "use-of-force continuum."

Fogg isn't alone in calling for such measures. In October 2005, the Police Executive Research Forum, an influential police research and advocacy group, recommended that law enforcement only be allowed to use Tasers on people aggressively resisting arrest. The organization also recommended that law enforcement officers needed to step back and evaluate the condition of suspects after they had been shocked once. Similar recommendations were included in an April 2005 report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. That report also urged police departments to evaluate whether certain vulnerable groups -- including the mentally ill -- should be excluded altogether from being shot with Tasers.

Although Fogg's organization has called for an outright ban of Tasers until further research can be conducted, Fogg says that he knows responsible members of law enforcement are perfectly capable of using the weapons effectively. Officers who are willing to put their lives on the line for the sake of the community, he emphasizes, must be given the tools and training to be able to minimize harm to themselves and to others.

Fogg, who also serves on the board of Amnesty International USA, says that too many members of law enforcement seem to be using them as compliance mechanisms. "It's something along the lines of, 'If I don't like you, I can torture you,' " he says.

Some law enforcement agencies have already implemented careful use policies, including the San Francisco Sheriff's Department, which selectively hands out Tasers to carefully trained deputies. The department also prohibits use of Tasers on subjects already "under control." According to Sheriff Michael Hennessey, deputies are not allowed to use stun guns in response to minor ineffectual threats, as a form of punishment, or on juveniles or pregnant women. Within the department, stun guns are purposely set to turn off after five seconds. Additionally, every use of the weapon in a jail facility must be videotaped.

"I authorize Tasers to be used on people who are at high risk of hurting themselves or deputies," Sheriff Hennessey emphasizes. "Without options like these, the inmate and the deputies are much more likely to get seriously hurt."

But when stun guns are used on people who don't fit that criteria, Secrest says, the public should be asking serious questions about the efficacy of Taser use, particularly because of the emotional trauma related to Taser-related take-downs.

"When a person comes into our office after they've been [Tased], it's not as much the physical pain they talk about as much as the humiliation, the disrespect," she says. "The people [who are stunned by these guns] talk about not being able to move, and thinking that they were going to die."

As for actual Taser-associated deaths, Secrest believes that they should be investigated just as thoroughly as deaths involving firearms. Instead, Taser injuries and deaths are typically justified because officers report that the suspect was resisting an arrest.

"That's the magic word: 'resisted,'" says Secrest. "Any kind of police oversight investigation tends to end right there." Capitalizing on 9/11

Despite these concerns, Taser International Inc. has thrived. The 9/11 terrorist attacks sent the company's profits soaring. Many domestic and international airlines -- as well a variety of major law enforcement agencies -- were eager to acquire a new arsenal of weapons. Homeland Security money flooded into both state and federal-level departments, many of which were gung-ho to acquire a new arsenal of high-tech gadgets.

In 2002, Taser brought on former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik as the company's director. Kerik had attained popularity in the wake of 9/11 as a law-and-order-minded hero; the company had seemingly picked one of the best spokespersons imaginable.

With Kerik's help, company's profits grew to $68 million in 2004, up from just under $7 million in 2001, and stockholders were able to cash in, including the Smith family, who raked in $91.5 million in just one fiscal quarter in 2004.

Unbeknownst to most stockholders, however, sales have been helped along by police officers who have received payments and/or stock options from Taser to serve as instructors and trainers. (The exact number of officers on the payroll is unknown because the company declines to identify active-duty officers who have received stock options.)

The recruitment of law enforcement has been crucial to fostering market penetration. For instance, Sgt. Jim Halsted of the Chandler, Ariz., Police Department, joined Taser President Rick Smith in making a presentation to the Chandler city council in March 2003. He made the case for arming the entire police patrol squad with M-26 Tasers. According to the Associated Press, Halsted said, "No deaths are attributed to the M-26 at all."

The council approved a $193,000 deal later that day.

As it turned out, Halsted was already being rewarded with Taser stock options as a member of the company's "Master Instructor Board." Two months after the sale, Halsted became Taser's Southwest regional sales manager.

In addition, Taser has developed a potent gimmick to sell its futuristic line of weapons. In 2003, Taser premiered the X-26. According to Taser's promotional materials, the X-26 features an enhanced dataport to help "save officer's careers from false allegations" by recording discharge date and time, number and length and date of discharges, and the optional ability to record the event with the Taser webcam. The X-26 also boasts a more powerful incapacitation rating of 105 "Muscular Disruption Units", up from 100 MDU's for the M-26.

The X-26 is apparently far more pleasing to the eye. As Taser spokesperson Steve Tuttle told a law enforcement trade journal, "It's a much sexier-looking product."

Lawsuits jolt Taser

As increasing numbers of police departments obtained Taser stun guns, the weapons started to be deployed against civilians with greater frequency.

Many of the civilian Taser-associated incidents have resulted in lawsuits, most of which have either been dismissed or settled out of court. But there have been a few exceptions.

In late September, Kevin Alexander, 29, was awarded $82,500 to settle an excessive force federal lawsuit after being shocked 17 times with a Taser by a New Orleans Parish police officer. The department's explanation: the shocks were intended to make him cough up drugs he had allegedly swallowed.

One recently settled Colorado case involved Christopher Nielsen, 37, who was "acting strangely" and was not responsive to police orders after he crashed his car. For his disobedience, he was stunned five times. When it was revealed that Nielsen was suffering from seizures, the county settled the case for $90,000.

An Akron, Ohio, man also recently accepted a $35,000 city settlement. One day in May 2005, he had gone into diabetic shock and police found him slumped over his steering wheel. Two officers proceeded to physically beat, Mace and Taser him after he did not respond to orders to get out of the car.

Taser's lack of response to the misuse of the company's weapons is troubling. The company relentlessly puts a positive spin on Taser use, most recently with a "The Truth is Undeniable" Web ad campaign, which contrasts mock courtroom scenes with the fictionalized, violent antics of civilians that prompt police to stungun them.

The campaign involves print ads, direct mail DVDs and online commercials that "draw attention to a rampant problem in this country: false allegations against law enforcement officers," according to Steve Ward, Taser's vice president of marketing.

"We're going to win"

The lawsuits have scared off some investors, making Taser's stock extremely volatile over the years. But press coverage of the company this past summer largely centered around Taser's "successes" in the courtroom. In addition to settling a $21.8 million shareholder lawsuit revolving around allegations that the company had exaggerated the safety of their product (they admitted no wrongdoing), Taser has triumphed in more than 20 liability dismissals and judgments in favor of the company. And the company's finances are on the upswing: Third-quarter 2006 revenues increased nearly 60 percent.

Regardless, CEO Rick Smith claims his company is target of a witchhunt. "We're waiting for people to dunk me in water and see if I float," is how he put it during a March 2005 debate with William Schulz, the executive director of Amnesty International USA.

Last year, with 40 new lawsuits filed against it, Taser dedicated $7 million in its budget to defending the company's reputation and "brand equity." The company has also gone on the offense, hiring two full-time, in-house litigators.

At one point, Taser hinted that it might sue Amnesty International for taking a critical position regarding Taser-associated injuries and deaths. In November 2004 Smith announced that the company's legal team had begun a "comprehensive review of AI's disparaging and unsupported public statements [to] advise me as to various means to protect our company's good name."

In one of the company's brashest legal maneuvers to date, Taser sued Gannett Newspapers for libel in 2005. The lawsuit alleged USA Today "sensationalized" the power of Taser guns by inaccurately reporting that the electrical output of the gun was more than 100 times that of the electric chair. This past January, a judge threw the case out, saying that the error in the article was not malicious, and that the story was protected by the First Amendment.

The company remains unwavering and aggressively protective, even as Taser-associated deaths mount each month. As Smith told the Associated Press in February, "If you're coming to sue Taser, bring your game face, strap it on and let's go. We're gonna win."

From Jack Wilson's standpoint, citizens are the real losers. His son Ryan lost his life in a situation that could have been handled any number of other ways, and no amount of legal posturing can bring Ryan back.

"I still can't believe my son is gone," he says. "The fact is that these Tasers can be lethal. No matter how they're categorized, Tasers shouldn't be treated as toys."

Thanks to the Nation Institute's Investigative Fund for research support, and to David Burnett for research assistance.

Silja J.A. Talvi is a senior editor at In These Times. Her work appears in the anthology, "Prison Nation" (Routledge, 2003).


Comments Give Us Feedback »
Tools: [Post a new comment] [Login] [Signup] View:
Posted by: rsaxto on Nov 18, 2006 12:59 AM   
The top officers of Taser International should be indicted and prosecuted for false advertising and for mass murder.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: top Posted by: Conservasaurus
» RE: top Posted by: lively56
» RE: top Posted by: Conservasaurus
» RE: top Posted by: rsaxto
» RE: top Posted by: Conservasaurus
» RE: top Posted by: nicoKno2
» RE: top Posted by: Conservasaurus
» RE: top Posted by: Zarquan
» RE: top Posted by: polyquat50
» RE: top Posted by: Conservasaurus
» RE: top Posted by: rsaxto
» RE: top Posted by: Conservasaurus
» RE: poor Conservasaurus Posted by: ssmit355
Right on
Posted by: famouspipeliner on Nov 18, 2006 1:24 AM   
Ban these things....
Posted by: decembrist on Nov 18, 2006 1:30 AM   
Police have begun to rely on these weapons as if they're a a substitute to actual communication. Obviously, with so many deaths, tasers are no substitute for talking to a SUSPECT, someone who has not actually been convicted of any crime.

Stop the use of tasers. They should be illegal. Either that or every police officer who wields one should be tasered 3 times (rapidly) in a row, every single year. If tasers are non-lethal, than that should be okay. Maybe it'll curb their use.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: Ban these things.... Posted by: albrechtkrausse
» RE: Ban these things.... Posted by: TWilliams
cops and toys
Posted by: Finnbar on Nov 18, 2006 3:19 AM   
I don't know which is worse.
Cops with tazers, or these puke security guards.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

RE: the video....
Posted by: waves999 on Nov 18, 2006 3:42 AM   
God! I feel so terribly sorry for you dumb-ass Americans as you allow your Constitution to go down the drain! How can you allow this shit to go on... and on... and on?!! I was absolutely shocked and outraged by this overt act of totally unnecessary violence in the video toward this kid by your ever increasingly militarized police force. I am still shaking with rage! You all should have attacked those cops and beat the living shit out of them!! And then stuck their fucking Taser up their asses and pulled the trigger!! Fuck ‘em!! Good-bye democracy, civility and free speech -- hello fascism!!!!! I will never EVER visit your police state again. Being an outspoken progressive I’m just too afraid to. It is all about FEAR isn’t it?

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: the video.... Posted by: stressederic
» RE: the video.... Posted by: ssegallmd
» RE: the video... illegal? Posted by: nicoKno2
» RE: the video.... Posted by: Sushi
Tasers coming out too fast-Fear of HIV
Posted by: owlbear1 on Nov 18, 2006 4:45 AM   
Cops see the taser as a means to subdue somebody from 5 feet away. No biting, no spitting, no puke, no urine, no sharing of bodily fluids at all. Plus mace stinks and is bitch to wash out.

One word you can use to help determine what kind of cop you are dealing with is, "Why?" That word has a fascinating effect on the overgrown 10 year olds playing at cops and robbers.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

200 died by taser, but 90,000 died from lack of universal healthcare. fakeLeft/Alternet don't care
Posted by: not_the_preferred_nomenclature on Nov 18, 2006 4:46 AM   
The article claims that 200 people have died from tasering in the last 5 years. Well. whoop de doo! 18000 Americans die every year from lack of universal healthcare. That makes 90,000 murdered for obscene healthcare profits in the last 5 years. But has Alternet or any other fakeleft website or media ever run a headlne about these deaths? Oh no! The Fakeleft is funded by nonprofits that were set up by plutocrats and corporations and funded by the upper class. You think that fakeLeft outfits like Alternet are going to report on the ongoing healthcare slaughter? No way! That would be like the fakeLeft biting the overclass hand that feeds them!

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» The Fakesane Posted by: ssegallmd
» You are a public laughingstock Posted by: ssegallmd
No winners
Posted by: albrechtkrausse on Nov 18, 2006 6:17 AM   
a cop can't win. They are banned from using 'choke holds' thanks to the media and some unfortunate events. They, obviously, can't shoot people. So they accept this companies' marketing and get a Taser to try to be more humane. Well, I guess, some people die (most of whom it appears had some heart defect, drug intoxication, over-weight conditions, or had exerted themselves more than usual.) Yes, that sucks but I guess its better than the chances from a .38.

A cop can't win. Here is Texas a cop is being sued because he DIDN'T shoot a suspect during a 'standoff' who ended up killing his mother. But, of course, if he would've shot the poor disturbed guy the mother/family would probably sue.

I'm thinking the main problem with any of these weapons (hand-to-hand, gun, taser, nightstick) is training. You'll notice a large number of these incidents are from pseudo-cops (security guards, campus police, etc.) These people are often people who wanted to be regular police but had something wrong with them and couldn't hack it (mental, physical). Often they have a 'chip on their shoulder' and also don't get enough training as regular police or troopers. Also there has been a 'militarisation' of the police which has been paid for by the Federal gov't grants and training. So there has become even more of an 'us' vs 'them' mentality thought to police.

However, there also is a culture that treats police as totally evil-->not without some justification but the time/place to fight the 'police state' is not during a traffic stop, a DUI, whilst drunk/drugged in public, during a party, etc.

Most of these 'incident's could've been avoided if the suspect didn't cause more trouble for himself: Don't run, don't cuss, look them in the eye, don't make sudden moves. If you have a problem with the stop or the arrest call your lawyer. Don't argue your rights at the scene other than in very calming and rational matter. Don't spout off on a rant. Don't spout off on non-germane topics. Don't try to 'get the crowd' behind you. If you don't like the militarised police state protest that with voting, letter writing, spreading the word, but don't try to take it out on the individual cop (especially when you're drunk or committing some crime.)

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: No winners Posted by: ssegallmd
» RE: No winners Posted by: ReallyBearish
» RE: No winners Posted by: YogiBear
» RE: No winners Posted by: Zarquan
357 magnums are much better
Posted by: dikaiosyne on Nov 18, 2006 6:46 AM   
Is there nothing that you limp wristed lefties won't whine and complain about? More people die from falling in bathtubs than are killed by tasers. Personally I prefer the more lethal methods of dealing with miscreants and liberals. A 357 magnum with hollow points or better yet.....the TALON for ending the miserable lives of the whine and cheese crowd. If I were to acquire a taser I'd buy the version that shoots 100,000 volts into these perps and other America haters. Maybe one that connects to house current with 20-30 amps. SWEET!

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: 357 magnums are much better Posted by: ssegallmd
» RE: 357 magnums are much better Posted by: dikaiosyne
The Brownshirts of Law Enforcement
Posted by: NoPCZone on Nov 18, 2006 7:13 AM   
I'm really tired of the GI Joe wannabes of local law enforcement. They all want to dress like something out of Soldier of Fortune, except with a pot belly from heavy doughnut abuse and extended arse-sitting in patrol cars.

The TASER is just the latest toy in their abuse arsenal.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: The Brownshirts of Law Enforcement Posted by: Conservasaurus
The less likely it will be lethal, the more likely it will be used.
Posted by: WhatNow? on Nov 18, 2006 8:55 AM   
I was watching NBC's To Catch a Predator. The perp was fleeing with his back to the cops. They yelled a few times to stop but he didn't. He quickly realized he wasn't getting away so he did stop. He raised his hands over his head and turned around. Then 5-10 seconds later another pig ran up and tazed him good even though he was standing still with his hands raised as high as possible. If I were the pigs superior I would want him fired. It was unnecessary and made them all look bad. I would guess the pig was a sadistic scumbag that wanted to do a little punishing himself or perhaps he just had real slow reflexes and should have been checked for drug or alcohol use. Whatever it was it made me sick there was no justification for it than the cop wanted to be judge, jury, and electrocutioner.

Tasers ought to be severely limited and only given to the most professional police that can be trusted not to use them unless absolutely necessary. I can only imagine how many might get them that will use them to satisfy their sadistic pleasures.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

The Terror Conspiracy
Posted by: waves999 on Nov 18, 2006 9:34 AM   
Yes... my post was a little vulgar... but that Taser video upset me so much, you can’t imagine. I still cannot conceive of these puny campus cops (losers who couldn’t get into a real city police force if they tried!) doing that to a kid who was “passively resisting” like Mahatma Gandhi did... like Martin Luther King did. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR COUNTRY??!! To learn the TRUTH I invite you to read the latest book, The Terror Conspiracy, by my favourite and bravest investigative reporter Jim Marrs. It’s the best I’ve read to date and answers a lot of questions about what is wrong with your country. It’s those damned Illuminati again....

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

no excuse
Posted by: Gregor on Nov 18, 2006 9:44 AM   
Cops feel they are on the "front lines" of an increasingly violent society. They are not taught to discriminate when they need to use compassion and concern and communication, or aggression. Something that is obvious to the average citizen in a lucid moment, is not something they see in the heat of the chase. However, if they really want to stop citizens deaths, they should have a Peace Officer along with them who can make the lucid, analytical judgements on people who do have mental illinesses or "gee, just how bad IS this situation, do I need to use extreme force?" However, if they get paid by the Police Department, they will be corrupted, because apparently when you wave money at people they have no resistence to being "paid off" and then the corruption spirals. So, again we are back to the "sheeples" the people who cannot resist or lift a finger to save themselves. All the anger in society is directed at gaining more money and more toys et. al. Why our anger is directed at actually obtaining a spine? Economic reasons. Every young person I know is a debt slave and CAN'T organize. You take time off of work to stand in a Peace march? Put my life on the line for PEACE? What? NO! Go unarmed against a bunch of NAZI's? The problem with our aggressive society is it will bury us. We cannot find nurturing people anymore. There is a shortage of nurses, CNA's, pre-school caregivers, etc. Why? There is not enough money in the business to survive. And who the heck wants to CARE. Too emotionally damaging, eh? We can care, but heck, not long term. We want to sprint through life, not have a marathon in caring. So, unless we change our focus in society, to think Rich is UNcool, and extravagance is DISGUSTING, we will never have change.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: no excuse Posted by: YogiBear
terror, post traumatic stress
Posted by: caru on Nov 18, 2006 12:15 PM   
yes we need universal health care now ... health care that includes healing the whole person ... i cried when i saw the video. i imagine it can happen to any of us. if one suffers from pts then one is more likely to act erratically when approaached by a big scary person with a weapon of torture. yes you may prefer a 357 to shoot liberals ... that makes me cry too ... people you dont even know, you are willing to shoot. can we stop practicing power over and start practicing healing from abuse and the need to abuse.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

Houston....Another Violent Police Action....
Posted by: picket on Nov 18, 2006 2:13 PM   
AlterNet just posted this story...44 janitors arrested and held on $888,888 cash bond. The police chose to use horses which resulted in injuries including an 83 year old female janitor from NY. "The horses came all of a sudden they started jumping on top of me....I was terrified...I never thought the police would........."
Peaceful protests...freedom of speech.....watching is a real exercise in ANGER Management.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

Police Attitudes
Posted by: dkm on Nov 18, 2006 5:50 PM   
Several posters on this message board see nothing wrong with killing someone for no good reason. Most of the examples cited in the article were of people who were no danger to anyone, not even themselves, such as the kid who was running away, the couple examples who were walking around naked, etc. How can you justify killing them?

The way to justify murder is to be a psychopath, and just as the priesthood attracts people with sexual dysfunctions, so law enforcement attracts people with psychopathic predilections. There is a reason that spousal and child abuse are at high levels among policemen and it is not that the jobs are so stressful. The cops who indulge in this type of behavior are in law enforcement because law enforcement is a legal way to indulge their need to hurt other people. How can you possibly justify four or five cops beating up an unarmed woman? How can you possibly justify a bunch of cops spraying pepper spray in the eyes of people who were already in handcuffs? Only by realizing that these cops are vicious people who would be in jail if they weren't wearing badges.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: Police Attitudes Posted by: Zarquan
» RE: Police Attitudes Posted by: TWilliams
» RE: Police Attitudes Posted by: Mycos
Fighting Crime Doesn't Pay
Posted by: TWilliams on Nov 18, 2006 9:19 PM   
We should just give police rubber sticks and let the bad guys run free.

With all of the crime in this country it shocks me that people are so quick to condemn law enforcement and support methods that let criminals run free. In any given society people are going to get hurt and killed when encountering law enforcement but overall the situations where this happens are slim. Not to forget that these are CRIMINALS the police are dealing with.

Next time someone breaks into your house try to stop the robber with a baseball bat when he has a gun and see how far you get.

It is obvious the majority of the people who post here have never lived in a high crime area or have never been a victim of violent crime. They will never learn.

Hopefully the USA will ban guns like they have in Australia and in South Africa. The crime rates down there have sky rocketed. Furthermore, noting is going to stop gang members and criminals from smuggling weapons in from Mexico - and heaven forbid protecting the border - that is racist.

The more we restrict law enforcement and innocent, law abiding Americans from defending themselves the more crime and violence we will see.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» Annie! Grab your Gun Posted by: Mycos
Keep your guns!
Posted by: waves999 on Nov 19, 2006 4:08 AM   
At the rate your Fascist authorities are building detention camps in your country right now - a fact - it looks like all Alternet contributors eventually will be locked up under your draconian PATRIOT Act! Anyone who disagrees with, or peacefully protests the Powers That Be - the Illuminati - will be “detained.” This already has happened to thousands of peaceful protesters at the Republican Convention in New York two years ago. With virtually no MSM coverage! Right now every comment we make here... plus every phone call, fax and email we send (particularly from progressives like me outside your country) are monitored and red-flagged by the two, huge, highly illegal, all-encompassing, super-snooper supercomputers Echelon and Talon. Wake up Amerika, it is happening to you right now and has been for many, many years. And if you think things are going to change under the Dems, think again, they are just Repugs-light. BTW keep your guns folks (maybe buy yourself a Taser), you’re gonna need ‘em soon - big time - to protect yourselves against your own Gu’ment!

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: Keep your guns! Posted by: stressederic
Posted by: picket on Nov 19, 2006 5:30 AM   
Some young men just can't make enough money to pay fines that an unjust society places on them for non-violent offences. If you watch the TV Show COPS, you will see young men or women with warrants out on them. Parking tickets for the underclass results in suspension of license which leads to loss of job which leads to probation violation which leads back to JAIL which leads to bail which leads to HELL. There are hundreds of good paying jobs at $5.50 an hour so what is the problem? Well what if the probation officer says be in at 10.00PM and jobs for underclass go to 11.00pm??? OK so now the child support for the baby [which many will say should never been born] IS DUE. Another warrant, another court order. For millions this is a hopeless society.
When prison business was privatized it became big business. Probation violation is big business it keeps a continuous flow of warm young bodies. OK not to worry when you pay the price for your non-violent crime there will be a good job waiting for you. We are a rich society and we CARE!
Meanwhile, back at the farm, instead of investigating the rape case COPS are staked out watching 12 small MJ plants.

It is true they are coming for some of us for speaking out.

"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men" Abraham Lincoln

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

Posted by: Boomerang on Nov 19, 2006 10:04 AM   
Tasers have never been a "non-lethal weapon." There is no such thing as a "non-lethal weapon," that's an oxymoron. Any time there is force applied in an altercation there is the implication that someone could die in an unfortunate accident. A taser could potentially give someone with a previously unknown condition a heart attack, just like tossing someone to the pavement could potentially crack their skull and give them a brain hemorrhage. Less-lethal weapons are called this because they are generally less than lethal when used to subdue someone, but there's no guarantee for every situation. They give cops alternatives to having to resort to physical violence (beating, takedowns) or even worse, their firearms (something no cop ever relishes).

I've known many police officers in my life, and they all love the addition of less-lethal weapons to their arsenals, whether they are tasers or bean-bag shotguns. In a situation with an unruly suspect, the more options the officer has, the better. Start taking away those options, and suddenly the only ones left are the ones we're most familiar with: beating, shooting, and rough treatment. We charge officers with maintaining the law and order of our communities, and I think we should give them a little leeway in doing a job that absolutely has to be done. Constantly vilifying and hamstringing police efforts doesn't help anyone. Taker tasers away from cops? Okay, but don't be surprised when police suddenly begin to revert back to just shooting people.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

It's too late already....
Posted by: waves999 on Nov 19, 2006 12:13 PM   
It seems that it is always the underclass that receives the brunt of Police violence, whether by Taser or bust asses or gun shots... blacks, traffic offenders and drug addicts mostly. Your numskulled War on Drugs seems to be a War on Blacks. And drug addicts should be put into forced treatment not prison - they have a disease. Your police are out of control, in fact your whole so-called Justice System is in deep trouble! Look at your Supreme Court nowadays. All designed by the Illuminati to induce FEAR into your population. So that the Powers That Be can do anything they damn well please, just like they are doing right now. Witness the increasing militarization of your police forces. SWAT teams were originally developed to interdict in serious life threatening criminal situations - not to bust drug dealers. And now your military will be involved in peace keeping at home. And don’t forget the detention camps I mentioned already. Wake up Amerika! Or say good-bye to freedom - and hello to fascism. Unfortunately, I think it is too late already.... Nuff said.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

Subordinated Youth
Posted by: ssmit355 on Nov 19, 2006 1:02 PM   
Remember if you can or understand if you didn't know: America's education system primarily involves teaching young people to follow rules. Designing Education, produced by the Education Department in the early part of the 1900's, redefined "education" after the Prussian concept of "a means to achieve important economic and social goals of a national character" (read Everything You Know Is Wrong). So, accordingly, the kids standing and watching are doing just what the education system designed them to do.

Damn. I have great hope in the spirit of folks; I own great hope that we'll rise up and reclaim reality from the National-Association-Of-Psychologists-Against-America (not a real organization). These Corporate Fascists like the Carnegies designed the system to create pawns for their amusement and profit. So now people fight G.W.'s war. One that I know fell easy victim to the racist attitudes developed by the military; the attitude makes it easier for her to fix helicopter engines and keep our war machines alive.

But my job works the other end of the system. Because many folks are hopelessly entrenched in debt, tv, driving around, and working, working, working, that they see no light. I give light. I teach people to Act, Act, Act. None of those people in the video are my students, but damn do they need a teacher. You probably can't find them at Universities anymore. Even bums are better role models than most cowering University Professors (are you reading this?). Many homeless folks own deep philosophies of freedom; they live their words. A great amount of them are not hopelessly lost in drugs, and thus they are better professor than papered professors. (Sorry, Prof. you're a product (with a UPC Code) of the Education System too.)

I teach people Combat Tai Chi and imbed philosophies of action in the practice. Help me. There's not enough. Let's relax (to reduce fear reactivity), then, when necessary, kick some ass. But we cannot believe that the ass we'll kick is some bum or thug in an alley nor a terrorist on a plane; the real asses are the lawmakers, judges, lawkeepers. Kick them if they taser you or your friend and let's talk about ways to survive the onslaught of Public-Official Violence.

It's illegal by some Case Laws, by the way, to promulgate doing violence to public officials. (How convenient.) So let's just live with learning to act violently when necessary. The irony is that if individual citizens can use physical means, en masse, when necessary (like the case in the video), then perhaps less violence will happen overall. The lack of action in the video only encourages the fear-filled lawkeepers to do more violence. Don't encourage them.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]