The Tragic Death of Kevin Piskura – One Year Later the Taser Death March Continues

Today marks the one year anniversary of a young man making a foolish decision.

Young men do that sometimes – they drink too much or get in fights.

Kevin Piskura got in a bar fight April 19th – it is reported that he interfered with police officers trying to arrest his friend. It is reported that the police tried to subdue him and then they tasered him.

He collapsed and they handcuffed him.

Then they noticed he was having trouble breathing.

They rushed him to a hospital.

And five days later he was dead.

I am the parent of 2 sons, I can only imagine what Kevin’s parents went through those five days he fought for his life. I can only imagine how their hearts must ache each and every day.

This coming Thursday will mark the one year anniversary of Kevin’s death – during this year, in North America  alone, 64 more people have died after being tasered.  Some were mentally ill, some on drugs, some foolish – virtually all were unarmed.  The oldest was 54, the youngest was 15. Yes – 15.

Tasers are not non-lethal.  There are safer non-lethal ways to subdue.

Please become informed – urge your legislators to outlaw tasers.

To Kevin’s parents – my thoughts are with you.   I am so sorry for your loss.

340. April 24, 2008: Kevin Piskura, 24, Cincinnati, Ohio
341. April 24, 2008: Dewayne Chatt, 39, Memphis, Tennessee
342. April 27, 2008: Paul Thompson, 24, Greensboro, North Carolina
343. April 28, 2008: Jermaine Ward, 28, Jackson, Tennessee
344. May 4, 2008: Joe Kubat, 21, St. Paul, Minnesota
345. May 6, 2008: James S. Wilson, 22, Alton, Missouri
346. May 28, 2008: Ricardo Manuel Abrahams, 44, Woodland, California
347. May 31, 2008: Robert Ingram, 27, Raceland, Louisiana
348. June 5, 2008: Willie Maye, 43, Birmingham, Alabama
349. June 6, 2008: Donovan Graham, 39, Meriden, Connecticut
350. June 8, 2008: Quintrell T. Brannon, 25, Vincennes, Indiana
351. June 9, 2008: Tony Curtis Bradway, 26, Brooklyn, New York
352. June 23, 2008: Jeffrey Marreel, 36, Norfolk, Ontario
353. June 24, 2008: Ernest Graves, 26, Rockford, Illinois
354. June 27, 2008: Nicholas Cody, 27, Dothan, Alabama
355. July 2, 2008: Isaac Bass, 34, Louisville, Kentucky
356. July 4, 2008: Othello Pierre, 23, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
357. July 8, 2008: Samuel DeBoise, 29, St. Louis, Missouri
358. July 8, 2008: Carlos Vargas, 42, San Bernardino, California
359. July 14, 2008: Marion Wilson Jr., 52, Houston, Texas
360. July 14, 2008: Deshoun Keyon Torrence, 18, Long Beach, California
361. July 22, 2008: Michael Langan, 17, Winnipeg, Manitoba
362. July 23, 2008: Richard Smith, 46, Dallas, Texas
363. July 26, 2008: Anthony Davidson, Statesville, 29, North Carolina
364. August 4, 2008: Jerry Jones, 45, Beaumont, Texas
365. August 4, 2008: Andre Thomas, 37, Swissvale, Pennsylvania
366. August 2, 2008: Lawrence Rosenthal, 54, Hemet, California
367. August 10, 2008: Kiethedric Hines, 31, Rockford, Illinois
368. August 15, 2008: Kenneth Oliver, 45, Miami, Florida
369. August 25, 2008: Ronald Adkisson, 59, Creston, Iowa
370. August 29, 2008: Stanley James Harlan, 23, Moberly, Missouri
371. September 3, 2008: Prince Swayzer, 38, San Jose, California
372. September 3, 2008: Andy Tran, 32, Garden Grove, California
373. September 11, 2008: Roney Wilson, 46, Hillsborough, Florida
374. September 17, 2008: Sean Reilly, 42, Mississauga, Ontario
375. September 19, 2008: Gabriel Bitterman, 23, Lincoln, Nebraska
376. September 25, 2008: Iman Morales, 35, New York, New York
377. September 30, 2008: Frank Frachette, 49, Langley, BC
378. October 1, 2008: Jose Anibal Amaro, 45, Orange County, Florida
379. October 18, 2008: Homer Taylor, 39, Chicago, Illinois
380. October 29, 2008: Trevor Grimolfson, 38, Edmonton, Alberta
381. October 31, 2008: Marlon Oliver Acevedo, 35, Riverside, California
382. November 2, 2008: Gordon Walker Bowe, 30, Calgary, Alberta
383. November 3, 2008: Adren Maurice Turner, 44, Mexia, Texas
384. November 10, 2008: Guy James Fernandez, 42, Santa Rosa, California
385. December 3, 2008: Leroy Hughes, 52, Covington, Kentucky
386. December 9, 2008: Quincy Smith, 24, Minneapolis, Minnesota
387. December 19, 2008: Edwin Rodriguez, 26, San Jose, California
388. December 21, 2008: Nathan Vaughn, 39, Santa Rosa, California
389. December 24, 2008: Unidentified man, 46, Houston, Texas
390. January 9, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17, Martinsville, Virginia
391. January 11, 2009: Rodolfo Lepe, 31, Bakersfield, California
392. January 22, 2009: Roger Redden, 52, Soddy Daisy, Tennessee
393. February 2, 2009: Garrett Jones, 45, Stockton, California
394. February 11, 2009: Richard Lua, 28, San Jose, California
395. February 13, 2009: Rudolph Byrd, Age Unknown, Thomas County, Florida
396. February 13, 2009: Michael Jones, 43, Iberia, Louisiana
397. February 14, 2009: Chenard Kierre Winfield, 32, Los Angeles, California
398. February 28, 2009: Robert Lee Welch, 40, Conroe, Texas
399. March 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15, Bay City, Michigan
400. March 26, 2009: Marcus D. Moore, 40, Freeport, Illinois
401. April 1, 2009: John J. Meier Jr., 48, Tamarac, Florida
402. April 6, 2009: Ricardo Varela, 41, Fresno, California
403. April 10, 2009: Robert Mitchell, 16, Detroit, Michigan
404. April 16, 2009: Gary A. Decker, 50, Tuscon, Arizona

Source: Truth Not Tasers

Five Husbands on Tasers:

Yet Again – Another Taser Death

Taser International’s Legal Clout Takes a Hit

Forget Tupperware – Now You Can Have a Taser Party

Tasers and the Republican National Convention

Widespread Use of Tasers by Law Enforcement Sees Inevitable Rise in Accidental Deaths

Taser Death March Continues – 20 More Since  Kevin Piskura’s Death

Taser v. Tomato

Grim Statistics – Taser Deaths Keep Rising

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Grim Statistics – Taser Deaths Keep Rising

This week brought yet another death after tasering of an unarmed person. On August 10th, Kiethedric Hines, 31, of Rockford Illinois died after being tasered by police. His death is the 2nd death after tasering in the City of Rockford in less that two months* and that has some people (finally) questioning the city’s use of tasers.

Interestingly even though the preliminary autopsy results did not establish that a heart attack killed Hines Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia raised the taser safety issue.

The two recent taser-related deaths have some wondering if tasers are the answer. “If it was only one this year, you might’ve thought it was just the person.” That’s why she thinks the department should really think twice about using the weapons to slow people down. “I think they need to reassess the thing as to the strength and what it’s doing to people.” Rockford Man Dies After Being Tased By Police, WREX

Given Taser International’s successful legal challenge to an Ohio coroners finding linking tasering to death one wonders whether the coroner’s opinion was affected in any way by the threat of litigation from giant Taser International.

The Death March

Since Ohioan Kevin Piskura’s tasering and death on April 25th, in North America alone, 6 9 10 11 14 20 27 (updated August 12th), more people have died after being tasered:

340. April 24, 2008: Kevin Piskura, 24, Cincinnati, Ohio
341. April 24, 2008: Dewayne Chatt, 39, Memphis, Tennessee
342. April 27, 2008: Paul Thompson, 24, Greensboro, North Carolina
343. April 28, 2008: Jermaine Ward, 28, Jackson, Tennessee
344. May 4, 2008: Joe Kubat, 21, St. Paul, Minnesota
345. May 6, 2008: James S. Wilson, 22, Alton, Missouri
346. May 28, 2008: Ricardo Manuel Abrahams, 44, Woodland, California
347. May 31, 2008: Robert Ingram, 27, Raceland, Louisiana
348. June 5, 2008: Willie Maye, 43, Birmingham, Alabama
349. June 6, 2008: Donovan Graham, 39, Meriden, Connecticut
350. June 8, 2008: Quintrell T. Brannon, 25, Vincennes, Indiana
351. June 9, 2008: Tony Curtis Bradway, 26, Brooklyn, New York
352. June 23, 2008: Jeffrey Marreel, 36, Norfolk, Ontario
353. June 24, 2008: Ernest Graves, 26, Rockford, Illinois
354. June 27, 2008: Nicholas Cody, 27, Dothan, Alabama
355. July 2, 2008: Isaac Bass, 34, Louisville, Kentucky
356. July 4, 2008: Othello Pierre, 23, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
357. July 8, 2008: Samuel DeBoise, 29, St. Louis, Missouri
358. July 8, 2008: Carlos Vargas, 42, San Bernardino, California
359. July 14, 2008: Marion Wilson Jr., 52, Houston, Texas
360. July 14, 2008: Deshoun Keyon Torrence, 18, Long Beach, California
361. July 22, 2008: Michael Langan, 17, Winnipeg, Manitoba
362. July 23, 2008: Richard Smith, 46, Dallas, Texas
363. July 26, 2008: Anthony Davidson, Statesville, 29, North Carolina
364. August 4, 2008: Jerry Jones, 45, Beaumont, Texas
365. August 4, 2008: Andre Thomas, 37, Swissvale, Pennsylvania
366. August 2, 2008: Lawrence Rosenthal, 54, Hemet, California
367. August 10, 2008: Kiethedric Hines, 31, Rockford, Illinois

via Truth Not Tasers

Why you should care

In the future, in lieu of a boarding pass you may be given, and required to wear, a “safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device...” Yes you read that correctly – you, your child, your elderly parent, your teenager may be required to wear a stun device to fly.

Have you, or someone you love, ever been agitated or upset or frustrated at the airport? Consider the newly released TSA guidelines on search of electronic devices without cause for suspicion and consider that some TSA person could, without cause, grab your laptop, phone or ipod, and NEVER give it back. You would be upset yes? Maybe you would start walking towards them in an angry upset manner.

Before you do think.

There is, on average, a death a week in North America related to the use of tasers/stun devices. Given the potential that you may have to wear one to fly – are you really comfortable that they are safe, excuse me, less lethal?

I’m not.

* Ernest Graves, 29, died on June 2 (less than 2 months ago) after he was tasered by police responding to a domestic disturbance.

Taser v. Tomato

I get a sick feeling whenever there is a spike in the stats for my taser posts because I know, somewhere in North America, someone has died after being tasered.

The past few weeks were no exception; I knew something was up – I just didn’t have the heart to write another post on this issue so soon. Yesterday I updated the death march and the statistics are sobering indeed. Twenty people have died in North America since Ohioan Kevin Piskura’s death.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not, there has been no media call to arms urging investigation into why we are experiencing, on average, a death a week from the use of this deadly device.

If 20 people had died from eating beef, tomatoes or taking over the counter medication the media would be all over the story, even though the ratio of use to fatality would be astronomically greater. Google news stories on “tomato recall” and you will find over 5,600 articles analyzing the issue in minute detail, including tips on how to protect yourself.

Google news “Taser recall” and you will get 13 articles. Google news “Taser investigation” and you will get the basic story of where and when victims were tasered, but no hard investigative journalism. No hue and cry about safety.

Taser deaths merit little attention outside the communities where they occur.

In spite of the mounting death toll proving that Tasers are deadly, Taser International continues to succeed in passing the devices off as non-lethal. News outlets accept Taser International’s representations at face value without asking questions. The sole exception to this was award winning Robert Anglen’s 2005 in depth investigative series documenting that

Taser International was deeply involved in a Department of Defense study that company officials touted to police departments and investors as “independent” proof of the stun gun’s safety, according to government documents and e-mails obtained by The Arizona Republic and interviews with military officials.

And Taser International’s marketing folks are working hard to make sure we only see feel good stories about taser use. CNN offered up light hearted videos of party pink tasers and in a segment called Producer Gets Tased, Bro! CNN’s Jim Spellman is tasered a police trade show.

Each video reinforces Taser International’s claim that their devices are safe. And people are buying it – especially, it appears, in Ohio. The Toledo Blade reports:

It’s not really a party until someone fires a Taser.

At least, that’s Ma ggie Tys on’s philosophy. The suburban Columbus woman recently started a company called Columbus Taser Parties that facilitates gatherings where people can learn about, buy, and even fire a personal Taser.

To give Blade reporter Ryan E. Smith his due, he did cite Amnesty International’s objection to Taser use; he even cited statistics. Too bad his numbers were wrong and somehow he completely missed the fact that just a few weeks before his article was published Ohioan Kevin Piskura died.

And taser packin’ Maggie isn’t alone in joining Taser International pushing tasers to Ohioans. The Toledo Blade reports

Very soon, truckers and motorists will be able to buy a jolter with their jolt of java at TravelCenters of America Inc. truck stops, 11 of which dot Ohio’s roadways.

So I can go to a taser party or to any Ohio TravelCenters of America and buy a device that has been associated with a death a week – but I can’t get a tomato on my sandwich because that would be – dangerous.

Wake up people – tasers are not “non-lethal”! Wake up media – people are dying every week – do your job and cover the news.

And note to all you Taser party ladies, especially Mr. Tuttle’s 73-year-old mother who got her very own taser for Christmas, if you are overpowered that device will be used on you. Thirty seconds of 12,000 volts (longer bursts, in fact, than law enforcement models produce) is going to cause you a world of pain. And it might just take your life.

I wonder what Mr. Tuttle would say then?

Taser Death March Continues – 20 more since Kevin Piskura’s death

Since Ohioan Kevin Piskura’s tasering and death on April 25th, in North America alone, 6 9 10 11 14 20 (updated July 16th), more people have died after being tasered:

340. April 24, 2008: Dewayne Chatt, 39, Memphis, Tennessee
341. April 27, 2008: Paul Thompson, 24, Greensboro, North Carolina
342. April 28, 2008: Jermaine Ward, 28, Jackson, Tennessee
343. May 4, 2008: Joe Kubat, 21, St. Paul, Minnesota
344. May 6, 2008: James S. Wilson, 22, Alton, Missouri
345. May 28, 2008: Ricardo Manuel Abrahams, 44, Woodland, California
346. May 31, 2008: Robert Ingram, 27, Raceland, Louisiana
347. June 5, 2008: Willie Maye, 43, Birmingham, Alabama
348. June 6, 2008: Donovan Graham, 39, Meriden, Connecticut
349. June 8, 2008: Quintrell T. Brannon, 25, Vincennes, Indiana
350. June 9, 2008: Tony Curtis Bradway, 26, Brooklyn, New York
351. June 23, 2008: Jeffrey Marreel, 36, Norfolk, Ontario
352. June 24, 2008: Ernest Graves, 26, Rockford, Illinois
353. June 27, 2008: Nicholas Cody, 27, Dothan, Alabama

354. July 2, 2008: Isaac Bass, 34, Louisville, Kentucky
355. July 4, 2008: Othello Pierre, 23, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
356. July 8, 2008: Samuel DeBoise, 29, St. Louis, Missouri
357. July 8, 2008: Carlos Vargas, 42, San Bernardino, California
358. July 14, 2008: Marion Wilson Jr., 52, Houston, Texas
359. July 14, 2008: Deshoun Keyon Torrence, 18, Long Beach, California

via Truth Not Tasers

Widespread Use of Tasers by Law Enforcement Sees Inevitable Rise In Accidental Deaths

The Taser death march, claiming on average one victim per week in North America, continues. Since Kevin Piskura’s tasering and death outside a bar in Oxford Ohio 6 9 10 14 (updated June 30th) more people have died after being tasered:

340. April 24, 2008: Dewayne Chatt, 39, Memphis, Tennessee
341. April 27, 2008: Paul Thompson, 24, Greensboro, North Carolina
342. April 28, 2008: Jermaine Ward, 28, Jackson, Tennessee
343. May 4, 2008: Joe Kubat, 21, St. Paul, Minnesota
344. May 6, 2008: James S. Wilson, 22, Alton, Missouri
345. May 28, 2008: Ricardo Manuel Abrahams, 44, Woodland, California
346. May 31, 2008: Robert Ingram, 27, Raceland, Louisiana
347. June 5, 2008: Willie Maye, 43, Birmingham, Alabama
348. June 6, 2008: Donovan Graham, 39, Meriden, Connecticut
349. June 8, 2008: Quintrell T. Brannon, 25, Vincennes, Indiana
350. June 9, 2008: Tony Curtis Bradway, 26, Brooklyn, New York
351. June 23, 2008: Jeffrey Marreel, 36, Norfolk, Ontario
352. June 24, 2008: Ernest Graves, 26, Rockford, Illinois
353. June 27, 2008: Nicholas Cody, 27, Dothan, Alabama

via Truth Not Tasers

Forget Tupperware – Now You Can Have a Taser Party

Watching coverage of Tim Russert’s death on CNN.com I happened upon 2 disturbing videos. Someone at CNN must love Taser International because the videos posted about Tasers over the past week were positively lighhearted.

Did you know you can have a Taser Party?

CNN’s most recent Taser video, (Women choose a taser demonstration for their party’s entertainment) opens with a woman using a PINK taser on a practice target. The camera pulls away to show a room of women and then a pot bellied gray bearded company representative in a Taser ball cap admonishing them that “when the economy is bad, crime dudn’t (sic) get better.” The voice over sells protection without killing your assailant – in the company words a “win win” situation.

The video includes footage of a male volunteer being tasered while supported by 2 company reps who lower him to the ground when the taser hit. The video doesn’t disclose the level of voltage.

The company rep goes on to state that the taser does not affect heart, lungs or involuntary muscles, only skeletal muscles.

The other video, Producer Gets Tased, Bro! (CNN’s Jim Spellman talks about some serious but non-lethal law enforcement technology) features Spellman being tasered a police trade show. Watch and Listen the female anchor giggles and says “Tasers come in all different shapes and sizes for every taser lover.”

Watch as Spellman falls to the floor screaming after being tasered with what is reported to be 1200 volts for 5 seconds. On Taser International’s website their is no taser listed with either an advertised or actual peak voltage of 1200 volts. The lowest lowest actual peak voltage listed is 1100 volts – most have a much more powerful actual peak voltage.

Throughout the video the female anchor is giggles and smiles. Nauseating.

I commented on this video asking CNN to disclose whether the producer was asked health questions and/or whether he had to sign a release. My comment was not posted and the video was removed from the listing although I could find it by searching the site.

It is interesting to note that Spellman fell to the ground screaming while the subject in the party video was lowered to the ground grunting. I wonder how much the voltage is manipulated for demonstration purposes.

Write to CNN – tell them to provide balanced reporting on Tasers and full disclosure on subjects voluntarily tasered including the voltage used in demonstration versus in regular use, whether volunteers are screened for health issues and finally whether subjects are requested to sign a waiver releasing Taser International from liability.

Why is this important – since Ohioan Kevin Piskura’s tasering and death on April 25th, in North America alone, 6 9 10 11(updated June 16th), more people have died after being tasered:

340. April 24, 2008: Dewayne Chatt, 39, Memphis, Tennessee
341. April 27, 2008: Paul Thompson, 24, Greensboro, North Carolina
342. April 28, 2008: Jermaine Ward, 28, Jackson, Tennessee
343. May 4, 2008: Joe Kubat, 21, St. Paul, Minnesota
344. May 6, 2008: James S. Wilson, 22, Alton, Missouri
345. May 28, 2008: Ricardo Manuel Abrahams, 44, Woodland, California
346. May 31, 2008: Robert Ingram, 27, Raceland, Louisiana
347. June 5, 2008: Willie Maye, 43, Birmingham, Alabama
348. June 6, 2008: Donovan Graham, 39, Meriden, Connecticut

349. June 8, 2008: Quintrell T. Brannon, 25, Vincennes, Indiana
350. June 9, 2008: Tony Curtis Bradway, 26, Brooklyn, New York

via Truth Not Tasers

Taser International’s Legal Clout Takes A Hit

UPDATE: Attorney Peter Williamson, Williamson & Krauss, reports the first successful products liability verdict against Taser International

Full text is available in Comments to this Post.

In the case of Heston v. TASER, Intel., et al., the first products liability jury verdict against TASER, we were able to convince a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose) that TASER knew about the potential risks of its M26 model due to prolonged discharges but failed to warn about such risks.

Read more about the death of Robert Heston and Betty Lou Heston’s case against Taser International:

Jury awards against Taser International total $6.22 mln in damages for 15% Responsibility in Robert Heston’s Death – Update

Truth Not Tasers – article on opening statements

Original May 21, 2008 post

Taser International’s Legal Clout – Stunning

How powerful is Taser International? They are telling coroners how to rule.

In the words of Summit County Prosecutor John Manley “Taser is quite a force to be reckoned with and does everything to protect their golden egg, which is the Model X26.

Manley knows. His department was involved in a challenge by the Arizona based stun gun manufacturer “targeting state and county medical examiners with lawsuits and lobbying efforts to reverse and prevent medical rulings that Tasers contributed to someone’s death.”

Medical Examiners say Taser’s campaign is tantamount to intimidation.

“Many medical examiners, who are charged with determining the official causes of death, view the Scottsdale-based company’s efforts as disturbing, the spokesman for the National Association of Medical Examiners says.

“It is dangerously close to intimidation,” says Jeff Jentzen, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners. “At this point, we adamantly reject the fact that people can be sued for medical opinions that they make.

In the Ohio case “Chief Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler said that her examiners rightly concluded Taser contributed to the deaths and said county lawyers will appeal the judge’s ruling. “I would not be going forward with this if I did not believe in the rulings,” she said.

via AZCentral.com.

Why does this matter?

Since Kevin Piskura’s tasering and death, in North America alone, 6 9 10 14 (updated June 30th), more people have died after being tasered:

340. April 24, 2008: Dewayne Chatt, 39, Memphis, Tennessee
341. April 27, 2008: Paul Thompson, 24, Greensboro, North Carolina
342. April 28, 2008: Jermaine Ward, 28, Jackson, Tennessee
343. May 4, 2008: Joe Kubat, 21, St. Paul, Minnesota
344. May 6, 2008: James S. Wilson, 22, Alton, Missouri
345. May 28, 2008: Ricardo Manuel Abrahams, 44, Woodland, California
346. May 31, 2008: Robert Ingram, 27, Raceland, Louisiana
347. June 5, 2008: Willie Maye, 43, Birmingham, Alabama
348. June 6, 2008: Donovan Graham, 39, Meriden, Connecticut

349. June 8, 2008: Quintrell T. Brannon, 25, Vincennes, Indiana

350. June 9, 2008: Tony Curtis Bradway, 26, Brooklyn, New York

351. June 23, 2008: Jeffrey Marreel, 36, Norfolk, Ontario

352. June 24, 2008: Ernest Graves, 26, Rockford, Illinois

353. June 27, 2008: Nicholas Cody, 27, Dothan, Alabama

via Truth Not Tasers

All were unarmed, many were under the influence and some were already cuffed and/or on the ground when they were tasered.

When otherwise healthy individuals die after being Tasered an autopsy can yield information on the cause of death. However, if Taser International has their way a medical examiner will not be able to include any reference that tasers contributed to death, without the threat and expense of a lawsuit by the company, even where there is a finding of fatal cardiac arythmia.

Safety and Money Do Not Go Hand in Hand

Promoting their device, Taser International has relied on “independent” research as proof that the device is a safe* alternative to disable suspects. But a 2005 investigation revealed that the “independent” research was not so independent after all.

Taser International was deeply involved in a Department of Defense study that company officials touted to police departments and investors as “independent” proof of the stun gun’s safety, according to government documents and e-mails obtained by The Arizona Republic and interviews with military officials.Taser started promoting the safety factor before the Department of Defense study was released

Taser trumpeted results of the study long before the actual report came out on April 1. In an October news release, Taser Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith said, “This comprehensive independent study further supports the safety of Taser” and “reaffirms the lifesaving value of Taser technology.”

That announcement had an immediate impact on Taser stock: It shot up 60 percent during the next month. Taser executives and board members sold 1.28 million shares for $68 million in November. Taser tied to ‘independent’ study that backs stun gun Robert Anglen, The Arizona Republic, May. 21, 2005

It should come as no surprise that names of Taser employees who participated in the study were removed from the published version. It should also come as no surprise that the money flowed both ways – “The company has also paid training fees and given valuable stock options to police officers involved in decisions to purchase the stun guns.”

Taser stock prices declined between 2003 and 2005 as the number of deaths linked to tasers increased. via AZCentral.com

This may well explain Taser International’s litigation campaign. It is a preemptive and defensive strike designed to protect the company’s bottom line. The golden goose bites the hands that feed it.

Victim’s Family Fights Back

The stark and disturbing amateur video captured by Paul Pritchard put an unforgettable face on the impact of tasering on a person in distress. Watch it closely – you see fear and suffering – and ask yourself, should use of this level of force EVER be considered.

You are watching Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski die. As did his mother. As a result of the outcry over this video, and her efforts, a comprehensive inquiry is underway in Canada.

The would-be Polish immigrant, who did not speak English, had been wandering around Vancouver’s airport for hours confused, thirsty and hungry and waiting for his mother to arrive.
Police were called when he began throwing computer equipment and within seconds of their arrival, Dziekanski had been jolted with a Taser twice.

The video showed him screaming and writhing in agony before four officers pinned him to the floor in front of horrified onlookers.

Kosteckyj said he and his client have had the video analyzed and Cisowski believes her son — who had just taken his first-ever airplane flight — was in fear for his life in those last few moments.

His grieving mother, who had worked two jobs for seven years to save up money for son to join her in Canada gave testimony last week. via CTV.ca

The panel also heard testimony from cardiologists that taser jolts “almost certainly” cause heart problems and possibly even sudden cardiac arrest..” A senior police officer who trains others on how to use the Taser, also testified saying that “training from the company that manufactures the device suggests the Taser does not lead to cardiac arrest.” emphasis added.

* Testimony from Taser International before the inquiry suggests that Taser International now admits that tasers are not “safe” stating that Tasers not risk free, referring to them instead as “non-lethal” and clarifying that this does not mean safe.

via CTV.ca

Have you written a letter to your local government yet?

More information about Tasers:

Understand the risk:

Nobody really knows exactly why these people are dying, we only know that people are dying after they are Tasered,” said Cox. “When we started doing our first study, 70 people had died in the United States. Now it’s nearly 300 people who have died in the United States. They’re Tasered and then they die. We’re calling for a study to find out exactly why.

Cardiac experts have warned against taser use:

When 50,000 volts of electricity from a Taser surge across the body, it can instantly incapacitate a person — more safely than a blow from a police baton or a blast of pepper spray, its manufacturer contends.

But cardiologists are concerned that, in certain cases, the device might also interrupt the rhythm of the human heart, throwing it into a potentially fatal chaotic state known as ventricular fibrillation.

Rather than pump blood in sequence through its four chambers, a heart in ventricular fibrillation writhes uncontrollably, wiggling like a bag of worms. It is a common cause of sudden death.

Cardiologists also know that the window in which a jolt of electricity can halt a heart expands significantly when a patient is treated with certain drugs, or when the body is flooded with the fear hormone, adrenaline. Patients with underlying heart problems are also more vulnerable to the condition.

Amnesty International spoke out against taser use.

The degree of tolerable risk involving Tasers, as with all weapons and restraint devices, must be weighed against the threat posed. It is self-evident that Tasers are less injurious than firearms where officers are confronted with a serious threat that could escalate to deadly force. However, the vast majority of people who have died after being struck by Tasers have been unarmed men who did not pose a threat of death or serious injury when they were electro-shocked. In many cases they appear not to have posed a significant threat at all.

An excellent summary of Kevin Piskura’s story and related links is available at Mahalo.

From Truth Not Tasers a list of the dead in North America.

Taser use is banned in New Jersey, even by police. Thank you to Twisted Family Antics.

Wikipedia article on Tasers.

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