Tuesday, June 10, 2008


  • MAN DECLINES TO BITE DOG; TASERS HIM INSTEAD: Perhaps the blind eyes of Kaua`i Police Chief Darryl Perry and the County Council might be shocked opened a bit by news today (thanks to Big Island activist extraordinaire Shannon Rudolf for the heads up) regarding the first in what will probably be a long string of wrongful death lawsuit losses for stun-gun maker Taser International..

    Bloomberg news service reports

    Taser International Inc. the largest stun-gun maker, lost a $6.2 million jury verdict over the death of a California man who died after police shot him multiple times with the weapon. The defeat is the first for Taser in a product- liability claim.

    A San Jose, California, jury yesterday said Taser had failed to warn police in Salinas, California, that prolonged exposure to electric shock from the device could cause a risk of cardiac arrest.

    The story also notes that:

    The jury ``exonerated the police because they said the police didn't know repeated exposures could kill someone,''

    according to the winning attorney.

    So how long will it be before police “know” these things are deadly? Well presumably now they know... unless they don’t want to know.

    This should serve as a wakeup call since it won’t be long before the excuse of “they were sick and gonna die someday anyway and how were we to know tasers were deadly” will sound as lame as it is to juries.

    The last we heard Chief Perry is still playing ostrich in claiming no one has ever died due to stun-gun use despite more and more deadly incidents being reported all the time.

    Is Kaua`i going to play deaf, dumb and blind dumb on the witness stand if one of our boys unnecessarily kills someone while trying to restrain them because our protocols for use were based on the non-lethality fallacy?

    The Council has okayed a budget including the purchase of the deadly-debilitators without any KPD protocol in place for their use nor any promises that those developed will be done with community concerns being accommodated..

    As a matter of fact, in the face of requests from many in the community seeking input into the use of these 50,000 volt shock treatments in coercive force situations all we have heard is “trust us” statements and some dismissive tomes from KPD leadership.

    Just in case anyone at KPD is in the mood for listening we thought we’d present suggestions for police use of Tasers from Amnesty International

    Recommendations include:

    Governments should establish benchmarks for the safety of conducted energy devices based on empirical research and should regulate the marketing of such devices appropriately.

    TASERs should be recognized as potentially lethal, particularly for people suffering heart or breathing problems, and their recommended use restricted to a high threshold – that of preventing use of recourse to firearms in response to a threat of violence.

    TASERs should not be used as a routine weapon to enforce compliance in the absence of a threat of serious injury or death of the subject, a member of the public or a law enforcement officer.

    Clear terms of reference for the use of conducted energy devices should be disseminated to all forces using such weapons.

    TASERs should not be used by untrained officers.

Can the Chief live with something along those lines? Or will the Council and the taxpayer have to deal with $6 million lawsuits? We still await an answer.

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