Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Inmate dies after being stunned

Ruh Roh...
Inmate at Hamilton County jail was stunned last week for being noncompliant. Article says device was NOT a Taser. Inmate later had breathing problems, and died at a local hospital. Obviously it's under investigation, but it doesn't look good...article does say that hand-held stun guns are designed to immobilize suspects for several minutes. Having first-hand knowledge of a Taser, I can tell you it does not immobilize anyone after the shock. While the person is being shocked, yes it immobilizes them, especially if the barbs are fired. When a localized stun is used, it doesn't even immobilize them during the shock. I wasn't aware that there were commercially sold stun guns that were designed to keep someone immobile after the shock...

Don't have the inside scoop on this one yet so I can't tell you much else, other than there won't be a very pretty response from the community.

St Louis teen dies after being stunned.
The only thing I know about this case is that the article is careful not to say it was a Taser that the police used, just a stun gun. However the article goes on to discuss how Amnesty International has documented 156 cases of deaths related to stun gun use, and that this rise in deaths coincides with a rise in Taser use by police departments.

According to Congress' Government Accountability Office, Tasers were used more than 70,000 times as of last year. Doesn't say when they started the count. Even if we assume the 156 deaths are all Tasers and not just any stun gun, I'd like to see numbers comparing deaths to firearms use. Chances are they don't compare. Tasers are considered less-lethal, NOT non-lethal. The number of lives of criminals that were saved by the use of stunning instead of shooting is huge. You'd think Amnesty International would be happy about that, but you just can't please some people. I think Amnesty International has the right idea, but I don't believe absolutes and ultimatuums are realistic. They are also urging police departments to suspend use of Tasers and other stun guns until more research can be done about their safety.

If you follow that logic, it means every time some looney is charging at a cop, especially if armed or under the influence, the cop has the right to shoot them, where they might have had the opportunity to use the Taser and leave that person alive. Right, that makes sense....

*** end update ***


Barking Yak said...

Having been tazed, and reading research on the taser, I refuse to believe any taser is the "cause" of any death. There are almost always drugs involved when a death occurs after a tazing. Furthermore these dirtbags put themselves in the position to be tazed in the first place. If a police officer asks you to do something comply and you won't be tazed.

Now as far at "stun guns" go, I'd still be willing to bet they aren't the "cause of death". I'll bet the ranch there is some underlying cause... drugs, excited delirium, or something else. But again the simple answer is don't put yourself in the position to be stunned.

FroneAmy said...

Yeah, but if people obeyed the law and did what they were supposed to, half you guys wouldn't have jobs...

I'm curious to see if an update about the Hamilton Co. inmate will come out with the ultimate cause of death. My guess is a pre-existing heart condition or something else that was thrown off by the excitement/stress of resisting the officers.

On a side note, although I believe most officers have a SERIOUS moment of machismo when offered to get stunned, I also think it's a very good teaching tool. You know exactly what that person is going to go through when you put that little red dot on them and warn them to comply.
I've seen the videos of when my husband was tased at the academy, and most other officers I've talked to have invariably confessed that they had to do it because others in the class were doing it. Then again, I wonder about the motivations of someone who refused to be tased during training. Would be worth a good discussion, at least.