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UN Says Tasers Are a Form of Torture 816

Posted by kdawson
from the just-don't-bro dept.
The use of Tasers "causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture," the UN's Committee Against Torture said. "In certain cases, they can even cause death, as has been shown by reliable studies and recent real-life events." Three men — all in their early 20s — died from after tasering in the United States this week, days after a Polish man died at Vancouver airport after being tasered by Canadian police. There have been 17 deaths in Canada following the use of Tasers since they were approved for use, and 275 deaths in the US. "According to Amnesty International, coroners have listed the Taser jolt as a contributing factor in more than 30 of those deaths."
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UN Says Tasers Are a Form of Torture

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  • "Excited Delirium" (Score:4, Informative)

    by sageres (561626) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:02PM (#21467019)
    Wtf is Excited Delirium? The Taser company and police department seem to be always quick to blame any deaths associated with tasers on this supposed condition, while APA nor any other medical body recognizes this as any type of medical condition.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:5, Informative)

    by brsmith4 (567390) <brsmith4&gmail,com> on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:21PM (#21467177)
    Weapon involved? Tasers are good in this case. Unfortunately, tasers are not used in that manner exclusively. They are also used to "calm people down", saving the cop from having to communicate with the individual. This is unacceptable. Pulling your arm away from a cop who is trying to grab you is not immediate justification to tase (see "don't tase me, bro!") since it might very well be considered a natural reaction. And "don't let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch" has been considered. When 80 year old, wheelchair-bound schizophrenic women are being tased (and subsequently, end up dead) because the cops are too scared to handle the situation as they were trained, then tasers are obviously too much responsibility for them to handle.
  • by AlHunt (982887) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:30PM (#21467259) Homepage Journal
    >There is some truth to this sentiment, which is why police officers in most districts are required to be both
    >tasered and pepper-sprayed during training - so that they realise just how effective a tool they are.

    The trouble is - the officer gets a single jolt from the taser. When they actually *use* the damn thing the administer continuous or repeated shocks. I've been watching this situation develop for quite some time and wondered when it was going to come to a head. Maybe the time is now.

  • Re:Alternative (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:31PM (#21467273)
    Coupled with the insane amount of terrorist fear built up beyond all reason by government FUD worldwide being used to trash the rights of everyone in the name of 'security' this has resulted in cases like the diabetic who had a fit on a buss and fell incapable of moving, he was reported as strange by the driver, and the cops decided to taser an immobile man for not responding.

    Oh it gets 'better' when he carried on unresponsive, but had collapsed on the floor with his arm under his body, even more concerned they decided to tase him again!

    Not that spasaming from an electric shock would ever cause someone to clench their detonator trigger or anything if they were a terrorist (after an empty buss)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/7096456.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    Sadly this wasn't even the US, American gung ho stupidity spreading worldwide :o(
  • 275? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Eddi3 (1046882) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:37PM (#21467335) Homepage Journal
    How do they figure 275 people being killed by tasers, when only 30 have been reported as such by the coroners? Where does this figure come from?
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:41PM (#21467359)

    I won't bother denying that it doesn't get abused, but I do think that it is important to recognize that somebody that is tazered is far less likely to come to permanent harm than one that has been shot.

    Yes but a person who is tasered is often a lot more likely to come to harm than a person who would never have been shot. The cops who tasered Mr. Gaubert while he was incapacitated by a diabetic coma, would be in jail if they had just shot him. Ditto for the officer who tasered the 87 year old woman in a wheelchair who yelled at her.

    Abuse would likely also happen if officers just had firearms as well. I don't personally think that that would be a better situation. At least with tazers, mace and pepper spray the likelihood of having somebody to apologize to is far higher than with a firearm.

    Sometimes that is true and sometimes it isn't. You assume the alternative to tasering someone is to pull a gun on them. In truth, the alternative is often just to stand back and talk to them, or simply walk away from them.

    It is quite another to actually have to deal with both sides of the story and try to reconcile them in a way that suits the public interest rather than inflaming tensions between different groups of people.

    I know quite a few cops. My brother used to be one and a friend of mine sells tasers as part of his law enforcement equipment business. I have heard the stories of punishing some "punk kid" or "nigger" or "hippy" and shutting their smart mouth up with a taser. Those same cops would never have fired their weapon in the same situation because they'd be held accountable, probably for murder.

    I'm not arguing tasers don't have their uses and should not be used, but hopefully this classification by the UN will get police departments to look seriously at their rules for using them and start to help curb their overuse and use in inappropriate situations, as well as provide support for private lawsuits that will help do the same thing.

  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Scrameustache (459504) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:42PM (#21467367) Homepage Journal

    this guy [liveleak.com], who was rude and stole a microphone?
    He didn't steal a microphone, he insisted on asking his question even though the event was running long.
    In Hollywood they play muzac over your feed, in Florida you get tasered and arrested for inciting a riot.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Klaus_1250 (987230) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:55PM (#21467473)
    I agree that the UN is a politically corrupt organization, but I do agree that Tasers are a form of Torture. Supplying 50kV to someone causes serious (unnecessary) pain. Just because some does not do what you want them to do does not mean you can just Taser him or her. Seen the footage in which Canadian Security Officers tasered a polish immigrant (to death)? Completely unnecessary in the given circumstances. And what about those students being tasered (which made in on /.)? Completely unneccessary. Perhaps the US has a different definition of torture than most other countries, e.g. I (and most people in the Netherlands and large parts of Europe) think things like sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, waterboarding, prolonged forced stress, forced trauma, etc. are all forms of (psychological) torture. As for the UN bashing the US. I don't think bashing is the good word, highly critical would be a better one. And the UN is not just an organization, it is an organization of 192 countries. If the UN is highly critical towards the US, it means many of its member states are highly critical.
  • by tech10171968 (955149) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:43PM (#21467799)
    As someone who used to work in law enforcement (San Diego 1993-1997) I think I may be able to shed a little light on the subject. You see, in the academy you're taught a concept called "escalation of force" (some instructors may also call it "the force ladder"). What this means is that there exists different levels of force, starting with Vocal (basically shouting "Police! Stop what you are doing, NOW!") and ending with deadly force (your firearm). Between those extremes you have varying and increasing levels of force (baton/PR-24/Asp; pepper spay or mace; etc). Usually you want to step into a situation using a level of force sufficient enough to stop whatever situation you're facing, and in many (but not all) cases this usually means going one level above the force being used against you or the person you're protecting (I know what some of you are going to say about that but remember - it's not the officer's job to have a fair fight, it's his job to STOP the fight in its tracks). One of the issues is that not all agencies arm their officers with all the less-than-lethal options available to them. This can be a real problem because, for example, you can easily have an encounter where you come in using the lowest level of force but the situation escalates (thereby requiring the officer to also increase the level of force he's using). You can already see where this is headed - the fewer less-than-lethal alternatives an officer has at his disposal, the more quickly he ends up pointing a gun at someone. If anything, someone should tell the UN that actually BANNING tasers would be inhumane. Also, as some other posters have already pointed out, it's not that tasers themselves are that bad; the real problem is that now we have officers badly misusing tasers. I believe if academies did more to emphasize APPROPIATE usage of tasers (much like they do with firearms) then their usage wouldn't be so controversial.
  • by chinodelosmuertos (805584) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:45PM (#21467813)
    Excitation delerium is a very commonly used term that refers to anyone in such a state of excitement, usually due to stimulatns like cocaine or methamphetamine. I'm too lazy to find you a wikipedia link or anything but if you go to pubmed and search for it, you'll see results such as this one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=15900873&ordinalpos=6&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum [nih.gov]

    What usually happens is that these people are in such an agitated state that when approached by law enforcement (or a security guard, or some shopkeeper who is trying to get them out of the store, or some passerby trying to get them out of running down the middle of the road in heavy traffic) tend to get even more aggressive and attack, and don't respond to the usual methods of being subdued like pepper spray or threat of arrest or being shot or anything. It can and and often does take 4 or 5 heavily trained policemen to get these guys out of danger. What has happened in the past is that these people continue to fight even when restrained in handcuffs, and then die of a sudden cardiac event most likely due to all the excitement and inability to calm down due to whatever drugs they are on. Over the years this has been well recognized and most sensible jurisdictions have rules such as "once handcuffed do not place in prone position" due to higher chances of these people dying from positional asphyxia.

    Anyways, back to the Taser thing. Taser for years and years have been saying that since these deaths can happen WITHOUT the use of a Taser, then it's reasonable to assume that their use had no bearing on whether or not the guy lived or died and he probably woulda died anyways because documented causes of people with excited delirium have and will continue to die under these circumstances. And what they are saying is true to a certain extent: If people die without it, then why would you expect its use specifically to be the sole cause of their death? This guy in this most recent case most certainly was in a crazed state and very well could have died without the use of the Taser: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/11/24/custody-death.html [www.cbc.ca]. But that doesn't mean that the use of the Taser even in these cases wasn't contributory in some way. That recent Vancouver airport case had negative toxicology as far as I know, so we can't blame drugs on that guy's death, though he was clearly agitated. But it's just very difficult to prove, even with this video evidence, that the death was caused directly by the taser. It's electrical current. It doesn't leave any pathology.

    Two jurisdictions in the States (Ohio and Chicago) have both attempted to certify deaths with "due to Taser" in the death certificate and both have been sued into submission. Taser has a huge lobby and has hired a number of physicists (not doctors) including this guy http://www.andcor.com/page/1/news_032206.jsp [andcor.com] to go around the country giving lectures on how Tasers won't cause death and certifying them otherwise will land you a big fat lawsuit.

    Anyways, it's a complicated issue, but in reference to your original question, excitation delirium is a state of agitation and occasionally extreme violence and paranoia usually brought on by stimulants and can commonly cause death in a mechanism not yet completely understood. Taser has been using it as an explanation for why people who have been Tasered go on to die for years. Hope that helps. The issue is extremely contentious and and very political at the moment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:50PM (#21467843)

    Let's see who some of the members of this committee are who are telling the world about what's torture:

    Egypt
    Senegal
    China
    Cyprus

    I guess these countries don't engage in any torture


    Egypt and China: fair enough, but the other two?

    From the 2006 State Department report on human rights:

    Senegal. The government generally respected citizens' rights; however, there were problems in some areas.

    Cyprus. The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas.

    Not quite the same as:

    Egypt. The government's respect for human rights remained poor, and serious abuses continued in many areas.

    or

    China. Although the constitution asserts that "the state respects and preserves human rights," the government's human rights record remained poor, and in certain areas deteriorated.

    I wonder what the report would say about the US if it weren't written by Americans...
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sentry21 (8183) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:02AM (#21467931) Journal

    This is the belief that killed the Polish immigrant who couldn't speak English and was frustrated enough at Customs' ineptitude to try to break through the glass wall separating him from his mother.

    To clarify: the glass wall that did not directly separate him from his mother at any time, and which, at the time of his frustrated outburst, did not separate him from her at all, since she had gone home several hours earlier after being told repeatedly by airport staff that her son was not in the airport.

    Also, the man had already passed through customs; in fact, he was waiting on the far side of the door between the arrival area (where his mother had told him to wait) and the main part of the airport (where his mother waited for him).

    I'm not trying to say that his tasering was a good (or even reasonable) course of action, but people seem to be screaming bloody murder because the police just waltzed on into the airport, looked for the first foreigner they could find, and tased him at the first excuse; in reality, he had been waiting there for eight hours because his mother told him to wait in the wrong place and airport staff were too lazy/incompetent to find him. By the time the police arrived and enacted their screwup, everyone else had done theirs already; if they hadn't, he'd still be alive.

  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Squalish (542159) <Squalish AT hotmail DOT com> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:51AM (#21468285) Journal
    Some of them [wikipedia.org] got along just fine before tasers were popularized, without any lethal force capability, to satisfy unfounded British fears that cops would be too aggressive if they were given lethal firearms.

    Tasers are a less lethal weapon, and there is no doubt in my mind that they have saved more lives than they have ended. They have had a net positive effect.

    But if they're used to torture people into compliance, or if they're used in gun mode so often that even mere vocal resistance to arrest or refusal to move, is answered with tasering, the fact that they've saved lives doesn't matter - they have caused the police in jurisdictions where tasers are used liberally to become an overtly oppressive force. And when this is allowed, it feeds on itself (power corrupts) until it produces scandal and we enact countermeasures. We've had several scandals, but countermeasures havn't even kept up with the spread of this weapon. Thus, we need more measures to keep taser use in check, without simply removing such a useful tool from the force. Tasers HAVE been proven deadly according to multiple coroner reports, been suspected COD in many others, and in others illnesses have been invented to pretend that they weren't the COD.

    Drive Stun mode involves causing extreme, but not instantaneously disabling pain, in order to make a person submit to the officer's authority. In order to use it (as a melee weapon), the officer has to have passed within fist/knife/(possibly teeth) striking distance and be able to get an angle on uncovered or thinly covered skin. This typically happens after officers have the risk that the subject poses (barring hepatitic vampires) completely mitigated, but before the subject is acting as an obedient prisoner. I am saying that we NEED to restrict taser use to incidences where the subject still poses a risk, because anything else can be construed as torture - which our ethics system has traditionally claimed to be vehemently opposed to.

    You do not stun a man with a knife or a gun, you either shoot him or you tase him until he drops his weapon or he dies. This is a fully defensible practice. But the chance that a man in a wifebeater who's being arrested for public drunkenness has hepatitis or AIDS is not reason enough to tase him or stun him half a dozen times if he isn't being the perfect prisoner, but doesn't threaten injury. Neither is it reason enough to hold him down and beat him with clubs until he submits to being cuffed. We train our (volunteer) police corps in physical combat because the application of force to limbs and body may be needed to get an unruly prisoner in shackles. A 'safe pain mace' (stungun) should not replace that, and a 'loss of muscle control gun'(taser) should only be used in extreme circumstances.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:2, Informative)

    by rustalot42684 (1055008) <(moc.tnuocca) (ta) (ekaf)> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:55AM (#21468313)
    Wrong. Even today, the Fraser Institute (which is by no means a left-wing thinktank) calls the situation "Canada's Aparteid". I suppose your rosy outlook on our native reserves conveniently ignores the fact that the poverty comes out of the poor treatment of 30 years ago. Even today we can't be bothered to make sure that they have sanitary drinking water.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:2, Informative)

    by nerdsv650 (175205) <nerdsd@@@nerdy1...com> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:07AM (#21468389) Homepage
    In the US, cops can only carry a taser after they've been tased themselves. I've been tased as part of a demo, I have trouble imagining a relatively healthy person suffering any long-term effects, but since I've read it on the web it must be true.
  • by m2943 (1140797) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:46AM (#21468609)
    If the US and Western Europe aren't making the rules, somebody else is.

    I didn't say that the US or Western Europe shouldn't make the rules. I'm simply pointing out that nobody in the US or Europe should live under the illusion that the rest of the world likes us a whole lot. You should realize that the UN criticism, rather than being "corrupt", is likely rather weak in comparison to what the world population as a whole actually thinks. Despite our noble self image, to most of the rest of the world, we are likely spoiled, arrogant, and imperialistic (which is not at odds either with people wanting to come to the US or Europe in droves).

    not all governments derive their power by the consent of their people

    Sure, but so what? Do you seriously believe that if you ask the citizens of North Korea or Iran, they are going to be any happier with US government policies than their repressive governments? In fact, we support repressive governments in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world because we know that the citizens of those nations would be even less friendly towards us than their current repressive governments if given the chance for self-determination. We have, at times, quite democratically decided that our governments should screw other people, and they often aren't happy about that, and why shouldn't they be?

    Yes, we can make the rules. I also think we could do a better job making the rules.
  • Physics... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:22AM (#21468819)
    Okay... Tasers good OR bad one thing no one here should be able to dispute is the physics behind the damn things... two prongs either pushed out by a compressed gas or held against a persons skin... two points of contact which an electrical charge is put through. Most people who say they are safe and get tasered to prove it are usually ONLY in a very mildly agitated state (they are bracing a little for the effect, its not a fun time) now a person in that state has a great deal of electrical resistance (in Ohms, not political resistance) which means at 50,000 volts, its not going to be a huge amount of current (or Amps) going through that person, and they will only experience Tetanus (the state of the muscles being forced to contract due to the electrical being passed through the body) and while painful and not a fun time, its relatively harmless. Now protestor, really freaking amped up on Adrenaline probably sweating like the dickens, seeing a whole whack of police officers coming towards him, maybe theres a scuffle, police pull out the taser, the amount of electrical resistance this person has is a great deal lower, so 50,000 volts, and a great deal LESS electrical resistance according to Ohms law says... more current, aka more amps... while I haven't actually seen/experienced it, most sources I have come across say that about 1amp can kill you, the less electrical resistance the more chance a taser can kill you. Its simple physics... and being Nerds we should know that you really can't get around them.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrYotsuya (27522) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:43AM (#21468921)
    You're overstating the "benefits" of being native, being a Status Indian myself, I should know.

    Natives certainly do pay taxes. You can avoid paying income tax provided your job is on a reserve. Unfortunately, most reserves have been placed in far-flung areas where the land had low productivity, any windfalls were mere oversight. On my own reservation, there's two gas stations and the Band Office for work, almost all the people work in the nearest town and pay taxes just like everyone else.

    I hear about us not paying taxes all too often, so it's not common knowledge, but should be. I'd probably deal with a little less racism if it were so.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:3, Informative)

    by loraksus (171574) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:49AM (#21468937) Homepage
    While it isn't quite a 80 year old, wheelchair-bound schizophrenic woman Portland cops tazered a seventy-one-year-old blind woman 5 times [findarticles.com]
    Crappy source for the taser apologist crowd, but google her name and you should still find a few news articles around.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Informative)

    by compro01 (777531) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:19AM (#21469057)
    Here's a rule that would lead to some restraint: no police officer should be allowed to carry a taser until they've experienced being at the wrong end of one.

    I believe they're already required to.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Kreigaffe (765218) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:25AM (#21469093)
    A taser is NOT an alternative to a cop's sidearm.

    it's an alternative to them beating the piss out of you with a nightstick.

    and frankly, I for one would RATHER get tased than beat with a club.. but hey, that's just me.

    Taser use IS a bit excessive.. that's really unquestionable.. but to damn the device because of overuse neglects to take in to account the fact that police DO need less-than-lethal means of dealing with people who refuse to cooperate, and if you don't give them any other options that means will be beating you until you go limp.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @04:02AM (#21469299)

    Here's a rule that would lead to some restraint: no police officer should be allowed to carry a taser until they've experienced being at the wrong end of one.
    As far as I'm aware, in both the USA and Canada, this is already the case. Same goes for pepper spray and tear gas..
  • by JPriest (547211) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @04:05AM (#21469317) Homepage
    Neither. If it were a simple problem to solve we wouldn't be talking about it. You can't not arm the police (well not all of them) because they would be out-gunned, and you can't ask armed policemen with 20lbs of gear to go hand to hand 1 on 1 with every idiot that is resisting arrest. There are no cut and dry policies to resolve the situation. There are policies in place now dealing with use of "non lethal" force, but the police are not following them. When someone is pinned down under 6 police officers but is still trying to wiggle around, it does not warrant the use of a tazer.
  • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @05:52AM (#21469777)
    I don't sort out the printer, my hands are far too delicate for that ;)

    Nobody is going to complain about a cop using a taser to defend themselves against someone wielding a knife. The problem is that the use of the taser often seems unnecessary.

    You can't make the argument that you need tasers to defend yourselves against knives, for instance, and then have your buddies go and tase people for being hysterical, or to "calm them down", or even, in my opinion, for attempting to flee unless you would otherwise have used deadly force to stop them.

    If you want to claim that you need the taser to defend yourself against deadly assault that's fine. In return, we will expect you to use the taser mainly in this circumstance and consider other uses abuse and/or torture.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Informative)

    by iamacat (583406) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @06:06AM (#21469831)
    The law actually requires you to follow directions of a police officer and even help him in his duties when deputized. However, once detained you are entitled to have your charges explained to you and be released from custody once it's determined that you broke no laws.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Informative)

    by gravesb (967413) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:06AM (#21470479) Homepage
    They do experience tear gas during NBC training. And, get tazered if they are going to carry a tazer- at least when they first were issued.
  • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:10AM (#21470503) Journal
    To offer another, similar example: police in England tasered a man in a diabetic coma [bbc.co.uk] because they thought he was a security threat and he wasn't responding to them. They shocked him because he wasn't responding - he was unconscious - how could that possibly be use of the taser in order protect the officers?
  • by Mad-cat (134809) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:22AM (#21470547) Homepage
    Tasers have their proper use and proper place. Calling them torture is alarmist and absurd. They don't really hurt. I've been shot by my own Taser (in training), and while I would call it very unpleasant, I would not call it painful. It's like being sat on by a very heavy person and having all the air forcefully expelled out of your lungs. The itching afterwards is also very unpleasant.

    First, a Taser is not a non-lethal weapon. It's a less-lethal weapon, and should be treated as such. It cannot kill a normal person under normal circumstances, but people under the extreme influence of drugs (a state of excited delerium) can have their status exacerbated into one known as "aggravated delerium", which is almost 100% fatal.

    Using Tasers for "acting suspicious" is also absurd. They are designed and should be used as a weapon to stop imminent violence or flight. I have used mine three times in the line of duty.

    The first was a fighting suspect who had jabbed another officer in the stomach, and only had one handcuff on and was about to break loose. In this case, the wires broke and I had to chase him four blocks.

    The second was a 6'4" tall, very well built person, who had already broken my hold when I tried a non-violent handcuffing technique and took a swing at me. He promptly surrendered afterwards.

    The third bit me, kicked another officer, and broke the nose of my sergeant, a 24-year-veteran who has seen more street fights in real life than I've seen in movies. We tried everything before the use of the Taser, because of fears that the Taser could react with the drugs in his system. The only reason I used the Taser in this case is because if I had not, I would have had to shoot him. He successfully fought of six officers at once and was *attacking*, not trying to escape.

    If misused, the Taser can be torture. Properly used, it is a life-saver.

    Pepper spray, on the other hand, *is* torture. I flatly refuse to use it for any reason. It hurts like hell for hours, continues to burn for days, and lacks the stopping power of a less-lethal weapons like punching, using a baton weapon, or using a Taser.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:2, Informative)

    by FredThompson (183335) <fredthompson@@@mindspring...com> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:47AM (#21470677)
    You really don't know what you're talking about. Terror bombing isn't effective and hasn't been the U.S. strategy since WWII. Neutralizing enemy ability to wage war is the goal. Soldiers who are exposed to tear gas in training are being given experience so they can learn to handle exposure and degraded ability to function. They aren't allowed to use BC weapons but they have decontamination equipment and protective suits. They're not suicide zombies.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:50AM (#21471007)
    Explain to me how any mistake on the mother's or the airports side could possibly justify tasering him? Clearly the guy didn't speak English (the bystanders around him mistakenly told the police he spoke Russian - but even still, they knew he didn't speak English). He was agitated and in a very unpredictable state. What you're telling me is that 4 police officers in body armour couldn't find a way to calm or restrain the guy without tasering him? I'm sure the airport has translators for a lot of different countries that they could've had help calm him down.

    Again - 4 police officers chose tasering as a first resort to bring 1 man into custody. I don't know how anyone can justify that.

    The police should've been there to mediate and calm him down. Unless he started attacking the police (which he didn't) there was no reason to arrest him right away (eventually, yes for causing all that damage).
  • Re:So remember... (Score:4, Informative)

    by mikael (484) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:07PM (#21471891)
    He had travelled on a long 12 hour flight from Europe (Poland) to the west coast of North America. He had then spent another 10 hours waiting in the baggage collection lounge for his family (who had instructed him to wait by the doors with his luggage). Altogether, he had been without decent sleep or a solid meal for 20+ hours. Anyone who has taken such a journey will probably agree that you can become irritable, annoyed and confused by simple things.

    Why was he allowed to spend 10 hours in the baggage collection zone in the first place? Didn't anyone from the airport notice someone hanging around, and ask them if they had a problem (missing bags, wrong carousel, damaged suitcase, etc...).

  • Re:So remember... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:47PM (#21472167)
    Your speculation is way off base. I personally know of one situation where it did save someones life. In fact the man that was tasered actually thanked us for tasering him afterwards. Also, this scenario is not very unlikely. We had a suspect who had gone off his meds and barricaded himself in his house with a knife threatening to kill himself and his wife. Thankfully his wife had managed to break free and run to a neighbors house to call 911.

    When we went in, we ordered him to drop the knife several times which he did not. Luckily we had a taser handy and when he lunged at us, we were able to deploy the taser and safely end the situation. Pepper spray in a situation like this would have done nothing, and our only resort to someone charging us with a knife would have been to shoot him. When we got him to the hospital he thanked us for using the taser rather than resorting to a more violent means because at that point he was trying to commit suicide by cop.

    So before you speak out of your ass and say that tasers haven't saved that many lives, maybe you should do some research. There is a lot of statistical information out there showing a decline in deadly force interactions after police departments are supplied with tasers. Maybe you are too young to remember this, but pepper spray used to be considered "dangerous" at one time. The same vocal critics who are now yelling about tasers are the same ones that complained about pepper spray back in the day. You want to take away a safe means of subdueing someone in favor of the more violent means.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:00PM (#21472273)

    Even today, the Fraser Institute (which is by no means a left-wing thinktank) calls the situation "Canada's Aparteid".

    Of course the Fraser Institute isn't a left-wing thinktank, it's a libertarian thinktank. In Canada, this actually most closely aligns with the conservatives, which is right-wing.

    Left-wing != right-wing. Duh.
  • by tommyatomic (924744) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @05:14PM (#21473561)
    I live in BC not but perhaps 10 miles from the airport where the polish man was tased to death. An the thing about what happened to him was that they tased him between 3 and 5 times while standing on his neck and chest(RCMP refuses to release exact information about the number of taser hits he took) and after he clearly had no life signs they didnt bother to recessatate him. And they did this because he was holding a stapler and looked agitatied(red swingline anyone?). Tasers incapasitate by administering high voltage with little or low amperage. When you use two the amperage doubles. High voltage is dangerous but if you give it a little more amperage it kills. A single taser hit is safe. Multiple parallel hits kill. Either the RCMP were incompetent and poorly trained or they were trying to kill the polish man. Idiots or Murderers; Take your pick.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Informative)

    by RingDev (879105) on Monday November 26, 2007 @11:43AM (#21479503) Homepage Journal
    As a former US Marine, I can assure you of two things:

    1) We all got to spend a couple of minutes locked up in a shed with a Drill Instructor cooking up some CS gas.
    2) That experience had nothing to do with empathy.

    The purpose of gassing our combat troops with CS/Tear gas is because we are likely to encounter it in the line of duty. Having experienced it you know how it will effect you, how to recognize the smell and sensation before being hit with the cloud, and how to minimize the effect on you. It isn't about some deeper level of understanding of what our enemies will go through if we gas them. It's about preparing us in case the wind shifts and we get a dose of our own medicine, or in case some one uses it on us.

    As for Tasers, I think they can be USED for torture, but they are just a tool. And like all tools, they can be used correctly, or incorrectly. Used correctly, they are a solid way to imobilize a violent person long enough to cuff them. The problem I see is a complete lack of training and oversight, and a piss poor official use policy and enforcement.

    -Rick

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

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