Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Government News

UN Says Tasers Are a Form of Torture 816

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

UN Says Tasers Are a Form of Torture

Comments Filter:
  • So remember... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Verteiron ( 224042 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:00PM (#21466989) Homepage
    It's lethal rounds or nothing, peacekeepers!
  • Fortunately... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WestCoastJTF ( 1192081 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:01PM (#21467013) Homepage
    ...handguns are not a form of torture. Seriously, that's the choice in many situations - crazy meth'd-up homeless guy charges cop with knife...cop tases or cop shoots. Which do you prefer?
  • by Silverlancer ( 786390 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:02PM (#21467023)
    Originally, tasers as used in law enforcement were conceived as an alternative to lethal force--why shoot someone when you can use nonlethal weaponry?

    Yet it has been proven over and over throughout history that whenever you give someone a nonlethal weapon, they're more likely to use them than a lethal weapon, even though its supposed to be a replacement for the lethal weapon.

    And not surprisingly, this has happened with tasers, too; police are using them in absurd circumstances, even in some cases when the subject did nothing beyond verbal defiance, and worse, in cases where someone was "acting suspicious", such as in a recent case where an Egyptian man was tasered on a bus without any provocation--yet these were supposed to be used as replacements for guns, not as general-purpose weapons to put down anyone who looks suspicious!
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:04PM (#21467057) Homepage Journal
    That's a form of torture too and the kind of "non-lethal force" the police used to turn to. The only difference between beating someone with a baton and tasering them is that the officer using a taser doesn't have to be physically stronger than the victim (err, suspect), and suspects don't think they can fight back like they do against police using batons.
  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nexeruza ( 954362 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:05PM (#21467069)
    Good now maybe it will affect police department policy reguarding them. Remember back when tasers were first issued they were praised as being a non lethal way to stop a dangerous person. Instead of having to shoot a rake wielding drunk you could tase them instead. Now look at it's use today, if you even look at a cop wrong his hand travels towards it. So far removed from its initial purpose I hope this helps bring it back toward it's proper applications.
  • Corpral Punishment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:10PM (#21467097)
    It seems that police use it as a extra form or untraceable corporal punishment. It's meant to be used as a next to lethal last resort but increasingly it's just replaced "couple punches to the face with a phone book in between". Stories vary but often after a person has put up a fight the police subdue him and then taser them. or use the taser to subdue him but then give a couple of extra shock to show whose boss etc... I find the people to gravitate to or are allowed to be policemen in my city aren't much different then the thugs that watch the exit at bars nor the bullies on the play ground. Anecdotally, a athletic friend of mine who had a black belt was turned down for enrollment into the police academy because he "lack life experience" while an acquaintance who spent a year as a bouncer at a strip club got accepted.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by machinelou ( 1119861 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:12PM (#21467113)
    Eh... I don't care how many meth-addicts you come across during a typical day. If you can't learn the difference between them and a kid that's being held on the ground by 6 cops at a John Kerry speech or a guy going 10 over the limit, then you are not fit to protect or serve anything. Period.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:12PM (#21467117) Homepage Journal

    like shooting a big gob of glue to stop someone in their tracks
    And if they're unlucky, the glue lands on the perp's face and they asphyxiate.

    You can kill a person with pretty much anything, which is why the government refers to those as less lethal weapons.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:14PM (#21467137) Homepage
    When the choice is gun or taser, taser is obviously the better answer. However, many cops have the attitude that since a taser won't kill you, it's easier to just taser you, and avoid any kind of confrontation at all. Instead of just taking an unarmed guy down the old fashioned way by tackling him, they just taser him.
  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:16PM (#21467143) Homepage
    That's a form of torture too and the kind of "non-lethal force" the police used to turn to. The only difference between beating someone with a baton and tasering them is that the officer using a taser doesn't have to be physically stronger than the victim (err, suspect), and suspects don't think they can fight back like they do against police using batons.

    The critical difference is that when you beat someone with a baton, you leave bruises and other evidence of abuse. The reason police and militaries love tasers (and microwave radiation, electrical shocks, waterboarding, etc) is that they can go to town on anyone and it is the suspects' word against the cops' about how harshly they were treated. Perfectly healthy looking people are a lot less interesting to show on the news than folks with black eyes and broken arms.
  • Wimping Out (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pipingguy ( 566974 ) * on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:16PM (#21467145)
    It's not "a form of torture", Tasers are a way for law enforcement to avoid physical contact with an unruly subject without having to use deadly force. The use of this technology also encourages non-contact to subdue a subject whereas in the past up-front physical violence was needed.

    Personally, I'd prefer talk/reasoning, then muscle, then the gun. No Tasers.

    The takedown (and resulting death) in Vancouver is a good example of overuse of technology. 4 fit RCMP officers couldn't handle one guy?
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:16PM (#21467157)

    I've always viewed the U.N as a corrupt orginization and an enemy of the US. I'm sure many agree.
    Well the fact that Iran nearly passed a motion to censure Canada for human rights abuses seems to support your hypothesis that the structure of the UN is essentially broke. It's difficult to take that organization seriously.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:19PM (#21467167)
    Apparently you missed the point, making your statement a strawman, no sane person would say the gun.

    The issue is unnecessary use of tasers (OR GUNS!), thats have a more realistic situation, hysteric/angry and seemingly unbalanced man is arguing with police after they question him. They know he is unarmed and while alarming, has no tried to attack anything living. What do they do:

    1) taser him, and possibly kill him.
    2) be polite and ask him to calm down. (then pick another option when that dont work)
    3) ask for backup and have several officers arrest him with conventional means. (stick, pepper spray, and hands/body)
    4) try to restrain him yourself with conventional means.
    5) try to lure him somewhere where he cant hurt anything. (then picking another option)
    6) wait and talk, hoping he calms down. (then picking another option)

    Police are supposed to be trained in restraining people, yet far to many simply jump to the taser, a less-lethal-then-a-gun type of weapon, but still one that is VERY dangerous, and dosent always work (leaving the person VERY angry, and rightly afraid for their life). For that matter, cops seem to have a way of killing people with methods that shouldent be that lethal, suggesting that they do lack the serious training of restraining people without hurting them, and the knowledge of basic medical care to assist after a serious injury they inflicted.
  • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:19PM (#21467171)
    This will continue until tasers are given the same respect firearms have.

    Power is power, no matter the instrument. If you gave the same people nightsticks, they'd be just as likely to bludgeon someone to death. Give these people training, and they'll only bludgeon their victims to near-death or to whatever limits they're given within the law.

    What makes tasers particularly bad is that its range of effects are politicized; the desirable effects are emphasized, and the undesirable ones get swept under the rug. We know what a gun can do, and will likely do. We know what a club or knife or sword of flail can and will likely do. But not everyone knows that tasers can kill. This results in lax regulation of its use and the circumstances under which it can be used, which results in overuse, to sometimes very bad results.

    Regardless, even if tasers are acknowledged to be potentially fatal (though less so than a firearm), the human element of recklessly using power remains.
  • ok, tasers kill some people, and they hurt

    except that, you need to give cops SOMETHING to control people. that cops will use these tools outside of the proper scenarios is a given: cops will always use lethal and nonlethal tools in ways they shouldn't. yes, you can make the case that because it is supposed to be nonlethal, they will use them when otherwise a few well chosen words would suffice instead

    and still, given all of that, tasers should still be used

    simply because there are plenty of scenarios where lethal force shouldn't be the only option available to a cop. i am making the case that the number of lives using a taser instead of a gun has saved outweighs the situations where someone died who didn't need any force at all

    in other words, tasers are not perfect. but NO weapons of force are perfect, AND not having a range of weapons of force in police force is a nonstarter (cue the wackjobs who think we don't need a police force). welcome to the real world: there is no silver bullet (no pun intended), there is always a downside between two competing concepts you MUST satisfy

    this is actually how propaganda works: you look at the negatives of a technology: say nuclear power, or stem cell research, without looking at the positives, and without the realization that there isn't a better option out there

    in life, you are never given the choice between a golden wonderful choice, and a terrible horrible one. in life, most of the time on complex questions like the proper tool for police work, or who to vote for in an election, or how to confront violent fundamentalists in the middle east, there are propagandists (or downright naive or ignorant people) who glom onto the negatives of one particular attitude, and hurl invectives at it, without ANY ocnsideraiton of how much worse the other choices before you are

    some naive, ignorant, and propagandized people need to recognize that EVERY choice before us is full of negatives, and it is your job, as it is often in life, to attempt to choose from varying shades of gray, choices that are ALL negative, but one less negative than another

    this is called "context"

    and simpletons, propaganda, and the naive haven't mastered the concept

    in such a way, we complain about tasers, without realizing they are an improvement on nothing but guns and pepper spray for police work. but because tasers still have negatives, people will go in to blinders mode, and whine about that. as if whining about the negatives of one choice wihtout balancing them against the negatives of other choices is supposed to have any value in this life on the complex questions that confront us

    "context" people. learn the concept, use it. stop being naive, ignorant, or propagandized

  • Re:Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jesus_666 ( 702802 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:22PM (#21467191)
    The only way to introduce something as an alternative to a lethal weapon is to make the rules for lethal weapons apply to the thing. When a cop fires a gun at someone he should be in for some unpleasant paperwork even if the shot didn't hit (it does work like that in Germany). Likewise with a taser: When you tase someone you better be able to give a good reason for it or risk trouble over using unwarranted violence.
  • by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:23PM (#21467197)
    Just today, I saw someone attack a few police officers on TV. He was pretty strong, but he was hold to the ground by three police officers and was already starting to be out of breath. The fourth officer did not hold him back but got a taser. After tasering the guy everybody stood back, while the mad man was clearly reacting to the taser in a rather awfull way. Okay, so maybe at that time the police would have gotten away with it.

    Then before getting him in the vehicle, while he was still on the ground, the police tasered him *again*. Now that's just right of the scale. Completely unnecessary, just a knee-jerk rejection from somebody who is supposed to be a professional. Guys (and girls), don't get suckered into believing things like these do not constitute torture. Leaving somebody in the sun of 35C or more for longer periods of time is torture. Sleep derivation is torture. Loud music for long periods of time is torture.

    In the Netherlands, the guy who killed Pim Fortuin was kept into a cell with very bright lights and continuous camera surveillance. It was pretty clear what he had done, and he was in custody already. Of course he needed to get punished. But, as there was no intent by himself to commit suicide, and since he was not convicted yet, this simply amounts to torture. Unfortunately the current government likes to copy the US, so we are already waiting for the introduction of the taser. This in a country that has a rather low crime ratio compared to other western countries.
  • Re:Alternative (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schon ( 31600 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:23PM (#21467209)

    Don't break the law and you won't risk your life to a taser.
    Also, don't be around someone else who is breaking the law.

    And don't raise your voice around an undercover police officer.

    And don't protest against anything.

    And don't "act suspiciously" on a bus.

    As long as you remain a complete sheep and don't do anything that might resemble, you know, being a free person, you'll be OK.
  • by pcgamez ( 40751 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:24PM (#21467217)
    I find it very interesting that Taser International claims that the 150+ deaths that have occurred immediately after the person is shot with the Taser are not caused by the Taser. At the same time their website has pages (see below) of warnings about all the medical risks associated with being shot by a Taser (such as an increased risk of heart attack).

    http://www.taser.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/Controlled%20Documents/Warnings/LG-INST-CTZWARN-001%20REV%20E%20Citizen%20Warnings.pdf [taser.com]

    As other posters have already commented, it is not the Taser itself that is the problem, it is the use of it. If these were being used only in cases where a firearm would normally be used it is one thing. In that situation a small risk of death by Taser is acceptable when compared to the near certainty after being shot multiple times. But that is not what we are seeing. People are dying in situations where without the Taser they would not be seriously harmed....and that is what I have a problem with.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by heinousjay ( 683506 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:25PM (#21467225) Journal
    Yeah, no one's ever been hurt by being tackled.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:25PM (#21467229)
    Seriously, that's the choice in many situations - crazy meth'd-up homeless guy charges cop with knife...cop tases or cop shoots. Which do you prefer?

          OK, how about "guy starts arguing about a speeding ticket" [liveleak.com]. Now is this situation worth risking the person's life using the potentially lethal taser? How about this guy [liveleak.com], who was rude and stole a microphone? Yes, let's risk his life too. Or how [liveleak.com] about [liveleak.com] these [liveleak.com] incidents?

          Police need to be aware that every time they use a taser there is a small but REAL chance that they will kill the person they are shooting. Therefore they should be a lot more hesitant before using them than they are today. If as a doctor I perform a procedure on a patient without considering (and informing him of) the risks involved, I am liable for murder if the patient dies. The police should also be accountable, just like when draw their weapons - they need a VERY good reason to do that.
  • by debest ( 471937 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:29PM (#21467253)

    You're damn lucky the cops have less-lethal weapons as an option (lead beanbags, tasers, paintball pepper spray, etc etc etc), rather than just "do I shoot this guy or not".

    I think the main problem is that tasers are not being used only as an alternative to a gun. If police were to think "I will only use the taser in the circumstance that otherwise I would be firing my gun," then your point is valid. However, it seems that in many situations, police are using tasers as a way to simply make their job of arresting someone easier.

    The videotape of the guy in Vancouver shows pretty clearly that he was not in the process of attacking the police when they tased him. I seriously doubt that the police would have shot him had they arrived without a taser in that circumstance. Without a taser, they probably would have tried to slowly convey to him their intent to arrest him (he didn't speak English), and if unsuccessful they would have had to tackle him and struggle to restrain him. Both processes would be lengthy, difficult, and stressful for the police. Instead, it appears that they took an easy shortcut and just tased him so they could get the cuffs on him quickly. The man paid for this with his life. Without a taser, I submit he would likely be alive today.

    So you're right: a taser used as a substitute for a gun (when the use of a gun is warranted) is fine. Using a taser when use of a gun is not warranted is the problem!
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:30PM (#21467263)
    except that, you need to give cops SOMETHING to control people.

    a BRAIN?
  • Re:Alternative (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maleko ( 40958 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:33PM (#21467289)
    Thats all fine and dandy, IF you could actually live your life without breaking a law.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pimp0r ( 1030222 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:34PM (#21467303)
    As we all know crazy people attacking cops are the only ones being Tasered. The police wouldn't dream of Tasing defiant 6 year olds in elementary schools, Tasing students performing passive resistance in a university library or Tasing people refusing a speeding-ticket.

    (Anyone actually beleiving the above needs a serious reality-check)
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kingrames ( 858416 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:34PM (#21467309)
    The gun.

    To be serious it's not a matter of which weapon is more lethal. It's a matter of which weapon is BELIEVED to be more lethal. Cops believe wrongfully that tasers are safe and are willing to use them in the wrong situations.

    If your life is in danger, USE A GUN. There is still a chance that shooting them won't kill them, but there is nothing more horrible than a good person using a taser in the wrong situation and killing someone who was not a threat and becoming a monster.

    Cops aren't supposed to use weapons where nonlethal force is advised. If nonlethal force is advised, that means negotiate. It does not mean shoot.
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:34PM (#21467313)
    They WERE being pushed as an ALTERNATIVE to lethal force ("guns").

    They WERE being pushed as "cop is in a dangerous situation, he can shoot or he can use a taser".

    Now the tasers are the FIRST option. If the person is not IMMEDIATELY respectful and obedient, it's taser (defined: "torture") time!
  • reality check (Score:4, Insightful)

    by m2943 ( 1140797 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:46PM (#21467399)
    I've always viewed the U.N as a corrupt orginization and an enemy of the US. I'm sure many agree.

    Actually, the UN is pretty mild in what it does, mostly because the US set it up that way. If the UN actually were a democratic organization, the US and Europe would fare far worse. That's not "corruption", it's reality.

    The best thing the US can do is listen to what the UN has to say, because sooner or later those impoverished and powerless people that make up the majority of the world's population are going to be not so impoverished and powerless anymore.
  • by topham ( 32406 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:49PM (#21467433) Homepage

    Tasers are being used, repeatedly, in circumstances where they are not appropriate. Tasers have their use; they are a much better and safer alternative when the only other option is shooting someone. They are safer for the target, bystanders, and the police. What they are not is a toy and a method to 'manage' a handcuffed suspect.

    The other problem is the precise circumstances in which a taser are used may be leading to the fatalities. Some reports indicate that people acting violently on drugs, particularly cocaine are at a higher risk because of the drugs effect on the heart, combined with an electric jolt. It is entirely possible that other forms of stress also increase the risk of fatality and that could explain why zapping a few people in tests doesn't show a high risk; while the real world results aren't so nice and clean.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oncehour ( 744756 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @10:59PM (#21467505)
    It's not really an issue of lethal rounds or nothing, it's the lower barrier of entry and lower accountability of using a taser. Would this Polish guy at Vancouver airport have been shot in the heart? Unlikely. Would he even have been clubbed? Again, unlikely. Tasers seem to take on this extra appeal. There's no accountability to using them. You don't feel the force of your impact, you're detached from the fact that your volts very well could be killing this person. In essence, you've got no negative feedback for tasering them, and thus a taser becomes an acceptable weapon at a time when weapons are not needed.

    Pepper Spray, clubs, Handguns, and even hand to hand all have different negative feedbacks which inhibit their abuse, at least a little bit. A taser has none. Look at the guy that tasered a handcuffed 17 year old girl. They dropped the case, citing there wasn't enough evidence. The police force's current taser policy is clearly pretty unacceptable.
  • Taser abuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:00PM (#21467511)
    While I think that using tasers can be a better idea than guns or nightsticks, you've only got to watch youtube videos and TV shows like Cops to see how much American police abuse their use.
    They seem far too quick to reach for the taser, and often use it as an immediate punishment for verbal non-compliance rather than to disable someone who is actually a physical threat.
    So much for free speech.
    They also regularly seem to shock the target continuously or multiple times sometimes rather than just administer enough to disable them.
    I think the US cops could learn a lot by working with the UK cops who often don't even carry weapons. They know how to deal with the same problems the US cops deal with, but by talking and using their heads instead of escalating the violence by attacking first.
  • Shocking! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:02PM (#21467539) Journal
    So, let me get this straight. Incurring a sudden electrical shock in the human body, a system that is a delicate balance of electric current, can harm the body. Got it.
  • Papers, please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:03PM (#21467553)

    I would say all of you need to take a ride in a hard suburb where cops risk theirs lives every day, and maybe we might less retarded cop hate on the internet.

    I don't care a whit for the temporal safety of police officers. They knew they were risking their lives when they signed up. What I do care about is citizens being free to go about their business without having to explain themselves or get searched because they look a little odd. The police will take things from your person without your consent, beat you, search your car, then lie on the report, just because they're paying child support to their two ex-wives and are angry at the world. That tape from the hood of the car? There's no reason it can't get lost. The judge will always rule in their cops' favour because they had a reasonable suspicion, and if you spend a few thousand dollars to go to appellate court, you MIGHT get some recourse. Hope you have a witness, and try not to ever jaywalk again.

    My opinion is that there should be no protected class of people in whose presence your hands must be visible at all times, and whom it is a great offense to even touch. I take great exception to the idea that anyone should be allowed to stop me on the street at night and demand my wallet and weapons, as to let the peasants have weapons would create a threat to the social order. I have known cops to give law-abiding people a hard time because they had long hair, because they were skateboarding, because they were carrying a bag, and, yes, because they were black. Some of the cops who get away with this stuff are my personal friends. Many Americans have perfectly legitimate reasons to hate cops, and while my experiences have not led me to conclude that there should be no law enforcement, current police authority is overreaching. Those with power will always be insensitive to the humanity of those "below" them, but we shouldn't have this powerful, completely corrupt system backing them up.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:03PM (#21467555)
    In other words, the lack of a semi-lethal option like the Taser forces cops to either use their firearms, or find some other way to avoid escalation, ways in which they've been trained but which require more effort and may entail more risk.

    The inappropriate or indiscriminate use of the Taser is no less than a cop out, when you get right down to it. It is not the only example of high technology being used as a substitute for quality police work.
  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:09PM (#21467587)
    It doesn't matter if it's on YouTube or LiveLeak or wherever. The citations that can be made for improper use of tasers are many. They've become an unfortunate and easy and deadly choice.

    I understand that police officers are confronted with hell and tough choices, but they have to make the proper ones, and tasers ought to be a very last resort, not one that simply allows a cheap way out of a potentially hostile situation. I feel for peace officers, but tasers remove the peace from the officer at the increasing cost of lives that shouldn't have been taken under the circumstances. That poor Polish immigrant in Vancouver-- he didn't deserve to die. It granted judge-jury-executioner status to the mounties at Vancouver Airport. They are none of those. It's abhorrent.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Squalish ( 542159 ) <Squalish AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:10PM (#21467595) Journal
    I've heard the "crazy meth'd up homeless guy" argument several times in every taser discussion.

    Yet I've known several cops, and none of them have had to take down any crazy meth'd up homeless guys who were impossible to restrain using normal force, in their entire careers. I've never seen one outside of sensationalist websites or TV shows.

    It's gotten to the point that Canadian police are trained that certain subjects suffer from a health condition called "excited delirium," where they do not feel pain, cannot communicate, and are in imminent danger of hyperthermia and death. It is in their interest, therefore, to be tased as many times as necessary to get them to a doctor and save their life. 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. "Excited delirium" is then blamed for deaths that result from multiple taserings.

    The coroner and medical community have another word for it - custody death.


    I'm in favor of simply completely removing "drive stun" mode, making tasers projectile only, and having cops fill out all the same paperwork and undergo the same investigation as firearm discharge entails. In order to safely use one as a stun gun, you have to have the prisoner basically within the scope of your physical control. THIS is torture - using pain compliance to subdue a subject who has been rendered harmless by the situation, or who was always harmless, but resisting arrest as best they are able (if that). It's the same as having cops hold down someone to pepper-spray their eyes.

    I think it might also be wise to reform the doctrine to make further tasering after the first successful application, a substitute ONLY for lethal force.

    This is what's required, in my eyes, to bring the taser back to the level of humanitarian weapon.
  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:25PM (#21467691)
    Is time worth a life? Can you wait a minute, potentially diffuse a situation, and save someone from dying?

    Or is it: fuck it. Taser the sucker. I don't care if he/she croaks.

    I know what kind of peace officer I'm willing to pay for: a little patience in the face of hostility. Tough to do. Might take a little patience and/or courage.
  • by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:33PM (#21467737) Homepage
    a former deputy sheriff. Don't point a gun at something you don't mean to kill. In this case, a Taser is a GUN. The lack of regulation and procedures regarding their use is troubling. If the paperwork involved was half of what was needed after pulling a gun then the incidents of their use would go down.

    I believe a Taser is a safer and effective weapon, but should be respected just as much as a firearm when its drawn.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hpavc ( 129350 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:39PM (#21467775)
    One of many abuses with no accountability forthcoming, the ability for the normal patrol car to lookup information of licenses places for purposes of stalking, abusing, and harassing people has been around for years. The patrolling near a bar, finding a vehicle with an owner low on points, then as they leave give them an ticket for leverage or excuse them from a ticket for leverage has been well documented.

    Efforts for oversight (i know get ready for this) ... pre-911 ... we forthcoming, but now would obviously be impossible. Nobody is going to have oversight on what people are querying outside a bar, near a beach or out on the highway.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:44PM (#21467811)

    There will come a time where only the worst most corrupt people will become cops because they're the only ones willing to deal with the ridiculous rules fosted on them.

    In some places we're already there. The problem is, some cops honestly and truly want to help people, but they have a hard time because of the other cops. From the cops I know, they are already in the minority. The thing is, rules restricting cops from using tasers when no one is being threatened don't interfere with a normal cops duties at all and don't make their job any harder.

    Have you ever asked yourself what it would take to make a Cop's job better?

    Better funding and better pay would be a start. Also, better rules so that the corrupt cops who just want to hurt people and control them are caught and fired so people begin to trust them again. Why would any cop who is honestly trying to help people object to being restricted from using a taser on a person who is no threat?

  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:52PM (#21467851) Homepage Journal
    Obviously you are not a cop,

    Maybe his parents were married.

    Get in a physical altercation with a dumbass druggie, possibly lose, have them grab your sidearm, get shot by a douche bag and leave a widow and a kid with emotional problems. OR Tase the dumbass and see your kid graduate college, retire on a modest income, see grandkids at thanksgiving, etc.

    It cops are involved in one on one confrontations how often? How often are four or five of them beating the shit out of a suspect?

    Law enforcement is supposed to be a hard job. The less idle time cops have, the less likely they'll be to push for more powers to violate our civil rights.

  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by UncleTogie ( 1004853 ) * on Saturday November 24, 2007 @11:58PM (#21467905) Homepage Journal

    cops are people with families at home, are you going to be the one to tell a police officers wife her husband has hepititis contracted from a bite while restraining a suspect, when a simple taser would have doen the job and kept everyone safe. Because that's the kind of shit that happens.

    That, and worse. However, you're missing a very big point:

    The police are not a conscripted force.

    They deal with murderers, rapists, and worse.... by choice. I can appreciate that choice and their efforts... but it doesn't change the fact that they chose to apply for that job. As with ANY person in uniform, on the public dole, the police are supposed to work under our terms, not whichever ethical mindset they wake up with that day. At the end of the day, the police chief reports to a civilian. That civvie {usually the mayor, or sometimes a council} calls the shots.

    Yes, Virginia, the police are accountable for unprofessional behavior just as the rest of us are...

  • Re:So remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BakaHoushi ( 786009 ) <Goss.Sean@gmaiNETBSDl.com minus bsd> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:10AM (#21467977) Homepage
    This is the major problem with "non-lethal" weapons. When you have a pistol, the consequences of using it in any situation other than "he's charging at me with a knife and going to stab me" are rather dire. The penalties for misusing a taser are far less serious. If there are any penalties at all. A taser becomes a one-shot fix to any situation. Any "non-lethal" device can have serious side-effects or become lethal when done to the wrong individual, but I think tasers are being shown to be too dangerous. Rather than a last resort when you can't even wrestle someone to the ground, it's a first-resort.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by heinousjay ( 683506 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:13AM (#21467997) Journal
    You sure? You have anything aside from gut feeling backing that up?
  • Re:275? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pcgamez ( 40751 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:15AM (#21468021)
    IIRC, 275 have died immediately following being shot with a Taser. In at least 30 cases the coroner has stated that the Tasering was the cause. The problem is that there is almost no way to absolutely prove the Taser was the cause. If a person has a heart weakness that has been with them their entire lives and has never caused problems yet kills them after being hit with the Taser, what is the cause?
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:19AM (#21468055)
    Part of the problem is people see only two options, bullets or a taser. There are many more options. What on earth must police have done before guns, tasers, and even pepper spray?

    If you have to use a gun, why not a net gun [busytrade.com]? If you can hit someone with a taser, you can hit them with a net gun, too.

    As much as Taser International might like you to believe it, tasers are not the only non-lethal alternative. Unfortunately, my (perhaps biased) perception seems to be that because law-enforcement buys into the "non-lethal" part of the story, they feel they are justified to use it in all kinds of circumstances where a real gun would never have been employed. We've all seen the numerous videos of people being tasered after three officers have already taken them to the ground, or being tasered simply for yelling or shouting and waving their arms around. Strap on a pair of balls and tackle the guy why don't you? It's not like cops aren't armed with a long reach baton.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rustalot42684 ( 1055008 ) <fake.account@com> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:24AM (#21468093)
    That's a good example of an ad hominem [wikipedia.org] argument. The fact that it was Iran doesn't change the fact that Canada probably has committed such abuses, especially in our treatment of our native people.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:31AM (#21468145)
    Sorry, you can't lower the bar that easily. Nope, I don't think outright punching a cop in the face for no reason should be punishable by death. In fact, I can't even think of why it would be.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:35AM (#21468177)

    That's a good example of an ad hominem argument. The fact that it was Iran doesn't change the fact that Canada probably has committed such abuses, especially in our treatment of our native people.
    I was replying to his assertion the UN has issues. Our modern treatment of the native population is better then we treat anyone else in similar situations. The problem is how we treated them 30 years ago and before. However being censured for 30 year old transgressions would in fact indict the UN further. The native populations have affirmative action, no taxes, free education, and depending on treaty/reserve additional benefits. What their suffering from is poverty. There are many programs that try to help this as well.

    Iran on the other hand has ongoing issues with religious and racial minorities.
  • by Xlipse ( 669697 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:05AM (#21468377)
    A lot of cops don't know when it's appropriate to use either. If you want to be a LAW *ENFORCEMENT* Officer, you should be physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight (you know, like a boy scout!) The standards for police officers should be raised and their pay should be raised with it. The bad cops should be fired and there's a hell of a lot of them around the media lately.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:07AM (#21468381)

    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.
    You are referring to the situations on some reservations. Most are self administered and are funded just as well or better as a municipality of the same size. It isn't for lack of money or good intentions from the government side that induces these situations. It's lack of demand for fiscal responsibility and a lack of interest in reform from the government that causes this to continues. The difference from apartheid in Africa so many years ago and the situation in Canada is Canada is not actively trying to exclude the native population from opportunities. Perhaps you'd have a case 30 years ago but right now it's just the inertia from being down for so long keeping them down. In general there have been a lot done to help them pull out of that but it will take time.
  • Re:reality check (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oatworm ( 969674 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:07AM (#21468385) Homepage
    That's absolutely true. What people seem to miss, however, is the following:

    1. If the US and Western Europe aren't making the rules, somebody else is. After all, for rules to exist, somebody has to make them, right? So, of the alternatives, who do we want making the rules for us? China? Russia? Saudi Arabia? Fiji? (I kid about the last one.)
    2. It's easy to forget here in the US and in other similarly run countries (Canada, Australia, Western Europe, etc.), but, contrary to what Thomas Paine thought, not all governments derive their power by the consent of their people. You think the North Koreans are happy about their government? How about Iran, which actually has an open dissident movement and numerous student demonstrations? It's true that some Western countries have governments that aren't representing the majority of their citizens' interests - the difference, though, is that, in a relatively short amount of time (usually within ten years), mechanisms put into place many years ago go into play that do something about that. The same cannot be said for, say, Iran or North Korea. Consequently, when other governments make objections or make declarations about the treatment of Canada's indigenous people, many of those other governments do not do so with the interests of their own people in mind (or even the veneer of such interests) - they're doing so blatantly for the purposes of the group in power of that country.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by G Fab ( 1142219 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:08AM (#21468391)
    Wrong? What part? He agreed with you that there are problems in Canada. You said wrong, but pretty much restated what he said. His point was that Iran is so much worse on human rights, that a just UN would focus on the really awful things int he world instead of the far more minor problems in Canada.

    In international law, one of the more important factors for determining what "torture" is is relativity among nations. If we accept Iran's behavior, and the UN largely does accept it, then the Taser is certainly not legally torture. What consistent method would you use to define torture that gives Iran the ability to censure anyone before censoring themselves?

    Of course Canada and the USA have problems that are publicly acknowledged and discussed (that usually boil down to very tough problems like poverty that the government has a hard time actually fixing). It's so stupidly obvious that no one is arguing that these problems don't exist. These problems are used in the UN to provide cover to Iran, Russia, China, and other truly awful nations. It's a red herring meant to get the "sensitive" assholes who are actually populist power mongers or their pawns in rich nations like Canada bitching about Canada's domestic problems instead of focusing on the best place for a human rights activist to fight: the UN itself, Russia, China, etc etc.

    The UN is the enemy, more or less, of the human rights activist. Billions of people lack basic human rights, and very few of them are in Canada.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FeTrut ( 254033 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:08AM (#21468397)
    I think it behooves us to also look at the other side of it, impossible as it may be to properly quantify. How many lives have been saved by the use of Tasers? For instance, without a taser it may indeed be much more likely for cops to have to resort to guns and/or other less predictable violent means to protect themselves. Or, if using the traditional hand-to-hand or club route, there's a much more significant risk of the suspect outmaneuvering the cop and gaining the upper hand, thereby putting him/her in more danger.

    I won't argue with the fact that tasers are painful, probably over-used and sometimes lethal, but that's not to say they should be banned. Perhaps more oversight on its use? Like guns (forgive me if i make assumptions here, TV is my only education in this matter), if they are discharged in the line of duty there should be some sort of hoopla, an investigation of some sort and severe punishment if it was found to be used as a first-resort, they would likely be used more cautiously.

    Education is also an important factor, it's possible that the cops that have killed with them were not properly educated as to their lethality and would have exercised more caution if they were.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:19AM (#21468475) Homepage

    That's a good example of an ad hominem [wikipedia.org] argument. The fact that it was Iran doesn't change the fact that Canada probably has committed such abuses, especially in our treatment of our native people.
    Nor does it change that fact that the UN is a joke. For god's sake, they chose Libya to chair the UN Commission on Human Rights!
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:22AM (#21468483) Homepage Journal
    In regards to the John Kerry speech "Don't Tase Me Bro!" incident..

    1. they weren't cops, they were security.
    2. the kid did resist arrest, I saw it, he crossed the line.
    3. when they started tasing him he was still resisting arrest and refusing to go peacefully.

    I don't know what is so hard to understand.. if rivate security, tell you to leave the premises, you go quietly. If you don't, expect them to use force.

  • Re:So remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456789 ( 467085 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:31AM (#21468533)

    How many lives have been saved by the use of Tasers? For instance, without a taser it may indeed be much more likely for cops to have to resort to guns and/or other less predictable violent means to protect themselves.
    I would speculate that a very, very small number of lives have been saved by tasers. I would assume, in a country like the US where the cops routinely carry guns, that when a police officer thinks they are in serious danger, they'll reach for their gun. Just like they did before tasers.

    I would imagine the cops only reach for the taser when they know they are safe. It would be interesting to see whether there was a reduction in accidental/mistaken police shootings after tasers were issued to cops. Certainly, here in the New York area, the cops seem to mistakenly shoot someone every 3 months or so.

  • Re:So remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by number11 ( 129686 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:55AM (#21468675)
    it's possible that the cops that have killed with them were not properly educated

    That may be true. And exactly what leeway do we want to give to people who kill because they are "not properly educated "? Should a cop (who is supposed to be so educated) get more leeway than any other bozo (who may not have such occupational credentials)? Or should "I was not properly educated" be a fitting defense for everyone?
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:55AM (#21468681)
    "More dangerous than it needs to be" is a dangerous criterion to use for the police.

    The police's job is to protect the public. There is a fine balance between the safety of the public and the safety of the police, but in all such considerations the safety of the public must carry significantly more weight, since that is the entire reason they exist.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:58AM (#21468701)
    There would be no issue if they actually used the Tasers as intended

    Absolutely, but my understanding is that, unlike firearms, there really aren't any standards being enforced as to the use of Tasers. Some departments, I'm sure, make sure their officers use them wisely, whereas others seem less conscientious. The only way to know for sure is to piss off a local cop and see if he stuns you.

    So, are we questioning the use of a theoretically non-lethal technology that causes a lot of suffering and humiliation, or are we concerned that it isn't always so non-lethal? Or both? Those are two different issues. If it's the former, then cops should be heavily restricted as to how and when they can Tase someone, and should be penalized if they break the rules. On the other hand, if it's the latter ... maybe we should simply reconsider their use entirely.

    Cops know that everyone is susceptible to bullets so they hesitate to shoot at someone, and there are rules to that game: a bad kill and your career can be over. Enter the Taser, which they've been told is "safe". The thing is, with any given individual there's no way to tell if that's actually true, other than by Tasing them and see if they survive the experience. I suppose the cops could be required to ask if their target has a physical problem that might prove fatal. "Sir, we are authorized to Taser you now. If you have a heart condition or other medical condition which would contraindicate the use of Taser technology, please let us know immediately so that we may switch to an alternate non-lethal methodology to subdue you." Sure. That'd work.

    Hell, even in Star Trek sometimes people were killed when hit by a phaser set for stun. Not everybody can take the same degree of punishment.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:09AM (#21468747) Journal
    The problem is it pretty apparent (at least to me) that the taser is quickly becoming the 21st century version of the rubber hose. We have seen time after time that in situations where in times past they simply would have restrained the individual or attempted to diffuse the tension they now reach for the taser as the FIRST choice, instead of what it should be, which is a last choice before drawing their weapon.

    In fact, that is the standard I think should apply to taser use-Would you have used your gun in that situation? The whole point of the taser was to give a cop the a less lethal alternative to lethal force. But as we have seen all over the Internet lately, it has become either a "He/She was looking at me funny" tool of intimidation or a "Don't tase me bro!" tool of torture. I think until a higher standard of conduct can be written in regards to tasers a moratorium should be in place. It has just become another torture device as it is now.

  • Rubbish (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:30AM (#21468853) Journal
    I don't advocate the censure of Canada; but the issue seemed to have been Canada's treatment of natives and immigrants.... That such a motion 'nearly passed' says more about the decline of the status of Canada than about the UN.

    As an immigrant to Canada I can definitely say that it is an extremely welcoming country in both its government and its people. Look at the outcry here that has resulted from the tasering incident in Vancouver. This was clearly not government instigated and it has shocked the Canadian public. To accuse Canada of human rights abuse because of this incident is simply insane.

    It certainly does not show that Canada is in decline - it was simply a stunt by Iran to distract from its real human rights and nuclear issues! All it shows that the UN has a bureaucracy that allows stupid things to happen from time to time, like every other government in existence....but just because something can be abused does not mean that we'd be better off without it.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy@gm a i l .com> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:08AM (#21469007)

    Education is also an important factor, it's possible that the cops that have killed with them were not properly educated as to their lethality and would have exercised more caution if they were.

    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.

  • Re:275? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:09AM (#21469013)
    "Also, keep in mind: There are only 30 confirmed reports of it in the US. 30 / 10 (to make population proportional) = 3, and 17 / 3 = 5.667, making it 5.667 times more likely that you'll die from being tasered in Canada then in the US."

    There is another explanation for this, that Canadian coroners are more honest(don't know if this is the case).
  • Re:So remember... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:18AM (#21469049) Homepage
    The thing is, we only hear about tasers when they kill someone or it's one of those YouTube videos where some college kid is getting hauled away by 4+ campus security guys. Hell, I don't even think the local crime report columns list taserings, but you damn well do hear about it when there's a shooting.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:33AM (#21469153) Homepage
    You can't possibly be asserting that cops/security only taser violent dangerous people. Peruse youtube a little and you will see a bunch of thugs making copious over-use of their authority.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:54AM (#21469263) Homepage
    I saw the same video. I completely and whole heartedly disagree with you. It was completely unnecessary instance of "because I got the gun" going to small minded idiots' heads.
  • by darkonc ( 47285 ) <stephen_samuel@noSPaM.bcgreen.com> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:59AM (#21469293) Homepage Journal
    Wreck beach [wreckbeach.org] is a popular clothing optional ("nude") beach near Vancouver (and almost within sight of the airport where Dziekanski was tasered to death. [www.cbc.ca] It's also a beach where the RCMP tend to be very pedantic about the law -- one of which is that the beach closes at sunset [flickr.com]... So, as they're often want to do, they started clearing the beach mere minutes after the sun had set.

    One of the people they came across was someone who had fallen asleep. When they woke him up and told him to leave the beach, he was a bit groggy, and slow to gather his stuff, get dressed and leave. ... so they tasered him.

    Now, I don't think that a groggy (nearly) naked guy is the kind of situation where use of a baton would be considered reasonable force. I don't even think it would be considered reasonable to use a half-nelson on the guy. Hell, the only thing that they could do for him being too late on the beach was to give him a ticket.

    | But he was tasered.

    My only explanation is that they intended the tasering exactly as torture -- and an exemplary action to other beach users that you quickly comply with orders to get off the beach at the stroke of sunset or else!

  • Re:Taser abuse (Score:2, Insightful)

    by galadran ( 1099427 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @04:30AM (#21469437)
    UK cops are unarmed US cops are armed US cities have a far higher rate of crime than UK cities. Therefore the weapons cannot be said to have a positive impact on crime...
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @04:50AM (#21469519) Homepage Journal
    They've got the right to use force to eject you from the premises if you refuse to leave. As does everyone who owns property. Some asks you to leave, you leave.. it's not your property. It's not public property. It's private property and you're a guest.

  • by DancesWithBlowTorch ( 809750 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @05:26AM (#21469681)

    The issue is extremely contentious and and very political at the moment.
    You are right, but in this case it is not a bad thing for the discussion to be political. The question at hand is that, given we have seen several deadly uses of Tasers (i.e. uses where the subject died subsequently, without any other obvious causes, such as a drug overdose), and given the numerous leaked videos showing Tasers being used on already restrained victims, many people (including me) start to think that it was and is a bad idea to give Police the right to use Tasers.

    I think it's a psychological thing. There's no strong negative feedback to the person using the taser, there are no obvious marks being left on the victim, it is difficult for the victim to communicate just how painful the taser drive was to him, and the policemen consider the taser to be non-lethal. All that makes them highly likely to use tasers in situations where their use is entirely unnecessary.

    Working as an EMT several years ago, I have personally had to restrain people suffering from hypoglycaemia -- a state very similar to what might be called "excited delirium". In one case, it took five men to hold down a homeless woman so that we could give her the live-saving glucose injection. Nevertheless, we managed to do so without hurting or even bruising her. For us her behaviour was easily explained by her blood-sugar levels, but I imagine a policeman without medical training would have taken her to be aggressive and might have thought it a good idea to taser her -- which certainly wouldn't have helped, given that she was already horribly agitated. The situations where I think Tasers are justified get fewer every day. I think it's about time we take this things out of our police officers' hands.
  • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @05:44AM (#21469753)

    or simply walk away from them.
    I doubt many cops see that as an option. Any disagreement, defiance, or attitide is something that has to be dealt with (i.e. the person has to submit to the cop's authority and position) even if the original reason for the interaction was trivial. It's not that all cops are like that, but that enough are like that to make it a predictable phenomenon.
  • Re:275? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ppanon ( 16583 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @06:37AM (#21469929) Homepage Journal
    I guess you're innumerate since you can't tell that the US has double the rate per population as Canada at 275/300 million vs 17/35 million. The rest of your math is just as bad since you start comparing numbers that aren't the same (i.e. 30 US deaths where the coroner confirmed the taser vs. the 17 Canadian death count using criteria that more closely correlate the 275 US death count). Of course what really matters is how many police tasers are actually in use in each country.

    The point is that the current Canadian death count is high enough that the policy for taser use is being reviewed for the RCMP and certain provincial police forces. Even in June, prior to the recent incident in the Vancouver airport, Paul Kennedy, the chair of the RCMP complaints committee had recommended changes to the way the RCMP use Tasers. [www.cbc.ca]

    Generally, the RCMP are better educated and better trained than most US cops. So if the RCMP are misusing Tasers, I'd rather not think too hard about how your boys are abusing them down there.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dr. Cody ( 554864 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:04AM (#21470465)
    Would this Polish guy at Vancouver airport have been shot in the heart?

    This is a bit of a tangent, but, I finally got to see the camera phone video of that incident, and I'll be damned if he didn't have the exact same look in his eye as Ballmer in the "Developers!" video. Seriously, check it out--you expect the guy to start tossing chairs.

    He was tazed for our safety.
  • Re:Fortunately... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moonbender ( 547943 ) <moonbender@3.14gmail.com minus pi> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:49AM (#21470689)
    Wow. You are deluded. Yeep, the UN is the enemy of the human rights activist! Boggles the mind. I wrote up three different versions of a reply but there's no point, you are too far gone to talk to via the internet.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tonsofpcs ( 687961 ) <(moc.scpfosnot) (ta) (kcabhsals)> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:06AM (#21470769) Homepage Journal
    [cite]You know, if tasers had been around for more than about 10 years, I might be inclined to take this argument seriously.[/cite]
    If 1992/3 [depending on where you read] were 10 years ago, I might be inclined to continue reading your comment.
  • Re:Alternative (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:54AM (#21471375)
    A guy _in a coma_ on a bus got tasered. How, exactly, can the bar _get_ any lower?
  • by Fox Sterling ( 1194011 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:36PM (#21472099)
    The UN states that Tasering is a form of torture. Well and good. Does this mean that tasers cannot be used? I think not. Practically any weapon can be used as a form of torture, down to a billy-club. The problem is the people who wield the weapons, not the weapons themselves. This is the same issue encountered in gun-control. Some blame the guns and the gun-makers, but the problem is the humans wielding the guns. If guns didn't exist, if we lived in the Stone Age, it would be flint spears and wooden clubs. The problem is the sinful nature of Man, he will always find a way to inflict pain.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:49PM (#21472181) Homepage Journal
    First, my reaction to the UN's declaration was that yes, a Taser can be used as a torture device. So can't a gun, knife, lead pipe, car battery, bamboo splinters, fire, torches, soldering irons, rubber shirts, spoons, etc...

    Heck, even bare hands and feet can be used.

    Used properly(1), a taser is not only supposed to be a substitute for a gun, it's also a substitute for pepper spray(2), baton(3), and various forms of barehanded submission techniques like beating the subject on the head until he's too disoriented to resist being handcuffed while three or four officers put their weight on him.

    As for risk of death - people die suddenly all the time; for reasons that make you go 'huh'. It's kinda like how sex can kill somebody with a heart problem. The trick is, the sex was frequently just the 'last straw'. It could have been the flight of stairs a few days later, that slammed door resulting in a shock and adrenaline burst, or just going to wake up, or even just out of the blue. Heck, nominally healthy people like highschool football players have a nonzero chance of dying of heart attack. A simple hit, merely bruising could dislodge a clot or something and result in a lethal stroke. There's 300 million people in the USA. I can't find the number of arrests other than '800k' for weed. Marijuana arrests are a big chunk, but I don't think that's the majority. Most arrests are non-violent on the other hand. Let's go with 500k-1M physical force arrests - that's enough that you'll have some weird stuff pop up.

    At least some tasers have recording devices in them - the police can tell how many shocks were delivered, the length of each, how far apart, etc... In at least one of the cases it WAS used as a torture device - how else can you explain 30 shocks over a 5 minute period? Still, go after that officer for torture, not ban the device. Make sure there's good training as well.

    Interesting post [blogspot.com] by Lawdog on the subject of tasers and force usage.

    My conclusion? Taser usage needs to be monitored; should not be used alone, should be used for it's purpose: disrupt the individual enough that other physical controls such as handcuffs can be emplaced. Should definitely not be used as a torture device. As you're using a taser, you should be arresting somebody - have the details of the usage, along with justification, be in the report.

    (1)As we've already determined that improper usage can turn more devices into torture implements than can't be.
    (2)Still a nonzero risk of death; asthma, patients with breathing problems, and pain is longer than necessary
    (3)You're clubbing the person into submission - risk of death is very real, as is lasting injuries.
  • by toddestan ( 632714 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:56PM (#21472699)
    If you make enough trouble to get the police to be called out, and I'm not talking about peaceful protest but screaming and throwing beer bottles at cars at 2am, you should not be expecting a stern talking to and a lolly pop from the officer that has to deal with your dumb ass, but an ass kicking that will make you afraid to do it twice.

    That's against the whole seperation of powers thing. The police are supposed to enforce the laws, not dish out punishment. If the punk kid is being enough of a problem to deserve it, then arrest them.
  • by uncqual ( 836337 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @04:41PM (#21473379)
    "one fool with a knife" (especially one who turns out to be on meth) may eventually be subdued by six officers. However, one of those police officers may not go home to their family that night (or, perhaps ever again). Knife wounds can be very lethal and can be inflicted in the initial stage of combat before the suspect is under control. Being a police officer is a job (and, not a great paying one at that). A police officer has no obligation to put themselves at substantial risk of dying just to make life more comfortable for a "fool with a knife". A police officer who stays "on the street" in a high crime area in the United States for 25 years can't take much risk on each encounter or the odds are that they will die "on the job" since they may encounter a situation where, without a tazer, they would need to engage in physical combat with "fools with knives" a few times each year (esp. as the bad guys figured out that the risk of being tazered or shot if they threatened officers with knives was minimal). Deciding to be a police officer should not be a "death sentence". We spend a lot of effort to protect workers in other hazardous jobs, police officers deserve the same.

    As well, even if six officers attempt to subdue a suspect with a knife instead of tazering them, some percentage of those suspects will be injured or killed by accident also (ranging from broken bones, paralysis, or death by various means - esp. if the suspect has a medical weakness of some sort).

    The notion that police can travel in "packs" of six in case it's necessary to detain a belligernet individual is absurd. Note that when someone is pulled over for a traffic stop and pulls out a knife, the officer in the car doesn't have time to call for backup - (s)he's got to deal with the knife now if the suspect is coming closer to them because backup is minutes away, the suspect is one or two seconds away at most. The notion that, for example, the California Highway Patrol can/should stop having one-person cars and instead have (perhaps?) minivans full of six officers is not cost effective and will result in a reduced ability to respond to situations such as a report of a drunk driver OR about six times the cost of labor.

    It seems fairly rare that someone gets tazered when they are following an officer's instructions. Also, I suspect it's rare that being belligerent or threatening an officer actually makes one less likely to be arrested or detained. Hence, it's just stupid to be belligerent or threatening to an officer. There are obviously excesses here and there, but in the vast majority of the tazer cases I've heard of, the recipient worked pretty hard to get tazered.

    Note that I'm not defending all uses of tazers (it's hard to imagine, for example, why a handcuffed suspect should be tazered) and policies, training, and disciplinary action should control the use of tazers a bit more than they are now.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FredThompson ( 183335 ) <fredthompson@[ ] ... m ['min' in gap]> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @05:38PM (#21473697)
    I think you missed the point I was trying to make when I used the word, "anarchy." I was specifically commenting on the idea that only someone who has experienced something can really know the effect. I don't have to be a Meth addict to know it's bad. Likewise, I don't have to be hit with a taser to know it's bad.

    CS probably also reliever you of some solids and liquids, too.

    Clubs and fists require the police officer to put their own body at risk, don't they? They also won't work at a distance. Your analogy doesn't hold.

    The idea that a police officer isn't capable of having feedback during taser use is...really very arrogant, when you think about it unless police officers are braindead zombies. They do have a tendency to become rather callous compared to the average person but they exist to deal with the bad guys, not the good guys, so that's part of they price they and society "pay."

    "Given the low probability of the office having otherwise experiences such an intense electric shock, ..." Please cite verifiable references for your assertion and define "low probability". It is common for tasers and tear gas to be used on police officers for familiarization.

    A few cases of misuse of a control tool by police does not mean the tools should be removed. Some reports say the Polish guy in Canada was on a rampage. People are fallible. That doesn't comden the tool.

    They carry guns but aren't shot with bullets during training, are they? Would you propose their guns be removed because they have no ability to appreciate the damage a gun can cause?

  • by snarkh ( 118018 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @06:39PM (#21473971)
    Do you have any idea what you are talking about?

    Bright lights + white walls + a cell size of a small closet, where you cannot lie down, + night interrogations for 8 hours and after a few months strong people would sign confessions, which would be used to imprison their families and friends along with their own death warrants. That was widely practiced under Stalin.

    Sleep deprivation is often more effective then pulling your fingernails because it breaks your will to fight.

  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gbulmash ( 688770 ) * <semi_famous@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @07:26PM (#21474203) Homepage Journal
    You know, if tasers had been around for more than about 10 years, I might be inclined to take this argument seriously.

    I remember watching the inventor of the TASER (it should be capitalized, because it's an acronym) being interviewed. TASER stands for "Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle". I recall this, because I saw it when I was of an age to be reading Tom Swift books, meaning that this was in the late 70s.

    So I looked it up... and whaddaya know, the TASER was invented in 1969. I don't know about you but 38 > 10 in most countries I've visited. In all likelihood, the TASER is older than you.

    10 years... How do I mod his comment "-1 ignorant"?

  • Re:Alternative (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:03PM (#21474657)
    And don't question an officers actions, as seen on cops.

    And don't get angry/frustrated when you're being mistreated by an officer, as seen on a few episodes of cops.

    And don't run from the police, like the 'donttasemebro' kid tried.

    My favorite is the threats (empty or not) of sending a K9 unit to attack a 'hiding' but visible suspect. "He'll tear you up, don't make me let him after you."

    All of which further the goal of making sure you don't resist physically or mentally.

    Remember kids, if you're ever detained or arrested (code for held without arrest) Don't say anything, don't gesture, don't look at anything. Just say the peace officers favorite words: "I want to speak with an attorney."

    This causes the peace officer to make assumptions based on the provided evidence only and if (as is often the case with 99.99% of citizens) there isn't anything in front of them they have to let you go.
  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tom's a-cold ( 253195 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:38PM (#21475241) Homepage

    First, my reaction to the UN's declaration was that yes, a Taser can be used as a torture device. So can't a gun, knife, lead pipe, car battery, bamboo splinters, fire, torches, soldering irons, rubber shirts, spoons, etc... Heck, even bare hands and feet can be used.
    Or waterboarding. My take is that the UN is practising displacement activity: they are afraid to confront the Bush administration over undeniably brutal and often murderous acts of torture such as waterboarding (interesting how, when used in Korea, the US called it "Chinese water torture" but it got renamed when we started doing it), so instead they whinge about tasers. A functioning UN would be preparing world (especially US) public opinion for Bush, Cheney and gang's future trials for crimes against humanity, not picking this easier but less worthwhile fight.

    I'm no fan of tasers either, and the last thing we need are more excuses for the police to use excessive force on us. But even more important is for the US government and its proxies to stop torturing people now. No exceptions. And those who have condoned and practised it should be put on trial and locked up. No exceptions to that either.

  • Re:So remember... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Floritard ( 1058660 ) on Monday November 26, 2007 @10:51AM (#21478861)
    What part of "don't tase me bro" don't you understand. But seriously, tasers should be in a locked box in the cruiser, some place where an officer has to go and physically procure it for a dire situation that is getting out of hand. Something that should require logging out and not something to be carried about in a holster. Say if some rhino-sized individual cranked up on speed is having a field day with a group of struggling officers. Then you tase the guy and bring him down. Anything else is just laziness on the part of municipal workers trained and paid to do a dangerous job. I don't think it's out of line to suppose a good majority of cops have the personality of someone willing to get in a scuffle or two with the odd "bad guy" considering it part of the job. That personality should not be linked via button to a device that effortlessly electrocutes whatever it is pointed at. I don't need to UN to tell me that sounds like a torture device, and I don't see the merit in arguing away the potential harm of such a device as a mere statistical minority.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.