You could never shoot an inmate in his cell, right?
Tasers were supposed to offer some solution to the grey-area incidents–the ones where cops arrived on a chaotic scene and their fingers itched because they were worried about their own lives. Well, this prisoner was standing on top of his bunk refusing to cooperate, reminiscent of Iman Morales. This guy’s spine only broke.
A man left paralyzed below the chest after he fell from the top of a jail bunk bed when an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy used a stun gun on him sued the Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday, alleging that his civil rights had been violated.
According to the federal lawsuit, Blake Dupree, 22, said he was standing on his bunk about four to seven feet above the concrete jail floor with his hands raised in a defensive posture when he was stunned with a Taser, which delivers a 50,000-volt shock.
Much of the incident on Feb. 27, 2007, was captured on videotape, according to the suit.
Sheriff’s officials have acknowledged that deputies stunned Dupree when he refused to come out of his cell for electronic fingerprinting.
“The officers involved should have known that deploying the Taser on Mr. Dupree while he was standing on the top bunk would result in a dangerous fall,” said attorney Justin Sanders, who represents Dupree. He said his client “has suffered catastrophic injuries and extraordinary suffering which no amount of money can remedy.”
What follows are the names (where known), dates and locations of all North Americans who have died after they were shocked with taser weapons by law enforcement officials.
As far as I know, this list does not exist anywhere else in the world.
For the most part, the list has been generated from media accounts, with the first 167 names documented by reporter Robert Anglen of the Arizona Republic newspaper.
Since late December 2005, Patti Gillman (owner of this website, TNT – Truth … Not Tasers) and Cameron Ward have continued to record the names of those who have died after they were tasered.
Their list of Taser deaths this year:
390. January 9, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17, Martinsville, Virginia
391. January 11, 2009: Rodolfo Lepe, 31, Bakersfield, California
392. January 22, 2009: Roger Redden, 52, Soddy Daisy, Tennessee
393. February 2, 2009: Garrett Jones, 45, Stockton, California
394. February 11, 2009: Richard Lua, 28, San Jose, California
395. February 13, 2009: Rudolph Byrd, Age Unknown, Thomas County, Florida
396. February 13, 2009: Michael Jones, 43, Iberia, Louisiana
397. February 14, 2009: Chenard Kierre Winfield, 32, Los Angeles, California
Taser International has been hiding behind its ‘non-lethal’ hype, and the result is that people have died. Just like the tobacco companies once did, they refuse to tell the truth for fear of killing the business.
Though it discharges 50,000 volts, a Taser is easy to use and police departments require little training before deploying it. And though Taser deaths are notorious, I have yet to see or hear of a single case where the police said they knew that a victim’s heart could stop beating after being shocked.
Taser International seems to avoid even discussing the possibility of adverse affects, and the results are tragic. The first successful suitagainst them was decided last year after the death of Robert Heston jr. in Salinas. Though perhaps lacking common sense, the police were actually cleared of liability because they weren’t aware that tasing a man 30 times was dangerous.
Robert Heston senior won his lawsuit against Taser International, but at a terrible cost. “I have a picture of my son under the Christmas tree and I miss him,” says Mr. Heston, whose son was Tasered to death in 2005. “It is hard on all of us this time of year—we are a close family. You always think you are going first but when the kids go it takes a toll on you.” And Mr. Heston has been in the hospital with heart problems on several occasions–he thinks it stems from anxiety over his son’s death.
Taser victim Mr. Heston remembers vividly that horrific day when his son—also named Robert—was tasered repeatedly; Mr. Heston says his son was tasered about 30 times. “I guess the police kept doing it because they thought they didn’t have full control over Robert—they couldn’t handcuff him. But Robert couldn’t put his hands up because he couldn’t move.” Mr. Heston explains that the police officers tried to pry Robert’s hands from under his torso to handcuff him but he was paralyzed—so they Tasered him some more!
“The cops got off scott free,” says Mr. Heston. “We lost the case against the cops but won against Taser. Policies need to be changed about Tasers; when they first came out the police had no idea what they could do to people because it was put on the market by Taser International as non-lethal, but we all know that isn’t true now, after the fact.”
“Losing Robert was devastating,” says Mr. Heston’s son-in-law, Kirk Kasner. “Since Robert’s death I have done a fair amount of research and in my opinion, most law enforcement is not trained sufficiently—police officers get far more firearms training than they do Taser training. They have a preconceived notion the Taser is safe; they think tasering someone repeatedly is harmless.”
The taser is a sucker’s weapon. It gives the appearance of solving one of the nagging problems of law enforcement: what do with people who are out of their minds.
People who are wired as hell, agitated, are some of the worst things you face if you’re a cop. You can try to grab them and beat them, but they fight back. And you’ll probably need more than one cop, and you’re all probably gonna get hurt, too. It also looks ugly, and then there will be charges of brutality, and it will be in the papers, and there will be inquiries. So cops are almost always pissed off at crazy people.
Plus, a lot of the folks who become cops are itchy about control, they don’t like chaos. They don’t feel they should have to wait for a situation to get better–they’re supposed to make the situation better, and soon.
That’s why Tasers have been so popular. They are situation intervention machines, they stop a situation cold. And since they’re so famously ‘non-lethal’–would the New York P.D. lie to you?–it looks like a win-win solution.
That’s the obvious mentality of the cops here, they never thought twice about what they were about to do. The fable of the ‘non-lethal intervention’ blinded them to the reality. The guy who ordered the ‘tasing’ later killed himself.
A man who authorities say was running naked through the streets of Lakewood died after Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies used pepper spray and Tasers to subdue him, officials said today.
Deputies responded to a disturbance call in the 5700 block of Silva Street about 10:15 p.m. Saturday when they encountered the victim. The man, whose name was not released, was irrational and belligerent, and advanced on an undisclosed number of deputies in a threatening manner as they tried to calm him down, according to Deputy Richard Li, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman.
Shortly after the man was handcuffed, Li said, deputies determined that he was not breathing; they administered CPR until paramedics arrived. The man was transported to an unidentified local hospital, where he died.
Sheriff’s homicide detectives were dispatched to the scene to investigate, Li said.
Over and over: if you are amped up, wigged out, adrenalized, and a cop tasers you, you could be dead within minutes. It’s only a ‘non-lethal weapon’ if you’re sober, calm and healthy. If you’re somebody nobody would taser.
Here’s a brief excerpt (full post here) of an excellent distillation of a taser death, this from the blog ‘Nixon is in Hell’. Though agitated, the victim didn’t really pose a threat to the public, much less punch any cops. Yet they deployed the taser, and it killed him. This sort of event is becoming more, not less, common even though everybody knows that people have been dying like this for years.
CBC’s Chris Brown (my spelling) described the death of a “distraught man that no one could understand or reason with”. RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre was interviewed at the scene and indicated that the deceased “was pounding on the windows behind us, he was throwing chairs, at one point he grabs some computer equipment off the desk here at the airport, threw that to the ground”. Brown reported “when the man appeared poised to throw something at them, one of the officers pulled out his taser”. After the individual was shot with the taser, Lemaitre stated, “The man fell to the ground, uh, yet still continued to be combative and fight”. Brown concludes his report by informing his audience that “police say moments after they handcuffed the man, he stopped breathing and was pronounced dead at the scene”…
The following evening, October 15, CTV News followed up with a report by Lisa Rosington (my spelling). The dead man had now been identified as Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski. Through a series of unfortunate events, airport officials had directed Dziekanski, who spoke no English, to a reception area and left him there to languish without explanation. After being in the airport for more than ten hours and still waiting to meet his mother, he became irate. It was his ensuing behaviour that brought the RCMP to the scene. Spokesperson Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre explained, “We were told that the security personnel had a man who was throwing chairs around, pamphlets around, yelling, screaming, taking his fists and pounding on the glass”. Witnesses to the altercation were reported to have expressed the belief that the RCMP had used excessive force. Lemaitre rejected that assertion, indicating, “There were no choke holds placed, there were no punches thrown. They were just trying to get him to settle down. They were able to place handcuffs on the individual and, uh, during that course as they’re still trying to get him to calm down the man slipped into unconsciousness”. Asked whether or not there was an alternative to the use of a taser, Rosington reported “the Mounties say pepper spray wasn’t ideal because the area was crowded with travelers and suggest that the baton may have been too violent.” Lemaitre also indicated “There was only one officer trained to use [the taser], and that was the one who used it”.
Soldier critical of Iraq war dies after auto wreck
A third soldier who signed on to a 2007 newspaper column criticizing the war in Iraq has died.
His peers are mourning their friend as an “outstanding soldier” with “a thirst for knowledge and intellectual curiosity.”
Spc. Jeremy Roebuck, 23, of Splendora, Texas, died from injuries after a January 28 automobile accident near Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The paratrooper was an assistant team leader with 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, according to a news release issued by the military.
A relative confirmed that he was one of the people to sign an August 19, 2007, opinion article in The New York Times that called the prospects of U.S. success in Iraq “far-fetched” and said the progress being reported was offset by failures elsewhere.
Seven soldiers, members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, signed the column.
In September 2007, two of the other U.S. soldiers who signed the piece were killed in a truck accident outside Baghdad, Staff Sgt. Yance Gray and Sgt. Omar Mora.
As for Roebuck, he reported to Fort Bragg in November 2004 and was initially assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team before being assigned to 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment as an assistant team leader in November 2005. He deployed to Iraq in 2006, the military said.
“Spc. Roebuck was an outstanding soldier who was respected by both his peers and his superiors alike. He had proven himself in combat on the front lines in Iraq and had established himself as an upcoming leader in the unit. He was a good man and will be profoundly missed by the men of C Troop,” said Capt. Jon Hartsock, commander of C Troop, 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment.
Named as a sergeant in The Times article, Roebuck was listed at the lower rank of specialist when he died. A military spokesman would not elaborate on the circumstances involving his rank.
The Times column said, “Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence.
“When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages,” it said.
Another of the soldiers who signed the article, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Murphy, was shot in the head a week before the article appeared, but survived.
The military, in its news release on the death, said Roebuck’s friends remember him as “a rare and gifted soldier.” He received many awards and decorations.
“Spc. Roebuck is known throughout the troop for his consistent displays of courage and determination in 16 months of combat,” Sgt. Buddhika Jayamaha said, “but he is also known for his thirst for knowledge and intellectual curiosity.”
Sgt. Buddhika Jayamaha is one of the seven names on The Times article.
Hard to understand that Specialist Roebuck is now dead as well, it’s shocking. That was a great piece, and probably spoke more to people fighting the war than it appeared to speak to us. Especially since the corporate likes of Hannity and Limbaugh were so quick to speak for and thereby mute the military themselves.