Thursday, September 25, 2008

To Tase, or not to Tase?

Tasers are all the rage in law enforcement and, frankly, I have some concerns. The electric-shock device is seen as an alternative to deadly force, i.e. guns, but it seems that in some cases Tasers are being employed as the weapon of first resort. We had a case here recently in which a cab driver wanted officers to remove a drunk from the back of his vehicle. When police told the man to get out, he "shushed" them. So they Tased him. Seemed a bit much to me. Couldn't a couple of officers have just dragged the guy out and cuffed him? Then there was the incident the other day on Interstate 70, where a woman was raising hell on a bus. When the police responded, she was outside the bus and causing a commotion. They Tased her. Unless she was 6-4, 250, my guess is that they could have taken her down with minimal physical force. These are some of the more minor cases. On Wednesday, Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams weighed in on the case of Andre Thomas, a Pittsburgh-area man who died after being hit with a Taser by police in the Pittsburgh suburb of Swissvale. Williams ruled that Thomas died "of a direct consequence of the consumption of cocaine," even though Williams admitted that the cocaine in Thomas' system was not considered a lethal dose. The coroner was asked if Thomas would have died from the cocaine ingestion had he not had a run-in with police. Said Williams, "I don't think there's any way of predicting that." So, did the Taser jolt also play a role in Thomas' death? That is the question being asked over and over all across the country. After some basic research, it seems that hundreds of people have died in Taser-related incidents since that sort of thing has been tracked. Were there other factors in some of those deaths? Quite possibly. But there's also the possibility that Tasers, in and of themselves, are potentially - and unacceptably - lethal. One can certainly sympathize with police officers who are regularly threatened with physical injury. If they shoot a criminal, they come in for all kinds of criticism and investigation. What if they gang up on a perpetrator and take him down? In my mind, if the police tell you to get on the ground, and you do not immediately comply, you're asking for an ass-whippin', and I would never criticize the police for administering just that. But in most of those cases, the lowlife who was forcibly restrained will sue, with the help of the always-ready ACLU and the ambulance-chasing wing of the local Bar Association. Many times, they'll win. Rodney King, a sad excuse for a human being, became a millionaire in just that fashion. All things considered, however, there seems to be a clear need for a review of the standards for use of Tasers and their potential for causing unintended deaths.



Blogger Greg said...

Don't tase me bro!

September 25, 2008 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Damnit Greg! Beat me to it!


September 25, 2008 at 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Steelerfan43 said...

Agree with your conclusion that the use of tasers needs to be reviewed monitored more closely than it has, but I do not agree with your assessment that Rodney King deserved to be beat as badly as he was by a number of officers. What those officers did to that man was unacceptable and inexcusable. Yes Rodney King is a criminal and low life, but he does not deserved to be brutally assaulted. He is still a human being. Unfortunately, that is not the last incident I have seen when officers go too far. If the individual is unarmed and posing no imminent danger (i.e. death) to the arresting officer or officers, then why in the hell does it take 6 people to handcuff and arrest one? A lot of things need to be addressed and monitored when it comes to the excessive force of police officers.

September 26, 2008 at 10:22 AM  
Anonymous nizzydizzy said...

Tasing should be not permitted not even on animals let alone human beings!!! Hitler would of loved using them! Come on now, using that on a child!! When you have 6, or 7 officers (the finest_ )! All they had to do was cuff him! Bring him down, cuff him, and oh, yes, leave out the kicking, and batons too!! The police have to much "FUN" as THEY call it when they are having their donuts at the closest coffee shoppe!!!

October 5, 2008 at 1:14 PM  

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