10/21/2009 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Suite of Events to Mark O22 National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality
    • Protest Against Police Brutality
    • Copwatch Training and Practice
    • Stolen Lives Ceremony and Dinner
  • Taser International Finally Admits the Truth (Well, Kind of)
  • Death after 49 Second Taser Shock, and No Discipline

SUITE OF EVENTS TO MARK OCTOBER 22 NATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY

PROTEST AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY
Thursday, October 22, 5:00 p.m.
Rally at Loring Park at the Dandelion Fountain

March to homeless shelters and other areas strongly impacted by police brutality
We're in a time when more people are becoming homeless daily through the crooked collusion of banksters and politicians. Yet, homeless people are more under the boot of police repression than ever. Why are law enforcement agencies brutally enforcing private contracts such as foreclosures and evictions? Why are homeless people facing harassment, false charges and worse on a daily basis? Why were seven people brutalized and arrested for standing with Rosemary Williams and fighting her eviction? It's not a crime to be poor and it's not a crime to stand with poor people. Join us for a rally and march to demand an end to attacks on homeless and low income people, people of color and all others who face police state repression. Stand up! Fight back!

COPWATCH TRAINING AND PRACTICE
Saturday, October 24, 4:30 p.m.
Walker Church, 3100 16th Ave, Minneapolis

We'll hold a training for people who want to get involved in copwatching either formally through CUAPB or in your own neighborhoods. We'll go over your rights in general, your rights as a copwatcher and keeping yourself safe, how to copwatch, what to document. Then we'll head out to the homeless shelter to practice what we have learned and to provide a measure of protection for people most affected by brutal policing.

STOLEN LIVES CEREMONY AND SURVIVOR, FAMILY AND FRIENDS DINNER
**NEW DATE** Sunday, November 1, 5:30 p.m.
Walker Church, 3100 16th Ave, Minneapolis

Join us for a ceremony to commemorate people who have died at the hands of police. They can no longer speak for themselves but we can and must be their voices demanding justice. Family members of victims of police violence will speak on behalf of their loved ones, reminding us that these were people with families that loved them. This solemn ceremony will be followed by a more festive dinner to mark our victories over the past year, to remember old friendships and make new ones, and to fortify ourselves for the work of the coming year. There is no charge for the meal--it will be our pleasure to have you join us for a sumptuous feast, including vegan and vegetarian options.


TASER INTERNATIONAL FINALLY ADMITS TRUTH (WELL, KIND OF)

After years of ignoring reams of scientific evidence, including a US Army study that showed Tasers induce a life-threatening heart rhythm in pigs, Taser International just today issued this warning, which is a roundabout admission of the dangers of their product. Sadly, at least 350 people had to die first and not all of them were even Tased in the chest. Perhaps now the courts will start holding this corporation, which has become obscenely rich by marketing a woefully undertested product to police forces all over the country, liable. Of course, Taser International isn't responsible for the ridiculously widespread misuse of this dangerous weapon by trigger-happy cops who deploy it for every excuse including as a "come along" tool, to part crowds around a fight, to control a child's tantrum, or because they don't like the subject's attitude. For that, the police departments themselves must be held accountable. Keep in mind that our own Minneapolis police force secretly dismantled their Taser policy in 2007, with skyrocketing use of this dangerous weapon ever since.

One shudders to think of the lawsuits that are sure to follow this admission. If you're holding Taser stock, you might want to think about divesting. As for the rest of us, this smacks of the way tobacco companies dragged their feet on admitting their product causes cancer, long after everyone from scientists to grade school kids knew about the risk.

Taser issues warning to police nationwide about use of stun guns
Associated Press
October 21, 2009
http://www.startribune.com/business/65164132.html

PHOENIX - Taser International is advising police agencies across the nation not to shoot its stun guns at a suspect's chest.

The Arizona-based company says such action poses a risk ­ albeit extremely low ­ of an "adverse cardiac event."

The advisory was issued in an Oct. 12 training bulletin. It marks the first time that Taser has suggested there is any risk of a cardiac arrest related to the use of its 50,000-volt stun guns.

Taser officials said Tuesday the bulletin does not state that Tasers can cause cardiac arrest. They said the advisory means only that law-enforcement agencies can avoid controversy if their officers aim at areas other than the chest.

Critics called it a stunning reversal for the company.


DEATH AFTER 49 SECOND TASER SHOCK, AND NO DISCIPLINE

Despite clear evidence of misuse of the Taser, no discipline will be issued--undoubtedly because the chief knows his department faces a massive lawsuit. A 49-second taser shock (combined shocks of 54 seconds) is completely indefensible. Bolding in the article is ours.

Officer Not Disciplined In Deadly Taser Incident

ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press Writer
October 16, 2009
http://cbs11tv.com/wireapnewstx/Fort.Worth.officer.2.1253110.html

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) The police officer who used a Taser on a mentally ill man who died as a result of the two high-voltage shocks will not be disciplined and remains on patrol, the Fort Worth police chief said Friday.

Police Chief Jeff Halstead said the administrative investigation into the April 18 death of Michael Patrick Jacobs Jr. is closed but declined to comment on it. He said he turned it over to the district attorney and expects a grand jury to review the case next month.

If Officer Stephanie A. Phillips were to be indicted or convicted, the 17-year police veteran would face disciplinary action, Halstead said.

Jacobs' family had called police that day to report a disturbance because he had not been taking his medication for bipolar disorder, relatives have said. Officers said he became combative.

In August the medical examiner ruled that Jacobs' death was a homicide. Phillips stunned the 24-year-old with a Taser twice ­ the first time for 49 seconds and the second time for 5 seconds, with a 1-second interval between the shocks, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office report.

Neither paramedics at the scene nor emergency room personnel could revive him, and he was pronounced dead about noon ­ an hour after police used the Taser, the report said.

Tasers issue a 50,000-volt shock that over-stimulates the nervous system and causes muscles to lock up, temporarily immobilizing a person.

An autopsy concluded that the primary cause of death was "sudden death during neuromuscular incapacitation due to application of a conducted energy device," and said no traces of alcohol or drugs, electrolyte imbalances, or signs of heart or lung disease were found ­ all of which can be contributing factors in a death.

The prosecutor handling the Jacobs case did not immediately return a call Friday to The Associated Press.

Jacobs' family believes that not disciplining the officer is a "true miscarriage of justice," said the Rev. Kyev Tatum, a family spokesman.

"We're saddened, disappointed, disheartened, angry, upset, insulted and offended," Tatum said Friday after hearing about the police chief's comments.

"Michael Jacobs was not a criminal. He was a young man who needed mental help," he said.

Halstead said his officers still use Tasers but that they will get more use-of-force training starting early next year. He said he also consulted with the county's mental health department to learn more about dealing with mentally ill or emotionally disturbed suspects.

Halstead said he voluntarily gave a copy of his department's report to the U.S. Justice Department because he wanted to be "open and transparent." Police Lt. Paul Henderson said it had nothing to do with the family's criticism of the incident or investigation.

In an unrelated case in South Texas earlier this week, a grand jury declined to indict three La Marque police officers over the May death of a man who was subdued with a Taser. The panel had the option of considering murder, manslaughter, criminal negligent homicide or official oppression counts, said Galveston County District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk.

A medical examiner determined Jamaal Valentine's death was caused by high levels of phencyclidine and cocaine, and the report also cited "blunt head trauma during police restraint."

(© 2009 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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