- 71 Deaths Following Stun-Gun Use
- Man Shot in Back with Real Gun--Rochester Taser Instructor Cop Thought He Was Using Taser
- Local AI Activist Releases Important Taser Report
- Crowd Control with Microwave Weapons
This special edition of the CUAPB newsletter will explore areas of interest related to the use of the electric stun weapon known as the Taser. Touted by it's manufacturer and revered by law enforcement agencies as a "less lethal" alternative, we are just starting to see the practical effects of widespread use of these devices. Parts of Canada have placed serious restrictions on the use of these weapons by law enforcement. Recent deaths in both Minneapolis and St. Paul after the use of Tasers raise the importance of this issue in our local area.
The topic of "less lethal" weapons promises to be a hot button issue at the upcoming National Coalition on Police Accountability (NCOPA) conference in Portland later this month. Planned workshops will give the movement opportunities to discuss questions such as whether to call for further testing or outright bans of these weapons, whether these weapons increase the risk of torture by law enforcement and whether banning these weapons would increase deaths by traditional weapons. If you'd like more information on this conference, reply to this email.
71 CASES OF DEATH FOLLOWING STUN-GUN USE
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 15, 2004 04:20 PM
The Arizona Republic, using computer searches, autopsy reports, police reports, media reports and Taser's own records, has identified 71 cases in the United States and Canada of death following a police Taser strike since September 1999. In eight cases, medical examiners said Tasers were a cause, a contributing factor or could not be ruled out in someone's death. In 15 cases, coroners and other officials reported the stun gun was not a factor. Below is a synopsis of each case. The Republic requested autopsy reports for all of the cases and so far has received 24.
1. David Flores, 37, Fairfield, Calif., Sept. 28, 1999
A private investigator, Flores died after being shocked three times during a scuffle with police. Flores suffered a heart attack. Toxicology results indicate Flores died from agitated delirium due to acute cocaine and methamphetamine intoxication.
2. Enrique Juarez Ochoa, 34, Bakersfield, Calif., May 14, 2000
Police responded to a call from Ochoa's mother, who said her son was acting strangely. Police shocked and handcuffed Ochoa and placed him face down on the ground for 15-20 minutes. Officers transported him to a medical center for evaluation. About 15 minutes later, officers noticed that he had stopped moving. Autopsy report lists cause of death as disseminated intravascular coagulation due to blunt impact trauma while in a hyper-excitable state and cocaine toxicity.
3. Mark Burkett, 18, Gainesville, Fla., June 17, 2001
Burkett, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, collapsed after struggling with officers at a county jail. Burkett was shocked with a Taser and became unresponsive. He died four days after being placed on life support. Autopsy report lists cause of death as acute exhaustive mania, meaning he worked himself into a frenzy that caused him to suffer a cardiac arrest Toxicology exam revealed no traces of cocaine, methamphetamine or steroids. Coroner notes that mania in psychiatric patients can lead to death. Coroner reports family history of paranoid schizophrenia.
4. Hannah Rogers-Grippi, 6-month-old fetus, Chula Vista, Calif., Dec. 15, 2001
Police shocked a 36-year-old pregnant woman in the back for refusing to follow orders. At the hospital, fetal heart sounds were heard during the examination. Two days later, an exam revealed that the fetus had died. Autopsy report lists cause of death as intrauterine fetal demise. Maternal methamphetamine use was a contributing factor. The coroner said it was difficult to make a causative link between the Taser event and the intrauterine fetal death.
5. Marvin Hendrix, 27, Hamilton, Ohio, Dec. 17, 2001
Hendrix was fighting with paramedics at his house. A police officer shocked him twice. Two minutes after being shocked, he lost consciousness. An autopsy revealed Hendrix swallowed a bag of crack cocaine about seven hours before he died. The cause of death was cocaine toxicity. The medical examiner reported "the exact role of Taser in this individual's demise is unknown."
6. Steven Vasquez, 40, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dec. 21, 2001
Vasquez was shocked during an altercation with police who were attempting to escort him out of a bar. A medical examiner said he died four days later as a result of drug toxicity, due to a mixture of pain medication. Coroner says Taser shocks were not a contributing factor in the death.
7. Vincent Delostia, 31, Hollywood, Fla., Jan. 27, 2002
Delostia was running around in traffic then ran into the lobby of a hotel where he refused to leave. When police arrived, he lay down and kicked at officers. He was shocked, rolled onto his stomach and handcuffs were placed around his arms and legs. After 30 seconds of restraint, he stopped breathing. The coroner said the cause of death was cocaine toxicity and notes a history of bipolar disorder. Says Delostia exhibited multiple signs of excited delirium.
8. Anthony Spencer, 35, Philadelphia, Feb. 12, 2002
Police, responding to a domestic disturbance, used pepper spray and Tasers to subdue Spencer, who was brandishing a knife. He died in an ambulance en route to the hospital. City officials said tests reportedly found that the death was due to cocaine intoxication and that shocks from a Taser were not a contriibuting factor.
9. Henry Canady, 46, Hilliard, Fla., March 27, 2002
Canady was shocked after he fled deputies who were attempting to arrest him on drug charges. The coroner said the cause of death was cocaine toxicity and artery disease. The stress of his struggle with police might have contributed to his death.
10. Richard Baralla, 36, Pueblo, Colo., May 17, 2002
Police arrested Baralla after he was seen walking down a street exhibiting strange behavior. Officers sprayed him with chemical spray, shocked him with Taser and handcuffed his legs and arms behind his back. During the struggle he stopped breathing. Autopsy report says death was caused by cardiac arrest during a state of excited delirium that necessitated restraint.
11. Eddie Alvarado, 32, Los Angeles, June 10, 2002
Alvarado died after being shot five times with a Taser by Los Angeles police officers in 2002. He was fighting with officers after having a seizure. The coroner said he died from a mixture of methamphetamine and cocaine while being restrained. The coroner said the stun gun could not be ruled out as a cause of death and indicated a relationship between the Taser and Alvarado's heart attack.
12. Clever Craig, 46, Mobile, Ala., June 28, 2002
Relatives called 911 because Craig was acting strangely. Police found the 6-foot, 200-pound Craig holding a barbell. When he refused to drop it, officers shocked him twice in about 40 seconds. According to police, Craig struggled for five minutes. The autopsy report says Craig died of a heart attack during an episode of delirium "following electrical shock from Taser while resisting arrest."
13. Jason Nichols, 21, Oklahoma City, Okla., June 15, 2002
Nichols was involved in a family fight. He struggled with police officers who shocked him with a Taser. He was taken to a hospital with various wounds from the fight and died 13 minutes later. The Cause of death was listed as head injuries. The coroner said it was extremely unlikely that the Taser played a part in the death. Drug tests were negative for all but a slight trace of marijuana.
14. Fermin Rincon, 24, Fontana, Calif., June 27, 2002
Died after a struggle with police at a business complex. Officers reportedly shocked Rincon three times and placed him in a chokehold in order to subdue him. A coroner reported that Rincon died because of prolonged methamphetamine abuse. He suffered a cardiac arrest.
15. Unknown male, 39, Phoenix, June 2002
An unidentified man found bleeding in the driveway of a home near 80th Avenue and Osborn Road became combative with police officers responding to a domestic violence call. Police shocked the man and put him in handcuffs. He went into cardiac arrest and died at Maryvale hospital. According to Taser International, the man had a cardiac arrest due to a drug overdose.
16. Johnney Lozoya, age unknown, Gardena, Calif., July 19, 2002
Lozoya was found unconscious and taken to a hospital, where he awoke and became combative. An officer shocked him. Several minutes later he died. According to Taser International, Lozoya died due to hypoxic encephalopathy, cardiac arrest and cocaine intoxication.
17. Gordon Jones, 37, Windermere, Fla., July 19, 2002
Jones was drunk in a hotel lobby. When Orange County Sheriff's deputies ordered him to leave, he dumped his clothes from a duffle bag. He struggled with deputies who shocked him repeatedly until they were able to place him in handcuffs. He walked with deputies to an ambulance and died on the way to the hospital. A coroner reported that Jones died from positional asphyxia, suffocating while being restrained. The coroner said Taser strikes likely made it hard for Jones to breathe. Nine months later, county officials requested a second opinion, which concluded that Jones died primarily from cocaine-induced excited delirium, not from being shot 11 times.
18. Frederick Webber, 44, Orange City, Fla., Sept. 1, 2002
A husband and father of four, Webber was involved in a fight at a campground. Police arrived and Webber refused to comply with their orders. Police say he resisted arrest and they shocked him multiple times. He was handcuffed with his hands behind his back when police realized he had stopped breathing. The autopsy report says he died of cardiac arrhythmia due to cocaine-induced agitated delirium while being restrained.
19. Stephen Edwards, 59, Shelton, Wash., Nov. 7, 2002
Edwards fought with a store security officer and police officers attempting to arrest him on a shoplifting charge. A police officer shocked the 300-pound man four times when he reached for a gun in the waistband of his pants. After putting him in handcuffs, officers saw that Edwards had stopped breathing. A coroner said he died of a heart attack due to diabetes and obesity. The coroner said Taser was not a factor.
20. Unknown male, 31, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 16, 2003
Officers were called about a man jumping on parked cars and breaking windows. He resisted arrest and fought with police, who used chemical spray, a baton and a Taser to subdue him. The suspect died after being arrested. According to Taser International, the man died of drugs and ethanol intoxication. Taser reports that toxicology tests showed amphetamines, cocaine and marijuana.
21. Terrance Hanna, 51, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, April 19, 2003
Hanna barged into a hotel holding a knife and hammer. A Burnaby Royal Candian Mounted Police officer shot him with a Taser. His heart stopped. An autopsy report has not been released. The British Columbia Coroners Service has scheduled an inquiry into Hanna's death for December. Taser International says preliminary reports indicate Hanna died of a cocaine overdose.
22. Joshua Hollander, 22, Normal Heights, Calif., May 10, 2003
He stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death and then slashed his wrists. Police found him in the bathroom. Despite his wounds, he struggled with police who used a carotid restraint and shocked him with a Taser. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Autopsy report lists cause of death as suicide. Coroner says he died as a result of a cardiac arrest due to slashed wrists. The coroner says the carotid restraint and Taser did not contribute to death and notes Hollander continued to talk 30 minutes after being shocked.
23. Timothy Sleet, 44, Springfield, Mo., June 9, 2003
Police responded to a 911 call from a child saying her father was killing her mother. Sleet had stabbed his wife to death after she stabbed him with a kitchen knife. Police said he refused to obey commands. They used Taser, beanbag gun, baton, chemical spray and then piled on top of him in an attempt to subdue him. He lost consciousness and died. A coroner said Sleet died from a cardiac arrest from stress while officers tried to restrain him. The coroner said Sleet was in a state of psychosis due to PCP intoxication.
24. Clay Willey, 33, Prince George, British Columbia, July 22, 2003
Willey died after an altercation at a mall. Police, who said Wiley was exhibiting strange behavior, shot him with a Taser while trying to get him into an ambulance. He died 16 hour later. No autopsy is available.
25. Troy Nowell, 51, Amarillo, Texas, Aug. 4, 2003
Police said Nowell assaulted two elderly women and a man outside of a union hall. When police arrived, Nowell resisted arrest and was shocked multiple times. City officials said an autopsy report cleared the Taser as a cause of death. They said Nowell had a heart attack during a violent struggle. They said it was due to arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease. A grand jury cleared officers.
26. John Thompson, 45, Carrollton Township, Mich., Aug. 8, 2003
Became violent during a card game with friends. Police were called. They shocked him multiple times with a Taser. He was taken to jail where he struggled with officers. Later, while in an isolation cell, Johnson seemed unresponsive. He was taken to a hospital and later died. A coroner said Thompson's death was not a result of physical force but said the cause of death was unknown.
27. Gordon Rauch, 39, Citrus Heights, Calif., Aug. 17, 2003
Rauch's father called to report that his son was threatening to kill him. Police officers said Rauch charged at them. Two officers shot him with Tasers. He fell to the ground and went limp as officers put him in cuffs. He died about an hour later. The autopsy report is unavailable. Police said Rauch's prescribed psychotropic drugs might have contributed to his death.
28. Glenn Leyba, 37, Glendale, Colo., Sept. 29, 2003
Police were called to Leyba's apartment by firefighters who said he was out of control. When Leyba refused medical treatment, a police officer shot him with a Taser. Police said he was on the ground and kicking and thrashing at officers, who shocked Leyba repeatedly. He stopped breathing. Autopsy report lists cause of death as a cardiac arrest during cocaine-induced agitated delirium. Coroner said the Taser is not a contributing factor.
29. Ray Austin, 25, Gwinnett, Ga., Sept. 24, 2003
Austin was incarcerated and awaiting trial on a parole violation when he got into a scuffle with a deputy at the Gwinnet County Jail. He bit off a portion of the deputy's ear and was shocked three times with a Taser. He was restrained in a chair and given psychotropic drugs. He lost consciousness and died. Austin had a history of mental illness. A preliminary autopsy could not determine the cause of death. A coroner reported that physical restraint might have impaired breathing.
30. Clark Whitehouse, 34, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, Sept. 2003
Royal Canadian Mounted police reported that Whitehorse fled on foot while attempting to swallow drugs. Police officers used a Taser to subdue him A short time later, he appeared to be having trouble breathing. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Yukon Coroner's Service is not making the autopsy public. An inquest is pending.
31. Roman Pierson, 40, Brea, Calif., Oct. 7, 2003
Pierson was shocked twice after running through traffic and breaking into an ice machine at a supermarket. He had been complaining that he was hot and thirsty. Four police officers ordered Pierson to lie down and shocked him when he refused. Police said he took a fighting stance. The autopsy report lists cause of death as cardiac arrest due to acute methamphetamine intoxication. Notes coronary artery disease.
32. Dennis Hammond, 31, Oklahoma City, Okla., Oct. 11, 2003
Hammond was walking down the street screaming at the sky. When police arrived, he was perched on a brick mailbox. When officers approached, he would scream at them. Officer shot Hammond three times with a beanbag shotgun and five times with a Taser. After being handcuffed, he turned blue and stopped breathing. The autopsy report lists cause of death as acute methamphetamine intoxication. The coroner said the beanbags and Taser shocks were significant but did not have an immediate role in Hammond's death.
33. Louis Morris, 50, Orlando, Fla., Oct. 21, 2003
Morris drove erratically through the parking lot of a supermarket. When approached by store security officers, he said a passenger in the van needed medical attention but nobody else was in the van. He went into the store and started yelling. When officers arrived, he fled to a nearby convenience store where police shot him with a Taser. After he was handcuffed, the man started banging his head on the ground. Officers turned him over and saw he was in distress. The autopsy report lists cause of death as cocaine excited delirium, a sudden collapse from cardiac arrhythmia brought on by restraint. A pre-existing heart disease contributed.
34. James Borden, 47, Monroe County, Ind., Nov. 6, 2003
On the eve of his father's funeral, Borden was arrested on a minor violation. Although officers were supposed to transport him to a hospital, he was taken to jail instead. Upon arrival at the jail, Borden did not follow commands of jailers. He was first shot with a Taser for initially refusing to pull up his pants. A jailer shocked him repeatedly until he collapsed and died. The autopsy report lists cause of death as a heart attack due to an enlarged heart, pharmacologic intoxication and electrical shocks from Taser. The jailer who shocked Borden has been charged with two counts of felony battery, including battery while armed with a deadly weapon.
35. Michael Johnson, 32, Oklahoma City, Okla., Nov. 10, 2003
Officers responding to a burglary call found Johnson sitting in a chair. When he did not respond, they shocked him with a Taser. Officers said Johnson began struggling after being shocked. He was shocked multiple times and two minutes later he stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. He was placed on a ventilator and died 22 hours later. Autopsy lists cause of death as acute congestive heart failure due to cocaine-induced sudden cardiac arrest. The coroner said it appears to be a case of agitated delirium. He said the drugs caused the heart attack, not the restraint.
36. Kerry O'Brien, 31, Pembroke Pines, Fla., Nov. 11, 2003
O'Brien was banging on cars in an intersection. Police shocked him with a Taser. He was hogtied before dying. The Broward County Medical examiner has refused to release the autopsy report, but he has reportedly said the death was accidental due to positional asphyxia. That refers to a condition where suspects who are restrained are unable to breath. The case is being investigated by the Broward State Attorney's office.
37. Curtis Lawson, 40, Unadilla, Ga., Dec. 9, 2003
Lawson confronted a woman at a gas station then fled to a hotel room. When police asked him to come out he refused. Police entered the hotel room and Lawson struggled with officers, who shocked him twice with a Taser and sprayed him with pepper spray. He died about 15 minutes after being arrested. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that Lawson died from acute cocaine toxicity. An enlarged heart contributed to his death.
38. Lewis King, 39, St. Augustine, Fla., Dec. 9, 2003
King fled deputies who stopped his car over a broken taillight and began questioning him about a pill bottle. In attempting to get away, police say he dragged a deputy with his car. Officers shocked him twice with a Taser. He was subdued after a struggle and secured face down. He went into full cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at the hospital. The autopsy report lists cause of death as cardiac arrest following prone restraint by police. King had a history of heart disease and an enlarged heart.
39. David Glowczenski, 35, Southampton Village, N.Y., Feb. 4, 2004
Glowczenski, who had a history of mental illness and had been twice institutionalized, was shouting and wandering two blocks from his home. When officers approached, he began struggling. Officer sprayed Glowczenski with chemical spray and shocked him multiple times with a taser. Glowczenski kicked and screamed even after he was placed on his stomach with his hands cuffed behind his back. He suddenly stopped and died. A preliminary autopsy was unable to determine the cause of death.
40. Raymond Siegler, 40, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 12, 2004
Siegler was living in a group home for the mentally ill. While celebrating his engagement, Siegler consumed some alcohol and created a disturbance. Police were called because Siegler reportedly threatened other residents. Siegler, who suffered from paranoia, panicked when he saw police. Officers shocked him multiple times with a Taser. He suffered a cardiac arrest. Siegler's family says he went into cardiac arrest immediately after being shocked and remained in a coma until they removed life support about a week after the incident. The autopsy report has not been released.
41. Curt Rostengale, 44, Silverdale, Wash., Feb. 21, 2004
Rostengale was shocked twice with a Taser during a struggle with police at his apartment. Police say Rostengale was breaking glass and banging on door of the complex. An officer ordered Rostengale to stop and shocked him with a Taser when he refused. He continued struggling with officers and was shocked again. A coroner reported that Rostengale died as a result of cocaine abuse and said Taser was not a factor.
42. William Lomax, 26, Las Vegas, Nev., Feb. 21, 2004
Lomax died after being shocked multiple times during a struggle with police and private security at a public housing complex. A jury at a coroner's inquest ruled that the Taser contributed to his death. The Clark County Coroner says the death raises questions about the way Tasers are used. Lomax was high on PCP, a stimulant known for its ability to spark aggression. The coroner said multiple Taser bursts prevented Lomax from being able to breathe and ultimately contributed to a cardiac arrest. Doctors could not say if Lomax would have died if the Taser had not been used.
43. Perry Ronald, 28, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, March 23, 2004
Ronald suffered a head injury during a fight at a friend's house. Afterward, police were called about a man jumping on cars and blocking traffic. It took several officers, who shocked Ronald with a Taser, to place him in custody. He was transported to a hospital to have his head injury examined and suffered a heart attack. He died a week later. A preliminary autopsy could not determine the cause of death. The autopsy report is unavailable.
44. Terry Williams, 45, Madison, Ill., March 28, 2004
Police, responding to a domestic violence call, shocked Williams when he refused to follow commands and resisted arrest. He was placed in a police car and transported to the police station where he was found to be unresponsive. A preliminary autopsy did not reveal the cause of death.
45. Melvin Samuel, 28, Savannah, Ga., April 16, 2004
Samuel called police to report a burglary. He was subsequently arrested on a warrant for failing to pay a traffic ticket and taken to a Houston County jail. Jail officials said he was uncooperative and were forced to shock Samuel twice with Taser while moving him out of a holding cell. About 10 minutes later, Samuel became unresponsive. A preliminary autopsy did not reveal a cause of death.
46. Eric Wolle, 45, Washington Grove, Md., April 27, 2004
Diagnosed as a bipolar schizophrenic, Wolle panicked when he saw a car stop outside his house. Believing that nameless agents were coming to get him, he fled his house and his mother called police. Officers stopped Wolle, who was carrying a machete in the waistband of his pants and ordered him to the ground. Wolle refused and officers shocked him twice with a Taser. He continued to struggle then lost consciousness. A preliminary autopsy found Wolle died of cardiac arrhythmia during a state of psychosis. Police said Taser shocks did not contribute to his death.
47. Roman Andreichik, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, May 1, 2004
Shocked during a struggle with police at an apartment. He died shortly after being shocked. His death is under investigation. The autopsy report has not been released.
48. Peter Lamonday, 38, London, Ontario, Canada, May 13, 2004
Police received complaints that Lamonday, a landscape worker, was breaking windows and doors of businesses. When police confronted him, Lamonday reportedly swung at officers, who sprayed him with chemical spray and punched him. Seven officers forced Lamonday to the ground and he was shocked several times with a Taser. He stopped breathing about 20 minutes after being placed in handcuffs. A probe by a police watchdog group concluded that Lamonday died of cocaine-induced delirium and said the Taser was not to blame.
49. Frederick Williams, 31, Lawrenceville, Ga., May 27, 2004
Williams died after being shocked with a Taser at the Gwinnett County Jail. The computer technician, who had epilepsy, was acting strangely when police officers responded to a domestic violence call at his house. He was shocked during a struggle with jail officers and died a shot time later. A coroner said he died of brain damage from a heart attack, but the cause of the heart attack could not be determined. The coroner said there is no evidence that five shocks from a Taser caused or contributed to Williams' death.
50. Darryl Smith, 46, Atlanta, May 30, 2004
Smith became violent with paramedics who had responded to a medical call. A sheriff's deputy used a Taser to subdue him. Smith died about six hours later. A preliminary autopsy could not determine the cause of death.
51. Jerry Pickens, 55, Bridge City, La., June 4, 2004
Police shocked Pickens while responding to a domestic violence call at his house. Pickens refused to comply with orders not to go back into his house. After being shocked, Pickens fell backwards and hit his head on his driveway. He went into a coma and died about a week later. A coroner said he died as a result of a brain hemorrhage because of the fall.
52. James Cobb, 42, St. Paul, Minn., June 9, 2004
Two days after being released from prison on a robbery conviction, Cobb was walking in the middle of a rain-swept street shouting at motorists. Police ordered him out of the street and Cobb became combative. Officers sprayed him with chemical spray, shocked him multiple times with a Taser and hit him with a baton. He collapsed on the street and died. A preliminary autopsy report said he did not die as a result of blunt force trauma.
53. Jacob Lair, 26, Sparks, Nev., June 9, 2004
Officers were attempting to question Lair at his home when the convicted robber and burglar became combative. Police sprayed Lair with chemical spray and shocked him with a Taser. He collapsed and died. The autopsy report shows he died of acute methamphetamine intoxication. A coroner says he suffered cardiac arrhythmia during a struggle with police involving Taser, pepper spray and restraints.
54. Robert Bagnell, 44, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, June 23, 2004
Police responding to a disturbance at a rooming house found Bagnell frenzied and destroying a washroom. Police shot him with a Taser and he stopped breathing and died at the scene. Police did not disclose the details surrounding Bagnell's death for more than a month while waiting for toxicology reports. A preliminary autopsy could not determine the cause of death. A coroner said Bagnell might have had a lethal level of cocaine in his system.
55. Kris Lieberman, 32, Bushkill Twp., Penn., June 24, 2004
Lieberman was found naked in a cornfield, crawling around and talking to himself. Officers said Lieberman lunged at them when they attempted to talk to him. They shocked him with a stun gun three times until he lost consciousness. Officers tried to revive him but he was pronounced dead a short time later. The autopsy report is unavailable.
56. Bernard Christmas, 36, Dayton, Ohio, June 2004
Police responded to reports that Christmas was running in circles in the middle of the street. When police arrived, the man reportedly jumped in the front seat of a patrol car. When police tried to remove the man from the car, he struggled and an officer shot him in the chest with a Taser. He stopped breathing and was transported to a hospital where he died. A coroner said the cause of death was a cardiac arrest due to cocaine-induced excited delirium.
57. Willie Smith, 48, Auburn, Wash., July 11, 2004
Smith's wife called 911 and said her husband had assaulted her. Police arrived at Smith's apartment and ordered him to the floor. They said Smith refused and came at them. Two officers shocked him with Tasers. They arrested him and put him in a patrol car where he went into cardiac arrest. Smith's reportedly told police that her husband was on a cocaine binge. The autopsy report is unavailable.
58. Jerry Knight, 29, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, July 17, 2004
Knight, a former semi-professional boxer, reportedly tore up a hotel room in a fit of rage. Police arrived and shocked Knight with a taser when he refused to comply with their orders. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. A preliminary autopsy could not determine the cause of death. An inquest has been scheduled to look into his death.
59. Milton Salazar, 29, Mesa, July 23, 2004
Hours after Salazar was released from the state prison on July 21, police said he reportedly threw rocks at motorists on Dobson Road then entered a convenience store and threw candy bars at the clerk. When an officer tried to arrest him, Salazar lay on the floor with his hands underneath his body and refused to obey commands. Officers shocked Salazar multiple times and when they rolled him over, he immediately turned white. Salazar was taken to Banner Desert Medical Center, where he died two days later. Police say chemical tests showed he had cocaine in his system. The autopsy report is unavailable.
60. Keith Tucker, 47, Las Vegas, Aug 2, 2004
Tucker's roommate called police saying Tucker was punching walls and talking to people not in the room. Police arrived and found Tucker sitting on his bed. They reported that Tucker punched and kicked officers as they approached. Officers shocked him with Tasers and placed him in handcuffs. Police reported that Tucker started having trouble breathing. He died at the hospital. The cause of death has not been determined. The autopsy report is unavailable.
61. Samuel Truscott, 43, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Aug. 8, 2004 Truscott reportedly overdosed on drugs and barricaded himself in a bedroom where he was armed with a knife and a bat. Police attempted to use chemical spray and when it didn't have any affect, they shocked Truscott with a Taser. Police said Truscott walked unaided to a police car and was taken to hospital where he suffered a suffered a seizure and died. Ontario's coroner said death was due to a drug overdose. He said the Taser was not to blame in any way. The autopsy report is unavailable.
62. Ernest Blackwell, 29, St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 11, 2004
Blackwell, a former University of Missouri football star, went on a rampage, shooting his stepdaughter with a shotgun and beating a teenage neighbor girl and her mother. Officers said the 230-pound, six-foot-three Blackwell attempted to grab an officer's gun during a struggle in which he was shocked twice with a Taser. Paramedics sedated him and Blackwell died on the way to the hospital. The autopsy report is unavailable.
63. David Riley, 41, Joplin, Mo., Aug. 11, 2004
Riley threatened to commit suicide and barricaded himself in a house. He had pulled a gas line from the back of the stove and turned on the valve, filling the house with gas. Riley was outside, but when two police officers arrived he started to run back inside. One of the officers deployed a Taser. The house subsequently exploded, killing Riley and wounding the two officers. Police are investigating what sparked the explosion. A Taser was recovered from the wreckage of the house.
64. Anthony Lee McDonald, 46, Harrisburg, N.C., Aug. 13, 2004
McDonald's mother called 911 to report her son was damaging his home. When police arrived, McDonald was breaking out the windows. Two officers entered and McDonald became aggressive. The officers shot him twice with a beanbag round and then wrestled with him. They shocked him with a Taser and he immediately had difficulty breathing. He died shortly after arriving at the hospital. The autopsy report is unavailable.
65. William Teasley, 31, Anderson, S.C., Aug 16, 2004
Teasley was arrested for disorderly conduct. Deputies say he became violent while they tried to book him into jail. During a struggle, deputies shocked Teasley with a Taser. He stopped breathing. The coroner said Taser contributed directly to Teasley's death, saying it was the proverbial last straw. The coroner said his heart, spleen and liver were enlarged, he had hardened arteries and an obstructed airway. The coroner's office says officials with Taser International asked his office to reverse its ruling and leave the Taser out.
66. Richard Karlo, 44, Denver, Colo., Aug. 19, 2004
Karlo was frothing at the mouth and breaking into cars when police stopped him. He reportedly attacked two officers who shocked him four times with a Taser. Karlo started having trouble breathing and then died. Karlo's family reported that he had a heart condition and was taking cocaine when he encountered police. The autopsy report is unavailable.
67. Michael Sanders, 40, Fresno, Calif., Aug. 20, 2004
Police said Sanders was struggling with his wife when they shocked him several times with a Taser. They said the musician was delusional and stabbed an officer several times with an unknown object. He was handcuffed, put on a gurney and transported to the hospital. He died in the ambulance. The coroner's office said an autopsy revealed that Sanders died of complications related to cocaine intoxication.
68. Lawrence Davis, 27, Phoenix, Aug. 24, 2004
Police say Davis jumped on the windshield of a patrol car and began yelling incoherently. Officers followed the man as he walked away from the car and rounded a corner. When he spotted police, the man again ran toward the vehicle and jumped on the bumper before officers attempted to detain him. Davis pushed the officers and an officer shocked him with a stun gun. Officers brought Davis to the ground and shocked him twice more. Police said the stun-gun shots had no effect, so a sergeant used a chokehold to temporarily knock the man unconscious. Paramedics were called. Davis died at the hospital. The autopsy has not been released.
69. Jason Yeagley, 32, Winter Haven, Fla., Aug. 27, 2004
Yeagley was wandering in the road and acting strangely. Police say when an officer tried to escort him out of the road, Yeagley attacked. The officer shocked Yeagley with a Taser. He continued struggling and was shocked again. Police said he was still fighting with the officer. After putting him in handcuffs, officers noticed Yeagley was in distress. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. A preliminary autopsy could not determine the cause of death.
70. Michael Rosa, 38, Del Rey Oaks, Calif., Aug. 29, 2004
Rosa was wandering through yards and screaming. When police approached, he picked up a 2x4 piece of wood and swung it at officers. Police shocked him with a Taser. After being handcuffed. Rosa started having difficulty breathing. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Rosa had a 2003 arrest for cocaine possession.
71. Samuel Wakefield, 22, Rio Vista, Texas, Sept. 12, 2004
Wakefield was reportedly a passenger in a car stopped by police for suspicion of drunken driving. He tried to run and fell. An officer shocked him twice with a Taser. Wakefield appeared to have a cardiac arrest. Paramedics were called and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Witnesses told police Wakefield had ingested a large amount of cocaine about an hour before the traffic stop.
MAN SHOT IN BACK BY REAL GUN--COP THOUGHT HE WAS USING TASER
Christofar Atak, a 31 year-old Sudanese refugee, was shot by a Rochester, MN police officer under suspicious circumstances in September of 2002. Police claimed the officer, Greg Siem, had been attempting to shoot Atak with a Taser stun gun, but accidentally grabbed a 40-caliber Glock handgun and shot Atak in the back at point-blank range. Siem, the Rochester Police Department's less-lethal weapons training instructor, claimed he mistook his heavy Glock handgun for a relatively light-weight plastic Taser weapon.
The incident began when Rochester police responded to a domestic dispute call on the evening of Monday, September 2, 2002. Atak, a tall and dark-skinned man, had been involved in an argument with his brother and cousin, and waited by the street for police to arrive. Rochester police officer Doug Remling was the first to arrive at the scene and stopped his squad in the street to get out to speak with Atak. Atak's brother and cousin were standing a short distance away, and witnessed everything that would happen next. As Officer Remling stood talking to Atak, Officer Siem arrived. Atak had his back to Siem as he spoke to Remling. As soon as Siem got out of his squad he shouted, using obscenities, for Atak to put his hands up and turn around. Atak complied by putting his hands in the air, but before he had a chance to turn around Siem shot him. The officers immediately placed handcuffs on Atak as he writhed on the ground, which Siem would later characterize as an attempt to struggle and resist. Atak, in agony, heard Officer Remling repeatedly asking Officer Siem why he had shot Atak.
Atak was severely injured, with damage to his liver, intestines and kidney. He came close to death when his heart stopped three times while in route to the hospital. Atak spent nearly a month in the hospital, losing 30 pounds and undergoing many surgeries. Two years later, he continues to suffer from health complications associated with his injuries.
The Rochester Police Department's media machine went into high gear immediately after the shooting. Police told the media that Atak had been shot in the side, apparently to conceal the most damning fact of the case -- that Atak had been shot in the back. Police also made the bizarre claim, which the media dutifully reported, that Atak threatened suicide, though it was never explained how this would justify shooting him in the back. Officer Siem, a bodybuilder who is 6 ft 2 in and 230 lbs, claimed that he and Officer Remling, who is 6 ft 1 in, were unable together to place handcuffs on Atak, an unarmed and slightly built man. Through the media, police also hinted at a possible weapon, though they knew full well they had not seen a weapon during the incident, nor found one after the shooting. Police would also later claim that no videotapes existed from either one of the two squads involved in the incident that night. It seems that, magically, both sets of video cameras had somehow failed to operate -- an interesting coincidence as only the videotapes could have revealed exactly what had happened that September night.
The Rochester police Department called in the BCA to do their usual pro-cop "investigation" of the incident. BCA investigators conducted highly sympathetic interviews of the police officers. The gravely injured victim got no such sympathy. They set up video and recording equipment around Atak's hospital bed, and would not leave until the doctors told them that the patient was in no condition to give testimony. They attempted the dirty stunt again a couple of days later. Not surprisingly, the BCA sided with the Rochester police in concluding that the shooting incident had been nothing more than a simple accident.
The Olmsted County Attorney's office took the investigation results and hand-selected their friends over at the Attorney's Office in Ramsey County to determine if charges should be filed. Ramsey County held closed door grand jury hearings designed to prevent the public from ever determining if the process had been conducted fairly. Atak was forced to sit alone before an all-white citizen grand jury while a hostile prosecutor attempted to defame him by demanding to know if he had ever sold drugs (he hadn't), if he could use a gun (he couldn't), if he had ever shot anyone (of course he hadn't). The prosecutor also demanded that Atak admit that he had been resisting arrest the night of the incident. Atak said that he had not attempted to resist, and suggested that the prosecutor ask the police for the videotapes that confirm this. Members of the grand jury then got in on the action by asking Atak similar inflammatory questions. Needless to say, Officer Siem was not indicted. William French, Atak's attorney, would later describe the BCA investigation and the convening of a grand jury as "an elaborate and costly process with the sole purpose of exonerating the police officer."
To this day Atak suffers long-term and serious effects from his injuries. Although he came to the US to escape the warfare that has consumed his home country, he now awakens from night terrors in which he repeatedly relives the horror of the shooting incident.
Atak and his attorney have now filed a civil suit in US District Court against the Rochester Police Department. Rochester Police, comfortably supported by the corrupt Rochester and Olmsted County governments, have responded with harassment of both Christofar Atak and his lawyer by repeatedly stopping and ticketing the men for various imagined offenses. Police agencies have also refused to turn over all evidence associated with the shooting to Atak's lawyer, a clear violation of discovery rules.
Whether justice will ever be administered in this case remains to be seen. This case is expected to come before the US District Court in Minneapolis in late January 2005 and CUAPB supporters will be there as court watchers. We hope you'll be there with us and we'll report the date and time closer to the hearing.
LOCAL AI ACTIVIST RELEASES IMPORTANT NEW REPORT ON TASERS
A local activist with the St. Paul chapter of Amnesty International recently released an important report that calls into question the role Taser, Inc. plays in controlling the discourse on the use of Tasers in this country.
This report, authored by local activist Nathan Thompson, points out that from the sales brochures that tout it to the training and certification courses required to use it, Taser, Inc. promotes with almost religious fervor the line that Tasers save lives. Powered by compressed nitrogen, these weapons do not fall under the regulation of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms leaving Taser, Inc. free to fund studies that back up their sales claims. This multimillion dollar megacorporation has gone so far as to contact coroners to try to influence them to leave out references to Tasers as a cause or contributor to deaths in their autopsy reports.
Due to length and the fact that this report is being considered for publication in a national magazine, we can't run the whole thing here. However, you can read it on our website at http://www.charityadvantage.com/CUAPB/images/A%20Jolting%20of%20Reality--Tasers.pdf with our thanks to the author for sharing it with us.
ON THE FUTURISTIC WEAPONS FRONT...
Microwave gun to be used by US troops on Iraq rioters
From Telegraph of London, 23-09-04
By Tony Freinberg and Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Microwave weapons that cause pain without lasting injury are to be issued to American troops in Iraq for the first time as concern mounts over the growing number of civilians killed in fighting.
The non-lethal weapons, which use high-powered electromagnetic beams, will be fitted to vehicles already in Iraq, which will allow the system to be introduced as early as next year.
Using technology similar to that found in a conventional microwave oven, the beam rapidly heats water molecules in the skin to cause intolerable pain and a burning sensation. The invisible beam penetrates the skin to a depth of less than a millimetre. As soon as the target moves out of the beam's path, the pain disappears.
Because there are no after-effects, the United States Department of Defence believes that the weapons will be particularly useful in urban conflict. The beam could be used to scatter large crowds in which insurgents operate at close quarters to both troops and civilians.
"The skin gets extremely hot, and people can't stand the pain, so they have to move - and move in the way we want them to," said Col Wade Hall of the Office of Force Transformation, a body formed in November 2001 to promote rapid improvement across all of the American armed services.
Rich Garcia, a spokesman for the Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico, where the systems were developed, took part in testing the weapon and was subjected to the microwave beam which has a range of one kilometre. "It just feels like your skin is on fire," he said. "[But] when you get out of the path of the beam, or shut off the beam, everything goes back to normal. There's no residual pain."
A heated battle on a crowded Baghdad street last week that left 16 Iraqis dead, highlighted once again the pressing need to reduce the number of civilian casualties, and at the same time prevent further damage to relations between American troops and the Iraqi population. American commanders later admitted using seven helicopter-launched rockets and 30 high-calibre machine gun rounds in last Sunday's incident.
The armoured vehicles will be named Sheriffs once they have been modified to carry the microwave weapons, known as the Active Denial System (ADS). Col Hall said that US army and US marine corps units should receive four to six ADS equipped Sheriffs by September 2005.
The project was initiated only three months ago but US military chiefs intend to rush the Sheriffs into the front line, believing that they can be of immediate assistance.
In another development, the Sheriffs will be fitted with Gunslinger, a rapid-fire gun currently under development that will detect enemy snipers and automatically fire back at them.
If the Sheriffs prove successful, their use will be expanded in combat zones. They will also be deployed for security at ports and air force bases, and could take part in border patrols.
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