Every time I see the latest shock-and-awe tech from US police, I can't help but envision Dick Jones testing it on an intern in his glass-walled office, and maybe nodding in approval over their collapsed carcass as the smoke settles.
Taser International, the firm behind the famous, controversial electric stun weapons, has announced a new model. The double-barrelled Taser X2 can be discharged twice without reloading. The Taser X2. Credit: Taser International Snap and crackle means less popping of caps, hopefully. The company had previously brought out a …
People have been tased for the "crime" of experiencing seizures. They weren't following orders, see, to stop spazzing out. So the idiot cop tased the poor bastard. This has happened more than once.
Even if the head honchos at taser have let themselves be tased in the past, they might feel differently about getting it during a medical emergency.
Also, it's likely a bit different, getting tased by your coworker/employee, and getting tased by someone who isn't friendly, isn't on your side, doesn't mind hurting you, and wouldn't get in trouble even if you *died*.
They had previously claimed that tasers were inherently and perfectly safe (implying that they could be used freely, even when lethal force would never be justified). They characterized any and all taser-related deaths as simple coincidences. Critics objected that they were not being totally honest about the small but significant risk (and rate) of taser-induced death. The company has ever so slowly micro-stepped their safety claims away from their initial claims, recently to the point where their latest legal warnings clearly indicate the various ways that tasers can kill. But they've yet to come clean about their previous period of utterly false claims about the level of safety.
More than 500 people have died immediately after being tasered (please note that essentially zero have ever died just as they were about to be tasered, a point that addresses many false arguments). It's safe to say that probably at least one-third to one-half of those deaths could be fairly attributed to the taser itself (this being as generous as possible to them) - if their false claims were not permitted to influence medical examiners. This adds up to several hundred people killed by tasers, people that would not otherwise have been facing justifiable lethal force.
It really doesn't matter about the weapon itself. Police can use a board with rusty nails embedded for all I care - provided it's justifiable and honestly marketed. It's the utterly false claims about taser safety that have resulted in people being unjustifiably killed.
Taser torture (especially "undisclosed overseas clients") is a whole other topic.
... and at the moment I don't, but do you happen to have:
- a source for the figure of "More than 500 people have died immediately after being tasered"?
- something a little more concrete than "it's safe to say that probably at least"?
- some record of "influence[d] medical examiners"?
I'm no supporter of taser deployment myself, but I'd like to see some more evidence for the above.
All 400+ so-called "Taser-related" deaths have been thoroughly investigated by coroners or medical examiners and most by courts and some by juries. Even Amnesty International that was out front promoting the 400+ figure backed down in late '09 and admitted that in only about 60 of those cases did Taser shock contribute something to the resultant death and then, with one or more potentially lethal factors also present. In only a handful of death cases has Taser shock been cited as the principle cause.
When you put that up against the over 1M uses of the device on all manner of compromised individuals and all manner of misuses of the weapon, your claims simply don't hold up and your fears are completely unwarranted. That they've been used in over 1M additional demonstration shocks with no adverse effects, make your claims and fears just silly.
You left out the part where upon occurrence of a Death by Taser Electrocution, the very well known fact that Taser International dispatches its legal time to bribe judges, coroners, and medical examiners to change the cause of death. Hence the over 400 Deaths by Taser Electrocution get altered to a much more public-relations friendly number of just a few dozen.
So you attack the poster but not the content?
Look, I'll spell it out to you.
If I'm a cop and I have to pull my weapon, I'm going to shoot to kill. Period. You will be dead. A gun is a lethal option.
Stun guns are 'less than lethal'. That means that assuming that the perp is a normal healthy male, getting shot will subdue him and not cause permanent long term damage.
So while you and everyone else trot out the number of deaths, lets look at the number of people still alive because the police had the option to use less than lethal force.
As I stated in other posts... Rubber bullets can kill. Bean Bag rounds can kill. Taser and other electric devices can kill. But if used correctly their goal is not to kill.
Is that a hard concept to understand?
Please understand that I support the proper use of tasers but I also condemn those who abuse their position of authority and abuse the use of a taser. K?
<Yawn> As previously pointed out (http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2010/11/26/futuristic_guns_feature/) in reply to another hysterical anti-Taser post, you are more likely to be killed by lightning, crushed by your own fridge or killed by an electric fan, than be one of the "500" (another exaggerated figure) that may have died as a result of being Tasered. Please, try a bit of analysis before regurgitating whatever was spoonfed to you.
Before you condemn the taser, why don't you try to understand why the taser exists...
Its known as 'less than lethal'.
That is, it gives law enforcement the option of using a device which can be used to subdue a person before they have to pull their service weapon and shoot. Oh and when you pull your weapon, its shoot to kill. (See below)
So you have pepper spray/tear gas, tasers, rubber bullets, baton/night stick, all less than lethal. And lets not forget the bean bag load for the trusty 12 Gauge... However pepper spray isn't always effective and you don't always subdue the perp.
Same thing with a night stick. Its less than lethal, but used when a service gun is going to be considered excessive force.
Rubber bulllets? Sure if you have time to carry and load your service piece. But even these can kill and are used to quell riots. Same thing with the bean bag round. You don't always walk around with a 12 gauge and you have to prep the round. Even the bean bag has also had related fatalities and permanent injuries associated with them.
So you have the taser.
Can it kill? Yes.
Can it be abused? Yes.
Is it less lethal than the service pistol? Yes.
So while some trot out questionable numbers and condemn the device, think of the alternatives and realize that there's this thing called 'suicide by cop' and that using a less than lethal device is always going to be a preferred option.
Think of the alternatives to the taser.
Of these 500 deaths can you tell me how many of those folks did not have drugs in their system ? Reason for that is there is a thing cal stressed induced heart attack because of drugs. Cops have chased guys that were high and they drop dead. Usually stressed induced heat attacks happen after some sort of physical struggle plus drugs in your system. SO with out knowing they under lying causes you can't say it was strictly the tasers fault . Far as I know I've never heard of any one dying from tasers that didn't have drugs in their system.
In the first year of deployment, average according to a 2008 study in the American Journal of Cardiology. Firearm deaths and officer injury rates did not change. What would you attribute it to? If you want to kill a suspect, all you have to do is aim too close to the heart. It's not "safe", it's "less lethal" properly used. It's completely lethal if the cop is careless, reckless, or murderous, otherwise, it's a crap-shoot whether it will kill someone. They like to use them here across the pond on the elderly and children.
Now where did I put my taser-proof cloak...
I'm quite sure you've seen the videos of the (was he Polish?) guy in an American airport being tasered to death, even though he was contained in a room, obviously distressed and not a danger to others.
He'd just flown intercontinentally so chance of being high about zero; no alcohol was mentioned either.
It's like the Rodney King beating: it's all rumours and lies and impossible to happen in a well-run police department, until it's on video then it's an isolated case and no further steps necessary.
We're years past that point in the debate. Google the 'Truth Not Tasers' blog. She keeps a list of those that have died in circumstances that are directly related to being tasered. More than 500. Names, dates, etc. You can google the news reports for each case (often captured on the blogs if they've disappeared from the sources)). Some cases are very clear, some are not so clear.
It's reasonable to assume that 'The List' probably contains some that were just about to drop dead anyway (no matter the taser), and others that the taser caused or contributed to death. I'm being very generous to allow that the list would contain both situations. The dividing line is almost certainly in the middle third somewhere. Note that the company continues to deny ANY directly caused deaths (an insane claim), in contrast to their legal warnings that list several ways that tasers can kill. Their positions (public claims vice legal warnings) are self-contradictory. They're obviously not being completely honest.
To answer your other question I'm afraid you'll have to study the issue yourself. It gets very subtle, very fast. There is evidence of curruption (wining and dining coroners) and circular reasoning (*) at the highest level. Hit the linked blogs, some of them have a lot of good info.
10: This fellow wasn't killed by the taser because "we know" that tasers are safe.
20: What about him? He was tasered_and_died.
30: GOTO 10
Seem it's time even we goodies started buying conductive clothing with metal threads in case we get caught in the crossfire.
Alternatively, perhaps users who misuse the device or have someone die as a consequence should have the device turned on them.
As any sensible person knows, these 'toys' are a dream come true to those few rednecks and sadists in uniform.
If you have not heard of any drug-free taser deaths, then that clearly indicates that you've not been paying attention. Ever here of Robert Dziekanski? No drugs. Tasered until dead.
While obviously drug use and the effects attracts police attention (and thus taser use is inevitably correlated with higher than average drug use), the cold hard fact is that there is an obvious 'Curious Temporal Asymmetry' (Google the phrase) where hundreds of people have died in minutes after the taser deployment and essentially zero have died at the taser-display warning. Considering that the warnings exceed the actual deployments by about 5-to-1, it makes the cause and effect of taser to occasional death perfectly clear.
@ Matt Bryant - With respect to rarity indicating non-causality, that's defective logic. If a victim shows up dead and with a javelin in the skull, it may be relatively rare in the general population, but there's still cause and effect. Only difference is that the taser leaves no postmortem evidence, even if it affected the heart (as they now admit is a risk). You can't argue it's safe since even the maker has quietly abandoned that false claim (training pkg 1 May 2010). Tasers can sometimes kill. It's a fact.
"......With respect to rarity indicating non-causality, that's defective logic....." Nope, it's just showing up the headline figure of "500" as the over-hyped hogwash it is. More people die falling down stairs every year, do you want to ban stairs? But I do see an advantage to you buffoons and your bleating - maybe the crims out there will read your schpiel, believe it, and then NOT get arsey when they get faced by a copper with a Taser. After all, if people don't get violent or aggressive and co-operate with the Police then they don't run the (miniscule) risk of being killed by a Taser.
"...over 1M additional demonstration shocks..."
That claim is a pretty good "lie detector". The company has admitted that dart placement on the chest with a transcardiac vector is one of the risk factors. They have advised aiming away from the subject's chest to "avoid increased risk of affecting the heart" (updated from just "avoiding controversy" in late 2009.)
Demonstrations for "training" or other purposes are essentially *never* applied on the chest. There might be a few examples, but 99+% are applied to the back, or down one leg.
Therefore, claiming these demos as evidence of inherent cardiac safety lies somewhere between naive error, or (if coming from the company) perhaps intentional deception.
Denying the risks of taser use, and thus encouraging their overuse, accomplishes nothing except to increase the real world negative outcomes (and improve the short term sales for the company).
Please Google Canada's 'Braidwood Inquiry' to see the outcome of a massive public inquiry. Short summary is to tightly restrict taser use, about a 90% reduction in use. Seriously, that is the approximate reduction in taser overuse seen in some western Canada jurisdictions post-Braidwood.
I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire two shots or only one?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is the double-barrelled Taser X2 that can be discharged twice without reloading, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?
"...showing up the headline figure of '500' as the over-hyped hogwash it is..."
It's 500+ taser-associated deaths, heading for 600.
Because the taser leaves no postmortem clues, it's extremely difficult to know with certainty that any particular taser-associated death was cause-and-effect or not. Therefore it is most honest to acknowledge that The List of 500+ is cannot be certified as 100% taser-CAUSED deaths. That's simply the honest truth.
If there was zero causality then one would expect to see a significant number of people coincidentally dropping dead at the sound of the "Taser Taser Taser" warning. Or dropping dead even when the taser shot misses the target. The fact that these events essentially NEVER happen provide an indication that the taser-THEN-death ordering actually is an indication of causality. Please google the taser's 'Curious Temporal Asymmetry' for the complete argument. There's not been any rebuttal to explain-away this simple observation.
Also note that the maker has recently (1 May 2010) begun to admit the true risks of death.
What is clearly not honest is to claim that the taser is inherently safe and should be freely used on uncooperative subjects. That was their previous claim.
What is clearly dishonest is to claim that zero people have ever been killed by tasers. That's the most dangerous lie of all. 'The List' is of 500+ taser *-associated* deaths. Taser caused deaths are some middling fraction (1/3 to 2/3) of the larger list. It still adds up to hundreds. And if you replace 'caused death' with 'caused or contributed to death', then it's probably an even higher percentage (~80%+/- ?).
Now, obviously, if the subject is being violent, then who cares what weapon is used by the police? But that's not how tasers are often used. They're often used to persuade citizens into a certain unwilling course of action. Believeing that they're only used on violent criminals is another falehood.
It's very easy for the average person to miss some critical information that would result in any reasonable person concluding that there are some very serious problems with the misleading marketing that has traditionally surrounded these very dangerous weapons.
It's painful to watch jurisdiction after jurisdiction learning the same painful lesson without the information being passed along. It's shocking how organizationally-immature the profession of law enforcement really is...
You'd think that they'd be better informed of topics such as "The Braidwood Inquiry", the Pratt taser-torture case in Australia, etc., etc. The fact that these tidbits of information are not widely known is a major problem in itself.
Sorry, but as I posted earlier in the thread.
Less than lethal doesn't mean its not lethal but that its meant to subdue and not kill.
If you're a cop and all you have is a gun, you only have one option. To shoot to kill.
Consider the alternatives.
And yes, there are bad cops that abuse their power. So what's your point?
I don't know where to begin... its clear that you've never shot a service pistol or revolver. So lets start with the basic mechanics of the gun...
There's DAO, DA/SA, SAO types of weapons. DAO == Double Action Only, where when you pull the trigger you are first cocking the weapon and then firing the hammer. Double Action / Single Action is where the first round is fired double action and then the subsequent rounds are fired Single action. (Single action refers to guns which when you pull the trigger there is only one action and that's firing the weapon.) There's a decocking switch that will uncock the weapon so that it will either take a manual pull back on the hammer to cock it, or it will fire in DA.
Single action only are mainly target pistols where you manually cock it and then after each round the firing of the round automatically load the next round in the chamber and then cocks it.
These guns have safeties, DA/SA don't.
Note: Most service pistols are DA/SA so that you can carry a round in the chamber and then pull and shoot.
Now the trigger pulls are different. It takes more force to pull the trigger on a DA/DAO than when firing in single action mode. On my Sig, its 10lbs for double action, 4lbs on single action. The trigger also has to move farther when firing in double action mode. (Yes I own and shoot a Sig Sauer P226 9mm)
So just pulling the trigger can effect your accuracy. The force and time it take for the trigger to travel, your dominant hand position, trigger finger position, support hand position will all have an impact on your accuracy.
Barrel length, types of sights will all have an effect on accuracy.
Your heart rate, adrenaline rush, will have an effect on accuracy.
Trying to shoot to wound, means that you have a much smaller target and the odds are that you will miss.
Police are taught to shoot to kill, meaning aiming for center mass. This is done for a couple of reasons. First, it gives you more of an area to hit if you're not dead on target. Because the first round is going to be fired DA, you will more than likely miss.
Now I have seen people who can fire DAO revolvers and at 7 feet fire two rapid rounds once to the center mass and once to the head, but that takes *years* of practice.
With respect to basic pistol skills, shooting at 7yds and 25 yrds, being accurate even for center mass takes lots of time and practice. (We're talking open sights.) When I get to go shooting, I will spend between 100-500 rounds a day on shooting drills. And that's more than what your typical law enforcement officer will spend. (Military, spec ops, and some Fed agents.) How many police officers spend on the range per week? month? year? Not enough.
Also when you have a person shooting at you, you will still aim at the center mass but you can easily miss.
So anyone who has this idea of being able to train for 'shoot to disable' technically its a non-starter.
When you also consider the potential lawsuits? That idea even gets worse.
Ah, the denial is strong with this one!
".....Because the taser leaves no postmortem clues....." Really? So exactly what magic do you think is being used then, as I thought the Taser just used bog-standard electricity? Please tell me exactly what was the cause of death of the "600" (Wow, they're dropping like flies!), as I seem to recall reading about quite a few postmortems where they didn't seem to have a problem detecting death by electrocution? Do Tasers use some form of especially devious form of electrickery that then cleans up clues after itself? By the way, do you want to buy some Florida Everglades real estate?
Let's take the most widely and least scientific "theory" put about by ignorant Taser-haters like yourself - the Taser charge somehow manages to "scramble" the nerve signals to the victim's heart/brain/bigtoe and they die without any trace of real damage. This "theory" (or just idiocy) completely misses the point that you would need a massive charge to damage nerves, and the evidence of nerve damage would be easy to find (funnilly enough, by passing a current between the source and destination points on the nerves in question, which can be done even after death, and is done in postmortems where nerve damage is suspected).
Idiot theory number 2 - the Taser charge causes a heart attack. Which completely misses the fact that heart attacks leave indications either of the event or the cause. For example, you may suffer an ordinary electric shock from an everyday appliance, and the shock causes an embollism. You don't die on the spot, you may walk around for hours before the clot jams up an artery in your brain or heart. But then that clot is easy to detect in a post-mortem. A clot large enough to jam up your heart would need a completely blind coroner to miss it, and with a range of medical scanners capable of detecting any clot, even the blind coroner has cover. Heart arhythmia caused by the shock? See the point about nerve damage above.
In short, we have medical science to a point where people don't often "just die to no obvious cause", and there is no reason for any coroner to have "covered up" any death that may have been caused by a Taser. Tasers do not use magic, just everyday electricity, something that is both well-known in action and in how it affects the human body. Your desire for some "great conspiracy" is just the usual unscientific blather.
".......If there was zero causality then one would expect to see a significant number of people coincidentally dropping dead at the sound of the "Taser Taser Taser" warning. Or dropping dead even when the taser shot misses the target. The fact that these events essentially NEVER happen....." Unbelievable! Who writes that rubbish for you, Jenny McCarthy? Sorry to break it to you, but people drop dead in large numbers all over the World and every day, so your logic is not just flawed, it's monumentally stupid. I could just as easily say that since not everyone Tasered has died there must therefore be no risk. Please leave the thinking to those more qualified or at least equipped in future.
"...I thought the Taser just used bog-standard electricity?"
Normal death-by-electrocution is typically not current limited (except by circuit breakers). In the worst cases, high current electrocution may leave carbon tracking through the corpse. Also, critically, the power company doesn't whisper in the ear of the medical examiner that "...electricity is safe, he must have died from other causes. Maybe excited delirium..."
The X26 taser (a common model) emits short pulses of several amps but at continous duty cycle low frequency, with an RMS value of approximately 150 mA, and an "average" of about 2 mA. Even if it does happen to cause or contribute to a particular death by way of its impact on cardiac rhythm, then it leaves little in the way of postmortem evidence.
Another confirmed death mechanism applicable to long duration taser deaths is blood pH.
Please keep in mind that the company has recently admitted these risk factors and linked them with risk of death. So your position is so extreme that even the company itself has been forced to abandon it.
"people drop dead in large numbers all over the World and every day"
The comparison is *just* in the time surrounding a taser incident. It is the taser's 'Curious Temporal Asymmetry'. If you Google the quoted phrase it will all be explained to you in exquisite detail.
In short, if the taser hit had zero casuality to the associated deaths, then one wold expect to see the deaths in taser incidents distributed evenly both before and after the taser hit. There is typically a longer-than-you-might-think period of taser display and warning - plenty of time for someone to drop dead if that's what they were going to do anyway. Conversely, those that do happen to die in a taser incident typically react almost immediately to the taser hit. The temporal asymmetry is utterly extreme and it clearly indicates causality.
The taser's 'Curious Temporal Aymmetry' argument has been in place for about two years now, and there's not a single rebuttal. Not one. In fact, it may have been that very observation that caused the company to start slowly and subtly shifting course from constant loud denials to very quietly released admissions of the risk.
Thanks very much for your interest, I hope that you will take the time to become more fully informed of the real world risks of death from use of tasers, and the very obvious ethical result that their use should therefore be tightly limited to violent situations (violance started by the subject). Tasers should never be used as torture tools of persausion, as historically represents about 90% of their usage pattern.
Anyone wanting further information about the electrical pulses produced by Tasers micht want to look at this report that was once on the Taser website and stayed there until until it wasn't:
Let's deal with the central plank of your revisonism first, the claim that "....the company has recently admitted these risk factors and linked them with risk of death.....". This is a wild exaggeration, as all TI have admited is that there is a very small likelyhood in extreme cases that a Taser shock may excaberate existing conditons to the point where death may occur. They defiantely have not said a Taser alone will kill.
".....then it leaves little in the way of postmortem evidence...." As all it can do is excaberate an existing condition. Seeing as Police usually don't have time to ask a potentially violent preson already resisting arrest for their medical records (and that's if we pretend we can train all cops to make a snap medical diagnosis based on doctors' records of whether someone is likely to die from an existing condition if Tasered), your argument is beyond stupid. Then, you might want to consider that a person likely to suffer heart arythmia from Tasering could also have an attack and die from the stress of being physically restrained, Maced or pepper-sprayed and restrained, or being shot and then restrained, which are the alternatives. Seeing as violent people resist arrest and are restrained every day the World over, and don't all drop dead, your tiny pool of Taser deaths is microscopic and your arguments deliberately misleading. Police value Tasers for the simple reason that it is the quickest and simplest and proven least risky method (both to the cops and the criminal) of arresting someone likely to respond with violence.
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