The TASER is, perhaps, the most atrocious modern invention. But it provides police with a less-than-lethal way of subduing criminals! you say. No, it does not. It provides them with a (usually) non-lethal tool of domination. This way they can brutalize people without bruising themselves or even working up a sweat–without leaving obvious marks of injury on their victim. And most importantly, if it kills you they can claim it was an accident.
This TASER Roundup is a summary of recent news regarding police brutality using the TASER. Maybe it will be the first and last. Unfortunately, I fear there will be an abundance of news on this topic in the future.
First, a not-quite-personal story. I know someone who was recently TASERed without justification. He and his girlfriend had had a shouting match, and a neighbor had called the cops. This person stood on his front porch speaking with the police for a few minutes, when one told him they wanted to “take him over to the car.” He asked if he was under arrest. The answer was no. He said, therefore, that he was not going to leave his house, that there was no reason for him to go to the cop’s car. They told him to again, and again he asked if he was under arrest.
At this point, the “officers” assaulted him. One of them grabbed him, twisted him around and slammed him against his house.
Now what is the first response most humans have to being attacked without provocation? There are two: fight, or flee. He attempted to flee.
The last thing he remembered was saying, “Dude, what are you doing?” and trying to twist out of the policeman’s grip. When he next came to his senses, he was lying face down on the hood of the cop-car, his hands cuffed behind his back. He had been TASERed.
He then told the cops that as a security measure, he had had a security system installed in his home that included 24-hour video surveillance of the entire property. Immediately the cuffs were removed, and the cops began trying to make jokes about “we just want to get this over with so we can go back to the doughnut shop, ha ha.”
He was bluffing. He had no such security system. But they didn’t know that. This little lie changed the policemen’s behavior dramatically.
But you don’t know me. Maybe I made the whole thing up. So here are some other stories.
Trotwood’s police chief said that Michael Wilmer’s termination is not because of the incident involving the pregnant woman, but because of his MySpace page.
Nice. It’s okay that you TASER an otherwise healthy unborn human because his/her mother refused to sign a speeding ticket, just don’t go public about it.
Via Free Constitution and The War On Guns, we have the case of Donnel Williams, who was TASERed in his own home, while clad only in a towel. Oh, did I mention he is deaf? And therefore couldn’t hear his overlords’ commands to comply immediately. So what did he do? you ask. Nothing. Someone called in an “anonymous tip.” An ex-girlfriend, a disgruntled neighbor, who knows. Someone got him back for something, thanks to TASER-happy cops.
And now Wichita police want their 911 system to “flag” calls from deaf people, so they will know beforehand. No word on how they are going to “flag” false calls made by a non-deaf person out to get revenge. Question: The call was made from a cell phone, and they can’t find out who it belongs to?
The Suburban.com asks a million dollar question:
When Montreal police first introduced the taser gun and invited the media to a show-and-tell, Luft was asked if he had a pacemaker or any type of heart condition. He told me one CBC reporter could not participate in the demonstration for that very reason.
The million-dollar question that remains unasked to Montreal police is: Are they asking those same health questions to suspects before they are tased? Of course they aren’t. Officers wouldn’t have time to do that in an emergency situation. Then why expose them to swift torture if you’re not sure what damage it could do to them?
Why should we be concerned about determining the health status of prospective criminals? Because the TASER is being used as a tool of compliance and domination when it should be used only as a last resort to avoid lethal force. A TASER should be used only when lethal force itself is justified. A police officer who TASERs to death someone who was not using a threat of lethal force should be treated just as if he had shot to death someone who was not using a threat of lethal force.
Let me rephrase that: He should be treated just like a regular person who had killed someone who was not using the threat of lethal force.
In November, a Polish man was TASERed to death at Vancouver Airport. TASERed while standing quietly with RCMP officers. His crime? Not speaking English and carrying a stapler, apparently. Since the RCMP officer was using a TASER, he can claim accident. Can you imagine the uproar if he had killed this man with a gun?
Like in Washington, if you refuse to sign a speeding ticket in Utah, you get to take a ride on the TASER.
Davenport said Gardner was issued a Taser in September 2005, but never had used it until the incident involving Massey. In his 14 years with the UHP, Gardner has had complaints leveled against him, “but most were unfounded or not sustained,” Davenport said. He declined to talk about specific instances.
Translation: “We don’t need to talk about specific instances, because we already told you peasants that most were unfounded or not sustained. Wait. Did I say ‘most?’ I meant all! All!”
Since I have begun looking for TASER-related brutality stories, I have been learning that overuse of the device is simply a symptom of a greater problem. In Ohio:
A patrolman who repeatedly used a stun gun on a woman, even after she was handcuffed, was fired Thursday for lying to investigators reviewing his conduct in an unrelated traffic stop, a city official said.
Patrolman Richard Kovach provided a written statement to investigators that was self-serving and riddled with dishonesty, Warren Safety-Service Director Doug Franklin said.
Kovach made a traffic stop Aug. 23 in which a driver claimed he was surrounded by nearly a dozen officers with their guns drawn, ordered to the ground, stepped on and had his wallet removed from his pocket.
Court records show Cpl. Rudy Torres arrested Gray for marijuana possession in July 2006, but those charges were dropped.Ted Williams, the Gray family’s lawyer, says also late last year while Torres was investigating a crime nearby he confronted Gray at Gray’s grandmother’s home.
“Officer Torres confronted Mr. Gray and his grandmother at their home,” Williams says. “Officer Torres tried to converse with Mr. Gray. Gray was turned where he could not hear Officer Torres. The grandmother informed him that this person was hearing impaired.”
Gray was not arrested during this encounter, Williams says.
Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Jennifer Bailey says the department had no previous record of being aware of Gray’s hearing impairment. Regardless, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins says Gray should have complied when he saw deputies with a Taser.
Everybody got that? In Frederick, Maryland, if a cop approaches you, don’t waste time. Just hit the ground like an obedient serf and prepare to be repressed.
Numerous reports around the web that some models of TASERs will not be activated (legally, anyway) until the TASER corporation performs a background check on the prospective customer. This background check requires that the potential customer reveal his or her social security number to the salesperson, and ultimately, to the TASER corporation. I must note that the SSN is not required for the National Instant Check System used when purchasing a firearm. Yet for some reason TASER (the company) needs it?
And finally we come to Antoine di Zazzo, a representative of TASER in France.
Di Zazzo’s French company is also developing a mini-flying saucer like drone which could also fire Taser stun rounds on criminal suspects or rioting crowds. He expects it to be launched next year and to be sold internationally by Taser.
They live! Or they will next year, anyway.