Tasers

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Tasers

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:58 pm

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Police keeping Tasers amid probe

The Hartford Courant wrote:
Man Shot With Taser Hospitalized For 2 Nights
August 24, 2006
The Hartford Courant

By HILDA MUÑOZ, Courant Staff Writer NEW BRITAIN -- A local man spent two nights in the hospital after police shot him with a Taser to stop him from running away, police said.

Officers tried arresting Bobby Vega, 22, Monday night on a warrant when he took off running. Vega ignored commands to stop and ran for about a block before officers used a Taser, police said. He fell face first onto the pavement and hit his head, family members said.

Vega was released Wednesday afternoon from Hartford Hospital, where he was treated for a concussion and a cut over his eye.

Vega's relatives said Wednesday that he is a small, skinny man who posed no threat to police officers and that using a Taser was unnecessary. Vega's cousin Anthony Meneiro said police had gotten close enough to grab Vega.

"They could have tackled him. They could have caught him," Meneiro said. "They should have more training on the Taser. They can't Tase anybody for the hell of it."

Vega's brother, Jose Rodriguez, said the family is considering legal action and has hired an attorney. The family said that Vega is mentally challenged.

Police spokesman Det. Harold Gannon said officers followed the department's Taser policy, which states the devices may be used to control a person who does not comply with verbal demands. In Vega's case, police used the Taser because Vega disobeyed commands to stop running.

"I believe they were within the guidelines when they used the Taser against Mr. Vega," said Gannon.

Police brought Vega from the hospital Wednesday to New Britain police headquarters, where he was arrested on interfering and drug charges. Family members were trying to raise money to post $50,000 bail.

In April, Vega allegedly spit on a police officer investigating a noise complaint on Church Street, Gannon said. When officers tried arresting him, he ran away. A warrant charging Vega with interfering with police was issued.

Vega was standing at the Dwight and Fairview streets intersection Monday around 7:40 p.m. when police tried arresting him on the warrant, Gannon said. Officers chased him for about a block before using the Taser to keep him from fleeing, he said.

They noticed he had a cut over his eye after falling, Gannon said. Officers searched Vega before he was taken to the hospital and found 13 packets containing 11.5 grams of marijuana, Gannon said. He faces one count each of possession with intent to sell and possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana and two counts of interfering with police.

Two men have died in New Britain after being subdued by Tasers. Miguel Serrano, who was high on cocaine and lunged at police, died in October. The state medical examiner's office attributed Serrano's death to both the drug and his altercation with police.

The medical examiner is still investigating the death of Jesus Negron, who died in July. He was shot with a Taser outside a South Street community center after fleeing from police and damaging a business and a vehicle.

New Britain police began using Tasers about two years ago. Officers who use them must complete a four-hour training course, pass a written exam and demonstrate proficiency with the weapon. They must also go through a yearly two-hour re-qualification program, the policy states.

The requirements are in line with recommendations made by Taser International, the company that makes the device.

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Man dies in police custody; Officers in Milford twice used T

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:46 pm

The Connecticut Post wrote:Man dies in police custody; Officers in Milford twice used Taser on 24-year-old

FRANK JULIANO fjuliano@ctpost.com
Connecticut Post Online
Article Launched: 10/21/2006 04:48:37 AM EDT

MILFORD — A 24-year-old man died in police custody Thursday night, five hours after officers twice used an electric stun gun on him as he allegedly swallowed a small amount of marijuana.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Friday the cause and manner of Nicholas Brown's death have not been determined, and toxicology results are pending.

Officials said Brown, whose last known address was on East Broadway in Stratford, was found sweating profusely and appeared ill during a routine cellblock check at about 9:15 p.m. The man had what appeared to be a seizure after being placed in an ambulance, and went into cardiac arrest en route to Milford Hospital, said Officer Vaughan Dumas, the Police Department spokesman.

Paramedics were unable to revive Brown and he was pronounced dead at 10:21 p.m. in the hospital's emergency department, Dumas said.

Videotapes of the cellblock and booking areas of the city Police Department during the time Brown was in custody have been obtained, City Attorney Marilyn Lipton said.

The incident is the first death in Milford police custody in at least 30 years, officials said. Dumas said he was aware of only one other death — a prisoner who hanged himself in the cellblock — when the police station was downtown. The department moved to the Boston Post Road in the 1970s.

Brown had recently been evicted from the Red Roof Inn on Rowe Avenue, Dumas said. An employee called police at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday to complain the young man was sleeping in his car in the hotel's parking lot and had a pit bull with him.

Officers talked to Brown through the partially opened car window, and asked him to step out and leave the dog inside, Dumas said.

Instead, Brown emerged with the dog on a leash and began to walk away, the spokesman said. The suspect did not immediately comply with officers' request to stop and began to run, Dumas said.

He was "Tasered," or jolted with a 5-second burst of electricity from the nonlethal weapon, the police spokesman said. Brown sat up and pulled the metal probes from the weapon off his skin, Dumas said. When the suspect put his hands into his pockets and refused to remove them, the officers believed that he had a weapon, he said.

They used the Taser again, this time making direct contact with Brown's body, the police spokesman said. Dumas did not know how many volts of electricity the weapon, called an X-26 Air Taser, can deliver. City police own five or six of the devices, and officers who are trained may sign them out to use during their shift, he said.

Before he was taken into custody, Brown put something from his pocket into his mouth, the police spokesman said. He told officers on the scene and later the paramedics that he had ingested two "roaches," or burnt marijuana cigarettes, Dumas said.

The spokesman would not identify the officers who made the arrest or the one who made the required physical checks of prisoners in the cellblock every 15 minutes, citing an ongoing internal investigation.

No action has been taken against any Police Department employee in connection with the incident. "Our preliminary investigation indicates that all department procedures were followed," Dumas said. State's Attorney Kevin Lawlor said the city police would handle the investigation themselves.

Dumas said Brown had several previous addresses, in Stratford, Milford, West Haven and Bridgeport, and that the suspect had a prior arrest record here on drug charges.

Brown had been charged with interfering with police and tampering with evidence in the latest incident and was being held on a $5,000 bond.

The pit bull was taken to the city's animal-control shelter.

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<span class=postbold><big>Share Your Comments</big></span>

You might find this interesting.

And this.

I began recording these stories because stories of taser deaths were coming up in my daily googles of 'marijuana medical'.

Besides tasers, all these deaths were homeless marijuana users; probably for medical reasons (whether they were consciously self-medicating or not).

These people died, essentially, for smoking a joint.

When will the insanity end?
<small>J. Craig Canada | Email | Homepage | 10.22.06 - 3:18 pm | # </small>

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I can tell you that that Issue (Fairfield Man kill Child Molester) has not ended. That wasn't an issue for the Newspaper. I would have handled it differently myself, But the man in that case will have all the help he needs and more. Several National Organisations are behind him and the Independant Investigations have only began to gain momentum in Clearing this Man's name. As for this Young Man who didn't really pose any danger to anyone, most especially the Police Officer who Murdered him, has many people around the Country on his side, as would anyone whose Civil Rights have been Violated, Including you and Your Family members.
<small>Martin Gibson | Email | Homepage | 10.22.06 - 12:49 am | # </small>

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There were just about the same amount of comments here the day after the Fairfield lawyer killed his neighbor because of sexual child abuse to his 2 year old daughter. Was everyone screaming that this man was a hero. Now that the investigation has cleared the dead man everyone is silent.

Let the investigation go forth, the video tapes should be most revealing as well as the toxicology report. If the officer is guilty then he should get the max, but not before the investigation is complete.

CT Post: Would you post the 'f' word in the paper? I don't think so, those that do that here should have their remarks immediately removed. Let's keep this place clean!
<small>videophotog | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 10:42 pm | # </small>

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Well I've sent over 200 e-mails today, to points all over the Country and the World. This Incident will not pass without repercussions to those responsible for the Death of this Young Man. All that I can see is that he was down on his Luck, and Rudely Awakened. No matter what the "Probable Cause", this Poor Kid did not need to Die. Those whom I have contacted about this Travesty of American Justice and everything that is Should Stand for are ones that will reach out to everyone they know. They include several Senators, 2 Former Presidents, Many People in the Entertainment Business and other interested Parties. The State Attorney from New Haven County has made a Grave error in taking the Word of the Milford Police about the Torture of an Individual in their Custody. If anyone Doubts that Tasering an Individual with a Medical Condition is Torture, They should try getting Tasered some time. These "Draconian" devices have NEVER been proven safe. Cowards like the Milford Officer who Murdered this Kid, and the Chief of Milford Police Must be held Accountable. Henry Lee will not Cover-Up anything for Anybody, Lets Hope Not. If anybody can pass this News to the Governor's Office or Mayor DeStefano's Office, I ask you to do so. I for one Will make a STAND, and I urge Everyone to do likewise.
<small>Kurt Justinius | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 9:00 pm | # </small>

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N fuck you to the person that sed keep up the good work..what asshole says that.
<small>PIGS | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 6:44 pm | # </small>

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thats fucking bullshit with those fucking milford cops. they took there sweet ass time to bring him to the hospital. you guys are fucking pricks..he was my cousin..he would still be here if your stupidity never occured.

Get a real job!
<small>PIGS | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 6:43 pm | # </small>

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It is Easy to do Law Enforcement work without Violating a Citzen's Civil Rights, the Guy didn't respond right away(according to the Report). But Tazers have Never been Proven safe. Several Incidents this week in the Connecticut Post about "Dangerous Situations" that were resolved without using Tazers or anything else but Professional Police Tactics. I would be the first to agree with what Any Officer of the Law does in the Course of his or Her job, Any Day. But, when the Constitution of this Country is disregarded and Civil Rights of an Individual are Denied. I will always Make a Stand, even if it were someone who doesn't agree with me. It has ben a Long Time that Milford Police have ben allowed to Get away with Unprofessional Conduct. I could name Several Example that have been Published in the CT. Post, but that is for you to check out if you like. Milford can take a Tazer shot at me anytime they like. But, I won't resist anyone, not that it would matter.
<small>Kurt Justinius | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 4:40 pm | # </small>

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Dont believe the liberal media. Their isn't one documented case of a death due to a taser.
And to the above ..next time you need a cop.don't call.
<small>steve | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 1:32 pm | # </small>

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I think they did what they had to do. the police officer did ask the gentleman to step outside his car nicely. There lives are at stake just as will He did not obey &amp; made the decision to flee. If You were in the officer shoe then what decision would you have made about this situation?
their are other people he has to think in that area that have to be protect. It easy to make statement when you are on the otherside.
<small>Anonymous | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 12:46 pm | # </small>

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Shame on The Milford Police ! What Kind of Cowards are they. This past week, other departments have resolved much more Dangerous situations without Violence or much Harm to Anyone. The kid appeared to be down on his luck and that was all. Where did that "dirty little Coward" on the Milford Police Dept. get trained ? There was no reason to Tazer him in the first place. Now there is Blood on Milfords Hands ! Thats Fine, I propose a TOTAL BOYCOTT of Milford by everyone in the Stae. I have a large business that uses the Services of Many of Milfords Businesses, as of this Morning I have severed all relations with those Businesses and have told them why. This Repression Must Stop. Years ago when I worked in Milford, I saw 1st hand, how the Milford Police did Business, Very Heavy Handed for Minor Infractions. Enough is Enough !!, All that Large Investment in Milford will be for Nothing. A Grass Roots effort could be very effective. The Many National Corperations who do Business in Milford will be listed and Boycotted as well. Subway, Forget it, How about a Worldwide BOYCOTT of your Lousey Food and Peaceful Picketting of your franchises. That may do no good, But if anyone is as Outraged at this Violation of another's Civil Rights, Pass along this Story.
<small>Kurt Justinius | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 11:54 am | # </small>

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Whoever said keep up the good work to milford police should shut the hell up. Maybe if he was given the care he needed he would still be here. Instead the police took their sweet time getting him to the hospital.. Whoever you are u dont know what your talking about.
<small>Anonymous | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 11:50 am | # </small>

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He most likely died from some ingested drug &amp; not the police. I grew up in NY &amp; know what it means when you say DAMN COPS &amp; after moving &amp; living in Milford for 15 years, Milford Police do not abuse there authority unless they were made to do it. The fact that no one has died in there custody for 30 years says alot for them. Keep up the good work.
<small>Anonymous | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 11:37 am | # </small>

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ALL I GOTTA SAY IS THESE DAMNCOPS SWEAR THEY'RE ABOVE THE LAWS...DOING WHATEVER TEHY WANT TO CIVILIANS, INCLUDING KILLING THEM. THAT'S EXACLTY WHY I CAN'T STAND THODE BASTARDS
<small>ANONYMOUS | Email | Homepage | 10.21.06 - 10:23 am | # </small>




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Man dies in Milford police custody

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:08 pm

The New Haven Register wrote:10/21/2006

Man dies in Milford police custody

Phil Helsel , Register Staff
The New Haven Register

-MILFORD — A Stratford man with a history of drug use died in police custody late Thursday, hours after he was shocked twice with a Taser gun that delivers a jolt of up to 50,000 volts and had swallowed a small amount of marijuana, police said Friday.

Nicholas Brown, 24, who gave his address as East Broadway died at 10:21 p.m. Thursday after an officer in charge of the Police Department’s cellblock noticed he was "sweating profusely and appeared ill," Officer Vaughan Dumas said.

An autopsy was done Friday but the state chief medical examiner’s office did not release a cause of death. It will be at least six weeks before toxicology reports come back and a cause of death is established, officials said.

What police do know is that officers were called to the Red Roof Inn just after 5 p.m. Thursday after a hotel clerk complained that Brown had checked out of his room and was sleeping in his car outside, along with a pit bull.

Officers "communicated with" Brown through a partially opened window and asked him to leave the car and leave the dog inside, police said in a statement. Brown, however, left the car with the pit bull on a leash and began to walk away, police said, and officers ordered him to stop but and he did not comply with the request.

Brown allegedly ran after officers approached him and he was then shocked once with a Taser X26 stun gun, falling to the ground, police said. Police said the stun gun was used in part because they did not want officers injured by the dog. Brown then sat up and pulled the Taser probes from his body, police said. But then officers stunned him again after he kept reaching into his pockets and would not remove his hands, causing officers to believe he might be carrying a weapon, police said.

During the arrest, Dumas said Brown swallowed something that Brown later said was two partially burned marijuana cigarettes.

Brown was charged with interfering with police and tampering with evidence and was being held in lieu of $5,000 bail after being booked, police said. But at 9:15 p.m., paramedics were called after the officer checking the cell noticed Brown sweating profusely and appearing ill.

Emergency medical personnel evaluated Brown, who "was alert and conscious" and told a paramedic that he had ingested the stub end of two marijuana cigarettes, police said. Brown walked from the cellblock to the ambulance, then suffered what appeared to be a seizure in the ambulance, police said. While riding to Milford Hospital, Brown went into cardiac arrest and paramedics could not revive him, police said.

He was pronounced dead at 10:21 p.m. at Milford Hospital, police said.

Attempts to reach Brown’s family were unsuccessful Friday.

Dumas said there is no evidence indicating what caused Brown’s death, but he emphasized Friday that officers followed departmental use of force guidelines. He said other suspects have been shocked up to three times and, "We’ve never had an incident like this.

"At this point it appears that all police policies and protocols were followed," Dumas said.

The stun guns, used by the Police Department for the past three years, deliver five-second bursts of up to 50,000 volts. The human-rights group Amnesty International, which has called for a moratorium of their use, said in a 2004 report that 185 people in the United States have died after being shocked with police electronic stun devices since 2001.

Dumas said that the investigation is ongoing. Police were in the process of obtaining a search warrant to examine Brown’s car. The pit bull was seized by Animal Control officials and remained in their custody Friday.

Police said an officer "specifically assigned" to the cellblock area physically checks every 15 minutes when there is a prisoner there, and there are cameras at each cell that are "monitored, by the assigned booking officer in between checks, and personnel working the communications room."

Court documents show that Brown’s most recent arrest was in August 2002, when he leaped from the roof of a Stratford home during a drug raid carried out by Milford police.

Police said at the time that he was selling narcotics out of the Best Value Inn on Old Gate Lane months earlier, and he was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of marijuana and possession of narcotics charges.

Phil Helsel can be reached at 876-3028 or phelsel@nhregister.com.

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Stun gun answers sought

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 9:24 pm

The Connecticut Post wrote:Stun gun answers sought

Mother: Police lied about death of son

DIRK PERREFORT dperrefort@ctpost.com
Connecticut Post Online
Article Launched: 10/25/2006 04:49:01 AM EDT

MILFORD — The mother of a Stratford man who died in police custody said Tuesday officers lied about the incident, claiming they never told her, or doctors at Milford Hospital, her son had been shocked twice with a stun gun during his arrest.

"They lied to me about everything they said they did," Lori Brown said.

The death of Nicholas Brown, 24, has drawn the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the case, and the proliferation of stun guns in the state, underscores concerns about when and how the weapons should be used.

"This is a very dangerous weapon that is being used in different ways by different departments," said Roger Vann, president of the state chapter of the ACLU. "There needs to be a standardized procedure put into place across the state."

In the meantime, Lori Brown said she has many unanswered questions about her oldest son's death.

She said she saw cuts and burns on her son's body shortly after his death last Thursday and nobody would tell her why. It was not until she heard news reports the next day that she learned officers had used a stun gun on her son before taking him into custody. Brown, who police said swallowed a drug believed to be marijuana during his arrest, died about five hours later at Milford Hospital. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

"They never told me they Tasered him," Brown said, referring to a brand of stun guns. "They didn't even tell the doctors. I don't understand why they couldn't have just maced him. There were several of them and only one of him."

Brown also questioned why police didn't seek immediate medical attention for her son after using the stun gun.

"I hired an attorney because I want some answers," she said. "No amount of money is going to bring my son back. I still can't believe he's gone. The hardest thing in the world is saying goodbye to your children."

For the ACLU, the case has become a flash point of debate over the use of stun guns by law enforcement. Vann said the incident underscores the need for statewide regulations on stun gun use, adding about 100 police departments in the state use the devices. They can deliver an electric shock of up to 50,000 volts to a person's nervous system.

"Anytime someone is shot with a stun gun, medical attention should be sought," Vann said. "Who knows if [Nicholas Brown's] life could have been saved. If he was in a hospital room instead of a cell block, maybe he could have survived."

He said police departments have their own policies about how and when to use the weapon, such as when a suspect is running from police.

John Williams, a civil rights attorney from New Haven, said he also has concerns about stun guns. Williams said he represents the estate of a New Britain man who died this summer after being shot repeatedly with a stun gun. He said he also has several cases pending against the Milford Police Department.

"Some departments use these weapons like toys and Milford is one of the worst offenders," he said. Brown was shot twice with a stun gun Thursday after police responded to the Red Roof Inn on reports of a man who had recently been evicted from the Rowe Avenue hotel sleeping in his car in the parking lot. Police said Brown was shot the first time when attempting to run from police and hit the second time when he put his hands in his pockets and refused to remove them. Though police said they thought Brown was reaching for a weapon, his mother said he was likely reaching for his inhaler. She said her son had asthma from a young age and had only one working lung. "My son was a wonderful kid with a heart of gold," Brown said, adding that her son had three small daughters under age 5 whom he loved deeply.

"All that people are saying about my son is that he's a convicted felon. Yes, he made some mistakes in life and had some problems, but nobody's perfect. He was turning his life around. He had the biggest heart that you could possibly imagine."

Brown was charged with interfering with police and tampering with evidence. Police called paramedics after an officer doing routine a cellblock check noticed Brown appeared ill and was sweating profusely. Brown died a short time later.

Police Chief Keith Mello declined to comment on the case, citing the possibility of pending litigation against the department. He released the department's policy on stun gun use, which states an officer should "interview the arrestee to ascertain that he/she does or does not need medical attention."

It was not immediately known whether officers asked Brown whether he needed medical attention at the scene. Police have refused to release the names of the officers involved in the incident pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Dirk Perrefort, who covers Milford, can be reached at 878-2130.

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Drugs killed man, not Taser

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Nov 24, 2006 10:13 am

The New Haven Register wrote:11/23/2006

Drugs killed man, not Taser

Brian McCready , Milford Bureau Chief
The New Haven Register

-MILFORD — The office of the state’s chief medical examiner has concluded that a Bridgeport man died last month as a result of a cocaine overdose, and not because police used a Taser stun gun on him twice.

Police Chief Keith Mello and the state medical examiner’s office both said Wednesday that Nicholas Brown, 24, died from cocaine toxicity and that his death was accidental.

Also, Mello said that the toxicology findings indicated that Brown had 16.70 mg/L of cocaine in his body. The report was signed by Dr. Frank Evangelista, who is the associate medical examiner. Attempts to contact Evangelista were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Police were called originally to the Red Roof Inn on Rowe Avenue Oct. 19 after a clerk said Brown had checked out of his room and was sleeping in his car outside, along with his pit bull.

Brown allegedly ran as officers approached the car and he was shocked once with a Taser stun gun, and then again after he kept reaching into his pockets, police said. During the arrest, police said, Brown swallowed something that he later said was two partially burned marijuana cigarettes.

After being processed, paramedics were called when officers noticed Brown sweating profusely and appeared ill. Brown went into a seizure in an ambulance and died at Milford Hospital.

Mello was tight-lipped Wednesday concerning the medical examiner’s findings because he said Brown’s mother, Lori, has reportedly threatened to sue the department. Brown’s relatives could not be reached for comment.

"The medical examiner’s report speaks for itself," Mello said.

Mello said the department’s internal review will continue, although he admitted the report was a large piece of the puzzle.

The Police Department has been using stun guns, which deliver five-second bursts of up to 50,000 volts, for three years.

Mello defended the use of Tasers by referencing a situation last week where Richard Paulus, 36, of Southington, tried to get cops to kill him as he threatened officers with what appeared to be a semiautomatic handgun.

Officers used a stun gun to apprehend Paulus, and Mello at the time praised officers for showing restraint.

Brown’s mother lives in Stratford. His father, George Brown, lives in Florida. He had attended Shelton High School.

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Incidents spark doubt about safety of Tasers

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:56 am

Yale Daily News wrote:Incidents spark doubt about safety of Tasers

Jared Malsin
COALITION OF THE ILLING

The Yale Daily News
November 27, 2006

Hours after police shot a UCLA student with an electroshock gun, or Taser, students across the country watched the YouTube video in which Mostafa Tabatabainejad shrieked and writhed on the ground. "This is your Patriot Act. This is your … abuse of power," he cried, as the police shot him several more times. Tabatabainejad's crime was not showing his ID card in the library.

The UCLA incident made news just days after New Haven's Deadly Force Task Force announced that Tasers are coming to New Haven as part of a trial program. New Haven is buying 50 of the stun guns to be used by 100 officers. Alderman Yusuf Shah, the chairman of the task force, said the trial period would last two to three years, though the New Haven Independent reported it would last only a year.

TASER International's slogan is "Saving lives every day," but In These Times magazine reported this month that nearly 200 people have died after being shot by Tasers. The Justice Department announced in June that it would investigate these deaths. I argue that New Haven should look for alternative ways of reducing police violence. The introduction of Tasers is likely to do the opposite.

At first look, so-called "less than lethal" technology seems like a great idea. The police will inevitably use force in some situations, so we might as well make force less deadly. Armed with this reasoning, communities angry about police shootings are increasingly turning to Tasers and other technologies. Tasers are designed to keep a record of the precise time they are fired, which could help communities hold police accountable for the use of their weapons. The problem is that Tasers seem in some cases to have killed people.

I asked Alderman Shah what he thought about the 200 Taser-linked deaths. He insisted that trying out Tasers is "a reasonable attempt" at curbing the use of excessive force by police. "We don't have any real evidence that the Tasers caused those people's deaths," he said, noting that a nightstick can also be deadly if used the wrong way.

I share Alderman Shah's desire both to fight crime and to make the police less violent, but I disagree with his logic. We do not have the kind of definitive scientific studies on the deadliness of Tasers that we need. What we do know is that almost 200 people have died after being shot with the guns. Giving Tasers to part of the New Haven police force for three years will not clear up the underlying medical and social questions.

One question is whether Tasers will be used as an alternative to guns, or whether they will simply be an addition to the police arsenal. The Independent reported that Police Chief Francisco Ortiz answered this question at the task force's most recent meeting, saying that a Taser would not replace a gun if a suspect were carrying a deadly weapon. "If someone pulls out a knife, an officer is not going to pull out a Taser," Chief Ortiz said, adding that "in communities that have these [Tasers], it increases the use of force."

The New Haven chief of police, then, fueled my suspicion that stun guns have the opposite of their intended effect. Tasers are marketed as an alternate method of subduing the toughest and most dangerous criminals, but in reality they lower the threshold at which it is acceptable to use violence. The perception that Tasers are safe means that they are more likely to be used than guns. Among the first "dangerous criminals" subject to Taser shocks were the protesters at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. The UCLA campus police certainly felt they were within their bounds to shoot up to 50,000 volts of electricity into Mostafa Tabatabainejad. In August, 22-year-old Ryan Wilson of Lafayette, Colo., died after police shot him with a Taser. In October, In These Times reports, the coroner ruled that the shock was the cause of death. Wilson's crime? Suspected marijuana possession.

Those in our society who are already stigmatized or vulnerable are most likely to be affected by police violence. Human-rights groups such as Amnesty International have already highlighted the use of Tasers on prisoners and clients in psychiatric hospitals. This problem also crops up along racial, political and religious lines. Mostafa Tabatabainejad is an Iranian-American and a Muslim. As students, we must be keenly aware of these issues as these new weapons enter our community. "We do not feel safe on this campus," said Sabiha Ameen, president of UCLA's Muslim Students Association. The climate of fear and distrust at UCLA shows the dark implications of the misuse of such force.


Jared Malsin is a senior in Berkeley College. His column appears on alternate Mondays.

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Emergency Dispatchers Fired After Phone Call

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:39 am

nbc30.com WVIT wrote:
Emergency Dispatchers Fired After Phone Call

POSTED: 4:42 pm EST November 30, 2006
UPDATED: 6:23 pm EST November 30, 2006
WVIT NBC 30

MILFORD, Conn. -- Two emergency dispatchers were fired in Milford because of a 911 call between the two as a man in police custody died of a cocaine overdose.

The Milford police chief called the civilian police dispatcher's phone call to a fire department dispatcher seeking medical help inappropriate and unprofessional.

Police released a transcript of the conversation that happened after police arrested Nicholas Brown outside a Milford hotel in October.

Police twice tasered Brown, who they said was unwilling to surrender and armed with a pit bull. Before they cuffed him, police said Brown swallowed what he claimed was marijuana.

Hours later, while in a police holding cell, Brown needed medical help.

The call for help cost police dispatcher Steven Gifford and fire dispatcher Teresa Burrows their jobs.

In the tapes, Gifford said "we could use you folks." Burrows said, “Oh, come on, cause i really have a headache today." Gifford responded with, “Well, this guy's got a little bit more than a headache."

Later in the call Gifford said, "He's doing the funky chicken right now."

In a statement, police chief Keith Mello said "While the conduct of these dispatchers is unacceptable, in no way did it contribute to the death of Nicholas Brown or impact the level of response by emergency personnel."

Brown’s family is suing the city of Milford.

An autopsy on Brown showed he died of a cocaine overdose and not because of the Taser.

Police are still conducting their internal review of the incident.

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5 cops have 5 days to fight suspensions

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Dec 05, 2006 12:38 pm

The Connecticut Post wrote:5 cops have 5 days to fight suspensions

DIRK PERREFORT dperrefort@ctpost.com
Connecticut Post Online
Article Launched:12/05/2006 04:45:38 AM EST

MILFORD — Five police officers given suspensions for their handling of a prisoner who later died in custody have up to five days to decide if they want to file a grievance, a union representative said Monday.

Sgt. Jeff Matchett, president of the Milford Police Union Local 899, said the officers have five business days from receiving the suspension notice to decide if they want to fight the move. Police Chief Keith Mello announced the one-day, unpaid suspensions last Friday while releasing a report of the department's internal investigation into the death of Nicholas Brown, 24, of Stratford.

"I will meet with the suspended officers in the near future and it will be their choice if they want to pursue a grievance," Matchett said. "The union will defend each and every member that does wish to pursue a grievance. My own personal opinion is that the discipline was excessive."

The five officers were each suspended for policy violations discovered during the internal investigation into Brown's death, including a sergeant who failed to call paramedics when he first learned that the prisoner was hallucinating. The suspended officers include Sgt. Kenneth Walewski, Officer Jeffrey Cortes, Officer John Kranyak, Lt. Victor Daniels and Lt. Joseph Pietrafesa.

Brown died on Oct. 19 from "cocaine toxicity," about five hours after being shot three times with a stun gun in the parking lot of the Red Roof Inn on Rowe Avenue. At the time of his arrest, he told police officers he had swallowed "roaches," a term used for partially smoked marijuana cigarettes.

Officials with the Chief State Medical Examiner's Office later determined Brown's death was the result of a cocaine overdose.

Dirk Perrefort, who covers Milford, can be reached at878-2130.

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