Sunday, February 03, 2008


Taser proliferation must stop: it's killing people

IEEE Spectrum CoverHB3016 is scheduled for its first hearing tomorrow, Monday, at 8:30 a.m. in room 312. This bill would spread the use of Tasers in Hawaii to Department of Land and Natural Resources' Conservation and Resources Enforcement Officers on Hawaii and Maui.

The Taser is a weapon that can kill. At present, approximately 300 people in the USA have been killed by Tasers.

It also been condemned by Amnesty International due to human rights abuses.

Tasers would make these DLNR enforcement officers into judges and juries, inflicting severe pain and possibly death on a person who has not been tried and found guilty of any crime. Officers, particularly those with little training or who have triggerhappy tendencies, use Tasers without regard to the consequences for the victim.

And yes, people are regularly killed by Tasers. Here is an article reporting on five known deaths in the month of January 2008 alone: January Body Count: Five Men Die After Being Tasered (hat tip to Viviane Lerner for this article).

* Jan 4th: Brandon Smiley, 27, Mobile County, Alabama, after becoming violent with the crew of an ambulance taking him to the hospital for treatment for a suspected drug overdose.

* Jan 4th: Ryan Rich, 33, Las Vegas, Nevada (unidentified in original article), after driving erratically, crashing into a wall, and trying to resist police removing him from his vehicle.

* Jan 9th: Otis C. Anderson, 36, Fayetteville, North Carolina, asked police for help, then ran, encountered police again, become combatitive, was shocked, then stopped breathing during his arrest.

* Jan 11th: Xavier Jones, 29, Coral Gables, Florida, "became unresponsive" after police responding to calls about a man at a party being disruptive shocked him for resisting arrest.

* Jan 15th: Mark C. Backlund, 29, Fridley, Minnesota, unidentified in the original article, shocked after he "became uncooperative" with police after a car accident.

Given the number of these incidents, tasing in many cases becomes a first resort rather than a next-to-last resort, even when the number of officers outnumbers the alleged perpetrator by a large margin.

And doesn't this make you sick?:

A Halifax Youth Court judge criticized three police officers Tuesday for their arrest of a teenage girl, who was tackled in her own bed and shocked twice with a stun gun last February.

"The spectacle of a 17-year-old girl being Tasered in her bedroom is a very disturbing and disconcerting one," Halifax Youth Court Judge Anne Derrick said in her ruling on the charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

 This site documents more incidents and has videos. You may have heard of the man who didn't speak English and was shouting for help, only to be killed by a Taser at a Canadian airport. It goes on and on.

We should restrict the use of this weapon in Hawaii, and we can start right now by keeping it out of DLNR hands.

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