Thursday, July 13, 2006

Non-Lethal Taser Is Pretty Lethal

The Justice Department said last month that 181 people have died after being shocked by Tasers since 2000. Use of Tasers by lawenforcement has increased sevenfold in the past five years, the department reported.

And U.S. District Judge James Ware yesterday denied a motion submitted by defendant Taser International Inc. to dismiss a lawsuit, which was filed by the family of a man who died after being stunned multiple times by a Taser.

"Moral blame may be inferred by Taser placing the product on the market in 'conscious disregard of the safety of the public,'" Ware wrote in his order.

This is a major set-back for Taser, the company which hired the later disgraced former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

Mr. Kerik, who was on the board of Taser, recorded a profit of more than $4.4 million in 2004 when he exercised company-issued stock options. The transactions, reported in the New York Post, came as Taser stock was skyrocketing as a result of a government-authored report, parts of which were released on Oct. 18, that Taser said concluded its technology was "generally effective without significant risk."

Taser shares continued to rise until Nov. 26, 2004, when a New York Times report questioned whether the government's study had, in fact, found Taser's product safe. That sent Taser shares, adjusted for a split, down 7% to $23.50 and they've been dropping ever since.

Because so little is known about the medical effects of Tasers, last month the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the Department of Justice, announced it would investigate Taser deaths.

Personally, I have to admit that if I'd have the choice of being hit by a Taser or by a bullet from a real gun, I'd take the Taser anytime. Then again, police may use Taser's more often than they'd use a real gun. Then again, before Taser's, this is what things looked like, at least in L.A.:

Conclusion: If the police doesn't like you it doesn't matter if they have a Taser or not.


Anonymous said...

I've always wondered about the use of Tasers. It seemed like a good idea at first, but then you start to realize an electrical shock sent through the body is going to affect everyone differently and deaths are going to be a sure thing.

I understand the need to find a non lethal way to bring someone down, but I always felt this had the potentional to be used and abused and people would be dead as a result.

Too bad you can't come up with a Star Trek sort of thing that would just shut you down without killing you.

Oh well....someday.

Erik said...

Still - if you are doing something so as to require the use of a taser to subdue you...

And yep - I like its odds of survival better than that of a bullet.

Anonymous said...

Doc, you are right. if the cops don't like you they are going to find a way to mess with you. I work in Bail Deviation, which is service mostly all counties provide for people who are arrested so they can have their bail reviewed and be released on their own recognizance. Anyways, most of the people that call are either Black or Latino. I don't think it's because they are just committing more crime than white people or other minorities but that their neighborhoods are under way more surveillance then say a rich neighborhood like Beverly Hills, and mostly white. The Police are used to protect the rich from the poor, plain and simple. Police take advantage of poor minorities and violate their rights all the time just to meet their quota. Their favorite arrestee, in my opinion, is the undocummented guy or who some call "illegals." They are easy targets and don't know shit about American law. They just want to work and send money to their kids and families. Anyways, good post doc. PIGS SUCK ASS!

Anonymous said...