June 7, 2007
I was very disappointed to learn that Ontario's Special Investigations Unit has itself become the subject of an investigation into allegations of incompetence and bias. According to its website, the SIU is committed to promoting and maintaining community confidence in Ontario’s police services through highly professional and independent investigations. Many, including my family, Cameron Ward and Vancouver's Pivot Legal Society, have upheld this Ontario "bulwark of democracy" model as a replacement for British Columbia's system of police investigating police.
"Ontario's ombudsman will investigate allegations the province's agency that probes civilian deaths and serious injuries involving police was incompetent and biased. André Marin said there has been a "troubling increase" in the number of complaints to the ombudsman's office about the Special Investigations Unit, an independent civilian agency that probes police actions. "The SIU is a bulwark of democracy in Ontario," said Andre Marin. "It's where the buck stops in police accountability when there is death or serious injury. Given the nature of these complaints, I believe it warrants further investigation.""
In response, James Cornish, Director of the SIU, said "Ontarians have every reason to expect that the SIU operates with complete integrity and meets excellent investigative standards. As a world leader in civilian oversight of police, the SIU is committed to carrying out thorough and unbiased investigations to ensure police accountability, thus safeguarding public confidence in our police. I have confidence in the professionalism of the men and women of this Unit and that the Ombudsman will conduct an impartial and professional investigation. We intend to cooperate and look forward to receiving his report."
A newsletter I receive from the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition had this to say: "Members of TPAC met recently with Ombudsman staff to discuss the SIU. TPAC's experience is that SIU seems to be part of the policing hierarchy rather than representing an outside citizen-based voice on policing matters. The SIU provides the appearance of accountability without the substance, and functions as another line of defense for the police. TPAC fears that the focus of the investigation is narrow when what is needed is something which begins to tackle the question of police accountability to the community at large. Without the presence of a general sense of police accountability, it is difficult for any police complaints mechanism to function well."
The report is expected to be available in November.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Friday, June 29, 2007
June 7, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Today would have been my brother Robert's 48th birthday. This one's for you, Bob!
Last week, I happened upon this former Vancouver police officer's blog:
Tasers Aren't the Enemy
All week long, I've been thinking about how to respond to this man. I wanted to tell Leo that the cops were not under attack by some loser with a knife but rather they tasered my brother as he lay on his back on the floor in a medical emergency. I wanted to tell him that the police are *not* using the taser as an alternative to "refrain from using the type of lethal force they would have previously had to use in so many instances." The 13 Vancouver police officers present when Bob died were not in any credible danger and would not have been justified in using lethal force on Bob. I wanted to tell him that tasers are no longer being referred to as "non-lethal" - the manufacturer would prefer we call them "less-lethal". I wanted to tell him that the report Neal Hall was referring to in his article in the Vancouver Sun was the Amnesty International report released in May 2007, entitled "CANADA: Inappropriate and Excessive Use of Tasers." I wanted him to know that we had hoped the jury at the coroner's inquest would agree on some reasonable recommendations which may have helped to prevent similar tragedies. There was so much I wanted to say to Leo Knight.
Instead, I think it's appropriate to share a quote from an article published in the Calgary Herald on September 24, 2006, entitled "The Shocking Truth About Tasers."
"Leo Knight, a former Vancouver police officer and securities expert who now runs a security company, agrees these cases suggest Tasers can lead to lazy policing, highlighting the fact some officers aren't being properly instructed. "Tasers can be too easy to fall back on -- especially if the proper training isn't there. They should only be used in serious incidents where officers are in danger . . . some of these cases would indicate that isn't happening." ... Knight says as hard as police departments try to train officers, there are members who shoot before they should. "It's just the law of averages. You're always going to get a few people who just don't follow the rules."
BINGO, Leo - you hit the nail on the head.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
On June 12th, I wrote about the sad case of Milisha Thompson, who died in May after being tasered in Oklahoma City. Already on the ground and in handcuffs, she was tasered as many as 20 times according to her husband - but only twice according to the police. The cause of Ms. Thompson's death was delayed pending results of toxicology tests. (Where have I heard that before?!) Well, folks, the results are in - and the taser had nothing to do with this woman's death!
The cause of death? Excited delirium, of course. Unrecognized by any credible medical association, but sold to medical examiners by Taser International, the police and other proponents of the taser, excited delirium is the subject of intense debate. Taser International has acknowledged that each year, they send hundreds of pamphlets to medical examiners explaining how to detect excited delirium. I assume the Oklahoma City medical examiner had received his copy, and maybe even a personal call from the manufacturer to help him with his diagnosis. (In 2004, Taser International claimed that no medical examiner had ever implicated a taser. As more autopsy reports began listing tasers as a primary or contributing cause of death, however, the manufacturer argued that coroners were not qualified to assess whether Tasers played a causal role.)
"Excited delirium is not a diagnosis used in psychiatry,'' says Dr. Roumen Milev of the Mood Disorders Clinic at the Providence Continuing Care Centre in Kingston, Ontario. "It does not exist as such either in the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic and statistical manual, or in the World Health Organization's international classification of diseases.''
Many, like me, believe that excited delirium is a blame-shifting diagnosis, created to shift the blame from the person exerting the force to the person that dies.
I agree with Cameron Ward, who says: If "excited delirium", a controversial phenomenon that attributes cardiac arrest to over-excitement resulting from the arrest and restraint process, caused these deaths, one would expect deaths to occur with similar frequency in the cases of people arrested by police using more conventional methods.
Ms. Thompson's family plans to have her body exhumed and have an independent autopsy performed. That's very smart. We would have liked to have had that option.
The two officers involved remain on administrative leave.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
On her own: Noreen Salinas, center, at a vigil calling for an investigation into the death of her father, Steve Salinas
June 20, 2007
Raj Jayadev - Metro Active, San Jose
Noreen Salinas is a girl after my own heart ...
"NOREEN SALINAS has taken pictures from every possible angle outside room 119 at the Vagabond Inn. The 29–year–old Salinas has traced the pathway from the parking lot, and has measured the distance from the room to the manager's desk in the next building. It's become her life's focus since her father, Steve Salinas, was tased to death in room 119, while naked and unarmed, by the San Jose Police Department on May 25. Weeks later, having received no substantive information from the SJPD as to why her father is dead, Salinas is trying to get answers for herself. She calls it "putting my cop hat on." Noreen Salinas is hoping the City Council supports the recommendation of mandatory investigation and IPA review. But she is certainly not waiting with bated breath, as she continues to press the SJPD for information. She has repeatedly asked for the police report, and is told she will be able to see it in a few weeks. She has also called for an investigation by the district attorney's office. On the evening of June 8, in front of the district attorney's office, Salinas, supported by the Coalition for Justice and Accountability, a group formed after the death of Cau Buch Tran, held a vigil for her father. "My father was a good, loving man," she told the crowd. "I want to know exactly why the police did what they did, and I want them to be held responsible for their actions.""
Authorities in San Angelo, Texas are probing what role the taser may have had in igniting a man who had doused himself with gasoline and whether the taser or the lighter that was on the porch nearby could have contributed to setting this man on fire.
Juan Flores Lopez, 47, died yesterday at a Lubbock hospital.
"We don't know what ignited the fire," police Lt. Curtis Milbourn said.
Taser International warns that tasers, gasoline and lighters are a dangerous combination to be avoided. On its website, under the heading "Law Enforcement Warnings", I found - among other warnings - the following:
To minimize the risk of injury during or from deployment, follow these guidelines:
"Beware - TASER device can ignite explosive materials, liquids or vapors. These include gasoline, other flammables, explosive materials, liquids or vapors (eg., gases found in sewer lines, methamphetamine labs, and butane-type lighters). Some self-defence sprays use flammable carriers such as alcohol and could be dangerous to use in immediate conjunction with TASER devices."
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Last weekend, I and a group of friends had the great fortune to attend the Abbey Road on the River (Canada) Beatles Festival at the Empire Square in beautiful Belleville, Ontario. The weather was exquisite, the venue was first class and the talent was out of this world. It was a peaceful affair. The audience – such a lovely audience – was made up of everyone from newborn babies earlier in the day, to teens to grandparents – maybe even a few great-grandparents – and everyone in between. Just regular people like me and you. After all, who doesn’t love The Beatles?
I happened to notice the arrival of a couple of local police officers. They came in peace – it was obvious that they enjoyed the music, they were nothing if not friendly and they seemed glad to be there. It didn't strike me as unusual that they should have a presence there.
However, I could not avoid noticing the additional presence of a member of the city's specialized Emergency Response Team (ERT). He was fully equipped, with baton, taser, firearm, etc. - the whole nine yards. The uniform was different as well - darker, with less visible insignia. He seemed quite out of place and, to my eye at least, it was more than a little strange to see him mingling – in riot gear – among this particular crowd.
I don’t claim to know a lot about crowd control or event security; however, I think this requires a little more sunshine. I can’t IMAGINE what would justify an ERT presence at an event such as this one. It would seem to me that, had things suddenly gone sideways in a way that was beyond the control of the regular police who were there, that would have been a legitimate time to call for ERT reinforcements.
I’m sure John, Paul, George and Ringo would agree.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
In 2004, the year my brother died, the Victoria Police Department website described tasers and their use as follows:
The Victoria Police Department was the first Canadian Police agency to adopt the TASER. This weapon, uses electronic energy to interrupt the messages the brain sends to the muscles in our bodies. When a target is hit with the two projectiles sent out by the TASER, the muscles lock up and refuse to listen to the brain's commands. This results in safe and effective arrests for police, with an increased likelihood of the subject being arrested with little or no injuries. The TASER is used when police face a dangerous situation that may result in deadly force. The TASER is another option to solve the issue without resorting to deadly force unless necessary. The VPD first brought the TASER into Canada in 1999 after receiving an exemption from the Attorney General of British Columbia to import the weapon from the USA. We performed a six month study on the effectiveness of the weapon and determined it had value as a less than lethal force option.
In January 2005, the following wording was removed: The TASER is used when police face a dangerous situation that may result in deadly force. The TASER is another option to solve the issue without resorting to deadly force unless necessary.
Today, on the Victoria Police Department's website, the taser is described as follows:
The VPD first brought the TASER, which is a Conducted Energy Weapon, into Canada in 1999 after receiving an exemption from the Attorney General of British Columbia to import the weapon from the USA. Our members participated a six month study on the effectiveness of the weapon and determined it had value as a weapon of lower lethality. Conducted Energy Weapons are classified as Intermediate Weapons on the National Use of Force Model. Conducted Energy Weapons use electronic energy to interrupt the messages the brain sends to the muscles in our bodies. When a subject is exposed to the electrical impulses of a Conducted Energy Weapon, the muscles lock up and refuse to listen to the brain's commands for coordinated movement. This affect makes coordinated motor control more difficult, allowing officers to subdue subjects with less intrusive physical techniques.
Friday, June 15, 2007
After the Vancouver police department disclosed to the media, a full month after my brother died, that Tasers had been used on him, the Police Complaint Commissioner ordered an investigation into the use of tasers by police. The reason for this was the "delay in disclosure of the use of the taser to both the family and the public which created an adverse perception by the public of the ability of the Vancouver police department to conduct an impartial investigation."
The Chief of Police of the Victoria Police Department, the police department responsible for quietly bringing tasers into Canada in the first place, was mandated with thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding my brother's death. He was also asked to undertake a review of use of force protocols in place at that time and make such interim recommendations as he deemed appropriate for the use of tasers by police officers in British Columbia.
To be continued ...
Thursday, June 14, 2007
In March 2005, two major Canadian universities – the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and Carleton University - demanded that Taser International remove links to their Universities from its website.
This was a significant development, given the intense international scrutiny of the weapon's manufacturer and the ongoing debate about whether the weapon was as safe as the company had led everyone to believe. Taser International had neither requested nor received permission to use letters from individuals at these universities to “affirm the life-saving value of Taser as a safer, effective non-lethal use of force”. The links on Taser International’s website implied agreement and support from the Universities which never existed.
In 2004, I wrote a letter to Dr. Hendry, a Cardiac Surgeon at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, to ask him if he was aware that his name and that of the Ottawa Heart Institute were being used on Taser's website to tout the weapon's safety. He returned the call the same day, seemingly quite alarmed, and he very quickly thereafter demanded that Taser International remove the link. (On its website, Taser International had referred to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute as the “Canadian Heart Institute.” I suppose that moniker gave it more perceived clout.)
Later in 2004, I wrote a letter to Carleton University for the same reason. In February 2005, the Dean of the University sent me a copy of a letter to Taser International from the Department of Electronics demanding that they remove the link from the website.
Neither of these individuals, nor their institutions, had given Taser International permission to use their names to promote the weapon and neither was even aware that these links existed until it was brought to their attention.
Eventually - and they took their own sweet time - Taser International finally removed the references to both from its website.
In a Radio-Canada/CBC in-depth documentary on Tasers, produced by Frederic Zalac and aired nationally on Canadian television at the end of last year, the conclusions of recent independent medical reviews of Tasers were revealed which raised some very serious questions about the lethality of Tasers.
The documentary, in which I very enthusiastically participated, is about 20 minutes in length and is available online at CBC News. Scroll down and click on (or search for) “Taser Deaths”.
Dr. Stanley Nattel, Cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute, Director of the Paul-David Chair in Cardiovascular Electrophysiology and leading cardiology researcher at the University of Montreal, and an associate professor at McGill University, analyzed a study performed at the University of Toronto (see below) and concluded that “A rapid rhythm induced by a Taser, called a Ventricular Tachycardia, may not cause very severe symptoms and particularly if the person is very excited, frightened, etc., they might not even notice it. But that kind of rhythm can eventually what we call “degenerate” to Ventricular Fibrillation, which is an even faster and irregular rhythm that is rapidly lethal.”
Dr. Nattel said further that “the way in which the Taser causes death is by provoking a very rapid, irregular heart rhythm, and that doesn’t leave any traces in the body. So basically if you don’t see anything there, you don’t know what the cause is and it could be a lethal dose of drugs or it could be an extreme mental stress or it could be the Taser. I don’t think it’s possible to differentiate those possibilities in most cases.”
An independent study in Canada on the effects of Tasers on pigs was performed at the University of Toronto by Kumaraswamy Nanthakumar, MD; Ian Billingsley, MD, Stephane Masse, MASc, Paul Dorian, MD, Douglas Cameron, MD, Vijay S. Chauhan, MD, Eugene Downar, MD and Elias Sevaptsidis, DEC. This study injected into pigs a substance that mimics the adrenaline rush that would be experienced during a stressful arrest by police or a cocaine high. The pigs were then shocked with Tasers. The study found that, in circumstances of increased adrenalgenic stress, arrythmias (irregular heart rhythms) were caused and, in some cases, were lethal. (Journal of the American College of Cardiology)
In the U.S., Dr. John Webster, Biomedical Engineer, University of Wisconsin tried to duplicate the situation that would occur with humans … and “we got very different results. I don’t think that they’re non-lethal weapons but I think that there’s a probability, albeit small, that the Taser could electrocute a person.”
When asked by Radio-Canada reporter, Frederic Zalac, what he would do if a study showed there was a risk, Taser International spokesperson Steve Tuttle answered by saying, “We would have an obligation to disclose that to our customers and to the public. That’s pure and simple.”
To the best of my knowledge, Taser International has never disclosed these results to its customers or to the public.
June 14, 2007
Press Association, Ireland
"We are concerned that none of the official bodies charged with considering the use of Taser have publicly addressed the legal and human rights frameworks within which Taser can or should be used," the report said. "... with a number of sudden deaths after the guns are used, the direct links to being hit is disputed. Less debated are the groups most vulnerable to Tasers: those suffering from mental illness, drunk or on drugs. The full effects on children and pregnant women are not known ... Human rights advisors added: "In our view, before the PSNI proposal to introduce Taser is progressed, the Policing Board should satisfy itself that the PSNI has properly addressed the legal and human rights framework within which Taser can be used." Given these requirements, it appears unlikely that Tasers could be in use in Northern Ireland this year."
SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly reiterated her opposition to Tasers. "The fact is that these weapons have killed at least 15 people in the US and Canada," she said. "There is also a dearth of proper research about their safety - especially their effects on children. The consultation process so far has been fundamentally flawed. There is a real need for an equality impact assessment which, to date, the police have failed to undertake. I hope that the Equality Commission will make the point clearly to the PSNI that a full assessment on equality impact is required."
I'm off now to send an e-mail Delores Kelly. She has obviously not been fully apprised of the situation and needs to know that the fifteen deaths she cited are only those which have occurred in Canada. To say nothing of the 256 Americans who have died.
I am elated to report that Montpelier city council had concerns and tabled the taser issue last night, saying they were not ready to authorize the weapons. Two members of the public spoke at the meeting, both of them opposed to the use of tasers, citing concerns about civil liberties, the medical impact, and the risk they'd be used inappropriately. City resident Erik Esselstyn said "I get very skeptical when I see this weaponization of a wonderful small city police force." Resident Ethan Parke said "Precisely because they are billed as non-lethal, they are too easily used as the first choice, and the verbal commands and less lethal methods are simply bypassed."
Councilor Sarah Jarvis said she worries that tasers might become the tool of choice in situations where verbal negotiations might otherwise suffice. "When you decrease lethality of the instrument the police use, you also decrease inhibitions around using that weapon," she said. No Montpelier officer in recent years has had to fire his gun.
The city council asked police to provide more information about tasers, including studies on the medical impacts and written policies on how the tools should and should not be used.
City council would like more input from the public.
Strangely enough, police at last night's meeting referred to the taser as "non-lethal" - even the manufacturer doesn't call it that anymore. The new term is "less than lethal." And that's a whole other story.
I'll never know if my e-mail to city council, including a link to this site, had an impact. Do I suspect it did? You betcha!!!
Posted by Reality Chick at 06:13
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I have to confess that I am not anti-police. I think the police are people with a job to do - one that can be complexly challenging. One that I would not want, but I'm grateful someone does.
I also wouldn't want anyone to think that I'm some whacko cop hater. My family has always had friends who are police officers. I remember my parents' great friendship with the Chief of Police of Karlsruhe (Germany) and his wife when we also lived in Germany in the 70s - my brother and I and their children were also very good friends.
Several members of the RCMP would never drive past one of my mom's restaurants (when she still had them) on PEI, for the island's best lobster roll and a few good laughs with my parents and the staff. Police have always been part of my world. One RCMP Sergeant in PEI and another who is a member of the RCMP Musical Ride in Ottawa, we love like family. We have been blessed to have known the very best of the best.
However, I strongly oppose - and anyone with a working moral compass must oppose - police brutality. It has no justifiable place in a civilized world.
I heard about a recent carjacking on Highway 401, where the victim was shot in the stomach. Details remain sketchy but the suspect(s) has not been found and the shooting victim is apparently alive.
I then wondered what I would want police to do if that victim were me and they were nearby. There is no doubt that I would want them to do whatever they needed to do - within reason - to ensure my safety. If my kids were with me, that would be triply true. I would have an expectation that they would use every mental, physical and technological tool needed, within reason, to complete the job. No more, no less - not an extra kick, gratuitous punch in the head or taser jolt to show who's boss now. I would have a reasonable expectation that the police would do their very best work with the least amount of harm. And most of them, I believe, would.
Posted by Reality Chick at 23:10
I thought it would be easy to announce police departments adding tasers to their arsenal (see below). However, this is happening on a daily (even hourly!) basis in the United States and I can't possibly keep up with it, unless I quit my day job and send my children out to play in the traffic! I've been at this for less than a week and the daily developments are overwhelming!
From this day forward, I will focus on egregious uses of tasers as they are reported. And I will continue to make every effort to add other pertinent information, both historical (I still have much to add) and as it happens.
Suffice it to say that if tasers aren't already in use where you live, they will soon be coming to your town or a town near you, unless you make an organized and concerted effort to prevent that from happening. Even then, it's:
David versus Goliath. Recently, in the City of Palo Alto, California, a taser task force was mandated to review the issue and make recommendations to city council in response to the police chief's request to introduce tasers to the community. A highly organized group of people, including former deputy public defender Aram James, made incredible efforts to educate city council and the task force on the potential dangers of the weapon, in hopes that they would not approve the roll out of tasers in their city.
In the end, council approved the use of tasers in a very narrow vote - 5 to 4 - but ONLY in situations where lethal force would otherwise be allowed. Had Aram James et al not made the effort, the Chief of Police would have handily won the day and police there would have been given the right of way to use tasers as they saw fit.
June 13, 2007
Eric Schwartzberg, Journal News
The Board of Trustees of Fairfield Township (Ohio), population 15,500, is being asked for approval for the purchase of 13 tasers to complement the 10 they already have, along with 21 taser cams. "The Taser Cam records up to 90 minutes of video to a tamper-proof solid-state memory chip, according to a video from the company that produces the device. A data port on the side of the device allows for video download, [Chief of Police] St. John said."
I know this much is true: The data download feature, the manufacturer's most highly touted safety and accountability feature of the Taser before Taser Cams - is unreliable at best. The data mined from both of the tasers used on my brother was so innacurate as to render the information useless. Investigators were unable to determine with any degree of certainty which Tasers were used, when they were used, who used them or for what duration.
June 13, 2007
Peter Hirschfeld, Times Argus Staff
And in the smallest state capital in the US - Montpelier, Vermont: population 8,400 - city council will be asked by the police chief to give a nod to the purchase of five tasers! (I live in a town with a population of 40,000 and we only have two!) "They [city council] had some reservations, and I told them I would come back to them and explain to them in a more in-depth manner what the use of Tasers would be and why," the chief said.
Perhaps he can sway city council with the doorknobs and Chicago arguments (see below). Stay awake, city council - your citizens' lives may very well depend on it.
Posted by Reality Chick at 06:18
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
June 12, 2007
Rodney Foo, Mercury News
"Months after Trujillo's death, a Santa Clara County medical examiner's autopsy report determined his death was caused by blows to his head suffered before his encounter with police. However, the report also cited the Taser shocks as a contributing factor. It was the second time that the coroner's office had labeled Taser shocks as a contributing cause. The first occurred Nov. 18, 2005, when police used Tasers to restrain Jose Angel Rios, a 38-year-old Fresno resident, whose primary cause of death was blamed on obesity, heart disease and drugs."
June 12, 2007
Michael Skubal, Rhinelander Daily News
Meanwhile, over in little Rhinelander, Wisconsin (population 7,500), council had only to nod at an "abbreviated report" and the purchase of tasers was a done deal. Nice doorknob analogy - so innocuous.
Councilwoman Sherrie Belliveau, obviously concerned about the safety of Rhinelander's 7,500 citizens, raised the issue of studies by Amnesty International and research by the US Air Force and the Homeland Security Department which caused them not to adopt the devices. In answer to her concerns, she was told that Chicago (population 9.5 million) lifted its moratorium on the weapons and is using them again.
Hmmm - nicely abbreviated response. Makes perfect sense.
Posted by Reality Chick at 20:50
June 12, 2007
Now, I don't know a lot about buying and selling shares. However, coming on the heels of today's news of Taser shares on the rise (see below) - something tells me that this move is meant to profit someone somewhere. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
June 12, 2007
In Oklahoma City, Milisha Thompson was already on the ground in handcuffs outside the rescue mission where she was staying when she was, according to her husband, tasered as many as 20 times. Ms. Thompson, 35, soon stopped breathing. Really?!? Of course, "the cause of her May 19 death has not been determined, pending results of toxicology tests."
"It's a legitimate law-enforcement tool," said Florida State University criminology professor George Kirkham, a former police officer. "But it's supposed to be used as a defensive weapon. The problem we're seeing around the country is it's being used abusively."
Monday, June 11, 2007
September 17, 2007 Update:
Taser gets new order from France
June 18, 2007 Update:
TASER FLAT AFTER SARKOZY WIN
June 11, 2007
Bloomberg News as reported in The Arizona Republic
Toutes nos condoléances au peuple de la France.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
June 10, 2007
Greg Fight, Tampa Tribune
The idea: Come to their aid with special medical attention, including sedatives and cooling solutions, as soon as possible after they're shot.
The problem: Dead people don't usually require any special medical attention. Save your cooling solutions - these people are heading straight into the cooler.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Bob died a violent death in Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 23, 2004 in custody of the Vancouver police.
We have learned that Bob was alone, unarmed, lying on the floor on his back, posing no credible threat to the - count 'em - 13 police officers (several from the ERT, aka Emergency Response Team). The only funny things were that Bob always liked the #13 and he was never too crazy about cops. He was celebrating his impending Birthday - he wouldn't have known that it was to be his Death Day**.
Two days after he died, on June 25th, Vancouver police called my mom and dad to tell them their only son had died - due to, they said, an apparent drug overdose. That was the worst day of our lives. After my mother called me to tell me that my only brother was dead, she called a family friend who is a federal police officer and asked him to contact the VPD to hear it for himself ... to make sure she hadn't missed anything pertinent that was said to her. Our police officer friend called the VPD and was given the same information - Bob had died of what looked like a drug overdose. No more, no less.
The VPD was most helpful in having Bob's remains shipped to my parents so that we could hold a memorial service. On July 19th, we did so at my parents' cottage on the ocean. It was a small, but beautiful, affair. Bob was there.
On July 23, 2004 - exactly one month to the day after he died - an e-mail from a friend alerted me to the evening news and a story about Bob. I found the news and was horrified to see the VPD announcing on national television that they had used the Taser on Bob. I immediately called my parents - it was 1:00 am on PEI - and they found the news on their satellite. Needless to say, our emotions ran high. We just didn't see it coming and we weren't ready for it. We didn't know what a TASER was. We do now.
**Harry Potter Definition of Death Day: "The day a person dies and becomes a ghost. Many ghosts, such as Nearly Headless Nick, celebrate the day with a party." I suspect Bob will celebrate his fourth on June 23, 2007 with a party.
June 9, 2007
Karen Kleiss, CanWest News Service
An Edmonton police officer convicted of using unnecessary and gratuitous force when he Tasered a man twice in the back for jaywalking received a conditional discharge Friday.
Friday, June 08, 2007
June 8, 2007
Frank Main, Chicago Sun-Times
DOLTON DROPS SUIT AGAINST FIRM, GETS UPGRADED STUN GUN MODELS
"In one of the stranger cases of legal adversaries later hugging it out, Dolton Mayor William Shaw not only settled his village's lawsuit against Taser International, but agreed to a deal in which the company supplies the south suburb with upgraded models of the stun guns. Dolton sued Taser in 2005, saying the police department bought about $8,000 worth of the devices based on bogus claims by the company about their safety. The lawsuit made international news. A Scottish newspaper quoted Shaw saying: "Despite what you have been told, Tasers can kill. Police officers are being told they are safe to use. I don't believe that is true." What a difference a year can make. In 2006, Dolton settled with Taser International when Shaw, an old-school politico known for making the best of a situation, made an unusual turnabout. In exchange for dropping the class-action lawsuit, the village agreed to allow the company to replace Dolton's existing ECD Tasers with newer X26 ECD models. Taser also agreed to provide officers with training on the devices and to cover the village's attorney's fees, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information request."
Thursday, June 07, 2007
June 7, 2007
"San Leandro City Council on Monday approved the settlement ($395,000) with the family of Jose Maravilla Perez Jr. without admitting any wrongdoing in the case."
Is a settlement of $395,000 not an admission of wrongdoing?
Posted by Reality Chick at 15:09