Tasers Continue To Lose Juice;
According to the July 13 Willamette Week, the dog belonged to Aaron Palfoss. Someone called the police to his apartment, and they entered while he was not there. The dog allegedly attacked an officer who fired his Taser several times. Palfoss's friend told the WW that the apartment was "strewn with feces from the frightened dog." An autopsy shows the dog died of "circulatory collapse," but made no judgment about the possibility that the repeated shocks meant to stun generally larger, heavier humans may have caused it.
Meanwhile, though Taser's founders have made money hand over fist, the company's stock took a big tumble. While the company itself earned less than $25 million in sales in its four years, the value of its stock was once as high as $2 billion. So, by selling their stock at a time when the price was high (it peaked at $33 in late 2004), Chair Phil Smith, CEO Rick Smith and President Tom Smith made $110 million, over four times what the company earned and sold in real terms (Barron's, June 13).
The BC report pulls together information from a wide number of studies, significantly leaving out several done in San Francisco which attributed heart problems to Taser shocks. The BC report indicates that Tasers are unlikely to directly cause heart attacks except in extremely rare circumstances. However, they clearly support several recommendations similar to those made by Amnesty International: 1) that Tasers should not be used multiple times unless absolutely "necessary," and 2) that Tasers should not be used on people only engaging in passive resistance.
On June 1, Portland issued Tasers to every officer on the street. We have continuously cautioned Chief Foxworth and others about the potential harm, as well as noting the International Association of Chiefs of Police's recommendation not to issue Tasers to every officer (USA Today, April 14). However, in his June 23 letter to us, Foxworth continued to defend the use of Tasers as an "option that will reduce injuries to officers and citizens."
The British Columbia report is available at
Chicago: Medical Examiner Finds Taser Caused Cardiac Arrest DeathIn July, a medical examiner in the case that prompted Chicago to stop issuing new Tasers to its officers (see PPR #35) ruled that the electroshock device was responsible for the cardiac arrest that led to the death of Ronald Hasse. It is the first time a Taser has been cited as the primary cause of death. Taser International has called for a judicial review, insisting their weapon is safe. However, the company's previous claim that Tasers have never been linked to a death is now that Tasers have never been cited as "the sole cause of death" (Arizona Republic, July 30).
Deaths of individuals following the use of Tasers are coming too fast to report on them all, but
here is a sampling of recent cases:
People's Police Report
#36 Table of Contents
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