are a substitute for deadly force. They
should be used only when the officer's life is threatened.
Sept. 17, 2007 a University of Florida student named Andrew Meyer
(who was described by frequent Fox News guest Michelle Malkin
as a "goofball." a celebrity-taunter, and a professional publicity
hound) staged own his "assault" by University of Florida police.
Malkin reported in her blog that Meyer was accompanied by
a woman who was videotaping Meyer's YouTube moment-in-history.
In hindsight, it now appears Meyer staged a situation that he reasonably
had to assume would end the way it didwith him being stun-gunned
by University police.
the fact that most people have already dismissed the event believing Meyer
got what he asked for, I still find the incident extremely problematic.
I find the tazing of Andrew Meyer troublesome because pulse
technology conducted-energy weapons (stun guns) are dangerous even if
used properly. No
police officer anywhere knows the cardiac condition of any person they
accost. In point of fact, few people with cardiac conditions who face
a stun gun welding cop are even aware of their own health risk, and that
their life may be jeopardy if their heart rhythm is interrupted.
the cop who fired the burst, or multiple bursts, is excused because he
or she followed departmental protocol in using the stun gun, the citizen
they accosted for a minor violation is just as dead as if they had taken
out their 9mm sidearm and shot him. What that means is that an offense
as minor as swearing at a cop or not responding fast enough to an order
from a police officer, could become a capital offense. The risk to
citizens-at-large is too great for police officers to be allowed to use
stun guns for anything less than a life-threatening situation.
weren't developed to subdue loud-mouth students in a college forum. Nor
to subdue wiseguys who respond too slowly to orders from local police
officers. (Common sense suggests that smart-mouthing a cop with a stun
gun is first degree stupidity. Most of the idiots who engage in that type
of stupidity generally aren't smart enough to see a millisecond into the
future and understand what's about to happen to them.) What
I find alarming in the hours of video footage I've viewed over the past
four years, is how many cops used stun guns out of anger to punish people
they were forced to chase on footnot because the perp swung at them
or resisted arrest, but simply because they had to chase them on foot
and got winded.
are only slightly less dangerous than real guns. In the hands of an angry
cop who thinks his "suspect" is still resisting because he's
twisting in agony on the groundand gives him another pulsating burst
for good measurea stun gun can be just as lethal as a gun.
became popular with law enforcement agencies as an alternative to the
use of deadly force to protect police officers from belligerent suspects
with the size and strength to cause personal injury to the cop. In other
words the industry leader, Taser Corporation designed a law enforcement
tool they believed would minimize the risk of lethal consequences in volatile
situations where police might otherwise have to use firearms to prevent
bodily harm to themselves. In their sales literature, Taser viewed
the electronic pulse weapon as a lifesaving devise. In fact, they now
offer a "citizen" version that women can carry instead of mace
or pepper spray to quickly debilitate an attacker. A multiple jolt in
the gonads would make any would-be rapist rue puberty.
to the Taser website, their pulse weapons were designed to "...Incapacitate
dangerous, combative, or high-risk subjects who pose a risk to law enforcement
officers..." and is "...a safer alternative to other
uses of force."
of the the police agencies that use them abuse them. Granted, that's not
Taser's fault. It's the fault of the cops on the street who use the weapon
to punish a perp who made them chase them ten blocks on footand
made the cop feels like someone stuck their fist down their throat and
ripped out their lungs through their nostrils. Stun guns have become the
equalizer for secular progressive communities that hire under-qualified
females as law enforcement officers when what they should be doing is
clerical duty at the precinct. A 5'2" petite cop can't handle a 6'2"
burley drunk. Sorry, ladies. That's a fact. But
with the equalizer, the petite cop can bring the burley giant to his knees
in short order if he doesn't move fast enough or tries to get smart with
the cute cop.
International has done extensive investigations on the 291 people
(between 2001 and September, 2007) who have died after being struck by
police stun guns. Most of those who went into cardiac arrest were shocked
more than once. Amnesty International records indicate that 92
of those who died were subjected to from 3 to 21 bursts. One man was shocked
continuously for 57 seconds. In their report on a Justice Department inquiry
last year, Amnesty International said of the 291 deaths, only 25
of the deceased individuals had some form of weapon in their pocket or
pursenone of which were a gun. Amnesty International cited the Justice
Department's finding that pulse weapons in drive-stun mode were, very
often, used as a "pain compliance" device on individuals who
were already technically in custody and therefore posed no threat to the
law enforcement people. When used in that mannersolely to inflict
pain through either multiple or prolonged shockthe stun gun is being
used as a torture device.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement ruling that cleared the University
of Florida police officers who were placed on administrative leave following
the incident was wrong. They determined that because the officers followed
protocol, they did nothing wrong. The problem is the protocol is wrong.
Using stun guns on nonviolent, non-threatening citizens is wrong. Amnesty
International is correct in its argument that it was wrong to place
pulse weapons in the hands of law enforcement agencies before the medical
community could weigh the medical consequences of pulse weapons on people
with heart conditions, those engaged in substance abuse, or have other
factors that compromise their health. The "guinea pig" research
done by stun gun manufacturers found that the risk of adverse affects
from stun guns on healthy adults was generally low. What that statement
means on its face is that there is substantial risk to those with compromised
health if there is only "minimal risk" to a healthy adult. The
oldest victim of police stun gun abuse was 95. The youngest was a 6-year
old truant. Neither posed a physical threat to police. Both were immobilized
with an electrical charge.
police can't diagnose the high risk targets at a glance, its basically
a crap shoot when they opt to use their pulse weapon to subdue a citizen
for whatever reason. Police claim they didn't know that 56-year old Emily
Marie Delafield of Green Cove Springs, Florida was a health risk
when they arrived at her home on April 24, 2006 to settle a domestic dispute.
Delafield wouldn't put down the knife she was holding so cops gave
her a jolt with a stun gun. She was rushed to Orange Park Medical Center
where she was dead-on-arrival. The two officers who should have known
better than to use a stun gun on a visibly imfirmed person, were placed
on administrative leave.
On June 12,
2005, when Horace Owenwho was hallucinating while on a cocaine
highbroke into the West Park, Florida home of MacArthur Hodges
screaming that someone was chasing him and wanted to kill him. Hodges
called the Broward County Sheriff's Department and asked for deputies
to eject the hysterical man from his house. Deputies, who should have
known from their training that pulse weapons can cause electro-muscular
disruption in anyone high on drugs, used a stun gun to subdue Owen.
He was pronounced dead an hour later at Memorial Regional Hospital
in Hollywood, Florida. Owen received what amounted to a death
sentence for housebreaking to escape a mythical murderer he thought was
year old James Borden was also strung out on drugs. Monroe County,
Indiana sheriff's deputies found him wandering around in a drug-stupor
and arrested him. At the lockup, Borden resisted efforts by deputies
to strip search him. The
jailer shot Borden several times with a stun gun before the jailer
noticed that Borden was no longer responsive and that his face
had lost all color. He was dead. The jailer was charged with two counts
of felony battery.
Florida police were called to subdue a man in the parking lot of the Ruth
Cooper Center for behavioral Health Care on Oct. 15, 2005. Forty-five
year old Steven Cunningham was arguing with a friend in the parking
lot. The friend brought Cunningham to the facility because he was
suffering from cocaine toxicity. Where they could have easily subdued
him with pepper spray, the Fort Myers police opted to use a stun gun.
He was shocked three times. The last time was after Cunningham
was shackled and could not harm anyone. He died. He suffered capital punishment
for arguing with a friend who wanted him to admit himself into a detox
On the same
night in Fort Myers 35-year old Tracy Rene Shippey walked into
a Hallmark Gold Crown Store on Cleveland Avenue and asked store
employees to call 911 because she had been in a fight. Shippeylike
Cunninghamwas suffering from cocaine toxicity. While employees
told police that Shippey knocked over some displays in the store
because they didn't respond fast enough, it is more likely that she simply
fell into them.
When the police
arrived and attempted to take her into custody on the store's complaint,
she tried to leave. One officer tackled her, causing her to become agitated.
She was shot with a stun gun. She was handcuffed and placed in the backseat
of the squad car. When Shippey tried to kick out the back window
of the cruiser and she was stunned again several times. (The police have
declined to state how many times she was stunned, or for what length of
time.) According to police, she began foaming at the mouth and her lips
turned blue. Paramedics were called at 7:08 p.m. and arrived 15 minutes
later. She was pronounced dead at the Southwest Florida Regional Medical
Center shortly after 8 p.m. Her capital offense? Knocking over a store
display. The coroner listed the cause of death as "excited delirium."
is not a medical term and does not represent a medical cause of death.
She, like Cunningham died from electro-muscular disruption caused
by the stun gun and the victim's drug addiction. County coroners, particularly
in Florida, use the made-up phrase "excited delirium" to insulate
law enforcement from allegations of excessive force and to suggest it
was the medical problems of the victim and not excessive force by police
that caused their deaths.
this are so commonplace that we have stopped questioning it when they
happen. We need to question authorities who use stun guns because 291
deaths since 2001 suggest that law enforcement officers have literally
executed American citizens for "crimes" as minor as yelling
in the street. In April, 2005 a Minnesota man died after local police
shot him with a stun gun because he refused to stop shouting at his neighbors.
A Houston County, Texas man was stunned to death when he refused to pay
a $700 fine.
most people who are victims of stun gun abuse don't die. A
Riviera Beach, California cop shot a derelict with a stun gun for sleeping
on a park bench and for not getting up fast enough when the cop asked
for ID. In Palm Beach, Florida police used a stun gun on a man riding
a bicycle at night without a headlight. A woman in Boyington Beach, Florida
was shot with a stun gun for going 52-mph in a 35-mph zone. Police said
she was stunned because when one of the officers pulled her out of her
car, she tried to slap him.
of police stun gun abuse are rampant. Sadly, the protocols instruct law
enforcement officers how to use stun guns, but not when. Theoretically,
cops supposedly understand that stun guns are dangerous weapons that can
cause death or serious injury. Logic suggests stun guns, like the cop's
9mm sidearm, will be used only when the officer is threatened with bodily
injury. Under no circumstance should a pulse device be used on anyone
who appears to be a good prospect for cardiac problems or appears to be
stoned on drugs.
a moment that you read an article in the morning paper about a cop firing
his weapon at an unarmed, fleeing robberand killing him. You are
morally outraged that such a thing could happen. Where is the moral outrage
against the cop who kills a man who won't stop yelling at his neighbors?
Does it not exist because the cop used a stun gun, and the death is viewed
as an unfortunate accident? Is the man who was yelling any less dead because
he was shot with a stun gun and not a 9mm Glock?
How does the
cop know when he should, or shouldn't, use a stun gun? If he has any street
smarts, he knows. If he doesn't have any street smarts, he shouldn't be
carrying a gun of any type. If the person the officer is obligated to
accost is 50-plus, or overweight at any age, or tries to leap buildings
in a single bound, he should use pepper spray if they get belligerent
because those people I just described are likely subjects for elecro-muscular
disruption. If they are stun-gunned there's a chance it will kill them.
eyes might burn for a while, they'll still be alive in the morning. Far
too often police use stun guns not to protect the officers from what may
appear as superior force, but to mete out corporal punishment to people
who do not respond to their orders fast enough. Cities appear to find
nothing wrong with this. This contravenes the public perceived national
standard of police conduct which mandates police use only that force necessary
to protect themselves in the line of duty. The force used should be proportional
to the threat posed. A drunk sleeping on a park bench poses no threat.
Neither does an elderly man riding a bicycle at night. Or a 95-year old
senior citizenor a 6-year old child who skips school.
We, the people,
need to demand that all law enforcement agencies stop using stun guns
until comprehensive studiesperformed by doctorshave been completed.
The medical community, not lawyers, should structure the protocols that
advise law enforcement personnel under what circumstancesand on
what types of peoplethey can use pulse weapons. Law enforcement
may argue that 291 stun gun deaths in the United States in 6 yearsbased
on the number of people who have been shot with pulse weaponsis
astronomically low. That may be. But having the cop on the street sentence
an unruly citizen to death for a minor infraction of the lawor for
shouting at his neighborsviolates the standard of decency. One such
death is one too many. Give the stun guns to the military. Get them off
the streets and out of the hands of cops who have come to believe they
have a right to use them to prod citizens who move too slow.