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Hullabaloo


Sunday, April 25, 2010

 
They May Cause Harm

by digby

Here's a great article on the use of tasers and what's becoming an important part of the debate --- the fact that they are killing people with them:

On a balmy fall night, two police officers in a squad car in east Bradenton spotted a man on a bicycle without a headlight.

Derrick Humbert, 38, rode a bike around town because seizures from a head injury prevented him from driving. He worked odd jobs as a short-order cook and gardener. He took care of his three kids, 2, 8 and 11, while their mother worked the evening shift at a 7-Eleven.

On this Monday in late September, he was riding home from a convenience store just after midnight when police told him to stop.

Instead, he pedaled around a corner past three houses, jumped off the bike and ran into a yard, the two officers chasing him on foot.

It is not clear why Humbert fled. Police later said that they wanted to stop him because it was a high-crime area, though Humbert was not wanted in connection with any crime. Only later would they learn that he had a misdemeanor conviction for marijuana possession, with unpaid fines.

Officer Del Shiflett yelled that he was firing his Taser. Humbert, who was hard of hearing, scrambled over a 4-foot chain-link fence and made it into a second yard. One probe hit Humbert's left shoulder, the other went in his lower back. Hit with 50,000 volts of electricity, he fell facedown in the dirt. Twenty-eight minutes later, he was in a deep coma in an ambulance on the way to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Derrick Humbert was the 55th person to die in Florida after being shot by a Taser in the past decade. His death tied Florida with California for the most Taser-associated deaths in the nation. (Now, Florida stands alone in first place, with 57 deaths.) Humbert's death put the case at the center of a national Taser debate, which pits the increasing popularity of the weapon against mounting evidence of its risks.

But as the Humbert case shows, police depend on the Taser so much that in some cases they may overlook evidence that it may be doing harm.


Read on ...

I think tasers are unconstitutional, authoritarian torture weapons that have no place in a civilized society. No government should have the power to electrocute citizens and cause them great pain -- even briefly -- in order to make them comply on nothing more than a policeman's whim. Weirdly, I seem to be among only a few people who think this way. But the idea that they are actually killing innocent citizens with these allegedly harmless weapons is actually beginning to worry some people. God knows it should.


H/t to Bill