back to article US man dies in Taser incident

A 20-year-old man died yesterday in Frederick City, Maryland, after being tasered by a police deputy, the Frederick News Post reports. The victim, identified by friends and relatives as Jarrel Gray, was allegedly involved in a fight with three other people in Gresham Court East early on Sunday morning. The unnamed deputy …

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Flame

Less than lethal? Even in multiple doses for multiple seconds?

Taser International should be tasered themselves for multiple times, multiple seconds to see whether they still consider their weapon less than lethal.

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Unhappy

hmmmmm

anyone else get the feeling these 'incidents' are going to be coming thick and fast for the forseeable (ie until they ban the damn things) future?

'non-lethal', my arse.

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Back to basics

The TASER has been a terrific money-maker for the company that sells it and for it's investors.

It has been a disaster for public safety.

No one to blame here but police department executives and elected officials who "drank the Kool-Aide" and allowed this deadly weapon to come into the hands of rank-and-file law officers.

It was almost 50 years ago that police officers in the U.S. began to get much more sophisticated training in safe and effective techniques for subduing and restraining out-of-control individuals, like various martial arts. Even the use, and form, of the traditional police baton, itself understood to be a deadly weapon, went through an evolution. Disabling sprays of various kinds were tested and ultimately found to be inconsistent in both safety and effectiveness. Those experiences should have caused departments to be more scrupulous when it came to the TASER.

The basic problem is the same as it's always been. Too few officers tasked to control too few actors. Even when seemingly sufficient manpower is on scene, it seems that both communications with the target and a coordinated response by the "team" is lacking (the U. FL. tasering incident is a good example of this).

Again, responsibility for understaffing and inadequate training of patrol teams falls on the shoulders of police executives and elected officials.

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deaths per use?

We're told how safe it is, yet deaths keep accruing. Safety is in the stats. How many tasers are fired at and connect forcefully with people every day? What injuries have arisen, from the shock itself, as a result of multiple shocks, as a result of convulsion/reaction that has the victim crashing to the floor or against something that hurts him, e.g, corner of a table. I want real-life stats, not tests done on willing, healthy volunteers standing on comfy foam mats in Taser Intl's lab.

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JP
Dead Vulture

It seems they need training

All the recent stories of Taser deaths aren't because someone got Taser-ed and died on the spot, but because they got multi-Taser-ed like mad. It's like people getting surprised that a criminal who got shot first in the leg to immobilize him then dies as the copper sees him squirming and shoots him further and further up the body multiple times...

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Dan
Unhappy

@andy rock

yup... this will keep happening for a while yet. Then there will be noises made about officers being 'retrained' in the use of Tasers, it will still happen etc etc

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Anonymous Coward

Jackass

Johnny Knoxville from Jackass had various "non lethal" police weapons tried on him. He said the worst was pepper spray.

This is a guy used to taking hits, so pepper spray should be the weapon of choice

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Anonymous Coward

hmmm

It's nice to know that you can essentially be murdered by the police for doing nothing wrong! If I ever get tazer'd for no reason, the copper will regret it.

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Stop

If the people who have these can't be trusted ...

... to use them only ONCE, then they should not be allowed to have the equivalent of more than ONE bullet.

Are these "bullets" individually serial numbered, and does the person who is issued them have to fill in a report separately justifying the use of each and every single one?

If the answer to that is NO, then it is their BOSSES that need to be taken out and tasered -- and perhaps in that one single instance there is indeed more than adequate justification for whatever number of multiple hits is sufficient to ensure that these people are prevented from making further reckless and irresponsible decisions.

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Americans are crazy

Here in the UK we prefer to shoot people at point blank range with dum-dums seven times in the head in crowded underground trains when they do nothing wrong.

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Pirate

An axe to grind

Having read the other linked stories I was just wondering, is our interest in these tasering stories and the volume of the comment (both quantity and hystreria level) due to moral outrage, a bit of yank bashing or are we scared shitless by the fact that UK cops now carry the things?

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Dan
Unhappy

@If the people who have these can't be trusted ...

I wonder whether these things log their activity? I.e. someone gets tasered, a tamper-proof log should be written on the device to state how many times, voltage, duration, interval between hits etc. Hell the thing is pointing at the target, so they could even include a camera/microphone and solid state storage to record footage? At least make the use of these things a little more accountable...

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Anonymous Coward

Non Lethal?

How did I miss Tasers becoming "less than lethal"? They used to be "no lethal" - typical americanism, like "friendly fire" it's just a nice way to say people are going to die but we didn't mean it, honest...

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Stop

Memory stick?

Do these weapons have a usage-memory, or can they be retrofitted?

That is, do we have citizens claiming "multiple uses, multiple seconds" and a cop "once, very shortly, but the battery strangely ran out" and no way to test it?

As for pepper spray, that doesn't really put down a running fugitive --- given the lardy nature of many US cops, that make them a no-no. Nor a screaming, katana-wielding anarchist with safety glasses on for that matter.

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damn weapons

How about its modified so it cant be reused until after a minute?

At least then if a ''suspect'' needs more than one hit, it needs more than one officer, so there is less chance of someone being tasered several times until dead.

or better still, go back to wooden trucheons, see how brave killer cops are then..

Cops have a hard job to do,but there is no need for weapons like this, we just need more cops to overpower the suspects, not damn kill them!

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Black Helicopters

Joe

Dearest Iosef, I think the comments are a fair spattering of all three, though the latest RCMP incident isn't *quite* Yank-bashing.

It would be nice to live in a world where someone could actually gather the evidence of Taser use in "civilised" police departments and how it has affected people. How many times it's been used, how many times it's been successful first shot. How many times the perp has been so hopped up they've managed to "do a Rodney" and pull out the spikes before being incapacitated. How many times injury or death has resulted fromenvironmental factors and how many times from pre-existing medical conditions.

Then we could get a handle on how that compares with baton arrest techniques, and someone could make a decent judgement.

Shame we live in a world where agendas drive all decisions, including those about what research is needed to support a decisions...

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An axe to grind - Reply

I think the reason we see it coming up here on El Reg is that as it's mostly techie readership we feel a little uneasy (and eventually outraged) when something touted as a "high tech solution" goes so wrong.

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Pirate

Madness

This just seems like utter madness to me. How the taser was ever given the all clear is beyond me. When you get tasered, various muscles in your body contract causing convulsions which looks to the Gun Ho American Policeman like your trying to struggle, so you get tasered again. Where is the logic hear, how is electrocuting someone supposed to subdue them unless you do it so many times their heart stops? I’d say there’s been a few back hander’s by the developers of the taser to get it accepted

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@Joe

Personally? Scared shitless. I just think they are not thought of as dangerous and so may end up being used 'routinely'

Also Dan, those are pretty good ideas on making police more accountable.

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Flame

Overzealous Police?!?

While I hope I'm wrong about this but if you have the choice of shooting someone with a "non-leatal" gun they would be more likly to use it and tend to keep using it when the "Suspect" has hit the ground.

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@Joe

Most definitely the latter - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/7096456.stm

Christ almighty.

Just stick "Taser" into the BBC news website search engine and be staggered at the amount of use it's getting in the UK. We've had a death or two as well.

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Pirate

America

Just guessing... was the victim black?

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Unhappy

maybe..

Never seems to end does it, all these dreadful villains making the cops discharge their weapons so much. It's all their own fault, of course, and just think of the poor policeman's fingers, all worn out from all that trigger pulling...

still, it's not like it's everyday, is it? just every week.

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Dead Vulture

Taser International has a problem

They cannot sell these as less than lethal if they are not so.

The Taser is only safe for the victim if it is only used in a prescribed manner in a specific way. Police are only human, in distress or anger a policeman is going to accidentally hammer on the trigger overdosing and killing a suspect.

A delay could be introduced between firings or only one firing could be provided per gun and Taser could put the identification system it puts into civilian sales into police versions as well to try and prevent this but it would not stopped what happened in Canada where multiple police used them on the same subject.

Taser weapons should be banned until better training and better design could make it truly less than lethal.

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Training issue

The problem is (and always will be) training.

We had a couple at my kung fu school who were both trained police officers. We were doing locking and seizing drills and my word they were bad at them. They said they had extensive training and presumably they did, as they need to control all the various weirdos out there. It just wasn't very good.

We see the same problem here - people with insufficient training in the proper use and dangers of using a stun gun being let loose on the public. It used to be the case in the UK that only firemarms officers could carry them, so you had a small amount of people that are specifically trained and continually tested using them. If you let everyone have one you don't have the resources to train everyone as well, or to make sure they're all competant. This is the outcome.

The major problem with "non-lethal" weapons is that you are *much* more likely to deploy it, because you think you won't have to deal with all the paperwork that comes with dead bodies. Tasers aren't as non-lethal as they'd like us to believe which is unfortunate and is going to cause more dead people :o(

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Alert

It is sad

but taken in context I think that the police in the UK now have somethign to fight the ever growing chavs with

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having never been tazered

I can only relate this to the nearest thing i have experienced. namely those exercise machines that pump electricity into your muscles to get them to contract. same principle, different application.

Being of the technical persuasion, and overweight, i gave one of these things a go. I very quickly realised that if the electricity doesn't go directly into your muscles, ie if you're a bit fat, then its incredibly painful, but remarkably uneffective in contracting muscles. I'm not sure if tazers suffer from the same problem, but i can imagine they might. It'd be interesting to see if the deaths caused by tasers can be related to the location someone is hit and their relative fitness.

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usage records

yes, each use of a Taser is tracked. It uses a disposable cartridge system - each cartridge can only be used once, once you've shot someone, you have to load another cartridge to shoot them again. Each cartridge has an individual serial number, and when you fire a cartridge, a large number of small tags, with the serial number of the cartridge that was fired, are spread around the area.

This was mentioned by one of the newspapers covering the Vancouver Airport taser death - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/15/taser_death_video/ .

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Paris Hilton

An alternative to using lethal force...

Here in Canada, the PR department for the RCMP described the taser as an alternative to using lethal force

That makes sense....

Are you at the point were you would normally use use your firearm ? Use the taser as a better alternative.

The problem with tasers is... officers are using them as an alternative to a billy club, swift kick in the head, or some other way of subduing someone.

A retired RCMP officer friend believes that the the biggest problem today is that there is no longer a minimum size requirement for officers. Where a muscular 6 foot tall cop could easily deal with a situation, a small male or female would be scared and be more likely to use a taser or club. BTW... That same retired officer believes the morons in Vancouver were incompetent.

It's a matter of training...

Before using a taser... an officer should ask himself.... "Would I normally shoot this person ?".... if so.. use the taser.... otherwise use traditional methods.

The morons in Vancouver obviously were not trained correctly.

IMO the Taser is not the problem if used as it is intended.

(Then again... if an officer is in a situation were he/she believes it is time to pull your handgun. A shot to the knees won't kill, whereas a taser could. But that's another topic....)

Cheers.

Lee

PS I used Paris as my icon because I wish someone would do us all favour and incapacitate her.

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Bronze badge

Limited shots

The problem with limiting a taser to one shot per minute is that once you use it the other perps get up and run away, or worse. More effective would be to put a spring mechanism on it which must be cocked after two shots. You can of course cock it after one if you expect to need a quick response to someone making a try but it still makes it hard to pump rapid shots into people that will kill them.

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Fear

CCTV, database, monitoring and Taser, a lot of technologies which avoid the contact, deleguating the police to be a witness, a surveyor, an eye in the sky dropping lightning. Does the police ever want to fulfill its hard task?

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Stop

Tragic, but ...

I don't buy this at all:

'Daniel Lugo, Gray's friend and neighbour, said "he, Gray and some other friends, got home from a party early Sunday morning". Although he did not witness the Taser incident, he claimed "a friend told him a few people were pretending to fight and a neighbour might have called police, concerned that they were actually fighting".'

Yeah, riiiiight. We were just all innocently playing. No, really. We always goof around long enough where not only are the police called, but actually show up while we're still doing it - and keep doing it even with the arrival of a police officer.

Shouldn't have tasered the poor guy repeatedly (which seems to be the common ground in a lot of these deaths), but the act of purity is not convincing.

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This is why...

I started inserting tinfoil into my undershirt!! Ha, take that copper.

Seriously folks, if one wants to circumvent non-lethal devices there are many ways. Such devices really only work on the sheep.

The truly bad criminal element love such gimmicks. It gives them an opportunity to use lethal force against an officer who has distracted himself with less than lethal force.

Any force justified should be lethal force. I don't care that officers have to respond with violence.

The problem is they respond to the most paltry of infractions now with more force than is needed. So rather than use his wits this cop decided to shoot first and ask questions later. All of which is under the guise of "officer safety".

Again if force is justified, any force applied should be treated as lethal from the onset of the altercation. If you don't want to get shot dead, don't break the law. But likewise, if someone gets shot and dies because he was too drunk to unlock his OWN house, and too drunk to respond to an officer*, well that cop clearly has some problems.

*This event happened in the city where I live. Guy came home early one AM from partying. His neighbor reported a prowler. As this guy was trying to get into his own house a cop tasered this fellow "because he was not responding to an order". He eventually was found guilty of obstruction of justice of some such BS.

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@ Anno Coward

I've been at parties where we have spared for an hour or two. Not quite fight club style but chops to chin boxing and the like. Were just smart enough to do it in the back yard.

I've noticed that this death and the canadian death both have victims that were tasered while being two slow to comply to police requestes. I know we live in a paranoid world but if someone is deaf in both ears are they can't sign I'm deaf and they can't hear instructions that are voice only.

In fact that could be the bigger link. One person was partially deaf and one was unable to speak english. Perhaps the police should not rely on voice commands.

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The problem is the "non-lethal" label

I think the real problem is that the taser has been promoted in the minds of officers as a safe form of restraint, so they're more likely to use the device, even in circumstances when that level of force is not warranted. Witness it's increasing use on children and the elderly.

Mind you, being tasered is an acceptable alternative to being shot, but it is not an acceptable alternative to being wrestled to the ground and handcuffed. It's the use of the technology in inappropriate circumstances, by ill-informed or lazy law enforcement personnel, that's the real problem.

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LAPD

During the 60's the LAPD manual said that the choke hold was to be applied until they suspect stops moving. I suspect these cops believe the same thing with a taser .

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Lee
Alert

Less than lethal??!!

Bollocks, high voltage is bad for you. I've been zapped by a car ignition coil, hurt like buggery, raced my heart for a good 5 minutes. I wouldn't feel safe about doing it again. And i'm young! An older person who has a less than healthy heart could easily be killed by these things. ~Taser~ should stop marketing them as "less than lethal" and rather as "usually non-lethal". I wonder what the stats are?

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Silver badge

Sue the manufacturer.

"Non-lethal"

Sue sue sue sue sue and keep suing until they're dead. Settlements in the range of $250M/death are what is required to zap the Taser company into the ground.

In Canada there have been so many Deaths-by-Taser that CBC has had to prepare an interactive map to display the facts. 18 deaths 2003-2007.

Link = http://www.cbc.ca/news/interactives/map-tasers-canada/

But the Taser is not to blame <smirk>. The deaths are caused by 'Restless Leg Syndrome' or something... Oh sorry, 'Excited Delirium' is the term they're made up to try and explain it away.

Link = http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/tasers/excited-delirium.html

Just sue the bastards.

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Stop

Misconception

The trouble is that people (unfortunately some police officers as well) think that tasers are a replacement for truncheons and the like. While really they should be thought of as a replacement for guns (not in all cases, sometimes you need a longer range incapacitating weapon... hostage situation, transit van theft, etc.) that should be used when normally it would have been okay to shoot the troublemaker with the risk of killing him. That is tasers should only be used when the "suspect" poses a serious to lethal threat to the police or public, NOT when the "suspect" does not listen or co-operate.

*It has been known for a long time that many police officers are sadists, trigger happy and just plain stupid.* This is the real problem, I have no problem with the use of tasers as long its used at the right time in the right way.

*By this, I do not mean to insult the police in general, in any country (in fact my father used to be in the police and I much respect for the work he had done there)

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Flame

Gnnnnnnn....

*twitches*

"Two" instead of "too", "Were" instead of "We're", "hear" instead of "here"... I can feel myself physically wincing.

if($intGrammarErrors>($intLineCount/10)) {

die("Due to terminal mental breakdown");

}

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Stu
Alert

Unnamed Deputy?

I smell the BOFH!

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Anonymous Coward

TASER

If a cop produces a TASER, I produce a big ass .45 automatic pistol...I WIN!

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Boffin

The problem is normanclature...

at least in part. Because TASERs and similar "stun gun" type weapons are marketed as "Non-Lethal" or "Less-than-Lethal" people think they are safe and will never cause a death. The fact is that such weapons should be classified as "Less-Lethal", that is they are less likely to be lethal when used properly, much like shotgun bean-bags and other crowd-control devices.

Combine that with insufficient/poor training and the basic fear and confusion experienced by most people (including police) in any confrontational situation and you get deaths because the so called "non-lethal" weapon wasn't used the way it was supposed to be.

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