72-year-old woman tasered

Via Andrew Sullivan. Fucking unbelievable.

I must have missed the part where this burly cop felt threatened by the elderly woman, which caused him to resort to potentially lethal force.

There are two stories here:  (1) tasers; (2) cops.

1. Tasers

Here in Canada, the death of Robert Dziekanski — after being tasered repeatedly in the Vancouver airport — has received considerable public attention. Here at i, Pundit, we have written about it three times (one, two, three).

A public inquiry into Dziekanski’s death proposed 19 recommendations concerning the use of tasers. Both the B.C. police and the B.C. detachment of the (federal) RCMP have agreed to abide by all 19 recommendations.

Coincidentally, the very same week, the Taser company announced a new semi-automatic model:

The X3’s main selling feature is its ability to fire three pairs of electrified probes in quick succession without reloading — giving an officer with a taser the chance to simultaneously zap up to three suspects. Older models, which have only one pair of probes, must be reloaded after each shot.

And no one will ever fire at the same individual three times in quick succession. We can trust the police not to do that, right?

2. Cops

Actually, tasers are problematic precisely because of how police officers are using them.

Tasers are supposed to deliver something less than deadly force:  nonetheless, not infrequently, their use has been associated with deaths.

I could accept the risk if police officers used them in situations where, otherwise, they might resort to firing their guns. Tasers are less likely to kill than bullets are, so it’s a good trade-off. But that isn’t how cops use them.

In other news this week, Andrew Sullivan calls attention to the cops in Mobile, Alabama, who tasered a mentally disabled deaf man who took too long in a public washroom. Perhaps the fact that the unfortunate victim is black was also a factor, but that’s mere speculation.

In both instances — the mentally disabled deaf man and the 72-year-old woman — the police used tasers in order to enforce compliance. Not because they were threatened in any way. Not because there was any threat to the general public, or even to the victim him-/herself.

In the case of the 72-year-old woman, it could easily have resulted in her death. It looks to me like cops can’t be trusted with tasers.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Bill
    Jul 31, 2009 @ 00:44:05

    The strange thing is that so far in Canada Taser deaths have all been in people below the age of 51, and the average age is 33.

    Multiple taser shots are often the cause, but he real problem is the decreased IQ of the officers involved. Sorry that just slipped out.

    Check the stats on my blog.


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