Posted by: Chris Cole | June 19, 2009

Toasted by taser…

A 39 year old Queensland man has been zapped to death by Police, after assaulting a neighbour, and threatening attending Police officers with an iron bar, broken glass, and full frontal nudity. Perhaps it was the iron bar, perhaps it was the glass… but perhaps the unrestrained wedding tackle of a ranting, agitated grown man was just too much for them to take. Whatever the cause, the ill-fated man was subjected to an unknown number of shocks from a Police taser. Initial reports suggested the weapon may have been discharged three times, however later statements have hinted that the taser was discharged 28 times, but it is unclear how many of those shocks were actually delivered to the fool idiot assailant “victim” before he promptly dropped dead. There was an enthusiastic attempt to resuscitate the gentleman but, for better or worse, he had become an irreversibly crispy critter.

Some commentators have lamented that “It didn’t have to be so!! They could have talked him down”, and so on… Yes… and they could have patted his head and given him fluffy bunny slippers, too. This guy was violently aggressive, had already assaulted one civilian, and was actively threatening Police with various nasty bits of hardware. The alternative was to shoot him. But they didn’t. They warned him, threatened him with the taser, and then when he continued to advance, they zapped him. Maybe they zapped him once… maybe they zapped him 20 times. It’s rather irrelevant. It was an appropriate response to the situation. There is a limit to the degree to which society can protect dickheads from their own stupidity.

So is the taser evil? Is “non-lethal force” a misnomer when applied to this newly acquired facet of the Police arsenal? The company that manufactures and sells the model of taser used by the QLD Police Service, Taser International

TASER model used by QLD Police

TASER model used by QLD Police

, has made a statement refuting Amnesty International claims that on the order of 300 deaths have been related to taser use worldwide. The company makes the point that no coroner or medical examiner has ever handed down a finding that a taser was the cause of anyone’s death. So who do we believe? Well, both… and again, it doesn’t really matter. While legally prudent, the suggestion that tasers have not contributed to any deaths is clearly a large crock of steaming poo. Someone, somewhere, is obviously going to have some pre-existing condition, or certain substances on board (think amphetamines and their relatives) that predispose them to having a not-so-insignificant probability of some interesting dysrhythmias when some nice Policeman decides to settle a bet with his mates and see if he really can make someone glow in the dark. In short, taser enough people, and someone is going to die. For argument’s sake let’s say that 1 in 1,000 people subjected to a good stern tasering will cark it. In fact let’s be terribly pessimistic and assume that 1 in 100 taserees will earn a ticket to the morgue. Is that cause for concern? When faced with this question, I feel it’s instructive to consider the alternative… If the Police did not have tasers as an option, what would they do in a similar situation? They would shoot the assailant. With bullets. From a gun. If the Police shoot 100 people somewhere in their torso from close range with a 9mm pistol, how many do you think might die? Perhaps more than just one? Hmmmm.

Tasers are a sensible option for Police confronted by violent dickheads who refuse to back down when given appropriate warning. Yes they are dangerous, but not as dangerous as the alternative response, which is the discharging of a firearm. I really REALLY would not like to be on the receiving end of a taser… but given the choice of that or being shot by a 9mm semi-automatic pistol… zap away, baby.

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Responses

  1. The other alternative is hitting him with batons, which also carries a risk of permanent or fatal injury.
    Tasering someone numerous times is torture, but if you’ve fired the darts, any further attempts have to make contact with two prongs, and that can happen unsuccesfully, or ineffectively, presumably the 20+ times is the number of times the trigger was pulled, not the number of effective shocks given.


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