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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear Anonymous

Almost every day, I receive these pro-taser/anti-me comments from some coward who consistently hides behind the "Anonymous" option. I have learned to ignore his/her comments and don't bother to publish them.

Today, however, I want to tell "Anonymous" that if he/she is so strongly in favour of the taser, he/she should stop wasting his/her time being ignored by me and start a website of his/her own.

As of today, not only will I not publish comments from anyone who remains "Anonymous", I have also turned off notification of "Anonymous" comments. I won't even know they're there and will no longer have to waste my time on them. As of today, "Anonymous," you're talking to the wall. Enjoy your party of one and have a nice day!

Taser: Novel trial theme nearly causes taser investors cardiac arrest

November 29, 2008
Steve Lombardi, Attorney, InjuryBoard.com

Category: Defective & Dangerous Products

Tags: Taser, wrongful, death, personal, injury

The Court Argument: Prolonged or repeated Tasering causes acidosis, an excess of acid in the bloodstream. The acidosis, in turn, can cause cardiac arrest.

That argument coupled with a failure to warn law enforcement by the manufacturer caused Taser International’s stock to hiccup 10% while stock holders let their stomach’s settle. The jury returned a verdict that included $5 Million in puntive damages, an award that was taken away by the trial judge.

It’s a nice tight argument but I’d need to see the medical literature that supports the acidotic theory. It worked in Los Angeles but will it work elsewhere? That is the question that will get Taser International stockholders reaching for the Rolaids.

Posted by Anon
Saturday, November 29, 2008 6:22 PM EST

The question whether the acidosis increase argument will work elsewhere (or again)? The answer is "no." This is based on solid, and unrefuted, current and soon to be published human research. The bottom line is that 60 seconds of struggle, running 200 yards (less than 30 seconds), 30 seconds of push ups, etc. create far greater increases in acidosis (actually increases in lactate and decreases in pH) than a 15 second continuous TASER device exposure (even in worst caes exposure scenarios). Thus, using a TASER device to expeditiously end an arrestee's fighting and struggling is far better for the person (as far as acidosis) than to allow the person to continue fighting, resisting, struggling (which dramatically increases the risk of physiologically compromising acidosis).

Posted by Steve Lombardi
Saturday, November 29, 2008 6:43 PM EST

Anon: I'll give you the opportunity to identify yourself. If you don't use your legal name I will remove your comment. I have to wonder how it is you know about research that has yet to be published? Do you work for Taser International? Are you a stockholder? What is your connection to Taser International, if any?

Steve Lombardi

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tasers in Britain - an open letter to British Home Secretary

November 29, 2008
The Globe and Mail

Open letter

To: Rt. Hon. Jacqui Smith, British Home Secretary

Re: What you should know about tasers

It has come to our attention that you intend to put 10,000 electric stun guns in the hands of front-line police officers across England and Wales. Pardon our impertinence, but have you considered removing your ubiquitous security cameras first?

Ms. Smith, the police in Canada tell themselves lies about their beloved tasers. For instance, that tasers do not kill. No amount of deaths (22 in five years in this country with some taser connection) will convince them otherwise. In September, a Quebec coroner said tasers should be deemed capable of leading to death, until more is known. Police don't believe it.

A myth: Tasers are an alternative to guns. The government official who approved the first taser use in Canada - Ujjal Dosanjh, in British Columbia - insists police told him so. (The police deny it.) Anyway, that is certainly not how they are used now. Their range is just 21 feet, and the optimal distance is 15 feet, and they don't work on anyone in thick clothing. The answer to a gun- or knife-wielding maniac 20 feet away remains the gun.

Tasers are particularly prone to overuse - the Mounties went from 597 incidents in 2005 to 1,400 times in 2007 - and, let's face it, abuse. Frank Lasser was shot in his hospital bed - he's 82, for goodness' sake - because he refused to drop his penknife. Robert Dziekanski was a 40-year-old Polish immigrant left stranded for 10 hours in an airport, unable to find his mother. Four Mounties approached and, within 30 seconds, tasered him twice. He died. (A bystander caught this on video. Very embarrassing.) If tasers are the answer to the stranded and the confused, well, it doesn't speak very well of human ingenuity. Please, when you train your officers: Show them what not to do. Show them the fatal Dziekanski takedown. And allow tasers to be used only when there's a real risk of serious bodily harm.

Police use the taser as a ready response to combative individuals - it's usually safe, especially when officers cross their fingers - but the use of such overwhelming and disproportionate force will sow distrust between the police and the communities they serve. With cameras ubiquitous, be prepared for the excrement to hit the fan.

Suggestion made to arm all cops with tasers

November 29, 2008
Neil Bowen, Sarnia Observer

Arming every front-line police officer with a Taser was one of 12 recommendations delivered Friday by a coroner's jury examining the police shooting death of Michael Douglas.

Douglas, 35, of Sarnia, fought with three police officers who used pepper-spray without effect while attempting to remove him from a home he'd entered after escaping from the locked psychiatric ward at Bluewater Health on March 7, 2007. Officers involved in the fight testified that a Taser could have helped control Douglas, who exploded violently at the idea of being returned to hospital.

Douglas told a 911 operator that the hospital was evil and people there had tried to hurt him.

John Greathead, the owner of the home Douglas entered shortly after 4 a. m., said Friday that he supports the arming of officers with Tasers. He said Douglas, at a muscular five foot eleven and 190 pounds, showed surprising speed and violence against police. After getting away from the three officers, he hid in the home's basement and held them at bay with a golf club until he climbed out a window several hours later. Douglas then stole a van and was shot and killed by an officer who feared he was about to be run over.

Existing government regulations restrict Tasers to members of police Emergency Response Teams and patrol supervisors. The Sarnia Police Service has a handful of Tasers in use.

The five jurors also recommended all Ontario psychiatric facilities consider the changes that have already been made at Bluewater Health.

The hospital has installed video surveillance cameras and new fire alarms on the psychiatric ward. The cameras eliminate blind spots and the alarms that unlock the ward's door automatically when pulled now require to key to activate them.

Douglas escaped after he moved unobserved to a fire exit leading into a stairwell and pulled the alarm.

Jurors also recommended a study of the Fire Code that might allow a delay between the alarm being pulled and doors unlocking.

Continued After Advertisement Below


Other recommendations include:

* hospitals, police services and mental health agencies develop joint crisis management plans regarding training and sharing of information

* increasing annual mental health training for frontline officers (Sarnia officers currently get one hour every other year);

* review and update Emergency Response Team policies to delineate mandatory and discretionary procedures;

* full departmental debriefings as soon as possible following an incident;

* all agencies involved in an incident be encouraged to participate in a debriefing (Bluewater Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association will be invited to an upcoming police debriefing);

* regulate training of security officers on the use of force;

* Bluewater Health review its smoking pass policy for psychiatric patients to prevent escapes (Douglas did not escape during a smoke break but testimony indicates others have);

* Bluewater Health involve a psychiatrist in the decision to allow a patient out of a locked room (the current policy allows a nurse to make the decision about unlocking the door);

* Bluewater Health examine the psychiatric ward layout, which provides no barrier between adult and child patients.

Regional Coroner Dr. Jack Stanborough finished the two-week inquest by extending his condolences to Douglas's family. He called it a tragic event that underscored the stigma attached to mental illness, which may have contributed to a lack of treatment Douglas received.

Testimony indicated he suffered for years from frightening episodes that drove him to hide in basements.

"There's more of a stigma about mental illness than sexually transmitted diseases," Stanborough said.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Why a Taser shocks me

November 28, 2008
Colin Drury, Evening Courier

APPARENTLY when the dart hits, it feels like an intense cramp gripping every inch of your body. They say you feel the 50,000 volts in your eyeballs, your fingernails and roots of your hair. In the short term it disables you. Nobody knows the long-term effects. So it's obvious: when a Taser's pointed in your direction, you don't argue. And you hope the pointer isn't trigger happy.

Hmm... I still remember the young man who arrested my friend years ago. Not his face, as such, or his rank, or what his partner called him as they cuffed this skinny teenage boy. It was his anger that seared itself in my mind, his inconsolable rage, his disproportionate fury etching his face and stretching his voice. My friend didn't help. He wouldn't stand up when he was told. But the clue was in the eventual charge. Drunk and incapable. He couldn't follow his own mind's instructions, let alone those of a barking policeman. It soured the thin blue line in my eyes.

As did the story of a teenage girl I once interviewed who had a police dog set on her after being mistaken for someone else.

And there are other examples if you care to go looking for them. In every case I wonder what might have happened had the attending officers been armed with Tasers as many of them will now be, under an £8 million Home Office scheme. Not that this is an anti-police rant. Largely, they're good guys doing dangerous jobs, putting their lives on our line. Protectors of order, keepers of law. But police officers are also often young and – in situations where a taser may be used particularly – high on adrenalin. They are regularly in situations where keeping the cool head needed to use proportionately a weapon of such power is not always possible. Giving police Tasers is a dangerous precedent. They don't need them. They have colleagues with years of specialist training who can deal with extreme situations. Although. of course, even such firearms officers have been known to get it wrong.

Tasers are open to massive abuse. Their potential to escalate dangerous situations far outweigh any deterrent benefits. They would be a last resort soon promoted to a first. Those who keep the law must not only stay within it themselves, they must be shining examples of it. Walking around with an offensive weapon is against the law. A Taser is an offensive weapon. Since when was policemen being above the law a good idea?

For Taser, suit ends in lose-one, win-one scenario

November 28, 2008
Abigail Goldman, Las Vegas Sun

Three years ago in Salinas, Calif., police used Tasers to repeatedly shock 40-year-old Robert Heston. He died the next day.

Heston had been high on methamphetamine and living with an enlarged heart because of long-term drug abuse. Still, in June, a jury found the Tasers were partially to blame for his death.

This was Taser Inc.’s first loss in civil court, a significant event that’s nonetheless overshadowing the bigger story here: The medical evidence that Heston’s attorneys used to win the case could do a lot more damage to Taser International Inc. than the lawsuit itself.

Heston’s attorneys presented a novel argument: Prolonged or repeated Tasering causes acidosis, an excess of acid in the bloodstream. The acidosis, in turn, can cause cardiac arrest. Unlike other arguments against the Taser’s safety, which have been unsuccessful partially because they’re bogged down with complicated science, the Heston case presents a tidy medical cause and effect that worked with one jury.

In other words, don’t be surprised if you hear about Taser acidosis deaths again.

Heston’s attorneys have taken on similar cases and their quotes in the media give Taser warnings about what could come.

As John Burton, one of those attorneys, told Bloomberg News, “I think Taser’s going to have to rethink its litigation strategy and its warning policies.’’

Local observers have taken notice as well.

“It’s a new argument that’s a lot cleaner and less complicated to prove,” said Maggie McLetchie, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. “It will help push the dialogue forward on the proper use of Tasers.”

Jurors in the Heston case determined that Taser failed to warn police that multiple shocks could cause cardiac arrest. Heston’s family was awarded about $5.2 million in punitive damages. Shortly afterward, the Arizona-based company’s stock fell just more than 10 percent. Taser International filed a challenge to the damages award and requested a new trial.

Taser didn’t get a new trial, but it did get the millions of dollars back. In October a judge threw out the punitive damages. This is because the Heston jury only ruled that Taser should have known the device can cause cardiac arrest, not that company officials actually did know — enough of a distinction to clear the company of product liability problems.

Now Taser is indebted to the Heston estate for less than $200,000 in compensatory damages.

An article in the Monterey County Herald noted that each side claimed this was a victory, and each side is right.

Heston’s attorneys have successfully held Taser liable for negligence, a precedent that could affect lawsuits to come.

Taser, in turn, saved itself some money, cash the company may need later, should the Heston argument work again.

Taser International spokesman Steve Tuttle would not comment directly on the Heston case, but provided a company news release on the subject. In that release, Taser attorney Doug Klint said he was pleased with the outcome, but still considering filing an appeal.

The release also emphasized that the Taser device was deemed only 15 percent responsible for Heston’s death.

It’s easy to understand why the company wants to affirm that it is not a lethal weapon. That is, after all, a linchpin of Taser’s sales to more than 13,000 law enforcement, correctional and military agencies in 44 countries.

In Clark County, there are five lawsuits pending against Metro Police for incidents in which officers shocked people with Tasers. The department has a good record when it comes to these kind of cases — it has defeated five so far.

Suspension for taser abuse - cop docked 90 hours for using weapon on two sleeping men

November 28, 208
Steve Lillebuen, The Edmonton Journal

A veteran Edmonton police officer who used a Taser on two sleeping men has been handed a 90-hour suspension in a strongly worded indictment on abuse of the controversial weapon.

Const. Jeffrey Resler pleaded guilty to using his Taser seconds after entering a Cromdale Hotel room in 2003, but he blamed his misconduct on stress caused by a bitter divorce.

In a written internal disciplinary decision released this week, Supt. Mark Logar ruled the officer had no authority to arrest or detain the two men.

"Tasers are to be used only in exceptional and truly necessary circumstances," he wrote. "Members of the service expect this and the citizens of Edmonton have every right to demand it. There is therefore every need to impose a penalty that firmly denounces the improper use of the Taser."

In a joint submission, defence lawyer Alex Pringle and the presenting officer had argued for a 60-hour suspension, but that was lengthened by an additional 30 hours in the decision.

On Nov. 27, 2003, Resler joined three other officers in responding to an armed robbery call at the Cromdale Hotel. They were met at the hotel by a man who said he had been accosted by a native man armed with a knife and asking for money. The hotel manager couldn't confirm whether the suspect was still hiding in the hotel, but the officers decided to search the second floor. In one room, a man was found hiding. He didn't respond to police and tried to grab something from under a blanket, so Resler deployed the Taser. No misconduct was alleged in that incident.

But in a second hotel room minutes later, Resler spotted three men -- none of whom matched the suspect description. He deployed the Taser on two of the sleeping men, identified as Patrick Marshall and Robert Stewart. "He was too quick to reach for his Taser," Logar wrote. "Why indeed should (these two men) suffer physical pain because of Const. Resler's divorce?"

During his disciplinary hearing, several officers testified that Resler has excelled at work in the robbery section since the Taser incident. He had no prior disciplinary decisions against him at the time and the ruling pointed out that the misconduct appears to have been an isolated incident on his police record.

A 12-year veteran, Resler was experienced in the Tactical Section when his marriage fell apart and he requested to be transferred back to patrol, his defence lawyer said. Two days later, he was sent to the Cromdale Hotel for the robbery call.

Presenting officer Derek Cranna withdrew four of six charges on the first day of Resler's disciplinary hearing. No reason was given. Resler pleaded guilty to the remaining two charges.

In 2006, Resler was acquitted in provincial court on assault charges from the same incident. Judge Robert Philp ruled that the testimony of several witnesses was "at times contradictory, confusing and unclear."

The Edmonton Police Service changed its use of force policy that year to clarify that officers can no longer use Tasers on people who are sleeping.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Investigations clear RCMP of wrongdoing in N.W.T. taser incident

November 27, 2008
CBC News

Three investigations, including two by the RCMP, have cleared police and corrections officials of any wrongdoing in the use of a stun gun on a teenage girl in Inuvik, N.W.T., last year.

The girl, who was 15 years old at the time of the March 13, 2007, incident, was an inmate at the Arctic Tern Young Offender Facility in Inuvik. She cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Corrections officials have said the teen was acting so aggressively that staff called in local RCMP, who used a Taser to subdue her. The girl's father told CBC News she was handcuffed on the floor when she was struck by the stun gun.

The RCMP has conducted two investigations into the Inuvik Taser incident: one that looked at whether a criminal charge should be laid against the constable who used the Taser on the girl, and one to determine if the officer had violated the force's code of conduct.

"The internal investigation under the RCMP Act was conducted in conjunction with the statutory investigation," Sgt. Wayne Norris told CBC News.

"There were no charges recommended, and there was no code of conduct issues found as a result of the investigation."

An Inuvik RCMP officer confirmed to CBC News that one of the investigators in the matter is a member of the local detachment.

But Norris would neither confirm nor deny that both investigations were carried out by members from the Inuvik detachment.

Norris said that, for the sake of impartiality, the results of the criminal investigation were sent to the Crown office in Whitehorse for an opinion on whether charges should be laid.

Impartiality questioned
But sending a report of the criminal investigation to the Crown for a second opinion is not always enough to claim impartiality, said the head of an independent agency that investigates serious allegations against Alberta police.

Clifton Purvis, director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, said Crown prosecutors have to rely on the information given to them by police.

"They don't direct the police," Purvis said. "All they can do is review what the police bring them."

A third investigation done earlier by the N.W.T. Justice Department cleared corrections staff at the Arctic Tern facility of wrongdoing in the incident.

But despite that report's conclusion, it was not until nine months after the incident that senior officials learned the girl had been lying on her stomach on the floor, with her hands in handcuffs behind her back, when she was shocked by the Taser.

The girl's parents told CBC News they believe authorities are more interested in covering up the incident than investigating it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

EDITORIAL: Stop using tasers until we know more

November 26, 2008
Airdrie Echo, Airdrie, Alberta
Covy Moore, Covy's Concerns

Tasers are a hot button issue right now, with a number of very unexpected deaths connected to use of the non-lethal device in the past year, and with the utmost of respect to every law enforcement official in our country, I present to you my concerns.

I pitched the idea to write a news story on what is happening with these devices, but quickly found out that its not going to be easy to get any member of the RCMP to talk about the device, especially when that device is believed to be non-lethal.

I talked about the subject with some people in my office, and at home about the subject, and the general consensus was that if they won’t talk to the media about them, why are they allowed to use them?

In October of last year, Canada experienced a very tragic event that has brought the safety of these conducted energy weapons along with a whole host of other issues to the surface, when 40-year-old Robert Dziekanski was tasered at the Vancouver International Airport. Dziekanski died shortly after the incident.

This brought to light the safety issues with these devices, but the attention they have been getting has only gotten worse with a number of other deaths that have occurred since the Dziekanski incident.

Our police officers have one duty, and that is to ensure that the law is being abided by. Police officers are also just like you and I, and their personal safety is always paramount, which is a primary reason why the taser is not being talked about.

The taser delivers an electric shock to the person that it makes contact with, forcing many of the muscles in that body to tense up and stop working for a period of time, enabling police officers to approach and disarm or detain anyone who is threatening the people around them. In theory this is a fantastic device that has most likely saved countless lives, and given police officers piece of mind when entering a life-threatening situation.

But what happens when this valuable tool starts taking lives? I think that an immediate ban on all conducted energy weapons should be suspended until a full medical and technical analysis can be conducted on the weapons.

Police have the right to protect themselves from threats, just as much as you and I do, but in the end, it is a crime to kill another human being, and if tasers continue to kill, whether it be a high tension stand off with a very dangerous criminal, or an immigrant who doesn’t speak our nations language, who are the criminals?

Obviously, Amnesty International has been all over the issue, with the same request in having a study done to determine the problems with this weapon, and have them dealt with, but what are the police to do in the mean time?

I know of paintball guns that can be fitted with mace balls, which if used correctly, should assist in disarming a suspect. I have also heard of guns that fire moderately weighted beanbags that often will have a criminal on the ground in agony. What about that sidearm that the police carry? I don’t condone shooting people with guns for any reason, but with the current lethality of tasers, I would prefer a mace ball, beanbag or bullet to one of my extremities, as my chance at survival is greater than a tasing.

Taser victims stunned multiple times, says report

November 26, 2008
Tanya Foubert, For The Calgary Herald

RCMP Officers in Canmore and Banff are stunning people with Tasers multiple times to gain compliance, according to an investigation by the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Documents obtained through the Access to Information Act reveal that since 2005, when reporting all uses of the weapon was mandated for officers, RCMP in both Banff and Canmore have used Tasers on stun mode multiple times, on average 40 per cent of the time.

Records indicate Lake Louise RCMP, on the other hand, since 2005 have drawn the weapon eight times but have never deployed it.

In light of the deaths of two men in Alberta after being Tasered, Alberta's Civil Liberties Association president Stephen Jenuth says use of the weapons should cease. "I do not think Tasers are needed," Jenuth said. "The idea is to use an electrical device to mess up body chemistry to gain compliance. Sometimes what is really required is good policing, but the Taser is often used."

The Calgary-based lawyer said his concern about the Taser is that instead of being used only in extreme situations when an officer's life is in danger, it is also commonly used by officers to gain compliance, much like a cattle prod. "It is the first line of response (for police) and it takes away the necessity to use any other training we give officers," Jenuth said.

Staff Sgt. Shannon Johnson in Canmore and Wayne Wiebe in Banff said they could not comment on the data because of RCMP policy. RCMP use of force co-ordinator Cpl. Greg Gillis said Tasers in stun mode are specifically designed to gain compliance from aggressive or combative people and officers are permitted to use them multiple times.

Last year, the weapon was drawn by Alberta RCMP officers a total of 379 times. It was used only 283 times and in 129 of those incidents it was used multiple times.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Taser Death: Attorney discusses the first successful Verdict Against Taser International

November 25, 2008
By Jane Mundy, Lawyers and Settlements.com

Woodland Hills, CA: On June 7, 2008 Attorney Peter Williamson and Co-counsel John Burton were successful in obtaining the first products liability verdict against TASER International in the history of the company as a result of the wrongful Taser death of Robert Heston. They successfully convinced a jury that the weapon manufacturer knew or should have known about the potential risks of its M26 model due to multiple and prolonged discharges but failed to warn about such risks--such as being tasered to death.

"I originally got involved with the litigation against TASER, International when John Burton, a friend and colleague (we had worked together on civil rights cases) asked me to assist him in representing Mrs. Evelyn Rosa, whose son had been shocked with a TASER during an encounter with the Seaside California Police Department resulting in his death," says Williamson. Shortly after being retained in the Rosa case, the Heston family was contacted by Mrs. Rosa--she had read about Robert Heston’s death after being shocked multiple times with a TASER-- and the two families connected.

Williamson and Burton decided to take equal roles in both the Rosa and Heston cases. After approximately three years of litigation, the Heston case against the Salinas California Police Department and TASER International proceeded to trial first. (Williamson and Burton continue to litigate the Rosa case which is set for trial in July 2009.)

Building the Case against TASER International

Williamson explains that the Heston case presented daunting challenges because it combined complex civil rights issues with those of a more typical products liability case against TASER, the largest stun-gun maker in the world. TASER also let it be known that it would use all of its resources to aggressively fight every product liability lawsuit filed against it. Over the course of 3 years of very intensive litigation, Williamson and Burton spent considerable time and money learning everything they could about the TASER including how it works, its electrical output and the training involved in its use. Most importantly, all of the peer-reviewed research conducted on the physiological effects of the TASER was gathered, reviewed and analyzed. They also learned how to interpret data obtained from the TASER Dataport, a computer chip included with each TASER that is designed to record every discharge of the device, (Unlike countless police officers, Williamson and Burton didn't feel the need to Taser themselves.) For example, by looking at the Dataport in the Heston case, Williamson and Burton were able to determine and ultimately prove at trial that the officers involved in attempting to restrain Heston discharged there TASERS almost continuously for 64-seconds.

"At the same time, we began to obtain and study very carefully all the peer-reviewed research that was available regarding the physiological effects of TASER discharges. Initially we focused on the claim that TASERS directly stimulate the heart causing an electrical disruption of the heart rhythm resulting in cardiac arrest. But, the more we studied the research available, the more we began to suspect a different cause to explain Robert Heston's death. Our theory was simple. TASERS cause severe muscle contractions which produce lactic acid in the blood. As the acid level rises in the blood, ph drops. It is well known that ph plays a principal role in controlling the electrical conductivity of the heart. Rapid drops in ph that fall below .70 are considered lethal and can trigger cardiac arrest. In Mr. Heston’s case, his ph was measured at .67 shortly after being tased by the police officers.

Robert Heston and Events Leading to his Death

Robert Heston was a single 40-year-old who had, for approximately 20 years, a serious addiction to various drugs, most notably methamphetamine. He had been in and out of rehab but was unable to successfully kick his addiction. Heston had spent some time in local county jails after getting into several altercations with police while 'under the influence'. And he was the stereotypical drug addict—well liked and hard-working with strong family ties during periods of sobriety.

About one and one-half years before his death, Mr. Heston was sentenced to prison for the first time after violating his probation. He was released on parole 3 weeks before his death. Heston seemed to be doing fine for a few weeks but then reverted back to his pattern of abusing drugs. His parents observed erratic behavior (he was living with parents) the night before the incident. The next morning, Heston's father noticed bizarre and delusional behavior. He called the police and asked them to remove his son from the house so that he could obtain help for his addiction. After they arrived at the Heston home, the police tried to engage Heston in conversation but felt they couldn't do anything—he wasn't committing a crime (they decided not to take him into custody) so they left. Minutes later, Robert began to throw some furniture and other items outside the house; he smashed a window and started to turn his parent’s home upside down.

The police returned and by this time a few other witnesses had arrived. Two officers fired TASERS at Heston; one missed but the other officer hit him but admitted that it was fired at nearly maximum range (just over 20 feet); Heston fell backwards but the Taser didn't seem to affect him possibly due to the wires being pulled out of his body. He started to throw more items around. A second wave of officers arrived and fired their TASERS; he staggered and fell to the ground on his chest with his arms underneath his body—a common position for recipients of TASER hits.

The officers continued to discharge their TASERS into Heston approximately 20-22 more times. The officers claimed Heston continued to resist their attempts to handcuff him by refusing to release his arms from underneath him. However, they also admitted that it was nearly impossible to handcuff an individual while he or she is being tased.

Within seconds of the final TASER discharge, it was observed that Heston’s bald head “was turning blue.” This condition is referred to as “cyanosis” meaning that Heston was experiencing a lack of oxygen flow in his blood. This condition suggested that Heston had already suffered a cardiac arrest – his heart had stopped supplying oxygen to his blood. Heston remained down for 13 minutes before paramedics arrived and were able to re-start his heart. However, because of the length of time his brain was deprived of oxygen, Heston essentially suffered brain death and never regained consciousness. His parents removed him from life support the following day and he died minutes later.

The Taser Trial

Our mission was twofold. The first contention we sought to prove was that the police used excessive force in violation of Robert Heston’s constitutional rights--the Taser is designed to incapacitate an individual and take them to the ground creating a ‘window of opportunity’ allowing an apprehension team to handcuff the individual and take them into custody. We claimed that 20-23 TASER discharges after Heston was taken to the ground was excessive – in fact the excessive discharges were actually counter-productive to the officers’ goal of handcuffing Heston while he was on the ground since it is nearly impossible to handcuff someone in the course of getting tasered.”

Insofar as TASER was concerned, we claimed TASER International knew or should have known that multiple and prolonged TASER discharges pose a substantial risk of injury. In order to do this, we had to show a causal connection between the multiple TASER discharges and Mr. Heston’s death. We then had to prove that despite TASER International's knowledge of the potential risks from the use of its devices; it failed to warn its users [the police] of those risks. In May, 2008, the case went to trial. After almost a month of trial, the jury concluded the officers should not be held liable because they had never been told by TASER International that there was any risk of injury from multiple and prolonged discharges. Quite the contrary, the police were told they could use the device as many times as necessary and that it would not result in injury.

However, the jury found the TASER did pose a potential risk of injury and that the company had failed to warn about it. The jury awarded to the parents of Mr. Heston $6 million: $1 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. They also awarded $223,000 to Mr. Heston's estate, $23,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages. However, they found Robert Heston 85 percent at fault for his own death and Taser International 15 percent at fault. That means 85 percent of the compensatory damages only were reduced, resulting in a net total of $2,100 to the estate and $150,000 to the parents.

Right now we are involved in post-trial motions and TASER International has made it clear that it intends to appeal the verdict. But the judge concluded independently that there was substantial evidence for the jury to base its findings, which is very important for all future litigation against TASER International. Since the Heston verdict, we have been retained in a number of cases around the US and have consulted with counsel representing the family of Robert Dziekanski in the horrific Vancouver airport case."

Tasers should be a weapon of last resort only, says Amnesty

25 November 2008
Amnesty International

Amnesty International today called for guarantees that the Taser electro-shock weapon would not be deployed any wider than specialist firearms officers in Northern Ireland.

The organisation called for this assurance after the government announced that police forces in England and Wales could arm frontline officers with Tasers, following a 12-month trial in which non-firearms officers were allowed to use the weapon.

Stun guns are potentially lethal electrical weapons. The pistol-shaped Taser delivers 50,000 volts of electricity into a person's body. The result is excruciatingly painful, causing a person to fall to the ground and, at times, lose control of their bodily functions.

Amnesty International has always stated that police officers have a duty to protect themselves and others from harm. Amnesty is not opposed to the use of Taser in situations where it is strictly necessary to protect life and when officers are faced with imminent threats to life or very serious injury.

Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, Patrick Corrigan said

"Tasers should never go beyond the hands of a small number of fully-trained officers capable of making the potentially-fatal decision over whether to fire 50,000 volts into a person's body."

"The Policing Board has already accepted that Tasers are potentially lethal weapons and Amnesty has documented how they have been linked to numerous deaths in north America. That's why wide deployment without adequate training would be a dangerous step for policing in Northern Ireland.

'This country has a tradition of 'policing by consent' rather than 'compliance by pain'. In the United States, where there is widespread deployment of this weapon, there have been numerous incidents of misuse of Tasers and a series of Taser-linked deaths. We don't want to see the PSNI repeating these mistakes.'

'Of course, the police have a duty to protect themselves and the community at large from violent situations, but arming more officers with dangerous weapons without the rigorous training and necessary safeguards could well be a recipe for disaster.'

Since 2001 Amnesty International has found that more than 300 people have died after being shot with Tasers in the US. In many of these cases, the coroner listed the use of the Taser as a contributory factor or indeed a direct link to the death.

Amnesty International believes that Tasers can only be used if:

Officers carrying Tasers are trained to firearms officer standards on an ongoing basis

Tasers are used as a weapon of last resort - in situations which fall only just below the point when lethal force should be used

Roll-out is highly restricted and then only to specially trained officers

The Home Office and the PSNI has demonstrated how the use of Taser will be consistent with their obligations under international human rights guidelines and what policies and procedures are in place to prevent misuse of electro-shock weapons.

Spring inquest for Taser death

November 25, 2008
Mike Chouinard, The Times

It's been just over a year since Robert Thurston Knipstrom, 36, died following an altercation with Chilliwack RCMP and still questions remain about what happened on the afternoon of Nov. 19.

When these questions will be answered is not certain, but it will not likely happen in the near future. The Times confirmed with the B.C. Coroners Service in the spring that there will be an official inquest into Knipstrom's death. On Monday, the coroners office again said there will be an inquest but could give no timetable because of factors such as the time needed to arrange for all parties to appear at the inquest, as well as a list of other cases also proceeding to inquest.

Knipstrom died shortly after midnight on Nov. 24 in Surrey Memorial Hospital after he had been on life support for several days. Reports at the time indicated police used pepper spray, a baton and a Taser to try to subdue Knipstrom after he apparently became agitated while at an Airport Road business on Nov. 19.

The federal Commission for Public Complaints (CPC) against the RCMP is also overseeing an investigation into the incident. Chair Paul E. Kennedy announced a chair-initiated public complaint, although the RCMP, itself, will conduct an investigation into the incident.

"They do the investigation; we monitor it," CPC spokesperson Nelson Kalil told the Times.

The CPC also applied a pilot observer program from the outset of the case, which determined there should not be any issues of impartiality with the RCMP conducting the investigation. The RCMP will produce a report, which the the CPC will review in order to make its own recommendations. They will determine if the police complied with all policies, procedures, guidelines and requirements for the arrest and treatment of people taken into custody, as well as their investigation.

Kalil said it will likely be some time before the commission weighs in on the case, at least waiting until the coroners' process is complete. "We want to make sure we hear everything," he said. "It helps us in terms of developing our report."

In the meantime, Knipstrom's friends have continued to post messages and stories about him on a web page they set up on the social networking site Facebook, which now has 213 members.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Making this the weapon of first resort isn’t the answer to growing violence

November 24, 2008
Andy Hayman: Commentary
The Times

Andy Hayman is former Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police

The Home Office announcement of an increase in the use of Tasers took me by surprise. I don’t believe that the case exists for putting such a significant number of weapons in the hands of nonspecialist police officers.

Making 10,000 Tasers available to 30,000 officers represents an increase in the armoury that far outweighs the increase in violence that they are intended to curb.

The case for this rise seems to be strongly predicated on the deterrent factor that a Taser will have on a violent suspect.

The small percentage of Tasers used (16 per cent) compared with the number carried last year seems to support that point.

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However, there is a risk that the increase in the number of Tasers could make them the weapon of first resort – if the Taser is more widely available, then it will be used more often.

Ministers are overreacting to what they see as a more violent society. Yes, it is true that knife crime and disorderly conduct have risen. But that has its roots in extended drinking times and gang turf wars. Increasing Tasers in this number is not the answer to those problems.

It wasn’t long ago that we were having a similar debate over the deployment of CS spray. Now we are talking about Tasers. The next step along this route would be routinely arming the police. We must proceed here with great caution.

Police officers and the public need protection. However, so does the confidence that our population has in the society we police, with its consent.

The £8 million bill for new Tasers would be better spent on tackling the question of why we have more violent streets – not upping the ante so the violence gets worse.

Watchdog blocks Government's plans to issue 10,000 Taser stun guns to police

November 24, 2008
By Daily Mail Reporter

Jacqui Smith's plans to issue police with 10,000 new Taser stun guns backfired last night as it emerged that Scotland Yard will not be rolling them out because they could cause 'fear' and 'damage public confidence'.

The Metropolitan Police Authority, which oversees the Met Police, said it has 'no intention of immediately sanctioning any increase in the availability of Tasers'.
The watchdog's warning about allowing the 50,000-volt guns to be used by non-specialist officers came within hours of the Home Secretary's announcement.

It is a huge blow to the Government, which gave the go-ahead for £8million to be spent on supplying the weapons after ten forces used the gun in trials. A spokesman said: 'The MPA recognises the potential to cause fear and damage public confidence if the use of Tasers is extended to non-specialist trained police officers and is perceived by the public to be indiscriminate.

'Both the MPA and the Metropolitan Police Service will pause to take stock before deciding whether to take advantage of the extra funding.'

Human rights group Amnesty International said Tasers were linked to hundreds of deaths in the U.S. and Canada.

Sask. Police Commission appoints four new members

November 24, 2008
James Wood, TheStarPhoenix.com

REGINA - With almost completely new membership, the Saskatchewan Police Commission will likely soon look again at the use of Tasers by municipal police forces.

The Saskatchewan Party cabinet has appointed four new members to fill expired positions on the five-person commission, which regulates municipal police forces in Saskatchewan.

Among the new appointees is Prince Albert lawyer Mitch Holash, who replaces Regina lawyer Michael Tochor as the chair.

In July, the commission announced it would not authorize the general use of Tasers by members of the province's 14 municipal and First Nation police services until more information is available, reversing an earlier decision to allow the devices.

"It is in the process of being visited as we speak," Holash said in an interview Monday.

"I think the commission was having some research undertaken in that regard and that my understanding generally is that one of the responsibilities on this board's plate when we meet will be to look at some information that has come forward through that process.

"I certainly know it will be on our early agendas as a new board. As to what we do with it and to the status of it, we'll be apprised when we meet."

In an order-in-council, cabinet also appointed Catherine Sloan and Neil Caldwell of Saskatoon and Patricia Crowe of Prince Albert to the commission. Paul Korpan of Regina is the sole holdover from the board and will serve as vice-chair. Holash said the new commission is likely to meet in two or three weeks.

Another item the commission is likely to look at is the recent spate of police shootings in Saskatchewan. Most of those involve the RCMP, which is not under the commission's jurisdiction, but there were also two high-profile shootings by Saskatoon police last December, one that saw a woman wounded by police and another that saw the death of Dwayne Charles Dustyhorn, which is not specifically mentioned in the report.

As well, P.A. police shot and killed Jackie Montgrand in March of this year. In all cases the victims reportedly had weapons they refused to drop.

Holash said as with the Taser issue, the new commissioners will inherit valuable work that has already been commenced by the commission. "Certainly, that particular type of issue falls squarely within what The Police Act mandates us to consider . . . it'll be on our plate," he said.

Among the duties of the commission are setting the standards for municipal police, programming of the Saskatchewan Police College, promoting the preservation of peace and crime prevention, improving relations between the police and public and serving as the final body of appeal in disciplinary and dismissal matters involving officers.

Holash has represented police officers, police services - including Saskatoon's - and the public in police-related matters.

Among the recent cases Holash handled for Saskatoon police was fighting the appeal of two former constables fired following the Neil Stonechild inquiry.

Corrections, Public Safety and Policing Minister Darryl Hickie - a Prince Albert police officer and MLA who describes himself as an acquaintance of Holash - said the lawyer's familiarity with police issues made him the ideal choice for the position.

Hickie said there was no discussion of the Taser issue with the new board members before they were appointed and any decision to revisit the issue will be at the commission's discretion.

Tochor said in July the commission would await the results of the inquest into the Taser-related death in Vancouver of Polish citizen Robert Dziekanski in October 2007 and other reviews.

"Right now, I know everyone's in the holding pattern across Canada waiting to see what those inquests will tell us," said Hickie.

The other departing members of the commission are Edward Henderson, Betty McKenna and Karen Prisciak.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cops raise Taser safety claims

November 23, 2008
By Abigail Goldman, Las Vegas Sun

Several cops got on their knees on a rubber gym mat. Kneeling in a line, they linked arms, interlaced hands, and looked up. All they knew of what comes next is this: It’s going to smart.

This was called the “daisy chain.” It was part of the Metro Police Taser training program, the alternative to hitting a single individual with thousands of volts from the weapon. It was the option officer Lisa Peterson chose, a decision she regrets.

The officers were at a training seminar in November 2003 to learn how to use the newest weapon on their belts, a device the manufacturer claimed would incapacitate a person but not do permanent harm. You can’t really comprehend the Taser, students were told, until you’re Tasered.

So an instructor attached alligator clips to each end of the daisy chain. Two officers became electrical bookends, strung at the shoulder by wires feeding back into a Taser gun. Pull the trigger and the daisy chain shudders, seizes and pitches forward, the pile of police officers becoming a portrait of Taser’s selling point: neuromuscular incapacitation.

In the middle of the chain, hands locked at her sides, Peterson had only her face to absorb the impact. She fell hard on her neck and fast into the rabbit hole — traumatic internal disc disruption, steroid injections, surgical reconstruction, temporomandibular derangement, persistent dizziness, cognitive defects, numbness, vertigo.

Officer Peterson sued Taser International Inc.

So did two other Metro cops who were seriously injured after being shocked with Tasers during other training sessions in 2003. In their lawsuits they say Taser failed to adequately warn the police department of the potential for injury and minimized the risks of being shocked, which officers had been assured was not only safe but advisable.

Peterson is still in litigation. The second officer, Chad Cook, settled with the company last year for an undisclosed amount.

The third officer, John Lewandowski, is dead, but his estate’s lawsuit against Taser does not allege that the jolt he volunteered for had anything to do with his death.

Lawsuits over Tasers are not uncommon. Police departments across the country are routinely sued by citizens who wound up on the wrong end of an officer’s Taser. Seldom, however, is a police officer the injured party. Even more seldom does that officer take Taser to court. Peterson, Cook and Lewandowski are among about a dozen across the country who, through private attorneys, without the help of their police departments, have sued Taser International Inc.

Collectively, the officers’ lawsuits call into question safety claims made by the company.

Metro, a champion of the device, has quietly changed its policy to reflect the risks of being Tasered. This is a perilous position for the department. Metro cannot have officers injured during Taser training, yet the department cannot come out swinging against Taser either — Metro must defend use of a weapon its patrol officers carry. Moreover, when Tasers are used in the field, and a citizen sues the department because of a resulting injury, Metro hires the Taser company to provide expert witness testimony on the device.

The changes Metro made in Taser training policies — which include ceasing the practice of shocking officers during training — may speak louder than any public defense the police, or Taser, have made for the device.

Even more revealing is that Metro has distanced itself from the company. In the past, police officials say, Metro was featured on the Taser Web site in an online endorsement of the product. Within the past year, however, the department asked to have Metro’s name removed from the site, police officials say.

In April, former Sheriff Bill Young supplied a court with a written document stating, “It is my professional opinion that Taser intentionally downplayed the risk of Taser M26 shocks to sell its product to police officers ...”


Officer John Lewandowski wanted the full “five-second ride.” Hooked to the Taser like a fish on the line, Lewandowski told lawyers, he hit the ground screaming when the trigger was pulled. Then he got up again. No problem. Not yet.

It took Lewandowski a day to notice a rash developing on his left shoulder, where a Taser probe had been clipped to his clothing, according to his lawsuit. Then he began feeling flu-like symptoms. Then his arm started swelling. Then he became feverish and lost his appetite. Ten days after Taser training, Lewandowski collapsed. Emergency room doctors determined the officer had an advanced case of necrotizing fasciitis — flesh-eating bacteria.

Surgeons performed a “radical” removal of dead flesh from the 32-year-old officer’s body. By then, the bacteria had spread through his circulatory system. He had septic shock and kidney failure. More tissue was removed. His body was rotting around him.

Lewandowski’s attorneys have said in court documents that the Taser probe burned his shoulder, and that this burn became infected with bacteria. They have medical experts, some of whom treated Lewandowski, confirming it, even suggesting it was a third-degree electrical burn.

Taser’s attorneys say there is no way to know how Lewandowski contracted a the bacterial infection. Their medical experts note that Lewandowski was a bodybuilder who regularly shaved his torso. They say he could have introduced the bacteria by way of razor blade. Maybe Lewandowski was injected with a dirty needle, they said.

There is no way to absolutely prove, medically, scientifically, that the flesh-eating bacteria were born from a Taser burn.

But frankly, even though attorneys on the two sides have fought these points for more than three years, how Lewandowski landed in the hospital after he was Tasered really isn’t the issue.

Neither is how it came to be that Peterson cannot drive for more than 45 minutes without pain, cannot chew tough foods, and has lost 29 pounds since the injury — nine more than doctors advise her to lift, according to court documents.

Neither is the fact that Chad Cook, who also took a five-second Taser “hit,” allegedly had muscle contractions fierce enough to dislocate and fracture his arm by forcing it “through the back of his shoulder and shearing off part of the ball joint,” requiring total shoulder replacement, according to court documents.

All of these police officers alleged in their lawsuits that these injuries were the result of being Tasered.

The real question, however, is not whether officers were hurt during Taser training but whether they were adequately warned of the potential for injury.

The local firm that represents Peterson — Harrison, Kemp, Jones & Coulthard — also represents Lewandowski’s estate, and represented Cook until his case was settled. Like the lawyers representing Taser, attorneys from the Vegas firm would not speak to the Sun, nor would they allow their clients to be interviewed.

But court filings show that the injured officers’ argument, at its core, is this: Taser minimized the risks of being shocked and presented insufficient safety warnings, giving cops a false sense of security before they were jolted.

The premise is simple, the cases are complicated.


In early 2003, Metro’s command staff met in a large, fluorescent —-lit room, seated at tables that looked onto a floor of blue gym mats. The department was thinking about buying Tasers for the first time, and the top brass had gathered to watch Taser’s then-chief instructor, an ex-Marine named Hans Marrero, give a product seminar. His presentation was videotaped.

Marrero made four members of Metro’s ranks get on their knees for a daisy chain. He told them he had personally been hit with a Taser 37 times. Moreover, Marrero added, “My boy has taken a few hits, my oldest boy. My youngest boy has taken a couple of hits. Everyone in my family has taken hits.”

Metro’s initial approach to Taser instruction can be summed up like this: Almost everything the police knew about Tasers, and taught officers about Tasers, they learned from Taser.

The sergeant who wrote Metro’s first Taser lesson plan testified it was essentially a mirror copy of training materials supplied by the company. Young, the former sheriff, called it a “canned program” — the safety warnings cops heard were Taser’s warnings, regurgitated by a police department that took the manufacturer at its word.

When Peterson, Cook and Lewandowski were learning how to use the weapon, Metro instructors were cribbing their curriculum from Taser’s version 10 and 10.1 certification plans, according to the Peterson and Lewandowski lawsuits. These plans, long-since out of use, today serve as a sort of time capsule, showing what officers were, and weren’t, warned of.

In 2003, Taser training materials said the device might cause “slight signature marks that resemble surface burns,” but not actual burns, the officers’ attorneys noted in their court filings. A risk of infection was never mentioned. The training materials never made any mention of the “daisy chain.”

Marrero testified that the Taser company had stopped recommending the kneeling group shock one year earlier, in 2002, before the chief instructor Tasered a chain of department heads, before Metro took Marrero’s cue and started daisy chaining its own.

The group shocks had no tactical value, Marreo explained. He just did it for demonstration purposes. He also testified that putting a “big guy” next to a “little guy” and then hitting them with Tasers them was “not a good idea.”

Officers were warned in 2003 that being incapacitated by a Taser could be “dangerous and even fatal under specific circumstances,” such as Tasering someone in a pool and causing him to drown. Still, students were told the risk of injuries was remote — 1 in 4,000, meaning you are more likely to get hurt playing basketball than being hit with a Taser.

The 2003 certification plan also said: “There have been no long term injuries caused by the Taser.”

Taser’s counterargument to the officers’ claims is made clear in court filings: The safety warnings were adequate, the officers just failed to heed them.

In the five years since Metro created its training program, Taser has updated its guidelines several times.

Today, Taser warns that the device can cause burns. Moreover, the company acknowledges these burns can become infected. It warns that people who are shocked by Tasers can suffer bone fractures, hernias, ruptures and dislocations. Today, Taser suggests students be Tasered while lying facedown on the floor, eliminating falling hazards and stray Taser probes to the eye.

Taser still maintains the risk of injuries is comparable to “athletic/sports type injuries” but the company now adds a blanket warning: “... use of force and physical incapacitation, by their very nature, involve risk that someone will get hurt or may even die from factors that include, but are not limited to: physical resistance, exertion, individual susceptibilities, and/or unforeseen circumstances.”

This differs from Taser’s assurances five years ago that being shot with a Taser had no long-term effects.

Metro abolished the practice of Tasering officers during training because of numerous injuries, Young noted in a written statement he provided for the Lewandowski case. After five months of trying, the educational value just wasn’t worth the injuries that occurred, Metro Deputy Chief Gary Schofield told the Sun. Now officers just watch videos of people being hit with Tasers.

Metro’s rule book now incudes a number of Taser policies that weren’t there in 2003: Avoid hitting anyone in the head, face, neck or groin; avoid hitting women’s breasts; avoid jolting someone multiple times; do not Taser a person in handcuffs, or just because he’s fleeing, or if she’s pregnant, unless deadly force is the only other option. And after a subject is stunned, screen him for injuries.

Metro officers fired Tasers in the field 432 times last year. They are one of the department’s preferred weapons. Even Young, in his court testimony, credited the Taser with reducing injuries. And Metro sees eye to eye with Taser when it comes to the most controversial question of all: Can Tasers kill people? Both say no.

If you read the fine print, however, all this means is that Taser’s electrical output isn’t deadly. Injuries that are “secondary in nature,” however, such as falling on your neck after you’ve been Tasered, are a different matter.

Lewandowski died in August. The coroner’s office determined the cause was a tear in the wall of the his aorta and multi-organ failure. He was 37. It’s unclear whether the flesh-eating bacteria had anything to do with his death. His attorneys, now essentially representing Lewandowski’s widow, haven’t begun to explore the issue in court.

Before he died, Lewandowski, like Cook and Peterson, was working permanent light duty for the department. This meant never patrolling the streets again.

His obituary asked that donations be sent to the Injured Police Officers Fund.


The Taser company points anybody who questions the safety of the device — and many people do — to numerous studies proving that it is. It chides anyone who suggests that studies funded by the Taser company — as many are — are biased.

In an e-mail to the Sun, company spokesman Steve Tuttle said, “We stand firm in our belief in the life saving value of Taser technology and will rigorously and aggressively defend such claims.”

And the company, with more than $100 million in net sales last year, has done so in court. Only once, in June, was Taser found partly liable for a death, in Salinas, Calif. Tuttle told the Sun that Taser has a “77-1 product liability record with wins, judgments in favor and/or dismissals.”

Cook’s case is one of those 77 because a settlement can be categorized as a dismissal — the plaintiff is paid, the case is dismissed. The Sun could not, however, determine how many of those 77 successes are settlements, and Taser would not say.

Tuttle did acknowledge there could be more cases like Cook’s.

“From time to time we have settled for nuisance value certain lawsuits brought by police officers for training injuries,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Metro has been sued by civilians 12 times for use-of-force incidents where Tasers played a role. The police department’s legal team, while adamant they have rejected Taser’s offers of legal assistance, regularly farms out these lawsuits to private attorneys. How heavily these private lawyers have relied on Taser’s assistance is unclear.

This record is no surprise to Gary Peck, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. He notes that Taser even sued an Indiana coroner who ruled that a Taser caused a man to die in 2004.

“Taser International has been exceedingly aggressive in its efforts to stifle criticism and discourage independent scientific research into the potential lethality of the weapons it manufactures,” Peck said.

In May, the president of the National Association of Medical Examiners told The Arizona Republic that Taser’s efforts to sue medical professionals for their opinions is “dangerously close to intimidation.”

Metro has won five of the 12 civilian lawsuits against the department. Five are pending, and two ended with settlements.

Deputy Chief Schofield insists the police officers’ lawsuits haven’t put the department in an awkward position. The police and the company have a business relationship. As with any product the department purchases, he said, liability falls squarely on the shoulders of the vendor.

“We didn’t manufacture Tasers, we don’t build Tasers, we didn’t do the engineering on the Tasers,” he said. “We can only rely on what Taser told us.”

But one of Taser’s principal arguments is that Metro is a sophisticated buyer of weapons, and that the department was “in the best position to warn its officers about the risks of the M26 Taser.”

It looks like each side is blaming the other.

Metro does not comment on ongoing litigation — but now it doesn’t Taser its officers.

That doesn’t keep cops from asking, or being upset, when Metro’s master Taser instructor, Marcus Martin, has to tell them no.

“There are several people that express disappointment,” he said. “They want to know what it feels like, absolutely.”

Most cases against Taser have been dismissed
Law enforcement officers across the country have sued Taser International Inc. for accidents that occurred during Taser training. Most of the cases were dismissed. Whether police collected money in settlements that led to dismissals is unclear. For many settlements, the parties often agree to keep the terms confidential and the payment is not part of the court record.

Here is a sample of the lawsuits, culled from media accounts and news releases from the Taser company.

Tina Stevens: The Ohio police officer said she suffered permanent shoulder injuries after Taser training. Newspapers reported Stevens’ right rotator cuff was torn after she and “two other officers she had locked arms with were shocked ... ” The 2004 suit was dismissed two years later. It was reported that the parties involved entered into a “settlement and confidentiality agreement.”

Victor Lee Wright: The Ohio sheriff’s deputy was shocked during Taser training and, according to his lawsuit, suffered deep vein thrombosis in his right arm and a general “loss of enjoyment of life” among other ailments. An attorney told the media Wright’s arm was “fried.” Court records indicate the parties met for a settlement conference in 2007. The case was dismissed shortly thereafter.

Nick Kerchoff: The Michigan police officer claimed a Taser jolt burned him and caused nerve injury. A case Kerchoff filed in his home state against Taser was dismissed without prejudice in 2005. A second case was dismissed again the following year, the latter suit preventing Kerchoff from ever suing the company again.

David Howard: The retired Kansas cop said he experienced muscle contractions so severe during a 2004 Taser training shock that vertebrae were fractured. Court documents indicate Howard and Taser were “conducting private mediation” in January 2007, according to media accounts. The following month, the lawsuit was dismissed and Howard’s attorney told reporters he could not comment on the case.

Jacob Herring: A police chief in Missouri, Herring said he suffered heart damage and strokes after demonstrating the Taser’s safety to fellow officers. The chief also claimed he experienced hearing and vision loss, as well as painful injury. The case was dismissed in June 2007.

Ronald Lipa: The Michigan police officer hurt his arms during Taser training class. Taser said the case had been “dismissed with prejudice” in a January 2006 news release. Lipa’s attorney told reporters, “They can call it whatever they want, but we didn’t lose ... It was a secret settlement.’’

Ray Gray: The Utah sheriff’s deputy said a Taser shock caused him multiple injuries, including hypertension of the head and neck, herniation of at least two cervical discs, permanent nerve damage and muscle atrophy, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Gray sued his employer, Davis County, for wrongful termination after the injury. He also sued Taser. The case was dismissed in November 2006.

David Wilson: The Georgia state trooper said Taser training left him with a debilitating back injury. In June, a federal court judge granted the Taser company’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit.

Salvatore Dimiceli: The federal customs agent claimed his arms were injured during a Taser training class in Miami. Dimiceli sued the company for failure to provide adequate safety warnings. The case was dismissed in May 2006.

Dan Husband: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police constable claimed he experienced neck, back and leg injuries, as well as a herniated disc that required surgery, after Taser training. The suit is ongoing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Police to get 10,000 Taser guns

November 22, 2008
David Leppard, London Times

Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, is to arm police with 10,000 Taser stun guns in an escalation of the government's fight against violent crime.

Smith will unveil plans tomorrow that will enable all 30,000 front-line response officers to be trained in firing the electric guns at knife-wielding thugs and other violent suspects.

Smith said yesterday that £8m will be made available to all 43 police forces in England and Wales to buy the new 50,000-volt weapons.

She said their use will be extended from small units of dedicated firearms officers to up to 30,000 police response officers across the country.

Officials say the gun could be be used against anyone who put the lives or safety of officers and the public at risk. That includes aggressive drunken yobs, knife-wielding criminals and those who go "berserk" in public. A Taser was successfully used against a fugitive suicide bomber who was captured in Birmingham after the failed July 2005 suicide attacks.

The move to widen the use of Tasers will be criticised by human rights groups and medical experts concerned about the dangers of the powerful guns. Amnesty International says the guns should be restricted to just a "small number" of highly trained officers. It points to cases of fatalities such as that of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, who died after being Tasered when he began throwing things after waiting for 10 hours at Vancouver airport last year. Smith, however, is a keen Taser fan. She believes they are essential to protect the safety of frontline officers and will reduce deaths caused by police shooting suspects with real guns.

"I am proud that we have one of the few police services around the world that do not regularly carry firearms and I want to keep it that way," Smith said yesterday.

"But everyday the police put themselves in danger to protect us, the public. They deserve our support, so I want to give the police the tools they tell me they need to confront dangerous people." "That is why I am giving the police 10,000 Tasers to ensure that officers across the country benefit from this form of defence."

The move is backed by the 140,000 rank and file police officers and chief constables. Derek Talbot, of Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said trials showed that in 80 per cent of incidents where Tasers were used, the situation as resolved without police needing to use a weapon.

"This reinforces the value of Taser as a useful tool to make the public and officers safer and to resolve potentially violent situations effectively and rapidly.

"The conclusions of this trial provide further evidence that Taser is a proportionate, low risk means of resolving incidents where the public or officers face severe violence or the threat of such violence which cannot safely be dealt with by other means," he said.

The Taser fires two copper bharbs that send out an electrical shock. It is designed to incapacitate temporarily rather than injure.

The latest version is the X26 which can be effective from 26 feet. It fires a pair of barbs on copper wires that embed themselves in the suspect's clothing and send out an electrical current of 50,00 volts.

The shock can cause temporary loss of muscle control, making the target fall to the ground or freeze on the spot.

Over a recent trial period in ten force areas Tasers were used 661 times. In over 75 per cent of cases an officer simply drew the weapons or pointed the gun's red-dot at the target. Officials say the guns have a "significant deterrent value and on many occasion just producing it has stopped people behaving violently.

"Where they have been fired the potential for serious and lasting injury to the subject can be less than if a gun or [plastic bullet] is used," the Home Office said.

Forces watch Quebec test of Taser-cam

November 22, 2008
Phil Couvrette, Canwest News Service

Police departments across the country will be looking on as Quebec conducts tests to determine whether a camera-equipped version of the controversial Taser stun gun is suitable for its police forces and provides greater accountability.

But critics of the device, which discharges 50,000 volts when fired, say adopting such a model, which both records video and sound when it is triggered, will not eliminate their concerns about its use.

In late October, a subcommittee of Quebec's Public Security Department obtained the go-ahead to conduct studies and tests on the camera-equipped electroshock weapon, according to Andree Dore of Quebec's Ecole Nationale de Police.

The decision followed the recommendations of a Quebec coroner who concluded police forces should videotape the use of such devices.

Coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier was at the time submitting a report on the death of Quilem Registre, who died four days after being struck by Taser on Oct. 18, 2007. The coroner said although the weapon was not directly responsible for the death, the fact the intoxicated Registre had received six discharges in 53 seconds during his arrest may have contributed to his deteriorating condition.

In all, over 20 people have died shortly after being shocked by the weapon in recent years in Canada, prompting groups such as Amnesty International to call for use of the device to be suspended. Most of those deaths occurred within hours of the Taser incident.

Camera-equipped versions would "provide enhanced accountability for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve," said Steve Tuttle of Taser Inc., who stresses no death has ever been directly linked to the device.

Tuttle noted a 2006 International Association of Chiefs of Police report "showed statistical data indicates that 96.2 per cent of the time, the recording of the event exonerated the officer of the allegation or complaint."

He said the camera-equipped version, which was launched in August 2006, was available to 1,871 law enforcement agencies as of March this year.

But this greater accountability doesn't go far enough, according to Amnesty International.

"It's helpful to have new accountability measures - it certainly doesn't hurt to have them. But in terms of addressing our main concern, it certainly doesn't," said spokeswoman Hilary Holmes. "This is a device that was deployed prior to enough independent study to really be able to assess, 'Is this a reasonable risk?' Particularly with vulnerable groups, there needs to be more study in order to make that assessment."

In the meantime, Amnesty wants use of the weapon suspended or, failing that, brought to "highly restricted use." By Amnesty's count, 25 deaths have occurred in Canada following the use of a Taser since the introduction of the device.

Videotape of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski being shocked by a Taser at the Vancouver airport in October 2007 was broadly distributed. That tape, showing RCMP officers using a Taser on the agitated man, who spoke no English, and then pinning him to the ground, drew outrage from around the world.

Dziekanski's was perhaps the highest-profile death in Canada following the use of the device.

Some police forces do see an advantage in obtaining the camera-equipped version of the Taser. Such a device "would be interesting because it enables light to be immediately shed on events during the intervention," said Marc Parent of Montreal Police.

Other forces, such as Vancouver's, have considered camera-equipped devices, but decided not to add them to their arsenal. "The VPD does not currently use Taser cameras. Our Force Options Section has studied the information, and the cameras do not meet our needs at this time," wrote Const. Jana McGuinness in an e-mail.

The Calgary Police Service has also looked into the device, but have yet to implement its use, said Darren Leggatt, who looks after use-of-force training for the department. "We're certainly looking to explore new and different things . . . a variety of different products," he said.

The Ontario Provincial Police says it doesn't use the camera-equipped model, but notes provincial regulations require that all uses of force, including the Taser, be documented.

The RCMP did not respond to requests for information on whether it uses or has considered using the device.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ombudsman's Taser report 'inaccurate'

November 21, 2008

The company that supplies Tasers to New South Wales Police has rejected a report that suggests the weapon may have caused a man's death.

NSW ombudsman Bruce Barbour released his report on Wednesday into the use of Tasers by officers between 2002 and 2007. The report made 29 recommendations about how police could improve the safety of the weapons. It also referred to a man who died 12 days after a Taser was repeatedly used on him, saying it was unclear what role the weapon played in his heart attack.

Taser Inc USA is the only supplier of Tasers in Australasia.

The company's local director, George Hateley, has hit back at the ombudsman's report, calling it "inaccurate" and "selective". He says while he supports most of the recommendations, he thinks Mr Barbour made unsubstantiated allegations about the risks of Tasers. "The report refers to a man who died 12 days after a Taser was used on him," he said.

Mr Hateley says to suggest the Taser played any role in the man's heart attack is to defy the logic of physics. He says it is impossible for the electrical impulses generated by a Taser to linger in the body.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Police slammed over Taser plan

November 19, 2008
Dylan Welch, Sydney Morning Herald

The state Ombudsman has slammed a police plan to roll out stun guns, saying the weapons should only be used to deal with "extreme situations".

"Police need to be extremely careful using Tasers," NSW Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, said. "They are not a non-lethal weapon - they are just a less lethal weapon."

Mr Barbour's comments came as he released a special report into the use of Tasers in NSW today. The report analysed the use of Tasers by the police riot squad and Tactical Operations Unit between 2002 and 2007.

The State Government sidelined the Ombudsman in relation to Tasers when the stun guns were rolled out to general duties police across the state's 81 local area commands more than a month before today's report.

Mr Barbour called for a two-year moratorium on any further roll-out of the controversial weapons, pending a further independent review. "Current police standard operating procedures relating to Taser use are inadequate," he said. "There are known risks with using Tasers, and police must receive clear, comprehensive and consistent guidance to ensure safe and effective use of this weapon." Mr Barbour said "alarm bells" were already ringing as a result of the roll-out to general duties police, with four of the first five deployments being used in "drive stun mode", where the weapon is activated and pushed into a person's body. "This rings alarm bells for me, as we are already seeing a completely different type of use by general duties officers."

The report found that those who were subjected to Taser use were typically male, Caucasian, under the age of 40 and with mental health issues. More than half were intoxicated when they were Tasered or had a history of drug or alcohol abuse.

In a particularly worrying finding, the report states that one person died of a heart attack 12 days after being shocked by NSW Police. "The man had a number of health problems, including heart disease, so it is unclear what role, if any, the Taser application played in his death."

The report makes 29 recommendations for Taser use including giving guidance to officers about the risks the weapons pose.

Comment is being sought by the NSW Police Force.

Monday, November 17, 2008

EDITORIAL: Ontario should review taser use

November 17, 2008
Editorial, The Kingston Whig-Standard

Last week, Corrections Canada suspended a plan for its officers to use Tasers as part of their arsenal when responding to incidents inside federal institutions. The federal prison agency had purchased only eight Tasers and had deployed the stun guns to two prisons - Millhaven and Kent in British Columbia -for a pilot project last fall.

It's that pilot project that has now come to a halt. A spokesperson for Corrections said, "We're constantly evaluating the equipment we use. The use of that technology is still being considered but is under review."

The review of Tasers should also happen in Ontario.

If the officers who guard the worst criminals in Canada are not permitted to carry the stun guns, then police forces who employ Tasers on the public should review their use, too.

Prison guards respond to some of the most dangerous individuals daily. Couple that with the fact that all inmates in federal maximum prisons have committed serious crimes and must reside in the highest level of security. Prison guards do respond to incidents where inmates pose a threat to themselves or the officers - a typical situation in which a Taser is deployed.

The Taser stun gun is used to temporarily subdue an individual. The stun guns emit about 50,000 volts, causing involuntary muscle seizures.

Police carry the Taser to be used as a last weapon before deadly force is required. But Taser use by police has faced scrutiny after about 20 people in Canada have died some time after they have been shot.

The most public incident took place in a Vancouver airport last year and was caught on videotape. Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died after he was Tasered and then jumped on by four Mounties.

From that incident came two reviews of Tasers, one by British Columbia, the other by the federal complaints commission chairman.

The latter produced a report for the federal government, which was made public in the summer. Among its recommendations was a review of the Mounties Taser policy. The report called for the Mounties to limit the use of Tasers to incidents where suspects are a risk to themselves, police or public.

In Dziekanski's case, the cause of death was never reported publicly. However, a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dziekanski is ongoing.

Tasers are also facing scrutiny in Ontario. Last month, the Ontario Special Investigations Unit said it will investigate the death of a Brampton man who died after he was Tasered in the custody of Peel Regional Police. At the station, there was a struggle in the cell, and police deployed the Taser. The man died in hospital later.

Despite growing questions regarding police force usage of Tasers, its use continues in police forces across Ontario, including Kingston.

Police forces and legislators have said there isn't enough evidence to suggest Tasers should be banned. Toronto's police chief wants to see all front-line officers be permitted to use the stun guns.

The head of the OPP, Julian Fantino believes it's training that's required, not banning Tasers.

Too many questions about Tasers remain to be answered. Police forces in Ontario must recognize that the federal agency that deals with convicted criminals won't allow guards to use Tasers. It's time for the province and police associations to do their own Taser review.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Their logic ties us up and rapes us!

Give us the taser now, say [Australian] police

"Logic" shredded to ribbons here!

Autopsy: Tasers' shocks didn't kill man

"Logic" shredded to ribbons here!

CMC hits police report on taser trial

November 16, 2008
Michael McKenna, The Australian

A SECRET Queensland Police report on a year-long trial of tasers has been rejected by the Crime and Misconduct Commission as a whitewash designed to ensure minimum controls on the approved full-scale arming of more than 5000 frontline officers early next year.

The corruption watchdog - helping to draft guidelines for the use of the 50,000-volt stun guns - wrote a letter last week accusing police of delivering a biased evaluation on the controversial trial, which ended in June.

A spokeswoman for the Queensland Police Service said last night consideration was now being given to the CMC criticisms, but that the force's evaluation report of the trial was still in its draft stages.

The Bligh Government has been widely criticised after earlier this year announcing the widespread arming of police with tasers without waiting for the completion or findings of the secretive trial.

Across Australia, the weapons - which Amnesty International claims have killed 300 people in the US alone - are being introduced without parliamentary scrutiny and with little public debate.

The stoush between the two Queensland law-enforcement bodies comes amid a CMC investigation into police officers who in April held down and tasered a 16-year-old girl who had defied a move-on order because she was waiting for an ambulance to treat her sick friend.

The girl, who cannot be named, had a charge of obstructing police dismissed after the Children's Court last Friday ruled one of the two officers involved did not give adequate directions, under police move-on powers, before he and two private security guards held down the slightly built teenager, shot her in the thigh with the taser and then arrested her, initially on a charge of assaulting police.

The incident occurred on April 11, the first night of an extension of the police taser trial to general duty officers.

Closed circuit television footage of the incident, seen by The Australian, shows an apparent breach of the guidelines in tasering the slightly built juvenile - who was sitting down in a garden bed the time - where there was no risk of injury to police.

The incident involving the girl was one of the only "taser deployments" not publicly revealed during the trial by police.

One of the officers involved in the incident told the Brisbane Children's Court last week he had not been trained in using the weapon at close quarters or within a group situation.

The officer, who cannot be named, told the court that a safety bolt, needed to ensure the taser remained fastened to his belt, was not available when he armed himself with the weapon for his patrol that night.

The taser and its holster was kicked off during the skirmish with one of the 16-year-old's friends and fell to the ground among a group of teenagers he had ordered to move on.

The two officers now face disciplinary action.

The police ethical standards unit is investigating the incident and is considering the findings of the Children's Court.

"This review process identified issues with the deployment, and steps were taken to address these issues by providing additional training to the officers involved, and to review procedures to ensure such issues were addressed," the police said in a statement.

Police in every state and territory are using the devices - deemed by the UN to be instruments of torture - although Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT restrict them to specialist squads.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Coroner rules taser death homicide

Luntsford said he could not disclose whether the use of the Taser killed Harlan. "There’s no doubt it contributed to it," the coroner said. "In a few days, we will have exactly what killed him."


November 14, 2008
By JOE MEYER, Columbia Tribune

The Randolph County coroner has ruled that the August death of a man whom Moberly police shocked twice with a Taser during a traffic stop was a homicide.

Gerald Luntsford said he would wait until receiving the results from a Missouri State Highway Patrol investigation before releasing the exact cause of death for Stanley Harlan, 23, of Moberly. Luntsford said he expects that investigation to be complete soon.

"A homicide only means that a person came to their death by the hands of another," Luntsford said today.

In a separate investigation, the highway patrol is trying to determine whether officers acted appropriately.

Luntsford said he could not disclose whether the use of the Taser killed Harlan. "There’s no doubt it contributed to it," the coroner said. "In a few days, we will have exactly what killed him."

Moberly police pulled Harlan over early Aug. 28 for driving his vehicle erratically and tried to arrest him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Harlan resisted, and the arresting officer was able to get only one handcuff on him, police said.

An officer, whom police have not identified, deployed the Taser and forced Harlan to the ground. Police said that when Harlan refused orders to remove his arms from under his body, the officer deployed the Taser again, and Harlan complied.

A short time later, Harlan became unresponsive and the four officers on the scene requested an ambulance. Harlan stopped breathing before paramedics arrived, and he was pronounced dead at Moberly Regional Medical Center. Boone County Medical Examiner Chris Stacy conducted the autopsy.

Luntsford said the next step in the case will be to discuss it with Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Fusselman, who could decide to investigate or ask that a special prosecutor be appointed because of the connection with local police. Luntsford also said he could hold a coroner’s inquest in front of a jury.

A woman who answered the phone at Fusselman’s office today said the office was not involved in the case before hanging up. Moberly police forwarded requests for comment to the highway patrol.

The highway patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control is close to completing its investigation, Sgt. Jason Clark said. Clark did not provide a timetable for when information might be released.

"We’re investigating every aspect of this incident," Clark said, including whether the officers acted appropriately.

Commander Kevin Palmatory of the Moberly Police Department defended the officer’s action after the incident, saying the officer followed procedure and that he was unaware of any death directly attributed to Taser use, a defense often used by police departments.

Tasers emit a burst of 50,000 volts that temporarily immobilizes the target. The Columbia Police Department and Boone County Sheriff’s Department have used Tasers for years. Columbia police used federal grant money to nearly double the number of weapons for its officers, a decision that has been criticized by local citizen groups.

Australian police feel heat after teenage girl tasered

"Usage creep" down under, too, you say? Shocking!!

November 15, 2008
By Michael McKenna, Herald Sun

Police held down teen and tasered her
She was waiting with sick friend
Police now face disciplinary action

QUEENSLAND police face disciplinary action after they held down and tasered a 16-year-old girl who had defied an order to move on because she was waiting for an ambulance to treat her sick friend.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission and police ethical standards unit are investigating the April incident - during a year-long trial of tasers - which has drawn a strong rebuke from a magistrate of the Brisbane Children's Court, The Weekend Australian reports.

The girl, who cannot be named, had a charge of obstructing police dismissed after the Children's Court yesterday ruled one of the two officers involved did not give adequate directions, under police move-on powers, before he and two private security guards held the slightly-built teenager down, shot her in the thigh with the taser and then arrested her, initially on a charge of assaulting police.

Magistrate Pam Dowse also criticised the police officers for over-reacting to the teenager's refusal to leave her unconscious friend, a girl, before the ambulance arrived. The teenagers were alleged to have been involved in an earlier altercation with another group of tourists.

Ms Dowse said it was not unreasonable for police to have allowed the group of about six to remain until the ambulance arrived, given that the number of adults present appeared to have the situation under control. "It didn't seem to be a crisis requiring such a stern response," she said.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Britain: taser gun case: man cleared

"Usage creep" in England you say? Pity!

Closer to home, speaking of police making "a mountain out of little more than a molehill," when will Robert Dziekanski be cleared of any crime?!”

November 13, 2008

A “man mountain” body builder who was shot with a taser gun said he was considering legal action against Norfolk Police after being cleared of assaulting an inspector and violent behaviour.

Andrew Clarke, 42, is 6ft 3 tall and powerfully built but was left unable to move after the electric shock device was shot at him outside Dereham Police Station.

A number of police officers told Thetford magistrates yesterday that they had been frightened by “agitated and aggressive” Clarke and he had ignored warnings to get to the ground and the taser gun was used as there was a fear he could cause a breach of the peace.

But the bench found him not guilty of assaulting Insp Peter Walsh and violent behaviour at a police station. He denied both offences.

After the case, Clarke, of Gray Drive, Swanton Morley, near Dereham: “I am happy justice has been done.”

He said he as well as being tasered, he spent two nights in custody and he had had the case hanging over him for four months.

Clarke described the effect of being shot with the device: “It seized every muscle up. It contracted my chest and stomach and I could not move or do anything. When you are being tasered it felt like it lasted half an hour.”

His solicitor Ian Fisher said: “We will consider the possibility of taking legal action against Norfolk Constabulary in respect of the amount of force used.”

He said police had “made a mountain out of little more than a molehill.”

The court was told that two specialist firearms-trained officers were called to the scene on the morning of July 28 and one of them - PC John Balderstone - fired the two so-called “barbs” into Clarke's chest to temporarily disable him after he had ignored warnings to get on the ground.

PC Balderstone said: “He was clearly agitated and in an aggressive state. I fired my taser with the aim of bringing the man and the situation under control.”

An initial firing lasted for four seconds and another pulse was fired when officers believed Clarke was trying to get up and that lasted two seconds.

No evidence was given in the case about the power of the electric shock, but Mr Fisher said in his summing up it was “50,000 volts.”

The magistrates heard that the incident occurred after Clarke went to the station to try to see his estranged wife Jane, who he thought was there, even though it emerged that she was at another address. Clarke wanted to talk to her about rumours about her which he had heard. The court was told that Clarke went into the station's public enquiry office and was kept waiting and became frustrated at the delays.

Insp Walsh said he had tried to talked calmly to Clarke, who was “angry and was making emphatic aggressive body motions.”

He said he was concerned for the safety of him, his colleagues, Clarke himself and members of the public and he tried to stop Clarke leaving.

Insp Walsh said Clarke “brushed him aside” and caused Insp Walsh's neck to jar and left him with a bit lip and sore jaw.

Clarke told the court he had just wanted to speak to his estranged wife and he decided to leave when he became frustrated.

He said he did not threaten and anyone or assault Insp Walsh and was only contact with him as the officer and PC Marcus Wall “had made contact with him.”

PC Kevin Cross, who saw Clarke in the public enquiry office, said: “He was pumped up and hyped up. He was aggressive and frightening. He had physically moved towards me in a threatening tone. He is a man mountain.”

Insp Walsh admitted the CCTV coverage from cameras at the station was “awful” and the system had been subsequently upgraded.

Clarke admitted an offence of sending an offensive text to his estranged wife. He was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £50 costs.