January 20, 2008

Man Tasered To Death In Minnesota - Amerika's Police State

By JIM ADAMS and EMILY JOHNS, Star Tribune

Father wants answers in son's death following Taser jolt

Video from a Minnesota Department of Transportation camera showed the accident that led to a man being shot by a Taser.

Mark Backlund was en route to get his parents at the airport when he was "uncooperative" after an accident.

Authorities are investigating the death of a 29-year-old Fridley man shot with a Taser by state troopers, who said he had become "uncooperative'' after a rush-hour crash Tuesday evening.

The victim was identified by his father as Mark C. Backlund. Gordon Backlund said his son was on his way to pick up his parents at the airport after they had taken a short trip to Florida.

According to the State Patrol, he was involved in a rush-hour crash on Interstate Hwy. 694 near Silver Lake Road in New Brighton. The State Patrol said troopers shot him with the Taser because he was uncooperative. He was breathing but unconscious when paramedics arrived, according to Allina Medical Transportation spokesman Tim Burke but was pronounced dead at Unity Hospital in Fridley.

Gordon Backlund said he was told his son's heart stopped. A 1996 graduate of Fridley High School, he had no heart conditions, his father said.

"We're looking for what really happened," said Backlund, who said his son's car was the only one involved in the crash. He described his son as caring and loyal, with a good sense of humor. "And it is just going to take time to figure this out."

Police have praised the Taser -- which sends an electric current -- for its ability to bring a quick end to standoffs with violent suspects. But related fatalities after their use have made it controversial.

Troopers put on leave

Lt. Mark Peterson of the State Patrol wouldn't describe the uncooperative behavior. Five troopers at the scene were placed on routine administrative leave while the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigates.

According to Chris Krueger, communications director for the Department of Public Safety, the Anoka County Medical Examiner could complete the autopsy as soon as today.

It is the State Patrol's first Taser-related death since troopers started carrying the weapons about a year and a half ago, Peterson said.

In Minnesota, 480 law enforcement agencies use Tasers now, compared with 219 in 2004, according to Taser International in Scottsdale, Ariz. In Minneapolis, Taser use is left to an officer's discretion, according to police spokesman Sgt. Jesse Garcia.

He said it is used most frequently to quickly control a situation when an officer is struggling with someone. Injuries to officers struggling with offenders have decreased considerably since the department started using Tasers in 2001.

"It takes the fight of out them," Garcia said.

He said no one in Minneapolis has died directly from a Taser. The Hennepin County medical examiner found a Minneapolis man shot with a Taser died from cocaine abuse, heart disease and emphysema in 2003. The next year, another Minneapolis man with heart disease and hypertension died from a heart attack after he was shot with a Taser.

Over 290 deaths nationwide

In the United States, more than 290 people have died since June 2001 after being struck by police Tasers, according to the human rights group Amnesty International. It said in October that only 25 of the 290 were armed, and none had firearms.

The group has called for a moratorium on Taser use until more research is done.

"We believe that they should be used as an alternative to lethal force," said Dori Dinsmore, the group's Midwest director, "not as a tool to ensure routine compliance."

A 2004 study from the group shows many of those who died had underlying health problems such as heart conditions or mental illness or were under the influence of drugs. Many also were subjected to repeated or prolonged shocks.

However, Taser International spokesman Steve Tuttle said of the 290 deaths that "in the vast majority of these tragic cases medical examiners have ruled that the Taser was not the cause of death." He said Taser use was listed as contributing factor in six cases since 1998.

He said studies cited in trials supported the company, which has not lost any of 61 product liability cases settled so far.

1 comment:

morris88 said...

Why Talk When You Can Shock

Chicago study calls Taser's safety claims into question
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | 6:05 AM ET
CBC News
Taser stun guns may not be as safe as their manufacturer claims, according to a study carried out by Chicago researchers, CBC News has learned.
Since June 2001, more than 290 individuals in the United States have died after being struck by police TASERs. Amnesty International is concerned that TASERs are being used as tools of routine force—rather than as weapons of last resort. Rigorous, independent, impartial study of their use and effects is urgently needed.

The team of doctors and scientists at the trauma centre in Chicago's Cook County hospital stunned 11 pigs with Taser guns in 2006, hitting their chests with 40-second jolts of electricity, pausing for 10 to 15 seconds, then hitting them for 40 more seconds.

When the jolts ended, every animal was left with heart rhythm problems, the researchers said. Two of the animals died from cardiac arrest, one three minutes after receiving a shock.

The findings call into question safety claims made by Taser International, the Arizona company that makes the stun guns, which are used by dozens of police departments across Canada.

Calls For Taser Moratorium Across Quebec February 08, 2008 12:47 PM
“It is a weapon that has been denounced as a weapon of torture by a United Nations committee,” Amnesty International spokeswoman Anne Sainte-Marie said yesterday.

© 2008 The Globe and Mail

Why are we in such a hurry to arm our law enforcement with these things? Do they know that if they don't hurry and get them that they will not be able to use them in the future due to the danger they pose. How many more people have to die. They are using these guns when the situation does not warrant it.