Is it the Taser or the mindset?

7 responses

  1. M says:

    The Taser skips the judge and jury and goes straight to the punishment (apperently, sometimes of the capital variety). The student at the John Kerry speech (see YouTube) had multiple cops on him and they still found the need to stun him? The guy was not a big guy and was not being violent (though resistant). If any self-respecting cop (let alone a pod of them) couldn’t restrain him with their own might, might they best reconsider their career path? As for allowing prison guards to carry the device, have we all forgotten that famous Stanford study where volunteers were arbitrarily appointed the role of either prisoner or guard? These guys make cops look like bunch of PhD.
    p.s. MRM, please fire me an email.

  2. KB says:

    You should do your research before speaking of things you know nothing about. This is the most uneducated and misrepresenting article ive read in months. You should be stripped of your right to publish anything. TASERs ARE non-lethal and most if not all the medical examiners have ruled out TASER as the cause of death in these cases where criminals have died after being subdued with one. Recently as well the review board had determined that all of the incidents you have mentioned were justified in using the TASER and in some cases worse forms of subduing the subject.In short do a little more leg work and think a little more before you publish false “facts” and uneducated opinions.

  3. Mark McQueen says:

    Thx for the perspective KB. I welcome the difference of opinion, and linked to a police report supporting Taser use as I don’t fancy myself as an expert of matters of electric shocks and heart failures.

    But by referring to these dead people as “criminals”, before they’ve had the benefit of appearing before a judge and jury, I think you hit the nail on the head vis-a-vis my concern that the public’s mindset is as much the issue as the Taser.

    Not many people seems to mind that the Taser is often removing the chance for an individual to appear before a court to answer for the alleged crime that led to the original encounter with the law enforcement offical.


  4. Duane Wisehart says:

    Mr. McQueen:
    The unfortunate truth in our business (yes, i’m a police officer) is that people die. Persons have died while in custody long before the rapid growth of Taser use. The problem with today is that since there are Tasers now being used to subdue comabative subjects, and IF that person later dies in-custody, the Taser is the first thing to be blamed, primarily due to its popularity or “press appeal”. In years past when someone died in custody we (the law enforcement community) tried to find out why. we came up with “positional asphyxiation” for a while, and then “drug induced phycosis” is the latest and most accurate.
    Our agency and many, many others still subject officers to the Taser as part of the training, and NOT ONE officer in the world has died because of this……why? because we are not under the influence or overdosing on illegal drugs at the time. That is the reason people are dying when taken into custody using a Taser, NOT because of the Taser. In your article you, like many others, are looking for the answers to in-custody deaths, and the Taser seems to be the choice of late. It’s drugs that are doing it! A compbative person under the inlfuence of drugs is seemingly immune to control holds and baton strikes, etc., but the Taser is able to subdue them because it is not based primarily on pain comliance. Then they die when subdued and restrained because their body cannot handle the drugs they are under the influence of without moving and thrashing about….in short, they crash!

  5. Mark McQueen says:

    I very much appreciate the insight. You are a professional and have expertise in this area, and your views and perspective are compelling.

    As for drugs being 100% responsible for Taser deaths, I’m from Missouri. The man who was killed with a Taser less than 2 minutes after encountering the officers at the Vancouver Airport had, according to preliminary autopsy report, no drugs or alcohol in his bloodstream.


  6. Duane Wisehart says:

    The very sad truth about this and other cases of in-custody deaths is that is very highly probable that the person would have died anyway. When these people reach that frenzied and out of control state (physically and mentally) they have to be subdued, and the police are the ones called in to do so. Without the use of a Taser to control the person, we have to resort to physical strength and lots of officers to restrain the person. I have personally witnessed in my career several people in a state of “excited delirium” and we have had to physically restrain them. I have witnessed the medical emergency that occurs when they suddenly stop breathing after being restrained. There were no Tasers involved in these incidents. The point I’m making and reiterating is that it just seems that the Taser is the focus of blame due to its popularity now, not because it really is the cause. I have read the studies done by Taser International, as well as the independent studies by other groups. I have also seen for myself the effectiveness and impact of the Taser, and the marked decrease in injuries to suspects (and officers) with it’s use instead of nightsticks, clubs, ASPs, control holds, less-lethal projectiles, etc. In my professional and personal opinion, the Taser is a great tool, and once again, NOT the reason these people die.

  7. Mark McQueen says:


    The Polish tourist at the Vancouver Airport wasn’t on drugs, according to the autopsy. He died after a Taser bolt.

    Billy clubs bruise, but they didn’t kill.

    If it isn’t the Taser that killed the man in Vancouver, what did? Operator error? A weak heart? Bad lungs?


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