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August 2011



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by Tommi Avicolli-Mecca


It seems that there’s a new, easy-way-out solution for security people having to deal with troubled kids who act out or cause disruptions in school: Taser them!
That’s right. Zap them with electricity. Elementary and high schools across this great land of ours are hiring security guards equipped with the nasty little weapons that the manufacturers call “non-lethal.” In fact, over 4,000 law enforcement agencies now arm their security people with Tasers.
It may seem like a cute little science-fiction device; its name even rhymes with “phaser,” the futuristic weapon that the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise carried on their intergalactic travels.
In all its years on TV, the Star Trek crew’s phrasers probably never killed as many people as the “non-lethal” Tasers of today: 334 deaths in just seven years, many of them young people. Amnesty International, in a 2008 report, says that those folks died from cardiac or respiratory arrest. The vast majority – 299 – were unarmed.

According to a 2007 British committee on less lethal weapons report, children are more vulnerable to serious injury or death from Tasers. “Until more research is undertaken to clarify the vulnerability of children to taser currents,” the report said, “children and persons of small stature should be considered at possible greater risk than adults.”

Taser Articles

Taser Way Not The Way To Treat People

“Tasers: MET Police deployment of tasers set to begin amid storm of international controversy”:
 “Police Taser Autistic Teen”:

“Police Taser Use ‘Abusive’: Lawyer”

TORONTO – An autistic man was allegedly punched and Tasered at least five times by police who were executing a search warrant in his home, according to a lawsuit — filed by George Lochner and his family — seeking $9-million in damages from Toronto police.

“TNT – TRUTH … not TASERS: Settlement reached in autistic man’s death from taser”:

“Deputies use Taser to Subdue Autistic O.C. Boy Who Was Running In Traffic”:

… But Doris Karras, mother of Taylor Karras, said deputies did not need to use the Taser gun, particularly because she had called various police agencies to alert them that her son was missing. She said her son would have followed deputies’ directions if he hadn’t felt threatened.

“This was a very aggressive response,” she said. She said her son “didn’t have any weapon on him. He didn’t even have a pencil.”http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/19/local/me-taser199

US police use Taser and pepper spray on disabled man


Alabama officers say they weren’t aware man was also deaf when trying to force him from store’s bathroom

Tuesday 28 July 2009 17.21 BST

Officers who used pepper spray and a Taser to remove a man from a store bathroom found out only later he was deaf and mentally disabled and didn’t understand they wanted him to open the door, police said today.

A spokesman for the Mobile, Alabama police department said the officers’ actions were justified because the man was armed with a potential weapon: an umbrella. But relatives of Antonio Love, 37, have asked for a formal investigation and said they plan to sue both the police and the store.
“I want justice,” Love’s mother, Phyllis Love, said today.
The woman said her son hears only faintly, has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old and didn’t realise that it was the police who were trying enter the bathroom.
Read in Full:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/28/usa

Taser gun used on 10-year-old girl who ‘refused to take shower’

A police officer used a Taser stun gun to subdue a 10-year-old girl in her own home.


By Nick Allen in Los Angeles
Published: 12:12AM GMT 19 Nov 2009
The officer had been called to the girl’s home in Ozark, Arkansas, by her mother because she was behaving in an unruly manner and refusing to take a shower.
In a report on the incident the officer, Dustin Bradshaw, said the mother gave him permission to use the Taser.When he arrived, the girl was curled up on the floor, screaming, and resisting as her mother tried to get her in the shower before bed.“Her mother told me to take her if I needed to,” the officer wrote.The child was “violently kicking and verbally combative” when he tried to take her into custody and she kicked him in the groin.He then delivered “a very brief drive stun to her back,” the report said.The girl’s father, Anthony Medlock, who is divorced from her mother, said the girl showed signs of emotional problems but did not deserve to be “treated like an animal”. He said: “Ten years old and they shot electricity through her body, and I want to know how the heck in God’s green earth can they get away with this.“If you can’t pick the kid up and take her to your car, handcuff her, then I don’t think you need to be an officer. She doesn’t deserve to be treated like a dog. She’s not a tiger.” Local Mayor Vernon McDaniel said the FBI should investigate.He said: “People here feel like that he made a mistake in using a Taser, and maybe he did, but we will not know until we get an impartial investigation.” The local Police Chief Jim Noggle said no disciplinary action was taken against Bradshaw.“We didn’t use the Taser to punish the child, just to bring the child under control so she wouldn’t hurt herself or somebody else,” he said.He said if the officer tried to forcefully put the girl in handcuffs, he could have accidentally broken her arm or leg.Mr Noggle said the girl will face disorderly conduct charges as a juvenile.

 Advocate criticizes use of stun gun
Autistic man’s death unnecessary, he says

By Brendan McCarthy, Tribune staff reporter.
Freelance reporter Carolyn Rusin contributed to this report
Published November 30, 2005

A disability rights advocate said Tuesday that better training may have prevented an incident last week in which an autistic man died after Des Plaines police officers used a stun gun in their attempts to subdue him.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Hansel Cunningham, 30, remain under investigation by Illinois State Police, and officials said the probe could take a year to complete.

Cunningham, a resident of a group home in Des Plaines, died Nov. 20 after he was shocked twice with a Taser by police officers who had responded to a 911 call from a caregiver at the home. Officers also used pepper spray and tackled him before paramedics injected a sedative.

Don Moss, a disability rights advocate who works with Evanston-based Rimland Services for Autistic Citizens, which operates the group home, questioned the use of force and the judgment of Des Plaines police officers and paramedics.

Cunningham “never had a history of violence but was sensitive to people touching him,” said Moss, who also is executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois. “The force likely caused more agitation to Hansel. It’s common for people with autism to be sensitive to sounds, to bright lights, to touch.

“This type of force was not needed, the action was not necessary. The restraint was not protocol. Apparently the police were aware it was a home for autistic adults. But perhaps the police weren’t framed or trained in less violent techniques.”

Des Plaines Police Chief Jim Prandini said officers used appropriate force to subdue Cunningham, who had bitten his caregiver and, according to Prandini, was combative and could have harmed himself or others.

“Our position is that we followed everything according to our guidelines. I believe the Fire Department did, too, but that is part of the investigation,” Prandini said. “Hopefully, we will find some results that will show why this unfortunate situation happened. We sincerely want the family to know that the Police Department, the entire city, offers its condolences and that we feel terrible about this.”

The Cook County medical examiner’s office has postponed ruling on the cause and manner of Cunningham’s death, pending further police investigation.

“I really would like to know,” Prandini said “If they point to the direction of a Taser, let’s make a Taser change. If they point to the direction of training, let’s make a training change.”

Cunningham was a five-year resident of the Rimland home. After he was subdued, he had breathing problems. Paramedics were unable to revive him, and he was pronounced dead at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

Paramedics initially were called to the home to treat the caregiver.

“He bit the hands and arms of the staff member,” said Moss, who was briefed by the not-for-profit agency and is familiar with the case. “I understand there was a lot of blood. He had bitten him two or three times.”

Moss said Cunningham did not have a history of violence and was familiar with the caregiver, who had been working at the home for more than three years.

The state police’s public integrity unit, a task force of investigators from the state police and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, is investigating and has begun interviewing police officers, emergency personnel, witnesses and family members.

Lt. Lincoln Hampton, public information officer for the state police, said there is no timetable for the investigation and that it could take a year to complete.

“They’re going to do a thorough investigation to get to the bottom, to discover exactly what happened in this case,” Hampton said.

A final report will be turned over to the state’s attorney’s office, which would determine if charges are to be filed.

Des Plaines police and the Illinois Department of Public Health, with the assistance of the Northwest Community Emergency Medical Services system, which oversees paramedic procedures in the northwest suburbs, are conducting internal investigations.

Dr. John Ortinau, medical director of the Arlington Heights-based Northwest Community EMS system, said the paramedics involved would be interviewed within the next week.

“Everything looks like it was done to protocol,” he said, referring to the EMS rescue and ambulance report.

Attempts to reach Cunningham’s family for comment were not successful. A Rimland spokeswoman said a funeral for Cunningham was held Tuesday.



Update: Latest Reported Taser Death

Police Watchdog To Probe Taser Man’s Death


Thursday 18th August, 2011.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an investigation following the death of a man after he was tasered by officers.
Police had been trying to arrest Dale Burns on suspicion of causing criminal damage at his flat in Barrow-in-Furness on Tuesday night.
The 27-year-old was tasered several times and sprayed with pepper spray during the attempted arrest.

He was taken to hospital but pronounced dead. A post mortem is due to be carried out as soon as possible.

Cumbria Police said officers were called to an address on Hartington Street in Barrow on Tuesday evening following reports of a man causing a disturbance.
The IPCC said: “Police attempted to arrest the man on suspicion of causing criminal damage at the flat.

“During the arrest one officer discharged a taser at the man a number of times.

“Another officer deployed Pava spray (commonly known as pepper spray). The taser deployed is understood to be a conventional police weapon.”

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