January 19, 2008

290+ Taser Deaths, So Far

I first learned about tasers when they were used at the WTO protests in Miami, 2003. All the reassuring words about "safety" sounded like bullshit, just like "one size fits all." Every day some new medical alert comes out saying an over the counter drug has unexpected side effects and/or can be lethal. So why should we believe that we are all constructed with the same tolerance for electricity jolts to our bodies? One thing we citizens must do is to educate young people: tasers are not a joke.
Father wants answers in son's death following Taser jolt
Mark Backlund was en route to get his parents at the airport when he was "uncooperative" after an accident.
By JIM ADAMS and EMILY JOHNS, Star Tribune
Last update: January 17, 2008 - 4:19 PM
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.
[...] 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.
[...] Lt. Mark Peterson of the State Patrol wouldn't describe the uncooperative behavior. [my bold] Five troopers at the scene were placed on routine administrative leave while the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigates.
[...] 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." [...]

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