Thursday, September 20, 2007

Taser = Death

A few taser-related news articles, just to give you a feel for their lethality:
Tasers on "kill"

Also from Drudge comes this outrage: A wheelchair-bound schizophrenic was waving knives and a hammer at her sister's family and police (after they were called to the scene). The cops' solution? Taser her 10 times in the space of two minutes. The result? Homicide, which is how the medical examiner ruled the woman's death as a result of the tasering.
By the way, there are audio tapes of that particular taser death, and a rather bluntly accurate quote from the woman's nephew:
"My aunt was basically tortured like an animal or something"
One Year Later

A year ago this week, James Chasse died in police custody after being beaten, Tasered, and hogtied by officers, and then transported to the county detention center instead of being taken to a hospital.

It shocked the city, given that police had targeted Chasse for merely acting suspiciously. After coming back from vacation almost two weeks after the tragedy, Mayor Tom Potter pledged to form a committee that would seek ways to reform how police interact with people who are mentally ill, and to push for more funding for mental health services.

A year later, some of that has happened. Police officers are now required to undergo crisis intervention training, and according to police spokesman Brian Schmautz, some 25 officers per month have taken the classes since February—that's approximately 200 officers as of this writing. And the 2007 state legislature, as boasted about by Potter in an Oregonian op-ed on the anniversary of Chasse's death, put more money into mental health services in part as a result of lobbying by Potter and Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler.

But a full year of politicians talking about reforms to the mental health system hasn't been enough for those still seeking justice for Chasse's death.

"Jim Chasse didn't die because of his mental health issue," said Jason Renaud of the Mental Health Association (MHA) during a Monday, September 17, protest outside of city hall. Instead, Renaud and dozens of other protestors argued, Chasse died because he was beaten by cops.

And that was the message of the day, as carried by numerous signs that read "Protect and Serve does not mean Beat and Kill" and "It's not about a few bad apples, it's about the whole barrel."

In a list of unanswered questions and unresolved concerns delivered to the mayor's office, the Mental Health Association asked repeatedly, "Why is the district attorney in charge of prosecuting police beatings and deaths?" and "Why haven't any police officers ever been charged with using excessive force?"

In other words, what activists are demanding isn't necessarily more funding for mental health, though they welcome it. Instead, they are asking for more accountability for officers who cross the line. The last question in MHA's letter speaks to the concerns of the activists gathered on the city hall sidewalk: "Since when is looking odd a crime?"

OC district attorney's office investigating Taser death
Officials are investigating the death of a 25-year-old man who collapsed after police responding to a domestic-violence-related call subdued him with a stun gun, district attorney's officials said.

Investigators immediately responded to the scene where Jorge Renteria Terrquiz lost consciousness after being hit with the Taser gun, district attorney's spokeswoman Farrah Emami said Monday.

Police fired the Taser at Terrquiz Sunday when they responded to the source of a hang-up call and found him beating his wife, police Sgt. Juan Reveles said.

An officer used the gun when Terrquiz attacked police, Reveles said. Terrquiz collapsed after he was hit and was taken to a hospital, where he died, he said.

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