5/10/2011

130 Taser-Related Deaths in the United States

Taser Death: Marcus Brown (Waterbury, CT)

Marcus Brown
It happened again! This time a lazy Waterbury (CT) police officer electrocuted 26-year old Marcus Brown with 50,000 volts of electricity from his taser gun. Officer Andy Sanchez, a 3-year veteran, has been placed on administrative duty while state police investigate Brown's death.

Officer Sanchez was called to Saint Mary's Hospital around 12:30am on Sunday, May 1. Sanchez and another unidentified police officer arrived in the lobby of the hospital's emergency room to a report of a man creating a disturbance.


The man, Marcus Brown, was taken into custody and placed in the back of a police cruiser. He was handcuffed and under control of the police. However, it appears that he was disrespectful to Officer Sanchez by kicking the door and window of the police car. Of course, Sanchez valued his car over human life ... so he took out his taser gun and electrocuted Brown.


Brown died right then and there.

Brown didn't have to die. He was handcuffed and not a threat to himself or others. There was no DEADLY FORCE involved. So, why did Sanchez pull his taser? It appears that the taser was simply being used as a HUMAN CATTLE PROD to compel obedience and respect.

The young man was in a hospital. Perhaps he was upset for a medical reason. We'll never know Brown's side of the story because he was killed. He's dead because a police officer was way too quick to reach for a taser gun in order to make his job easier. When will the police learn?

Today we added Marcus Brown (Waterbury, CT) 
as the 130th taser-related death in America since 2009.   [NOTE: the full list is shown below].
 


I wonder if anyone cares about the rising use of the taser as a lethal weapon?   The folks in Louisiana want us to believe that the taser is a humanitarian tool when used by the police.

I do think that that the issuance of new Taser guidelines is a good thing.   This is the first time that new guidelines have been issued since 2005.

On the other hand, I think that something is wrong in America when the police electrocute folks on a WEEKLY basis with their taser arsenal ... and the public is mute in its response.   Sometimes it takes a lawsuit ... like the one recently settled in Ohio ... to get the police to cool it.

I encourage you to use our COMMENTS ('Post a Comment') option at the bottom of this blog post to let us know what you think about these weekly taser-related killings.
This blog has been pointing out incidents of police taser torture for quite awhile. The work done over the past few years by Patti Gillman and Cameron Ward continue to be the inspiration for our work. Gillman and Ward documented over 600 taser-related deaths in North America on their blog.


According to Amnesty International, between 2001 and 2008, 351 people in the United States died after being shocked by police Tasers.  Our blog has documented 130 taser-related deaths in the United States in 2009-2011:

  1. Jan 9, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17, Black, Martinsville, Virginia
  2. Jan 11, 2009: Rodolfo Lepe, 31, Hispanic, Bakersfield, California
  3. Jan 22, 2009: Roger Redden, 52, Caucasian, Soddy Daisy, Tennessee
  4. Feb 2, 2009: Garrett Jones, 45, Caucasian, Stockton, California
  5. Feb 11, 2009: Richard Lua, 28, Hispanic, San Jose, California
  6. Feb 13, 2009: Rudolph Byrd, 37, Black, Thomasville, Georgia
  7. Feb 13, 2009: Michael Jones, 43, Black, Iberia, Louisiana
  8. Feb 14, 2009: Chenard Kierre Winfield, 32, Black, Los Angeles, California
  9. Feb 28, 2009: Robert Lee Welch, 40, Caucasian, Conroe, Texas
  10. Mar 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15, Caucasian, Bay City, Michigan
  11. Mar 26, 2009: Marcus D. Moore, 40, Black, Freeport, Illinois
  12. Apr 1, 2009: John J. Meier Jr., 48, Caucasian, Tamarac, Florida
  13. Apr 6, 2009: Ricardo Varela, 41, Hispanic, Fresno, California
  14. Apr 10, 2009: Robert Mitchell, 16, Black, Detroit, Michigan
  15. Apr 13, 2009: Craig Prescott, 38, Black, Modesto, California
  16. Apr 16, 2009: Gary A. Decker, 50, Black, Tuscon, Arizona
  17. Apr 18, 2009: Michael Jacobs Jr., 24, Black, Fort Worth, Texas
  18. Apr 30, 2009: Kevin LaDay, 35, Black, Lumberton, Texas
  19. May 4, 2009: Gilbert Tafoya, 53, Caucasian, Holbrook, Arizona
  20. May 17, 2009: Jamaal Valentine, 27, Black, La Marque, Texas
  21. May 23, 2009: Gregory Rold, 37, Black, Salem, Oregon
  22. Jun 9, 2009: Brian Cardall, 32, Caucasian, Hurricane, Utah
  23. Jun 13, 2009: Dwight Madison, 48, Black, Bel Air, Maryland
  24. Jun 20, 2009 Derrek Kairney, 36, Race: Unknown, South Windsor, Connecticut
  25. Jun 30, 2009, Shawn Iinuma, 37, Asian, Fontana, California
  26. Jul 2, 2009, Rory McKenzie, 25, Black, Bakersfield, California
  27. Jul 20, 2009, Charles Anthony Torrence, 35, Caucasion, Simi Valley, California
  28. Jul 30, 2009, Johnathan Michael Nelson, 27, Caucasion, Riverside County, California
  29. Aug 9, 2009, Terrace Clifton Smith, 52, Black, Moreno Valley, California
  30. Aug 12, 2009, Ernest Ridlehuber, 53, Race: Unknown, Greenville, South Carolina
  31. Aug 14, 2009, Hakim Jackson, 31, Black, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  32. Aug 18, 2009, Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38, Black, Greensboro, North Carolina
  33. Aug 20, 2009, Francisco Sesate, 36, Hispanic, Mesa, Arizona
  34. Aug 22, 2009, T.J. Nance, 37, Race: Unknown, Arizona City, Arizona
  35. Aug 26, 2009, Miguel Molina, 27, Hispanic, Los Angeles, California
  36. Aug 27, 2009, Manuel Dante Dent, 27, Hispanic, Modesto, California
  37. Sep 3, 2009, Shane Ledbetter, 38, Caucasian, Aurora, Colorado
  38. Sep 16, 2009, Alton Warren Ham, 45, Caucasian, Modesto, California
  39. Sep 19, 2009, Yuceff W. Young II, 21, Black, Brooklyn, Ohio
  40. Sep 21, 2009, Richard Battistata, 44, Hispanic, Laredo, Texas
  41. Sep 28, 2009, Derrick Humbert, 38, Black, Bradenton, Florida
  42. Oct 2, 2009, Rickey Massey, 38, Black, Panama City, Florida
  43. Oct 12, 2009, Christopher John Belknap, 36, Race: Unknown, Ukiah, California
  44. Oct 16, 2009, Frank Cleo Sutphin, 19, Caucasian, San Bernadino, California
  45. Oct 27, 2009, Jeffrey Woodward, 33, Caucasian, Gallatin, Tennessee
  46. Nov 13, 2009, Herman George Knabe, 58, Caucasian, Corpus Christi, Texas
  47. Nov 14, 2009, Darryl Bain, 43, Black, Coram, New York
  48. Nov 16, 2009, Matthew Bolick, 30, Caucasian, East Grand Rapids, Michigan
  49. Nov 19, 2009, Jesus Gillard, 61, Black, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
  50. Nov 21, 2009, Ronald Petruney, 49, Race: Unknown, Washington, Pennsylvania
  51. Nov 27, 2009, Eddie Buckner, 53, Caucasian, Chattanooga, Tennessee
  52. Dec 11, 2009, Andrew Grande, 33, Caucasian, Oak County, Florida
  53. Dec 11, 2009, Hatchel Pate Adams III, 36, Black, Hampton, Virginia
  54. Dec 11, 2009, Paul Martin Martinez, 36, Hispanic, Roseville, California
  55. Dec 13, 2009, Douglas Boucher, 39, Caucasian, Mason, Ohio
  56. Dec 14, 2009, Linda Hicks, 62, Black, Toledo, Ohio
  57. Dec 19, 2009, Preston Bussey III, 41, Black, Rockledge, Florida
  58. Dec 20, 2009, Michael Hawkins, 39, Caucasian, Springfield, Missouri
  59. Dec 30, 2009, Stephen Palmer, 47, Race: Unknown, Stamford, Connecticut
  60. Jan 6, 2010, Delano Smith, 21, Black, Elkhart, Indiana
  61. Jan 17, 2010, William Bumbrey III, 36, Black, Arlington, Virginia
  62. Jan 20, 2010, Kelly Brinson, 45, Race: Unknown, Cincinnati, Ohio
  63. Jan 27, 2010, Joe Spruill, Jr., Black, Goldsboro, North Carolina
  64. Jan 28, 2010, Patrick Burns, 50, Caucasian, Sangamon County, Illinois
  65. Jan 28, 2010, Daniel Mingo, 25, Black, Mobile, Alabama
  66. Feb 4, 2010, Mark Morse, 36, Caucasian, Phoenix, Arizona
  67. Mar 4, 2010, Roberto Olivo, 33, Hispanic, Tulare, California
  68. Mar 5, 2010, Christopher Wright, 48, Race: Unknown, Seattle, Washington
  69. Mar 10, 2010, Jaesun Ingles, 31, Black, Midlothian, Illinois
  70. Mar 10, 2010, James Healy Jr., 44, Race: Unknown, Rhinebeck, New York
  71. Mar 20, 2010, Albert Valencia, 31, Hispanic, Downey, California
  72. Apr 10, 2010, Daniel Joseph Barga, 24, Caucasian, Cornelius, Oregon
  73. Apr 30, 2010, Adil Jouamai, 32, Moroccan, Arlington, Virginia
  74. May 9, 2010, Audreacus Davis, 29, Black, Atlanta, Georgia
  75. May 14, 2010, Sukeba Olawunmi, 39, Race: Unknown, Atlanta, Georgia
  76. May 24, 2010, Efrain Carrion, 35, Hispanic, Middletown, Connecticut
  77. May 27, 2010, Carl Johnson, 48, Caucasian, Baltimore, Maryland
  78. May 29, 2010, Jose Martinez, 53, Hispanic, Waukegan, Illinois
  79. May 31, 2010, Anastasio Hernández Rojas, 42, Hispanic, San Ysidro, California
  80. Jun 8, 2010, Terrelle Houston, 22, Black, Hempstead, Texas
  81. Jun 12, 2010, Curtis Robinson, 34, Black, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  82. Jun 13, 2010, William Owens, 17, Race: Unknown, Homewood, Alabama
  83. Jun 14, 2010, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, 42, Hispanic, Harris County, Texas
  84. Jun 15, 2010, Michael White, 47, Black, Vallejo, California
  85. Jun 22, 2010, Daniel Sylvester, 35, Caucasian, Crescent City, California
  86. July 5, 2010, Damon Falls, 31, Black, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  87. July 5, 2010, Edmund Gutierrez, 22, Hispanic, Imperial, California
  88. July 8, 2010, Phyllis Owens, 87, Race: Unknown, Clackamas County, Oregon
  89. July 9, 2010, Marvin Booker, 56, Race: Black, Denver, Colorado
  90. July 12, 2010, Anibal Rosario-Rodriguez, 61, Hispanic, New Britain, Connecticut
  91. July 15, 2010, Jerome Gill, Race: Unknown, Chicago, Illinois
  92. July 18, 2010, Edward Stephenson, 46, Race: Unknown, Leavenworth, Kansas
  93. July 23, 2010, Jermaine Williams, 30, Black, Cleveland, Mississippi
  94. Aug 1, 2010, Dennis Sandras, 49, Race: Unknown, Houma, Louisiana
  95. Aug 9, 2010, Andrew Torres, 39, Hispanic, Greenville, South Carolina
  96. Aug 18, 2010, Martin Harrison, 50, Caucasian, Dublin, California
  97. Aug 19, 2010, Adam Disalvo, 30, Caucasian, Daytona Beach, Florida
  98. Aug 20, 2010, Stanley Jackson, 31, Black, Washtenaw County, Michigan
  99. Aug 24, 2010, Michael Ford, 50, Black, Livonia, Michigan
  100. Aug 25, 2010, Eduardo Hernandez-Lopez, 21, Hispanic, Las Vegas, Nevada
  101. Aug 31, 2010, King Hoover, 27, Black, Spanaway, Washington
  102. Sep 4, 2010, Adam Colliers, 25, Caucasian, Gold Bar, Washington
  103. Sep 10, 2010, Larry Rubio, 20, Race: Unknown, Leemore, California
  104. Sep 12, 2010, Freddie Lockett, 30, Black, Dallas, Texas
  105. Sep 16, 2010, Gary L. Grossenbacher, 48, Race: Unknown, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  106. Sep 18, 2010, David Cornelius Smith, 28, Black, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  107. Sep 18, 2010, Joseph Frank Kennedy, 48, Caucasian, La Mirada, California
  108. Oct 4, 2010, Javon Rakestrau, 28, Black, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana
  109. Oct 7, 2010, Patrick Johnson, 18, Caucasian, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  110. Oct 12, 2010, Ryan Bain, 31, Caucasian, Billings, Montana
  111. Oct 14, 2010, Karreem Ali, 65, Black, Silver Spring, Maryland
  112. Oct 19, 2010, Troy Hooftallen, 36, Caucasian, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
  113. Nov 4, 2010, Eugene Lamott Allen, 40, Race: Unknown, Wilmington, Delaware
  114. Nov 6, 2010, Robert Neill, Jr., 61, Caucasian, Mount Joy, Pennsylvania
  115. Nov 7, 2010, Mark Shaver, 32, Caucasian, Brimfield, Ohio
  116. Nov 23, 2010, Denevious Thomas, 36, Black, Albany, Georgia
  117. Nov 26, 2010, Rodney Green, 36, Black, Waco, Texas
  118. Nov 27, 2010, Blaine McElroy, 37, Race: Unknown, Jackson County, Mississippi
  119. Dec 2, 2010, Clayton Early James, Age: Unknown, Race: Unknown, Elizabeth City, North Carolina
  120. Dec 11, 2010, Anthony Jones, 44, Race: Unknown, Las Vegas, Nevada
  121. Dec 12, 2010, Linel Lormeus, 26, Black, Naples, Florida
  122. Dec 20, 2010, Christopher Knight, 35, Black, Brunswick, Georgia 
  123. Dec 31, 2010, Rodney Brown, 40, Black, Cleveland, Ohio 
  124. Jan 5, 2011, Kelly Sinclair, 41, Race: Unknown, Amarillo, Texas
  125. Feb 5, 2011, Robert Ricks, 23, Black, Alexandria, Louisiana
  126. Apr 3, 2011, Jairious McGhee, 23, Black, Tampa, Florida
  127. Apr 22, 2011, Adam Spencer Johnson, 33, Caucasian, Orlando, Florida
  128. Apr 23, 2011, Ronald Armstrong, 43, Race: Unknown, Pinehurst, North Carolina
  129. Apr 25, 2011, Kevin Darius Campbell, 39, Race: Unknown, Tallahassee, Florida 
  130. May 1, 2011, Marcus Brown, 26, Black, Waterbury, Connecticut

You can see that we don't know the race or national origin (RNO) for Ronald Armstrong, Kelly Brinson, Kevin Darius Campbell, Jerome Gill, Gary Grossenbacher, James Healy Jr., Clayton Early James, Anthony Jones, Derrek Kariney, T.J. Nance, Phyllis Owens, William Owens, Stephen Palmer, Earnest Ridlehuber, Sukeba Olawunmi, Ronald Petruney, Larry Rubio, Dennis Sandras, Edward Stephenson or Christopher Wright.   We can use some research assistance from villagers to help us identify the RNO for these folks who died after being electrocuted by police taser guns.

We track the RNO information because we sense that these taser-related deaths are happening at a disproportionate level to people of color.

For example, we see that at least 51 (50 men and a 62-year old woman) of these taser-torture killings occurred against African Americans.  Black people are only 13% of the total population, yet 39% of the 2009-2011 taser-related deaths in America are Black people.

At last count, there are more than 514,000 Tasers among law enforcers and the military nationwide. Tasers are now deployed in law enforcement agencies in 29 of the 33 largest U.S. cities. Some states, such as New Jersey, are loosening up their rules for taser use.  Other states, like Delaware, seek to justify taser use in spite of rising death toll.

However, the tide may be turning. As taser-related deaths and injuries have continued to rise (as well as the amount of Taser litigation), many departments are starting to abandon the weapon in favor of other means of suspect control. Currently, Memphis, Tennessee, San Francisco, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada have opted to ban the use of tasers by law enforcement.

South Carolina is beginning to question its use of tasers.  Additionally, a federal court has ruled that the pain inflicted by the taser gun constitutes excessive force by law enforcement. The courts don't want police to electrocute people with their tasers unless they pose an immediate threat.

Perhaps the idea of an electric rifle made sense when it was first invented. "Taser" refers to an electrical weapon trademarked by the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company known as Taser International. The word Taser stands for "Tom A. Swift Electrical Rifle."

The Taser was developed by Jack Cover, a contract scientist on NASA's Apollo moon program in the 1960s. Inspired by his favorite childhood book series - Victor Appleton's Tom Swift - Cover drew up plans for a non-lethal weapon like the one the series' main character used.

In 1993, Rick and Tim Smith, who launched Taser International, worked with Cover to improve his design and introduced the device the next year. Since then, use of the word Taser has became part of the common American language.

However, we now see too much taser abuse.   First available to law enforcement in February 1998, now used by more than 14,200 law enforcement agencies in more than 40 countries. More than 406,000 taser guns have been sold since the product hit the market. It may be time for congressional hearings.

Some tell us that tasers are making America safer. Police kill about 600 people per year in shootings. So what?!   Should we be we be happy that they are ONLY killing people once-a-week with taser guns?

How Do Tasers Work?  When a Taser’s trigger is pulled, two wires shoot out of the device at the suspect from up to 35 feet away. At the ends of the wires are probes that either embed in a person's skin or cling to clothing.
  • When the probes hit, an electrical pulse is delivered for five seconds, causing involuntary muscular contractions in the subject.
  • At the end of the first pulse, police tell the person to roll onto their abdomen, so they can be handcuffed. If they do not comply, they may be shocked again.
  • Once a person is arrested, police remove the barbs and call EMTs to the scene.
  • The person is taken to the hospital to be checked out. If the barbs remain in the person after police try to remove them, they are removed at the hospital.
  • The Taser is equipped with a chip that records information on each use, which can be used in court if someone alleges they were shocked multiple times.
Personally, I think that the 'Use of Force Continuum'  needs to show tasers as 'near-lethal' ... definitely an error to claim that they are 'non-lethal'.

Many of us think that that immediate problem with Taser use is the lack of state and federal training standards for Taser certification.  There are too many police officers with a taser on their hip and insufficient training on how ... or when ... to use it. Without set training standards (which includes a block on the liabilities of the weapons use in the event of bodily injury or death), officers are not fully aware of the ramifications of Taser use.

What say u?  What would you suggest we do to deal with these weekly taser-related deaths?



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