Third Party & Independents Archives

More Than Just a Few Volts?

Cocaine by itself is a pretty nasty drug. Mix it with alcohol or other drugs and you’re dancing with danger. Now we can add tasers to the list of things that don’t go well with the stimulant.

A tragic story reported by CBC News:

A forensic pathologist says she couldn't tell whether police use of a Taser contributed to the death of 44-year-old Robert Bagnell in Vancouver more than two years ago.

Bagnell died after he was restrained and Tasered by police as they tried to remove him from a bathroom at a Granville Street hotel in June 2004.

Dr. Laurel Gray told a coroner's inquest on Tuesday that Bagnell had four times the lethal level of cocaine in his blood, and had also taken amphetamines.

She also told the inquest that she found a series of 13 red marks on Bagnell's body - most of them in pairs about two centimetres apart.

The pathologist said she could not tell whether the marks were caused by a police Taser.

A police account of the fatal incident states that officers applied a Taser twice, and that Bagnell continued to struggle after being hit by the Taser.

Gray said if the Taser caused the cardiac arrest, Bagnell's heart would have stopped immediately after the 50,000 volts of electricity were applied.

The Bagnell family has launched a lawsuit against the Vancouver Police Department, the officers involved and the maker and distributor of the Taser, with the hope of getting the device banned in British Columbia.

The debate concerning the use of tasers by police is continuing to intensify now that another suspect has died after receiving the nasty jolt. Advocates for the use of tasers maintain that they are non-lethal devices that help officers subdue unruly suspects who would otherwise be subjected to greater injury with a more punishing weapon.

Human Rights groups such as Amnesty International opposes such devices and claims that they have been responsible for more than 90 deaths in the United States and Canada alone. Surely they will be following this particular story and fuel the anti-taser movement.

If tasers alone are in fact brining out fatal results, its use by police needs to be seriously questioned. However all too often those killed after being tased were found with lethal amounts of drugs in their system. After all, it's only logical that someone who needs to be tased in order to be subdued was under a chemical influence.

Cocaine, a stimulant that can make users aggressive and uncharacteristically strong, puts an unhealthy amount of a stress on the heart that is only worsened when accompanied by 50,000 volts of electricity.

Supporters of the device would say consuming illegal drugs is something you do at your own risk and the threat such users face should not outweigh the positive effects of tasers. Agencies worldwide tout the success of the device, and one study found that the presence of a taser alone is enough to convince a criminal to surrender for fear of getting shocked.

I have yet to draw my own conclusion on the use of tasers. I've never been confronted by a belligerent thug set on causing my great harm - and well, if a taser can be used instead of a gun, I think they serve a vital purpose.

Posted by Scottie at September 6, 2006 3:23 PM
Comments
Comment #179426

Scottie,

Hmmm…this is a tough one.

Let’s see…

“Snort 3 times lethal dose of cocaine” = “Fight with cops” = “taser”

“Don’t snort 3 times lethal dose of cocaine” + “Don’t fight with cops” = “no taser”.

Hmmmm…let me take 3 NANOSECONDS to figure this one out.

If you don’t want to be tasered…DON’T snort 3 times the lethal dose of cocaine. OR don’t fight with the cops.

Perhaps if one does not want to be tasered, one should…Oh, I don’t know…NOT break the law? You figure that MIGHT work?

Seems to me that if a totally innocent person was tasered just for kicks and died…that might be worth discussing.

Bottom line…

If you are committing a felony…don’t fight with the cops. You’ll probably be tasered or shot dead.

If you don’t commit crimes, you have an extremely LOW chance of being tasered.

Don’t commit crimes. Crime DOES NOT pay. And fighting with the cops is just plain stupid.

Posted by: Jim T at September 6, 2006 4:07 PM
Comment #179431

All the more reason not to use drups. : )
The alternative is probably worse than a taser.
Tasers are probably better than being shot with a gun or rifle (not to mention the danger to others in the vicinity).
That pepperspray stuff is awful too, and only good a very close range. How about tranqualizer darts? : )

I dunno … but it’s hard to drum up much sympathy for those resisting arrest or threatening others and refusing warnings.

Now, if the cops are getting too taser happy, that is a separate issue (but still better than trigger happy cops).

Posted by: d.a.n at September 6, 2006 4:42 PM
Comment #179454

If Tasers are outlawed only outlaws will have tasers. The Police will go back to bullets, which well.. we all know where that leads. I dont understand these kind of lawsuits, unless the Vancouver police administered the cocaine and amphetamines it seems our friend sorta did himself in.

Posted by: j2t2 at September 6, 2006 6:11 PM
Comment #179483

Thats better than the off duty cop in an under cover car pulling over an NFL player and shooting him.

There are reasonable limits to police power, but fighting the cops while high on a lethal dose of stimulants isn’t part of that. A person on that much of anything is probably dangerous, so while I don’t agree that the drug should be illegal, I do agree that it should be illegal to tweak out and get violent.

Posted by: iandanger at September 6, 2006 9:25 PM
Comment #179486

I am waiting to discover that the heroin that is killing shooters across the nation and filling ER’s with OD cases, is a Bush Secret Ops operation to rid the nation of heroin addicts and dry up the supply from (You Guessed It) the bumper poppy crops of the Taliban in Souther Afghanistan.

:-0 its a joke, folks!!! Relax, take a snort.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 6, 2006 9:59 PM
Comment #179503

When someone takes illegal drugs and than get the police out there to arrest them anything that happens to them if they fight is their fault.
I went to a demonstration of the taser about a year ago. They asked for volunteers to get tasered. They warned us that it would hurt like hell. Boy was that an understatement. And the just hit us in the leg.
I saw a pretty big guy up in Atlanta get tasered about six months ago. The fight went clean out of him after one hit.
In order to want to keep fighting after getting a jolt from one of these babys you have to be high on something.
I believe they’re a handy tool for the police. They go through training in how to use them during which the get tasered themselves. This actually makes cops a little more careful about how they use them.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 7, 2006 12:11 AM
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