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How Taser inserts itself into investigations involving its own weapons (reuters.com)
307 points by jMyles 43 days ago | hide | past | web | 176 comments | favorite

> Ho served with Mash and another Taser consultant on a 19-member task force that prepared an influential 2009 white paper on excited delirium for the American College of Emergency Physicians, representing 31,000 doctors. The paper described the condition as “a real syndrome of uncertain etiology,” or cause.

This is some special kind of evil. They not only have coroners and police departments in their pockets. But also invented a whole new disease and funded a "white paper" about it. They fully expected for this to end up in court from day one, as they know exactly what their product does to people. So they inoculated themselves by generating "scientific research" to shove in front of juries during a trial. "Oh look science! Victim was suffering from a case of excited delirium when officer Jones pressed the trigger. Here is a paper on it".

After serving on a jury, I believe this would totally fly there. Juries are not allowed to research or study the facts about the case on their own. Once "evidence" is shown or an expert is declared "an expert in <blah>" then you are told to base your judgment on what they present.

Unless, of course, the expert is from the defense:

> Taser persuaded a judge to exclude a medical examiner and pathologist with 25 years’ experience whose testimony was central to the family’s case, arguing that it was “unqualified, unsupported and unreliable.”

Or even better, sue anyone who says Tasers are dangerous:

> Also in 2006, Taser sued electrical engineer James Ruggieri, who wrote a peer-reviewed study that said Taser shocks were more dangerous than the company stated. In its lawsuit, Taser said Ruggieri was mounting an “anti-Taser campaign,” was unqualified to do so, and made money from delivering anti-Taser presentations and appearing as an expert witness.

And make everybody afraid to implicate a taser:

> Such cases have an impact on medical examiners, according to a 2011 survey of 222 medical examiners nationwide. Its conclusions: 14 percent said they modified diagnostic findings due to the possible threat of litigation from Taser, and 32 percent said that threat could affect future decisions.

Any time I read "Taser persuaded" I am reminded of their primary form of persuasion. Scare tactics should not fly in Court

If judges can be persuaded to exclude medical experts because they went against what X company asserted then isn't the weakness in the system the judge?

That always confused me: if juries are the arbiters of fact (as instructed by a judge), why can't they consult external references? Why do they have to rely exclusively on testimony and their predetermined factual knowledge?

Presumably each side will present the best facts available to fill in the jury members knowledge.

Can you imagine if jury members (some of whom might believe in homeopathy or other bizarre pseudoscience) were allowed to base their judgements on `facts` not presented by one of the parties involved? It'd be madness, very quickly.

> Can you imagine if jury members (some of whom might believe in homeopathy or other bizarre pseudoscience) were allowed to base their judgements on `facts` not presented by one of the parties involved?

But jury members are allowed to use their pre-existing knowledge of homeopathy, are they not? They're just prevented from learning more about homeopathy (or psychopathology) in a way that could influence their decision.

Now I wonder if an elementary textbook on a topic would be admissible evidence, and whether jury members would be allowed to ask for it.

That a jury is made of common people who might have a wide range of beliefs seems rather the point of the system though doesn't it?

Also, this is your weekly reminder that vaccines are homeopathy.

Vaccines and allergy shots are NOT homeopathy and that is extremely dangerous to say.

Homeopathy is characterized by the belief that 'like cures like'. They ingest poisons to innoculate themselves to fevers, etc. It is very, very different from simply gaining a resistance to specific compounds.

That's the way juries work. I was on one two years ago and was pretty frustrated with the way the defense presented facts. But you have to live with what you are presented with and can't ask any questions even if you think there are gaps.

I believe it's so as to navigate the complicated evidence exclusion rules. The other option would be to require the jury to ignore some evidence after having heard it (which they already do sometimes when they don't catch it earlier) - but the general assumption is that it'll still have an effect then, and that's unfair.

Some states now allow juries to question witnesses. I think that pushes the balance back a bit.

As a juror, I can base my judgement on my own analysis of what is before me, I don't have to rely on what they tell me it means. I can consider the MRDA rule[1] when something seems too convenient for the person saying it. I can consider whether or not that oddly-timed eye blinking is a tell. I would be able to form these opinions privately during the testimony and then share these opinions with my fellow jurors during deliberation.

Based on instructions I received as a juror, I think it would be inbounds to send in a factual question to the judge, and maybe that question would lead to additional evidence that could be presented and also balanced with rebuttal or otherwise handled fairly.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MRDA_(slang)

Sure nothing I said disagrees with what you mentioned. Yes you can make you own opinion, draw from your experience, consider whatever evidence you choose and deliberate with your fellow jurors.

What the judge instructs jurors is that they shouldn't research related information or talk about the case during lunch or if they go home and have to come back and so on.

So in this case you might hear the defense "experts" talk about "delirium" and presenting it as peer reviewed, settled science. A juror would want open up Wikipedia page on it and read about and find that it's mostly bullshit. But they are instructed not to. Now maybe the plaintiff's attorney is good enough to call their experts and testify against the other expert. Or maybe you already know or is familiar with these topics. No problem there then, but you might be struck out initially by the defense if they say "is anyone familiar or an expert in X" as a preventive measure to bolster their chances of winning.

Now here is something interesting to think about - maybe there is a way to find out a-priori about all the cases on the docket for that day you are called and research and learn as much as possible about them. For busy court house that could end being a lot of cases.

> Juries are not allowed to research or study the facts about the case on their own.

Do jury members get to go home overnight during their service, or is this actually enforced?

It depends, in most cases yes they go home. In high profile cases they get put in a hotel. I got to go home in my case, it was a civil suit.

The judge instructed us not to look up research related to the case and I listened and didn't.

After the fact, I believe the verdict would have been different if we had been allowed to lookup how that type of case was being run and what happens and so on. It was an auto insurance litigation for injuries and medical bills.

Hmm this is very distressing because all the relevant societal facts and not just the facts that paid for floor time must have voice in the court system. Inadmissible evidence and Evidence policies should not preclude common sense, inquisitiveness, a desire and action to become informed on a topic, and general understanding. In a case where media exposure would implicate certain individuals I can understand an imperative such as "watch no TV" but how in good conscience can one say "learn no more about the matter than what you know this very moment!" Seems like an easy recipe for buy-the-verdicts-you-like

Both sides have right to know and rebut all evidence. Allowing jury to pursue independent evidence circumvents that and would be injustice.

More practically do you really want jury basing their verdict on whichever truth gets top Google result or who paid enough to have gotten their message repeated. In the era of Fox and other fake news?

In that case taser wouldn't either bother with the science and just bombard us with stories of tasering pedos and protecting YOUR daughter from rape.

Ah, being able to rebut evidence is good and necessary. For your general question, I must say No; but how can we defend the judicial system from exclusively showcasing "purchased experts and evidence?" That's what I'm interested in clarifying.

Because in our justice system there are two sides. Prosecution and Defense. It's required (by law) that they both act in the best interests of their client. Those interests include getting experts that support their "truth" and discrediting the experts of the other side.


We offer justice in the USA. We don't (except in limited circumstances) offer free or cheap justice. So, the side with the more money has "unfair" advantage.

This "justice favors the rich" is The Reason consumer protection and other regulation of companies is needed.

Thank you for your reply, that is important to keep in mind, the "two sides" of the court battle. It is just a pity that we can't reason a more elegant solution for resolving disputes and establishing some sort of ethical behavior standard. This is good to talk about, it sheds light on the unknown, and it also keeps me optimistic because if we ever have the opportunity to revamp the system, I want all the best ideas to flourish

Look at a case like Shkreli's [1], where the case (and it's facts) are generally unrelated to most media coverage and public opinion. Is it an impartial jury if they decide to convict the defendant based on evidence which is irrelevant to the case (and thus excluded)?


I don't think the point is for the jury to strive for some sort of moral reasoning that is beyond the understanding of the Society, and I don't think it's possible for a jury to be completely independent (what is independent completely in the world anywhere?) but I see what you mean, you bring about a compelling point. This person was already convicted in the hearts of the jury, not really leaving much room for the judiciary process. The process, however unbalanced and messed up it may be, still has a lot of merit and potential. In the ideal way, anyone who is innocent will never ever be found guilty, and someone who is guilty will probably be found guilty. For my personal point of view these days, I think it is more important for no innocent person to go to prison, than to make sure that all the guilty ones (and some not guilty ones) go. That's a big question of implementation.

The tricky thing with a case like Shkreli's is that what you are being tried for, and what the jury wants to put you into jail for, are potentially different things. Very difficult to extricate. If he was in court for grand theft auto and he had a perfect alibi, he still might be found guilty just because it's an opportunity for the jury to deal out some "righteous punishment" given the opportunity. Is this judiciary morality and ethics? Is it a greater-scope of ethical absolution? It's really hard to say. The court tries you on a specific set of bullet points, and if you don't get convicted you're free to go, but the emotional closure may not have happened.

At any rate, I don't think "Punishment for the Crime" is the only adage we can continue with in our modern society. We also need to make provisions for rehabilitation, amelioration, healing, and in general promoting the psychic health and welfare of people who are deemed "perpetrators" instead of labeling them as lost causes (until of course they re-emerge into Society and the issues have been substantially compounded).

There are people whose epistemic hygiene I'd trust enough to think that their independent research would bend the outcome of the case towards truth. I don't know if the average person would though.

Epistemic Hygiene is next to Godliness

The trouble is the interaction between juries, the adverserial system and expert witnesses.

In general, I am in favour of the former two. But the fact is that you can get a "expert" to say anything you like. I expect this can be bad enough in a Civil Law court, because even educated judges can be bamboozled. It's worse in the Common Law system, because it provides a platform where made-for-the-event, fruadulent expertise gets the same platform as its opponent.

An independent jury undermines the power of the court and the government. If you let juries make decisions next thing you know you get verdicts like not guilty.

Aha, your sarcasm was hard to detect at first. Yes, although a "jury of your peers" implies a whole lot of nonsense, so...

> Do jury members get to go home overnight during their service

Usually (though sequestration does happen in some cases), but...

> or is this actually enforced?

Yes; like most laws, it is enforced after-the-fact.

Most can go home but you are instructed not to discuss the case with anybody and not to do any research on your own.

Er... "excited delirium" is both very real and very serious, a constellation of symptoms due to another underlying process (e.g., drugs, usually of the illicit nature). It can generally be treated well with Ketamine.

The cure is ketamine? That's an animal tranquilizer.

Do you think humans aren't animals...?

Ketamine is a very safe and effective drug when used properly. In many areas it's a first drug of choice for prehospital ("ambulance") sedation. Around here our protocols prefer benzodiazepines like Versed, but we have Ketamine on the rig, and use it in cases like this.

> "Do you think humans aren't animals...?"

One has to be quite careful with type of comment. Of course humans are animals, but we are animals of a particular species and what one animal species eats or easily tolerates, can be deadly to another animal species.

Some simple examples to illustrate the point. Chocolate and grapes are dangerous, even deadly for dogs yet of course are not only tolerated, but even actively enjoyed by the vast majority of humans with no ill effects.


Ketamine is safe for humans.

I was not claiming all substances safe for one animal are safe for all animals. I'm claiming "animals" is a superset that includes "humans".

> "The cure is ketamine? That's an animal tranquilizer."


Ketamine has very important human use. From article above:

"It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines"

It's not a cure, it's a treatment.

Ketamine, I do believe, is an animal tranquilizer. Not being a veterinarian, I don't know much about that application. However, in humans it has shown tremendous benefit as an analgesic and a dissociative agent, with a tremendous safety profile.

Ketamine is more than that. It is also shown to be effective for treatment of depression

Yeah, this is horrific. From a medical standpoint:

"AED readings are important. Shock versus no shock" - this is basically allowing them to go one of two ways "Shockable", then they weren't 'fatally' injured by the Taser, and external circumstances caused the death. "No Shock Advised", well, they must have had a heart defect. Never mind that there are multiple rhythms beyond VF (Ventricular fibrillation), VT (Ventricular tachycardia) that can be recovered.

The next three are basically trying to imply typically drug use interfered with cardiac activity and that, not the Taser, caused the cardiac event.

It's basically "here's a laundry list of things that can exonerate Taser. Collect them."

Whereas law enforcement also sees that, say I use a blank shotgun shell to make a retort to scare someone. And then that causes them to die of a heart attack due to a weak heart. I am to blame for manslaughter. That's because it doesn't matter the health status of a person - if I caused it, im to blame.

Unless you're law enforcement. They're... uh, special.

Edit: downtopic, user:revelation said it best. It's called the Eggshell Skull Rule. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggshell_skull

That rule seems to depend on the precipitating action being a tort.

This is a really interesting question. what are the legal repercussions for killing someone that's about to die? Is imminent death an extenuating circumstance?

Could one argue that law enforcement would have used force that on average is much more lethal (gunshot), but instead used a Taser, and unfortunately they died because of the Taser? I'm a lot more comfortable with this defense than some sort of hot-potato "maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was the taser" excuse.

> what are the legal repercussions for killing someone that's about to die?

The example I have heard around this is that if you shoot, and kill, someone who is currently falling off a building you are still guilty of murder.

The reasoning, I believe, is that anything grayer than "if you killed them, you killed them" very quickly devolves into an argument over what "imminent" is.

Well, that's also a good question, but it's more nuanced than that. There may be cardiac stresses in play that are -exacerbated-, perhaps fatally, by the Taser. Certainly people die from cardiac complications from drugs alone, but the thought here is that Taser is trying to say 'underlying condition' killed the person, not the Taser deployment.

> In an email, Kroll said his affiliation with Taser did not bias his research: “Due to this well-known relationship, I was motivated to be very careful to be extremely accurate and objective,” he said.

Right, I'm sure he was extremely careful and objective in his research.

It's funny how scientists who do "double blind testing", where they avoid even themselves knowing if a person received the control or not, because it's proven that it could bias the result, somehow are totally immune from bias because of research grants where the grant giver has obvious interests.

The police shot someone with a taser for doing graffiti on an abandoned building? That is completely insane.

You can literally rub graffiti off a wall, why would you risk killing someone for that.

"why would you risk killing someone for that"

I think that's the main point of the article. Taser markets these weapons as non-lethal, going to great lengths to make sure investigations point the blame somewhere else when a death occurs.

Police don't treat these weapons as lethal, which is clearly not true.

I heard from an officer (in my city at least) that part of their training is getting shot by a taser. They even let citizens who join their "explorers program" get shocked by one for the experience (clip on the ends, not shot).

A mandatory part of Austin PD's academy is being tased. The taser is fired into the student's back, the student is held securely by two other students and then lowered to the ground.

I don't believe the trigger is depressed during this, so it's just the contact shock, not a prolonged/repeated one.

I also have no idea what medical personnel are on hand, but all police officers are trained in CPR and I'd imagine they have an AED on premises, even if there are no EMTs right there.

I would be interested to know what, if any, emergency medical presence there is during this training. Might go to show what level of confidence they have in the true non-lethality of the weapons.

The big differince is where you are tased, and for how long. I have done taser training and we usually got it in the leg, rather than across the chest, as most deployments happen.

They also don't shoot people in the chest or let them fall onto concrete.

They should do the testing a 30 minute drive from the hospital without medical personnel on hand at the top of a flight of cement stairs with no one around to catch their fall.

I'm sure the police would not volunteer for that test.

As an electronic engineer, I've probably received more electric shocks than most people. It very much depends on where you get shocked, if you avoid the area around the heart then you could get away with it. It still hurts though.

Usually, use of force guidelines say that this level of escalation is only warranted when the person is actively resisting (e.g. attempting to strike the officer). This would be a good case to have body cam video for.

The article didn't mention verbal warnings so I looked for the procedures and found this: https://cbsmiami.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/use-of-force.pd...

It says use of ECD (Taser), as non-lethal force, is warranted to prevent inter alia damage to property, section 4.b.1.b.

It also says verbal warnings should be given when they don't betray a tactical advantage.

Once a warning is given, if you run you're resisting arrest, which is for good reasons a serious crime.

Resisting arrest and evading arrest are qualitatively different, though I don't feel like researching legal precedent on the topic right now to find which courts and circuits think what about it.

Whatever the law says, the use of potentially deadly-force to prevent the application of graffiti is unconscionable. Graffiti may be aesthetically undesirable and property owners are within their rights to obstruct or remove it from their property, but adding a layer of paint to a wall does not damage the wall.

I dispute that there's no damage. The visual amenity of the wall/building/area has altered (possibly for the good IMO), returning it to the unaltered state has costs, leaving the visual amenity in the altered state can produce a deficit for businesses and residents (or the contrary). It's definitely an alteration, if the alteration is unwanted it seems reasonable to describe it as damage.

Should we let people graffiti other's property without any hindrance?

If you make something illegal, you have to allow police to intervene. If you allow police to intervene some people will run. Police are worthless, as are the laws they seek to enforce, if they don't have legal powers to physically stop people who flee from them, using appropriate force. Thus situations where people come to physical harm that outweighs the gravity of their (known) suspected crimes are inevitable so long as people choose to flee when confronted by police.

Point out the holes there for me?

"appropriate force".

I'd contend that an electric shock across the heart is too much force for stopping someone accused of spraying graffiti.

It seems to me that this is the grey area where the officer's humane discretion should come into play: "is it worth risking another human-being's life in order to prevent their evading capture for a crime of this level?"

It seems like this grey area often gets flattened into "is this human being complying? If no, pull trigger."

Police have use of force guidelines. It would be good for concerned citizens to pay attention to and advocate that those guidelines be written in such a way that it's clear when each level of force is truly warranted or not. I tend to agree that shocking someone is a bit excessive for mere property damage, but I don't know all the details about this.

The situation would change a lot if, e.g., they were tasering someone already restrained as a punishment, or conversely if they were tasering someone who ran into a dead end, then turned to attack them. Given that the details in the article were quite thin, I'd want to see more evidence before rendering judgement.

It would seem that the use of force guidelines should be updated to solve this in the future and we should pay more attention to the rules and incentives the officers are working under.

Someone ran from the police, escalating the issue, when they were just graffiti-ing on an abandoned building? That is idiotic.

There is inherent risk when you escalate an issue with the police. I'm not excusing the police for using deadly force, but he made a bad choice.

> In bold letters, marked “TIMELY AND URGENT,” the dispatch advised Miami’s medical examiner to send the teen’s brain tissue for testing to Deborah Mash, a University of Miami medical researcher. It did not mention Mash had been paid by Taser to testify on its behalf in lawsuits against the company.

I mean... this is a truly hideous thing from a company whose history is already mostly hideous.

"We serve and protect."

"We serve ourselves and protect our own."

Some police forces have procedures where they do things like

--keep their distance from agitated people.

--warn them several times and try to talk them down.

--then say "taser taser taser" before discharging the weapon.

These seem like good procedures to follow.

If I were to assault a person suffering from a condition such as "excited delerium syndrome", and that person died as a result of my assault, I would be guilty of a crime known as "felony murder." I'm pretty sure the legal priniciple is stated as "you take your victim as you find him." It's not a valid excuse to say, "I didn't know the guy had a heart problem" if he has a heart attack right after I assault him." And, if I say, "I knew he had a heart problem," then that makes my crime worse.

Now you would think we need more body cams and recorded videos... and guess who is advertising free body cams to all US police officers: Axon/Taser.


Axon is actually the new name of Taser... which makes now money by selling systems archiving, managing, and analyzing police officers body cam videos.


There is an obvious conflict of interest here: it could be so easy to conveniently delete a video incriminating a Taser device...

Is it easy though? Its incredibly risky? It could tarnish their reputation with police forces and risk lawsuits.

And are you saying they shouldn't be in the business of providing cameras to authorities because of a possible conflict of interest? They are a public company and have a responsibility to maximize profits. They made millions last year from evidence storage services.

And I would hope the engineers are building their infrastructure in a way that prevents tampering, otherwise the engineers could be held accountable for any very risky evidence deletion.

And I think body cams is a more ethical business than tasers anyway, helping to hold police and citizens accountable for their actions.

I hope it would not be easy to delete content, but the article shows how much we need to worry about it, when we see how much Taser goes to extra lengths to protect their weapon, and how they collude with the police force in the process.

I would prefer if the vendor selling the video systems did not also sell weapons. They could be split in 2 companies and dissociate ownership of each.

Beyond Tasers guns, it also warns us how important the governance model for video archival/retrieval system is. Because if the police force is the client, there is a business incentive to absolve the police officers in case of issues. How to define that governance model is above my pay grade, but this is something very important, that goes beyond engineers in the trenches.

Created a throw away for this. My brother had a run in with police (he is mentally ill) and they tasered him repeatedly. He was in excellent physical (former marine) condition and about 37 years old.

When they delivered him to the hospital he was in severe shock and no effort was made by the nursing staff or officers to warm him. He was handcuffed to a sheets bare hospital cot. After begging with officers and nursing staff to provide blankets and water for about 15 minutes I finally appealed to the right cop (former marine) who got him blankets and water.

The jail staff showed up closely after this and they were going to cart him off to jail without any further ado...however a physician needed to sign off. I could see he was in extreme physical distress as a result of his experience and the tasering.

Thankfully the ER physician was competent and unbiased by police reported events and saw that my brother had the symptoms of cardiac related distress and related abnormalities and insisted that he be kept on site for monitoring and treatment. If it wasn't for a good cop and a diligent physician my brother would be dead now: I have no doubt of this.

So, how many people die of "excited delirium" without them being tasered at all? IF we were to believe the Taser company, this condition is killing people all the time.

People can (and do) experience "excited delirium" without a cop anywhere near them...

Even if you are right, your parent's point still stands.

If applying Bayesian reasoning to determine the likely veracity of the Excited Delerium defence of taser-related deaths, then ED deaths in the general non-tasered poulation should be an important prior.

America needs oversight of police's use of force. We don't even collect good enough data and that opaqueness only helps abuse.

Until we eliminate police unions, that's unlikely to happen: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/opinion/sunday/when-police... .

Mancur Olson is also interesting on the topic of interest groups and rent seeking more generally: https://www.amazon.com/Logic-Collective-Action-printing-appe...

Police unions are common enough around the world, but internal controls are generally better than we hear about in the US (and I suspect it varies within America as well).

I suspect part of the problem is that police forces run by smallish localities, which can't have the same level of training and oversight as larger jurisdictions. But that's only part of the problem: major US cities also seem to have problems.

Tased to death for spray painting McDonald’s windows :\

> the 18-year-old graffiti artist. The teen had been spotted spray-painting the blackened windows of an abandoned McDonald’s.

> Within seconds, Officer Jorge Mercado caught up with him, drew his Taser and fired a single shot to the chest. The recent high school grad and aspiring art teacher collapsed on the sidewalk in cardiac arrest. The chase lasted six minutes. It was 5:20 a.m. on Aug. 6, 2013. At 6:18 a.m., he was pronounced dead.

Whyyyy is using a taser against a teenager who’s running away even nevessary? Dude was doing some vandalism. If you can’t catch him on foot just let him get away. It’s not like he’s selling drugs to little kids or trying to punch you in the face.

The story as written is a little ambiguous...what happened at the end of the chase is important. Did the cop just tase him as he was standing there with his arms up? Did the guy try to put up a fight? The answer to those questions is important and not covered in the article

Edit: from a NYT article:

> One of the things they learned, he went on, was that Officer Mercado explained his use of the Taser as having occurred as Mr. Hernandez-Llach was running toward the officer.

It appears that is in dispute though.


Because a whole lot of cops go crazy when they feel disrespected and running away is the ultimate disrespect of their authority.

See also: the detective recently in the news for trying to coerce a nurse into illegally providing access to a patient's blood. He's been told by the nurse's supervisor that what he wants is simply not allowed by law and that it's not the nurse's decision, but then decides to forcefully arrest her because, in his own words, “she’s the one that has told me 'no'” [1].

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/09/0...

an abandoned McDonald's at that

Now of the most horrifying videos I have ever watched is of a cop who pulls over a teen and tases him, in the chest, which led to that kid falling into a coma and later getting brain damage.

It seems nonsensical to me that Taser is making a distinction between whether or not the electric shock was responsible for someone's death. If they hit their head on the fall, that is still because someone shot them with a Taser. Drug use, health conditions, etc. all are the same: An officer is still applying a weapon to someone, and if the result is death, then the Taser was responsible.

I haven't heard anyone realistically call a Taser "non-lethal" in a long time. They're called "less lethal" for a reason: They're less likely to kill someone than a gun. (You can survive gunshots too! Just... less often.)

It's hard to imagine a reasonable case for firing ANY weapon at a graffiti artist. Using a Taser is just one of many levels of a use of force, and it's hard to imagine a justification for it with such a minor offense.

> It's hard to imagine a reasonable case for firing ANY weapon at a graffiti artist.

How about personal inconvenience due to an itchy trigger finger? And if the graffiti was in any way subversive, you could make a case for attempting to commit journalism.

To play devils advocate to most in this thread, what is Axon/Taser to do about people potentially holding them accountable for every taser related death? Tasers are a better alternative to guns. Axon can't possibly be liable for every death. The police have to have some accountability with their use of a weapon, just like with hand guns, right?

Obviously the more liberal the police are with tasers, then the more accidental deaths there will be. So if the police treated them like firearms, then Axon wouldn't need to get so involved to try and defend itself. Gun manufacturers are never liable for gun related deaths.

Is the problem how tasers are marketed as non-lethal? Do people want to see tasers outlawed and have the police go back to using guns?

EDIT: if this isn't a relevant contribution to the discussion, I don't know what is.

They are clearly responsible for every death when they clam it's safe and it's killing people.

There is zero difference in their actions and directly adding a LD50 does of cyanide as a seasoning at a school lunch. Sure, your not going to kill everyone there, but that's not safe.

PS: Arguably it's worse as the average mass murder does not go around stating their victims would have died anyway.

Exactly my point. The police should treat tasers like firearms and Axon should change their marketing.

As it is marketed as a supposedly nonlethal weapon, you pose a false dilemma. The alternative nonlethal weapon is the baton.

"In the end, no one was charged in the death because of the way Florida, like some other states, categorizes Tasers – as a “less lethal” form of police force. Under state law, officers cannot be held liable for deaths from the weapons if they are used “in good faith” and within the scope of official duties."

Well.. these laws suck and Taser's marketing probably allowed for this to happen in the first place? "less lethal" -> "zero consequences"?

It's a false dichotomy. There are more than just the two choices presented here. Look at law enforcement in just about any other country for guidance.

How about police in land of the “free” and home of the “brave” exercise restraint?

Isn't that what I was saying? move the responsibility to the police and not the manufacturer.

And I don't think your italicized quoting of the national anthem contributes anything to the discussion. It just shows how emotionally invested you are.

> It just shows how emotionally invested you are.

Aren't you? Shouldn't everyone be, in light for such stories?

Nope, there's a set of people who take in information with a level head, regardless of whether they'll be called out as heartless for approaching any situation as potentially sensationalist, & seeking to maintain a rational discussion

You can do that and still be emotionally invested. If you're emotionally invested in a specific outcome, you'll be biased towards it; but if you're emotionally invested in the problem, it just means you're motivated to find a solution.

> stories

the thing about stories is that there are always 2 sides.

"Specifically, we were mapping the vulnerable period of the cardiac cycle. This interval, lasting a mere 0.035 of a second in duration, occurs with each heartbeat. It is the only moment in the cardiac cycle when the heart is susceptible to ventricular fibrillation. Once the chaotic rhythm of ventricular fibrillation ensues, the heart stops pumping blood. Spontaneous recovery is impossible. Within a few minutes life is extinguished. Electrical current, irrespective of intensity, will not disrupt the heart’s rhythm if delivered outside the vulnerable period."


"Thumpversion" is more commonly called a "precordial thump", and there's very little evidence to support its use. You're much better off doing chest compressions until an AED is available.

There is practically no evidence supporting his "recommendation" that the police use it routinely (if it doesn't delay CPR, then sure, give 'em a punch in the chest, but the evidence behind it is _very_ shaky).

Assuming heartbeats occur about once per second, that’s a 3.5% chance of a taser shot being in the vulnerable period. That’s pretty big.

You can easily double or triple that during the exciting moment of a chase/arrest/crime.

giving the terms Taser uses in its own publishing - "neuromuscular incapacitation" and "electro muscular disruption" - it takes a non-trivial twist of mind (triggered for example by $20K+ expert fee) to attribute stop of heart to something else.

While with low probability (1 in 6000), there is specific conditions when Taser will almost for sure cause ventricular fibrillation - it is when dart hits 1cm2 patch right over the ventricle in people with heart located closer to skin (i guess usually it would mean smaller and/or thinner people, and there have been other studies that shown reverse correlation of [probability of] damage [and VF in particular] with body weight) :


Basically each 6000 times Taser is deployed there can be expected a death.

> The recent high school grad and aspiring art teacher collapsed on the sidewalk in cardiac arrest.

Seriously, Reuters? Were you concerned the results of your investigation wouldn't stand on their own so you had to appeal to emotion just in case?

There is a common thread of over-zealousness and an unbecoming enthusiasm for using force in most of these cases. This has the undercurrent of authoritarianism and is not compatible with civilized society.

The whole idea of law enforcement is they have the training to deal with confrontational situations with some degree of control and maturity.

They have the training, weapons, access to backup and near endless resources. Any confrontation with an individual is already heavily biased towards their side, to lose control is more than reckless.

For situations beyond basic law enforcement involving more than one person, for instance a riot or a gang, usually there are more specialized teams and strategies.

Running voltage from one side of the heart muscle to the other is bad... very bad.

You can die from >100 milliamps this way with no drugs in the system.

Not real sure who thinks tazing is non lethal... its less lethal advertised as non lethal

Probably a good thing TASER changed their name to Axon.

> The recent high school grad and aspiring art teacher collapsed on the sidewalk in cardiac arrest.

Also forgot "vandal suspect"

Sure, because killing someone is a totally acceptable response to vandalism.


It is literally the facts ot the story. Repeating strawman does not further your argument, or anyones opinion of your reasoning skills.

For once, I don't feel as if anything key was left out -- mostly because I think it's ridiculous to pull a weapon on a (non-violent) 'vandal', especially one with a history of lethality.

'Vandal Suspect' added in there somewhere does absolutely nothing to help me relate to the decision to shoot a TASER at a non-violent vandal.

He was a high school grad, and an aspiring teacher. But he was also a vandal, and he was running away from the police.

Why bias the reader one way?

The use of force to detain someone suspected of graffiti is disproportionate to the crime. Especially if the use of force could foresee-ably result in death.


You keep using that word, I do not believe it means what you think it means.

Strawman is a logical fallacy, which occurs when someone refutes an argument not actually made.

My argument: he was a teacher, recent grad, and a vandal [the victim/suspect was painted one way, biasing the reader]. Refuted argument: His being a vandal was irrelevant, because death as a punishment does not fit the crime of vandalism.

When you add "and vandal", you're implicitly saying that this somehow makes the use of deadly force more justified.

You're saying its relevant; they're saying its irrelevant. We aren't computers we don't need to declare every variable.

> When you add "and vandal", you're implicitly saying that this somehow makes the use of deadly force more justified.

Well no that's not at all what I was saying. I took issue with the author attempting to make Israel more sympathetic, instead of treating him objectively. Rather than paint a right vs wrong, police accountability should be based on facts and the merits of the circumstances according the policies and processes of the police department.

But, since you raised that point, the fact that he was a vandal, and he was fleeing police, was actually material in making the use of non-deadly force (a TASER is not considered deadly force), lawful.

> making the use of non-deadly force (a TASER is not considered deadly force), lawful.

Your use of 'lawful' is a weasel word.

You are trying to have it both ways.

Trying to slur the dead young man as a 'vandal' and a criminal (I don't think graffiti is a felony in most jurisdictions) but then insisting that the news article should have been objective.

You yourself are not being objective. You used an emotionally loaded term, but then in your subsequent arguments are insisting on defending it by logic alone, when you know your comment was meant to have an emotional impact.

Your biases are clouding your ability to reason.

It was Lawful because the officer was justified in using non-lethal force to apprehend a suspect who was evading arrest. The intent of using a taser is to incapacitate with non-lethal force.

For Israel, the combination of shock exacerbated a health condition that caused him to go into cardiac arrest.

Calling him a vandal balances out the emotional impact of referring to him only as a "recent highschool grad, and aspiring teacher."

When someone so young dies for nothing the first thing that comes to my mind is to feel, not to reason.

> Also forgot "vandal suspect"

The article describes the offence he was being chased for (according to the police).

Do you have a problem with that?

Yes I do.

The author was clearly trying to subjectively paint him, glossing over the fact that he was caught (allegedly) committing a crime.

Did he deserve to die, of course not. That's not the point.

The point, reporting on policing should be objective. Biasing your readership towards one point of view over another is only going it that much harder to get accountability.

Murdering an 18 year old kid for painting a wall is not accountability.

> Murdering an 18 year old kid for painting a wall is not accountability.

Okay, but I'm talking about police accountability.

Right, except for two sentences earlier where it does say that.

TL;DR version:

Taser claims its guns are safe and do not cause lethal injuries, marketing them as such. Deaths related to Taser usage are typically attributed to "excited delirium" through a complex web of relationships between the company, law enforcement personnel, and medical examiners. Excited delirium seems to be a questionable medical condition where several researchers studying this condition have financial ties to Taser.

I really don't see how 'excited delirium' in any way absolves Taser. It's supposedly a condition related to chronic drug use and mental illness that has no easily identifiable symptoms. If an officer (or really anyone) isn't able to determine with certainty that someone is not currently suffering from it then using a Taser is at best 'probably non-lethal' and that's before we get into people with heart conditions or pacemakers.

Assuming that Tasers don't cause any long-term damage I'm actually okay with them as firearm alternatives. Just so long as we communicate that if an officer wouldn't pull out their gun, they shouldn't pull out a Taser.

Tasers need to go, it's bad enough to treat animals like that. At least before they shoot someone they think twice, and getting into a baton fight means risking getting hurt; this is not a bad thing in itself; the goal should be to de-escalate any situation and avoid violence.

Tasers are a really effective way to neutralize someone violent. If a 200 pound man on drugs is charging at you screaming with rage, a taser gives you a good chance to survive without getting hurt and without shooting anyone.

I'm certain that tasers have saved many more lives than they have cost simply because they have as much stopping power as a gun, and sometimes you really need that much stopping power.

We need to treat them as dangerous, because they are dangerous. But they have a place in the law enforcement toolkit and it's a very important one.

Sure, but how about we put Tasers in the category of firearm alternative where the victim has better odds of living. Treat Tasers as lethal force and tell officers that if they wouldn't use their firearm then they shouldn't use a Taser either.

A taser wont (solely) be used in a lethal force scenario. If someone is threatening an officer with a knife, they counter with their own lethal force.

Officers are always +1 on the force level. If you are combative, they use mace/taser, if you have a knife they use a gun, etc.

The only exception to this is when an officer has backup on scene and they can coordinate enough to allow one or more to provide lethal cover (guns) while the others try to employ less lethal tactics (taser, mace, beanbag shotgun, etc). This way, if those less lethal items dont work (and they dont 30% of the time) they are not scrambling for their gun while a pissed off suspect is charging with a knife.

Is mace lethal? Putting it at the same force level as tasers seems weird.

No, its classified as "less lethal" which is the same as tasers, batons, bean bag rounds, etc.

What people don't realize is that before tasers the method of making someone comply (when fighting handcuffs being put on) was batons or actual punches. Yes tasers may cause health issues in 0.001% of uses but batons and punches would cause many more.

Also, a lot of officers don't even carry mace anymore as it generally sucks for everyone when its employed. They are going to get it on them via wind or handling the suspect and it impacts their ability to function.

I would actually be curious what is the ratio of deaths between batons and tasers.

It might not seem obvious, but I suspect that people tend to be a lot more careful with direct application of force that they can feel (if you have ever punched or hit someone else hard, you know what I mean). Tasers make it much more... impersonal? I dunno what the right word is, but it seems like it's much easier to kill with a Taser while remaining cool, than to do the same with a baton.

> Yes tasers may cause health issues in 0.001% of uses...

This is simply not true and weakens your argument quite a bit.

Do you have any proof?

The article listed states 276 related reports of death after taser use since 2000. I'd imagine tasers are used a few hundred times per day across the US, if not more.

Yeah your number's surprisingly (to me) actually not far off.

Use of Tasers varies pretty widely from department to department -- according to [1] the Richmond County SD reports about 0.053 uses per officer-month, Miami-Dade PD about 0.0074 uses per officer-month, and Seattle PD about 0.056 uses per officer-month.

Extrapolating the RCSD value across the US, with over 800k officers total [2], it comes out to about 43k uses per month. Given the ~200 months over which this data was gathered, that's 9.2M uses, which makes the 276 fatalities only 0.003% of all incidents (as a best-guess).

Obviously that in no way implies Taser's behavior was ethical; but it's actually a surprisingly low fatality rate for a weapon still considered somewhat lethal.

[1] https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/231176.pdf

[2] https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea08.pdf

There s a whole other level of accountability with devices which leave marks.

Most people don't have a problem with using them in a situation like that, but zapping a tagger in the back is asshole behavior and should not be tolerated. There was no self defense here. The suspect is unlikely to be a danger to the community. It's a disproportionate response that ignores the inherent danger in the technology.

I think Police should carry stun guns, but they need to be treated like the potentially deadly weapons that they are.

I'd agree with all those points if use of tasers was limited to situations where guns would've previously been used, but their "less lethal" nature has meant they're used in a lot of situations where shooting would never have been acceptable.

Or... teach the police how to use their elbows, knees and fists.

Then again, many members of the police have a hard time chasing a suspect by foot and are nowhere near in condition for even basic martial arts.

Fun story: my massage therapist witnessed someone running away from a morbidely obese policeman and asked him if he needed help. Policeman agreed so he chased him accross a small parking lot. The policeman took his car to meet them a few hundred feet away and was still winded from his earlier attempt at running.

That's an and, not an or. Fists are dangerous too if you use them incorrectly. Police should know how to subdue someone with no weapons, a taser, or a gun, and know when each one is appropriate.

That's not a fun story. That's a terrifying story. Cops can deputize a random passerby with no training to intervene in a chase?

>Or... teach the police how to use their elbows, knees and fists.

Well say goodbye to women serving as patrol officers. Also, elbows, knees, and fists are lethal weapons, just ask Eric Garner.

I don't doubt that they are effective, I've seen them being used. What I'm questioning is the states right to treat its citizens like that, no matter how convenient. And they're obviously not as safe as claimed. What it seems to lead to is tasing anyone who doesn't agree with them without missing a beat, is that really the kind of world you want to live in?

200 pounds is the average weight of an adult male in the USA.

That is depressing as hell. I got up that heavy once and life was signifigantly worse.

If a 200 pound man on drugs is charging at you screaming with rage, a taser gives you a good chance to survive without getting hurt and without shooting anyone.

So do a lot of other methods.

If you have that level of certainty that you should have no problem providing proof.

That's a good point, but I think that

> At least before they shoot someone they think twice

doesn't hold in practice. Fight or flight translates to shoot or run, few police have the discipline to think twice and exercise caution despite personal risk.

Tasers were adopted because they are a safer option for both the public and police - situations like this play out with both weapons, but the taser is less likely to be fatal.

I think a more effective change is adjustable tasers, with a lower default power level. For most situations, the sheer shock of being electrocuted is enough of an immobilizer - the police don't need to start with enough power to paralyze a PCP fiend...

> few police have the discipline to think twice and exercise caution despite personal risk.

Then shouldn't police departments improve their hiring and training practices until this is the case? These are people who are sanctioned to use violence in defense of society. They are widely considered heroes for putting their own lives on the line. It's not too much to ask that they are held to the highest standards of discipline.

Obviously. However, training alone is insufficient - training is the way to trust cops with real guns, but tasers and guns still fill different roles. Tasers are non-lethal ranged weapons, complementing non-lethal close-range (batons/pepper spray) and lethal ranged weapons (guns).

To me, this incident highlights a design flaw in tasers - too strong and too inflexible. Years of evidence already highlighted the training failures in some regions.

> Tasers are non-lethal ranged weapons, complementing non-lethal close-range (batons/pepper spray) and lethal ranged weapons (guns).

All the examples in that sentence of “non-lethal” weapons are, really, merely less-lethal (than firearms); non-lethal is a factually-inaccurate label used for misleading propaganda purposes.

The title of this post is much more inflammatory than the title of the actual article ("How Taser inserts itself into investigations involving its own weapons") and in no way justified by the link.

That said, Tasering someone seems like an extreme over-reaction to this sort of vandalism.

> Four hours later, the Miami Beach Police Department received an email from stun-gun manufacturer Taser International Inc.

> The message, marked “confidential” and not previously reported, provided guidance on how investigators should proceed, from collecting hair and nail samples to recording the teen’s body temperature and documenting his behavior before he was stunned. It included a sample press release and an “evidence collection checklist.”

It seemed reasonable to me.

There is a coverup in the form of providing an alternative means for the actual death. I would argue that if you're changing the narrative of history to provide deniability, then yes, it's a cover-up.

Everyone in this forum seems to think that using a taser is inhumane and officers should instead use batons or their fists. The problem is that the officer has to assume that if an attacker is getting violent, they are attempting to get the gun. They can't read your mind, and they don't know if they can beat you in a fight -- they have to assume that because they have a loaded firearm you might take it and use it. So any use of force needs to be measured against "if this fails they get the gun and we don't know what the state of mind or capabilities of this attacker are".

I am a person in this forum, and I do not think that using a taser against a violent criminal is inhumane.

What I (and many others) think is significantly more nuanced:

1. Using a taser against a violent person is humane only because it posses a smaller (but still important, and still present) risk of harm to the person than that person poses to bystanders and to the police.

2. Using a potentially lethal weapon like a taser against a nonviolent person is inhumane.

3. Manipulating science by funding supporters and suppressing critics to pretend your potentially lethal weapon is non-lethal is unethical.

The use of force in the article should have been measured against "if this fails we might have to chase this guy who spray-painted an abandoned building more, or we might not catch him at all... or we might kill him."

I agree with your points, my umbrage was against the general sentiment in the forum that tools of force are bad and need to go because force is never really justified.

I'm only half way through the post and I haven't seen anyone make an argument like that. Most seem to believe that tasers have a time and place and using them for nonviolent compliance isn't one of those reasons.

This is completely wrong on so many levels it's breathtaking. You do realize (prettt sure you do) that you're making a case that any amount of physical resistance should be reasonably met with deadly force?

Yes. Imagine you have a loaded gun and you've heard someone is committing a crime, so you go to the scene to investigate with no prior knowledge of the person. If they punch you in the face your options are:

A) Assume you can probably take them physically, and they are a reasonable person who's just punching you because they've had a bad day, if you're wrong innocents may die. But wrestle and punch them anyway.

B) Hit them with a stick, they will probably go down. If they manage to grab your gun while you're doing this, you and many innocents nearby may die. If they rush you, the stick may become ineffective.

C) Assume the person who is punching you may be trying to get the gun, draw your gun so they can't grab it first, then if they don't immediately stop, shoot them.

Taser is like C. You have a taser, if you try to "punch them back" or "wrestle them down" or even "grab your baton", the person may just grab the gun and kill you and other innocents.

No one should ever resist arrest EVER -- just comply, go to the station, argue your case, and hire an attorney. If the police tell you to get in the cuffs, just do it.

Sorry, you need to fill that gap between 'got to investigate' and 'get punched in the face.' You also need to acknowledge the possibility that the alleged perpetrator of the crime simply wishes to escape, even if you don't weight that possibility highly. To assume that an alleged perpetrator's object is to gain control of a police officer's firearm while excluding other possibilities from consideration makes for a bad-faith argument.

No one should ever resist arrest EVER -- just comply, go to the station, argue your case, and hire an attorney. If the police tell you to get in the cuffs, just do it.

Nonsense statements like that open the door to police abuse and invite it right in. A police uniform does not alleviate the wearer of moral responsibility. On the contrary, it creates an incentive for crooked police officers to cover up abuse or even kill people who might testify against them. What if you never make it to the station?

I think frequently what people are suggesting is that police should de-escalate in these situations, and that lots of situations that end in A, B or C could be de-escalated if police had any incentive to. Instead we'll just give police officers a whole suite of escalation options so that they're never put in a situation where they have to choose between an escalating over-reaction and de-escalation, they can always pick moderate escalation. Take the tasers away, take the military equipment away, take some of the guns away. Police officers are not soldiers and if, as a police officer, you feel you are forced to assume that any physical contact with a civilian will end in your death then you should not be a police officer.

Ok so how do you de-escalate when the perp charges for you? If you are wrong, again, innocent bystanders and/or yourself may be killed. I'm not saying that everyone who runs or says bad words to an officer should be shot, I'm saying if someone physically strikes or attacks an officer, they have to operate with the assumption that the gun is on the table, anything less is incredibly irresponsible. A relevant article:


The results were published this spring in the journal Injury Prevention. The study revealed information that surprised Swedler. First, an overwhelming number of the officers—93 percent—died from gunshots. "We expected guns to be commonly used," Swedler says, "but we thought that homicides would be perpetrated by other means as well. We were really surprised by that 93 percent." In 10 percent of cases, officers were shot with their own guns. In 43 percent of the homicides, the victims were working alone, often responding to domestic disturbance calls. "They would arrive on the scene and they would be ambushed and they weren't prepared," Swedler says.

"If they punch you in the face your options are:" "Ok so how do you de-escalate when the perp charges for you?"

In both the scenarios you present, it is far to late to draw anything. By the time the person is punching or charging you from less than 22 feet away (google the 21 foot rule) you do not have time to draw a weapon, taser or baton. Your only option at that point is direct physical altercation. If you try to draw something it's going to get knocked out of your hand during the altercation and then it's a scramble to see who picks it up. As for getting the weapon taken away from you, while it's in the holster, cops really, really ought to be using and training with level 2 or 3 retention holsters. These make it easy (if you train with it) to draw a weapon from a holster on your hip, but almost impossible to get the weapon out when it's on someone else. If a cop chooses not to use a retention holster, that's their choice, but it's trading safety for convenience.

As to the Prevention article, it seems to me that if we want to reduce the number of cops killed with guns, then the low hanging fruit is that we need to stop sending lone officers to domestic disturbance calls. This study makes it clear that DD calls are an extremely risky type of call and police should approach them extremely carefully. " they would be ambushed and they weren't prepared," Swedler says. No less-lethal weaponry is going to solve that problem.

The point I and others are trying to is that there are very few scenarios where using a taser actually makes sense. Most of the time when they get deployed it's as an alternative to deescalation, or to punish a perp for not 'complying'. They're not intended as a substitute for a firearm, they're a substitute for a baton or physically taking down a suspect, and I think the evidence at this point is pretty clear that they are not any better at being less-lethal.

But to get back to the subject of the article, the issue isn't cops using tasers (although there are issues there), the problem we're having is that Taser the company is inappropriately inserting themselves into the legal process, and using bad 'science' and the threat of lawsuits to prevent the actual real-world safety of their product from being analyzed. This is bad and wrong, I think we can all agree.

You are of course entitled to your opinion, but to me it's astonishingly bleak. I can only imagine that whoever wrote the 4th amendment is rolling in their grave now.

I recall one case where a "perpetrator" was charged with attacking the officers, and damaging police equipment.

It was later found out that "attacking" meant that one of the cops hurt their fists while punching him (it nicked the tooth and got scratched, or something like that). And "damaging equipment" was when the guy bled on the cop's shirt and stained it.

"Resisting arrest" is that magic charge that shows up every time the police does something wrong, and tries to cover their ass. If it comes with a license to kill... yeah. No. Just no.

I have a revolutionary solution to this conundrum: don't have all the police officers carry guns. Then police officer doesn't have to worry about person taking his gun, person doesn't worry about getting shot, and they can de-escalate the situation much more easily and quickly.

Seriously, many European countries do this, e.g. the UK. Even in the poorest neighbourhoods in London, which Republicans referred to as "no-go zones" in the last election, regular cops on the beat don't carry.

European countries don't have a Constitution with the right to keep and bear arms, or the armed populace that resulted from it. Barring a Constitutional convention to repeal the 2nd Amendment and likely civil war, the only possible result to disarming American police would be that the police would just be easier to shoot.

I never understood this argument. A gun is not a shield, so how does it protect you from being shot?

Deterrence is a form of protection, as is the capability to disable a potential attacker.

Sure, but people making this argument tend to imply that a gun is the only effective way to deter or disable specifically an attacker with a gun. No one says police should carry guns to deter knife wielders and a Kevlar vest would seem to provide more protection against someone with a gun who's at the end of their rope/too strung out to care.

This line of reasoning would make more sense if life was a TV show and every armed interaction was a Mexican standoff, but in reality most criminals with guns are already far from being rational actors.

The greater problem is that police use a taser in the case of non-resisting or physically harmless suspects, including children.

Obviously situations like that are immoral and I would never support it, my comment was only addressing people who seem to think a police officer's job is to be a professional wrestler who takes down violent offenders using their hands and a baton.

Any surprise here? First, why would any company not be involved in investigations of their company, are investigators supposed to obtain all the information to investigate them from some unbiased third party that has never heard of taser? Secondly, how can you expect a company to lobby against its own interests? If you have power and money, and your livelihood is on the line, its ethical to use whatever means are available to defend yourself. Is it wrong to hire the best attorney for your defense just because they may be friends with the judge and a celebrity attorney? Also, how can you expect police and others to be unbiased when this device has probably helped them or saved their own life at some point. Are they supposed to ignore the fact that this is a critical tool in their belt?

> If you have power and money, and your livelihood is on the line, its ethical to use whatever means are available to defend yourself.

Not under any system of ethics I'm familiar with. Indeed, I would imagine that a big part of most ethical systems is about _not_ abusing your power.

For example, most people would consider it unethical for a company to manipulate, bribe, intimidate, and discredit people in order to suppress evidence of the harmful nature of that company's products.

> Is it wrong to hire the best attorney for your defense just because they may be friends with the judge

Are we talking about the godfather to the judge's child, or somebody who has coffee with him a few times a month?

If it's the former, any decent judge would recuse himself - and the other attorney would rightly kick up a fuss if he didn't.

> Also, how can you expect police and others to be unbiased when this device has probably helped them or saved their own life at some point. Are they supposed to ignore the fact that this is a critical tool in their belt?

No. But, an ethical person would weigh the benefits Tazers offer against the risks they introduce: and it's hard to do that when Tazer systematically suppress evidence of those risks.

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