Wednesday, February 23, 2005

This week in Tasers

Houston, Texas: A 52 year old psychiatric patient with a heart condition died after being hit with a Taser by constables from a mental health unit, executing a "mental health commitment" warrant. "A person with heart problems should never be Tasered," [the Chief Deputy] said. "We would have handled it a lot different if we would have had better information." (Houston Chronicle)

Toledo, Ohio: A 41 year old man died in the Lucas County jail after he was shocked nine times. "[N]o policy violations were committed and no charges would be filed" according to an AP report in the Chicago Tribune. Toledo police have suspended their use of Tasers until more safety studies are done.

Orlando, Florida: To round out the week in real Taser style, an off-duty police officer patrolling Universal Studios Theme Park Tasered a 45 year old disabled man, Christopher Traub, who was visiting (fittingly enough) Halloween Horror Nights as part of a family reunion ( via
Traub, who had both of his ankles crushed in an elevator accident in the '80s, said during his visit to the theme park, he was abused by police and shot with a Taser gun, according to the report.

"I just couldn't believe what happened," Traub said. "I was like, one minute we were at a park and happy, and the next minute, I'm on the floor and I hit my head."

An off-duty Orlando police officer working security at the theme park literally blew Traub off his feet, Local 6 News reported.

"He pulled out his Taser gun and shot me," Traub said. "I was 4 feet away from him on the other side of the ropes."

Tom Luka, who is representing Traub in a possible legal case against Universal Studios, said his client was just trying to reason with the officer to keep his son from being kicked out of the theme park before he was shot with the Taser gun.

"He used brutal force against a man who could not even defend himself," Luka said. "He (Traub) posed absolutely no threat to this officer. This officer turned around, pulled his Taser and shot him once in the chest."

Traub was thrown into a beverage stand and cut his head, nose and eye, according to Luka. He was reportedly refused any medical treatment, Local 6 News reported.

[ . . . ]

Orlando police say the officer in this case has not been disciplined and even though he was "off-duty," by law, he is still authorized to use his Taser gun.

Universal Studios says they often hire police to patrol the park and have no plans to change their policy to prevent off-duty officers from using Taser guns against other Universal customers, according to the report.