Saturday, March 12, 2005

Taser round-up

Now for this week's round-up of Taser news. Some of it is tragic. Some of it is almost comic. And at least one instance reminds us that there might be instances where the use of a Taser-like device is appropriate. We'll start there.

The Good

Police subdued a 6 foot, 350 pound woman, said to be schizophrenic who had gone off her medication. She was locked in an apartment and threatening a 5 year old, a 4 year old and her adult son with a knife. Once the door was unlocked they confronted the woman who waved the knife and a chair at police. Sgt. Karen Popp, who is 5 feet four and 150 pounds repeatedly asked the woman to drop the kniffe and chair, and when she refused, Popp shot her with the Taser.
The woman fell to the floor, and police restrained her, she said. She was then transported to St. Bernard Hospital, and has not been charged, Popp said.

Popp said she did not know the woman's condition, but said she was not seriously injured. (Chicago Tribune)
The Bad

In DeLand, FL, police were searching for a burglar when they spotted Willie Towns hiding behind a tree.
Police said they tried to talk to him but he darted off and climbed up on the roof of a nearby building. Towns started punching out windows with his bare hands, investigators said.

Police tried pepper spray, but then they used Taser guns to subdue him.

"He was extremely desperate. Just by the way that he was acting there, I don't think there was a way to calm him down," said Hollie Jirak, a waitress who was working nearby and saw the whole thing.

Towns stopped breathing on the way to the hospital and could not be revived. Before he died, police said he told them he had been using cocaine.


Detectives now say he was not the man they were looking for in the burglary. (WESH via Officer.Com)
The combination of drug use, especially cocaine, and being shocked with a 50,000 volt Taser, seems a deadly combination. In such a circumstance the device is no longer a "non-lethal" weapon.

The Ugly

Meanwhile, in nearby Orlando, a suspect on a drug charge (cocaine) was taken to an emergency room where he refused to provide a urine specimen for a drug test. He was handcuffed and secured to a bed with leather straps to be forcibly catheterized.
Officer Peter Linnenkamp reported he jumped onto the bed with his knees on Wheeler's chest to restrain him. When Wheeler still refused to be catheterized, Linnenkamp said he twice used his Taser, which sends 50,000 volts into a target.

"After the second shock (Wheeler) stated he would urinate and calmed down enough to be given the portable urinal," Linnenkamp wrote.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating; Linnenkamp has been relieved pending the investigation's outcome. (AP via CNN)
The Expected
CINCINNATI -- A Cincinnati Police officer accidentally stunned his partner with a Taser during a struggle with a suspect, police said. The incident began with a traffic stop in Over-the-Rhine Sunday night, WLWT-TV in Cincinnati reported. The driver tried to run and a female officer struggled with the driver.

The officer's partner Tased the suspect, but one of the darts struck the female officer. She was able to stay on the scene. (NewsNet5 via