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Testing the Safety of Tasers On Meth-Addled Sheep 253

Posted by samzenpus
from the thank-you-science dept.
Funded in part by Taser International, a recent study was done to learn the effects of being tasered while on methamphetamines. Since someone would probably complain about researchers going around and tasering meth addicts, they used sheep instead. From the article: "The less-lethal device of choice was the Taser X26, a standard law enforcement tool which can fire at suspects from a distance of 35 feet. Researchers shocked sixteen anesthetized sheep after dosing the animals with an IV drip of methamphetamine hydrochloride. Some of the smaller sheep weighing less than 70.5 pounds suffered exacerbated heart symptoms related to meth use. But neither the smaller nor larger sheep showed signs of the ventricular fibrillation condition, a highly abnormal heart rhythm that can become fatal."

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Testing the Safety of Tasers On Meth-Addled Sheep

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  • by seifried (12921) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:20AM (#31854458) Homepage
    "But neither the smaller nor larger sheep showed signs of the ventricular fibrillation condition" is all well and good but I have to wonder if the fact that the sheep were sedated might not help out with this.
    • by mpe (36238)
      "But neither the smaller nor larger sheep showed signs of the ventricular fibrillation condition" is all well and good but I have to wonder if the fact that the sheep were sedated might not help out with this.

      Also did they attempt to duplicate the "purity" of black market drugs?
    • by Cryacin (657549) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:30AM (#31854520)
      Don't tase me dude!
    • by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @03:08AM (#31854732)

      "But neither the smaller nor larger sheep showed signs of the ventricular fibrillation condition" is all well and good but I have to wonder if the fact that the sheep were sedated might not help out with this.

      Since the study was funded by Taser International, Inc [wikipedia.org] (a for profit corporation), and that company might be about to go the way of the Asbestos companies very very soon [worldsentinel.com]. It was absolutely imperative that no sheep got hurt, or killed, during that test.

      • by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @04:16AM (#31855006)
        Oh, and I just love that in the article, the most relevant bits of information are listed near the bottom, and quite in the most dismissive fashion as well.

        The study that appears in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine openly lists a few caveats. Aside from being partially funded by Taser International, the study authors include two physicians who represent medical consultants and stockholders of the company. One of the two is also the medical director of Taser International.

        Medical director of Taser International?? Really? WTF?

      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @04:56AM (#31855186) Homepage Journal

        It was absolutely imperative that no sheep got hurt, or killed, during that test.

        Right, who was supposed to bring the mint sauce?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ZeroExistenZ (721849)

        Since the study was funded by Taser International, Inc (a for profit corporation), and that company might be about to go the way of the Asbestos companies very very soon

        Exactly, those being subjected to the results of a "positive report" are always subjected involuntary as well.

        I always found the idea of tasering and advertizing it as "oh, it can't hurt, it's just unpleasant" a bit boundary shifting: before lawenforcement et al had to reason "if I shoot, I have to make certain I'm in a situation where I hav

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by tophermeyer (1573841)

          before lawenforcement et al had to reason "if I shoot, I have to make certain I'm in a situation where I have no other choice because I can kill this person". With tasering, the bounderies shifted "oh it can't harm, s/he is being annoying, lets buzz them like cattle into complying to the authority I impose."

          That's exactly why less lethal options like Tasers are attractive. It gives the police an option that falls somewhere between billy clubs and bullets. It means that even if someone is out of arms reach, they still have an option to take them down without killing them. And it drastically reduces the number of lethal force encounters.

          Your point though about shifting boundaries is spot on. All less lethal options need to come with proper training and accountability for those that abuse them.

        • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @08:44AM (#31856258) Journal

          I always found the idea of tasering and advertizing it as "oh, it can't hurt, it's just unpleasant" a bit boundary shifting: before lawenforcement et al had to reason "if I shoot, I have to make certain I'm in a situation where I have no other choice because I can kill this person". With tasering, the bounderies shifted "oh it can't harm, s/he is being annoying, lets buzz them like cattle into complying to the authority I impose."

          You are right about the boundary shifting, but you are wrong to make the comparison to firearms. Tasers are displacing the billy club, the use of which was more likely to lead to serious physical injury and/or death but which still represented a less than lethal step on the use of force continuum.

          Firearms represent deadly force, the use of which is typically reserved for situations where the life of an officer or third party is at risk. If you slug a police officer he can't (justifiably) shoot you. If you hit him over the head with a baseball bat and he's about to pass out he probably can. In scenario A his life isn't in danger. In scenario B it is.

          • The problem with the taser replacing the club is that when you hit somebody with a club, everybody knows if you hit hard enough, you can kill somebody, it also leaves bruises. The problem with the taser is that everybody knows 'the company that makes them says they are not lethal at all under any circumstance' and you can't see whether somebody's been hit with a taser. In the beginning of the taser-era, officers would call an ambulance before or after tasering somebody. These days it seems they don't even bother anymore (depending on the type of tasers they use).

            The taser has not been tested in any viable study I know off against either human targets or human replica's. As MythBusters and many electrical engineers will tell you, a shock across the heart of just 1mA can kill you, 100mA is lethal. As every geek knows I = V/R and tasers bolt out about 50-100kV which means your skin-to-heart resistance needs to put up a resistance of 500k (if my calculations are correct). Your body resistances ranges anywhere from 300ohms-6Mohms. When your skin is moist (sweating, ...) as is common with drug-addicts and people running from the law your body's resistance will drop. If a taser hits you near the heart in those conditions, they can be theoretically very lethal.

      • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:11AM (#31855436)

        It was absolutely imperative that no sheep got hurt, or killed, during that test.

        Sheep might have gotten hurt and killed during another test.

        But Taser International certainly isn't going to tell us about that study.

    • I doubt it. Presumably the would be doing ECG/EKG monitoring during the experiment, so I don't think they were looking for external symptoms, they would be looking at the heart rhythm. Although, VF is a rhythm that usually doesn't produce useful cardiac output, so the sheep would die, which I guess would be noticed even with sedation.
    • by meerling (1487879) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @03:58AM (#31854938)
      There's that, and an extraordinarily small sample size. Not to mention the sheep were supposedly all in good health, unlike possible human victims.
      As far as a medical study goes to prove or disprove reports of complications in field conditions with actual humans, it's a worthless piece of shit. (And I'm being nice about it.)
      It's obviously propaganda as opposed to credible science.

      Not to sound like a tinfoil hat wearer, but do you think funding of the study by the Taser company and it being done by stockholders in the same company might have something to do with it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by pinkushun (1467193)

        Not to sound like a tinfoil hat wearer, but do you think funding of the study by the Taser company and it being done by stockholders in the same company might have something to do with it?

        Taser safety print: "Safe to use on meth-addled bodies*"

        Fine print: "*sheep only"

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by danking (1201931)
        Ya seriously, I totally agree. This is not real world, it is junk science. Tasers have killed people. I think that is clear enough to say that they should be categorized as potentially lethal force. It doesn't matter if you are on meth, cocaine, have previous heart conditions or they just taze you 10 times.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by michaelhood (667393)

          Ya seriously, I totally agree. This is not real world, it is junk science.

          Tasers have killed people. I think that is clear enough to say that they should be categorized as potentially lethal force. It doesn't matter if you are on meth, cocaine, have previous heart conditions or they just taze you 10 times.

          Any serious agency has already classified or reclassified them as "less-lethal" rather than LTL ("less-than-lethal") in recent years. This is to indicate that it's less lethal than using a firearm. The problem isn't with Taser devices, the problem is with ignorant cops and bad policy. The Taser was, and is, meant to be used when previously you _would have shot_ the assailant. Not when they are noisy, not when they resist, not when they are inconvenient.

          There are many situations like this:

          Consider a traffic

          • by RMH101 (636144)
            interestingly there have been a number of studies which show that within close range, an assailant armed with a knife will almost always come out on top of someone with a gun, even if that gun is drawn and readied for use. I agree with your other points though.
          • by Shakrai (717556)

            The Taser was, and is, meant to be used when previously you _would have shot_ the assailant.

            That's not the case. The taser is meant to displace the police baton and/or pepper spray. It is not meant to be used in situations where deadly force is justifiable. Police officers who follow the law do not use their firearms except in situations where their life or the life of another is in danger. In such a situation you would not use a taser.

            Consider a traffic stop. The subject exits his car and presents a knife, and exhibits signs of meth intoxication. You have 10 feet between you. At this time you have two choices: shoot (and almost certainly kill) the subject, or risk being killed. Now law enforcement is _supposed_ to be able to choose hidden option C: shoot them, but hopefully in a less-lethal way, while still preserving your own life.

            That's completely false. No law enforcement agency that I've ever heard of trains it's officers to shoot in a "less-lethal" way. Police officers are trained

      • by jbeaupre (752124) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:32AM (#31857500)

        It's my job to write, review, and use protocols that involve in vitro and in vivo testing. In vivo covers animal and human testing. By no means an expert, but at least very familiar with testing for safety and efficacy.

        A sample size of 16 is not extraordinarily small. It's actually very common. Because it depends on they type of study, the type of statistics, and the confidence you're aiming for. Large animal studies are expensive. Sometimes more so than human studies. Not to mention there is a strong push to limit the number of animals used to the absolute minimum for ethical reasons (which results in the interesting phenomena of using one animal for two unrelated tests. For example, these same sheep might have had bullet proof vests strapped to them next and shot. Two different tests, but only 1 set of animals. But that a whole different story).

        For a lot of tests, 1 to 5 animals is pretty common. They are often screening tests, looking for any evidence of a problem. Going up to 10 animals gives you some useful data for statistical analysis. 16 is not an unreasonable number. At some point, your statistical error drops below the error of using an animal model (i.e. 1 actual meth head might tell you more than 100 sheep).

        The massive studies you are thinking of are when you are comparing two treatments. Trying to prove the superiority of one treatment over another takes a huge amount of data. Those are the ones you hear about on the news, which might be where your confusion comes from.

        Also, most studies are funded by companies. They are the ones most interested in knowing and showing the results. I have yet to see bad results hidden. The reasoning there is if you are selling bad product, best to find out first and fix it or stop selling it. Bad results don't stay hidden, so it's stupid to try. When publishing good results, you fully disclose the methodology and any conflicts. It's science, so if the study is done right, conflicts don't matter. It can be replicated.

    • I tend to agree with you, same as the effects of sleep or dazyness can have on people inside car accidents, the only one that did not get hurt was the one totally relaxed and sleeping, I wonder how much of the actual damage comes from stressing the limbs into not moving instead of letting it move with the flow...
      Same as getting tasered, you might not react as much because your body is more relaxed, hence less involvement with the sedated sheep.

      I still stand by my first claim though, I think we should stop t

  • Long time users of meth will have some more health risks when being tasered, unlike a first time user as shown with these sheep.

    Not to mention, not all drugs work the same between species, which is why your cat will get high as a kite on catnip but you won't.

  • Small Sample Size (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sixteen sheep? This is a terrible study. We're talking about actually electrocuting human beings and their proof that it doesn't hurt humans permanently is a study with only a sample size of 16.

    I wonder when was the last time the FDA accepted a drug on the market with a sample size of 16?

    • by Khyber (864651)

      Vioxx, anyone?????? :)

    • by Fred_A (10934)

      Sixteen sheep? This is a terrible study. We're talking about actually electrocuting human beings and their proof that it doesn't hurt humans permanently is a study with only a sample size of 16.

      A better study would have been to tase all the stockholders and management of Taser after dosing a significant percentage of them with off the street drugs. That way they'd get a larger sample. And in their interest I'm sure they would all be happy to participate.

    • by jlehtira (655619)

      Sixteen sheep? This is a terrible study.

      Not necessarily. If they did animal tests before, with a large number of sheep, then testing sixteen meth-sheep might well be enough to see if meth changes the consequences in sheep.

  • Hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frogbert (589961) <`frogbert' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:33AM (#31854534)

    I wonder if they figured out what would happen if they tazed the sheep 20 or so times in short succession.

  • by vandan (151516) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:35AM (#31854542) Homepage

    The 'less lethal' argument is complete bullshit. The fact is that police are far more likely to use 'less' lethal weapons, on the assumption that there is much lower burden on them to prove the need for weapons use. There are many more situations completely out of the control of police that turn 'less' lethal weapons into 'completely' lethal weapons.

      - heart conditions, pacemakers etc ( yes, young people can have pacemakers )
      - pregnancy
      - short period of time since last taser assaults ( we've all seen videos of repeated taser assaults )

    If police can't subdue people with their bare hands and training, then they shouldn't be police. Giving them so-called 'non' or 'less' lethal weapons only leads to more deaths due to a massive increase in the use of the weapons, combined with a very worrying deathrate ( hundreds of deaths per year according to Amnesty International ). As for police in the US where everyone has a gun ... I have no answer for that. Do whatever the hell you want over there. In sane countries where it's illegal to carry around lethal weapons, I expect the police to also be unarmed.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:49AM (#31854626)

      The 'less lethal' argument is complete bullshit.

      No it isn't. A taser is a lot less lethal then a 9mm pistol.

      The assertion is that police are far more likely to use 'less' lethal weapons

      First, FTFY, that's an assertion not a fact.

      Second, not when a taser discharge is treated the same as other firearm discahrges by police forces. This of course requires an actual procedure in place to ensure weapon discharges are investigated, but with the Australian Police forces they are.

      - heart conditions, pacemakers etc ( yes, young people can have pacemakers )
      - pregnancy
      - short period of time since last taser assaults ( we've all seen videos of repeated taser assaults )

      So a 9mm pistol or baton is going to be much better.

      The problem is procedural, abuse will occur unless each discharge is investigated. Choice of weapon doesn't matter here.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        "No it isn't. A taser is a lot less lethal then a 9mm pistol."

        Someone has no clue how electricity works, I see.

        let me put those probes one to each nipple and let's see how long you live with 50,000V disrupting the bio-electric functions in your heart.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "No it isn't. A taser is a lot less lethal then a 9mm pistol."

          Someone has no clue how electricity works, I see.

          let me put those probes one to each nipple and let's see how long you live with 50,000V disrupting the bio-electric functions in your heart.

          Deal. I point the handgun at your center mass, you start shocking me with a standard stun gun or TASEr as I fire. We'll see which is more lethal...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        A 9mm is _LESS LETHAL_ than a taser cause just pointing the 9mm at someone is enough to subdue them, while taser is used immediately.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mjlner (609829)

        - short period of time since last taser assaults ( we've all seen videos of repeated taser assaults )

        So a 9mm pistol or baton is going to be much better..

        And there are no other options??? Problem is that tasers are used where no force should be used at all, except for perhaps grabbing the suspect, maybe putting on handcuffs, and transferring the suspect off the premises or into a police car. As the GP said, we've all seen the videos of police and security officers torturing people with tasers as a punishment for disobedience. Apparently, torture is OK when performed with tasers.

        If it's true, that tasers are so goddamn safe, yet 70 people died of tasers last

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chas (5144)

        No it isn't. A taser is a lot less lethal then a 9mm pistol.

        Tell that to someone who's died in police custody due to being tasered (or tasered excessively).

        Translation: Excited delerium MY ASS.

        Second, let's be straight about this. Pain-compliance via taser is TORTURE. Whether it hurts more, less, or about the same as being racked or pressed to death is IRRELEVANT. It's STILL torture. Waterboarding is relatively painless (physically), yet it's still illegal. Why is DELIBERATELY hurting someone (permanently or temporarily) acceptable here?

        Second, not when a taser discharge is NOW treated the same as other firearm discharges by police SOME forces.

        Fixed that for you.

      • by Vellmont (569020)


        First, FTFY, that's an assertion not a fact.

        I think we've all seen the videos where the police use the taser as a compliance and punishment device, and not to protect their own safety. (And I'm not just talking about the "don't tase me bro" guy.

        Second, not when a taser discharge is treated the same as other firearm discahrges by police forces.

        Bullshit. The video's I've seen include people talking on a cell phone and the cop tases them because they're not obeying his commands. You really think that was tr

    • by feepness (543479)

      If police can't subdue people with their bare hands and training,

      Bare hands can still be lethal.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Ignoring the part about amnesty(their bias makes your point useless). And no police aren't more likely to use non-lethal because the BoP is lower. They get used more because people start whining when cops have to fire 18 rounds to drop someone(you know that whole 5-7% hit rate while moving sucks, or 20% standing still). But, I can kill you in 1-2 hits with my bare hands. I can kill you in 1 hit with an asp, and I can cause your death with pepper spray. Remember now. That it was the squishy feely types

    • by Rollgunner (630808) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @04:16AM (#31855012)

      If police can't subdue people with their bare hands and training, then they shouldn't be police.

      Subdual is accomplished through pain deterrence; I.E. "I will keep hurting you until you stop resisting."

      People on meth have wildly malfunctioning nervous systems, including specifically pain receptors.

      Pain may not be a deterrent. Repeated impacts with a nightstick may not be a deterrent, even if such impacts do significant structural damage to the body. That's the 'joy' of chemical enhancement, be it narcotic or adrenal : You can be dead and just not know it yet.

      A weapon that *overrides* the nervous system, OTOH, is nearly 100% effective at short term restraint.

      If I go to a party and someone slips a narcotic in my drink, I'd rather be tazed by the police (whom I think are big cuddly blue bears that want to hug and dance with me) than to be shot with a bullet or beaten into unconsciousness and/or death because I was mentally incapable of following the officers' commands.

    • Lethal, less lethal, whatever. It is a dangerous tool either way, and should be classified as such.

      If a police officer is in a situation that requires severe force, the rules that he must operate under when firing his sidearm should also apply to the Tazer since the results can be the same.

    • In sane countries where it's illegal to carry around lethal weapons, I expect the police to also be unarmed.

      lol. How's that working out for the UK, by the way?

      However, in late 2009 The Telegraph reported that gun crime had doubled in the last 10 years, with an increase in both firearms offences and deaths. A government spokesman said this increase was a result of a change in reporting practices in 2001 and that gun crime had actually fallen since 2005. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, attributed the rise to ineffective Policing and an out of control gang culture.

      make guns criminal, only criminals guns, etc.

  • by Unka Willbur (1771596) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:35AM (#31854550)
    Try 70, from last year alone [blogspot.com]. And, really, is anyone going to roll out the trope that the police would have actually used a firearm on these people if it wasn't for their electrocution compliance devices?
  • What is gained from trials on sheep? Why not test human volunteer subjects? Here are the cases I see.

    Given whatever value of "success" deemed appropriate:
    1. Sheep trials a "success" -- proceed to human trials -- also a success, in which case, why not just go with the humans first?
    2. Sheep trials not a "success" -- which does not eliminate the chance that sheep are immune to whatever was tested and humans are not, in which case, why not just go with humans first?

    I admit, I probably stand more on the side of

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tehdaemon (753808)
      What about 3) Sheep all die, Human trial isn't tried, no people die.

      T

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by QuantumG (50515) *

        Stop talking sense! We must think of the poor wittle animals.

      • ...and tasty barbecue is served!

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        no people die in open court*
        Thats the joy of tombstone like tech, if the cost a sealed court case is less than retooling and retraining per product cycle just keep on paying.
        When there are enough tombstones the technology gets fixed and the real studies flow.
    • by MikeFM (12491)
      It provides quality jobs to people that like to drug and abuse sheep of course! I think this is why we have a prison system though.. people convicted of child molestation, murder, and using Internet Explorer 6 should have to be test subjects for stuff like this.
  • What are the effect of spiders on meth addicted sheep???

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/meth-addicts-demand-government-address-nations-gro,2137/ [theonion.com]

    Its only reasonable to test this, since it would prove once and for all whether spiders really are an invisible threat to the worlds meth addicts!

  • Anaesthetised and bleating.

    "Baaaa."
    "Where's my corn syrup?"
    "Baaaa."
    "Where's my brewski?"
    "Baaaa."
    "Er..."
    "Baaaa."
    "Um..."
    "Baaaa."
    "Excuse me, may I just ...?"
    --- ZZZZZZT!!! ---
    "Baaaa."

  • because we can, bitches.

  • Every now and again on Slashdot, a headline catches your eye that just makes you go "wtf?!". This is one of those occasions.

    It makes a bit more sense now that I've read the summary/article, but heh, that's one of the weirder headlines I've seen in a while!

  • Better data (some of them are very nearly human), cheaper (they supply their own meth) and fewer repercussions since PETA care far more about sheep than about the inhabitants of Crackhead Penitentiary.
  • But I think the solution is simple. Give every drug addict who uses meth a t-shirt where he can write what he wants, taser or a bullet through the neck.

    Tasers ain't supposed to be nice, they are supposed to give the police an other option then to shoot bullets.

    And no, I don't think the police needs to be gentle and nice with a meth addict. Can't handle a the taser, don't do the drugs.

    And no, I don't shout to people to get of my lawn. I bury them in it.

    It is amazing really. You got somalians fleeing thei

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @03:51AM (#31854908) Journal

      Really, if you want me to care about people being tasered to quickly, don't bring out the example of meth addicts. I am likely not to give a damn.

      The point is not that people are being tasered too quickly.

      The reason we're discussing this at all is because people keep dying after getting tasered and the cause of death keeps getting listed as "excited delirium" instead of "Taser caused or contributed to the individual's death".

      Here's an old slashdot article on the matter [slashdot.org] and nothing has really changed since then except that the body count has increased. IMO, "excited delirium" is the new "Cigarettes are safe for you. No really, here's the study we funded that says so."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MartinSchou (1360093)

        It may well be that 'excited delirium' is the cause of death. What I want to know though, is just how many people have been diagnosed with 'excited delirium' outside of a mortuary? And what is the percentage of sufferers of 'excited delirium' who haven't been tasered? Something like this:

        In the year 2008, 600 people were diagnosed with excited delirium. 450 died from it, and of those 125 people were tasered. The remaining 325 deaths occurred in police custody. Of the 150 survivors 149 were in the custody of

        • You hit the nail on the head

          Excited delirium is a controversial term used to explain deaths of individuals in police custody, in which the person being arrested or restrained shows some combination of agitation, violent or bizarre behavior, insensitivity to pain, elevated body temperature, or increased strength.

          So your statistics are impossible because they must be in police custody for the term to apply. If you read the rest it is highly disputed because it does not apply to other situations where the person dies in restraints, like the hospital. I feel it kind of white washes what actually happened. If the person dies of a heart failure it should be attributed to that not the conditions in which death occurs.

        • by Zironic (1112127)

          Wikipedia has these stats

          A review of reported cases noted that most deaths attributed to excited delirium were young men from an ethnic minority who died while in police custody with no clear cause of death. Out of 62 deaths, 94% were male and 63% were African American, with 66% of deaths occurring in custody. Only 6% of cases were women.

    • by Archon-X (264195)

      You got somalians fleeing their country because they want to escape the lawnessless

      So you're saying the grass really is on the other side?

      • by Archon-X (264195)

        You got somalians fleeing their country because they want to escape the lawnessless

        So you're saying the grass really is greener on the other side? ..must learn to preview.

        • by MRe_nl (306212)

          Having been high in and over both, I can positively state that there is more grass in Holland than in Somalia, and it is indeed greener.

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      Your point might stand if the regulations for a police officer were exactly the same as the regulations for a firearm. Until that point, they can't be compared on equal footing.

  • by codeButcher (223668) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @03:56AM (#31854932)

    .... because "People in large masses may as well be sheep. Their collective intelligence drops to that of the weakest-minded member of the group. They bleat, they panic and are easily herded to safety, or to the slaughter." - Alan Gunn

    I, for one, welcome our new fascist, taser-bearing overlords. Oh, wait....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @04:05AM (#31854970)

    On those rare occasions I have fallen over as an adult it hurts. Fortunately I have avoided serious injury because I was able to protect myself to some extent with my arms, and by bending my body to move my head out of danger.

    When you're tasered you will certainly fall down, and you will certainly be unable to protect yourself. Even when the police officers who use the taser have to be tasered themselves as part of their training, the situation is unreal because they are placed on gym mats to soften their fall, and in any case other officers are present to control the fall. To make it more realistic they should be placed on a concrete surface with no colleagues in support. That way, they could enjoy the random head injury experience of the average victim.

    I am surprised more taser victims haven't died from head injuries.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      They shouldn't because we don't want a pile of cops with unnecessary head injuries. We might be better off without the cops feeling what it's like to be tasered at all. It could be an attitude of "it's nothing you'll get over it" simply because the cops have felt what it's like to be tasered under controlled conditions and completely underestimate it's effects. You don't have to hit a cop on the head with a blunt instrument to let them know it hurts, so why have practice where they taser each other?
      I dou
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by couchslug (175151)

      The average "victim" should have been instantly compliant and not required more than verbal correction, let alone tasering.

      Apparently it is too much to expect self-disciplined behavior from civilians. We need police because our fellow citizens include many bad people who will rob, rape, and kill the rest of us unless restrained by fear.

      I've never been arrested, tasered, etc because I don't do stupid shit to provoke those outcomes. I'm fine with Tasers, which are clearly less dangerous than bullets or clubs

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098)

        I've never been arrested, tasered, etc because I don't do stupid shit to provoke those outcomes.

        Or, alternatively, it is because you never came across a cop who doesn't like the way you look, is looking for someone else when he "finds" you, or is just a general asshole on a power trip. Congratulations, you got lucky. Or, in other words, just because you win the lottery doesn't mean that God loves you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tokul (682258)

      When you're tasered you will certainly fall down, and you will certainly be unable to protect yourself. Even when the police officers who use the taser have to be tasered themselves as part of their training, the situation is unreal because they are placed on gym mats to soften their fall, and in any case other officers are present to control the fall. To make it more realistic they should be placed on a concrete surface with no colleagues in support. That way, they could enjoy the random head injury experi

  • Oh for the days when you had to go to South America to be electrotortured by the police. Full marks to New Labour for bringing us the opportunity to experience this phenomenon without leaving Britain.
  • Didn't read much of the article, but have to say that sheep looks hilarious! Is it an Australian breed?

  • by FeatherBoa (469218) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @08:38AM (#31856220)

    There is no question that conducted energy weapons are much safer than the weapon alternatives available to police. Gun-fired bean bags or even batons are much more likely to cause injury or even death than electric shock guns. The fine line here is that police are somehow mixing up the concept of "safer than a baton" with "no risk at all." Being struck by an energy weapon is not pleasant. If I were to go jolting random passers-by in the street, I would be charged with assault. Even that simple fact should be enough to cause police to think twice about using them. The fact that the RCMP had clearly decided to use their energy weapon before even seeing Robert Dziekanski, as Paul Pritchard's video makes plain [In the video, the sequence of conversation by the arriving RCMP is: "Are we going to user Tasers?" "Yes." "Where is he?"], tells us something unpleasant about their attitude towards the use of these things: they act as if there is absolutely no risk at all. But there is risk. People die from being shocked by these weapons.

    Taser International aggressively defends their weapon's safety record, influencing investigations [Taser v. Kohler, Ohio, 2006.11.7421] and conducting PR campaigns to promote their image as safe. They have a reason to defend their use. Fully 25% of Taser International's revenue comes from cartridges for their weapons. [Taser International 2007 annual report] Taser International has a strong incentive to see not only that their weapons are issued to law enforcement organizations, but also that those weapons are then used as often as possible. A quarter of their income comes from the cartridge that is used each time one of their weapons is fired at someone. The vendor will do what it can to encourage the use of the weapons and defend the safety and reliability record that justifies this use.

    Electric shock weapon proponents have gone so far as to invent a new hypothetical medical condition named "excited delirium" that is said to be the actual cause of death in cases where an electric shock weapon was used. The so called "thin skull" legal doctrine applies here though. This doctrine says that if a victim has an unusually susceptibility, such as a thin skull, this in no way diverts the blame from a blow to the head that causes injury. The fact that the injury might have been greater to the thin-skulled victim than to a "normal" person does not lessen the degree of fault with the blow -- or the electric shock.

    Suppose one in a thousand people were severely allergic to pepper spray, such that upon being sprayed those people would lapse into anaphylactic shock, and possibly die. Even though safe for the vast majority, this small risk of severe reaction and possible death would have to be taken into account by the police when using the stuff. We have this situation with electric shock weapons. Out of 1,000 normal looking folks walking the street, 3 of them will drop dead if you give them a jolt from one of these things. You may call it "excited delirium" if you want -- or call it thin skull. But if someone's alive before getting shocked and dead afterward, it is clear where the blame belongs.

    There is a small degree of danger in using these weapons, probably about the same level of danger as feeding a peanut butter sandwich to an elementary school kid. It's not enough to ban the use of the things by any stretch. But it should be enough to make the law enforcement forces much less cavalier about using them than they seem to be. There is a real risk in using these weapons and the police have to take that seriously.

  • If some large goon is charging at a cop, frothing at the mouth, the cop is within his rights to zap the fool. The problem is when the cop zaps someone because he mouthed off, or maybe just didn't move fast enough to suit the cop. The taser is a legitimate alternative to the billy club. It is NOT a legitimate alternative to trying to talk down a mildly agitated person.

  • Why sheep? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @09:26AM (#31856648)

    Why not pigs. In general pigs are often used because their structure is much more like a human. Also they know stress much more like humans and can even die from that same stress. Oh, then perhaps people might not die from the tazering itself, but by the stress caused by repeated tazering.

  • by GuyFawkes (729054) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:21AM (#31857356) Homepage Journal

    So 1.5 x 15 x 10 = 225 Joules delivered "per shot"

    Now a cattle "electric fence", similar voltage, 3 joule unit will give a pulse every couple of seconds.
    A 3 joule "energizer" will power many kilometres of electric fence.

    Defibrillator will give up to around 360 joules per pulse, which is ballpark enough to make a corpse sit up.

    10 to 50 joules is regarded as dangerous.

    Electric fence + human is invariably hand / arm contact, not across the chest like a taser, even so, you won't like a 3 joule pulse every second, not actual real pain, but most unpleasant.

    Taser delivers HV energy at a rate 75 times higher than a cattle fence energizer.

    Which is a bit like saying that a 44 magnum (1,000 ft/lb) delivers energy at a rate 75 times higher than a 12 ft/lb air gun.

"Just the facts, Ma'am" -- Joe Friday

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