U.N. torture watchdog urges crackdown on U.S. police brutality

Conservatives definition of freedom

The U.N. Committee against Torture urged the United States…to fully investigate and prosecute police brutality and shootings of unarmed black youth and ensure that taser weapons are used sparingly.

The panel’s first review of the U.S. record on preventing torture since 2006 followed racially-tinged unrest in cities across the country this week sparked by a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury’s decision not to charge a white police officer for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

The committee decried “excruciating pain and prolonged suffering” for prisoners during “botched executions” as well as frequent rapes of inmates, shackling of pregnant women in some prisons and extensive use of solitary confinement.

Its findings cited deep concern about “numerous reports” of police brutality and excessive use of force against people from minority groups, immigrants, homosexuals and racial profiling.

The panel referred to the “frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.”

“We recommend that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism,” said panel member Alessio Bruni…

“We have certain concerns about whether investigations are thoroughly completed and whether punishment of law enforcement (officers) when they have crossed the line are effectively put in place,” committee member Jens Modvig told reporters.

Activists welcomed the findings and called for reforms.

“This report – along with the voices of Americans protesting around the country this week – is a wake-up call for police who think they can act with impunity,” said Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who attended the review.

Of course, we could elect a solid Republican federal administration in 2016 to match the Koch Bros/Heritage Foundation anschluss of state legislatures. Then, police brutality would take place with an absolute guarantee of impunity.

The Confederacy could be recognized as a federalist partner of our government and the US National Guard would give partner status to Oathers and other crypto-fascist militias. Woo-hoo!

Shot with stun gun by coppers – man turns into human fireball


Andrew Pimlott

A man has died after being shot with a police Taser while dowsed in flammable liquid…Andrew Pimlott, 32, turned into a human fireball after he was zapped by officers called to his home to investigate a domestic incident.

They found Andrew in the back garden covered in liquid and holding a can of fluid…An officer deployed the Taser and Andrew immediately burst into flames…

Andrew suffered serious burns and was rushed to hospital after the incident in Honicknowle, Plymouth, last Thursday.

Police initially said his injuries were not life-threatening…But the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed today that Andrew died from his injuries in Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, on Tuesday…

IPCC Commissioner Sarah Green said…“Our investigation will be looking at what information was known to the officers attending the scene, the officer’s rationale for discharging a Taser on a person known to be dowsed in flammable liquid, whether the discharge of the Taser caused the fuel to ignite, and we will look at training and policies.”

How do you get to be ignorant of the explosion or fire danger coincident to firing a Taser at a flammable liquid?

SCOTUS hides from coppers tasering pregnant woman


Malaika Brooks and her baby girl

A “defiant” pregnant woman who was subjected to three Taser stun gun shocks by law enforcement officers after refusing to sign a speeding ticket will not get her appeal addressed by the Supreme Court.

The justices without comment Tuesday rejected separate petitions from both Malaika Brooks and the Seattle Police officers sued for excessive force…

Hundreds of such Taser-related lawsuits have been working their way through lower state and federal courts, but the Supreme Court so far has refused to address the issue of what the officers call “a useful pain technique.”

Brooks was seven months pregnant and driving her 11-year-old son to school in 2004. Police clocked her going 32 miles per hour in a 20 mph school zone. She handed over her driver’s license but denied wrongdoing.

A speeding citation was issued but the woman refused to sign it as state law required. Brooks later claimed she mistakenly believed signing the ticket was an admission of guilt. An argument ensued with two police officers. A federal appeals court later said, “she remained defiant even after (Officer) Jones told her she’d be arrested if she continued to refuse.”

The word that these coppers used before editing by the shift captain — probably was “uppity”!

A police sergeant soon arrived and informed the motorist that force would be applied if she did not get out of her vehicle as ordered. Brooks refused. A Taser electro-shock weapon was displayed, and officers warned her it would be used if there was further resistance. Brooks explained her pregnancy, and later claimed one of the officers replied, “Well, don’t do it in her stomach, do it in her thigh.”
The Taser was applied in a “drive-stun” mode three times in a one-minute span — in her thigh, arm, then neck, according to court testimony.

Brooks fell out of the vehicle, was dragged onto the street face down, and then was handcuffed

A federal appeals court in San Francisco eventually issued a split decision, finding excessive force was used, but saying the officers could not be sued because “it was not sufficiently clear” in the law at the time that what they were doing was a constitutional violation…

RTFA for the details. Poisonally, I see nothing wrong with requiring police officers to have a brain and a bit of education about law, health, communication.

Add in a little humanity just for giggles and you might have a copper with good sense.

Then you have the conservative-dominated Supreme Court of the United States. A group with great responsibility – and apparently governed by cupidity, cowardice and a convenience store schedule. Their convenience.

Yet another study warns that a Taser shot can be deadly

The electrical shock delivered to the chest by a Taser can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death, according to a new study, although it is unknown how frequently such deaths occur.

The manufacturers, police chiefs and politicians don’t want to know, either.

The study, which analyzed detailed records from the cases of eight people who went into cardiac arrest after receiving shocks from a Taser X26 fired at a distance, is likely to add to the debate about the safety of the weapons. Seven of the people in the study died; one survived.

Advocacy groups like Amnesty International have argued that Tasers, the most widely used of a class of weapons known as electrical control devices, are potentially lethal and that stricter rules should govern their use.

But proponents maintain that the devices — which are used by more than 16,700 law enforcement agencies in 107 countries, said Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser — pose less risk to civilians than firearms and are safer for police officers than physically tackling a suspect. The results of studies of the devices’ safety in humans have been mixed…

This is no longer arguable,” said Dr. Byron Lee, a cardiologist and director of the electrophysiology laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco. “This is a scientific fact. The national debate should now center on whether the risk of sudden death with Tasers is low enough to warrant widespread use by law enforcement…”

Which is way too rational for American politicians. The comparison between firearms and tasers is absurd in the first place. If you’re in a situation requiring deadly force to protect yourself or the public, a police officer should be using firearms. OTOH if you’re using a taser and deadly force isn’t requisite, then care and training should override snap shots, panicky use of a device which can be deadly.

The manufacturers have already made their decisions. What they offer becomes more powerful every year. Police departments aren’t especially interested in afflicting their ground troops with more learning. They have trouble enough getting high school graduates who can read and write. Try throwing decision-making into the mix – beyond self-preservation – and everyone is in trouble.

The fact remains that even the “occasional” death is too many. Training, better training had better happen or death by cop will continue to add statistics involving electrical shock.

London coppers Taser man carrying toy gun in his briefcase


Oy, we saw you picking yer nose!

Metropolitan police officers fired a Taser nine times at a man sitting on a train in the belief he was carrying a weapon in his briefcase.

The use of Tasers on a train comes as the commissioner of the Met police, Bernard Hogan-Howe…said this week he wanted to see more Tasers in response cars and Scotland Yard has confirmed work is going on to review the availability of Tasers for its officers…

BTP said Tasers were used by Met officers to restrain Justice Livingstone when he failed to comply with officers’ requests to remain seated. Scotland Yard said a Taser was fired several times after the suspect moved towards officers while shouting and refusing to move his hands from his pockets.

The Met police and British Transport Police said the suspect was in possession of an “imitation” firearm.

Livingstone, who said he had no history of mental health problems, had bought the toy gun earlier for his son’s birthday. “It was 99p,” he said…

“…they jumped at me and used the Taser four times at my chest. That did not have any effect, I felt no current. They then held me down, grabbed on to my head and pinned me down and shot me in the back of the head with the Taser three times and I felt the current…

Livingstone said he was taken to a police station in Victoria where…he was stripped naked, he said, and refused access to a lawyer.

He was eventually sent to Bethlem Royal hospital in Beckenham where he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. But on Wednesday, after he made an appeal to the mental health tribunal, he was released and is now at his home in south London…

BTP said its officers were called along with the Met to reports that a man was on the platform waving a gun.

Livingstone said he would be making a formal complaint about his treatment.

At this point the story is pretty confused. I know a fair bit about the fog or war and comparable foggy minds in the heat of civil conflict. Police are as likely as civilians to jump to conclusions based on what they expect to confront – regardless of the facts.

If this ever gets to court and the coppers place in evidence a 99p toy gun made of orange plastic – I don’t think they stand a prayer of getting away without paying a considerable amount in compensation to Mr. Livingstone. Especially if they allow photos of his injuries.

Metal Storm/TASER develop less-than-lethal ammunition

Metal Storm and TASER are developing less-than-lethal ammunition for the aptly-named MAUL rapid-fire 12-gauge launcher. The tiny 800 gram MAUL fits on an assault rifle, and shoots five bullets which incapacitate those it hits with the same Neuro Muscular effect of a handheld TASER.

Until very recently, the basic concept of the gun had changed little since the advent of gunpowder, and nearly all guns still run on the same principles. A decade ago, Metal Storm developed a new type of digital gun that is more closely related to the inkjet printer than traditional ordnance.

Its ammunition is stacked, fired electronically and ammunition types can be mixed, enabling the same gun to perform multiple roles.

Meanwhile, the dumb lumps of metal which guns initially fired evolved into intelligent projectiles capable of delivering a range of payloads for everything from door-breaching, grenade launching, and now non-lethal…it says here

A five round reload takes two seconds and each bullet incapacitates those it hits with the same Neuro Muscular effect of a handheld TASER.

Buck Rogers military geeks are wetting their pants over this one. But, probably not as much as a very few cops who would rather be storm troopers, judge, jury – all rolled into one.

I like the part about the “tiny 800 gram MAUL”. Ever been hit by anything weighing “just” 800 grams fired from a shotgun? It’s gonna make a hole THIS BIG!!

Naked runner tasered by coppers


Ooh! That has to leave a mark

Zak Anthony King, 18, refused to stop when ordered to do so by police who spotted him on his liberal morning run.

When he began to outpace the sweating officers in West Melbourne, Florida, one threatened him with the Taser, which delivers an electric shock powerful enough to temporarily paralyse.

Within a fraction of a second of the barbs hitting his bottom, Mr King collapsed and was arrested, while cameras in a police car and on the immobiliser captured the moment.

The cameras also recorded sound and one officer can be heard reliving the incident only moments before, saying: “I’m like, ‘Don’t run, I’m gonna Tase you!’ So what does he do? He just keeps running.”

Mr King is suspected to have been drunk. He told the officers he had “super powers”.

Maybe his “super powers” don’t work when he isn’t wearing his cape? Or much else?

Taser someone 14 times – “unacceptable” – I’d say so!

A senior Australian police chief has a described an incident in which a man was Tasered 14 times while in police custody as “unacceptable and extremely disappointing.”

What a good-hearted guy!

CCTV footage of the incident, which happened in Perth, Western Australia in 2008, showed an unarmed aboriginal man lying on the ground surrounded by police officers after reportedly refusing a strip search. The man survived the incident and was later shown the footage but declined to press charges.

Two of the officers involved were fined…but kept their jobs after an internal inquiry. Charges were dismissed against two other officers…

Western Australia Police Acting Commissioner Chris Dawson said in a statement…”The community will obviously be disappointed when they see closed-circuit television vision today of what took place…”

The disturbing footage was released as part of a report by the state’s Corruption and Crime Commission into the use of Taser guns by the force…

It said this incident highlighted a “broader problem with respect to officers misunderstanding the circumstances in which Tasers could be used…”

“There has to be some recognition that excessive use of force with a Taser is of a completely qualitatively different nature to just excessive use of force with your hands, if you like,” Christian Porter was quoted by ABC News as saying.

“I think we’ve reached the stage now where Tasers are such important instruments for the police force that disciplinary proceedings for excessive use of force with a Taser need to be treated in a special category.”

Sounds to me as if they passed that stage a while back. Not just the coppers in Oz; but, in police departments around the world.

What has become acceptable is always capable of being ratcheted up to excessive.

“Don’t tase me bro'” – Wyoming version


Not the perp – but, just as dumb

A Cheyenne man who doused himself with white latex paint in hopes of avoiding a police Taser was hit with the stun gun anyway.

The Taser chase happened…when Cheyenne police went to Brian Mattert’s house on a domestic violence call. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that when police arrived, Mattert thought they’d use a Taser on him, so he hastily covered himself in paint and told officers that if they shot him with the stun gun, he’d die.

Officers told him the paint wouldn’t affect the Taser’s capability.

Mattert scuffled with officers and was hit with a Taser twice before officers handcuffed him.

He faces several criminal charges. Police say the officers’ uniforms had to be cleaned.

Har!

What? Did he think he would explode?

Copper makes arrest despite being tasered — by his mate


Jason Mepham on a happier day

A police officer managed to arrest a suspect despite being squirted with his own pepper spray, punched and kicked in the head and then shot with a Taser by a colleague.

Pc Jason Mepham had been called out to deal with a drunk troublemaker when the series of unfortunate incidents began:

Finding the suspect, Jason King, aggressive and threatening, the officer deployed his pepper spray.

He sprayed once – which temporarily halted King – but a second burst of gas then blew back into his own face, leaving him disorientated with a burning face and watering eyes.

By this time a police colleague had arrived at the scene, but so had a friend of King’s who struck Pc Mepham in the face, dislocating his jaw.

The other officer responded to the attack by releasing the first suspect and firing his Taser gun at the new assailant

However, only one electrode hit its intended target, the other striking Pc Mepham and knocking him off his feet.

With the policeman on the ground, King seized his opportunity to kick him in the head, an action which jarred his jaw back into place.

Only when further police back-up arrived were both offenders finally subdued

Jason King, of Camborne, Cornwall, pleaded guilty via video link from Exeter Prison, at Truro magistrates Court to assaulting a police officer.

He also pleaded guilty to being drunk, two charges of travelling on the railway without paying a fare, and two of threatening behaviour towards a train manager.

Something rather like shoveling out the Augean stables comes to mind for this lout.