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Police Taser, Kill Teen Acting Strangely In Horse Pasture

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Vernal45, May 31, 2005.

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  1. Vernal45

    Vernal45 member

    Police Taser, Kill Teen Acting Strangely In Horse Pasture
    18-Year-Old Allegedly Charged At Officer

    POSTED: 9:59 am EDT May 29, 2005

    AKRON, Ohio -- Springfield Township police are investigating the death of a man after he was stunned with a Taser gun by a police officer, NewsChannel5 reported.

    Investigators said that Richard Holcomb, 18, was shirtless and acting strange in a horse pasture just after midnight Saturday. That's when police said he reportedly charged at officer Christine Albrecht.

    She ordered Holcomb to stop and then stunned him with the Taser gun.

    Holcomb was later pronounced dead at Akron City Hospital. The Summit County Coroner has not yet determined a cause of death.

    This is the second time someone has died in Summit County after being shocked by a Taser gun.


    {Emphasis Added}
  2. Sindawe

    Sindawe Well-Known Member

    Bad link. Story is here: http://www.newsnet5.com/news/4544843/detail.html?subid=22100405&qs=1;bp=t

    Not enough information in the posted article to make a call one way or another.

    This does bring to mind an old episode of COPS. Young man was acting "strange" when the police responded, babbling some gibberish about how the cops had " ..killed Jesus and he had told them that before, you are you know it right now I'm Jesus..." while gesturing like he was in a low budget rap video. Oh, he too was sans shirt. Cops had to chase him down across a couple of back yards and it too four or five burly male officers to get the fool down and restrained. Funny, once he was in the back of the patrol car the gibberish had stopped and he admited that he'd been smoking meth.

    Were it me alone with some dude acting strange in the middle of a field, then charging at me, I'd tazer him.
  3. Chipperman

    Chipperman Well-Known Member

    1. Acting strange
    2. Died from Tazer

    Anyone want to venture a guess that drugs may have been involved?
  4. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Well-Known Member

    Because 'officer safety' is always the most important thing. :rolleyes:
  5. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

    I guess the lesson learned is don't do drugs and get shot by a taser.

    Or perhaps it's don't do drugs and act strange, prompting you to get shot with a taser.

    Maybe it's don't do drugs.

    In any event, however it turns out, the first rule is, "don't get shot."
  6. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

    Officer safety is ABSOLUTELY the most important thing when someone attacks an officer, yes.
    In this situation, what is it you're suggesting should have trumped officer safety? There were no bystanders, so it couldn't be their safety.
    In fact, what does any statement about what is "always the most important thing" have to do with this case at all?
  7. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Well-Known Member

    Not to worry. The coroner's report will doubtless show that he was under the influence of drug(s), and the officer will be exonerated. His family may sue the department, who will roll over, and pay out a settlement rather than properly defend the case. All's well that ends well, I guess.

    I'm just saying that an unarmed, shirtless teenager acting 'erratically' is not deserving of a death sentence, that's all. But when you have these tiny little petite females answering calls all by themselves, they're willing to resort to whatever force to defend themselves.

    The situation could have been handled differently. Why didn't she remain in the car and call for backup? Why confront someone who is not endagering themselves or others?
  8. 41mag

    41mag Well-Known Member

    It's too bad the guy wasn't wearing a bear suit.

    We could have killed two threads at once. ;)
  9. LawDog

    LawDog Moderator Emeritus cum Laude

    I'm six foot tall, plus or minus, I weigh a solid two hundred and I've got about 20 years of unarmed combat training. And I'm male.

    I'd've shot him with a Taser, too, Riley. Which is a damned sight better than option #2, which would have involved him getting whacked with a five-cell Maglite. Or catching a brachial stun.

    Criminal Trespass is a crime, especially if there's stock involved.

    Trespassing in someone elses horse pasture, after dark, in Texas, is liable to get you (legally) shotgunned by a rancher, not Tasered.

  10. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Well-Known Member

    Hmmm.....no input from the poster on this huh? Make one wonder doesn't it :scrutiny:

    "acting weird".......not normal behavior. Could have been drugs (more than likely), could have been having a mental/emotional problem......could have been trying to get a bug out of his pants.

    The guy charged at the officer. She tased him. Crap happens doesn't it. There was no intent to kill him by use of the taser.

    Funny how the key board commandoes on here are ready to draw down and shoot people over all sorts of things. But if the story has a LEO in it.... :rolleyes:
  11. Risasi

    Risasi Well-Known Member

    Some demonized/drugged up idiot. Doubtless the guy is a moron, at least from the article description. Curious that the officer showed up in a pasture. Wonder if she got called in by the neighbors?

    Yeah we definitely need more details...

    Regardless Riley, this does not look like it's about the cop or alleged perpetrator, but more about Tasers in general.

    Personally I don't care whether they are lethal or not. Frankly if a shooting is needed I am fine with officers defending themselves. And I'd rather the officers in question used lethal force. Granted there can also be an abuse of power. And overreacting to a situation. One example would be circumstances like Tasing a guy in bed because he won't give a urine sample. :rolleyes:

    Either way, don't turn this into another "circle the wagons" thread. Either side. Please. I'm so sick of reading them.

    I agree with Geek, Chipperman and Sindawe. Even without more details than we have this moron got himself killed because of his actions.
  12. Vernal45

    Vernal45 member

    More food for thought on Tasers
    (Emphasis added)

    Tasered suspect dies
    Apple Valley man was in custody at West Valley Detention Center
    By LEROY STANDISH/Staff Writer

    APPLE VALLEY — An Apple Valley man died after he was Tasered at least twice by sheriff's deputies, once while in custody in the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

    Leroy Pierson, 55, was pronounced dead at Kaiser Hospital in Fontana at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. He lost consciousness after he was Tasered inside his cell "after he continued to actively resist," according to a prepared statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

    Jail medical staff administered aid and paramedics were called, the sheriff's department said. He died while on life support at Kaiser.

    The cause of death is pending autopsy by an independent agency, the Sheriff's Department said.

    Pierson was arrested near Bear Valley and Navajo roads about 5 p.m. Monday for being under the influence and two outstanding warrants, according to the Sheriff's Department. Officials did not say what Pierson was wanted for and would not elaborate on details of Pierson's death, which is being investigated by the sheriff's Homicide Detail.

    But one sheriff's deputy who spoke on condition of anonymity said the model x26 Taser used on Pierson was part of a pilot program started at the jail last June. Cindy Beavers, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department, later confirmed that the Taser was part of a pilot program.

    Pierson's mother, 75-year-old Dorothy Pierson, believes deputies abused her son, who was not a large man, she said.

    "They Tasered him twice. He wasn't no big guy. He only weighed about 150 pounds, and was only 5 feet 8 inches tall," Dorothy Pierson said. "He was Tasered twice. No wonder his heart stopped."

    Detective Dennis Florence of the Sheriff's Department's Homicide Detail contacted her to tell her of the investigation, she said.

    Beavers said Wednesday that she did not know if any deputies had been suspended during the investigation.

    It's unclear how long Pierson had been in sheriff's custody. Pierson had fought with deputies right from the moment they arrested him after someone reported a man walking along the street swinging a belt and acting strangely, according to a Sheriff's Department report.

    Three deputies placed Pierson in a patrol car and drove him to the West Valley Detention Center, where he refused to get out of the car and became combative, according to the Sheriff's Department. So deputies Tasered him.

    Once they moved Pierson to the holding cell he fought with deputies and they Tasered him again. Pierson then lost consciousness, according to the Sheriff's Department.

    Beavers refused to say how many deputies were present when Pierson was removed from the car because the case is under investigation. She also would not describe the cell where Pierson lost consciousness, or how many deputies or inmates were there.

    The Taser used was pressed directly against Pierson and fired, Beavers said.

    The X26 Taser emits 50,000 volts, according to the manufacturer, Taser International. With one pull of the trigger it delivers a 10 second energy burst. Two more pulls of the trigger and the burst is increased up to 30 seconds. It is not clear how long Pierson had been shocked.

    Beavers said the department does "have a temporary operating procedure in place" for the use of Tasers, but said she could not discuss that policy over the phone.

    Pierson is not the first person to die after being Tasered.

    Seven states restrict the use of the Taser. Nevada lawmakers took up a bill restricting the use of Tasers in March.

    There were 71 reported deaths between 1999 and 2004 caused by Taser use by law enforcement, Elizabeth Schroeder, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said.

    "Taser use is a welcome alternative to a gun, but there are effects of a Taser's use, particularly on persons with certain medical conditions and police departments should use Tasers under only limited circumstances," she said.

    In recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Taser International reported that the company had been named as a defendant in 18 wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits since the x26 was introduced in 2003. Two of those cases had been dismissed as of March, while the other 16 are pending.

    The company noted in the filing that their products "may result in serious, permanent bodily injury or death to those involved. Our products may cause or be associated with these injuries."

    Pierson's mother said she thinks deputies used excessive force to restrain her son, who lived with her in the 21000 block of Sandia Road in Apple Valley. Her son did not work, but collected Social Security disability benefits, she said.

    "I have never known him to be uncooperative with the police," Dorothy Pierson said.

    The San Bernardino County Coroner's Office is expected to perform an autopsy by the end of the week, said Randy Emon, spokesman for coroner. He said in his 10 years of experience working at the coroner's office he has never known of anyone dying from a Taser.

    The autopsy will attempt to determine the cause of death. Toxicology tests, which take up to six weeks for results, will also be performed, Emon said.

    LeRoy Standish may be reached at 951-6277 or leroy_standish@link.freedom.com.
  13. Vernal45

    Vernal45 member

    Taser's effects fueling concern

    By Antigone Barton

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    Monday, May 30, 2005

    A deputy fired his Taser stun gun twice at the woman he was chasing — the second shot dropping her to the ground — before she announced that she was pregnant.

    "This was not apparent," the deputy wrote in his report, "but due to her statement I did not apply another Taser (shock)."
    Too quick to fire?
    In a fourth of incidents reviewd by The Post, the suspect was not violent or threatening.
    Interactive:How tasers work

    How three incidents unfolded

    Bartender tased
    on breast

    Angry at police for letting customer get away with tossing water in her face.

    Teen tased in chest

    Mouthed off at deputies when father's ambulance was late.

    Speeding driver tased twice

    She berated officers and refused to get out of car
    View video
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    The report was one of more than 1,000 reviewed by The Palm Beach Post that show how Tasers have been used in the three years since departments in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast added them to their arsenals.

    While a growing number of human rights watchers and scientists have voiced concerns about effects on pregnant women, children, elderly people and people with heart, neurological and psychiatric disorders, the review showed that police from Boca Raton to Fort Pierce have fired the weapons at:

    •Six people 65 or older, including an 86-year-old man; and at least 35 people 16 and younger, including a 100-pound, 14-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl;

    •87 women of childbearing age, including at least three women who, after being shocked, said they were pregnant;

    •At least 57 people who were high on drugs;

    •At least 272 people who were shocked multiple times, including 67 shocked three times, 31 shocked four or more times and one man shocked nine times.

    Some of these Taser firings ended violent confrontations in which immediate harm was possible, including encounters with armed and physically threatening suspects.

    But in at least 237 incidents, the dart-firing stun gun was used only to get compliance from passively resisting or fleeing suspects.

    Officers in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast fired Tasers at more than 1,000 people before Timothy Bolander died in Decemberafter being shocked four times by Delray Beach police. An autopsy found he had ingested a lethal level of drugs.

    "Most of the people shot with Tasers live," said Ed Jackson, a spokesman for Amnesty International, which has called for a moratorium on the weapon's use. "It doesn't mean they are living without consequences."

    He attributes Taser-use frequency to a belief that the weapon does no lasting harm.

    "The idea that Tasers are generally safe is completely fictional," he said.

    Taser International repeatedly has countered Amnesty International's criticisms by saying that the weapon has not been ruled the cause of any of the 103 deaths following shocks tracked by Amnesty.

    "That's fine," Jackson says. "Where are the studies that show it's never been a contributing factor? Because that's the question we're asking."

    Tasers have been cited in autopsies of at least two people who have died following shocks in Florida, which leads the nation in Taser-involved deaths with 24 since 1999. After a man shocked with a Taser in Escambia County died in January, a medical examiner declined to cite either a cause or manner of death, saying that not enough is known about the weapon's effects.

    In November, excerpts of an Air Force studywere released saying that Taser shocks can change blood chemistry, potentially leading to heart damage. The study recommended medical monitoring of those shocked with Tasers.

    Study 'strongly recommends' more research

    In March, a study by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies said that Tasers can't be ruled out as a contributing cause of deaths that follow shocks.

    "We strongly recommend that additional research be conducted at the organism, organ, tissue and cell levels," the report concluded. "The community needs to understand the specific effects of varying electrical wave forms... to include possible psychiatric and other nonlethal effects."

    In the same month, forensic engineer James Ruggieri warned police departments that Taser shocks could damage the heart and cause delayed cardiac arrest. He advised that officers not be submitted to shocks during training.

    Even the company that makes the stun gun, Taser International, urges caution about use of the weapon in the "drive-stun" mode and with repeated shocks — uses that The Post survey found have been frequent on the streets of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

    When the two barbed prongs that Tasers shoot are ensnared in skin or clothing, they transmit 50,000 volts of current that override the nervous system and temporarily paralyze muscles. The greater the distance between the prongs, the more incapacitating the effect. Another five-second jolt can be administered by pulling the trigger again as long as the suspect hasn't ripped out one of the prongs.

    Officers also can remove the prong cartridge and discharge the weapon directly against a person's body in the "drive-stun" mode to subdue combative arrestees with a searingjolt of pain.

    The Taser training manual advises that because it is not incapacitating, this mode can lead to "prolonged struggles" and that "it is in these types of scenarios that officers are often facing accusations of excessive force."

    Thetechnique also requires some care, according to Taser International, but the company's guidelines containconflicting recommendations. The manual points out that the neck and groin "have proven highly sensitive to injury, such as crushing to the trachea or testicles if applied forcefully." The manual continues, "However, these areas have proven highly effective targets."

    A recent amendment to the DeLand Police Department's Taser policy is clearer, saying that the "drive-stun" mode can be used only under exceptional circumstances. Local policies don't address the use of the "drive-stun" mode in writing, although narratives in some of the reports examined by The Post acknowledge that this use is discouraged.

    Still, the weapon was used in the drive-stun mode in encounters described in at least 209 of the 1,017 reports.

    George Kirkham, a former police officer, Florida State University criminology professor and expert witness in cases involving in-custody deaths, says in many situations, officers can use their hands for "pressure pain tactics" with less risk of harm. He also says Taser has given insufficient guidance on how many times a person should be shocked in either mode.

    "We have seen police officers firing it 20 times," he said, "with no idea that they could be doing harm."

    One shock may not be sufficient to subdue

    Even in its paralyzing mode, one shock may not be enough to subdue a violent suspect, according to the Taser training manual, which advises that officers "should anticipate a second or third application."

    But the same manual also warns that prolonged, repeated Taser shocks "may impede breathing" and urges that officers "minimize the overall Taser exposure."

    In Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, 273 reports document confrontations in which people were shocked multiple times — at least 31 people were shocked four or more times, including one man shocked at least nine times. In some reports, officers and deputies simply reported firing "until compliance was gained."

    Shortly after Boca Raton police became the first department to use Tasers in 2001, they arrested a man who had been running naked in the streets. After he was handcuffed, he began to struggle violently, breaking a Plexiglas divider in the police car with his head and kicking officers.

    Officers shocked him repeatedly with their new Tasers, subduing him briefly each time, but failing to stop him for long. After he had been shocked at least nine times, he went into convulsions and was taken to the hospital where he was found to have cocaine in his system.

    "The question is whether Tasers are unsafe under those circumstances," said Dr. Jared Strote, a Washington state emergency room physician, who with a Harvard professor is conducting a study of Taser-involved deaths. People who are "deliriously high" experience blood chemistry changes that, combined with restraints and heart ailments, can be fatal even without a Taser shock, he says.

    "My guess is that these people with their underlying conditions — both acute and chronic — don't have the reserve to tolerate the Taser, and it makes them more likely to go into a fatal heart rhythm after the shock."

    Taser International anticipates more deaths

    The man survived, but the report of his violent, erratic and apparently drug-induced behavior, as well as struggles with officers and repeated shocks, parallels the stories of almost all of those who have died following Taser shocks in Florida.

    Taser International urges departments to be prepared for those stories. The company points out in its training materials that the weapon often is used when other means of control have failed with people using hard drugs and showing signs of a condition that medical examiners call "excited delirium," which can be fatal evenwithout a Taser shock.

    The firm includes an "In Custody Death Checklist" with its training materials.

    In it, the company notes that it "anticipates more in-custody deaths given the significantly large deployments of Taser conducted energy weapons."

  14. RevDisk

    RevDisk Well-Known Member

    Uh, in the first link, if some nut ball is illegal trespassing, mumbling to himself, "acting strangely" (I assume to meaning acting crazy) and then charges me, I'd use my sidearm not a taser. Tasers are "less lethal", but they can indeed be lethal.

    I don't have any numbers off the top of my head, but I'm willing to bet people have died from being beaten with a baton or asp. Any time you use force to subdue a person, there is a chance of them dying. Usually VERY minor, but it's still a chance.

    It's a shame the teen died. On the other hand, the cop did the proper thing. Heck, more than I would have done. I would have used a firearm.
  15. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Well-Known Member

    You must be a member of the law enforcement community then, because you're indicating a lower threshhold for the use of lethal force than is allowed citizens.
  16. 2nd Amendment

    2nd Amendment member

    Actually in this specific instance he might have been better off with a bullet in him.
  17. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Well-Known Member

    Kind of makes me glad I'm in Texas.
  18. rock jock

    rock jock Well-Known Member

    Anybody remember the movie Equus?
  19. LawDog

    LawDog Moderator Emeritus cum Laude


    Highlighting and comments mine.

  20. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

    Untrue. You merely have to articulate why you were in fear of your life, just as an officer would in that situation.

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