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Wake Forest Taser Study Ignores the Elephant in the Room, 294 Dead and Counting
by Raj Jayadev (svdebug [at] newamericamedia.org)
Thursday Oct 18th, 2007 12:12 PM
A recent study on Tasers lead by Wake Forest University Medical School gives a false sense of safety to a proven dangerous, and at times lethal, weapon, says Bay Area activists. Community leaders and civil rights advocates are condemning the study as insufficient, misleading, and not truly independent of law enforcement bias.
Wake Forest Taser Study Ignores the Elephant in the Room, 294 Dead and Counting
Taser Experts and Civil Rights Leaders Say Study is Disconnected from Reality

SAN JOSE, CA – A recent study on Tasers lead by Wake Forest University Medical School gives a false sense of safety to a proven dangerous, and at times lethal, weapon, says Bay Area activists. Community leaders and civil rights advocates are condemning the study as insufficient, misleading, and not truly independent of law enforcement bias.

The study, presented at the American College of Emergency Physicians' Scientific Assembly in Seattle on October 8th, 2007 has been touted by Taser advocates as evidence of safety, yet further examination of the study leaves more questions than answers.

Nationally recognized Taser expert Aram James of the Coalition for Justice and Accountability (CJA) says, “The study concludes -- without supporting data -- that Tasers reduce injuries to both police and the individuals Tasered. But the authors, offer no systematic data to support this conclusion.” James says that actually the study's own data belies their own conclusion of safety. The abstract reported 23% of 597 subjects received some sort of injury. “Nearly 1 in 4, hardly support for the proposition that Tasers are safe -- and when coupled with 293 taser related deaths, a statistic conveniently ignored by the authors of this study, the conclusion that Tasers are safe is not only not true but in fact a lie of deadly proportions.”

Richard Konda, Executive Director of the Asian Law Alliance and CJA co-founder, says the study ignores the reality that some populations are at higher risk when Tased. “The study fails to mention the effect of Tasers on vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, the elderly, the mentally ill, and those under the influence of drugs, who are far more likely to suffer serious injuries and even death as a result of being Tasered.” Konda, who's organization is supporting a ban of Tasers, says the evidence of the deadly effects of Tasers is already being acknowledged by law enforcement communities. He says, “Medical remedies to prevent death are being developed because Tasers kill. In Miami emergency medical technicians are spraying a sedative in the noses of Tasers victims or inject them with iced saline solutions. These protocols lead us to only one conclusion – that Tasers are deadly weapons and must be banned.”

Indeed, Noreen Salinas, eldest daughter of Steve Salinas, who died after being repeatedly Tased by San Jose Police, is appalled by the study's disconnect from the real life impacts of Tasers on families. “How can anyone try to make a claim that Tasers are safe, when it has taken a father from his daughters, a son from his mother?” The Santa Clara County Coroner's office have sited Taser discharge as a potential contributing factor to the death of Steve Salinas.

James says the reason why the study does not appear to be independent is because it was, essentially, a law enforcement report, and points to several red flags. “First, it was conducted at six law enforcement agencies across the country, interestingly enough not disclosed. Why the secrecy? Secondly, the underlying police reports and any accompanying medical records were reviewed by ‘tactical physicians' who are closely connected to a law enforcement agenda. Finally, not mentioned any where in the press release related to this study is the companion piece put out by the Wake Forest Physicians Group. In a study dated September 4, 2007 -- the same doctors credited with the above study -- reported on a police officer who after volunteering to receive a 5 second Taser exposure, under very controlled circumstance, was Tased for 5 seconds and suffered a very serious and apparently permanently debilitating thoracic compression fracture. Why was this piece buried by the good doctors? So much for Tasers being a low risk of injury weapon. If there unsafe for the cops there unsafe for us!”

James, CJA, along with other civil rights advocates, are demanding a truly independent study, and are calling for law enforcement agencies to shelve Tasers until an authentic and comprehensive investigation of its use is conducted.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Phillip Griffin
Friday Oct 19th, 2007 7:41 PM
I taught electrical patient safety at the medical school level for over twenty years. Any device which can break the skin and cause a 10 micro amp current flow via heart muscle during the onset of the ECG T wave can cause the heart to fibrillate. Autopsy results show no signs of what caused the fibrillation. A person may be tased 999 times, without death because the T wave is missed, yet on the 1000th time, the T wave is interfered with and the person goes into fib. This is a well known problem. Every medical device has to meet ridgid electrical codes, to avoid this problem.
by sam lock
Saturday Oct 20th, 2007 5:32 AM
The one test with the "cop" should be the warning sign in a sane society, but as shown, it is ignored.

Think of what the legal alternative would be for each situation so far past. Would the gun have been justified at the time instead, if the taser was not available? If not, why break out the taser, it was either the taser or the gun at issue, but then lost with time.

There is a dangerous mindset out there with the police, and the stories of crime victims becoming victims of the police should be sending up warning flags.

The quick use of the taser by the police is the more serious issue to me. Welcome to the USSA, (or is it th brown shirted america) if you have been sleeping for the past forty years.

All of this police state escallation can easily be blamed on one unconstitutional war on something policy. Read the ninth amendment of our bill of rights, while thinking of the 18th and 21st as the enumerated right in the constitution.

#9 = "the enumeration in the constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people",, legalize the retained recreational use vice, and you remove over half the police state incentive, maybe far more.
by Michael Trenton II
Saturday Oct 20th, 2007 6:39 AM
Tasering people relentlessly, yet another infringement on our rights by the gov't. Add it to the ever-growing list of violations:
They violate the 1st Amendment by opening mail, caging demonstrators and banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon.
They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns during Katrina.
They violate the 4th Amendment by conducting warrant-less wiretaps.
They violate the 5th and 6th Amendment by suspending habeas corpus.
They violate the 8th Amendment by torturing.
They violate the entire Constitution by starting 2 illegal wars based on lies and on behalf of a foriegn gov't.
Support Dr. Ron Paul and save this great country.
Last link (unless Google Books caves to the gov't and drops the title):
America Deceived (book)
by Jaye
(jfele [at] aol.com) Saturday Oct 20th, 2007 8:35 AM
The next Taser incident will be with a pregnant women and both her and the Baby will die causing a riot better and bigger then LA! Shalom! Jaye
That the Wake Forest University Medical School would ignore the horrific trends associated with the use of 'tasers' only proves the complicity of establishment types and the Bush Reich's assault on freedom and humanity. The 'moral fabric' of American society has come unraveled and as we transition from democracy to tyranny and the police state, base human brutality will rule the day. America has signed off on wars of naked aggression, illegal detention, torture, racial discrimination, and those that should champion morality in America are the leaders that abrogate the "decency" that was once America. We are simply screwed.
by M Kirby
Saturday Oct 20th, 2007 2:07 PM
I happen to reside near the elitist campus of Wake Forest University. This report came out in our local rag paper (no offense to actual rags) at the same time we the sheeple were informed that one of our local sheriffs had just purchased around a dozen of these crime busting gadgets at a cost of over $1000 a pop (pardon the pun). They sincerely needed this good press in order to calm our fears and allow us to return to "Dancing With The Stars" knowing that we are safe and secure in Metropolis - as long as we do what we're told.
Go back to sleep sheeple. After all, this is Amerika.
by sc / usa
Monday Oct 22nd, 2007 7:32 AM
What in never talked about is the number of lives saved by the use of the Tazer.

Without a Tazer,in a number of cases, people with hand weapons would have been shot with a handgun, shotgun, or rifle to protect the lives of others.

It the Tazer is not allowed, what is suggested to take its place?
the constitution and the bill of rights.

Tasers are being used at the drop of a hat to subdue any person when a cop decides that is what they want to do.

"Don't Tase me bro" this victim was already on the ground constrained by 3 security officers when the tasing started and this is typical.

baaaaaaaack to sleep now sheeple.

by Chris
(magdorf1 [at] gmail.com) Wednesday Feb 6th, 2008 12:53 AM
My family and I have just expeiranced the full extent of what a taser can do. YES my 22 year old son was on cocain and oxycontins; howevere that isn't why he fell into complete kidney failure, had a heart attack and was in a coma. He was tased 5 or more times. I didn't know that the tasers would burn holes in ones body but now I see just how harmful they are. My hopes are that NO family would ever have to suffer the pain that we went through the past week. Thank God my son is alive but he's still quite ill and has to have treatment three times per week due to his kidneys.
by Be real!
Saturday Feb 23rd, 2008 4:49 PM
I don't think there is any independent evidece that would suggest that electrical charge will have an affect on Kidneys; however, there is undisputed fact that oxycontins, cocaine, and other controlled substances due in fact cause those ailments. Its an unfortunate set of circumstances that your child is suffering from kidney failure, but it has nothing to do that he was tazed five times. More to the fact that he has been torturing his body with drugs. Unfortunately, there is more than likely a monetary reason for this belief. How about your son owns up for being an addict and all the complications that go along with that disease. Instead of being angry with the police and/or the taser because your son was so out of control that the Taser had to be used. It boils down to accountibility and I see very little of that here. Good luck with your law suit thanks for wasting more of our cities monies that could be better spend educating kids on drugs and their effects on the body.!!

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