FORT WORTH, Texas – On Saturday, November 7, people will march from downtown City Hall to the uptown County Courthouse, starting at noon, to highlight the increasing number of deaths related to tasing. The march dubbed as a March for Dignity is part of a growing movement around the country and the world to end the use of tasers deployed by law enforcement.
The Fort Worth demonstration is aimed to make a statement to city leaders and law enforcement.
The controversy arises at the same time the number of taser related fatalities approaches 500. At the same time, however, Taser International, the maker of the electronic control device (ECD), continually insists the weapon is non-lethal.
In Fort Worth, when Carolyn Daniels (#138) was died on the floor in the county jail after being tasered on June 24, 2005, hardly anyone paid notice. They said she had crack cocaine in her system. Had she not, we were led to believe, she would have survived the shocking.
But Michael Jacobs Jr. (#424) had no such foreign substance in his system when he was tasered and died on April 18, 2009.
As an emissary who stood over the coffin of the 24-year old young man, I delivered a Resolution to the family on behalf of the international community, and a network of supporters. From Amnesty International to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and bloggers around the world, we raised our voices against this form of torture and death.
I shed a tear for Michael. I shed a tear for Carolyn. I shed a tear for Deacon Fredrick William (#56) whose video electrocution was shown all over the internet, shocked repeatedly in the neck until dead. The remaining 22 minutes of the video was devoted to trying to bring him back to life, and the egg-look on the face of the officers.
But I shed more tears for the living and the unborn. When Valreca Redden was tasered by Trotwood police, she was pregnant. No one can imagine the trauma to the unborn fetus as his mother was being electrocuted with 50,000 volts of electricity. She was guilty of nothing except being distraught. The baby was completely innocent.
We are just now realizing some the lingering after-effects of tasing. Some who have been tasered in the past are now beginning to show signs of involuntary neuromuscular convulsions, what we otherwise would call the “twitches”.
Imagine, if you will, the last minute of Michael Junior’s life, for that is just about how long it took Officer Stephanie Phillips to summarily electrocute him and terminate his life.
For one minute, hold your breath, and close your eyes, and imagine sticking your finger into a light socket. Hold it there for one minute, while 240 volts of electricity race through your body. Are you still holding your breath?
That is what happened to Michael Jacobs Jr. But instead of 240 volts, it is 50,000 volts, blazing inside his body, for one whole minute. At the first jolt, the muscles contract and hold, and hold, and hold, until there is a release. If there is no release, the organ muscles shut down and organs began to pop.
Michael could not breathe, even if he wanted to. The lung muscles shut down. The heart muscle shut down. The bile burst, and the organs fried like chicken, for one eternity of a minute. Thus, what the coroner saw was ruled a homicide.
Consider the Poem by Willie Jolley:
I have only just a minute, only sixty seconds in it
Forced upon me, can't refuse it
Didn't seek it, didn't choose it,
But it's up to me to use it
I must suffer if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute
But Eternity is in it.
In memory of Michael Jacobs Jr. by Eddie G. Griffin (BASG)