Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Electrocution Deaths Increasing as Taser Use Becomes Widespread

On December 4, 2009, hundreds of bloggers from the USA, Brazil and Europe will be blogging simultaneously about the increase in electrocution deaths at the hands of US police departments armed with "Taser" brand name massive shock devices.

The Electronic Village blog has composed and posted a list of the names, ages and skin color/national origins of 45 electrocution victims from across the United States, and these names are being republished at blogs from across America, like the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC graphically recalls the cost of the war in human lives.

AfroSpear and afrosphere participants are also circulating an online petition calling for Congressional hearings into the increasing number of "Taser" electrocution deaths, and into video evidence that "Tasers" are being used as torture devices and devices of summary extra-judicial executions.

What has not been clarified is whether the blogging community will call upon its readers to engage in additional action whose purpose is to end "Taser torture". For example, the favorable outcome in the Jena Six case came not merely from blogging and reading about the Jena Six, but also from a march that mobilized as many as 30,000 people and captured media attention worldwide, focused on an inexplicably anachronistic "white tree" and nooses at a public Louisiana high school.

The Bloggers Against "Taser" Electrocution action effectively poses the question, "What will be the functional equivalent of the Jena Six march in protest of the 45 electrocution deaths in the United States since the beginning of the year?" Bloggers know as a matter of historical fact that they were effective in the Jena Six action, in conjunction with Color of Change and the Chicago Tribune, by informing the public and calling the public to action, while the action of a much broader outraged and disgusted public, including Black students from universities throughout America, really brought justice for the Jena Six, in conjunction with Color of Change's very effective legal resources fundraising.

So the December 4 Bloggers Against Taser Electrocution action of writing and informing about Taser torture is not an end in itself, but a catalyst for the type of national mobilization needed to exercise political pressure.

Below are the names of those electrocuted (killed by electric force) by police this year without the benefit of trial or judicial process:

Electronic Village
"has documented 45 taser-related deaths in the United States since the beginning of the year:
  1. Jan 9, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17, Black, Martinsville, Virginia

  2. Jan 11, 2009: Rodolfo Lepe, 31, Hispanic, Bakersfield, California

  3. Jan 22, 2009: Roger Redden, 52, Caucasian, Soddy Daisy, Tennessee

  4. Feb 2, 2009: Garrett Jones, 45, Caucasian, Stockton, California

  5. Feb 11, 2009: Richard Lua, 28, Hispanic, San Jose, California

  6. Feb 13, 2009: Rudolph Byrd, 37, Black, Thomasville, Georgia

  7. Feb 13, 2009: Michael Jones, 43, Black, Iberia, Louisiana

  8. Feb 14, 2009: Chenard Kierre Winfield, 32, Black, Los Angeles, California

  9. Feb 28, 2009: Robert Lee Welch, 40, Caucasian, Conroe, Texas

  10. Mar 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15, Caucasian, Bay City, Michigan

  11. Mar 26, 2009: Marcus D. Moore, 40, Black, Freeport, Illinois

  12. Apr 1, 2009: John J. Meier Jr., 48, Caucasian, Tamarac, Florida

  13. Apr 6, 2009: Ricardo Varela, 41, Hispanic, Fresno, California

  14. Apr 10, 2009: Robert Mitchell, 16, Black, Detroit, Michigan

  15. Apr 13, 2009: Craig Prescott, 38, Black, Modesto, California

  16. Apr 16, 2009: Gary A. Decker, 50, Black, Tuscon, Arizona

  17. Apr 18, 2009: Michael Jacobs Jr., 24, Black, Fort Worth, Texas

  18. Apr 30, 2009: Kevin LaDay, 35, Black, Lumberton, Texas

  19. May 4, 2009: Gilbert Tafoya, 53, Caucasian, Holbrook, Arizona

  20. May 17, 2009: Jamaal Valentine, 27, Black, La Marque, Texas

  21. May 23, 2009: Gregory Rold, 37, Black, Salem, Oregon

  22. Jun 9, 2009: Brian Cardall, 32, Caucasian, Hurricane, Utah

  23. Jun 13, 2009: Dwight Madison, 48, Black, Bel Air, Maryland

  24. Jun 20, 2009 Derrek Kairney, 36, [skin color, natl. origin]: Unknown, South Windsor, Connecticut

  25. Jun 30, 2009, Shawn Iinuma, 37, [skin color, natl. origin]: Unknown, Fontana, California

  26. Jul 2, 2009, Rory McKenzie, 25, Black, Bakersfield, California

  27. Jul 20, 2009, Charles Anthony Torrence, 35, Caucasion, Simi Valley, California

  28. Jul 30, 2009, Johnathan Michael Nelson, 27, Caucasion, Riverside County, California

  29. Aug 9, 2009, Terrace Clifton Smith, 52, [skin color, natl. origin]: Unknown, Moreno Valley, California

  30. Aug 12, 2009, Ernest Ridlehuber, 53, [skin color, natl. origin]: Unknown, Greenville, South Carolina

  31. Aug 14, 2009, Hakim Jackson, 31, Black, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  32. Aug 18, 2009, Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38, Black, Greensboro, North Carolina

  33. Aug 20, 2009, Francisco Sesate, 36, Hispanic, Mesa, Arizona

  34. Aug 22, 2009, T.J. Nance, 37, Race: Unknown, Arizona City, Arizona

  35. Aug 26, 2009, Miguel Molina, 27, Hispanic, Los Angeles, California

  36. Aug 27, 2009, Manuel Dante Dent, 27, Hispanic, Modesto, California

  37. Sep 3, 2009, Shane Ledbetter, 38, Caucasian, Aurora, Colorado

  38. Sep 16, 2009, Alton Warren Ham, 45, Caucasian, Modesto, California

  39. Sep 19, 2009, Yuceff W. Young II, 21, Black, Brooklyn, Ohio

  40. Sep 21, 2009, Richard Battistata, 44, Hispanic, Laredo, Texas

  41. Sep 28, 2009, Derrick Humbert, 38, Black, Bradenton, Florida

  42. Oct 2, 2009, Rickey Massey, 38, Black, Panama City, Florida

  43. Oct 12, 2009, Christopher John Belknap, 36, [skin color, natl. origin]:: Unknown, Ukiah, California

  44. Oct 16, 2009, Frank Cleo Sutphin, 19, [skin color, natl. origin]: Unknown, San Bernadino, California

  45. Oct 27, 2009, Jeffrey Woodward, 33, [skin color, natl. origin]: Unknown, Gallatin, Tennessee

I think it is worth noting that 42% of these taser-torture killings occurred against African American men. We make up about 6% of the total population, yet 42% of the taser-related deaths in America this year are Black men.

However, nothing seems to be able to stop the continued taser-related killings. I remain convinced that the 'Use of Force Continuum' needs to show tasers as 'near-lethal' ... definitely an error to claim that they are 'non-lethal'.

Something is wrong. Join us in asking for congressional hearings on taser torture."
I personally do not understand why Electronic Village prepares a list of 45 electrocution deaths and then says that "Tasers" should be classified as "near lethal". The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines lethal as "capable of producing death." If Tasers were not "capable of producing death", they would not have produced the 45 deaths documented by Electronic Village. I also question whether attacking the semantics of police guidelines that police obviously are not following anyway will be a successful strategy for attacking pre-trial, extra-judicial electrocutions and executions.

Torture devices do not need to be reclassified; they need to be banned and eradicated.

Since tasers have produced the death of 45 people in ten months, the devices are not merely "near-lethal", which would mean "almost" capable of producing death. They are in fact, and without meaningful dispute, "capable of producing death," and therefore they are "lethal" by definition, and not merely "near lethal".


Robert Vincent said...

Did you actually read any of those accounts? Claiming those people died because of Taser use is ridiculous. Yes they were Tasered, and yes they died. But without the total numbers, there is no evidence of correlation. Take a graduate statistics class, and you'll know what I mean. For example, with enough research I could find a group of 45 dead people who all ate oat meal for breakfast. Or another group who all watched television the night before. Correlation? NO!

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Robert Vincent,

Thank you for your comment. It shows that we are having a discussion about this.

I think that what you are trying to say is that "correlation does not prove causation." And this is true. Even if you shoot someone in the head, they can die of cancer before the die of the gunshot wound. Proof of causation is one of the central problems of torts cases, e.g. toxic torts cases where a known carcinogen is placed in the water supply by a corporation that denies the causality between the carcinogen and the subsequent cancer.

The way for police to prove that these people would have died regardless of whether police electrocuted them or not would be for police to refrain from electrocuting members of the public.

Likewise, it is natural that when police shoot people with guns and then the people die within minutes or hours, the public draws the conclusion that the death is related to having been shot. It's inevitable that the public will associate police violence with the deaths that occur within seconds or minutes thereafter.

Excited-Delirium.com said...

I direct Mr. Vincent's attention to the taser's "Curious Temporal Asymmetry". Use Google.

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Villager said...

...we are over 100 taser-related deaths in the past 89 weeks...

peace, Villager