Superior court judge fines Taser International
A Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge denied a motion by a stun-gun manufacturer to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by a man who claims he suffered permanent injuries after being shocked by one of the weapons in 2006.
Monday, Judge Jeff Almquist turned down the request by TASER International that would have ended the case. Almquist also fined TASER International $15,000 for delaying the court process, according to court documents.
Watsonville resident Steve Butler, now 51, is seeking lifetime medical costs in the suit. The trial is set for Aug. 2.
In 2006, Steve Butler was riding a bus when a police officer ordered him to get off. Steve admits he was drunk, and he refused the order. That’s when the officer tasered Steve. Three times.
According to doctors, Butler suffered immediate cardiac arrest. He was revived by emergency medical technicians who happened to be close by, but his attorneys say his brain was deprived of oxygen for as long as 18 minutes. He is now permanently disabled.
Medical experts say that if a person is hit by a Taser dart near the chest, one result is a dramatic increase in the subject’s heartbeat — from a resting 72 beats a minute to as many as 220 beats a minute for a short period of time. In its court filings, the company says the “peak-loaded” voltage from a Taser at impact ranges up to 40,000 volts but it’s a 600-volt average for the duration of the firing.
Steve now has trouble answering simple questions. He can’t remember the day of the week, or what month it is.
The police state apologists (I’m looking your way, Youtube commenters) will predictably blame Steve for his circumstances. After all, he was drunk and refused direct orders from a cop. Clearly, that means the officer had the right to maim Steve and handicap him for the rest of his life.
Tasers were originally intended to be used as a non-lethal way to put down violent resistors. Yet, time and time again, these weapons are instead used on the drunk, those confused with the drunk, non-violent protesters, the mentally ill, and victims who are kneeling and already handcuffed.
Public drunkenness isn’t a nice thing, and surely it leads to citizens getting mouthy with people (even police officers,) but the last time I checked, the penalty for that faux pas isn’t a death sentence. There’s a reason why a cop can’t kick or slap a disagreeable taxpayer, and that law should extend to tasering. Just because a citizen becomes unpleasant doesn’t mean they should then be put down like a rabid dog.
Tasers are dangerous weapons that are capable of inflicting great bodily harm on their victims. Even some cops got together and sued Taser after they were injured during a demonstration.
The officers were at a training seminar in November 2003 to learn how to use the newest weapon on their belts, a device the manufacturer claimed would incapacitate a person but not do permanent harm. You can’t really comprehend the Taser, students were told, until you’re Tasered.
So an instructor attached alligator clips to each end of the daisy chain. Two officers became electrical bookends, strung at the shoulder by wires feeding back into a Taser gun. Pull the trigger and the daisy chain shudders, seizes and pitches forward, the pile of police officers becoming a portrait of Taser’s selling point: neuromuscular incapacitation.
In the middle of the chain, hands locked at her sides, Peterson had only her face to absorb the impact. She fell hard on her neck and fast into the rabbit hole – traumatic internal disc disruption, steroid injections, surgical reconstruction, temporomandibular derangement, persistent dizziness, cognitive defects, numbness, vertigo.
And that’s what happens in a “controlled” setting.
Though tasers have caused death and significant injury, they are not classified as a firearm. They are technically called an “electronic control device.” An electronic control device that occasionally kills and permanently wounds people.
The maker of Taser stun guns is advising police officers to avoid shooting suspects in the chest with the 50,000-volt weapon, saying that it could pose an extremely low risk of an “adverse cardiac event.”
The advisory, issued in an Oct. 12 training bulletin, is the first time that Taser International has suggested there is any risk of a cardiac arrest related to the discharge of its stun gun.
But Taser officials said Tuesday that the bulletin does not state that Tasers can cause cardiac arrest. They said the advisory means only that law-enforcement agencies can avoid controversy over the subject if their officers aim at areas other than the chest.
As Digby states, this is a way for Taser to avoid liability the next time someone dies. Gee, we told you guys not to aim for the chest! Well, see ya later! Regardless, the statement was remarkable because it marked the first time Taser admitted its product can be lethal.
Interestingly, the warning doesn’t appear on Taser’s homepage, but what does appear is an ad to upgrade to a sweetass newer model, specifically the “triple shot, semi-automatic Taser X3.” Imagine how many mentally ill immigrants I can pick off with that thing!
These types of lawsuits are going to keep coming, and will probably increase now that the word has gotten out that tasers are lethal, barbaric weapons, which are more often used to suppress non-violent dissidents, mildly disagreeable citizens, and the mentally ill than as a safe way to subdue violent criminals.