Taser says its weapons don't kill people, so Reuters built a massive database of 1000+ Taser deaths

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/10/02/data-vs-bullshit.html


Taser says its weapons don’t kill as many people


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The most dangerous part of “less” than lethal weaponry is an increase in police officers absence of the ability to deal with situations that require nuance.

Wasn’t a study done that showed that the vast majority of fatal police shootings weren’t wild shoot outs or crazy person with a gun, but inattentive police officers not taking situations seriously and getting shot in the back?


Only a thousand? How many did cops with guns kill?

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So what caused Dalian Atkinson (the highest profile victim I can think of) to die then?


Being black near a police officer.


Well, it seems he wasn’t in the best state physically. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/16/ex-aston-villa-footballer-dalian-atkinson-threatened-to-kill-his/

“My brother had lost it. He was in a manic state and depressed - out of his mind and ranting. He had a tube in his shoulder for the dialysis and he had ripped it out and was covered in blood,” he told the newspaper.

The nephew was quoted as the BBC article that he had a weakened heart, though there’s no corroboration of that.

This happened in the UK, after he threatened his father. Same Telegraph link as above.

"He got Dad by the throat and said he was going to kill him. He told Dad he had already killed me, our brother Paul and sister Elaine and he had come for him.

“He was not in his right mind. We are all devastated. Our family is heartbroken.”

The article where it says he was tasered by police in the headline?

And of course, what’s the point of firing a “less-lethal” weapon, when your comrades in arms use firearms simultaneously :interrobang:

In both of these cases, it seems one officer had a Taser out and ready, while another had a conventional pistol out and ready, and both pulled the trigger at nearly the same instant.


The question that needs to be asked is “Would he have died if he wasn’t tasered?”, not “What was the condition of his physical health?”


Too much like right.

There will always be people who try to defend the indefensible.


Depends on if the boots they were kicking him with would have killed him as well. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-37082207

Paula Quinn, who lives in a first-floor flat near the Atkinson property in Trench, said: “They were shouting and kicking so much all I could hear were the boots hitting him.
And then the officer who released the Taser stepped back while the other officer still continued to kick and then I could hear him shout to the other officer that was still kicking, ‘Back off, back off, back off.’
And then the officer with the Taser asked the gentleman to put his hands behind his back and did so probably two or three times and reactivated the Taser another four or five times after that.”

Both the boots and the Taser usage appear to be extremely unreasonable amounts of force.


If I had to choose, I’d still rather be tasered than shot

That’s just bullshit, and it completely misses the point and the complexity of the situation.

  1. We as a society are not getting mentally ill the treatment they need
  2. Police being used as a frontline for mental health
  3. Tasers, while less lethal, can still kill
  4. Mentally unstable individuals may act illogical
  5. Police have two options to subdue someone at distance, firearm and taser
  6. Police are human beings and don’t want to introduce themselves to unwarranted risk

We need to stop the stigma about mental health and increase funding, set up a dedicated response for mentally unstable individuals along with better training for police, tell Axon to finally admit the obvious that it can potentially kill, understand the situation that the police are placed into along with the limited information provided, look into alternative methods of subduing individuals along with deescalation approaches, and understand that any rational person will want to maintain a safe distance to someone who may be unarmed but potentially violent in a situation that will not be even moderately understood.

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I’d go further and say it’s not just about the ‘mentally ill’ but anyone who’s yet to be proven guilty of a crime. It’s obvious that tasers can kill people but until someone invents a weapon that can reliably subdue a person from a distance without any risk of killing them then tasers are still preferable to firearms.

That’s iffy.

If discharging a taser came with the same scrutiny / procedures / paperwork as discharging a firearm, then I might agree with you. But as it stands, the less-lethal status of the taser means that it frequently gets used as a compliance tool, rather than as a way to avoid killing someone in a situation that otherwise would have called for firearms.

Cops can use it as a cattle prod, so they do


The taser is not the first or last word in less-lethal methods. There are probably hundreds of designs in existence, from net-guns to loogie guns to bean-bag launchers to sonic disorienters and so on and so on.

Cops like tasers because they hurt. And the people who arm cops like tasers because the cost is front-loaded, there’s very low operating costs (less-lethal weapons typically require specialized ammunition).


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