Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A "Less Lethal" Death

I wake up every morning and watch the WGN-TV Morning News.

If you live in Chicago, this is the morning show to watch - - informative, irreverent, funny, warm, charming and smart-assed. The perfect combo since I am most definitely NOT a morning person.

This morning, they mentioned this story (which links to the CBS site since, for some reason, the WGN site doesn't list this story... get it together, guys...)

Victim's Family Outraged Over Taser Death

A Chicago family is calling for justice after the death of a loved one who was tasered by Chicago police officers.

Linda Johnson said Tuesday she and her mother regret calling 911 the night her brother was killed.

Saturday night, Linda's brother, Gefrey, had locked himself in his room with a silk tree. Linda believed he was hiding drugs in the tree and threatened to call police.

When police arrived, Gefrey's mother instructed them to break the bedroom door and get her son out of the house.

Several police officers responded. Linda says the scene somehow went from calm to chaos. The 42-year-old was hit twice by a taser, maced once and died.

Tuesday, police defended their choice to use the taser.

"This individual was combative. He slammed a couple of officers against a wall. The officers, in an attempt to gain control of him again, exercised less lethal force by using the taser," Deputy Supt. Dana Starks said.

But the family says the force was excessive. Gefrey was disabled and could not fight back.

"They actually executed my child. They executed him," Gefrey's mother said.

Police are waiting for an autopsy report to see what exactly killed Johnson. In the meantime, they will continue to use the taser gun when necessary.

Here's the deal: I don't know if Gefrey was combative or not. I don't know if Gefrey possibly attacked the police or not.

Although, what would he use? The silk tree? What would he do with it? Get into some sort of bizarre, nellie flogging scene?

But I do know that this is not the first time that Chicago police have used a taser on a "combative" individual which led to that person's death.

My problem is first with Deputy Supt. Dana Starks' statement...

"The officers, in an attempt to gain control of him again, exercised less lethal force by using the taser."

Since not just Gefrey Johnson, but also other individuals, have died after being tasered, the idea that using a taser is exercising "less lethal force" is not only ridiculous, it's dangerous.

Also, both CBS and WGN report that...

"Police are waiting for an autopsy report to see what exactly killed Johnson."

Maybe it's me, but I don't need Jack Klugman in scrubs to tell me that the taser killed Gefrey Johnson.

Let's look at what happened: He was alive, the police taser him, and minutes afterwards, he died.

What do the Chicago Police need to figure out what killed him? Flash cards?

How many Chicagoans have to die from being tasered before the Chicago Police refrain from using these "less lethal" weapons?

Granted, I don't know how many times individuals are tasered with non-lethal results, but isn't just one death enough for us to demand that someone study tasers and re-design them so that NO ONE dies from them again?

And before you write to tell me "being tasered is better than being shot," let me say that scientists have figured out how to give a 90 year old man a four hour erection. If our priorities were in line, we could figure out how incapacitate an individual without possibly killing him.


Aaron said...

"how to incapacitate an individual without actually killing him"

Make him listen to "Muskrat Love" repeatedly for three hours?

On second thought, that may not be any less lethal.

Police LOVE their little taser toys. They use it all the time, the way they used to use a nightstick. And sadly, there are some who enjoy causing others' pain. It gives them the boners that their wives refuse to.

Stephen Rader said...

Aaron - How true, how true!! Freud had it wrong: Women don't have Penis Envy; MEN have Penis Envy!

Michael said... said envy.....

Stephen Rader said...

Michael - I don't just envy penises, I honor them!! :)

Dear Lord, I'm a tramp.