Denver recently got a new spiffy courthouse and jail. The jail opened in April and is called the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Facility. Our old county jail was deplorable. But I don't recall any inmates there being tased to death by guards.
In July, Marvin Booker, 56, a homeless ordained minister who helped the poor and who had a history of petty offenses that occurred a long time ago, was arrested on drug paraphernalia charges and brought to the new jail. He never made it out alive. The coroner's report released today labels the death a homicide.
Booker was asleep on a chair in the holding tank when a guard told him to go to processing desk and sit down. He was wearing his socks and wanted to get his shoes which were nearby. The guard told him not to and directed him to go to an isolation cell. He began walking back to the holding tank, and the guard went to physically restrain him. He tried to shake her off and she and three other guards jumped him. Here's what witnesses say happened after that. According to the autopsy report released today (available here) the coroner finds: [More...]
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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today said it's okay for police to taser a woman who is 7 months pregnant three times because she refused to sign a traffic ticket.
Here's the opinion (pdf). First the facts, as outlined in the dissent:
Malaika Brooks, a pregnant mother, as she was driving her son to school one day: Two, soon three, police officers surrounded her. The officers thought she was speeding in a school zone; she says she was not. Brooks provided her identification when asked, so there was no doubt who she was or where to find her. The officers wrote her a ticket but she refused to sign it. Refusing to sign a speeding ticket was at the time a nonarrestable misdemeanor;now, in Washington, it is not even that. Brooks had no weapons and had not harmed or threatened to harm a soul.
Although she had told the officers she was seven months pregnant, they proceeded to use a Taser on her, not once but three times, causing her to scream with pain and leaving burn marks and permanent scars.
What the majority said: [More...]
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Amnesty International, USA has released a new report on police use of tasers. 334 people have now died from being tasered. The report finds 90% were unnarmed. CA and FL are the states with the most deaths, while Phoenix and Las Vegas have the highest death rates among cities.
The report says police should suspend the use of taser guns.
Amnesty International’s report -- which includes a study of 98 autopsies that were independently reviewed by a forensic pathologist -- found that 90 percent of those who died after being struck with tasers were unarmed and many did not appear to present a serious threat. Police officers used tasers on schoolchildren, pregnant women and even an elderly person with dementia. More than 30 individuals died after being shocked in jails, where tasers are also widely used, or in the booking area of police stations after they were already under police control.
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Everybody, it seems, is talking about the incident at the University of Florida when a student named Andrew Meyer who was aggressively questioning speaker John Kerry was arrested and tasered.
About half of the focus has been on the student and about half on the cops with some room left over to sneer at Kerry for what more than one called "sonorously droning on" as the incident unfolded. Dealing with those in reverse order and so getting to my real concern last (wait for it), I first want to offer a mild defense of John Kerry.
There are a number of news accounts of the incident, but they tend to start at different points and so some things get lost. One is that when Meyer first went to the mike - and apparently he did push to the head of the line - he vocally complained that members of the audience did not have enough time to question Kerry, which may well have been true: After Kerry spoke for 45 minutes, there was a time of, if you will, official questions from one person, leaving the audience no more than 25 minutes for Q&A. At that point, campus police went to remove Meyer but Kerry intervened, saying he should be allowed his question. He answered a question from across the hall and then went back to Meyer.
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