Monday, July 24, 2006

Get Beaten up by police

and you’ll probably be charged with assaulting a police officer if you wake up in the hospital. I worked at a 24 hour convenience store. Cops would take their badges off and beat the living daylights out of those they had arrested in the trash coral. There would even be flesh hanging off the bricks dripping blood.

Married officers called Friday and Saturday nights, “Date Night,” as they would pull over women that they found attractive with the hopes that they’d have been drinking and willing to negotiate out of a DWI. If the woman was a “real pig” there was coded words the city police officers would use so their other on duty friends could share in the action. This was pre-AIDS and pre-Rodney King.

From the Hartford Courant:

EDITORIALS

Investigate Police Taser Incidents

July 24, 2006
For the second time in nine months, a New Britain crime suspect has died after being subdued by city police using stun guns.

Manufactured by Taser International in Scottsdale, Ariz., the devices are extolled by a growing number of police departments in Connecticut and around the country as an important addition to their array of non-lethal weaponry. But as the New Britain cases illustrate, calling a weapon non-lethal isn't the same as saying it's safe.

The Office of the Chief State's Attorney should investigate whether the stun guns were used appropriately in both New Britain cases. The state should also consider adopting more stringent guidelines for the use of Tasers in light of growing concerns about their possible links to deaths.

The most recent case in New Britain occurred July 11. Responding to a report of a man stabbing at a car with a pitchfork along Route 9, New Britain police approached Jesus Negron as he walked along Peter Court. Police say Mr. Negron tried to evade them by jumping through the window of a nearby business. He jumped back out and continued running, ignoring commands to halt.

Police caught up to Mr. Negron and subdued him with the Taser, according to a witness. After handcuffing him to a railing, police shocked Mr. Negron a second time, according to the witness. Mr. Negron was taken to New Britain General Hospital where he was pronounced dead; the state medical examiner is examining the cause of death.

The use of a Taser by New Britain police also figured prominently in the death of Miguel Serrano in October. Police say Mr. Serrano, who was high on cocaine, became aggressive and lunged at them. That's when they used the Taser. He died a week later in New Britain General Hospital. The state medical examiner's office said Mr. Serrano's heart stopped beating as a result of the cocaine and his altercation with police.

More than five years ago, a Connecticut inmate who was zapped with a stun gun three times by a guard at the Wallens Ridge State Prison in Virginia died of heart failure.

Tasers deliver a shock of 50,000 volts, enough to subdue a suspect by disabling the neuromuscular system for up to six seconds. Authorities from thousands of law enforcement agencies, prison systems and military installations around the world are using them, claiming the devices reduce the risk of serious injury to officers and to people being taken into custody.

But increasingly these devices are being linked to deaths - about 150 in the United States and Canada since 1999, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Doctors and humanitarian organizations have argued for a ban, saying the powerful shocks delivered by these devices can cause death when combined with a suspect's drug use, heart problem or other severe medical condition.

This year, the U.S. Justice Department announced it is opening an investigation into 30 deaths resulting from the use of Tasers by law enforcement officials. The review could take up to two years to complete.

In the meantime, the chief state's attorney's office should conduct its own investigation to determine whether New Britain officers followed the right protocols for using Tasers. And, in light of the growing body of evidence about the dangers of Tasers, whether those protocols are adequate.

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