I thought it was odd that the pro-Taser guy attacked me for what I do for a living. After all what does my being a lawyer have to do with the price of Taser International stock prices? This is the mentality left over from the failed Bush Administration policies. If the Bush followers don’t’ agree with what you say they categorize you; label you and attempt to place you into a category that Madison Avenue has turned into a hated-group. Hate in America has become a marketable and saleable commodity. It is a commodity that is making a lot of money for some people. To make money from peddling hate you need to hone certain skills that use to be associated with social dysfunction.

It is possible to develop the necessary dysfunctional personality necessary to become a hate monger. I’ve listed 25 personality traits and skills you’ll need to make hate profitable. Those traits are listed in this linked post.

Living on the edge of reason; Promoting Hatred as a Cultural Norm

But today let's get back to the post that brought out the ire of the commenter. In the instance of the Australian human candle, I wasn’t in disagreement that the officers could use the Taser to stop him; in this case dead in his tracks. So why attack me for reporting on the news item? Like Apple, I suspect Taser is very sensitive about what you say about their product. And the stock holders are just as sensitive.

But the Taser isn’t even the point of my blog post. The point of lawyers’ blogging about the Taser is about how law enforcement is abusing it to punish, not just to subdue. It's easy for lay people to want to see the bad guy or gal punished. The lay person isn't used to seeing and dealing with what law officers see and deal with every day. But they are paid and trained to deal with excited and agitated people. That is their job and the reason why it's called a profession is because they are trained to deal with unruly people and to get them under control. But when the Taser takes the place of thinking, talking and becomes the officer's vocabulary, the officer is no longer a professional. He's now operating at the same level as the person he's trying to control.  The Taser is not a substitute for training, experience, a level head and professional skills used to get control of a volatile situation.  The Taser is an instrument of death in the wrong hands and not necessarily as the primary cause; it can lead to death by putting the person being arrested in a situation where they are unable to protect themselves. Tomorrow or the next day we will see a man Tasered while standing on a fire escape, who then falls to his death. Let's face it the Taser can precipitate some deaths.

Here is today’s case in point. Is it excessive force to Taser a 14-year-old girl in the head because she intends to run away?

14-year-old Tasered to the Head After Running to the Park

When I looked on YouTube there was this story about a 14-year-old getting Tasered for not standing still; a story that makes me wonder if this is one more instance where Tasers are being misused? As a citizen I don't want the police misusing the power they are given. I for one don’t want to live in a place where we are governed by fear of the police. Law enforcement is the job of our professionally trained police force; their job is law enforcement not punishment. Punishment is for the Courts and prisons. If the Taser is being used to punish someone, it is per se’ improper; and I think the evidence is in on that one; the Taser is being used in many instances to punish. Tasering a person already handcuffed is against regulations; yet in my practice I still see it. Repeated Tasering seems unnecessary. Yet it happens.

“If the Taser is being used to punish someone, this is per se’ improper and an unconstitutional use of excessive force under the Bill of Rights; and I think the evidence is in on that one; the Taser is being used in many instances to punish.”

The commenter attempts to downplay the unnecessary use of the Taser by describing it as non-lethal. Describing a Taser as a non-lethal means to subdue someone side steps the real issue. The police punching a person repeated would also be non-lethal yet it’s not proper or legal. Dropping a bowling ball on their foot would not be lethal, but it would also not be necessary or legal. Water boarding is non-lethal and yet it’s torture. Shoving bamboo shoots under a person’s fingernails is non-lethal yet it’s also torture. If the police were allowed to hold you by your ankles from the 14th story roof of a high-rise that wouldn’t be lethal unless they dropped you, but it’s still not something a civilized society tolerates.

The issue isn’t about whether the Taser is lethal, that is for the Courts and scientists to determine and for the legislature to act upon. The issue is whether the Taser is an easy and convenient means of abusing power; one that appears very difficult to detect. It seems that it is being abused, yet because it’s not leaving but a few marks society is willing to look the other way. An abuse of power is wrong no matter how much visual damage is obvious. And that’s my point; if it’s being used to abuse power it’s wrong no matter who is making money off the stock.

And is it causing nerve damage or brain damage? I'm not sure, but if you want to consider the situation walk to any wall outlet, wet your fingers and stick them into the socket holes. How good did that feel? Are you willing to do it again? I didn't think so.

If the police were allowed to hold you by your ankles from the 14th story roof of a high-rise that wouldn’t be lethal unless they dropped you, but it’s still not something a civilized society tolerates.

And that’s why the commenter is afraid to say who he is and why he hides behind a pseudonym. He knows what he’s saying is a distraction from the real issue. He lowers himself to name calling because he has no real counter-argument. He focuses on the criminal because he doesn’t want the Courts to find this law enforcement tool is being misused and to limit its use. The company and its stockholders want to fan the flames of fear so citizens, police chiefs and the legislatures will continue to look the other way while the police abuse the power entrusted to them. It’s not all the police that are abusing power; it’s a few bad apples. But left unchecked a few bad apples spoil the entire department's image.

I tell juries in defamation cases; it takes a lifetime to build a solid reputation, and only minutes to destroy it. The same is true for police departments.

Like you I’m sick of crime and those that commit it. I’m tired of paying for law enforcement and prisons; as much or more than you are; but I’m not willing to live in a police state where fear is the means by which we persuade the populous to comply.

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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