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Video Shows 5 Taser Shocks In 1 Minute, Inmate Death


Frederick Williams last words as he was carried into the Gwinnett County jail were, "Don't kill me, man. Don't kill me." It turned out to be an unheeded plea - minutes later he was dead after receiving 5 direct stuns from a Taser gun in the span of 60 seconds. From Atlanta's NBC affiliate WXIA:

A Gwinnett County grand jury had decided not to pursue charges in the Taser gun-related death of an inmate at the county jail.

Inmate Frederick Williams died last year after Gwinnett deputies used a Taser gun to subdue him.

Williams' widow, Yanga Williams, said he was in a rage when she called officers to her home last May. She says her husband's violent behavior was due to his failure to take medication for epilepsy.

District Attorney Danny Porter provided details of the investigations to a grand jury and that grand jury decided not to pursue an investigation of their own. They, however, chose not to view the videotape taken at the jail.

"They were aware of the tape and the disturbing aspects of it, but chose not to view it," Porter said. "They chose not to see it and chose not to go any farther. For all intents and purposes, this ends my case," he said.

Before sending the case to the grand jury the DA declined to prosecute any of the deputies involved in the incident.

Is this a tragic accident or criminal (or civil) negligence? Watch the video for yourselves [Windows Media] and see if you think the application of 5 direct tasers shots to the chest was an appropriate level of force. Be sure to listen for the line, "Do you want another one?" from one of the deputies, which might change your mind if you were initially inclined to give deputies the benefit of the doubt.

Additional reporting on the story available from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (registration required).


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Comments (79)

Hmmm.This is defin... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

This is definitely a case of premeditated murder. The deputies must be prosecuted along with the DA Porter. It's pretty obvious Porter didn't want to prosecute so he must have set things up so he wouldn't have to.

This is unacceptable.

Wow. I almost always give ... (Below threshold)
JimK:

Wow. I almost always give the cops the benefit of the doubt. In fact I barely believe 99 and 44/100ths of the brutality charges we hear about...but that wasn't necessary. Unless there is some extraordinary circumstances to which we aren't yet privy, that looks like brutality degenerated into murder.

Premeditated murder? Are y... (Below threshold)
buzz:

Premeditated murder? Are you kidding me? You actually think the deputies planned on killing that man? Manslaughter, maybe, assuming someone can demonstrate the taser was responsible. Having been i n this situation before, I wonder what should have been done. Leave him in the cell with hand and legs cuffed? And if he never calms down? At what point do you have the responsiblity of removing the restraints? If you think one guy can not seriously injure himself and a number of officers if he just doesnt care, then your wrong.

Hmmm...My pro cop ... (Below threshold)

Hmmm...

My pro cop bias leads me to believe that 11 deputies properly restrained a violent arestee, based on the video shown.

I'm particuarly intrigued by the fact that the widow considering a civil suit was the very one who called the cops asking for assistance with her out-of-control husband.

I'd be interested in seeing the whole video from beginning to end without the news channel edits. I'm willing to reverse my initial impressions if the raw, unedited footage gives evidence to support the widow's claim.

Conclusion? It's too early to tell. Without seeing the full, unedited video, I think the TV station does a decent job covering the facts of the story without being too sensational. The footage in question is shocking and tragic, but I remain unconvinced that it's criminal. As the anchorman said, "Obviously a lot more on this story..."

Kevin, I don't want to watc... (Below threshold)

Kevin, I don't want to watch the video. If you get hit by one taser or an electrical current or even those medical thing-a-ma-jigs that are supposed to help pain and it's in the wrong place, it can change your heart rhythm and even your brain stimuli but mostly it will change without question your heart rhythm. That's why they should be used on the lowest possible power and used very little. Five people with tasers is instant death; the heart can't beat. WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO LEARN THIS? This is not right. Everyone of them should be charged with manslaughter and assault and pay their price for killing this man. No doubts here.

Cindy

And upon rereading my publi... (Below threshold)

And upon rereading my published comment, I appologize for the "shocking" pun. Purely unintentional. I'm serious.

Murder? I don't think so.</... (Below threshold)
Darby:

Murder? I don't think so.

Negligent? Hells yeah.

Ok, first off, the dude was violent due to the fact he was not taking his medication for his Epilepsy. I know someone who gets violent seizures, there is no malice in their violent actions. It is not something they can control.

I did not see a doctor or a medic there, which there should have been considering the man was a known epileptic.

Did the Sherrifs do anything wrong with the Taser? I don't think so. Were they negligent in the handling of a violent epileptic? I think they were. In this manner they are responsible for this mans death. That would be Negligent Homicide. They should be held responsible for their actions.

Unless there is more facts to this story that I am unfamiliar with, that's how I feel on this subject.

The widow called the police for assistance in restraining a man in a violent seziure(from my understanding). Simple fact was she wanted to help her husband, now he's dead.

My goodness! Who knew there... (Below threshold)
kma:

My goodness! Who knew there were so many forensic pathologists and use of force experts on this blog. They can't even determine cause of death yet you are willing to blame the deputies for it. Are you arguing that the written policies of the sheriff's office in the proper use of the taser are defective? How? Or, that they were not followed? Again, how were they not followed? Are any of you even familar with the proper use of a taser and when it maybe used by law enforcement? Can you people be any more biased towards police officers?

I am sorry, but there is no... (Below threshold)

I am sorry, but there is no way I could watch that. No way. It seems wrong on the surface for sure. But then I wasn't one dealing with an out of control person.
I can see both sides. But just from what you wrote, it seems they used too much force.

"Do you want another one... (Below threshold)
kma:

"Do you want another one?" from one of the deputies, which might change your mind if you were initially inclined to give deputies the benefit of the doubt.

Why would it? All it indicates is that the deputy told him that if he continued to resist, he would use the taser on him again.

His wife stated that “her husband’s violent behavior was due to his failure to take medication for epilepsy.”

What does that mean? Note: she does not say, he didn't take his meds, he had a seizure, and now he's disoriented and combative. If that were the case, why not call an ambulance so he could be sedated, taken to a hospital, and given his anti-seizure medications? Now, why wd she call the police instead? You don't even know what, if anything, she told the police. If she did tell them he had a seizure, why wouldn't the police take him to the hospital instead of jail? Oh, I get it! Because police officers just like to have knock down drag out fights and get hurt and better yet, they like to kill people for the hell of it. What was I thinking!

As far as being negligent because there was not medical personnel there:
You are assuming they knew he was epileptic
You are assuming that due to being an epileptic that he needed medical personnel.
You are assuming that his combativeness was due to his epilepsy.
You are assuming a doctor is going to get near him when he is combative. They won't – they will wait until he is restrained.
You are assuming that a jail has to have medical personnel at the jail.
You are assuming that they didn't have a medical person present.
You are assuming that it would have made a difference.

Lastly, he died two days later, not, at the jail. The coroner testified that there was no evidence that the shocks from the taser either caused or contributed to his death.

One person says he died "mi... (Below threshold)
marie:

One person says he died "minutes later"? The other says he died two days later? Which is true?

"You want it again?"<... (Below threshold)

"You want it again?"

That makes me think the cops did NOT intend him harm. They wanted him to calm the hell down. He didn't calm down, so he got it again. The use of tasers is a policy issue, and if they were used according to policy, the cops involved are blameless.

Several days ago you ran a ... (Below threshold)
KobeClan:

Several days ago you ran a story about an out-of-control inmate who put 3 police officers trying to subdue him into the hospital. I believe the injuries included a fractured vertebrae, fractured jaw, and blown-out eye socket. The police are damned-if-they-do and damned-if-they-dont.

The MURDER of Frederick J. ... (Below threshold)

The MURDER of Frederick J. Williams

Greetings. I am Melvin Johnson, a friend for 18 of Mr. Williams' 31 years of existence, as well as Attorney (now along with 2 others) on this matter. Unfortunately, I just recently read your article regarding Mr. Williams' tragic death. On behalf of Mr. Williams and the family and supporters, thanks for your humility and conscience regarding this 31 year old lost (and never to return) father of 4 very young children (ages 1 thru 9), husband, only child, church deacon, beloved friend, etc. Secondly, I wish to correct some statements in your article (again sorry that I am responding so late, I've been very busy).

(1) All evidence clearly suggest (to any objective-minded-red blooded-human) that the incident which started at the Williams' home was a medical emergency and an eventual MURDER. From all of the 911 calls Ms. Williams did describe Mr. Williams' threatened violent behavior, but clearly and repeatedly explained to the dispatcher that Mr. Williams had problems with his medication and this problem was causing his behavior. Even the 9 year old son repeated the same. In fact, this child's last plea to the Dispatcher was "please bring the truck with the medicine," not the taser guns.

(2) Although Gwinnett is refusing at this time to provide the entire 911 tape (which should include conversations between the dispatcher and all emergency authorities). I am certain that said recordings will indicate that the dispatcher communicated that Mr. Williams behavior was due to a medical problem.

(3) Even assuming arguendo that the dispatcher failed or forgot to mention the cause of Mr. Williams' behavior to the authorities, when the first officer arrived on the scene and before he even approached the home or Mr. Williams, Ms. Williams and a deacon from the church greeted the officer and clearly explain the situation. In fact Ms. Williams and the deacon pleaded with the officer not to approach Mr. Williams but to wait for more officers, since the officer was smaller and appeared much older than Mr. Williams, Mr. Williams was not armed, had not left his property (Mr. Williams was in his garage/drive way), was not harming or threatening anyone and was only 'talking crazy.' The officer told Ms. Williams and the deacon to 'back-up' and the officer pulled out his asperton [baton] and approached Mr. Williams. This officer states in his own post-incident report that Mr. Williams was unarmed, in his drive-way and talking crazy when he approached Mr. Williams. Nevertheless, the officer approached Mr. Williams shouting commands for Mr. Williams to be quiet. When Mr. Williams (who is still 'talking crazy') did not comply, the officer states that he strikes Mr. Williams several times with his asperton. On either the third of fourth strike, Mr. Williams reacts and grabs the asperton. A struggle ensures over the asperton and the officer states that he "loses his balance" and falls. Not once in his report did he state that Mr. Williams intentional makes contact with him. The only contact between Mr. Williams and the officer was pursuant to the struggle over the asperton when the smaller officer falls and is injured as a result of the fall. Mr. Williams neither attacks nor even retaliate against the officer for the blows with the asperton while the officer is on the ground. In fact, Mr. Williams never even took one step towards the officer. The officer states that Mr. Williams essentially continues his 'crazy' speech and behavior and is pacing. The injured officer pulls away and indicates on the radio that he is down and injured. There is no further encounter between Mr. Williams and the officer. Mr. Williams reportedly continues his 'crazy' behavior and his pacing in and out of the house and about the drive-way. Back-up arrives (reportedly 10-15 officers) and storms at Mr. Williams who is still neither armed nor attacking nor threatening anyone.

(4) Mr. Williams is hog-tied (arms bound behind him and feet tightly bound) and is seen carried by police "like an animal" says one witness, is and place in the back of a patrol unit. Ms. Williams', the deacon and others on the scene begged the police to please take Mr. Williams to the hospital for treatment as Mr. Williams appeared unconscious. The police respond that "this guy has injured one of our own, we will take him to the jail and deal with him, we have all of the medicine we need at the jail." Persistent, Ms. Williams goes in the house, grabs and tenders Mr. Williams' medications to the officers. The police refused it and repeat the foregoing. Scared from the reaction of the police at the scene, the deacon calls Mr. Williams' pastor via cell phone and begs him to do something before "these people kill Fred." The Pastor request to speak to an officer. The Pastor reiterates the reason for Mr. Williams' behavior and pleas for medical attention, but he is told the same. An ambulance arrives and is seen treating the injured officer, so the family and witnesses go and plea with the ambulance for medical attention for Mr. Williams. They are turned away by police. Mr. Williams is transported to the jail. This entire incident is witnessed by Mr. Williams' 4 very minor children. This is the last memory that they have of their daddy alive. This is the last memory we have of our husband, only child, deacon, friend, etc., alive. An officer who eventually transports Mr. Williams dead body to the hospital tells the medical staff (and this is documented in the medical reports) that he observed Mr. Williams foaming from his mouth and uncontrollably jerking in the patrol car at the scene at the Williams' residence.

(5) At the jail, while still hog-tied and securely bound, Mr. Williams is tasered at least 5 times according to the autopsy reports. I say at least 5 time because not every taser attack results in an identifiable burn mark. There are mounted cameras at the jail and an officer reportedly had a hand held camcorded to record the entire ordeal. Of course, at this point, Gwinnett has refused to provide either of these recordings. Gwinnett County justifies the tasering under these conditions because according to another written report by a senior officer at the jail, Mr. Williams was reportedly thrashing and jerking his body upon arrival at the jail. Nowhere in this second report does the senior officer indicate that Mr. Williams attacks any of the officers, throws a punch, kick, bite, or anything; nonetheless, Gwinnett County officials, in the media, justifies the MURDER of this young father, husband, only child, deacon, friend, etc., because his apparent thrashing and jerking was "combative" while he is still hog-tied and securely bound. In fact, the senior officer records in his report that Mr. Williams is conscious at least for a moment, and utters his last and only words "PLEASE DON'T KILL ME." Upon arrival of Mr. Williams' body at the hospital, Doctors record that there were plastic instruments that were apparently used to hog-tied Mr. Williams at his house. Doctors' examinations revealed acute with suspicion of chronic renal failure, negligible brain activity, negligible pulse, and negligible blood pressure. His hands and feet were cold and capillary refill was poor. He had no eye movements, no muscular movements and his entire body was flaccid. His pupils were dilated 6 mm and fixed. Doctors' impression were that there was cardiac arrest, brain hemorrhage, pulmonary embolus and/or seizure. Mr. Williams reportedly lost all pulses at about 1948 hours. He had no gag response.

This account certainly seem... (Below threshold)
epador:

This account certainly seems plausible and consistent. Verified, it would certainly give major credence to Kevin's post and should give pause to those who might want to dismiss the accusation of murder without further investigation.

What I see, however (assuming the account above is accurate) is a system of law enforcement exhibiting either poor training or poor application of training in dealing with agitated people with known medical conditions. Negligent homicide. Epilepsy, Alzheimer's, Hypoglycemia, Schizophrenia are a few conditions that can sometimes be associated with agitated behavior that can not be reasoned with. Using pain or force in an attempt to subdue such patients is doomed to failure - the neural pathways that would work to induce submission in "normally aggressive" people will not work. Medical restraints (using medication) can be equally difficult, since the patient often sees any attempt to medicate them as a threat, and if enough drugs are delivered to sedate the patient, protection of the airway may be a priority (the patient may stop breathing).

Another dilemma in a situation like this for the police is: Here is an agitated and difficult to restrain patient - if I take him to the ER, can I protect the medical personnel from him?

Our emergency response system for most areas in this country does not include getting a doctor to the patient at the site of injury. Some countries, like Germany, have doctors that do respond to the site of a medical emergency if indicated (I think they are called Notz Arzt). The armamentarium of paramedics in our country is more limited, naturally, than what a physician can provide, but an experienced paramedic team would likely have handled this situation entirely differently at the home of the man who died. A physician would certainly have guided the handling of the situation differently. Tasers and batons would not have been likely intruments suggested by either team.

I've worked in ER's and the field where patients have attacked me with broken bottles, furniture and their bare hands. Never had to use more than a few burly cops (tactical application of force initiated in a non-threatening way) to hold them down long enough to zap them once with a syringe. Though this guy was big, he had no weapons and did not attack until he was attacked. I just can't believe he was handled comptently if the description above is anywhere near accurate.

I am not a lawyer. If the ... (Below threshold)
Webster:

I am not a lawyer. If the definition of murder requires the intent to take life, this appears to not be murder. Nothing I saw makes me think that was the officers intent.

This appears to be a tragedy born of several mistakes by people whose mistakes may bear horrible consequences. If Mr. Johnson is correct, the first policeman on the scene set this nightmare in motion by striking a harmless man acting crazy.

When fellow police officers hear that an officer is down, they no doubt operate on the basis that there is now a deadly serious threat. Another error.

Where was an emergency medical team asserting its authority? Another error.

Did they have to repeatedly taser a bound man? Would it not be wiser to simply monitor his condition until medical authority arrived? It appears to be another error.

I would want this case prosecuted as, minimally, a wake-up call to the authorities. Also, the consequences of the police's actions were so severe that they deserve a public airing and fact-finding to ensure justice.

My initial impression of th... (Below threshold)

My initial impression of the tape is that it is too unclear to garner any facts not already presented in the story. Most of the time, the bodies of the policemen are blocking the camera.

The fact that death occurred a full two days after the incident certainly complicates the situation. Calling it "murder" is a big stretch IMHO. I am leaning toward negligence or maybe even manslaughter if the implications of the attorney's story turn out to be true. At the very least, it does appear that the officers should have been more careful, given the facts.

It is too easy to become jaded from police work and constantly hearing stories from people, about 75 percent of which is bull. They appear to have too readily discounted the statements of those involved.

The implication of the attorney's account is that the officers were hellbent on retaliation after receiving an "officer down" call. This is not at all hard to believe. More facts are needed to make a determination.

The widow casts a believable figure. Unlike those one often sees on TV, screaming at the top of their lungs about "racism" or some other such nonsense, she calmly states what she believes. This makes a much better impression.

I too am very sympathetic towards police officers, but this looks very bad.

Death by overt negligence..... (Below threshold)
JoMarley:

Death by overt negligence...is murder.

There are too many erroneou... (Below threshold)
kma:

There are too many erroneous, ignorant, and down right crazy statements being made to even attempt to refute them all. I am an attorney. I once worked for a very large city in their police litigation unit. It's not a criminal case and I doubt the family would win a civil suit. You have that pesky problem of causation. The medical examiner testified that there is no evidence that the taser caused a cardiac arrest. There is no evidence that he was denied medical care once he did arrest.

Death by overt negligenc... (Below threshold)
kma:

Death by overt negligence...is murder.

Really? Do you have authority for that, i.e., the Ga. penal code and case law? Or, are you just making it up?

I guess any police actions ... (Below threshold)

I guess any police actions short of perfection are negligence, or murder, to some people. The man was combative, for whatever reason, and wouldn't stop even though he was in the custody of a large number of armed policemen in a jailhouse. What would he have done to medical personnel? As a former EMT, I can tell you people like that don't get medical treatment until they are subdued. It's a tragic situation, but getting litigious about it, or calling those who disagree with you something other than "objective-minded-red blooded-human"s, is adding insult to injury.

If he died two days later, ... (Below threshold)

If he died two days later, it is unlikely the tasering did it. If someone croaks as a direct result of being roughed up and tasered, they generally croak on the spot.

If someone is violent with eleven police deputies, he is going to take a thumping. While police are often arrogant, vicious and brutal, this kind of incident is not their fault. If someone is violent with me, I am going to beat the crap out of him, not knowing or caring that he failed to take his medication or that he has a dicky heart. Police act the same. Doesn't everyone?

Mr. Johnson, Pleas... (Below threshold)

Mr. Johnson,

Please give my heartfelt sorrow to this man's wife and children. Also to you as his friend.

This is truly tragic.

Rightwingsparkle

Here's the Amnesty Internat... (Below threshold)
kma:

Here's the Amnesty International version:

Frederick Jerome Williams, aged 31, died in Gwinnett County Jail, Georgia, in June 2004, after being shocked with a taser while being strapped into a restraint chair. According to media reports, police went to his home after receiving a call from Williams’ nine-year-old son saying that his dad was “talking crazy” and not taking his epilepsy medication. The boy reportedly asked for an ambulance “because my dad is saying all sorts of stuff and he is hitting my mom with a belt”. When police arrived, Williams called the officer “the devil” and grabbed the officer’s baton and threw it at him. Despite the son’s request for a “hospital truck”, police arrested him and took him to jail. He was reportedly struck twice with a taser while being strapped into a restraint chair and was noticed to have stopped breathing seconds later. He died later in hospital.

The autopsy is reported to have found that Williams had died of brain damage caused by “lack of oxygen and/or blood to the brain” from a heart attack triggered during the altercation. The forensic examiners reported that “There is no evidence the Taser directly caused or contributed to his death”, but were unable to determine the reasons for the heart attack.

Not taking seizure medication does not cause one to become violent. If someone has a seizure, they may become combative and disoriented afterwards. By combative, they are prone and flailing about. Neither having a seizure or not taking your seizure medication causes one to become violent. It does not cause you to walk around beating your wife with a belt. This guy was involved in a domestic violence incident. When the cops arrived, he knew he was going to jail and fought the cops.

There is no evidence that Williams was hog-tied. By the attorney's own definition he was not hog-tied. Handcuffs and leg restraints (they used plastic -cuffs) is not hog-tied. So, why do you think the attorney chose to use that word?

Just what exactly is the re... (Below threshold)
shark:

Just what exactly is the reason this guy didn't take his required epilepsy drugs? Seems to me like he should've done what he was supposed to do, anything that happens as a result of his willful negligence is his own fault.

Those cops could've been protecting innocent people instead of dealing with this idiots self-imposed situation

This case stinks, tasers ar... (Below threshold)
IM:

This case stinks, tasers are supposed to be non-lethal.

This case stinks, tasers... (Below threshold)
kma:

This case stinks, tasers are supposed to be non-lethal.

Your proof that in this case it was lethal is?

Forum calls for Taser curbs... (Below threshold)

Forum calls for Taser curbs

A coalition of activist groups put Tasers under the microscope at a Sunday night community forum at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

The sparsely attended forum was sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in a commemoration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s battle against violence in all its forms. Today is the 37th anniversary of King's assassination.

The two-hour meeting, which began at 6, was spurred by the deaths of two men at the Gwinnett County jail. One had been shocked three
times; the other, five.

Groups on hand included the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, Concerned Black Clergy, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials and Amnesty International.

Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter, Sheriff Butch Conway and police Chief Charles Walters had been invited, said the Rev. John Stewart, the moderator, but all declined because of possible
litigation.

The groups have called for a moratorium on use of the devices until definitive independent research has been performed. They also called for more training by law enforcement agencies and written policies akin to those on use of lethal force.

"Every [law enforcement] department has a clear policy on the use of deadly force," said panelist Fay Coffield, a retired Atlanta Police Department sergeant who now works as a private investigator.

"There are no uniform policies on Tasers."

The NAACP's Gwinnett branch distributed a draft resolution calling on the County Commission to suspend any Taser use until research is completed.

Barring that suspension, the resolution requests that only trained supervisors be allowed to use Tasers. That is the policy in DeKalb County, panelists said, where there have been no Taser deaths.

Policies differ

Use of the controversial devices has sparked a national debate on whether they constitute use of excessive force.

Some agencies, such as the Macon Police and Forsyth County Sheriff's departments, have stopped using Tasers.

Gwinnett Sheriff Butch Conway, on the other hand, has said he thinks they're one of the best available alternatives to lethal force.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) told the audience he sponsored legislation on the use of Tasers, stun guns and other electroshock
devices that failed to make it through this session, but will be resurrected next year.

"We must hear from victims and their families," Brooks said.

The SCLC wants to see a national policy on Taser use, said SCLC General Counsel Dexter Wimbish, another panelist.

More than 7,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide use the devices, according to manufacturer Taser International.

Tasers use what is supposed to be a nonlethal pulsating electric shock to immobilize a person — a shock that according to some is lower than that applied by the defibrillators used by medical
emergency services.

The SCLC says the devices have been linked to 86 deaths nationwide since 1999. A study released by Amnesty International on Friday put the number at 103 in the United States and Canada during the past four years.

In particular, Amnesty International claims Tasers can be deadly to those with pre-existing heart conditions.

Representatives of Taser International maintain that no death has been directly caused by its product.

Deputies cleared

In the past two years, five people in Georgia have died after being shocked with Tasers by law officers. Two Gwinnett County inmates died in a nine-month period after scuffles with deputies and Taser shocks.

Ray Charles Austin, 25, died in September 2003 after he was stunned three times, given psychotropic drugs, punched and placed in a restraint chair.

Last May, Frederick Williams, 31, died after he was shocked five times in a tussle with five deputies.

Both men died of heart attacks, according to the county medical examiner.

All the deputies were cleared of wrongdoing, though District Attorney Danny Porter said last week he was considering filing criminal charges in the Williams case and was still investigating.

"The family is confused about the status of the case," said Melvin Johnson, the Williams family's attorney, who attended the forum with Williams' widow, Yanga Williams.

Williams said she thought the forum was beneficial, though she said she would like to have seen it better attended. About 20 people in
addition to the panelists attended the forum.

Having more proponents of the devices' use on hand would be helpful, Johnson said.

Audience member Todd Pell, 34, of Buford drew gasps from the crowd when he asserted that the Gwinnett Sheriff's Department has used electric shock — first used by the Nazis in 1938, he said —
as a method of torture since 1999.

"The practice goes on," Pell said. "Nothing's changed, and until there's an investigation into the murder of this individual [Williams], nothing will."

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/gwinnett/0405/04taser.html

One thing that troubles me ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

One thing that troubles me is that they say the deputy used the taser five times on his chest. I'm no doctor, and I'm no expert on tasers, but using electrical shocks that close to the heart can NOT be a good idea. The heart is probably the most sensitive part of the body to electrical shock, and the way the electric chair works (as I understand it) is to get the electric charge to go through the heart. There must have been somewhere else on this guy's body they could have zapped him that wasn't right on top of his heart.

J.

Dear Forum: If you... (Below threshold)
kma:

Dear Forum:

If you actually read the reports instead of paraphrasing someone else's conclusion you would see that they are citing all deaths where a taser was used – not all deaths as a result of the use of a taser. The cause of death on almost all of them was the ingestion of huge quantities of cocaine and/or methamphetamine. Go figure.

I'm no doctor, and I'm no expert on tasers,

That's for sure.

but using electrical shocks that close to the heart can NOT be a good idea.

Tasers have been around for over 20 years. The protocol, which was undoubtedly based on extensive studies, is to aim for the centre of the chest. Therefore, I would say it IS a good idea.

One thing that troubles ... (Below threshold)
Scaramonga:

One thing that troubles me ...

The heart is not the most sensitive part of the body to electric shocks - that would be the brain.

The electric chair works by passing a current from a contact point on top of the prisoner's shaved head, through the brain and to a contact normally placed around the prisoner's leg or ankle. The Voltage is much lower than a taser. but the current is much thousands of times higher. About the only similarity between a taser and an electric chair is that they both use electricity to function.

Police officers receive training on the effective use of tasers and without knowing what they are taught, I'd be unwilling to make a claim that shocking the guy in the chest is improper or specially dangerous. My understanding is that the biggest danger from being tasered is the loss of motor functions which can cause you to fall and hurt yourself.

If the taser caused the death (which it does not appear to have done) the death would have been immediate. The news story said the guy died two days later. That long of a period puts the lie to the idea that the taser caused the death.

And finally, there are consequences to resisting arrest - this person suffered one. I do not support killing someone just because they resist arrest, but I do not put a lot of blame on policemen who are just trying to get control of the situation before a policeman is injured or killed.

And finally, as was stated previously, there is no evidence that the taser caused the death of this person. So the police didn't kill him. I suggest an autopsy will be conducted and will identify the real cause of death.

Here's a good reason just t... (Below threshold)
kma:

Here's a good reason just to say no: Link

His death was unfortunate b... (Below threshold)
Bill:

His death was unfortunate but, to be blunt, when will
violent criminals learn to not resist arrest?

This guy didn't deserve to die but he certainly
deserved the tasers.

What kind of man continues ... (Below threshold)
TJ Jackson:

What kind of man continues to struggle after one Tazer hit? Somehow I don't think lack of drugs was the problem. I'd like to see what the doctor's have to say were in his system prior to his death. Bets anyone?

Considering the fact that o... (Below threshold)
Bill:

Considering the fact that over 100 people have died after being hit with tasers, the taser should have been banned YEARS ago.

Instead, police departments are trying to defend this torture device, because to them it is fun to sit there and shock people silly.

Until they ban these things, they are just like an electric chair, without the chair.

They shock your heart, and stop it. PERIOD.

There are no conclusive medical studies that prove tasers as being safe, so they should be banned, without question.

Violent criminal?</p... (Below threshold)
Violent criminal?:

Violent criminal?

Fredrick Williams was an epileptic in the midst of a seizure. The autopsy indicated he had no drugs in his system at all. He had appaently stopped taking his prescription medication as well.

And no, he did not "die" at the jail. He was kept alive on life support until even that failed to sustain him. However, he was "brain dead" immediately following his Taser "electrocution" at the jail.

There were 11 trained officers and one unarmed man still in restraints, when he received the five shots to the chest. Do you really think he deserved to die?

This was the second such Taser death at the jail within 8 months. The former involved an unarmed inmate (pre-trial detainee) and according to newspaper reports, 12 to 20 deputies.

If Tasers are intended to be an alternative to using a firearm, it's a good thing. However, since no firearms are permitted inside the jail....

Considering the fact tha... (Below threshold)
KMA:

Considering the fact that over 100 people have died after being hit with tasers, the taser should have been banned YEARS ago.

Bull. Again, you are referring to a stat which includes any death where a taser was employed – NOT where the taser was the cause of death. The vast majority of the deaths were the result of cocaine and meth overdoses.

Rule of thumb: If you are out of shape, fat, have a pre-existing heart or other medical condition – don't consume massive quantities of meth and cocaine and fight the cops.

They shock your heart, and stop it. PERIOD.

Really? Where's your proof? And part of the training for law enforcement is that they have a taser used on them. So, why aren't they dead? PERIOD.

There are no conclusive medical studies that prove tasers as being safe, so they should be banned, without question.

You mean that there are no studies that prove they are unsafe.

Violent criminal?</p... (Below threshold)
kma:

Violent criminal?

Yes, violent criminal. Last time I checked beating your wife with a belt is both violent and criminal. Or, are you okay with that?

Fredrick Williams was an epileptic in the midst of a seizure. The autopsy indicated he had no drugs in his system at all. He had appaently stopped taking his prescription medication as well.

Note well: No one has said that he was in the midst or that he even experienced a seizure. Not his wife . Not his wife's alleged attorney.

Are you arguing that because one is epileptic they are violent unless medicated? Got proof? We won't even get into the fact the medication was to raise his seizure threshold – it does not make one nonviolent. The lack of it does not make one violent. I thought we had come a long way from the prejudice and ignorance that epileptics were once subjected to. Judging from your posts and others, -- obviously not.

And no, he did not "die" at the jail. He was kept alive on life support until even that failed to sustain him. However, he was "brain dead" immediately following his Taser "electrocution" at the jail.

He had a cardiac arrest while in custody and was transported to a hospital where he died 2 days later. There is no evidence that the taser was the cause or a contributing factor to his death. That is all we know.

There were 11 trained officers and one unarmed man still in restraints, when he received the five shots to the chest. Do you really think he deserved to die?

No, I don't think he deserved to die. Do you really think you have to lie and make up facts as to what occurred and his cause of death?

What is your point with the number 11? If five people could not restrain him, neither would eleven. They were in the midst of removing the handcuffs to put him in a restraint chair. Why? Because it is risky to leave someone who is fighting just laying on the ground with handcuffs and leg restraints, because one, they can still hurt themselves, and two, positional asphyxia. Damned if they do. Damned if they don't.

This was the second such Taser death at the jail within 8 months. The former involved an unarmed inmate (pre-trial detainee) and according to newspaper reports, 12 to 20 deputies.

You mean the guy in custody on a parole violation? Who fought the deputies and bit off part of a deputy's ear? He was tapered x3, restrained, and given Halodol. Yes, he died, but again, the medical examiner ruled that he could not determine what caused his heart failure.

Oh, and I like how you refer to him as an"unarmed pretrial detainee." He had no right to a trial. Just a hearing before he was shipped back to prison. And though unarmed, hardly not dangerous. Were you deliberately trying to mislead people?

And again, explain how 12 to 20 deputies (I assume you mean everyone who was working in the jail) are more effective than a lower number? Or, are you just throwing out irrelevant numbers for effect?

If Tasers are intended to be an alternative to using a firearm, it's a good thing. However, since no firearms are permitted inside the jail....

So, you are suggesting they just be beaten into submission? You don't think that's risky? Or, should they just be cuffed and left lying in a cell so they can beat their head against the floor? Or, should they just be allowed to lie in their cell and because of the cuffs be allowed to aphyixiate? What's your pleasure?

As correctly stated above: ... (Below threshold)

As correctly stated above: in EVERY SINGLE case of someone dying after being hit with a TASER it has been found that an underlying medical condition was actually the cause of death, not the TASER. That is a FACT, not an opinion.

"Considering the fact that over 100 people have died after being hit with tasers, the taser should have been banned YEARS ago."

Do any of you people know how many prisioners die each year following an apprehension when traditional methods (night stick, pepper spray/mace, rubber bullet, hand gun) are used? Thousands, that's how many.

Someone earlier in this blog stated that they thought TASERS were supposed to be "non-leathal" and went on to say how TASERS should be immediately banned. That person is typical of the kind that loves to jump into a discussion they know nothing about. TASERS are not touted as "non-leathal" they are advertised as a "less-leathal" alternative to traditional law enforcement weapons. Tell, me what would happen if you got shot with a handgun in the chest just once?

This is really the problem with the public's uneducated views on TASER. They believe that TASERS are non-leathal and when they then hear of someone getting injured from one, the go ballistic.

The FACTS are that the use of TASER weapons as opposed to other weapons has reduced officer AND suspect injuries dramatically. This is a verifiable FACT. That's why police agencies all over are buying and using them.

Someone else in this blog posted Amnesty International's "version" of the events in this case. If AI had their way, there would be no weapons at all and everyone would be walking around with flowers sticking out of their ears. That may be a nice vision, but it isn't anywhere close to reality. Much like their "version" of events here. If you know anything about AI's history with TASER, you know that they have been against TASER since the beginning.

"Instead, police departments are trying to defend this torture device, because to them it is fun to sit there and shock people silly."

Yeah, I'm sure that's it Bill. You seem to have a real solid grasp on the facts.

"Until they ban these things, they are just like an electric chair, without the chair."

Except for the fact that over 100,000 people have been hit with TASERS and are walking around just fine today and exactly ZERO people who have been electricuted are walking around today.

"They shock your heart, and stop it. PERIOD."

Hmmm, so let's get rid of all those pesky CPR shock devices as well because we know that any kind of shock to the hear must be fatal, right?

"There are no conclusive medical studies that prove tasers as being safe, so they should be banned, without question."

Really? What about the studies the the DOD and the UK Home Office have done?

I find it interesting that no one wants to talk about the THOUSDANDS of documented cases where TASERS have been used to save the lives of suspects, officer and suvillians.

There are a couple of openi... (Below threshold)

There are a couple of opening points I'll disclose. First, I don't particularly trust cops. I'm a patchholder in a "13" motorcycle club, and I've seen firsthand the attitudes and presumptions of which policemen are capable, just based upon what I'm wearing. Secondly, I do think this man's death is a tragedy (but don't read too much into that word.)

The utterance of "don't kill me" indicated that Mr. Williams perceived a threat. If he could do that, one would generally assume that he had sufficient mental faculty to stop thrashing about and fighting. Further, this subject wasn't having an epileptic seizure--seizures that involve the entire body bring about random thrashing about, and the patient stops breathing until the seizure ends. The greatest danger is that the patient will descend into a condition of status epilepticus, in which the seizure doesn't end until the oxygen-deprived brain stops functioning.

Next, the assertion that the tazer "stops the heart" is absurd. It works by spreading a high-voltage, low-amperage shock throughout the nervous system, and essentially causing an "overload" to the pain receptor in the brain. In other words, it hurts like hell, but doesn't injure. In the case of a cardiac defibrillator (the "heart-start" machine, the voltage is much lower (only 12VDC), but the amperage/energy is very high. That's why it penetrates to the electrical center of the heart in an effort to "stop" and thereby "reset" it. In short, anyone equating the tazer to the electric chair simply displays their ignorance of both electrical theory and physiology. Additionally, several "recreational" drugs give the user superhuman strength because they chemically block pain receptors--which would keep a tazer shock from having much effect.

I do feel for the widow and the children in this case, but there's simply no evidence that this man's death was a result of epilepsy or of tazer shocks. More likely is the possibility that his cardiac arrest was the result of a massive heart attack stemming from his exertion while resisting arrest.

I suppose a high-tech solution would be a super-strong padded bubble into which a person like this could be dropped, then left to bounce around until he wore out. But until something like that comes into use, I think these guys were doing the best they could.

Scott: I posted AI... (Below threshold)
kma:

Scott:

I posted AI's version because it contained additional facts not mentioned in other accounts, i.e., that Williams was beating his wife with a belt.
Their account supports the fact that this was a domestic violence call. The fact that Williams had the wherefore all to take a belt to his wife, indicates that he did not just have a seizure. And since they are hardly pro-police, it gives those facts credibility.

And part of the training... (Below threshold)
RE: Seizure Disorder:

And part of the training for law enforcement is that they have a taser used on them. So, why aren't they dead? PERIOD.

TASERS have two settings. Police who are subject to it in training, are given the lesser (1/2) jolt. And, that's one (1) shock -- not 5 in a minute.

Last time I checked beating your wife with a belt is both violent and criminal. Or, are you okay with that?

His wife has repeatedly stated she was NOT beaten. Why bend the facts?

No one has said that he was in the midst or that he even experienced a seizure. Not his wife. Not his wife's alleged attorney.

Guess you missed that part. For reference, following a seizure, the transition back to a person's normal state, the “post-ictal period” (an ictus is a seizure) may last from several minutes to hours, depending on several factors including which part(s) of the brain were affected by the seizure and whether the individual had been taking their anti-seizure medication. Symptoms that occur during the post-ictal period include confusion, shaking, stiffening, tremors, twiching movements, and convulsion. (No, I was not there, so I can't say for certain, and yes, I have a medical degree).

Are you arguing that because one is epileptic they are violent unless medicated?

Do you know why some epileptics -- who even take their meds religiously -- wear helmets?

He had a cardiac arrest while in custody and was transported to a hospital where he died 2 days later. There is no evidence that the taser was the cause or a contributing factor to his death. That is all we know.

Many patients who contract AIDS (even by simple blood transfusion) die of various disorders -- but generally not AIDS. It is AIDS, however, which was responsible for their death.

No, I don't think he deserved to die. Do you really think you have to lie and make up facts as to what occurred and his cause of death?

Would he have died if the officers in the controlled environment of a jail NOT shocked him? I can't say for sure. We do know, however, know the results of the five electric shocks.

What is your point with the number 11? If five people could not restrain him, neither would eleven.

If five people could not restrain an unarmed man in a controlled environment, maybe they need better training.

Damned if they do. Damned if they don't.

I agree, however, I think the taunts on the tape from the officers speak for themself.

You mean the guy in custody on a parole violation? Who fought the deputies and bit off part of a deputy's ear?

While it would be hard to imaginge 12 to 20 deputies kicking and punching a man already down (like the deputy who resigned the day after the death explained in the AJC), I can imagine the result of one placing his ear to close to the man's mouth. One in that situation might believe he was at risk of being killed (in this case, he would have been right).

He was tapered x3, restrained, and given Halodol. Yes, he died, but again, the medical examiner ruled that he could not determine what caused his heart failure.

Me thinks we see a pattern here.

Oh, and I like how you refer to him as an"unarmed pretrial detainee." He had no right to a trial.

You're sounding more and more like Death Camp may be more your cup of tea. I thought in the US we had the right to a trial.

And again, explain how 12 to 20 deputies (I assume you mean everyone who was working in the jail) are more effective than a lower number? Or, are you just throwing out irrelevant numbers for effect?

From the October 10, 2003 AJC, Deputy Olen Harris, who resigned from the department following the death, stated "All I did was
help get the guy in the [restraint] chair and handcuff him. By the time I got there, there was 10 or 20 people in [the cellblock] and they were already dog-piled on top of the guy." Okay, I was off by 2. It was 10 to 20 officers on top of him.

So, you are suggesting they just be beaten into submission? You don't think that's risky?

Once again, training. I'm not a cop. I don't pretend to be one. I am familiar with police training. Very little in the training of a deputy (a high school diploma and a clean record is all you need), deals with confronting such situations WITHOUT violence. This facility is not a prison; it is a county jail. Could better training have saved both of these mens lives? Probably so.

Okey so i learned something... (Below threshold)
IM:

Okey so i learned something new today; Taser are less-than lethal and can kill under some circumstances where the subject has used drugs or has a heart condition.

I think this was an accident, the police probably lacked the proper knowledge and training. They were probably not aware of the fact that tasers can be lethal.

Anyone ever take basic elec... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

Anyone ever take basic electricity/electronics/wiring?

Electricity follows the path of least resistance and the shortest path to ground.

Depending on how the TASER was used (I didn't watch the video) two darts are fired toward the subject that remain attached to the body of the TASER via wires. They are barbed so they are not easily disloged once they meet the subject (I hear its not a very polite meeting...)

The current would follow the shortest path accross the skin resistance but definately along the skin from one electrode (dart) to another.

Some models can also be used without firing the darts- instead using electrodes embedded on the outer shell of its plastic body that are pressed against the subject.

The TASER is not some weird object that operates outside the laws of physics. It wasn't beamed in from a Star Trek episode. Its electricity behaves the same as any other electricity.

Further up the thread someone likened the TASER to a defib/AED/cardioverter.

Note that with the defib/AED/Cardioverter the electrode pads have a greater surface area -an effort to prevent burns from thermal rise (heating) that results when the high power surge passes through a resistance (current passing through a resistor causes the resistor to heat up).

The DEFIB/AED/CARDIOVERTER electrode pads have a specific placement- one over and slightly right of the heart, the other directly below the arm pit on the side of the chest. This presents the shortest path for the electricity to travel into,through and exit from the heart. Providing the shortest path of least resistance is also important in order to prevent burns (thermal rise).

The characteristics of the electrical impulses used in the two devices are completely different.

TASER tailors the train of DC pulses from its products to produce maximum pain/effective override of voluntarily muscle control. The shape of the pulse is carefully controlled and the output power is carefully regulated. The shape of the pulse(s) is carefully shaped and controlled.

I believe I read somewhere that they claim a 25 joule peak power output.

A defib/AED/cardioverter usually starts with an output pulse that is 300 joules. It is delivered as a single wide pulse. It then takes awhile for the unit to generate and store the energy necessary for a repeat performance (if necessary).

Its probably not appropriate to characterize a TASER as a toy by comparisson but seriously- 25 joules (peak value when the battery is fresh) versus 300 as a starting power level?

One of the reasons an DEFIB/AED/CARDIOVERTER is a larger,heavier piece of equipment is that the capacitor necessary to store such a high energy pulse is large by necessity. And the battery to power the electronics must be certified able to power the unit for several uses.

TASER does use the phrase "less lethal".

Use of force is generally described as being on a continuum- from simple presence in uniform, then verbal, open hand, closed hand, chemical irritant, and upward to more possibly lethal force.

At all times attempting to gain compliance by verbally instructing/commanding- essentially explaining to the subject what is required so the use of force can be ended or at least de escalated.

What I see as problematic in this case (as presented- I was not there) is that you have an unarmed man on his own property not threatening himself and with no one in immediate reach. You have an officer arriving who is presumably fully equipped and fit for duty. He has whatever info was provided by dispatch.

What would super deluxe best cop ever do?

Assess.

According to the reports the cop that arrived didn't assess.

He didn't ask "whose related to this guy? What can you tell me? He got any weapons on him? Can he get at any weapons in the garage or the house? He been drinking? He been doing any drugs today? Is he hurt? Are you hurt? Is anybody hurt? Did he hurt anybody?"

Did Mr First arriving cop maintain a safe reactionary distance?

Did he approach (keeping his hands free, open and in view and keeping his gun side away from the subject) and say "I'm here to help you, what can I help you with? Can you hear me? Whats your name?"

No reaction? Then he moves his weapon hand toward his weapon and rests it momentarily on his weapon- pretenders will notice this move and react to it.

According to the reports:

Cop number 1 arrived and identified a target. Then he engaged the enemy. Cop number 1 didn't project a helpful, professional attitude. He demanded. He commanded. And when that didn't work he went in impact weapon hot- not in defense of himself or another but as a show of force or possibly as an attempt to gain compliance.

Apparently this cop wanted to break a sweat. It probably would have been better not to break a sweat and to wait and use a show of numbers.

Not withstanding its hard to believe the first arriving officer didn't want to wait for someone to cover his back. Going impact weapon hot without someone covering your back is not really a great idea since you focus forward and become unaware of the wife/cousin/brother/friend rushing you from behind in defense of their husband/cousin/brother/friend that you are now beating on with some version of a baton.

Just from an officer safety stand point it appears the first officer on the scene was inexperienced or poorly trained or both.

The point of my explainatio... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

The point of my explaination on the TASER was that the effectiveness of it comes from the pain impulses being propagated by the nervous system that causes the incapacitation- not that electricity is coarsing through the body. The electricity travels between the darts and affects the nerves in the immediate area. Those nerves relay pain impulses to the nervous system and the signals are strong enough to overcome the impulses that normally control the voluntary muscles.

TASERS have two settings... (Below threshold)
kma:

TASERS have two settings. Police who are subject to it in training, are given the lesser (1/2) jolt. And, that's one (1) shock -- not 5 in a minute.

What's your authority as to what all police in training are subject to? How many subjects have received 5 shocks or more and did not die? Do you know? And what is your source that there is a correlation between the number of applications and injury?

His wife has repeatedly stated she was NOT beaten. Why bend the facts?

Then why did his son call 911 and say, HE IS HITTING MY MOM WITH A BELT ? Does his wife now have a motive to lie? Yes. Is it uncommon for DV victims to lie about the abuse? Who is more believable - a person with a motive to lie after the fact? Or, the son who gave an account of what was happening to 911?

And speaking of bending facts -- I posted where I found mine but you didn't post where you got your facts? Why?

“No one has said that he was in the midst or that he even experienced a seizure. Not his wife. Not his wife's alleged attorney.
Guess you missed that part. [snip for brevity and because it does not address the above statement.]

Guess you can't read. Neither his wife or her alleged atty have stated he had a seizure. Nor has anyone stated that he was convulsing, twitching, shaking, etc.

Do you know why some epileptics -- who even take their meds religiously -- wear helmets?

Yes. Are you implying that the mere fact that someone is an epileptic makes then prone to violence towards others? Are you comparing seizures where a person has involuntary movements and injures their head with taking your belt and using it to strike your wife?

Many patients who contract AIDS (even by simple blood transfusion) die of various disorders -- but generally not AIDS. It is AIDS, however, which was responsible for their death.

That's nice. But we're not talking about AIDS, are we? And, what they do die of can be determined by a pathologist to be related to AIDS. In other words, unlike the Williams case: There is proof.

We do know, however, know the results of the five electric shocks.

Are you claiming to know more than the M.E. who performed the autopsy? Is your degree in Psychic-medicine?

If five people could not restrain an unarmed man in a controlled environment, maybe they need better training.

Maybe, you are the one who needs better training. Your ability to misread what is written is astounding.

I agree, however, I think the taunts on the tape from the officers speak for themself.

There were no taunts.

While it would be hard to imaginge 12 to 20 deputies kicking and punching a man already down (like the deputy who resigned the day after the death explained in the AJC), I can imagine the result of one placing his ear to close to the man's mouth. One in that situation might believe he was at risk of being killed (in this case, he would have been right).

Can you write something that makes sense? I have no idea what you are trying to say.

“He was tazered x3, restrained, and given Halodol. Yes, he died, but again, the medical examiner ruled that he could not determine what caused his heart failure.” Me thinks we see a pattern here.

Halodol kills!

You're sounding more and more like Death Camp may be more your cup of tea. I thought in the US we had the right to a trial.

No, I'm a person who doesn't believe in convicting cops on Psychic-Evidence. You try to make it sound like this guy hadn't already been adjudged to be dangerous. This guy had already been to prison and was out on parole when he assaulted his roommate. He was in custody waiting for his parole violation hearing. There is no right to a trial on a parole violation. Don't like it? Take it up with the US Constitution.

From the October 10, 2003 AJC, Deputy Olen Harris, who resigned from the department following the death, stated "All I did was help get the guy in the [restraint] chair and handcuff him. By the time I got there, there was 10 or 20 people in [the cellblock] and they were already dog-piled on top of the guy." Okay, I was off by 2. It was 10 to 20 officers on top of him.

You didn't answer the question. Explain how those numbers are relevant. There is a big difference between 10 guys and 20 guys. Sounds a bit like hyperbole on Harris' part.

Oh, and I like how you quote the part that makes it look like Harris quit as a result of the incident and omit where he states his resignation was not a result of the fight. Your bias is showing – again.

Once again, training. I'm not a cop. I don't pretend to be one. I am familiar with police training. Very little in the training of a deputy (a high school diploma and a clean record is all you need), deals with confronting such situations WITHOUT violence. This facility is not a prison; it is a county jail.

If you are not a cop or in a related field, you are not familiar with police training to offer an opinion on it. And you certainly cannot attest to what training is required at the Gwinnett Co. Sheriffs' Dept. In both my local and county LE depts. there is a minimum requirement of two years college. However, since it is so competitive to get in, most officers have a B.A. Two I know have MBAs. And I know a half dozen with J.D.s. Training is constant.
But, it suits your purpose to portray LE as idiots.
And the whole purpose of using a taser, bean bag, net, and other types of non-lethal weapons is to AVOID violence. Of course, they are trained in how to avoid confrontation, but not when it will ultimately lead to either them or the subject getting hurt.

Could better training have saved both of these mens lives? Probably so.

Unfortunately, unlike you, the police don't have psychic abilities and can't always predict what is going to happen.

TASER does use the phras... (Below threshold)
kma:

TASER does use the phrase "less lethal".

As of Nov 2004, they refer to it as non-lethal.

Amazed, you did not read the arrest reports or those of any witnesses interviewed. Therefore, you have no idea what the officer who first arrived on the scene did or did not do.

And you certainly cannot... (Below threshold)
RE: Requirements:

And you certainly cannot attest to what training is required at the Gwinnett Co. Sheriffs' Dept. In both my local and county LE depts. there is a minimum requirement of two years college. However, since it is so competitive to get in, most officers have a B.A. Two I know have MBAs. And I know a half dozen with J.D.s. Training is constant.
But, it suits your purpose to portray LE as idiots.

Actually, I read it from their web site:

Requirements for Deputy Sheriff I/Jailer

"High school diploma or GED equivalency. Must possess a valid driver's license. Must be at least 20 years of age at the time application is submitted. Applicant must be a United States citizen. Must attend and successfully complete the Basic Jail Officers Training course within six months of employment date. Must be willing and able to perform rotating shift work. Must successfully pass the pre-employment process which includes written exam, background investigation, controlled voice stress analysis and oral interview."

I have seen enough of "Tase... (Below threshold)
dennis:

I have seen enough of "Taser" clips. If the person does not stop fighting, oh well! JUST STOP! Police are not nice, they don't deal with nice people! You can't do their job, so don't complain how they do it. Man's beating his wife and the nine year old says he needs medicine, how are they to know it is not PCP he's and the kid said it wrong?

And don't listen to the lawyers, God three of them, the poor widow won't have anything left. Why is this guy trying to try this case on a website? Because he is a loser!

"Greetings. I am Melvin Johnson, a friend for 18 of Mr. Williams' 31 years of existence, as well as Attorney (now along with 2 others) on this matter."

And don't listen to the ... (Below threshold)
RE: Web Trial:

And don't listen to the lawyers, God three of them, the poor widow won't have anything left. Why is this guy trying to try this case on a website?

It may well be the only place it will be tried. Apparently, the Grand Jury reccomended the case closed (without seeing the video clip) and the DA first closed the case AFTER indicating that criminal charges may be filed, because he was upset that Johnson asked for a Federal investigation into the death.

I suspect as soon as the gr... (Below threshold)
kma:

I suspect as soon as the grand jury heard no cause of death, they said forget it. I take what Johnson said about Porter with a HUGE grain of salt. I'm not sure if the DA is even allowed to file a complaint if it was rejected by the grand jury. However, if Mrs. Williams contacted the Justice Dept., they will investigate. They take these matters seriously.

kma, why do you feel so thr... (Below threshold)
Okay:

kma, why do you feel so threatened by people concluding the officers behaved inappropriately and caused this individual's death?

You did not read the arrest reports or those of any witnesses interviewed. Therefore, you have no idea what did or did not happen.

Yet, you still keep posting as though you somehow have firsthand knowledge of what killed Frederick Williams.

Here's part of what you have failed to refute:

Ms. Williams', the deacon and others on the scene begged the police to please take Mr. Williams to the hospital for treatment as Mr. Williams appeared unconscious. The police respond that "this guy has injured one of our own, we will take him to the jail and deal with him, we have all of the medicine we need at the jail." Persistent, Ms. Williams goes in the house, grabs and tenders Mr. Williams' medications to the officers. The police refused it and repeat the foregoing. Scared from the reaction of the police at the scene, the deacon calls Mr. Williams' pastor via cell phone and begs him to do something before "these people kill Fred." The Pastor request to speak to an officer. The Pastor reiterates the reason for Mr. Williams' behavior and pleas for medical attention, but he is told the same. An ambulance arrives and is seen treating the injured officer, so the family and witnesses go and plea with the ambulance for medical attention for Mr. Williams. They are turned away by police.

Okay: Why on earth... (Below threshold)
kma:

Okay:

Why on earth would I feel threatened? I can only assume you are projecting your personal feelings on the matter to me. The better question is why do you feel so threatened by my not concluding that the officers behaved inappropriately based on the lack of evidence that they did? What has been touted as proof is not evidence, not science, illogical, and falls in the category of mere police bashing.

Yet, you still keep posting as though you somehow have firsthand knowledge of what killed Frederick Williams.

No, I keep pointing out that it is you and others that do not have firsthand knowledge, let alone medical evidence, of what killed Williams. Apparently, you are more than willing to convict police officers without sufficient evidence, solely on the basis that they are police officers. How fair and open-minded of you.

Here's part of what you have failed to refute:

I don't have to refute anything. The burden of proof is on you, remember? Or does that not apply to police officers, either?

What you asked me to refute is third and fourth hand, if not more, unattributed snippets, that would not be admissible in court. The most I can glean from it, is that according to unnamed parties Williams appeared unconscious, which could mean anything from having his eyes briefly closed to that he stopped ranting for a second. This is contradicted by the AI report that says he fought the deputies for an hour. What else? That Mrs. Williams wanted her husband taken to the hospital? Once again, note that Mrs. Williams did not assert that her husband had seized and there was nothing in Williams' behavior that indicated he needed to go to a hospital. Unfortunately, behavior such as Mr. Williams' when being arrested is not uncommon. What else must I guess that you want me to refute? That the deputies did not take his medication with them? Why would they? The jails I'm familiar with will not give inmates medications from outside the facility. For patient safety and liability reasons, they must be examined by the jails own doctor and prescribed medication by them.

Here's part of what you have yet to refute:

*There is no basis for asserting Williams was hog-tied.
*There is no medical evidence that the taser resulted in, or contributed to, his death.
*There is no evidence that he had a seizure.
*There is no medical basis that if he had seized it would cause him to behave the way he did.
*There is no medical/scientific basis for asserting that the mere status of being an epileptic makes a person violent.
*There is no medical basis for asserting that not taking an anti-convulsive makes one violent.

The question I have is: Why... (Below threshold)
smo:

The question I have is: Why was tasering the man necessary? If he was indeed "hog-tied" and thrown in the back of a police cruiser, the officers involved had control of the situation. The man could then very easily be transported into a prison cell and further restrained to a bed, for example, to prevent him from injuring himself or others. If the police were indeed told about his medical condition and offered his medication to give to him, then simply keeping him restrained and calling on a competent medical authority to administer the medication would have been the logical course of action. Certainly, shouting at him and subsequently beating him with a baton is not a logical course of action if you know that he has a medical condition and is not in a mentally stable state.

The question remains as to why the man was not taking his medication, but police are not trained to deal with such complex situations - medical professionals such as doctors and psychiatrists are.

Furthermore, this situation is not an isolated incident. Go to news.google.com and search for "taser death" or just "taser" and you will find many more recent stories from various news sources of the use of this little device in highly questionable situations.

KMA, be truthful, are you o... (Below threshold)
RE: TASER Payroll:

KMA, be truthful, are you on the payroll of TASER International?

There is no basis for asserting Williams was hog-tied.

Except for eye-witness accounts:

"Mr. Williams is hog-tied (arms bound behind him and feet tightly bound) and is seen carried by police "like an animal" says one witness, is and place in the back of a patrol unit.... Upon arrival of Mr. Williams' body at the hospital, Doctors record that there were plastic instruments that were apparently used to hog-tied Mr. Williams at his house."

There is no medical evidence that the taser resulted in, or contributed to, his death.

One paid employee of Gwinnett County concludes another paid employees did no wrong. Gee whiz. Check out: http://www.idsnews.com/subsite/story.php?id=27136

There is no evidence that he had a seizure.

"An officer who eventually transports Mr. Williams dead body to the hospital tells the medical staff (and this is documented in the medical reports) that he observed Mr. Williams foaming from his mouth and uncontrollably jerking in the patrol car at the scene at the Williams' residence." Are asserting he had rabies instead?

There is no medical basis that if he had seized it would cause him to behave the way he did.

Following is a list of cases concerning epilepsy and criminal behavior. Most of these cases involved violent acts. One case analyzing the issue is United States v. Voice, 627 F.2d 138 (8th Cir. 1980). If it can be shown that a person was in the midst of a seizure (the above criteria will be important), the defense of involuntariness, an "automatism," will be available to negate intent. See also: State v. Massey, 747 P.2d 802 (Kan. 1987). A good discussion of the automatism defense (and distinguishing this defense from an insanity plea) can be found in People v. Grant, 360 N.E.2d 809 (1977), and State v. Caddell, 215 S.E.2d 348 (1975). See also: State v. Fields, 376 S.E.2d 740 (N.C. 1989). Cases in which epilepsy has been used as the basis for an insanity defense include: Arizona v. Vickers, 768 P.2d 1177 (Ariz. 1989); Starr v. State, 213 S.E.2d 531 (Ga. App. 1971); Sprague v. State, 187 N.W.2d 784 (Wis. 1971); People v. Codarre, 245 N.Y.S.2d 81 (App. Div. Sup. Ct. N.Y. 1963), aff'd, 200 N.E.2d 570 (1964), cert. denied, 379 U.S. 883; Brady v. State, 190 So.2d 607 (Fla. 1966); and State v. Pettay, 532 P.2d 1289 (Kan. 1975); State v. Wimer, 284 S.E.2d 890 (W.Va. 1981); Davies v. State, 688 S.W.2d 738 (Ark. 1985); Frazier v. State, 362 S.E.2d 351 (Ga. 1987) (Expert witness' testimony failed to establish that the defendant's brain abnormality, which might diminish his impulse control and increase his tendency to rage states, was related to his actions during the crime.)

There is no medical/scientific basis for asserting that the mere status of being an epileptic makes a person violent.

A comprehensive article on the topic is Weinberg, C.D., "Epilepsy and the Alternatives for a Criminal Defense," 27 Case W. L. Rev. 771 (1977). The following book contains chapters on an alleged connection between various neurological disorders, including epilepsy, and violent behaviors: Riley, T. and Roy, A., Pseudoseizures, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore (1982). Other articles that may be of interest include: Stevens, J. R. & Hermann, B., "Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, Psychopathology and Violence: The State of the Evidence, Neurology, Vol. 31, pages 1127-1132 (September 1981); Hermann, B., et al., "Interictal Psychopathology in Patients with Ictal Fear: A Quantitative Investigation," Neurology, Vol. 32, pages 7-11 (January 1982); Letters to the Editor, Neurology, Vol. 32, pages 574-575 (May 1982); Treiman, D. & Delgado-Escueta, A., "Violence and Epilepsy - A Critical Review," Recent Advances in Epilepsy, Churchill Livingstone (1983), and Treiman, D.,"Epilepsy and Violence: Medical and Legal Issues," Epilepsia, Vol. 27 (Suppl. 2) S77-S104 (1986); Perlin, "Unpacking the Myths: The Symbolism Mythology of Insanity Defense Jurisprudence," 40 Case Western L. Rev. 599 (1989-1990); Corrado, "Automatism and the Theory of Action," 39 Emory L.J. 1191 (1990).

There is no medical basis for asserting that not taking an anti-convulsive makes one violent.

Isn't that a double negative? If an epileptic does not take anti-convulsive meds and goes into seizure, see above. Once again, following a seizure, the transition back to a person's normal state, the “post-ictal period” (an ictus is a seizure) may last from several minutes to hours, depending on several factors including which part(s) of the brain were affected by the seizure and whether the individual had been taking their anti-seizure medication. Symptoms that occur during the post-ictal period include confusion, shaking, stiffening, tremors, twiching movements, and convulsion.

However, if Mrs. William... (Below threshold)
Re: Investigation:

However, if Mrs. Williams contacted the Justice Dept., they will investigate. They take these matters seriously.

Unfortunately the Atlanta DOJ is busy covering for their own misdeeds:

Federal Agent's Conduct Draws Fire
Probe Finds Questionable Practices
Richard Belcher, Channel 2 Action News
April 29, 2005

ATLANTA -- A Whistleblower 2 investigation has found that a top federal agent in Atlanta regularly violates the very kind of government rules that he is supposed to enforce.

The Inspector General's Office of the U.S. Justice Department has the power to investigate misconduct by thousands of federal employees. But it is not clear that anyone is policing the man in charge here.

The Office of Inspector General looks over the shoulder of everyone in the Justice Department, from correctional officers to prosecutors.

But we found that the special agent who runs the inspector general's Atlanta office appears to be violating rules that would get other employees in potentially serious trouble.

<a href="http://www.taser.c... (Below threshold)

Taser's web site

Province of British Columbia [PDF]

As part of my last EMT recert, we were given a presentaion by a sheriff's deputy on the Taser. At the last EMS conference I went to locally, there was a seminar on the topic and the presenter was Tasered as a demonstration.

The Taser, as currently configured, is designed to disrupt the nerve signals in the muscles. Pain is not the intent. You find yourself unable to stand or move. The amount of current is far less that that used by an AED, and there is a simple reason for that. The AED's power is configured to get the correct amount of current to the heart through the body's resistance in order to stop the heart.

No device will stop all people. Rodney King kept getting up. I've seen a video of a man being Tased six times, and he kept getting up. A police officer's choices with a violent individual are limited, and involve varying degrees of risk to himself or the suspect. There have to be levels before the use of deadly force, and Tasers provide such a level.

The news items stated that ... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

The news items stated that the first arriving officer began by ordering the man to be quiet and then went on to say that he (the first arrivng officer) went after the subject with his ASP or whatever variation of baton he was carrying. That he (the first arriving officer) was injured when he was knocked to the ground.

As I stated, I was not there and did not read the officers reports. Even so it is possible to draw conslusions from the information provided. But I will qualify my opinion by saying that IF THE WITNESS STATEMENTS AS REPORTED BY THE MEDIA ARE TRUE then the first responding officer compromised his safety by not waiting for other officers to arrive. The facts may not be clear and there may be conflicting accounts however it seems the following are fairly apparent:

1. It seemed pretty clear that the call was to respond to a domestic disturbance.

In most police departments this requires a two officer response. In most departments the policy is fairly clear that on calls requiring a two person response the first arriving officer is to assess for immediate threats and in the absence of such to begin the process of controlling the scene until additional assistance arrives. In other words to move the crowd back to a safe distance, to ascertain if anyone is injured, to ascertain if the suspect has access to weapons either on his person or in the immediate area under his control or if weapons are on the premise and where- its one thing if the subject moves toward the garage, its quite another if the subject moves toward the garage and the officer has information that the subject is moving toward a weapon in the garage (edged, projectile or blunt force).

Its one thing if there is a car in the garage and the subject has no keys. Its another if the subject does have keys or if there is a weapon under the seat in that car.

I did not see any indication that this first arriving officer made any effort to assess the threat level to himself, the bystanders or his fellow officers before he rushed in impact weapon hot.

2. It seems there was ample available information that at least one subject on the scene was of diminished capacity either by possible intoxication, medical condition (acute or chronic) or because of mental illness.

3. It seems there was ample indication that the subject was agitated and was a large man.

4. It seems that no immediate threat existed- by all reported accounts there was a large, agitated and possibly mentally disturbed man standing in his driveway shouting and making no sense. He may or may not have assaulted someone but at the instant the first arriving officer saw him he was standing in his driveway making a lot of noise and was no immediate threat to anyone. Obviously the officer felt he had the time to yell at the guy so even the officer must have felt there was no immediate reason to go beyond attempts at verbal commands.

The point is that TIME is almost always the friend of the police officer. TIME to assess. TIME to let the suspects immediate adrenaline charge disipate. TIME to get the crowd moved back. TIME to get the necessary resources in place. TIME to let the suspect expend a lot of energy. TIME to interview the wife and get an idea of what criminal charges may apply and at what level (are these FELONY crimes?) TIME to have the wife explain whats up with the guy and the what she knows of his medical conditions and mental status.

Unfortunately new, young, inexperienced or under trained officers feel a need to rush in and "DO SOMETHING". They feel they have to play to the crowd- that the bystanders EXPECT TO SEE ACTION. That the bystanders expect BRAVERY and ACTION. The crowd demands a hero and the young inexperienced officer wants to be that hero for the crowd.

The young inexperienced officer doesn't want a "stand off". The young inexperienced officer doesn't see a "stand off" as a WIN. Maintaining the status quo (no threats, no injuries, no rush) as desirable. The young inexperienced officer just wants to "take care of business" and get along to the next call where he (or she) might be able to prove worthy of the badge.

When the bystanders ask "why aren't you doing something?" the young inexperienced officer doesn't want to say "hopefully he will get tired and surrender before anyone gets hurt. Do you know the man? Can you tell me anything about him?"

I am not anti law enforcement. I have devoted my life to excellence in law enforcement.

Quite honestly I see nothing EXCELLENT in this case. The first officer on the scene was injured and a man in police custody died.

Frankly if the glare of media attention is uncomfortable for this department thats just too darn bad. If the public asks questions then its an opportunity to share information.

I don't like finger pointing or witch hunts. You don't always get to answer the most favorable questions.

Sometimes you have to answer questions that don't show the profession in the most favorable light. Hopefully you always show that the profession is willing to take its bumps and bruises, learn something and move foreward.

KMA, be truthful, are yo... (Below threshold)
kma:

KMA, be truthful, are you on the payroll of TASER International?
Nope. Now you be truthful and admit you hate cops.

There is no basis for asserting Williams was hog-tied. -- Except for eye-witness accounts:

Hogtied is when they bind your feet, bind your hands, and attach the restraints to each other causing the person's knees to flex. It's banned because it causes positional asphyxia.

One paid employee of Gwinnett County concludes another paid employees did no wrong. Gee whiz. Check out:

I did. You site as proof a case involving a different person where the coroner made different findings that has yet to be fully litigated. Can you tell me how that will establish causation beyond a reasonable doubt in this case where the m.e. made no such finding? Can I site all the other coroner reports in other cases in other jurisdictions where the coroner found the taser did not contribute to the death?

There is no evidence that he had a seizure.
[quote from Williams attorney in comments]

Statements made by an attorney are not proof. Why wouldn't he release the name of the deptuy or give the medical reports to the press? I can find no where else where he even made such an assertion. Why is that? Sorry, but I find this rather suspicious.

Following is a list of cases concerning epilepsy and criminal behavior. -- Most of these cases involved violent acts. . . .

Thank you for copying and pasting a bunch of cases and cites to articles off a website that you have never read and do not apply to the issues in the Williams case. What do all the cases you cite have in common? The jury didn't buy it. Sorry, but just because a defense atty says its true doesn't make it so. What do all the articles have in common? They do not apply.

And you omitted to copy and paste from the same website this:

“The possible relationship between an epileptic seizure and criminal behavior beyond the misdemeanor level is extremely controversial. It is generally agreed among neurologists and epileptologists that well-organized, purposeful, complicated, or goal-directed behavior is highly unlikely during a seizure.”

And, if you had even bothered to read the first case you cited, you would have read this: “in a psychomotor epileptic state a person could perform only stereotypic or automatic movements, not directed acts of violence such as beating someone with a baseball bat.”

Do not waste my time again citing garbage you have not read, can't possibly understand, and does not apply.

There is no medical basis for asserting that not taking an anti-convulsive makes one violent. Isn't that a double negative?

Yes. Is that the sum total of your refutation of the above statement? Because according to the cases and articles you cited but never read there is no correlation between epilepsy and direct acts of violence.

Thank you for pushing people's understanding of epilepsy back to the dark ages. You must be so proud of yourself.

Investigation: I h... (Below threshold)
kma:

Investigation:

I have been contacted several times by the DOJ in relation to investigations they conducted. It was always out of Washington, and not at the local level. You cite a news item that states a special agent at the inspector general's office has been accused of misusing a government issued car for personal purposes by another employee. He used the car after work to drive to a high school and referee a basketball game. Wow, a crime of the century. Therefore, the entire DOJ must be rifed with corruption. Give me a break.

Amazed:

You have a vivid imagination. If you are ever called for jury duty, be sure to share your methods of deductive reasoning with the attys on voir dire, okay?

kma,I'm not sure w... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

kma,

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make anymore.

It sounds as if you think that there is no chance at all of ANY police officer ever being inexperienced or under trained or that police training could be faulty or that department policy would ever need revision or correction to more accurately reflect current scientific knowledge or current legal reality. 100% right. 100% accurate. Always current. Never needs cleaning. ZERO maintenance.

Actually it sounds as if you are convinced there is no chance in hell that any correctable error was made in this case.

In fact it pretty much sounds like your position is that if someone dies in police custody that its some kind of divine judgment and/or they got what they deserved and the involved officers were simply instruments of or bystanders to that divine judgement.

In fact it almost sounds like you have a profound spiritual need to worship the police and absolve them of any responsibility in the outcome of a chain of events they are inextricably attached to.

It appears you believe that the constitution of the US does not or should not apply to the police.

In your world if the police approach you then you cease being a citizen (you cease being human, you are now the SUSPECT) and are guilty (even if no crime has been alleged, articulated or investigated) and you have no constitutional rights and the only thing you should expect is to get EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAVE COMING TO YOU. Anything that happens to you after the police approach you is your own damn fault and you should just take it like a man.

Justice does not require MEASURE. Reponse should never be in kind but should always be all out, no holds barred, use the whole arsenal.

Cage match. Two men enter, one man leaves.

In your world use of force review boards and such are a useless waste of time.

Grand juries should never be asked to investigate the conduct of police officers because those that enforce the laws should be above those laws.

Or maybe a milder version of your world view would be "stuff happens, get over it".

Is that imaginative enough? Does it pretty much sum up your position?

Maybe I got you all wrong.

Maybe you are just a white supremist and since this man was black its okay in your book that he ended up dead because a black mans life has less value to you than a white mans.

Or maybe you just hold all life in contempt. No one deserves to live except you and those that are NEVER approached by the police for any reason.

Or maybe you just have to be right about everything.

By the way, the first cop o... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

By the way, the first cop on the scene went after the guy with his baton without waiting for backup and he got hurt. Not too much deducing to be done.

Apparently stupidity is a two way street. If the "suspect" was somehow deserving of what happened to him how much more so is a police officer that should have known better but let his zeal get the best of him?

It musta been some kinda divine judgement that the cop got hurt- a sort of manifest destiny.

But kma could probably address that issue better than anyone else.

It sounds as if you thin... (Below threshold)
kma:

It sounds as if you think that there is no chance at all of ANY police officer ever being inexperienced or under trained . . .

Not at all. I am stating that all you are doing is speculating. Worse, you are speculating based on the flimsiest and most biased evidence. You seem to have some weird belief that you are an expert in police procedures. Not only are you speculating as to what occurred, you seem to have fantasized an entire scenario reaching epic proportions. Now, you have gone on to speculate as to me and my motives. Thank you for demonstrating your lifetime membership in the tinfoil brigade. lol!

It appears you believe that the constitution of the US does not or should not apply to the police.

I have done nothing but argue that the constitution applies to the police. -- including its protections, rights, and guarantees. It is you and others who have suspended the constitution when it applies to law enforcement. Even though you dislike it, the 14th amendment mandates that even a police officer be afforded the right to due process. That requires evidence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every element of a charge.

Yes kma you are right. I sp... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

Yes kma you are right. I speculated the first arriving officer went after the man with his baton and was hurt. And I speculated that the suspect ended up dead in police custody.

______________________________________________

KMA the mighty lawyer opined:

"There are too many erroneous, ignorant, and down right crazy statements being made to even attempt to refute them all. I am an attorney. I once worked for a very large city in their police litigation unit. It's not a criminal case and I doubt the family would win a civil suit. You have that pesky problem of causation. The medical examiner testified that there is no evidence that the taser caused a cardiac arrest. There is no evidence that he was denied medical care once he did arrest.

Posted by: kma at April 30, 2005 01:15 PM "
_______________________________________________

As a lawyer who claims to be experienced from working in a "large cities police litigation unit" you would probably know that the medical examiners opinion is just that. One opinion.

The ME in this case may or may not have the expertise to back up his claims. Either way if there is a civil case you can bet the attorneys will find a forensic pathologist with better credentials and more experience that will refute or at least question the opinion from the ME.

Don't most people die from heart failure or cardiac arrest in one form or another? Its pretty interesting that this ME has a firm opinion that the use of a TASER certainly did NOT cause the mans death while at the same time saying he cannot explain the mans cardiac arrest.

Apparently his cardiac arrest was simply coincidental with being in police custody and coincidental to being in a struggle with multiple police (or jailers) and coincidental with what some bystanders claimed was a medical problem he was coincidentally having beforehand.

Nope, no causation here. No chain of events here.

You say you have experience in a police litigation unit? What exactly is that? A legal unit that defends police against liability claims? A legal unit that reviews contracts for the purchase of new squad cars or equipment?

Don't most police departments rely on the county attorneys office for any legal advice they might need?

Or did this "large city" feel the need to put budget money toward duplicating the services already provided with county funds? Maybe this was years ago when big budgets were the norm???

Anyway- getting back to "police litigation" and what that might involve in terms of your experience as a lawyer...

Doesn't it trouble you at all that the possibility exists (not that this has been proven in any way, its just another recurring theme in the news coverage/blogging) that multiple parties suggested this man had medical problems and might have requested an ambulance or medical attention for him?

In at least one of the accounts his wife supposedly brought out the mans perscriptions and presented them?

You made the case that the police wouldn't have or shouldn't have accepted these items out of concern for liability. Perhaps they could have taken the time to write down the details off the labels? Perhaps they could have taken them as evidence for one reason or another? Perhaps the fact these perscriptions existed was evidence that the man was under a doctors care and might need a professional medical evaluation?

Perhaps the greater liability is incurred when you are made aware that your prisoner POSSIBLY has a medical condition but then you fail to take steps to have him properly evaluated.

Perhaps in the state where you practice as a lawyer they don't have county hospitals with secure units that handle prisoners? Perhaps in your state the local county jail or holding facility has a full medical unit staffed by doctors? Because in your state the funding is available to duplicate some very expensive services.

SO it made good sense to take the man to the county jail rather than a hospital because as you opined earlier "medical staff won't look at a combative prisoner anyway"?

Because why?

Because somehow the circumstances absolve them of any obligation to take reasonable and ordinary care to prevent the mans death?

Because if the "prisoner" is combative he couldn't possibly be having medical problems?

No standard of care applies?

In that state no regulating body exists to propose the standards that govern the operation of county jails?

In that state there are no laws on the books governing the treatment and care of prisoners or those in the custody of a government agency or under the control of a government agency?

But as you say:

"I am an attorney. I once worked for a very large city in their police litigation unit. It's not a criminal case and I doubt the family would win a civil suit. You have that pesky problem of causation. The medical examiner testified that there is no evidence that the taser caused a cardiac arrest. There is no evidence that he was denied medical care once he did arrest."

Apparently its your opinion as an attorney that no obligation existed to provide the man medical treatment until he suffered a cardiac arrest. And since he was provided medical care after his cardiac arrest everyone is in the clear? And since the medical examiner states the TASER didn't cause the cardiac arrest then everyone is in the clear?

Ever heard the expression "guns don't kill, people kill"??

Its not the weapon. Its the use of the weapon.

Its not whether they had a policy for the use of force or that they followed the policy. Its the standards in the profession. Its what they knew or reasonably should have known or were mandated by law to know.

Both the medical examiner and you get to be right about this. The TASER most certainly did not kill the man.

As a lawyer you don't seem to think the officers had any duties or obligations as reasonable men or as agents of the state to provide that man with medical care unless his heart stopped.

You certainly don't seem to find any failings in the performance of their duties as officers or as reasonable men.

Anyway, I doubt kma is a lawyer or an expert on anything. He certainly seems to lack an understanding of liability and how it arises even though he claims experience with a police litigation unit for a larger city.

Personally I think kma is probably 16 years old, living at home, most likely in the basement.

Nope. Now you be truthfu... (Below threshold)
RE: Cops:

Nope. Now you be truthful and admit you hate cops.

Not at all. Repeatedly stating that they need more training means I hate cops? Just because they've got their GED or high school diploma and a safety cert. does not mean they are ready to take on the world.

Hogtied is when they bind your feet, bind your hands, and attach the restraints to each other causing the person's knees to flex. It's banned because it causes positional asphyxia.

So, if he was hogtied as witnessed, you would admit the police did something wrong?

You site as proof a case involving a different person where the coroner made different findings that has yet to be fully litigated.

Exactly. Similar situation, similar type of death following repeated TASER shocks, different coroner -- and the examiner held the TASER at fault, as well as the police. When an independent examiner looks at the Williams case, I'd be more likely to believe the results.

Statements made by an attorney are not proof. Why wouldn't he release the name of the deptuy or give the medical reports to the press?

I'd believe the family's attorney who has first-hand knowledge before I'd believe you. Unless, of course, you have inside information that is more concete.

Thank you for copying and pasting a bunch of cases and cites to articles off a website that you have never read and do not apply to the issues in the Williams case.

The issues involved violence and epilepsy. And no, they all did not involve a black, 32 year old male, who is 6' 2" and weighed 220 lbs. They are examples.

Sorry, but just because a defense atty says its true doesn't make it so.

Now you be truthful and admit you hate defense attorneys.

And you omitted to copy and paste from the same website this: “The possible relationship between an epileptic seizure and criminal behavior beyond the misdemeanor level is extremely controversial."

You're the lawyer. Was Mr. Williams begging for his life or physical resistance while being snuffed on camera greater than a misdemeanor?

And, if you had even bothered to read the first case you cited, you would have read this: “in a psychomotor epileptic state a person could perform only stereotypic or automatic movements, not directed acts of violence such as beating someone with a baseball bat.”

Well, since Mr. Williams did not beat anyone with a baseball bat, as you would say say, this case does not apply. Or, are you conveniently changing your rules here to simply suit your needs?

Do not waste my time again citing garbage you have not read, can't possibly understand, and does not apply.

I see. Everything not cited by you is garbage. Everything above your head can't be understood by others. Everything you say does not apply -- doesn't.

Because according to the cases and articles you cited but never read there is no correlation between epilepsy and direct acts of violence.

Becuase you don't believe any defense attorneys, right?

Thank you for pushing people's understanding of epilepsy back to the dark ages. You must be so proud of yourself.

Tell that to the Epilepsy Foundation, who published the list of cases. I'm sure they are proud, too.

Putting aside the other iss... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

Putting aside the other issues for a moment its interesting to note what the DA had to say:

"District Attorney Danny Porter provided details of the investigations to a grand jury and that grand jury decided not to pursue an investigation of their own. They, however, chose not to view the videotape taken at the jail.

"They were aware of the tape and the disturbing aspects of it, but chose not to view it," Porter said. "They chose not to see it and chose not to go any farther. For all intents and purposes, this ends my case," he said."
_______________________________________________

Lets see if I got this straight. Mr Porter provides the grand jury with details of the internal investigations that cleared the officers/jailors of wrong doing as a means of having the grand jury decide if a criminal case against those officers/jailors should go forward?

He basically tells the grand jury that one process has cleared the officers of wrong doing in an effort to get the grand jury to take an UNBIASED look at whether its possible crimes were committed (by persons who were already cleared of wrong doing by their employer)?

Then the DA claims that the grand jury had the opportunity to view a tape of some of the events in question but they chose not to view it?

Odd. Seems to me that videotape is almost better than direct eyewitness testimony. Videotape doesn't have any bias for or against cops or suspects. In fact it would seem that the videotape would be ideal for either corroborating or refuting the contents of the reports and statements written by the involved officers/jailers.

I think its a little strange to come out and make a statement that some kind of choice was offered in whether to view the tape or not.

Its a little like saying 'hey, we have this eyewitness that was there and took notes but you probably don't want to hear from the guy cause he is ugly and hard to look at and what he has to say might anger or disturb you'

I suppose its not critical to look at all the available evidence.

Its an especially good thing to overlook the most relevant and on point evidence with the least likelihood of being tainted by self interest or pro law enforcement bias.

Funny- I imagine that better than 95 percent of the evidence considered by that grand jury came from the very people that were trying to look their best and NOT be charged with any crimes or found to have violated any policies or procedures.

All the officers and jailors involved got to contribute their perspective and their view.

It doesn't sound like the wife was asked to testify. Or any of the bystanders. Maybe they had witness statements included in the police reports though.

I doubt that a single word of Mr Williams was included. I mean he obviously wasn't required to write any reports that would be reviewed by his superiors and possibly be included in later litigation.

Yet the grand jury had an opportunity to see for themselves, from an unbiased perspective, the events that Mr Williams would never be available to testify to.

But they "chose" not to. Seems like a bad choice.

And only someone like kma would label it a harmless error.

Nope. Now you be truthfu... (Below threshold)
kma:

Nope. Now you be truthful and admit you hate cops. – Not at all. Repeatedly stating that they need more training means I hate cops?

You have not repeatedly stated they need more training. Oh, wait . . . you keep changing names. Is that to avoid responsibility for the unfair and biased things you have said? Yes, you hate cops. What else do you call it when you want to suspend their constitutional rights?

So, if he was hogtied as witnessed, you would admit the police did something wrong?

If he wasn't hogtied the way I described it, would you admit the police did nothing wrong?

You site as proof a case involving a different person where the coroner made different findings that has yet to be fully litigated.Exactly. Similar situation, similar type of death following repeated TASER shocks, different coroner -- and the examiner held the TASER at fault, as well as the police. When an independent examiner looks at the Williams case, I'd be more likely to believe the results.

Not similar at all. People aren't fungible. And, you have less knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the Indiana case than you do this one, which is almost none. You insist on an independent examiner only when you personally don't like the results.

Statements made by an attorney are not proof. Why wouldn't he release the name of the deptuy or give the medical reports to the press? – I'd believe the family's attorney who has first-hand knowledge before I'd believe you. Unless, of course, you have inside information that is more concete.

Is “concete” a word? But, the attorney doesn't have firsthand knowledge, does he? And the facts that he alleges do not appear in any media report -- only in his statement here, which of course we have no way of verifying that it was he who even made it.

The issues involved violence and epilepsy.
Where they conclude that violent behavior similar to that exhibited by Williams is NOT the result of epilepsy.

Sorry, but just because a defense atty says its true doesn't make it so. – Now you be truthful and admit you hate defense attorneys.

I like defense attorneys very very very much.

You're the lawyer. Was Mr. Williams begging for his life or physical resistance while being snuffed on camera greater than a misdemeanor?

My professional opinion is that your question is nonsensical and uses language which demonstrates your extreme bias.

Well, since Mr. Williams did not beat anyone with a baseball bat, as you would say say, this case does not apply. Or, are you conveniently changing your rules here to simply suit your needs?

No, he beat his wife with his belt. Did you conveniently forget that to simply suit your needs?

I see. Everything not cited by you is garbage.
How can you see when you never bothered to read what you cited? When you cite cases which you purport to be the opposite of their findings, its wasting my time and it is garbage.

Everything above your head can't be understood by others.
I wrote that it was obviously above your head. I guess that was above your head, too.

Everything you say does not apply -- doesn't.
I have a basis for saying so. You never bothered to read anything you cited.

Becuase you don't believe any defense attorneys, right?
Is “Becuase” a word? No, because the experts, the jury, and the appellate courts in the cases you cited did not believe the defense.

Tell that to the Epilepsy Foundation, who published the list of cases. I'm sure they are proud, too.

The cases they cited make clear the difference between post epileptic behavior and criminal behavior – you are the one confusing the two as one.

Amazed:I refuse to... (Below threshold)
kma:

Amazed:

I refuse to debate someone who clearly does not have all their marbles. I am, and will continue, ignoring you.

Thats right kid, take your ... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

Thats right kid, take your marbles and go home now. Maybe order yourself a nice pizza and see if the delivery guy can find the back door this time.

Bottom line is you started lying when you posted this:

"I am an attorney. I once worked for a very large city in their police litigation unit. It's not a criminal case and I doubt the family would win a civil suit. You have that pesky problem of causation. The medical examiner testified that there is no evidence that the taser caused a cardiac arrest. There is no evidence that he was denied medical care once he did arrest.

Posted by: kma at April 30, 2005 01:15 PM "

________________________________________________

Particularly the "I am an attorney. I once worked for a very large city in their police litigation unit."

Not very likely given your ignorance of basic legal concepts. Extremely unlikely that you ever had anything to do with "police litigation" given your absolute lack of understanding of liability and how it arises.

Stick to the debate team kid. This never was a debate. Nothing you've said even remotely strikes anyone here as having come from an adult, let alone a professional or an attorney.

Nothing you write has the tone or authority that one would expect from an educated man. You do appear to worship cops, not the way small children admire them, no this has more of the appearance of a pathological condition.

Anyway, good luck in life and give my best to the class of 2008 when you see them tomorrow.

[Ed - Full articles may ... (Below threshold)
RE: Refusal of Evidence:

[Ed - Full articles may not be posted due to copyright issues. Links and quotes are fine]

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
05/04/05

Grand Jury Didn't Want to View Taser Videotape

By LATEEF MUNGIN

The graphic videotaped Taser stunning of Frederick Williams is now making the rounds on television, shocking many who have watched Williams lose consciousness after being zapped five times within a minute.

But a grand jury that last month decided not to investigate the incident was not shown the videotape of the May 25 altercation in the Gwinnett County jail. The grand jury based its decision entirely on portions of an 11-month police investigation of the death and a written description of the stun gun shocking of Williams.

"The grand jury was told about the tape, but jurors said they did not want to see it," District Attorney Danny Porter said.

Porter, who plays a major role in determining what evidence a grand jury receives, did not insist that jurors view the tape. That fact has angered Williams' family members, some of whom have seen the tape.

"Anybody who looks at the evidence would see that something criminal occurred," Williams' stepfather, George Kieh, has said.

[More]

From one of many articles:<... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

From one of many articles:

"Taser International is noted for recruiting law-enforcement officers to endorse its product or provide training.

Board member Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who stepped down as President Bush's Homeland Security nominee amid controversy, raised eyebrows when he cashed out Taser stock options at a $6 million profit last year. New York City police bought Tasers during Kerik's tenure.

The Kerik connection is among a number of controversies involving the company.

The New York Times reported last year that the stun gun-maker allegedly conducted safety studies in which company-paid researchers used merely a single pig in 1996 and five dogs in 1999 to test an early police model, the M26.

Smith dismissed the criticism. "They made it sound like we went in the back yard and shot a pig and a dog and said, 'It's good to go,'" he said.

Smith said medical and drug companies often pay for studies of their own products. He said he is open to independent studies and cited the peer-reviewed Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology journal, which says the Taser's risk of causing ventricular fibrillation is "extremely low." But two of the article's four authors are Taser employees.

"You're never going to get anyone to say the risk is zero because nothing is," Smith said.

The company also is facing a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into its safety claims and its end-of-the-year sales transaction with its exclusive civilian distributor, Davidson's Inc., including the sale of 1,000 of the new consumer models. An independent research firm raised questions about whether the last-minute deal was a scheme to inflate sales and impress Wall Street, where the Taser firm was one of 2004's hottest stocks.

Two dozen law firms in the past month have filed class-action shareholder lawsuits against the company, alleging misrepresentation of safety, fraud in the Davidson's deal, and insider trading amounting up to $96 million."

Sorry, should have cited th... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

Sorry, should have cited the source for the above:

Taser aims at home market as safety concerns mount
BY MICHAEL MARTINEZ

Chicago Tribune


http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/news/local/crime_courts/11232042.htm

The same article had this to say:

More than 80 deaths have occurred in the United States and Canada among people shot with police Tasers since 1999, and in 12 of the U.S. fatalities, medical examiners have cited the stun gun as one of the causes of death, a contributing factor in the death, or as a possible factor that couldn't be ruled out, according to reports in the Arizona Republic.
Smith said the police Taser hasn't been proved to be the singular cause of any of the deaths.

"In terms of the deaths, we haven't been listed as 'A-ha! It's the Taser!'" Smith said. "Listing as a contributing factor doesn't tell me it's the cause."

Smith added that "in-custody deaths are going to happen whether there is a Taser or not."

He and supportive law-enforcement officials around the country say hundreds of lives have been saved by officers using a Taser instead of a firearm. Some police agencies have reported a decrease in use of firearms when Tasers are available.

But Amnesty International says the total incidents in which police have used force - including firearms and stun guns - have increased in some agencies that had Tasers. The group also has raised concerns that Tasers could be used in police torture, without leaving visible marks, and has called for a suspension of the police weapon until an independent safety analysis is conducted.

"Let's say that Amnesty International was successful in banning Tasers in the world," Smith said. "How many torturous events would have been avoided? Zero. Why? It's the intent of the individual, not the weapon."

Taser officials say their weapons have been used in 55,000 police confrontations and on more than 100,000 volunteers, including the majority of Taser employees and, more recently, on 60 people at a consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.

But some police officers have been injured after being "tasered" during mandatory exercises to experience the shock firsthand. After at least two officers were hurt when they fell after being shot in Taser training, the Phoenix Police Department abandoned the exercises, a spokesman said.

While the company cites testimonials from police chiefs - including one who called the Taser the best invention since the police radio - recent incidents have cast a harsh spotlight on police use of the weapons.

In Miami, a 6-year-old boy was shocked in a school office, and in Rock Hill, S.C., a 75-year-old woman was shot with a stun gun in a nursing home. In both cases, police were called because of a disturbance. But in both cases, police were later criticized, and took disciplinary action or refined their procedures.

Taser Ad Blitz Touts Con... (Below threshold)
Amazed:

Taser Ad Blitz Touts Consumer Stun Gun
By Barbara Yost, The Arizona Republic

The article says in part:

"But while the company insists Tasers are non-lethal, some evidence links them to deaths.
The Arizona Republic uncovered autopsy reports that connect the more-powerful law enforcement stun guns to six deaths and found they could not be ruled out in two others. On Tuesday, Amnesty International will release a report detailing what it says are 74 Taser-related deaths."

Read it here:

http://www.policeone.com/police-products/less-lethal/taser/articles/94304/
------------------------------------------------
Tempe OKs Taser guns for 9 schools

Katie Nelson
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 17, 2004 12:00 AM

Read it here:

http://www.azcentral.com/specials/special43/articles/1217EVtaser17.html

TEMPE - Officers stationed at nine schools will be armed with Tasers by spring, now that the City Council granted the Police Department permission to buy up to $200,000 in stun guns and equipment.

---------------------------------------------------
Stun guns for everyone? Taser fires up debate
Company eyes civilians, as police review use, experts urge studies

By Miguel Llanos
Reporter
MSNBC
Updated: 7:34 a.m. ET May 4, 2005

Read it here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7295368/

Article says in part:

California ban?

Government officials have their own concerns.

Arizona's attorney general favors police use of tasers, but worries that some civilian buyers might misuse the weapons if the company continues to market them as "non-lethal." He wants Taser, which has headquarters in Arizona, to drop the claim.

In California, state Assemblyman Mark Leno recently introduced legislation to ban personal use of Tasers after having staff research the weapons for the public safety committee that he chairs.

Independent studies should be performed to "learn exactly how dangerous or how safe this is," he told MSNBC.com.

"We're going to allow weapons to be sold to the public and all we know is what the manufacturer is telling us," Leno said.

Taser "dodged" most of the questions his staff asked the company, he said, and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Taser to determine if it misrepresented the safety of its products to increase stock value.

"With all of this background I'm smelling smoke," Leno said.

Taser, in a letter to investors last January, said it would "stand firmly behind" its claims during what it said could be a long SEC inquiry.

The company would not comment further given the inquiry, and the SEC said it does not comment on ongoing investigations.

Taser International Inc.</p... (Below threshold)

Taser International Inc.

One of our member law firms is investigating claims on behalf of purchasers of TASER International, Inc. (NASDAQ:TASR) securities between October 19, 2004 and January 7, 2005.

Our member firm is attempting to determine whether during this period, TASER’s numerous public statements about the safety of its products were false and/or misleading.

If these statements were false and/or misleading, persons or entities who purchased TASER stock or securities between October 19, 2004 and January 7, 2005 did so at artificially inflated prices.

Register your Taser International Inc. Case
If you would like to be considered for participation in a potential class action against TASER, please fill out the form below.

https://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/case/taser_securities2?ref=taser_securities2_7search

Tasers shock and subdue; ab... (Below threshold)

Tasers shock and subdue; absence of justice does, too

On the videotape, Frederick Williams is being hustled feet-first into the Gwinnett County jail surrounded by 10 or more deputies, many of them large and imposing men.

Williams, who had apparently suffered some sort of psychotic breakdown, is handcuffed and his feet are bound, and he is begging deputies not to kill him. He struggles against his restraints, but he poses no danger.

However, within 90 seconds of the videotape's beginning, Williams is already unconscious and near death.

As deputies frantically pull him one way or the other, unaware of his condition, you can see on the tape that Williams' eyes are closed and that his facial and neck muscles have gone entirely slack. That's not surprising. Even though he was restrained hand and foot, Williams had already been hit several times with a Taser, an electric stun gun, and in fact was Tased yet again, even after all resistance had ended.

In fairness, it's important to reiterate that because of the turmoil in the room, the deputy administering the stun gun was still unaware of Williams' unconscious state. In fact, two minutes go by on the tape as deputies wrestle his now limp body into a restraint chair. Finally, somebody notices.

"Is he breathing?" a female voice asks.

"Get the nurse to take a look at him real quick," someone else responds.

He is apparently not breathing; when the nurse arrives, he has trouble finding a pulse, and Williams does not react to smelling salts under his nose. In perhaps the most damning thing at all, that dire state of affairs inspires no sense of urgency whatsoever. It is a full five minutes until someone bothers to begin CPR.

"It could be," Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway admits when I ask him about that time lag. "It seems like a lot of time goes by. I wish they had realized earlier that he had quit struggling."

But by then, whatever hope might have remained for Williams was lost.

Williams died almost a year ago, officially of a heart attack and subsequent brain damage. In the aftermath, no one on Conway's staff was disciplined. (The deputy who administered the Taser charges was fired later on unrelated charges. He had shot a neighbor's dog.)

And while Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter promised Williams' family a prompt investigation, he did not deliver. By January — seven months after Williams' death — the family became so frustrated that they referred the case to the FBI.

Claiming his honor had been insulted, Porter then announced he was dropping the investigation altogether.

So in March, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requested a copy of Porter's investigative file, including the videotape. Under the Open Records Act, the file had become public record once the case was closed.

But rather than release that file, Porter changed his tune yet again, saying, "I have never officially closed my investigation other than a few remarks to reporters."

Last month, Porter finally brought the matter before a county grand jury. Even then, however, he did not seek indictments; his purpose, he said, was to ask the grand jury whether it wanted to look into jail policy on use of Tasers.

And the grand jury never got to see the tape.

"I informed them of its existence," Porter told me Tuesday. "They chose not to view it."

I asked Porter whether it seemed odd that it took five minutes before anybody in the sheriff's office began CPR.

"I found the whole tape odd," he replied.

Curious about how law enforcement professionals might react, I described the case to David Klinger, a former police officer and now an associate criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Klinger specializes in police policies about the use of force and is the author of "Into the Kill Zone: A Cop's Eye View of Deadly Force."

The use of Tasers as a "pain compliance tool" is not unusual, Klinger said. It causes intense pain, and officers commonly use it to force suspects or prisoners to comply with orders.

But Klinger was surprised by the repeated sustained use of the stun gun against Williams — it was fired five times within a minute, although Conway doubts all five charges hit Williams' body. And while cautioning that he had not seen the tape, Klinger said he would have "a great deal of uneasiness about it" if the Taser was used as described to him.

"If it happened as you describe — five or six large deputies holding him, he is already restrained, in an institutional setting — it's fairly hard to argue that's a reasonable use of force," Klinger said.

Although Taser is marketed as a nonlethal law enforcement tool, more than 70 people have died in the last few years after being shocked by the device. Williams, for example, was the second person to die after Taser use at the Gwinnett County jail in an eight-month period. The weapon's manufacturer claims that is happenstance, that there's no proof Tasers caused those deaths.

However, the growing number of fatalities is drawing the attention of the law enforcement community.

"One of the things we're starting to suspect — it appears that generally when people are dying, it's in cases where you see multiple applications," Klinger said. "That's the working assumption now of people in the know on this."

On Tuesday, the day I spoke with Klinger, a Phoenix man died after being hit with a Taser. Like Williams, he was hit multiple times.

I asked Porter whether the grand jury had been given access to such facts in considering whether to study jail policies on Taser use more closely. No, he said, they had not.

"The facts of THIS case were presented to them. They chose not to open an inquiry."

So to review: Almost a year after the death of a fully restrained prisoner, a Gwinnett grand jury is finally convened to look into the matter. However, it is not asked to consider criminal charges; it is not shown the videotape; it is not told that Tasers might be lethal; it does not hear evidence that sustained use of a Taser against a fully restrained man might not be considered a reasonable use of force in law enforcement circles.

In other words, the grand jury was used by those in power to make an uncomfortable case go away.

I can't say I know what justice is in this case; I just know that this isn't even close.

— Jay Bookman is the deputy editorial page editor. His column appears Thursdays and Mondays.

http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/bookman/2005/050505.html

Withheld videotape lets DA ... (Below threshold)

Withheld videotape lets DA buck justice

Published on: 05/12/05

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter has a reputation as an aggressive prosecutor. Some even accuse him of being too zealous, and recent cases demonstrate why.

In April, Porter charged a single mother with felony murder after her 3-year-old son was killed in a house fire. Why? Because she had left the boy alone with his 4-year-old brother to go to work, a case other prosecutors might have handled as negligent homicide.

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Recent columns

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Reality can't be altered or ignored



In February, when a 16-year-old driver was indicted on charges of racing and causing a fatal car wreck, Porter charged the girl's father as well, accusing him of providing her a car with bad brakes and bald tires. That decision earned him air time on both CNN and "Good Morning America."

And these days, of course, Porter's face once again adorns national TV as he contemplates whether to file criminal charges in the case of Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride.

In the case of Frederick Williams, though, that trademark Porter aggressiveness has been nowhere in sight.

Williams, who had suffered epilepsy since a toddler, suffered a psychotic breakdown a year ago, was arrested after a struggle and taken to the Gwinnett County Jail. In a bizarre chain of events, Williams died of a heart attack after he was hit with a Taser stun gun five times in 43 seconds, even though at the time he was handcuffed behind his back, his legs were bound to a chair restraint and he was pinned down by a half-dozen officers.

Initially, Porter promised Williams' family a grand jury inquiry, a pledge he proved reluctant to keep. Almost a year later, when Porter finally did convene a grand jury, he did not seek indictments, nor did he bother to show the grand jury a videotape of the deadly incident taken by a sheriff's deputy. Instead, he says, he asked jurors whether they wanted to open an inquiry into the jail's policy regarding Taser use, and they declined.

That decision not to show jurors the videotape has drawn considerable criticism. However, documents obtained through the state Open Records Act suggest there's a lot of other interesting evidence they never saw either.

For example, grand jurors apparently never saw the videotaped questioning of Sgt. Michael Mustachio, the jail officer who made the decision to "hit" Williams with five blasts from a hand-held Taser stun gun. In an interview conducted by detectives with the Gwinnett County Police Department, Mustachio explained why he chose to use the Taser on a fully restrained Williams.

At the time, officers were trying to wrestle Williams into a restraining chair. According to Mustachio, "He was arching his back up, kinda like a kid who you're trying to put in a car seat — you know how they arch their back up? Lt. Cook was giving him commands to stop resisting, so . . . I went over and point-contacted him with the Taser."

The videotape seems to tell a different story, though. It's a little unclear, but it appears that Mustachio applies the Taser first, and that Williams starts bucking only in reaction.

That interpretation is bolstered by yet another videotape that the grand jury probably never saw. (Porter refused to comment when I called him Wednesday.)

As part of their investigation, two officers with the Gwinnett police department, Cpl. Damon Cavender and Lt. William Walsh, volunteered to help recreate the Williams tragedy. Both men were physically restrained by other officers and were then hit with the Taser.

Their physical responses, caught on tape, were almost identical to the response of Williams. All three men arched their backs in a desperate bucking motion.

"While being shocked I felt an extreme amount of physical pain in the area where I was being shocked," Cavender wrote in his official report. "The pain was so intense that I would have done anything to get away from it."

Walsh had a similar response, telling investigators "that although he was bucking and rearing back into the chair, his natural instinct was to get away from the Taser."

It seems pretty clear, given that evidence, that much if not all of the bucking that Mustachio and other deputies interpreted as resistance from Williams was instead just a natural human reaction. Every time Mustachio applied the Taser, Williams bucked in pain. Every time Williams bucked in pain, Mustachio interpreted the action as continued resistance, requiring another Tasing.

Before the fifth and final Tasing, Williams suffered the heart attack that would kill him. He lost consciousness and was never revived.

"After the fifth tap [with the Taser], why did you stop?" Mustachio was asked. "Why wasn't there a sixth?"

"He had stopped bucking," Mustachio said.

In interviews with detectives, Mustachio and other officers on the scene expressed astonishment that Williams kept fighting through the Taser hits, attributing it to almost superhuman strength. However, a later report by the sheriff's Professional Standards Unit suggested another explanation. It noted that the Taser can be used two ways. It can fire a prong up to 20 feet that delivers an electrical charge that incapacitates its human target. It can also be used in "drive-stun" mode, in which the weapon is held against a subject's body and then fired.

Used in drive-stun mode, as it was in the Williams case, the weapon causes intense pain but does not incapacitate.

And even though Mustachio had been certified for Taser use, he told detectives he didn't know the two modes would have different impacts.

As is often the case, Mustachio's character and credibility are important in assessing his description of events. Had they seen his testimony, grand jurors also would have wanted to learn that last January, Mustachio was fired by Sheriff Butch Conway for shooting a neighbor's dog while off duty.

A copy of Mustachio's dismissal letter, released as part of the Open Records request, tells Mustachio that "you shot and killed a dog that was 30-40 yards from your parents' residence because it was barking and causing a disturbance. At no time did you state that you felt the dog was vicious or acting in a threatening manner."

Mustachio fired six or seven shots at the dog, using both a rifle and a .45 caliber pistol, then tried to hide the dog's body from authorities. He cut off the dog's tracking collar and damaged its antenna, so it could not be traced. "Only after a White County deputy was called back to the scene by the dog owner, because the tracking device continued to indicate that the dog was in the area, did you confess to what you had done," the letter stated.

In reading the report by Gwinnett County police and a later report by the sheriff's Professional Standards Unit, it becomes clear that both agencies did a thorough job. The willingness of officers to volunteer for an excruciatingly painful re-enactment, for example, speaks well for their professionalism and bravery.

In both reports, however, investigating officers repeatedly interpret facts and situations in ways that cast their fellow law enforcement officials as positively as possible. There's nothing necessarily corrupt in that phenomenon. It's just human nature, a natural sympathy for colleagues.

That's why an honest, thorough grand jury investigation might have been useful in casting light on what happened, and on ways to avoid such tragedy in the future.

Instead — speaking figuratively — Danny Porter got cold feet and caught the first Greyhound to Albuquerque.

— Jay Bookman is the deputy editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Copy of letter mailed to Da... (Below threshold)
Carol Cole:

Copy of letter mailed to Danny Porter:

July 1, 2005

Mr. Danny Porter
District Attorney
Gwinnett County
75 Langley Drive
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045


Dear Danny,

I have been following the Williams case and I can’t help but see the similarities to my case.

I know that with your “connections” you are aware that I have reached out to every investigative agency about what happened to my case in Gwinnett County. The evidence has been circulated around town for months. The actions taken by the Gwinnett County DA’s office and other prominent officials who are involved in my case will not be investigated due to relationships and the possible damage it would cause to the integrity of the state’s legal and judicial system.

As you are aware, since May 16, 2003, the Gwinnett County DA’s office had been stringing me along for months with the investigation into my mother’s death and the conspiracy of theft by deception committed against my mother’s estate by my half brother, Steve Knight, and his criminal attorney, Doug Daum. Tom Davis, the Chief Deputy DA, did this because of his own ambition for an upcoming state court judgeship. Tom was not going to prosecute a judge when he wanted to be appointed to an upcoming state court judgeship. I have a copy of your letter to Mike Bowers, chairman of the Judicial Nominating Commission, dated August 18, 2003 nominating Tom for the position. I also have a copy of a letter showing relationships between Tom Davis and Mike Bowers.

Ironically, after I sent a letter to Governor Perdue advising him of what was going on in the Gwinnett County’s DA’s office, within three days, all 3 of my grievances were closed with the Georgia State Bar against attorneys, Doug Daum, Mike Smith, and Robert Hughes for their involvement with the crimes against my mother and her estate. The grievance I filed against Judge Walter J. Clarke for conflict of interest and covering up the crimes through his rulings was also closed. Not one piece of evidence was addressed by these two agencies. I had provided over 200 pages of evidence. This was the exact same evidence that I spent 2 hours going over with you in your office on July 9, 2003. As you walked me out of your office that day you asked me, “Why would a judge so something like this? Your mother’s estate was too small for a pay off”? I replied, “To cover up for the crimes of the attorneys”. Do you remember that?

October 13, 2003, Gerry and I met with you shortly after you returned from Washington to show you proof that Tom Davis was obstructing the investigation. The proof was in the 5-28-03 transcript and in Mike Smith’s response to the State Bar. To prevent me from trying further to expose Tom Davis of obstructing the investigation and in retaliation for the letter I sent to the governor causing harm to the integrity of your office, “someone” instructed a Roswell Judge to tell me in a hearing that if I did not promise to call you and drop ALL charges in Gwinnett County that I would immediately go to jail for attaining a credit report on Steve Knight. I was denied counsel in that hearing. Steve Knight was represented by Doug Daum, Steve’s attorney who orchestrated the numerous crimes. Judge Robert Cochran knowingly committed extortion in his office that day.

You never returned any of my phone calls after the Roswell hearing. I did meet with your investigator, Jeff Smith, on January 7, 2004. When Jeff realized that I was not there to drop the charges, he said more than once during our conversation that he needed to speak with you about my case. In that meeting with Jeff, he told me that since mother did sign the Power of Attorney, that what we are really looking at is “theft by deception”. He also stated the Detective McKinney’s report was a joke.

In the March 3, 2004 letter signed by Detective Jeff Smith, he states that your office will not prosecute Steve Knight for forgery in the 1st degree because mother had signed the Power of Attorney to execute checks from her checking account. Bank of America may have a different view of the situation since you and I both knew that Bank of America had rejected the Power of Attorney. I found Jeff’s letter interesting because it did not mention the fact that Steve committed perjury while under oath stating that mother did signed the check and there was no mention in the letter that Steve had tampered with the evidence by altering the signature to make it appear more like our mothers. It appeared that Detective Jeff Smith’s findings in this case had changed since our meeting in January and after he had spoken with you.

Mr. Smith’s letter addressed the issue of mother appointing Steve to be executor and therefore he had the authority over her estate. You and I discussed this is our October 13, 2003 meeting. I shared with you in that meeting that mother would not change the original will appointing Steve as Executor and that it too was part of the conspiracy to commit fraud against my mother and should be investigated along with the other crimes. (Steve had to be the executor to enforce the fraud)

The Power of Attorney and the 5-28-03 transcript states the POA was to pay her bills until she got home. A letter from Mike Smith to Robert Hughes states that mother signed the check (GBI confirmed she did not sign the check) to give Steve the money to pay his IRS debt and other creditors so his creditors could not make a claim against the house she left him. I told you all of this in both meetings and it was in the 5-28-03 transcript that mother did not think she was dying the day Steve made 3 trips to the bank to steal her money from her checking account. This case is a conspiracy of PRE-MEDITAED MURDER and THEFT BY DECEPTION that included fraud and a forgery for the purpose of stealing everything mother had at the time of her death. You knew this. You, Tom Davis and I went over all of this in separate meetings. You had all of this evidence regarding pre meditated murder, mother’s will, annuity and the forgery (theft by deception) in your office for months and you did absolutely nothing about conducting a true investigation. The evidence is overwhelming.

Again, Tom Davis was not going to prosecute a judge when he wanted to be appointed to a state court judgeship. Unfortunately, my case was bad timing and simply got in the way of Tom’s ambition resulting in obstruction of justice.

Detective Jeff Smith’s letter also stated the manner which Steve disbursed the money was not theft. Mike Smith, Steve‘s probate attorney, who knowingly accepted stolen money to probate the fraudulent will is guilty of theft by receiving. Smith could easily have the will probated due to his close relationship to Probate Judge Walter J. Clarke.

My parents may have been alcoholics and maybe they were not the most congenial people around but on the other hand, they did work very hard all of their lives to have something. The manner in which mother’s will was handled in the Gwinnett County probate court is a criminal disgrace. My parents lived in Gwinnett County for over 30 years and they certainly deserved better from their county officials when asked to investigate criminal acts against my mother and her estate at the time of her “untimely” death.

Just like the Williams case, your office obstructed a very serious investigation. When the evidence was put in front of you, you chose to look the other way and eventually have my case closed for personal reasons only. You and I know both know what really happened and that justice was not served. My case involved not only pre meditated murder, theft by deception, theft by receiving, fraud, and forgery but also perjury, tampering with evidence, and covering up crimes. Now my case includes obstruction of justice. You, Tom and I had discussed all of the evidence in detail. You had evidence in your possession for almost 1 year.

You conveniently hide behind a district attorney’s shield of immunity. Public corruption is not protected by that shield as told to me by the FBI. You and others involved have seriously violated ethic codes of a criminal nature as well as your own oath of office. Your actions or should I say lack of actions have allowed a murderer to go free and allowed attorneys, public and elected officials not be held accountable for their involvement with this case. Your decision not to prosecute this case has given my half brother, who is a felon, drug addict, alcoholic and now a murderer a “get out of jail free” card because of what he knows that happened in the Gwinnett County legal and judicial system. I have heard that since I have been trying to expose the crimes that originated in Gwinnett County that Steve Knight has been trying to clean up his act. Could this be due to fear?

Unfortunately for you, Tom Davis likes to talk. If Tom had not told me this was his third attempt for a judgeship, you and Tom could have pulled this off without anyone, other than yourselves, knowing the true provable reason this case was closed.

I suggest that you and Tom Davis do the citizens of Gwinnett County a great service by looking for a different line of work, one that does not require integrity and public trust.

I wish the Williams family the best of luck in searching for any justice in the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office during your watch.

Sincerely,


Carol Cole


Well lets see...mabye it wa... (Below threshold)
AGUY:

Well lets see...mabye it was the man fighting for hours with police and the deputies that lead to the massive heart failure that killed him. It sure wasnt a tazer. I have been shot with a tazer and I live. Every officer in that department has been shot with one in order to use one (thats policy there). Guess what...They are all still alive.
Note: Only one tazer was used in this incident.
I also know for a fact that this is not the whole tape. You miss the part where he BREAKS one of the arresting officer's nose. Also the part where he throws a weapon at another officer. You also miss the part where he openly fights every officer he comes in contact with.
Medical personel were present at the scene. Would you (as a nurse) go anywhere near that psycho as he fights with law enforcement officers of all people? Heck no! They were behind the camera waiting for they man to stop fighting so it would be safe for a nurse to do their job.
Yes, he did die days later at a hospital. Not in the jail.
This is not a case of Murder. This is a case of officers and self defense. I have seen officers get hurt by a person wearing handcuffs, belly chain, and leg irons.
This web post is a shining example of ignorant people making claims that these officers are killers and this poor poor guy was just a victim in a cruel place.
If this man had attacked a citizen and the citizen pulled a gun and shot the man dead there would have been no second thoughts. Open and shut case. Thats what this is.

It wasn't days later.... (Below threshold)
no:

It wasn't days later.




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