UWO, London Ontario Police Violently Assault Student

by matttbastard

This hits a bit too close to home — seriously:

Officials at the University of Western Ontario in London [my hometown — mb] are defending the violent arrest of a student that was captured on video and posted on YouTube.

The video, shot on Wednesday at the university’s social sciences building, shows what appears to be five campus and police officers surrounding the man and pinning him to the ground.

The officers knee and punch the student several times before they are able to restrain him.

They appear to be trying to put handcuffs on the man while repeatedly shouting, “Stop resisting!”

Elgin Austen, the head of campus police, told a news conference Thursday that by the time he arrived during the arrest, he didn’t see “anything out of order” with the level of force being applied.

“It was being conducted consistent with the Ontario Police College and the training that officers have there.”

Watch:

Alt Angle:

Yeah, um if repeatedly walloping someone on the ground is “consistent with the Ontario Police College and the training that officers have there,” perhaps we need to reconsider what we are teaching our law enforcement officials. Then again, who are you gonna believe — some PR flack, or your lyin’ eyes? As Austen helpfully notes, ‘people seeing just the video alone “may not understand what the officers were actually doing.”‘

Of course, some would beg to differ with Austen’s spin objective analysis of the situation.

Over at the Law is Cool blog, former police officer Ryan Venables provides his take on whether the officers in question went too far in their brutal efforts to “restrain” 22 year old Western student Irnes Zelijkovic:

After having viewed the video, and from my experiences and past training, I see NO REASON why one of the officers applied force to the middle and upper portions of Mr. Zeljkovic’s back and neck with his asp baton.  Officers are trained to specifically NOT to use this hard impact weapon on areas where significant damage could be caused (i.e. neck, forearms, and head) because of the risk to the suspect.  While an actively resisting suspect is a very dynamic situation, in my humble opinion this exceeded the appropriate options available to this officer.

Regardless, Mr. Zeljkovic should be thankful the boys in purple and blue didn’t break out the Tasers — or accidentally discharge a firearm.

Special thanks to my buddy Albert for the heads up

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matttbastard at GlobalComment

by matttbastard

The fine folks @ GlobalComment have graciously published an opinion piece written by yours truly on the recent fatal shooting of BART passenger Oscar Grant.

A sample:

Cold. Blooded. Murder.

What else can you call what occurred on New Year’s Day in Oakland? A BART officer caught on tape shooting transit passenger Oscar Grant in the back, while Grant lay flat on his stomach, restrained, prone and defenseless. Kinda difficult to argue self-defense, or ‘excited delirium‘ (or whatever they’re calling it this year) when the victim isn’t even facing his assailant (let alone upright) and the cause of death is a police-issue lead projectile that sliced through flesh and bone without prejudice.

So, what next?

To have that cruel cliff-hanger of a question answered, head on over to GC and read the whole damn thing.

Go.

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This Year’s Whitewash Model: “Sudden Death Following Restraint”

by matttbastard

What? We had THREE pathologists come up with that one. THREE!

Because ‘excited delirium’ is, like, so 2007.

Jesus wept.

Related: Alison has more regarding the Criminal Justice Branch ruling on the 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski (shorter: “It was his own goddamn fault that he died!”); make sure to also check out this post at Dawg’s place, where the good Dr. is once again calling for the RCMP to be disbanded.

Hard to argue with him this time.

Update: more from Dawg.

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Mike Webster Nails It at the Braidwood Inquiry

by matttbastard

I’m glad to see that someone involved in law enforcement is rightly disturbed by widespread TASER misuse:

A police psychologist blasted Taser International at the public inquiry probing the controversial use of Tasers, claiming Tuesday that Canadian police have been “brainwashed” by the manufacturer to justify “ridiculously inappropriate” use of the electronic weapon.

Mike Webster accused the company that makes Tasers of instructing police in Canada that when they encounter a person suffering from a “mythical” condition that Taser calls “excited delirium,” police have few options other than jolting the person with the controversial electrical weapon, which delivers a five-second shock that incapacitates a person.

“When you think the only tool you have is a hammer, then the whole world begins looking like a nail,” Webster told the inquiry in Vancouver.

[…]

“It may be that police and medical examiners are using the term [excited delirium] as a convenient excuse for what could be excessive use of force or inappropriate control techniques during an arrest,” Webster said.

“My own opinion on this is that Canadian law enforcement, and its American brothers and sisters, have been brainwashed by companies like Taser International and the Institute for the Prevention of In-custody Deaths,” he added.

“These organizations have created a virtual world replete with avatars that wander about with the potential to manifest a horrific condition characterized by profuse sweating, superhuman strength and a penchant for smashing glass that appeals to well-meaning but psychologically unsophisticated police personnel,” Webster said.

The chair of Taser, Tom Smith, told the inquiry Monday that Tasers save lives and reduce injuries to police and suspects.

Webster, however, said he has been shocked and embarrassed by recent “ridiculously inappropriate applications of the Taser” in low-risk situations involving people who are mentally imbalanced, likely suffering from “plain old delirium.”

Please make sure to read the entire article, which includes some examples of incidents in which Webster contends a stun gun should never have been deployed.  Transcripts of the Brainwood Inquiry are available here (note: as of today, archive only includes transcripts sessions on or before 05/09).

h/t Alison, who also provides an extensive list detailing more intances of “embarrassing” TASER misuse.

Flashback (originally posted here): The Lede has more on…‘excited delirium’, which, as noted earlier this year by an NPR report, “is not recognized by professional medical associations, and [is not] listed in the chief psychiatric reference book.” Part 2 of the report is also entirely relevant, focusing on the vested interest law enforcement officials and Taser International have in marketing the dubious disorder and includes the following abridged list of individuals who have died in police custody after being [stunned], with the cause of death listed as ‘excited delirium’:

  • June 13, 2005 – Shawn C. Pirolozzi, 30, of Canton, Ohio, dies after police tried to subdue him with a Taser. His death certificate listed excited delirium as the cause of death. The Taser was not listed as a contributing factor.
  • April 21, 2006 — Alvin Itula, 35, dies after a struggle with Salt Lake City police. Itula led officers on a foot chase, then fought with them when the officers caught up, according to police. Officers tased Itula and also used pepper spray and a baton. Itula stopped breathing soon after. The medical examiner found that Itula died of excited delirium brought on by methamphetamine and cocaine.
  • April 24, 2006 — Jose Romero, 23, dies in Dallas police custody. He was in his underwear, screaming and holding a knife on his neighbor’s porch. Police tased him multiple times. He died shortly thereafter. The Dallas County medical examiner ruled Romero died of excited delirium.
  • Sept. 5, 2006 — Larry Noles, 52, dies in Louisville, Ky., after a struggle with police. Noles, an ex-Marine, was standing naked in the middle of a street when police were called. Police said he was agitated. They tased him two or three times. He died a few minutes later. The Jefferson County medical examiner ruled Noles died because of excited delirium and not the Taser.
  • Oct. 29, 2006 — Roger Holyfield, 17, dies after police in Jerseyville, Ill., shocked him twice with a Taser. Holyfield had been walking down a street, holding a phone in one hand and a Bible in the other, yelling that he wanted Jesus. After policed shot him with the stun gun, Holyfield went into a coma; he died the following day. A medical examiner ruled the death was probably a result of excited delirium.
  • Dec. 17, 2006 — Terill Enard, 29, dies following a disturbance at a Waffle house in Lafayette, La. He was naked and yelling, with a broken leg bone piercing his skin. Police stunned Enard with a Taser; he died several hours later. Police said the forensic report from the Lafayette Parish coroner’s office found Enard died as a result of “cocaine-induced excited delirium.”

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Hope Steffey Update: 5th Woman Comes Forward With Abuse Charges

by matttbastard

WKYC reports that a 5th woman has come forward with allegations that Stark County law enforcement officials forced her to strip unlawfully:

“Elizabeth” fears reprisals for speaking out so she prefers we not use her last name.

She says a Stark County Sheriff’s deputy pulled her over one night for failing to signal during a lane change. Elizabeth says she had to undergo a field sobriety test. According to the officer’s incident report, she failed some aspects of the test. She was arrested for driving under the influence and taken to the station for further testing.

She was told to blow into a breathylyzer, but she suffers from asthma. When she failed to produce enough air, she says a deputy told her, “Baby we both know you can blow harder than that. She says a second deputy laughed. The officer marked her as a “refusal” for not blowing harder.

She was told to blow into a breathylyzer, but she suffers from asthma. When she failed to produce enough air, she says a deputy told her, “Baby we both know you can blow harder than that. She says a second deputy laughed. The officer marked her as a “refusal” for not blowing harder.

[…]

When Elizabeth was told to remove all her clothes, she did so voluntarily saying she worked at a medium security prison in Ohio and knew her clothes would be forcibly removed if she failed to obey.

The incident report says Elizabeth wanted to commit suicide. But she says that’s just not true. “I’ve never been suicidal. I’m not suicidal. I was terrified,” she told the Investigator.

Related: Text of Hope Steffey’s suit against Stark County sheriff Tim Swanson (PDF, h/t john454)

Background: more on the Hope Steffy incident here, here and here.

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Hope Steffey Update: Unlawful strip search part of “a pattern” in Stark County

by matttbastard

WKYC reports that since the release of the now-notorious Hope Steffey ‘strip search’ video, 4 more Stark County, Ohio women, including Valentina Dyshko of North Canton, have come forward alleging that they were forced to remove their clothing when detained at the Stark County Jail:

Dyshko came forward to tell her story after she learned of Hope Steffey, the Stark County woman who was stripped naked by both men and women and left in a jail cell for 6 hours.

Dyshko says video of Steffey’s treatment reminded her of what she experienced 2 years ago inside the same jail.

Dyshko came to North Canton nine years ago, she says, to escape the fear of KGB persecution in Ukraine. Her ordeal inside the Stark County Jail stemmed from a home schooling issue. She says there was some confusion over the use of certain textbooks. “It was all a big mix-up”, said her attorney Dennis Niermann.

Dyskho was educating 2 of her 8 children at home. She received a notice from the Stark County Sheriff about a warrant for her arrest from the Stark County Family Court. When Dyshko arrived at the Sheriff’s office, she says she was quickly handcuffed and thrown in jail on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

After this mother of 8 spent 3 days behind bars, a judge reviewed her case and quickly dismissed the case.

Lawyers for Dyhsko say she had to remove all her clothes because someone inside the jail determined she was suicidal. Dyshko says she’s never been suicidal. She complained to Channel 3 News that the gown she was given in the jail kept falling down, and at times, exposed her naked chest to male guards. “She was asked to remove her clothes and her undergarments. What’s the purpose of that? It’s demeaning,” said Niermann.

Attorney David Malik believes these cases are indicative of “a pattern where apparently every woman who cries or gets emotional is deemed suicidal.” Hey now, a textbook mix up is serious business; those crazy home schoolers who turn themselves in of their own accord obviously present a dire threat to not only themselves but also those poor, defenceless law enforcement officials. Besides, everyone knows the only surefire cure for hysteria–and the only way to keep everyone involved safe–is for detained women to remove all constricting clothes.

Safety (and compliance) first.

Previously: Obey: The Sequel

Hope Steffey Update: State Attorney General To Investigate

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Hope Steffey Update: State Attorney General To Investigate

by matttbastard

Larry Shields of the Salem News reports that Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson has officially requested that Ohio Attorney General Mark Dan “review all the circumstances surrounding the arrest and incarceration of Hope Steffey in October of 2006,” a vicious incident labelled “way out of line” by Cuyahoga county Sheriff Gerald McFaul (h/t ThePoliticalCat).  

Additionally, Muriel Kane of The Raw Story reports that video footage taken prior to the now-infamous strip search tape may exist, noting that “jailhouse surveillance cameras show a deputy with a handheld camera filming Steffey being escorted to her cell.” 

Kane also suggests that dashboard video of the arrest, originally believed to be non-existent because the arresting officer claimed the camera was off, may not have been disclosed to Steffey’s lawyers. 

Just remember, kids: Steffey is a convicted criminal; don’t let THE MEDIA (and ur lyin’ eyes) deceive you; that’s Sheriff Swanson’s duty.

*blinks* 

Previously: Obey: The Sequel.

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