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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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.”

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

“To protect the privacy of the person stunned”

by matttbastard

Alison at the Beav notes that the RCMP has stripped several key details from the Robert Dziekanski TASER™ report, recently obtained by The Canadian Press and CBC under the Access to Information Act:

Missing from the RCMP report :
1) Dziekanski’s name [!]
2) the name and rank of the officer who fired the TASER™
3) the name of his supervisor
4) details about the duration of the firing
5) the number of times the weapon was used in stun mode
6) whether Dziekanski was armed
7) a written summary of the incident
8) “assessments as to whether use of the TASER™ helped the RCMP either “avoid use of lethal force” or “avoid injuries to subject or Police.”

In other words, pretty much everything of use for the general public to understand exactly what happened (and, more importantly, why), all purportedly redacted in order to to protect the late Mr. Dziekanski’s “privacy”.

Yeah. To protect [redacted]’s privacy–sure. As Alison further notes,

It’s worth remembering that none of these inquiries would be happening at all had not Paul Pritchard of Victoria first recorded Dziekanski’s murder, stood his ground and hired a lawyer to get the recording back from the RCMP on being told it might be several years before they would return it, and then released it to the public.
Previous to Pritchard’s YouTube going worldwide, the RCMP were already covering their tracks, muttering darkly about the likelihood of Dziekanski being a drug mule and how the officers were forced to use stun guns because the room was crowded with airline passengers.

Sorry–after all that’s gone down with regards to Dziekanski’s death, a hubris-laden request from the Feds that basically amounts to “hey, trust us” doesn’t fucking cut it. The only way to clear up the haze of corruption that has been hovering over the Mounties for far too many years now is for the government to call for a full public inquiry into the activities of the RCMP. Are you finally listening, Stockboy?

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Junk Science and Spiritualism: Separated By Less Than Six Degrees

by matttbastard

Well, that explains why ‘excited delirium’ has always seemed about as legitimate as table rapping.

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Armed And Dangerous?

by matttbastard

Ah, wonderful–yet another shocking incident involving the indiscriminate discharge of an electronic control deviceSM®OMFGWTFBBQ!!!1:

Donnell Williams had just gotten out of the bath tub, wearing only a towel around his waist, when he turned the corner to see guns pointing right at him.

“I ain’t never been so scared,” says Williams.

Police forced entry into Williams home while responding to a shooting, but it turned out to be a false call. They had no idea at the time the call wasn’t real and that Williams is hearing impaired. Without his hearing aid he is basically deaf.

“I kept going to my ear yelling that I was scared. I can’t hear! I can’t hear!”

Officers were worried about their own safety because at the time it appeared Williams was refusing to obey their commands to show his hands. That’s when they shot him with a Taser.

[…]

Police wish it never happened, but with the information they had at the time, their choices were limited.

Um, “limited”? What, did they think he had a .30-06 hidden in the fucking bathwater (or *ahem* under his towel)? Seriously, when it comes to limited options, I’d say it’s the naked hearing impaired guy who, having been unexpectedly surrounded in his own home by a mob of gun-toting, Taser-happy jackboots, is the one facing the rock/hard place pincher maneuver.

More from pale @ ACR, John Cole (“THERE HAS TO BE A THIRD FUCKING OPTION“) and Radley Balko, who (rightly, IMO) fears that “repeated iteration of the “non-lethal” claim may well make police officers more inclined to use the thing than they otherwise might be.” Over in comments @ April Reign’s pad, Raging Ranter (who, from what I’ve gleaned, is hardly a state-smashing anarchist) further explores Balko’s point:

The nice thing about guns (and no I’m not being facetious here) is that police know damn well if they use it, someone is going to die. Not maybe, not one chance in 100, but someone WILL die unless he’s damn lucky and the bullet misses or doesn’t hit a major organ. Not only that, but police are trained that way. They are taught under no uncertain terms that when they draw their gun, they MUST be prepared to shoot and kill. That’s why they are never, EVER supposed to “shoot to wound” or aim for limbs or anything like that. They are trained to aim for centre of mass, and to keep pulling the trigger until the assailant falls to the ground and stays there. All police forces in North America are trained the same way. The reason for this is simple. It helps prevent the unecessary use of firearms by police. Cops know damn well that they are only to use their gun if the situation is bad enough to warrant killing someone. Thus, they do not see using a firearm as a half-measure or as something to provide them with an additional margin of safety. It is a deadly weapon to be used only when deadly force is needed.

Now, compare that to a taser. A taser is to be used when deadly force is not warranted. So what criteria does the cop use to make his decision? Basically, he’s left to taser anyone who he perceives might attempt any physical resistance at all. Because the officer knows that the taser is not meant to kill; that it is supposed to represent a “soft” option, he does not feel the same reluctance to use this weapon.

Related: The Christian Science Monitor’s Terrorism and Security Update takes a closer look at the growing debate following the Robert Dziekanski killing over the growing ubiquity of stun gun usage by law enforcement agencies worldwide.

h/t Chet Scoville

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CBSA Dziekanski Report: Jolicoeur “very, very sorry.”

by matttbastard

The CBSA report on the death of Robert Dziekanski is out, and–surprise surprise–the border service agency ain’t admittin’ nuthin’:

Alain Jolicoeur, the agency’s president, said on Monday that “we do not have all the answers” as to how Dziekanski could spend at least six hours loitering in the baggage area of the international arrivals terminal, waiting for his mother while she tried to get information about him from the public area of the airport.

But Jolicoeur said he will try to fix what went wrong.

“I’m very, very sorry and I really wish that we had found out about Mr. Dziekanski before.”

Yet Jolicoeur said in an area the size of two football fields, with upwards of 4,000 passengers circulating the night Dziekanski died, the officers on duty did what they were supposed to do.

“There is no action that in my view requires discipline,” he said.

Two adverbs! I’m sure that’s comforting to Mr Dziekanski’s family. Very, very cold comfort. JJ is dead on goddamn right in her bitter summation of this inaugural white wash: “The CBSA’s condolences: “We’re sorry, but we ain’t that sorry.””

Expect more of the same as the results from still-ongoing (internal) investigations continue to come in: hollow (non)apologies compounded by an all-too-apparent lack of accountability. “Responsibility” is apparently an alien concept to those who would (boldly erroneously) claim to represent our best interests. Therefore, we must continue to demand answers and accept nothing less than justice.

For Robert.

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