Amnesty International issued a statement to the Justice Department in response to their inquiry about taser casualties.
The degree of tolerable risk involving Tasers, as with all weapons and restraint devices, must be weighed against the threat posed. It is self-evident that Tasers are less injurious than firearms where officers are confronted with a serious threat that could escalate to deadly force. However, the vast majority of people who have died after being struck by Tasers have been unarmed men who did not pose a threat of death or serious injury when they were electro-shocked. In many cases they appear not to have posed a significant threat at all.I think snowballs fall into the category of "not posing a significant threat."
What do you think?
I think the reason this story got to me in part was that the Boston Police accidentally killed two students during the hoopla after two different Boston sports championship victories.
The tragic death of Victoria Snelgrove is well known in the Boston area:
Victoria Snelgrove (October 29, 1982 – October 21, 2004) was a junior majoring in journalism at Emerson College. She had transferred from Fitchburg State College in the fall of 2003. She was hit with a crowd-control round and mortally wounded by Boston police officer Rochefort Milien on October 21, 2004 when she was eight days away from her 22nd birthday. This was about 90 minutes after the Boston Red Sox's victory over the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series.The death of David Woodman was less well covered:
Citizen groups are calling for an investigation of the death of David Woodman, a 22-year-old Emmanuel College student in Boston. According to friends, Woodman merely made a slightly snide comment to officers and was tackled by eight officers and eventually died from his injuries. The Boston police department is insisting that no excessive force was used against Woodman who was holding only a plastic beer cup.David Woodman's parents tried to seek justice for the death of their son so that no other parent would have to suffer what they did, but the Boston Police were exonerated.
The arrest for disorderly conduct occurred at 12:47 a.m. According to one of the friends, merely said “Wow, it seems like there’s a lot of crime on this corner.” His friends said that, when they begged them to stop, they were told to clear out or be arrested.
Woodman had a preexisting heart condition, but his friends and family insist that the officers beat him to the point of putting him in a coma. It certainly appears a heavy response to an open container violation.
An independent investigation of the death of a Boston Celtics fan from Southwick who stopped breathing while in police custody found that officers acted reasonably and did not contribute to the man’s death, but also concluded that police made some mistakes during the arrest. A report released Tuesday by former U.S. Attorney Donald Stern accepted the findings of the state medical examiner – who concluded that David Woodman’s death was brought on by a heart arrhythmia that was due to a pre-existing heart condition – and cleared police of any wrongdoing. But Woodman’s parents, Cathy and Jeff Woodman, of Southwick said they do not accept the report’s findings and believe that police lied about what happened during their son’s arrest. During a press conference in their lawyer’s office, the Woodmans noted that Stern’s report does not mention their son’s injuries, as documented by the medical examiner, including seven abrasions or bruises on his face, a laceration of his lip, a bruise on his right arm, and a cut under his chin. “In my opinion, those officers – those nine officers – the ones who handled him and the ones who witnessed are to blame for his death,” Cathy Woodman said.Parents of Boston Celtics fan David Woodman refuse to accept report that clears police of wrongdoing in death of former Southwick resident
As a mother, I'm devastated when I read about young men and women dying needlessly due to excessive force by police officers who should be keeping them safe, not killing them. After the deaths of Victoria Snelgrove and David Woodman, you would think the Boston Police would err on the side of caution. But, here we go again. Tasing a student for throwing a snowball during an epic snowstorm is unacceptable, especially coming from a police department that should be doing its utmost to handle crowd control in a more humane and safe way.
Time and again, police departments are cleared of wrongdoing when they should be held accountable for excessive force or brutality. Clearly, giving them a free pass hasn't given them the incentive to mend their ways or develop safer methods when a kid is tased for throwing a snowball.