Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another death; another TASER shot; and a note to CNN

Dear CNN: (Note the very professional colon)

Thanks for the link. (I'm sure it has expired by now). No, we are not the Best Canadian Blog. You're thinking of a recipe blog that also deals with airbrush art, baking gopher guts cookies and pisses their pants at the sight of anyone who has more than a Saskatoon suntan.

We, like other blogs in our little community, just write a lot of stuff. We try to be accurate, although, because we're a blog (and not a news outlet) our personal biases are not only permissible, but expected.

Which brings me to this in your 18 November 2007 report (which will be duly repeated and linked to for our readers after the break).

In reference to the death of Mr. Robert Dziekanski, you said this:
Last week, an airport security officer in Vancouver International Airport in Canada used a Taser device on a distraught 40-year-old man on his first airplane trip outside Poland. He died.
No. Despite the fact you have the "died" part right, you have made a few serious errors.

It didn't happen last week. The incident actually occurred on October 14th, 2007. Last week was when you first saw the video tape of the incident. It might have been worth noting in your report that the rightful owner of the video tape had to threaten legal action to get his tape back from the authorities. They wanted to keep it. So, it was a month after the event that you finally saw the incident on your screens.

It was not an airport security officer who shot the TASER. It was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who attended with three other members from the Richmond, British Columbia RCMP detachment - that city's police force. There is a considerable difference.

You then went on to quote the same press release from TASER International which I commented on here. In doing that, you gave TASER International the final word on their product without so much as a cursory fact check. It took me less than two minutes on an internet search to come up with information which not only contradicted the contents of that press release, but came up with other information which proves TASER International knows their weapon can cause death.

Do you pay your reporters? I mean, like, cash money?

So, I'm going to quote and link to your story, but I am going to attach a caveat: the accuracy, because of the source, may be in question.


Another TASER shot; Another Death

is reporting that another man has died in police custody and that a TASER was used to subdue him.
A 20-year-old man died Sunday after being shot with a Taser device during a scuffle with a sheriff's deputy in Maryland, a spokeswoman for the Frederick County Sheriff's Office said. Amnesty International blames dozens of deaths on police use of stun guns.

Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said deputies responding to a report of a fight in progress arrived at the location in Frederick, Maryland, just before 5 a.m. ET and found four people fighting.

A deputy used a Taser device on one of the men, who fell unconscious, Bailey said.

The man was taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His identity was not immediately released, pending the notification of his family.

That's not enough information to form the basis for much, however, the way the report was written by CNN, quoting TASER International, the man was probably suffering, (in the middle of a brawl), from "Excited Delirium" (a condition not acknowledged by medical professionals) and was going to die anyway.

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