Tasers Targeted as Lethal - Amnesty Intl Cites Pomona Deaths, Amnesty International, 1999
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09/17/99 T I INC FAX 480 991 0791 I4J 01 Tasers targeted as lethal Amnesty International cites Pomona deaths By David Bradvica Daily Bulletin u If there are any indications that the taser was dangerous, POMONA - An international human rights organization ha.s singled out the 1996 deaths of two suspects in the custody of Pomona we wou'dn~t police in a report that ~alLs for .t !H law enforcement agencies to I. immediate ly suspend the use of tasel" ·weapons ~o their -FotMer Pomona police effectS""Can be better studie . Chief Rick Shaurette nesty Intet'national"s 153-page report on what it views as human rights abuses hooks into the subject's clothin the U.S. criminal justice ing from a distance; the CUrsystem said both suspects died after being shot t\'ith a rent, typically 50,000 volts, is transmiLted through the taser by Pomona police. ,"vires. But fanner Pomona police It ill seen as an alternative Chief Riek Shaure-tte said investigations into the deClths in situations where lethal showed that each was caused force is not required. Amnesty's report said the by the suspect's dnlg use, not Pomona. deaths were among by the taser. "If there are a.ny indica· seven'll reported deaths foltions that the taser wa.s dan- lowing the u"e of tasers, but gerous, we wouldn't use it," AmnesLy national board said Shaurette, who retired chairman Paul Hoffman said Oct. 1. "It's not my call any- the organization has no spemore, but I don't see how Sus- t'ifrc figures em ta"er-related pending its uSe to .=:;tudy their deaths. "It's not easy to get that usc would help. There's no reason to believe that it is a kind of data," said Hoffman. lethal weapon that could a Santa Monica lawyer. "But it seem::: like a larger pattern cause death." . The taser ha;;; been popu- - that these cases arc not isoThe first incident in Pomona lar since the 1980s as a ~less lated instance::;. Our job is to involved a 29.year"old Lancaster than-lethal" weapon designed point out the potential prob- woman who was subdued by a to stun Or temporarily disable lems in their actual use and taser in July 1996 after she wai; unruly or unc('opers.tive sus" ask whether thei r effects pulled over and arre"ted on susDeets. A ta~li!r i!5 a hand·hcld ought to he swdied. We think picion of d ri vi n g und~r the infl udevice that shoots two barbed they .=:;hnuld be." ence of illegal drug;;;. The woman use died abol arrest. Fi ye-9.l'-old I being aha ta.ser at t tion, whe: cOIIlbativ( 09/17/99 16:03 FAX 480 991 0791 I4J 02 T I INC '~' rs ~ted thai 3rnational a deaths lf there are any indications that the faser H was dangerous~ we wouldn~t ." use If. .:..Former Pomona police Chief Rick Shaurette ks into the ;;;\..1 bject's dothfrom a distance; the curt, typically 60,000 volts, ransmitted through the: es . . is seen atl an alternative situa tion5 where lethal ;e is not required. mne.sty's report said the 10na deaths were among ~ral rQported deaths fol~ :ng the USe of Lasers, but rlesty national board rrnan Paul Hoffman said organization has no spefigures On taser-related hs. :s not easy to get that of data," said Hoffman, ota Monica lawyer. "But ~ms like a larger pattern It these case" are not isol instance&. Our job is to : out the potential probin their actual use and whether their dfects ~ to be studied. We think. ~hould be." Glen Friedman/Daily Bulletin The first incident in Pomona Both cases wereinvel3tigafed by involved 9. 29·year-old Lancaster - Los Angeles County Sheriff's woman. who was subdued by a L.;;;:~T.7~=:::=:~~~T::::r-::-;~:-' deputies and the Coroner's Office. taser in July 1996 after she was In both cases, investigators deterpulled ove)" and arrested on susmined the deaths had nothing to picion of driving under the infludo with the use ofthe taser, Shauence of illegal drugs. The woman rette said. 09/17/99 16:03 FAX 480 991 0791 14103 T I INC Even U. S. violates· basic human rights For the first time, London-based Amnesty International shines its spotlight on police brutality, prison cruelty and capital punishment in the United States. I By DAVID A. LOVE Knight Ridder n the next few months. I will travel throughout th,e United Kingdom and Ireland on behalf of Amnesty Intemational. I will not be investigating humanrights violations there. I will be discussing the human-rights violations that are occurring right here in the United States, At the 12 universities where I will be giving presentations, I will draw attention to police brutality, prison cruelty and capital punishment in the United States. My part is but a small role in Amnesty"s unprecedented focus on the United States. For the first time in its 37-year history, the Londonbased organi2ation has launched a major campaign in a Western nation. As a kick-off to the yearlong effort, Amnesty released a report called "United States of America: Rights for All. The 153-page report highlights a "persistent and widespread pattern of hu~ man-rights violations." The overwhelming majority of the victims are racial and ethnic minorities. Police brutality is a longstBnd· ing problem throughout the United States. Some police departments are ~ty of a pattern of abuse and mlsconduct. During traffic stops, searches, arrests and investigations, police officers shoot, beat, choke and hog~tie unresisting suspects. CiVilians make thousands of complaints every year, and cities pay millions of dollars to settle police-abuse lawsuits. Nevertheless. few Offending officers face severe pun· ishment for their actions. Women and children are sub-jeeted to abuse in American prisons. As of June 1998, at least 3,500 juveniles con'll'icted as adults were placed in the same facilities as hardened adult crimi~ nals, exposing them to a high risk of sexual and physical violence. Female prisoners have been beaten., raped and prostituted by prison guards. Many pregnant inmates are reportedly shackled. some while in labor. Prison officials in the United States also use electro-shock de'j of equipment at their disposBl which at times is contributing to human-rights violations." The most disturbing of these devices is the remote-control stun belt. At the push of a button, it shocks prisoners with 50,000 volts for eight seconds. According to the manufacturer, the belt can cause people to involuntarily defecate or urinate. The U.S- Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshall's Setvice and more than 100 coun' ties and 16 state'> use the stun The taser. is a hand-he weapon that shoots barbed forks into a. sUbject's clothes byway of electrically charged wires. In July 1996, police in Pomona, Calif, killed Kimberly Lashon Watkins with a taser, Five months later, a handcuffed Andrew Hunt Jr. died after Pomona police shot him era! times with a taser. More , p o ce ep ments in the country have also approved the use of pepper spray. Since 1990. according to the Amnesty 5Wdy, more than 60 people have died in police custody after they were exposed to this chemica! agent. Chain gangs are in use in several states, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida aI'ld WISconsin. Although chains and leg· irons are forbidden by international law, U.S. law does not prohibit their use. With more than 3,300 inmates awaiting execution, the United States has the largest death-row population in the world - many Of them :sentenced without adequate legal representation. The death penalty is applied in a racially biased manner in the United States. AIImesty reports that since 1977, 82 percent of people executed were convicted of murdering whites, although blacks and whites are victimized by violent crime in nearly the same numbers. Further, the execution of mentally-retarded and juvenile offenders in the United States violates international stan- dards. The United States claims to be the protector of human rights around the wOrld. In light (If th~ 09/17/99 15:21 FAX 480 991 0791 T I INC I4J 01 COUN:l" OF t.OS ANGE!..ES 12 DEPARTMENT OF CORONEOR AUTOPSY REPORT No. 96-0947.1 HUNT, ANDREW Page: _--=5:0.--_ SECTIONS: Routine sections of major organs and tissues are submitted in formalin for storage. PHOTOGRAPHY: Photographs of the body are taken. WITNESSES: Detectives Rodriguez and seeger of LASD Homicide Bureau. OPINION: It is concluded that the death is one produced by the metabolic and thermal effects of excited delirium associated with cocaine abu5e. The contribution I if any, produced by infliction of taser dart wounds remains problematic. SLR:rs:c T-2/25/97 - -... iEiA7'3eP-Fiew. 21111 .. -"".: ...-. ~ .. :. 09/17/99 15:21 FAX 480 991 0791 I4J 02 T I INC DEPAATMEI«f OF COUNTY Of LOS ..PolGELJ::S AUTOPSY REPORT· 12 al COFlO~ER No. 96-0947J. HUNT, ANDREW I peIfonned an autopsy on the body of - the DEPARTMENT ...;;:... OF CORONER --------~--- Los Angeles. California -.;;;..,;.~---'~----=------------ ~ on DECEMBER 30, 1996 (Da1~) ~ @ _ ____I . . . . ._ -------------1 0915 HOtffi.S CT~I From the anatomic fmdinJ!:5 and pertinent history I ascribe the death to: I CAl EXCITED DELIRIUM ASSOCIATED WITH COCAINE ABUSE I DUE TO, OR AS A CONSEQU EN\.~ .... (II) DU~ TO. OR AS A CONSEQUE~CE 01' tC) DUE roo OR. AS A. CONSEQUENCE or (D) ~_ , OTHER CONDITIONS CONTRIIIUTING IIUT NOr ItEI..A'l'l'O TuTlIE 11fIJ.lEDIATE CAllSf or DF.A'l'ti: Anatomical Summary.- I. ",.,." • • ".-. - --.,." - .r~ • •• - :•• _'''~ ..... ,_._. II. III. History of sustaining mUltiple taser dart wounds "during"··ep-isode-·of "apparent""excite'd··-del-iriu:rcr;" ".'_. " .,.... :.'.:. ~ Refer to Toxicology Report and Supplemental Report. Refer to Microscopic Report (Form 14). - - - -~ ... ... .. r ...... '. r ....... ":.~ 09/17/99 15:21 FAX 480 991 0791 T I INC I4J 03 COuto/TV OF LOS ANGEl.ES DEPART'-'ENT OF CORONER .AUTOPSY REPORT "12 i 1 - the DEPARTMENT OF CORONER JULY 22, 1996 on (Ollie) Los Angeles. California From (he anatomic Endings and pertinent history I .....) I .. 1 perfonned an autopsy on the booy of at ascri~ No. @ 1030 96-05446 WATKINS, KIMBERLY HOURS (Time) the death to; I ACUTE COCAINE INTOXICATION DUE: TO. OR AS A COI'ISEQUENCE ur. lBI DUE TO. OFt AS A COI'lS£QUEI'ICE OF I • ICI DUE TO. OR AS A CONSEQUENCE: OF •. \1;11 - OTf-lE:R C01"DITIO!'S ("O~TIlIBUTI;-lGlrUT '>0' RE:lI\TE"1l rUTHE" IMMEDI ...TE ("AI'~F Or liFAHI: .. Obesity, moderate. II. III. contusion, dorsum, second left finger. xv. v. :: r!1-= "':"-".''1..-- : ".r _ .. " .. ~ Abrasion, right lateral lower leg . • S"tromai" hyperplasia ·of ~ 'ovarle's· .... ~: ::t-r~I_ .,' :.'. "'" - ~ p\':~:'I' :,,, -.•. ,"'.' :~.I ., ~ -, .;;..~,. 'II.'" ".'- • _..,..: , ••••_.• - : ~: ' - I :.(- .•~ ..'t-.* r ."".~., ·-_ I :...""!-,..:..... :.r;. .J.._. I~:.~ -... .;_~7~!90"'-RI!N. .0. __8111<1 .. . '~'.:;.;-~: . i :~.~'':. ": . _.. ~ ..... ~-.~ • &_ Po ~ • I· • ~ '. _:-" -.. .-'= ., ."' .. 09/17/99 / 15:21 FAX 480 991 0791 T I INC I4J 04 DEPARTMENT OF CORONER F LOS ANGEl-ES AUTOPSY REPORT No- 96-05446 WATKINS, KIMBERLY 8 C:lMMENT: The cause of death is acute cocaine intoxication. The Police report indicates the decedent rammed the wall at one and drove at high speed and crashed into a car at another restaurant on 7/20/96 in Pomona. She reportedly exhibited irra~ional behavior and police were called. At the second restaurant, the decedent became bellig~rent and resisted ~ttempt5 at restraint~ The decedent waS tasered, handcuffed; and legs were restrained before transpo~~ to the Pomona Valley Hospital Medtcal Center. The decedent was conscious and responsive during transport and in the early part of her arrival at the hospital. After arrival at the hospital, the decedent became unresponsive and was thought to have cardiac arrest. The decedent was pronounceq dead at 1638 hours on 7/20/96. The autopsy reveals no gross cause of death. ,-, . -; •.... ".. ,'.- ·~a:ser·-''V1ound,S'·''O:E··kh'e''"T±ght·''-wr-ist ·a:rrd·""i.et't"·ant'er±·or"'thi9h··'w~re·'·~··" ,- .. ~,"'. ~,- .... -.-.-.~ .. , noted, plus nonfatal injuries of the body. A complete toxicologic screen reveals a high level of cocaine and cocaethylene. An undetermined amount of cocaine is converted to the metabolite benzoylecgonine, postmortem. Cocaine'is capable of producing fatal cardiac arrhythmia. The taserin9, restraining procedures and Desipramine in my opinion played no role in the decedent's death. The manner of death is accidental. ** ** The autopsy is concluded at 1230 hours on July 22, 1996. .............. ·r....-.:.-._ -- -~ 76A.79 BP-Rf:v, 2191 ··t~i:.'-.-- l~\· ." . • .............. ~I·. . . . _ .....