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Bob Carroll
Bob Carroll
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Another Taser Death – In Clearwater

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Before the Taser was invented, law enforcement officers were able to subdue unarmed persons with various well-recognized techniques, some of which I learned during my training as an FBI Agent in the mid 1960’s. These techniques almost always accomplished their purpose without causing any serious injury.

Enter the Taser. With the new, supposedly non-lethal, weapon now being used against both armed and unarmed persons deaths are being reported frequently throughout the country. The most recent death occurring after multiple Taser jolts occurred in Clearwater and is detailed in the St. Pete Times.

Whenever a death of an unarmed person occurs as a result of police intervention or restraint involving a Taser there should be a full investigation conducted by persons not connected to the government. The most obvious reason for an independent inquiry is the potential for a Wrongful Death Claim on behalf of the survivors of the deceased. Two potential defendants in such a claim would be the manufacturer of the Taser and the police agency. Permitting a government investigation, which does need to be accomplished, to be the only inquiry does not strike me as the best route to the whole truth.

Before the Taser was invented, law enforcement officers were able to subdue unarmed persons with various well-recognized techniques, some of which I learned during my training as an FBI Agent in the mid 1960’s. These techniques almost always accomplished their purpose without causing any serious injury.

Enter the Taser. With the new, supposedly non-lethal, weapon now being used against both armed and unarmed persons deaths are being reported frequently throughout the country. The most recent death occurring after multiple Taser jolts occurred in Clearwater and is detailed in the St. Pete Times.

Whenever a death of an unarmed person occurs as a result of police intervention or restraint involving a Taser there should be a full investigation conducted by persons not connected to the government. The most obvious reason for an independent inquiry is the potential for a Wrongful Death Claim on behalf of the survivors of the deceased. Two potential defendants in such a claim would be the manufacturer of the Taser and the police agency. Permitting a government investigation, which does need to be accomplished, to be the only inquiry does not strike me as the best route to the whole truth.

Suspect dies after shock from Taser

CLEARWATER – The first time police shocked Thomas C. Tipton with a Taser, it barely slowed him down, a witness said.

The second time, it did nothing.

“He was uncannily powerful,” said Cesar Cuevas, 47, who saw Tipton fight police in the courtyard of the Tropic Isle Motel late Wednesday night. “He was like a bull in a china shop.”

Three officers eventually handcuffed Tipton, who continued to struggle, police said. Then, suddenly, he went limp.

By the time Tipton, 34, of Tampa reached a hospital, he was dead.

Police said Thursday they don’t know what killed Tipton or why he fought with officers. The violent confrontation and another in Pasco County involving a 92-year-old man are likely to fuel the debate about the growing prevalence of Tasers and the risks involved.

Since 2001, more than 150 people nationwide have died after they were shocked by Tasers, according to an Amnesty International report released last week.

Most deaths were later attributed to drugs, pre-existing heart problems or “excited delirium,” a psychotic and typically drug-induced state in which the heart is susceptible to cardiac arrest.

Taser International, which makes the weapons, has challenged those statistics, saying the deaths had not been officially connected to a Taser shock.

The company has said it knows of just six cases in which an autopsy found that a Taser shock was a contributing factor in someone’s death.

In Tipton’s case, it will fall to Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner Jon Thogmartin to determine the cause of death. Thogmartin, who declined to comment Thursday, said in October that it was a medical fact that a Taser alone would not kill.

He said, however, that Tasers can contribute to a death by exacerbating an existing medical condition.

Clearwater police policy requires officers to be trained before they are issued a Taser and requires that it “never be used as a tool for coercion.” The policy further outlines when the Taser can’t be used – such as when a person could fall from a high place, is pregnant or when another option is available – and bans shooting the Taser at someone’s head, neck or genitals.

Tasers are used by deputies in Hillsborough, Pasco and Citrus counties, and police officers in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Temple Terrace, Dade City, Port Richey and Tarpon Springs.

Before Tipton, one person had died in the Tampa Bay area after a Taser shot. An autopsy attributed that 2004 death involving Hillsborough deputies to “accidental cocaine-induced agitated delirium.”