April 16, 2009

NAACP Investigates Excessive Use of Tasers by Police

I was glad to see that the NAACP Frederick County Branch is seeking information and testimony from people about alleged excessive use of Tasers by police. NAACP has been looking into the use of tasers after the death of Jarrel Gray in November 2007 by Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputy Corp. Rudy Torres.

An internal investigation done by the Frederick City Police shows that deputies never checked Gray's pulse after he'd been shocked twice. His pulse wasn't checked until emergency medical personnel got on the scene four to five minutes later. The medics discovered Gray was in cardiac arrest and started doing CPR.

Gray, who is
hearing impaired, had been one of four people fighting in the parking lot of the Gresham Court East townhouse complex around 5 a.m. Nov. 18. Cpl. Rudy Torres had said he ordered all four people to show their hands, and when Gray did not comply, he used a Taser.

The internal investigation includes interviews with two men and a woman who were friends of Gray's and with deputies on the scene. One witness told investigators Gray, who had his hands in front of his pants, was very drunk on Grey Goose vodka and didn't want his grandmother to see him that way.

Witnesses on the scene had yelled to Torres that Gray was too drunk to comply with an order to show his hands. Gray, according to Torres, repeatedly told him he was not doing anything.

None of the witnesses said Gray moved, spoke or showed any sign of consciousness after the first shock. Yet, 23 seconds after the first shock, Torres tasered Gray a second time because Gray refused to show his hands.

Another deputy on the scene told investigators that after Gray was tasered, he was on the ground with his hands beneath him. He said it looked as though Gray was struggling to keep his hands beneath him. The deputy thought Gray "must have something very important he doesn't want us to see." When Gray was rolled over by deputies, the deputy said he thought Gray had "passed out."

Torres, who has been cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury, said he didn't realize Gray was in medical distress until CPR was being done. Gray died three hours later.

The medical examiner said the cause of Gray's death was a combination of the method of restraint, in this case the Taser, alcohol intoxication, and Gray's anatomical unique makeup.
Gray's family filed a $145 million federal lawsuit against Frederick County.

I hope that all NAACP branches take on this investigation into taser deaths and the use of force continuum in their local area. It is beyond time that these extra-judicial-electrocutions stop.

I wonder if there is an NAACP branch in Australia?


underOvr (aka The U) said...

Electronic Village:

"Torres, who has been cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury..." So the policeman did nothing wrong and yet someone is dead?There are just so many things that could be said but none of it matters because in the eyes of the law, this policeman did nothing wrong.

He obviously had been trained how to deal with intoxicated, hearing-impaired young Black men:
1. Since they can't hear you, taser them
2. If they fall unconscious to the ground and it appears as if they are hiding their hands, taser them again
3. Finally, do not recognize any obvious signs of medical distress, that's the job of EMS, your job is to taser.

This is called serve and protect.


Villager said...

underOver - You nailed it. I see another taser killing occurred in Tucson. I'm not sure the race of the 50-year old victim. But, this guy was buck-naked in his hotel bathroom when the police decided it was easier to taser him to death than subdue him otherwise...