It happened again. This time the police tasered a man three times during a struggle on October 12. The man died. We continue to watch the police kill people with tasers at a rate of more than once per week.
Christopher John Belknap, 36, a transient from Ukiah, died following the confrontation with a Mendocino County Sheriff's sergeant and a sergeant with the Ukiah Police Department. [SOURCE]
The police response to this story is very similiar to what we've seen in 43 other taser-related deaths this year --- demonize the victim. The police want the public to think that these deaths are justified because the victim is a bad person or on drugs.
My response is that being a bad person or on drugs is not a valid excuse for these extra-judicial electrocutions. The death penalty isn't supposed to occur when a person disrespects a police officer.
Lt. Rusty Noe of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported that Belknap was released from San Quentin State Prison recently [NOTE: therefore, the victim is a bad person].
Here is what the police say happened:
Belknap attacked a Mendocino County Sheriff's Sergeant as he was parked using his cell phone. While defending himself the sergeant deployed his taser and Belknap was stunned twice before he was able to disengage the taser probes. Noe said Belknap resumed his attack and was punching the sergeant when a Ukiah Police Sergeant arrived to assist.The investigation is continuing with the Mendocino County District Attorney working with the sheriff's office and Ukiah Police. The cause of death is still pending toxicology testing. Results of an autopsy conducted last week are also pending.
The Ukiah Police sergeant deployed his taser and Belknap was restrained. Noe said officers were still struggling with Belknap placing him in leg restraints. Belknap became unresponsive and paramedics were called.
Belknap was transported to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Tests done at the hospital prior to Belknap's death showed positive for the use of methamphetamine.
Belknap had a long history of drug abuse and assault including several incidents of resisting arrest, according to police. In April of 2009 Belknap was contacted by sheriff's deputies and arrested for resisting arrest and breaking out a window in a patrol car. Charges were referred to state parole and he was sent to state prison for six months on a violation.
What are your thoughts as you become aware of these continued taser-related deaths?