November 22, 2009

Taser Death: Ronald Petruney (Washington, PA)

Another case of 'Tasers Gone Wild' in America. This time we learn that Washinton (PA) police officers jolted 50,000 volts of electricity into 49-year old Ronald Petruney earlier this week. In fact, once was not enough. They used their taser guns on him TWICE. He died while in the hospital yesterday morning.

Washington police found Mr. Petruney "in a confused state" when they were summoned to an incident on Jefferson Avenue, county Coroner Timothy Warco said.

Washington police Chief James R. Blyth said the two officers involved, whom he said would not be identified at this time, remain on duty.

"All witnesses told us that it was done by the book," Blyth said.
One of the officers was patrolling Jefferson Avenue just after 1 p.m. Tuesday when he encountered Petruney on the ground near his apartment suffering from what appeared to be a seizure.

Petruney then stood up, disoriented, and attempted to walk into traffic, police said. Petruney refused orders to sit down and charged the officer, biting him and swinging his arms when the two began to struggle.

Another officer arrived on the scene. Petruney was first jolted in the legs with 50,000 volts of electricity from a taser gun. The second officer then applied his taser gun directly to Petruney's torso, police said.

"He was still fighting with the officers for another three or four minutes after he was hit," Blyth said Saturday. "The Taser had no effect on him when he was hit, so they discarded it and went back to hands-on fighting. He kicked one of the officers after he was hit."
Of course, we now know that the tasers did have an impact. They contibuted to the death of this man. He was a man who needed help. Instead the Washington police officers killed him.

When Petruney collapsed, he was attended to by police and ambulance personnel who had been called to the scene before he was transported to Washington Hospital.

Blyth said that all officers carrying a Taser are fully trained in its use per department regulations.

Did the police need to kill Mr. Petruney? I guess we all will wait to hear what the autopsy tells us about Petruney's cause of death.

The number of taser-related deaths are occuring more than once-per-week around our nation. Something is wrong. The training may not be accurate. I wonder if police officers around the country have been re-trained on the new policy suggested by the taser manufacturer? I wonder if it is time to standardize the 'use of force continuum' policy for police on a nationwide basis?

These are the types of questions and issues that should be discussed by a congressional hearing. I hope that these are the issues that we talk about during the Day of Blogging for Justice that is set for December 4th.

2 comments:

MacDaddy said...

"I wonder if police officers around the country have been re-trained on the new policy suggested by the taser manufacturer? I wonder if it is time to standardize the 'use of force continuum' policy for police on a nationwide basis?"
Villager, this is the source of the problem. They must change this policy. The taser has not turned out to be the life-saving tool it thought it would be. It may save the life of police, but it causes too many deaths of citizens they've been sworned to protect.

Villager said...

MacDaddy - I suspect that these issues will be widely discussed on December 4th during the Day of Blogging for Justice: Stop Taser Torture. I was surprised to learn that use of force continuum is not a national standard ... but is handled on a city-by-city basis.