January 18, 2010

Taser Death: William Bumbrey III (Arlington VA)

William Bumbrey III was at the Pentagon City Metro yesterday. An Arlington County police officer was in that metro station looking for a larceny suspect. The unidentified officer approached 36-year old Bumbrey. The officer didn't get the respect he wanted from the exchange ... so he pulled out his taser gun and pumped 50,000 volts of deadling electricity into the unidentified man.

At that point, the police say that a second unidentified officer arrived on scene and assisted handcuffing Bumbrey. The officers called for medics who transported him to an area hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcwashington.com/video.

The unidentified police officers have been placed on suspension until the investigation is complete.

One thing that I noticed about this taser-related death as it has been reported in the mainstream media is the demonization of Mr. Bumbrey. He has been described as a 'larceny suspect' and a 'sex offender' and a 'shop lifter'. It doesn't appear that the media has picked up on the idea that the penalty for shoplifting should never be DEATH-by-Taser.


Mike said...

Please try to keep from painting all police actions involving taser deployments with such a broad and negative brush. Until you know the details of this particular encounter, it is needlessly inflammatory to use a phrase like "the officer didn't get the respect he wanted from the exchange, so...". If it turned out that the officers in question acted improperly, then by all means they should face consequences... but please, treat them as you would see anyone treated who has been accused of something: Innocent until proven guilty. You don't even know who the officers are, you have no background on Brumby, you have no idea what the details of this particular incident may be. Hold off on your condemnations until you have all the info necessary.

Villager said...

Mike - Is there any excuse for a man to be dead from taser if all that he did was shoplift? or resist arrest? Since when did the Arlington County police have such extra-judicial electrocution powers?

I appreciate your perspective. It is my observation that the same patience is not given to the victim of these taser-related deaths ...overwhelmingly African American men.

We'll see how this one plays out...

Mike said...

No... if the only crime committed is shoplifting, then deployment of a taser is not justified. However, this particular suspect was actively hostile and assaulted the officer in question on the metro platform. THAT is a justifiable deployment of a taser. But my whole point is that this incident occurred less than a day before your article posted, and I didn't even know the whole story, and I'm a former Arlington County cop. Given that you could not have possibly had all the information, I felt that it would be irresponsible to automatically condemn the officer in question. Like I said... if it turned out that the taser deployment was not justified, then by all means the officer should be in deep trouble. But until the facts are known, it is harmful to make the sort of statements that you did. I appreciate that you feel very strongly about this, but you have no idea who these officers are, how they feel about what has happened, and what Brumbey might or might not have done to warrant this. If it came out tomorrow that Brumbey had pulled out a knife and threatened to attack the officer, would that qualify as the officer not getting the respect he wanted? Or would that absolutely justify his response? My point is that you didn't have (and indeed could not have had) all the facts needed to make a judgment call, yet proceeded anyway. Speaking as someone who has been on the receiving end of public outcry over my actions as a law enforcement officer, actions I felt at the time were absolutely essential to the situation, it is painful and devastating to be condemned by the very people you are trying to protect, especially when the condemnation comes as a knee-jerk response.

Mike said...

In fact, it looks like the taser may have had nothing to do with his death. It appears that the taser probes never even made contact with Brumbrey, and his COD is still unknown.

Bottom line, the taser is designed as a safer alternative to the deployment of a firearm. Given the choice, if you were suddenly changed into an assaultive, hostile, and combative suspect, would you rather be shot with a taser that is intended to disable and incapacitate you without permanent harm, or would you rather be shot dead by a .40 caliber hollowpoint bullet to the chest? I know my answer.

Villager said...

Mike - Tasers should only be pulled out if there is fear of imminent danger. More and more it appears that police officers are using tasers as a matter of convenience or whenever they feel disrespected (someone not obeying their orders). Tasers are 'sposed to be less-than-lethal ... yet they are involved in deaths on a weekly basis according to what I've been able to see.

Something is wrong. Hopefully, the recent court ruling in California will cause LEOs to think twice before pulling out their taser guns...

sissy said...

According to the story the victim was on dialysis three times a week. Dialysis patients are not physically strong.

The suspected crime was shoplifting.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently stated an officer must consider the seriousness of the crime in the context of using the taser.

The victim is described in other news articles as physically sick and weak.

Has the security tape been released? If not, why not?

If the cause of death is listed as "excited delirium" then we will know the whole thing is a cover up.

There is no medical or psychiatric diagnosis or condition called "excited delirium" it is a euphemism for taser killed.

Villager said...

Sissy - You've laid out the facts exactly as I know them. I haven't seen the subway video yet.