September 14, 2011

Taser Death: Damon Barnett (Fresno, CA)

It happened again. This time the taser-related killing was done by an unidentified Fresno County Sheriff's deputy.  Damon Barnett, 44, is the victim.  All we know for sure is that an unarmed man was dodging traffic on Highway 99 near the Highway 180 on ramp. Deputies arrived to try and save the man and prevent an accident. But Detective Robert Buenrostro says Barnett wasn't cooperating.
"He's coming in and out of the traffic, he's in the center median coming in and out of the vehicles, almost getting hit. They are trying to address him. They have to take him into custody in that process a Taser had to be used."

An autopsy will determine Barnett's cause of death. However, it's likely that the 50,000 volts of electricity flowing from the taser gun into the man's body may have contributed to his death. Many will say that the goal of the taser weapon is to subdue, not kill ... but, we continue to see these taser-related deaths occurring on a weekly basis.

Police are only supposed to use tasers when the "suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or others." However, it seems that the police pull those bad boys out whenever they feel disrespected or whenever they are unwilling to wait for appropriate assistance from mental health professionals or others. Shoot first and deal with the medical consequences later seems to be the strategy.

The Taser's used by the Fresno County Sheriff's Department have built in cameras to record video whenever they are used. This should be helpful in the investigation of the Highway 99 case, which is being handled by the department's Homicide Unit.

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