June 21, 2012

Taser Death: Macadam Mason (Thetford, VT)

It happened again! This time an unarmed 39-year old man with epilepsy was electrocuted to death by a Vermont State trooper for being disrespectful. Macadam Mason needed help. Instead he got 50,000 volts of electricity shot into his body by trooper David Shaffer. Mason stopped breathing and died shortly thereafter. [SOURCE]

Shaffer and his trooper buddies indicate that Mason didn't cooperate when they arrived on the scene.
"He was certainly agitated, failed to comply with the troopers commands," said Colonel Thomas L'Esperance.

Mason was unarmed and not a threat. Why is he dead today?


Carolyn Moon said...

Your tireless efforts to expose this travesty of Tasers to subdue which leads to far too many deaths; are appreciated. I know the families of these victims are especially grateful for this endeavor.

Other than advocacy, how can ordinary citizens assist in stopping this abuse by by some in law enforcement?

Unknown said...

Carolyn - I have to admit that I'm not 'tireless' as I used to be.

I'm also sorry to say that I don't have a good answer for your question on 'next steps' for ordinary citizens.

I'm hopeful that someone, somewhere is brainstorming that answer for all of us...

Morgan W. Brown said...


Back on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, mental health and civil rights advocates held a press conference in the Cedar Creek Room at the Vermont State House in Montpelier to call for a moratorium on the use of Tasers by law enforcement across the state until, among other things, certain statewide, state-approved, standardized policies as well as more extensive training are put in place that has grown apparent are currently found to be lacking (via YouTube), here.

Read the statement, which goes into greater detail about why the moratorium is being call for and is sorely needed, here.

For his part, when asked by reporters about it that very afternoon during a press conference he was holding, Governor Peter Shumlin rejected the need for a moratorium and defended the use of Tasers by law enforcement (via YouTube), here.

Since that time, a petition has been set up and posted online calling for much the same: Call for Moratorium on Tasers in Vermont (via SignOn).

Furthermore, although it is true that the Vermont Departments of Mental Health (DMH) as well as Public Safety (DPS) have begun stepping efforts to better coordinate and communicate when they learn of someone who is experiencing a crisis and it might also require a joint response between police agencies and community mental health agencies, there is also much more that needs to occur, including with local law enforcement agencies, but also even with the state police, than has been put into motion only recently.

Meanwhile the Tasers are still out on the street and the danger they and their use by police pose still exists.

If you have not already done so, please consider signing onto the petition and then sharing it with others, most particularly anyone living or working within Vermont.

This would help in continuing to send Governor Peter Shumlin and his administration the message about why a "timeout on Tasers" is sorely needed, in the meantime and at the very least, while -- among other things being called for -- both the state police and local law enforcement agencies across the state manage to get up to speed on instituting standardized *statewide* policies on the use of Tasers as well as fully implementing standardized, *state-approved*, training in the use of these weapons, including *much more extensive*, standardized, state-wide and state-approved training for dealing with people in a mental health crisis than is already currently available to police officers that it has been clear has been seriously lacking thus far.

If you have already signed onto the petition, thank you for doing so. It is greatly valued as well as appreciated.

If, however and in addition, you are inclined to do more than signing the petition and sharing word about it with others, consider also contacting Governor Peter Shumlin directly on the subject (please be brief and to the point as well as, most importantly, polite and civil), here.

If you live within Vermont, consider contacting your local state legislators as well as writing and submitting a letter to the editor to both your local weekly or daily newspaper as well as, if it is not the same publication, one or more of the statewide dailies, fyi: Vermont Advocacy Resource Toolkit.

Thank you in advance.

Morgan W. Brown said...

Addendum to previous comment post of mine:

Background, fyi:

Vermont DMH and DPS joint press statement (July 2, 2012);

State hones mental health crisis response (via Vermont Today; July 3, 2012);

Thetford Taser Death Highlights Need for More Mobile Mental Health Crisis Teams (via Seven Days; 7/3/2012);

Taser Deaths in Vermont: Time for a Moratorium; By William Boardman (via Independent Voter Network); Thursday, July 5, 2012;

Tasing police officer not trained for mental health crises (via vtdigger; Thursday, July 5, 2012).