The Journal of History     Fall 2004    TABLE OF CONTENTS


Letter to Chief in Houston Texas
regarding use of Taser Guns From Spence Kerrigan

Dear Chief Hurtt,

Last Wednesday local TV stations showed a naked man in Sims Bayou surrounded by enough Houston Police Department (HPD) officers to quell a large riot. An officer of the SWAT team shot the man with a Taser gun. The man fell like a stone into the shallow water. He was then restrained. According to the newsman, the man was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced unharmed before being held for mental examination.

A number of people have died after being zapped by Tasers. Taser International is a defendant in a ONE BILLION DOLLAR lawsuit related to a Taser related death. The Taser folks claim most deaths occurred because the victim had taken drugs. I wonder how the shooter of the man in the Bayou determined that the man was not drugged. The man was naked, obviously not armed or equipped with any type of weapon, and almost up to his waist in water. He appeared to be completely harmless. What made this incident a critical emergency? Why was the SWAT team called? HPD has officers especially trained to deal compassionately with mentally disturbed people. Where were these officers?

This man's behavior could have been from a lack of proper medication, too much medication, too much liquor, illegal drugs, or just a free spirit. None of which should justify being paralyzed with a Taser.

Taser guns shoot two darts connected to the gun by wires. These darts must penetrate the target to be effective. Shooting darts into a person is an invasive procedure similar to being shot with bullets but with smaller projectiles. The Taser projectiles are barbed like fish hooks. Removing them is not painless. The wounds from the darts can cause medical complications. I believe there are laws against unauthorized, unwanted, and unjustified invasive procedures. Who enforces these laws?

If this incident is considered to be acceptable then it follows that the staff in mental hospitals and institutions should be authorized to use Tasers when patients don't promptly respond to directions or instructions from staff members. Maybe police officers moonlighting in saloons will be authorized to zap tipsy customers.

Your officers need to rely more on compassion and less on sadism. Your duty is to provide proper guidance. You inherited the goons. Retraining them will be more difficult than making chicken salad from chicken poo.

Good luck Chief!

PS: The recent decision by council members to borrow money for the purchase of 5 million dollars worth of Taser equipment will be the largest order ever received by Taser. Some cynics wonder how many insiders will profit by purchasing Taser stock and why there was such a great rush to sign a contract. Which fox is guarding the taxpayer's chicken house?


The Journal of History - Fall 2004 Copyright © 2004 by News Source, Inc.