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What constitutes torture when using a Taser?

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posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 10:49 PM
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(To the moderators: I am not sure if this is the right place to put this thread. Please change the location if needed.)

Is the use of a taser by law enforcement torture? Before I start discussing this topic I believe that I must first start by making sure that I clarify the different definitions of torture.

According to Dictionary.com the verbal definition of torture is:
Dictionary.com


–noun
1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.
2. a method of inflicting such pain.
3. Often, tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone.
4. extreme anguish of body or mind; agony.
5. a cause of severe pain or anguish.

–verb (used with object)
6. to subject to torture.
7. to afflict with severe pain of body or mind: My back is torturing me.
8. to force or extort by torture: We'll torture the truth from his lips!
9. to twist, force, or bring into some unnatural position or form: trees tortured by storms.
10. to distort or pervert (language, meaning, etc.).


According to The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) it is defined as:

Wikipedia Torture


Article 1
1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.



Now, many of you may wonder why I included the UN's definition of torture. I know that ATS has members from all over the world and I believe that this is a global issue. Although laws vary in different countries, I think it's important to remember that there are basic common laws that intersect most of modern western societies.

As a person who has first hand knowledge of policing in Canada, I have observed many cases in the media concerning taser use in both Canada and the U.S.. There have been some cases that I found extremely appalling and other cases where the people around me have been very critical of the use of this instrument. The question of whether the use of tasers constitutes torture or not, does not have a simple straight forward answer as this question is not only about proper regulation, rules, or oversight; it is also a morality issue.

That said, I will begin my explanation about why it does, in some cases, constitute torture and why it does not in others.

Police officers are faced with a very difficult situation. On one side they are to protect the people they work for, on another side they need protect the people they deal with, and on yet another side they need to protect themselves. They have to make decisions in a very short amount of time, and they need to justify every act, all the while knowing that later, that split second will be dissected for a very long period of time by people who were not at the incident. In Canada, tasers are now considered a "less than lethal weapon" that is to be used as a last resort.

My opinion is that tasers are not torture if used in the correct manner and in the right circumstances. I believe that to meet the standard of correct taser use as not to be classified as torture should be the following:

1. Immediate threat of danger to life or bodily harm to the officer, bystanders, or suspects. I.E. Person is violent, may or may not have a weapon, and is likely to cause injury by their actions.
2. The use of secondary weapons (Pepper spray, baton, etc...) is either ruled out or ineffective in deterring that person from committing any action like to cause #1.
3. The use of the police officer's firearm is either likely, or imminent but can be adverted if the taser is used instead.
4. The use of the taser is limited only to the amount necessary to subdue the person, eliminate the threat, or prevent the threat from occurring.

(continued in next post)




posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 10:50 PM
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(continued)

Now for what constitutes torture when speaking about the use of torture. The main issue we have been reading about when speaking of taser use is the amount of times the person is "tased". This guy was tased 5 times, this woman 3 times, etc... The problem with this is how to gauge whether the threat has passed as this is a very subjective decision making process. How do you know if the threat is passed? Here are the standards that I believe should be followed to prevent the use of the taser from becoming torture (if the standard is met, then another shock is not recommended):

1. The person has conveyed either by a verbal manner or by action that they have discontinued the aggressive behavior. I.E. "I give up", hands in the air, getting on the ground, etc...
2. If the person was armed, the primary weapon is now either out of reach or unusable by the suspect, while always keeping in mind the 1+1 rule. (There is a concept called the 1+1 rule where if there is one weapon the suspect is likely to have another).
3. The person is partially, or fully subdued after initial shock by multiple officers but is still trying to resist.
4. The person is handcuffed.

The key issue in my mind is the repeated, unnecessary use of the device. This is where the idea of torture comes in. The key word being unnecessary use.

In conclusion, I believe that tasers are very effective devices when used properly. There are many people who do not respond to O.C. (pepper spray) which is why we now use much stronger concentrations of it (MK-3). But I also believe that like the use of a firearm (this is another completely different discussion), it needs to be understood that improper use can, morally at the very least, become a form of torture.

Peace,

Magnum



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:04 PM
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reply to post by Magnum007
 


I would say it only becomes torture if you Tazer a person in their genitals. It is just not right to tazer someone in the nads. I think we can all agree on that.



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:05 PM
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Tasers have made police lazy.

Is it torture? Yes. I can only say that because I have been tased. Not a good feeling. Kind of like sticking the key in the electric socket as a child - X 100.

I know he is a fictional character in a different time, but Andy Griffith didn't need a gun, billy club, or taser.



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:07 PM
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reply to post by Signals
 




I know he is a fictional character in a different time, but Andy Griffith didn't need a gun, billy club, or taser.


Hate to break it to you but Andy Griffith was an actor on a tv show in a fictional town called Mayberry where everyone more or less obeyed the law, with occasional drunken escapades of Otis or jaywalking.



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:08 PM
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reply to post by Feeling Frisky
 


I agree. New policy in Canada is to attempt to aim above the pelvis and below the breast bone on the front and back sides. It's to prevent hitting the heart directly, and yes, also to prevent hitting the genital area. (I'm a man too... OUCH!!)

Magnum

[EDIT] change "between the pelvis" for "above the pelvis"

[edit on 10/1/12 by Magnum007]



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:09 PM
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reply to post by Signals
 


In those times, there was actual fear of the police... Like you said, different times indeed.

Magnum



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:15 PM
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reply to post by Signals
 


Oh and by the way, if Barney had a tazer he would have lit a few little old ladies up like a Christmas Tree just for assembling on the street corner. Hell Barney would have probably tazed the Mayor and that old tall skinny guy everytime Andy went on vacation.



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:18 PM
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reply to post by Feeling Frisky
 


Wrong, Andy would have carried the battery. Or Barney would have it in the front pocket....

So, do you think tasing is torture? (not in the nads, in general)



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:22 PM
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reply to post by Signals
 


I only think it would become torture if you tied someone up and did it over and over again. It was designed as a means to incapacitate an uncooperative person without beating the hell out of them with a club or shootiing them in order for them to cooperate. That is 99.9999999% how police use it.

The thing I always find is that 99.99999% of the time the person would have not been tazed if they would have just cooperated as they are supposed to do. If you feel you are not guilty then let them arrest you and prove your case in court and if you win, sue the heck out of them in court. That is how the system is designed.



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:38 PM
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reply to post by Feeling Frisky
 


Were police in more danger before the taser was invented?

What about the suspect?

All one needs to do is get tased, it'll change your opinion quick, fast, and in a hurry.



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:55 PM
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reply to post by Magnum007
 


OK, first to answer the question in the title of the thread: I agree with others here, in the nads would be over the line and worse than waterboarding!

Now as to the crux of the OP. While the initial jolt is painful, I would rather be tased than clobbered with a billy club or hosed down with pepper spray. Best bet is to ensure that you are never in the situation where such force is necessary. Just my humble opinion...



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 11:56 PM
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reply to post by Signals
 


You mentioned that you have been tased. I have a serious question for you. Has your stance in regards to the police changed? In the sense, if a police officer tells you to do something, are you more likely to comply than you would have before you got tased?

Magnum



posted on Jan, 13 2010 @ 07:17 AM
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Since they electrocute people to gain compliance, it is torture. If they used them how they were originally intended, as an alternative to when they would use their handgun, it would not be. There is no debating this.



posted on Jan, 13 2010 @ 08:11 AM
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Originally posted by Magnum007
reply to post by Signals
 


You mentioned that you have been tased. I have a serious question for you. Has your stance in regards to the police changed? In the sense, if a police officer tells you to do something, are you more likely to comply than you would have before you got tased?

Magnum


No, I accidentally tased myself....it's a long story....and yes I'm an idiot.

Never been arrested but I'm pretty sure I would do whatever they tell me and fight it later in court.



posted on Jan, 13 2010 @ 12:14 PM
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reply to post by coverfirehero
 


Go spend a week or two riding around with a cop, then get back to me and we'll see if you're still so self-righteous... These people deal with an element that you don't even want to acknowledge exists. Easy to sit behind your computer and throw around accusations, isn't it!



posted on Jan, 13 2010 @ 01:14 PM
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Signals:

That's pretty funny! lol... I hope the taser wasn't set to shock for too long... Well, you've definitely gained valuable experience that many people on ATS never had the "chance" (for lack of better word) to get.

JaxonRoberts:

You are absolutely right! There are too many backseat cops that feel that they know what it's like or how to do the job when they don't know squat about the work. Thank you for your post!

----------------------------

Jackson Roberts said


Now as to the crux of the OP. While the initial jolt is painful, I would rather be tased than clobbered with a billy club or hosed down with pepper spray. Best bet is to ensure that you are never in the situation where such force is necessary. Just my humble opinion...


The thing we need to remember here is that cops always win in a fight. No matter what. It's the mindset, the goal, the necessity... Cops can't afford to lose any battle (I'm talking about physical fights). This is because their credibility in protecting people is very important : would you want to be protected by cops who are fearless and win all the time, or cowards who get their behinds handed to them?

My point? Don't resist and there is no problem. Same thing for the taser, people who comply generally don't get tased. (Don't start giving me isolated incidents where it happened, I know that there are bad cops in the world and they are all out to get you...
).

Peace,

Magnum

[edit on 10/1/13 by Magnum007]

[edit on 10/1/13 by Magnum007]



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