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ANOTHER taser death in Oregon

Again, we have the cops called out of concern for the welfare of a suicidal person, and the cops can find no better form of first aid than administering 50K volts of "less lethal force," and again the coroner can find no fault with using the taser. Maybe the coroners need to all be dosed with a little bit of tasering, and see if the tune changes.
A 24 year old athlete, Nick Hanson, from Southern Oregon University died Sunday night, as the police and others are scratching their heads for the cause. The Jackson County Sheriff's office is "investigating" the case, which is termed and apparent suicide.
Ashland Police officers responded to a call from the victim's parents, who feared that their son may attempt to take his life.
When police arrived, the victim was apparently passed out on the floor of his apartment, and they broke down the door. At this time, according to the police, he became combative, begging the police to shoot him. They obliged, with tasers, and the victim supposedly "stopped struggling, but remained conscious." His condition "deteriorated badly enroute to the hospital, and staff were unable to revive him."
Predictably, the coroner says the taser had nothing to do with his death.
To be sure, the victim had ingested an unknown quantity of unisom, and as of this time, we don't know what else he may have taken on board. He did have a history of suicide attempts, according to his parents, who do not blame the police, but wonder why their son needed to be tasered. Me, too.
Hanson was a track and field athlete with near record scores in jumping events. He is dead, but the taser had nothing to do with it. Cops just tasered him as a matter of convenience, I guess.

LN 27.Jan.2006 19:51


hats off to you.

The taser 27.Jan.2006 20:54


Is not the problem. It is the people who use them. I think that a taser is preferable to beating or being shot with a "real" gun, however, tasers are used way to often. If the subject was found on the floor of his appartment, unconcious, then woke up, he would not have been suddenly combative IN A WAY THAT COULD HURT SOMEONE. Maybe he started struggling but at that point you could just have an officer hold him down and cuff him. It was a suicide call, the man was not a criminal, and there was no need to tase him. It is sad that the man died, and I from what I have read here and elsewhere, it looks like he had ingested 4 bottles of unisol, which is more than enough to kill him before the cops had a chance to. The taser may have a played a roll in his death, but I do not think that is the major problem here. The major problem is the frequency with which less than lethal force is used when something even less lethal (ie physical, non-violent restraint) could have been used.

Tragedy sucks 28.Jan.2006 02:45

Drew Hendricks Oly Copwatch

The tragedy of TASERs is that they get used too often precisely because they rarely cause death or serious injury. It seems like this would be a good thing, but it is not a good thing if the one on the trigger is worried about his own safety more than your safety.

Olympia's department brags that their officers have reduced their injuries. At the same time, 2004 AND 2003 saw 35 additional uses of force (each) against people over the prior year, adjusted for the uses of force (in other categories) which went down. The use of 'consequence free' force is not a good thing any more than using heroin to get a feeling 'better than sex' is a good thing. Might seem like it to someone in denial, of course.

If an officer knows that he will have to use his words, the negotiation will be in earnest. If the officer can take a short cut to compliance, we will see a rise in the use of that tool - at the expense of talking.

And we already have documents of an officer here who nearly got killed when he used a TASER to stop a runner. He had to fight (tug of war) for the TASER, lost it to the guy (who dropped it.) The guy got hold of his flashlight, beat him in the head with it to the edge of consciousness, and only stopped when the officer pulled his handgun. The guy had thought that the TASER was the handgun, and that he had disarmed the officer.
What happened? The officer tried the "stop a runner with my TASER" trick twice more in three months! (slow learner?) Then they put him on drug duty, and he has to limit his weapon use and arrests because he's "undercover."

TASERs are great at giving someone a lot of pain with few percieved consequences.

Some folks call that torture. Depends, of course, on the situation.

Comment from someone who knew the victim 11.Feb.2006 11:39

Marco M m_m1981@hotmail.com

All I can add to this discussion is that I knew Nick personally, and I cannot imagine him at all being combative or extremely violent. And even if he was agitated in that situation, nobody can tell me that 3 cops cannot handle a 24 year old guy who has taken lots of sleeping pills and was therefore already weakened.

I also think - like most people here in the forum - that the police just dont want to get their hands dirty. In other countries like Germany, where I am from, taser are only used by special police forces like swat teams, who use them on really tough guys and not on kids or suicidal people as it seems to be the way in the US.

However, you cannot condemn all police officers, because I am sure that are lots of them who are doing there job right and only use force (less-than-lethal or lethal) when it is absolutely necessary.

No matter what caused Nick's death, I lost a good friend that noone can bring me back.

brutality police 06.Jul.2007 12:14

paty dominguez

the best job on this country is to be a police, you can do wherever you want and always they walk free, the comunity need to do somethig next time could be your sons ,mine . whe need to do something about this, and same whit the laws whit a teenagers where they can go to a jail for a simple fight whit no injuries and goin to jail for 5 years, and a police can walk free wherever they do, where is the justice on this country