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Taser Guns

When his brother's two football buddies were killed in a drive-by shooting a decade ago, Tom Smith and his brother began thinking more seriously about how to protect themselves and their family from violent criminals. Tom and Rick Smith's father was frequently out of town and they knew their mother wouldn't feel comfortable having a gun in the house.
May 12, 2011 | By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
A 43-year-old man died after San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies used a Taser gun to subdue him after a traffic stop, authorities said Wednesday. A deputy attempted to stop Allen Kephart, a disc jockey and teacher's assistant from Crest Park, after he allegedly ran a stop sign about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday on California 189 in Blue Jay, said Cindy Bachman, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman. Kephart pulled into a Valero gas station parking lot about a quarter of a mile away, got out of the car and "became combative and uncooperative" with the deputy, Bachman said.
April 22, 1991
An east Pasadena man who allegedly threatened sheriff's deputies with a knife died of a heart attack Sunday after being subdued with an electric shock from a Taser gun, authorities said. Doug L. Danville, 47, suffered a heart attack at his apartment in the 300 block of South Sierra Madre Boulevard, but paramedics resuscitated him and took him to St. Luke Medical Center in Pasadena where he died just after 2 p.m., Sgt. Lee Smith said.
February 13, 2009 | Elaine Woo
Jack Cover, an aerospace scientist who invented the Taser stun gun -- a device used by thousands of law enforcement agencies to subdue unruly offenders with electrical shocks -- has died. He was 88. Cover had Alzheimer's disease and died of pneumonia Saturday at the Golden West Retirement Home in Mission Viejo, said his wife, Ginny. Trained as a nuclear physicist, Cover spent most of his career working in aerospace and defense industries.
April 17, 1992
A Gardena police lieutenant who has been fired from the force pleaded not guilty Thursday to illegally using a Taser stun gun to assault a prisoner, authorities said. Jeffrey Finley, 40, was one of six officers who struggled with Richard Marone, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound man who had been arrested during a domestic dispute last October, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Eloise Phillips. Marone struggled while being arrested but never attempted to hit or swing at the officers, Phillips said.
December 10, 1985 | ALLAN PARACHINI, Times Staff Writer
The Taser gun--which electrically stuns its victims--has established itself as a reasonably safe weapon for police, but the nation's emergency physicians remain significantly unaware of the device and what it can do to its victims, a Los Angeles expert contends. Writing in a respected national journal, the Annals of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Eric Koscove said the Taser is in use or undergoing tests by more than 350 law enforcement agencies. More than 10,000 of the weapons have been sold.
August 29, 1985
A 35-year-old man died at County-USC Medical Center about three hours after Los Angeles police used electronic Taser guns to subdue him, investigators reported Wednesday. It was the fourth death of someone struck with a Taser gun dart fired by Los Angeles police in the last two years. In the three previous cases, the deaths were attributed to heart failure. In one of those three, the coroner's office said, the Taser's high-voltage shock may have contributed to the man's death.
July 27, 2004 | From Times Wire Reports
The number of law enforcement officers with Taser stun guns is going up in San Joaquin County, law enforcement officers said, in spite of a nationwide debate over the health risks of shocking suspects. The Tracy Police Department trained half of its force this month on how to use the stun guns, which give victims an electric shock that renders them unable to react for about five seconds. They can be used from a distance of 20 feet.
August 29, 1985 | ERIC MALNIC, Times Staff Writer
A 35-year-old man died at County-USC Medical Center Tuesday about three hours after Los Angeles police used electronic Taser guns in an attempt to subdue him, investigators reported Wednesday. Police said they were called to an apartment house on New Hampshire Avenue by residents who complained that a fellow tenant had been acting strangely--kneeling in a hallway, stabbing at the carpeting.
February 27, 2005
Having just returned from central India, where my wife and I were fortunate to view two tigers in the wild in separate sightings in Pench National Park, I am disheartened to see our state officials so flippantly take the life of the tiger in Ventura County (Feb. 24). I was not at the scene and did not have the details that the Fish and Game officials had after the tiger was spotted by a citizen. I am concerned, however, that it appears that the officer in charge thought no more of the situation than if it was a rabid dog he was facing.
January 29, 2009 | Tami Abdollah
The ACLU has asked the Orange County Sheriff's Department to restrict the use of Tasers in most cases, saying hundreds of people have died nationally after being shocked by the stun guns during encounters with police. The American Civil Liberties Union delivered a sharply worded 10-page letter to Sheriff Sandra Hutchens on Tuesday, urging her to limit the department's use of Tasers to incidents in which there is a threat of "death or serious bodily injury."
December 15, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
Canada's national police force, criticized for excessive use of Tasers, said that, from now on, officers would only fire the electric stun guns at suspects who are combative or resisting arrest. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police policy change was prompted by outrage over the death of a Polish immigrant who was Tasered and then restrained at the Vancouver airport in October. RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said he could not define combative behavior. Taser International Inc.
November 16, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
Canada ordered a review of Taser use after graphic video showed police officers using the stun guns against an unarmed Polish immigrant, who died soon afterward. The video, taken Oct. 14 by a bystander, showed Robert Dziekanski shrieking in agony when he was hit at Vancouver International Airport. Officers could then be seen kneeling on him.
October 31, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
A University of Florida student stunned by a police Taser and arrested after his fervent videotaped outburst at an event with Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) won't be formally charged if he stays out of trouble for 18 months, prosecutors said in Gainesville. Andrew Meyer's shout of "Don't Tase me, bro!" was ignored by campus police but helped make video clips of the 21-year-old being dragged from a microphone an Internet sensation.
October 16, 2007 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
An Orange County Jail inmate who died after being subdued with a stun gun was identified Monday as Michael Patrick Lass. Lass, 28, died Friday after guards shocked him with a Taser when he allegedly became combative. He had been arrested for drinking in public Wednesday and was due to be released Saturday. Though Lass had no known address, authorities said, his father lives in Trabuco Canyon. The incident is being investigated by the district attorney's office.
September 19, 2007 | Jennifer Delson, Times Staff Writer
Orange County sheriff's deputies on Tuesday defended their decision to use a stun gun on a 15-year-old autistic boy who ran away from his parents and later dashed into traffic. Using the Taser in this case "was the right thing to do," said Jim Amormino, a sheriff's spokesman. "If that were your son, would you want him Tased or hit by a car? The deputy made the right decision. . . . It could have saved [the boy's] life."
December 24, 2004 | Charles Ornstein, Times Staff Writer
Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center plans to stop using police officers to deal with agitated psychiatric patients, in response to a threat by federal health regulators to pull the hospital's funding. Last week, for the second time in six months, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services warned the Los Angeles County-owned hospital that it relied too heavily on county police to subdue aggressive mental patients with Taser stun guns.
August 9, 1987 | ROXANA KOPETMAN, Times Staff Writer
An unusually high number of deaths involving people in police custody in recent months has spurred Police Chief Lawrence L. Binkley to issue seven directives that include creating boards of inquiry for all police-related deaths. Binkley said he also will require monthly training sessions on the use of force and more supervisory assistance in the field during violent arrests. Leg restraints will be installed in police cruisers and all persons arrested must now wear seat belts in police cars.
May 26, 2007 | Gregory W. Griggs, Times Staff Writer
A Simi Valley man who was shocked with a Taser during a confrontation with police died this week, and authorities said Friday that an investigation into his death is continuing. A cause of death for Raymundo Guerrero Garcia, 31, who died at a local hospital Wednesday night, will not be released until toxicology tests are completed, which could take up to four months, said Craig Stevens, a Ventura County senior deputy medical examiner.
May 17, 2007 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
The Police Commission agreed this week to issue Tasers equipped with small cameras to 55 officers for a test program after supervisors concluded that the recorded scene may be helpful in case of litigation. A report by the Firearms and Tactics Section also identified training concerns. Among those were the need for officers to learn not to cover the camera when holding the Taser with two hands, and the loss of picture when officers lower the Taser after use.
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