Tuesday, November 10, 2009
From Tasers to Homicide: The Dividing Line on Torture
U.S. Department of Justice
Community Relations Service
1999 Bryan Street, Ste. 2050
Dallas, TX 75201
Attn.: Synthia Demons,
Senior Conciliation Specialist, SW Region
RE: From Tasers to Homicide: The Dividing Line on Torture
Dear Synthia Demons:
We are grateful to have the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice given in this matter of grievance against Tasers, and appreciate your appointment as Conciliation Specialist to help us reach a resolution with the City of Fort Worth and the law enforcement community.
As an advocate of peace, I published “Towards Closure and Resolution in Taser Death of Michael Jacobs Jr.”, August 29, 2009. But there is still a disconnection in communications with government, and an irreconcilable breach with TASER International, manufacturer of the taser device.
The company’s statement aired Saturday on 33 NEWS concedes that tasers are not “risk free”, but nevertheless claim that the devices provide a safer alternative to deadly force. (See Saturday demonstration and read TASER International’s statement at http://www.the33tv.com/news/kdaf-march-for-dignity-story,0,5385639.story).
We contend that the taser is deadly force insofar as 50,000-volts of electrical output have the capacity to literally cook a person’s internal organs. If we can show that Jacobs was electrocuted, charred inside like fried chicken, the public would be horrified, and city leaders should be ashamed. This is why we are asking for public disclosure of the autopsy report.
For those who contend that tasers save more lives than lives lost, we do not see this as a trade-off. An innocent law-abiding citizen should not be subjected to the risk.
In May 2006, the Lake Como Church of Christ convened an education panel to discuss plans police officers had for using tasers in the schools. Panelist included FW Chief of Police Ralph Mendoza, school board members T.A. Sims and Juan Rangel, Judges L. Clifford Davis and Sharon Newman, FWISD representatives Loester Posey and Cecile Standfield, and Civil Rights lawyer Bobbie Edmonds.
It was then we publicly opposed using tasers on middle school age children.
In July 2008, Amnesty International USA announced that the U.S. Department of Justice was looking into 30 taser related deaths, and could possibly investigate up to 180 cases. Since then, there has been no progress report from USDOJ.
We are hopeful with a new administration and a new Congress that the issue will again merit attention.
On April 19, 2009, I delivered a Resolution to the Family of Michael Jacobs Jr. at the funeral on behalf the international blogging community.
Another Day of Blogging for Justice against Tasers is scheduled for December 4th. (See announcement: http://stoptasertorture.wordpress.com/partners/)
In the meantime, we continue to circulate a petition to Congress. (See http://www.petition2congress.com/2/1822/taser-torture-in-america-call-congressional-hearings/)
Ms. Demons, it would be of great help if you would describe the function of your office and an update on your findings and how you would hope to reconcile city leaders with the families and friends who have been touched by tasers. As you know, whenever government no longer listens to the grievance of the people, we are forced to raise our voice to the next higher level, from national to international. Ultimately, our last appeal will be before the throne of grace, because TASER International will not heed our plea.
How does the USDOJ offer to reconcile this military contractor with those maimed, injured, and killed by its weapons?
An answer to these questions will go a long way in our understanding the role of federal authorities to redress the grievances of citizens whose right to life have been extinguished by the summary judgment of a law enforcement officer, acting as judge, jury, and executioner.
Eddie Griffin (BASG)
AfroSpear in the News
A copy of this correspondence is forwarded to the addresses below:
Committee against Torture
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Telephone Number (41-22) 917-9000
Fax Number (41-22) 917-9006
E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org