RE: Reconciliation in aftermath of Settlement with Michael Jacobs Jr. Estate
1000 Throckmorton St.
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Attn.: Mayor Mike Moncrief
Dear Mayor Moncrief:
It was good to see you on Tuesday at City Council and have the opportunity to greet you and your wife Rosie, and to receive a warm embrace from councilwoman Kathleen Hicks. We appreciate your devotion and diligence, particularly in laying to rest the grievance of the Michael Jacobs family.
In the aftermath of the settlement, there was a pledge among religious and civil rights leaders to work for reconciliation and healing. Pastor Kyev Tatum extended the hand of fellowship to FW Police Chief Jeff Halstead to work for better policing in the community, and I am happy to say I received a call from the pastor confirming that he meet with Chief Halstead at the Minority Leaders & Citizens Council.
I was unable to attend, and the Jacobs family is still in mourning and not comfortable making public appearances. However, I too propose to work towards peace and good will in the City and between neighbors. I realize there are times we will disagree over issues such as the usage of tasers.
AS A FINAL NOTE: We will not digress from our opposition to tasers. Even more, we insist on not letting any taser incident go unnoticed and nor an aggrieved party goes without a course for redress against the city and responsible parties.
Let me point out to you some unaddressed grievances, here and around the country: (1) Pregnant women being tasered- How will 50,000 volts of electricity affect the innocent unborn? (2) Underage children- The potential for neurological and permanent psychological damages are yet assess- the weapon is still unproven in long term effects. (3) Taser use against senior citizens, wheelchair-bound, psychologically impaired, and those unable to make sound judgment (whether under the influence of drugs or alcohol).
This is an example of the types of cases the city will see in the future, if the department insists on continued usage of tasers as control devices, short of fatality: A victim hit with a taser falls headlong on the ground, pavement, or concrete, face first, unable to break their fall, because of incapacitation- a very common occurrence that has led courts to rule in injury cases, such usage is excessive, cruel, and unusual.
These are actual documented cases now working their way through the courts. Victims are no longer suing the manufacturer, TASER International, with its team of expert lawyers and sales people. They are suing police departments and municipalities. And police departments, in hindsight, are claiming that TASER International never told them of the dangers.
We have brought about many changes in department policies, and changes in TASER product safety warranties. The weapon can no longer be used against pregnant women, which means the officer in the field must make a determination if a woman is pregnant or not. Tasers are not to be used on senior citizens. But again, it is at the officer’s discretion to make the determination, not only on the elderly, but also the infirm, mentally ill, and those at risk for a heart attack.
TASER International has also lowered its target range. Officers are told to not shoot in the chest area, as if they can control where two wildly flying electrical darts will strike.
As for the threshold of torture, the United Nations has determined that tasers can be torture. Moreover, we contend that any weapon that employs “conducted energy” (electricity) is an implement of torture, and has historically been so.
And finally, it should be noted that the federal government is now soliciting “Alternatives to Conducted Energy Less-Lethal Devices”, that is to say an alternatives to tasers. (See http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/sl000915.pdf).
In essence, there is no future for tasers. They will become too much of a costly and cumbersome burden; and, in time, unserviceable. The death count can only rise beyond the now 481 dead. And, TASER International will continue avoid the words “electricity” and “electrocution”, and instead use psychobabble like “excited delirium” to explain cause of death.
Eddie Griffin (BASG), a member of AfroSpear
BASG is devoted to teaching community problem-solving skills to leaders of tomorrow.