Police Must Stop Using Tasers

Categories: Luke's Gospel

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Ale x Izaguirre
Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke calls for an investigation into police taser use.

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner recently issued a landmark ruling: Israel "Reefa" Hernandez, who was shot with a Miami Beach Police Taser last August, died of heart failure because of an "electric device discharge." It was the first time in Florida that a medical examiner had made such a finding, and it prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to demand that local police departments revamp how they train cops to use stun guns.

This all came after three other men died after being Tasered by police.

Last month, Willie Sams, a 21-year-old from northwest Georgia who was visiting his grandmother in Liberty City, was electrocuted by police responding to a domestic dispute. Around the same time, cops Tasered 37-year-old Maykel Antonio Barrera after he tried to fight his way out of custody. The same day, Hialeah officers answering a call that Treon Johnson was beating dogs with a pipe shocked the 27-year-old Miami Gardens man into submission.

Last year, 18-year-old Hernandez led Miami Beach officers on a foot chase after he was caught tagging a wall with graffiti. One of the cops, Jorge Mercado, zapped Hernandez in the chest. The teen collapsed and later died at Mount Sinai Hospital. His death sparked protests, but his family and friends are still waiting for justice to be meted out against Mercado.

None of these incidents warranted using a Taser because the suspects were unarmed and there were more than two cops on the scene to subdue them. And cops shouldn't be aiming stun guns at people's hearts anyway. Even Taser International, the stun gun maker, warned officers in 2009 to steer clear of shooting at the chest because of the risk of cardiac arrest.

Local police departments should stop using Tasers before cops end up killing another unarmed young man. Right now, we don't know if the manufacturer or the police are at fault.

Until we can hold police or Taser International accountable, officers must holster their stun guns.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1 and @unclelukesempir

Tune into Luke on the Andy Slater Show every Tuesday, 2 to 5 p.m., on Miami's Sports Animal, 940 AM.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

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Logic Prophit
Logic Prophit

I like how everyone claims that this can all be avoided with "respect". The cops don't care about respect. They just want complete obedience and to instill fear to maintain control.If you're a law abiding citizen whom has a disagreement with the law enforcement expect to be cuffed and your rights violated. Miami has various problems concerning cops or did you forget the cops that ran over a couple on the beach while drink on his atv? Among other cases.

Exiliado topcommenter

Stop using Taser?

How about people stop resisting arrest and/or fighting "their way out of custody"?


Cops are like the rest of us. Most pretty good, some bad.  The thing is, the rest of us don't go to work knowing that at any moment some asshat might start a fight with us, or start shooting at us.  Cops need to have personal weapons to defend themselves and others.  So the question becomes what is the weapon for them to use that ensures their safety, while minimizing the risks to citizens.  Tasers are rarely fatal, and have a short directed range.  Guns? Significantly more fatal and significantly more likely to go astray and injure a bystander.

What happened to Reefa is deeply tragic and should not have happened and every department should review their policy on taser use, but to stop using tasers?  Stupidity.

HarryTheHandyman topcommenter

Cops need to stop using tasers?  How about people need to stop committing crimes.

Oh and Taser's 2009 guidelines have nothing to do with cardiac arrest:

TASER CEO Rick Smith says he’s surprised by the uproar, which was caused by an article in the Arizona Republic, and that the targeting model wasn’t changed because the company sees greater risk of cardiac events from chest shots.

“Would I take a hit in the chest with a TASER?” Smith asks. “Absolutely, all day long. I believe absolutely in its safety.”

Smith says the new targeting guidelines were established for two reasons - to make application of TASER weapons more consistent and effective and to help law enforcement agencies defend against liability claims.

TASER is now recommending that officers aim lower center mass to put one probe above the belt line and one below. Smith says one of the reasons that the target zone was moved down was to make aiming for its pistols and its new XREP (eXtended Range Electronic Projectile) shotgun-fired impact round consistent.


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Dan Marino
Dan Marino

Wrong Millie! I completely disagree you. Most cops are power hungry controlling douche bags that can escalate (and usually do) a simple traffic stop into an arrest and stressful situation based on their over controlling behavior. Look at the overwhelming examples all over the place. Cops can arrest you on whatever charge they feel like, call it disorderly conduct and then the cops can escalate it with their gestapo behavior. Next thing you know, you are arrested, with a record. Nice try though.

Millie Santana
Millie Santana

People need to avoid them, that would be just like saying stop giving traffic violations. If people are law abiding citizens, then you have no worries....Right?!?


And then when the suspect resists arrest and has to be subdued then they accuse the police of using unnecessary force. You just can't win.  You don't want to be tased ? Don't evade the police, simple as that. 

DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter

Again with the Israel Hernandez shit?  He was engaged in defacing someone's property, and knew it, and ran.His friends explained that they were using drugs together before they went out to vandalize.Teenager painting on walls is grounds for shots fired and or electrocution..this my friends is why we rate last in education. Just plain dumb. This is not art it is Criminal Damage to property and this little criminal decided to fight the law and as the song goes the law won. People are cheering for this persons deviant behavior. Our society is circling the drain of it's own destruction. It's called vandalism. Then fleeing and alluding. If you want to express yourself do it on a canvas or your mothers house. So let me get this straight, if the graffiti kid complied, didn't run away, and listed to the police officers request to stop, he would be alive today. Sounds to me if you comply, do as the police say, take the arrest and possibly fight your charges in court, you will more than likely come out of this situation without being tased

Dan Marino
Dan Marino

Oh if we could only use the video playback machine on Alex, Ed and Juan to see what y'all were doing as teenagers, I would guess your childhood has some minor offenses you are not proud of.


Why not just hang a webcam from every cops neck like they are doing out west? 

Alex Anico
Alex Anico

So they go back to bullets?? How about getting people to stop being delinquents first?

Ed Ochoa
Ed Ochoa

and Hoodlums need to stop running away

Juan R. Pollo
Juan R. Pollo

Wouldn't it be better to stop resisting to avoid all these nasty things?

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