TED Conversations

Theodore A. Hoppe


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Are Conductive Electronic Weapons (CEW), or as they are more commonly know, Tasers a "non lethal" weapon?

Stephen Coleman has set his TEDTalk up as a TED-Ed lesson using the term "non-lethal" for tasers. He should know better. Tasers are now being referred to as "Less Lethal" even by it maker.

"Fourth Circuit upholds multi-million dollar award in Taser death:

The jury awarded the mother and father of the young man ten million dollars. While the amount was later reduced to $5.5 million the significance of the case is that it shows that Tasers are deadly weapons when used as the company recommended, and as the evidence showed the officer was trained to use it. "


I posed this question in the "guided discussion," at TED-Ed, and not only did no one responded, the question was removed.
Should TED-Ed remove the lesson?

Topics: tasers

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    Dec 6 2013: Somehow, you answered your own question in your introductory post. The court decided that the taser was a lethal weapon in this particular case.
    However, the court made the decision based on this particular model of taser (X26) used in the incident. There was no ruling on whether or not tasers are lethal in general.
    I'm not a taser expert, but it's likely that different brands of taser behave differently, hence concluding tasers are lethal weapons based on this particular case stands on thin ice.

    So, based on what I read, I'd conclude that tasers, under certain circumstances can be lethal, but then that's true for a lot of things I suppose.
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      Dec 6 2013: This is more about the TED-Ed lesson referring to them as non lethal. "Should TED-Ed remove the lesson?
      Did you look at the TED ED lesson?
      I posed this question in the "guided discussion," at TED-Ed, and not only did no one responded, the question was removed.

      Also, The newspaper concluded in its commentary that, "There is, in our judgment, no question but that they are lethal weapons." It doesn't mention a model type.
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        Dec 6 2013: I think the danger of generalizing is that we then have to call many things potentially lethal.
        There are medications that, even if taken as prescribed can be lethal to some. A kitchen knife also can be lethal under certain circumstances and so does alcohol, nicotine, etc, etc.

        No, I don't think that this talk should be removed because tasers are not intended to be lethal weapons, even if, as an exception, they might be.

        As to the newspaper's conclusion: it's irrelevant what they conclude. What matters is the court's decision. You can find the details here: http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/121617.P.pdf
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          Dec 6 2013: You are inviting an argument instead of discussion the question that is posed here, to you.
          When is medication used by the police a a weapon or a kitchen knife? Put your remarks in the CONTEXT of the Coleman talk, at the very least.

          Even your conjecture about "tasers are not intended to be lethal weapons" references NOTHING in the news story,or the talk by Colemam, only what you think. and that needs up being a weak argument. If you can say that the newspapers commentary is "irrelevant" then the same standard or reason applies when you write, "I think."

          Additional, you provide the link to the court case but did no use it to support any part of your argument.
          If you read the other comments you will see that I have already quoted from the courts decision.

          "Patrick Smith conceded during his testimony that TI did not give
          “precise guidance” to users of the X26 taser concerning “the
          safe length of a discharge cycle.” Smith further testified that
          “we don’t set a hard and fast limit,” and agreed that “[a] cop
          can’t look and say, don’t go beyond 15 seconds or 20 or 30 or 40
          or anything like that.”
          Additionally, a jury also could conclude that the warning’s
          “whenever practicable” clause rendered the warning vague and
          inadequate. Captain Campagna testified that he interpreted the
          “whenever practicable” language to mean that the taser could be
          applied continuously until the suspect fell to the ground or
          otherwise was secured. Likewise, Officer Dawson testified that
          he did not think that it was “practicable” to release the
          taser’s trigger while Turner remained standing in defiance of a 35
          command to “get down.” Thus, based on the present record, TI’s
          warnings concerning prolonged application of the X26 taser
          cannot be deemed “adequate” as a matter of law under Section
          99B-4(1). Accordingly, we hold that the district court did not
          err in denying TI’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on
          the issue of product misuse".

          When is use "lethal?"

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        Dec 6 2013: You asked the audience a question and I responded with my view on the topic.
        If you wont accept other views but yours then you shouldn't have posted this question in the first place.

        As to taser vs. medicines. You apparently missed the point which was that whether something is dangerous or even lethal depends on the way it's used and even if used properly, there are still possibilities of something undesired happening.
        Since you don't like the medicine example I can give you another one. Sometimes people use baseball bats as weapons and sometimes the outcome is deadly. Do you conclude that a baseball bat is a deadly weapon ?

        "Patrick Smith conceded during his testimony that TI did not give
        “precise guidance”
        This is all fine, but again, it refers to one particular case involving TI and the taser model X26. You cannot deduct that what applies in one case applies to every case.

        But as I said, if you only accept your view on this issue then obviously no further conversation on this topic is required.

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