On June 23, 2004 Robert Wayne Bagnell died. According to a coroner’s jury, he died of “restraint-associated cardiac arrest” due to acute cocaine intoxication and psychosis. And not, because Vancouver police officers used tasers to arrest and control the out-of-control man.
According to the report in the Vancouver Sun Bagnell’s family were “disappointed” the coroner’s jury didn’t make any reccomendations. Such as . . .. . . what exactly?
Bagnell was the author of his own misfortune and nothing the family says will change that. He was on cocaine over-drive and destructive and violent. The police tried to just keep Bagnell contained until he came down and was more responsive. Circumstance forced their hand and the police opted to deploy tasers, considered non-lethal, to restrain and control Bagnell.
As happens sometimes when a taser is used on someone with a cocaine-fired heart, the electrical shock has an adverse effect on their cardio-vascular system. And sometimes when that happens, the already over-loaded heart shuts down. We can debate whether or not that is tragic in a different forum, but suffice to say that in all the cases of this type of thing happening, it was never a result of the taser use, but the result of what the people do to themselves.
But the hand-wringers seem to want to blame the police and force them to stop using tasers. The very thing they cry for when a cop under attack by some loser with a knife shoots the transgressor and the moaning starts: “why couldn’t they have shot him in the leg? Boo-hoo-hoo . . .
The jury didn’t quite say it as directly as I might have. But they were clear. Bagnall ingested way too much cocaine and it overloaded his system. That was why he died.
I’m sorry for the pain Bagnell put his family through and I sympathize with them. But, their anger is misplaced and the taser is a valuable weapon that allows the police to refrain from using the type of lethal force they would have previously had to use in so many instances.
The cops can’t interview someone to determine if they are in the throes of cocaine psychosis prior to deploying a taser. Yet, the hand-wringers and the chattering class is too quick to blame the police instead of blaming the ones who are actually responsible and unfortunately, never accountable.
As a final thought, I picked up my weekend Vancouver Sun on Saturday. On the main break of the Westcoast (B) section there was a teaser in big bold print at the top saying: “Report condems tasers” pg. B11.
Yet, when one turned to page B11, one read the fair and balanced piece written by Neal Hall and linked above. What report? What condemnation of tasers? So, what was the editor reading when he placed that teaser on B1? Or, more accurately, was it more likely wishful thinking by a charter member of the chattering class that seems to be representative of the mainstream media these days?