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Taser to blame for death, angry grandma

Tasers, which happen to come in leopard print and hot pink, can be a very useful weapon that serves to quell without killing – usually.

Boring old black taser
Boring old black taser

Sometimes the suppression method can freakishly backfire and lead to death.

Other times the taser can be abused, misused or over-used and lead to death.

In still other instances, the taser can be used properly and according to procedure but still cause a stink because the victim happens to be somebody’s grandma.

If someone is mouthing off, resisting arrest and refusing to comply with the officer’s wishes, a zap with a taser seems like a reasonable answer. Even if the victim is somebody’s grandma.

Such was the case of a 72-year-old woman in Texas who claimed she was tasered for no reason. Then the dashcam video came out.

It shows her swearing, arguing and being a tad less than cooperative.

Why anyone would argue with Texas law enforcement is beyond me. They have too much to prove and definitely fall into the “just-say-yes-and-do-whatever-they-say” category.

In Tucson, a taser death in April was just ruled a homicide by the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Gary Decker, 50, died in a motel after he lunged naked at officers who were called to the scene.

Original Day of the Dead post: Died after attacking police: Gary A. Decker, 50
Gary A. Decker, 50, died after he attacked police and was shocked with a Taser in the early morning hours of April 16. He died later that day in the hospital, a Tucson police spokesman said.

Decker, from Kentucky, was residing at the Extended Stay America at 5050 E. Grant Road, while working a temporary job as a furniture liquidator

Motel management reported hearing noises, music, banging and moaning coming from the upstairs room.

Officers entered the room with a passkey and found the room ransacked and furniture broken, (Sgt. Mark) Robinson said. Decker was in the bathroom, clutching a toilet seat he had ripped off the unit.

Decker grabbed one of the officers, Robinson said, and the officer shocked him with a Taser. The Taser appeared to have no effect on him.

Officers handcuffed Decker, got him out of the bathroom and called paramedics, which is standard practice when someone a Taser is used.

Decker became unresponsive, Robinson said, and was unconscious when paramedics arrived.

If someone is in a rage, ripping toilet seats off the basin and lunging naked at police, a taser may be just the thing to calm the guy down. It was later determined he had also been high on cocaine, which just adds to irrationality.

But was the taser overused?

According to the Arizona Daily Star:
Gary A. Decker, 50, died from a combination of cocaine intoxication, multiple blunt force injuries and being restrained after he assaulted three police officers (according to the medical examiner’s autopsy report)….

The Tucson Police Department is still investigating the case and has forwarded it to the Pima County Attorney’s Office for review. Neither agency would comment Wednesday on the incident.

According to the autopsy report, Decker suffered two puncture wounds to his chest and additional wounds to his right hip when he was Tasered.

He also received numerous rib fractures, the report states.

Decker had cuts and bruises all over his body, including his head, neck, abdomen, shoulders and arms, the report states.

Jan. 2004: Brian Sewell's neck shows the effect of being shocked three times with 50,000 volts of electricity by a sheriff's deputy to secure Sewell's compliance for a blood draw in a DUI case.
TASER WOUND EXAMPLE - Jan. 2004: Brian Sewell's neck shows the effect of being shocked three times with 50,000 volts of electricity by a sheriff's deputy to secure Sewell's compliance for a blood draw in a DUI case.

How many tasers blasts did the guy get? Or were the broken ribs and other injuries from Decker throwing himself against the wall or toilet or some other cause?

Still too many questions that need answers, but the fact is clear: tasers can kill.

The smart thing would be not to get into a situation where you may have the opportunity to get zapped by one. The other smart thing would be to opt for the leopard print over hot pink.

What do you think? Are tasers too dangerous, especially to be readily available to the general public?

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Odd Pueblo: Tucson’s lone shoe

Tucson is not unique for having single shoes pop up all over the place. What is unique may be the frequency – and places – they pop up.

Pump in a planter/Ryn Gargulinski
Pump in a planter/Ryn Gargulinski

Anyone who has ever lost sleep wondering where these single shoes come from will be able to rest easy tonight.

The lone shoe on the side of the road:

This is an easy one. Dozens of pedestrians are hit every year here in Old Pueblo, some violently enough to get knocked out of their shoe. Many decide to cross the street willy-nilly while wearing dark clothing and avoiding crosswalks. Some trample across the road, totally ignoring any oncoming traffic, and glare at the drivers as if daring them to hit them. Others, sadly, are hit by people who are drunk, drugged, stupid or just don’t know how to drive.

The lone shoe in the wash:

These are from murder victims.

The lone shoe in the Rillito River bed:

Several theories behind this one. If the shoe has any blood on it, you can bet the person was attacked and consumed by a pack of coyotes. If the shoe is clean but stretched at the ankle, the person was a victim of a javelina. The javelina charged at them hard enough to knock off a shoe. If the shoe has teeth marks, the person must have been using it as a dog fetching toy but the dog got bored and simply left it in the sandy reeds.

The lone shoe in front of the police station:

Drunks.

Where's his shoes?/Ryn Gargulinski
Where's his shoes?/Ryn Gargulinski

The lone shoe floating down Sabino Canyon:

Another easy one, as I’ve seen it in action. A person tries to cross the stream with his shoes and socks clutched in his hand and his backpack swinging from an arm rather than properly secured on his back. He starts to tilt, loses his balance, and drops a shoe. By the time he crosses the shoe has floated far, far away and lodged itself next to a mossy rock.

The lone shoe stuck somewhere strange, like on a stick in a concrete planter on Congress Street:

Art.

Shoe in planter/Ryn Gargulinski
Shoe in planter/Ryn Gargulinski

Please don’t confuse the single shoe issue with the single sock issue. The missing socks are always stolen by those evil elves who live in the dryer.

Where’s the weirdest place you saw a lone shoe?
Did you ever lose a single shoe? What did you do?

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Electric shocks knocks man off feet in Tucson park

Tucson parks are sizzling – and not in a good way.

A man was blasted by an electric jolt Saturday at Golf Links Sports Complex, according to a report in the Arizona Daily Star. John Cole Jr., a 30-something guy who was fetching a softball, was knocked down and hospitalized, but he survived.

Eight-year-old Deshun Chance Glover, who was also jolted at a city park last summer, did not.

Electric shock hits man in Midtown park, Arizona Daily Star

Saturday’s incident follows the death last July 25 of 8-year-old Deshun Chance Glover, who was killed when a puddle he was standing in near Hi Corbett Field became electrified during a sudden thunderstorm. An investigation by the city of Tucson blamed the death on an improperly insulated splice in a cable and a faulty circuit breaker.

Last month, the City Council agreed to pay the family $1.75 million — the largest city settlement in recent history.

Saturday’s incident occurred in dry June weather after Cole went to fetch softballs hit during a soft-toss practice session for the Desert Shootout girls fast-pitch tournament, his father said. The younger Cole could not be reached for comment Monday.

The city shut down the park’s fields temporarily but reopened them without electricity while it investigates the cause. Night games at the 54-acre complex at 2400 S. Craycroft Road have been re-located.

After he retrieved the balls, Cole was thrown to the ground by the electric shock as he passed between a chain-link fence and a light pole near the field, his father said. The shock also knocked the wind out of him.

That’s pretty scary. Also reminds me of problems other cities had with corner lampposts shocking dogs. New York City dogs were repeatedly shocked while they stood waiting on the corner to cross the street. A dog in Scotland was killed when he peed on a faulty lamppost. Still others are reported on the site StreetZaps.com.

Ouch.

What may be scarier about the two Tucson park situations is they are not thought to have the same cause. That means no fell swoop of a solution will correct it.

Does this make you want to avoid city parks altogether?

Will you make any changes to protect your family, pooch and yourself at a city park?

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What's with all the rollovers?

OK, Mitch. This one is for you.

Avid TC.com reader and commenter Mitch posed a question through my e-mail:

I’m from Santa Cruz – You know, Highway 1, Big Sur, 1,000 foot cliffs straight down to the waters edge.

My question is: How come we never have any “rollovers” in our news?

Yet, I’ve been (in Tucson) five years and every day there is a rollover.

He also noted many of the rollovers happen on Interstate 10:

There’s one road, its wide, paved AND a straight shot from here to Phoenix, How do Tucsonans do it?

The thing was constructed so a 747 could land on it for Pete’s sake. (Who IS Pete by the way)?

To answer Mitch’s inquiries:

1. Why aren’t there rollovers in Big Sur?

There are few, if any, rollovers in places that have highways abutting sheer cliffs that drop to the sea, such as your former Highway 1 in Big Sur and my former Highway 101 in southern Oregon, for a simple reason.

The vehicles don’t have time to roll over when they lose control. They simply smash, crash and then dash through the guardrail right down with a splash into the water.

No room to roll/Photo by Ryn Gargulinski
No room to roll/Photo by Ryn Gargulinski

2. Who is Pete?

The “Pete” from the term “for Pete’s sake” goes back to the Bible, according to Phrases.org.uk, which offers this explanation:

“For Pete’s Sake” – The phrase is simply a polite version of a common and profane expression involving the name of Christ. We’d surmise that the original ‘Pete’ was St. Peter.” From “Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins” by William and Mary Morris.

The explanation is kind of boring, as I was hoping Pete was a tad more mysterious. But it also falls into line with a phrase I used to think I heard as a kid in church. When congregation members said en masse, “Thanks Be To God,” I actually thought they were saying “Thanks Peter God.” I thought it cute God had such an earthy name like Peter.

Any other rollover theories out there?

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Ryn: Beware of wailing baby and other Tucson scams

RYN GARGULINSKI

Illustration by Ryn Gargulinski

Never answer your door to a wailing baby.

While the obvious reason is to shield yourself from a headache, diaper change, spittle and all other fun stuff wailing babies are known to offer, it’s also to protect yourself from a scam.

One legendary ploy tells of folks who hear a wailing baby or pitifully mewling kitten right outside their door.

Being kindhearted, these folks open the door to rescue the poor waif.

They are then immediately bashed in the head with a two-by-four and left bleeding on the porch steps while the people who played the tape recording of the wailing baby or mewling kitting are free to rob the house.

While no screaming baby came to my door of late, I did have another visitor with a game that smelled as bad as the soiled baby diaper.

My first mistake was breaking one of my cardinal rules: I answered the door.

Unless you’re expecting someone, people at the door are usually nosy neighbors, bill collectors or long lost friends you wish would stay long lost.

The dude at the door said he was from an alarm company and wanted to put one of those little alarm security signs in my front yard.

In exchange for the free advertising, the company would install the system for free, a $1,200 value, said he.

He had neither a business card nor brochure to leave. He wanted an answer right then and there or he’d offer it to someone else.

He also name-dropped a neighbor who he claimed was fully delighted to go with the deal and wanted to check to make sure my home had the same layout as hers.

At this point he started pushing his way into my house.

At this point I told him to go fly a kite. I also got his name and cell phone number on a scrap of paper then swiftly called the alarm company.

Well, it took about a week to call the alarm company. I had to first ruminate about what a close call I had since the guy was surely a rapist, robber and throat-slasher disguised as an alarm man.

No, the alarm company said when I finally called, we don’t usually employ rapists, robbers and throat-slashers. Yes, we are running a similar-sounding special in your area.

The rep also said their employees should have corporate ID numbers that you can check on the company’s Web site.

It was unusual he didn’t have brochures but not that he didn’t have business cards.

“We’re trying to go green,” the rep said.

As for trying to shove his way into my house? He could have simply been a crappy salesman.

Another possible Tucson scam is the dude posing as the moving man.

A guy comes to the door with a dolly and other moving equipment. When you answer, he claims he has the wrong house. If you don’t, he promptly breaks in and takes everything you own.

Since he’s already armed with those big blankets that insure your tabletops won’t get scratched, hauling out all your belongings is no great feat.

Neighbors probably wouldn’t even blink in these days of foreclosures and repossessed belongings.

Scammers especially like to prey on single women, seniors and others who they think are vulnerable.

One senior in Indiana was left with a busted-up front porch when a scammer posed as a home improvement specialist, according to Senior Magazine Online. She scammer took a sledgehammer to the porch, took money from the senior to go get more supplies, and then never came back.

Another Indiana senior, who was unable to get outside to supervise the work, paid to have new asphalt installed on the driveway. After taking the cash, the scammer coated the top of the old driveway with motor oil to make it look black.

Have a nice day.

Your day will be even nicer if you’re always on guard, always ask for ID or a license number for professions that should be licensed and never hand over cash.

It would be nicer still if you followed my rule and simply didn’t answer the door.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist and performer who is going to keep with her belief of never answering the door. Her column appears every Friday at TucsonCitizen.com. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at www.party934.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitrizen.com

Gallery of Tucson scams, TucsonCitizen.com archives:

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