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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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Tucson views and nabes trashed by development

Tucson is not known for its skyscrapers, and I used to think it was because builders were just lazy or ran out of materials.

I later realized tall buildings would block the glorious mountain views.

One midtown neighborhood in particular is learning this firsthand, as outlined in a letter written by Kathleen Williamson.

This Feldman’s Historic Neighborhood resident sent the following letter to the Tucson Mayor, City Council, the press and any other cc she could think of. So far she said she’s gotten no response other than officials telling her it was forwarded somewhere to someone why may or may not do something about it.

Here is the Feldman’s Neighborhood Design Manual to which she refers

Letter from Kathleen Williamson to Honorable Tucson Mayor and Council:

I applaud your efforts to try to preserve the character of Feldman’s Historic Neighborhood. The effort, however, falls far short and gives too much in tax break incentives for too little effort on the part of urban density developers.

Historically, Feldman’s is not a two- or more- storied neighborhood. While you have allowed, however, for two-story or higher architecture in your design manual (which includes extensive details and suggestions about privacy and setbacks), I am shocked to discover that there is not one word about vista protection in the 100-plus pages. Most of the properties and strolls around this area provide great vistas of the Rincons, Tucson Mountains and, especially, the Catalinas.

Probably the most important characteristic of these old residential neighborhoods in Tucson is the mountain vistas. If you’ve been around these parts over the last few years, however, you’d see view after view being occluded by two story monstrosities that were built by developer Michael Goodman (who, ironically, is a non-resident panelist on the
NPZ Feldman’s Design Committee).

My views, which were part of the value of my property as well as a big contribution to my quality of life, are being ripped off more and more with each passing day. It’s become an aggravating and heartbreaking sight to behold from my house, which I have owned and lived in since 1991. My front porch used to be a pleasurable summer place to
sit and watch the monsoon storms come in over the Catalinas. Those experiences have been taken away. Now there are two two-story buildings where Pusch Ridge used to be, and two more will be built very soon obstructing the rest of the Catalina range.

My dear friend and neighbor across the street, Mrs. Canara Price, is almost 96 years old and has lived in her house since the early sixties. Her adobe house is over 100 years old. Right now, Michael Goodman is building four of his two story monstrosities at the edge of her backyard to the north and more two-story structures on the north side of the 300 Elm Street block. Mrs. Price has lost her privacy, quietude and mountain views without a request, apology, or compensation. She technically doesn’t live in Feldman’s but right across the street, on the north side of Lee.

Come on, Tucson. We can do better than this for the people who live here.

There needs to be view protection for the overall area, if not more of Tucson proper. The neighborhood just north of Feldman’s is falling prey to Michael Goodman and other developers. Much of Elm Street (one block north of Feldman’s) has been purchased by M. Goodman, and the properties near the Goodman lots suffer to the degree that they sell or will eventually have to sell (for cheap…to guess who!). Those strips of land are just north of Feldman’s, close enough that two-story and higher structures will permanently change the character of Feldman’s. What is Feldman’s, or Tucson, without views of the mountains?

Architecture does not thrive in a vacuum; it thrives in a visual context. Please make changes to the design manual to create incentives for vista preservation and vista corridors.

More importantly, the vista corridors and wide-open views also provide a free flow of breezes and air. Feldman’s is in a low lying area of this valley and is surrounded by four major arterial motorways (especially with the upcoming “improvements” and broadening of Grant Road). If more and more rows of two-story buildings in Feldman and its contiguous neighborhoods are permitted, we will be increasingly trapped in a bowl of stagnant toxic air. In the summer, add “hot” to the list of adjectives. Please give more thought to all of this.

I’d like to add that the design manual also falls short concerning healthy vegetation. The new developments have obliterated the natural desert plants and left absolutely nothing for birds, bees, and other critters (critical to the survival of all species, including ours) to thrive on. The Home Depot mono-palm trees that dominate these new Goodman type developments do not provide the necessary air cleaning and oxygen producing environment we need to be healthy.

The City Council exists first and foremost to protect the health, welfare, and safety of the citizens; not to be a supporter of environmentally destructive developments. As Ed Abbey so eloquently wrote, sometimes development is like a cancer cell, “growth for growth’s sake.”

Regardless, if Feldman’s is destined for change and density because of the expansion of the university population or to reduce urban sprawl, let’s be wise about it. If we aren’t going to be thorough and sincere about quality of life, what’s the use of “planning?”

Please take your heads out of the abstract and put your eyes and feet on the ground where we live.

I wish you the best of all resources and integrity in your endeavors.

Kathleen G. Williamson, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D.

What do you think?

Has your neighborhood fallen prey to detrimental development?

Do you think more thought should go into factors other than making money?

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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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Unidentified moth named after Tucson woman

Tucsonan Lee Walsh is a lucky woman.

Being married to a University of Arizona biologist must be exciting enough, especially if he keeps jars of fossilized specimens all over the house.

But she got extra excitement when her biologist husband Bruce Walsh, who doubles as a UA professor, discovered an unidentified moth while he was hanging out in the Chiracahua Mountains. The moth is pink, which is Lee’s favorite color.

Thus he named the moth after his beloved wife. Now officially known as “Lithophane leeae,” the moth can stop flitting around aimlessly confused while lacking an identity.

Unidentified Moth Named by UA Biologist, UAnews.org
While he only found a single Lee moth so far …Walsh said he is confident there are bound to be more. “If this thing is flying at the top of the Chiracahuas, it’s probably pretty common,” he said.
Finding it is another matter because moths like Lithophane tend to over-winter at higher elevations, hibernating when there is snow on the ground and flying off at the first signs of spring. Walsh said bats are the primary predators of moths, and so if the insects can make it through the winter, when bats hibernate, they will likely do well as the weather gets warmer.
As to why L. leeae hasn’t been found before, Walsh theorized that his specimen simply emerged late from hibernation when it was caught. Another theory is that it could be a stray from another mountain range in the region. He said there are a number of species that fly early in the summer and are rare in collections and not often seen in most years.

Having a moth named after you is certainly a thrill, much nicer than sharing your moniker with an infectious bacteria or disease. Poor Lou Gehrig.

Others are honored by sharing their names with roadways, parks and special sandwiches at the local deli.

My biggest claim to name fame is having a goat named after me, which is none too shabby if I say so myself.

A goat named Ryn/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
A goat named Ryn/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

What would you name a moth if you discovered one?

Have you ever had anything named after you?

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Wait! Don’t throw out your old TV

Here in Tucson we care about the environment, which is why we pick up our dog’s poo and refrain from leaving old couches on the side of the road.

As the digital TV switch kicks in June 12, the same respect should be given to your old and now-useless analog TV.

You can recycle the thing from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 27 at Reid Park, 22nd Street on Randolph Way, thanks to Tucson Clean and Beautiful. The agency asks you bring a $10 check or cash for each TV.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

The June 27 collection will also include other electronic stuff, like cell phones, useless computers and crummy iPods, without the fees.

Before you rush to the recycling event, consider options for disposing of your useless television set:

• Turn it into art. Gut the insides of the TV and set up a little diorama with a dinky Bert and Ernie or an entire scene with miniature plastic dinosaurs and soldiers. You can also paint, mosaic or collage all over the old TV and place it in the corner as a living room show piece.

• Turn it into furniture. Old, bulky TVs are just the right height for a bedside lamp, an end table or an entranceway piece. Throw an old blanket and some pillows on top and you’ve got yourself a foot rest.

• Make a stage for a puppet show. Gut the insides and carefully remove the front glass. Voila! You’ve got yourself a mini stage.

• Use it for anger management. Place the TV outside and far from kids, pets and loved ones and smash the glass with a sledgehammer the next time you’re upset. Make sure to clean up the debris afterwards and then head to the recycling plant or people will think you don’t care about the environment.

• Start a business. Collect the old television sets from your neighbors, coworkers and friends, charging them $20 a shot to take it off their hands. Haul all the TVs down to the recycling event, paying the $10 fee for each, and you just made a $10 per set profit.

Read past post on the digital TV switch, complete with reversed photo of the Honeymooners: Digital TV could be pain in the antenna

What are you going to do with your old TV?
Please note: Ryn is taking collections of them for a fee of $50 per set.

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