by Emmett R Smith
HERE Is the update on last week’s doings in connection with the end-of-the-year killing by Mankato police, of Mr Rick Vosburgh on 30 December 2008 :
[IT Would seem that matters now are shaping themselves into an inquiry into the Taser, the Taser company, it’s sales and data and support and marketing practices — BW]
MR Nemo of this place specifically states that a self-described cousin of the brother-in-law who negotiated the surrender to police, in the 23 December 2006 Mr Skjervold matter, said to him (Mr Nemo, eg) that the police jumped Mr Jeffrey Skjervold with a Taser on his way out of the house to surrender. For whatever reason, the gimmick did not work, Mr Skjervold ran back indoors and began blazing away at his perceived tormentors, two police were badly wounded and Mr Skjervold was then shot to death by the police.
WE Are now awaiting the public police report on this 2006 matter, as the “shield law” case was just lately resolved in behalf of the press here by a state court.
IN The 30 December 2007 Mr Rick Vosburgh matter, and in a distinct contrast, the police have released already their public report
and there seems to be little doubt in the public mind about this affair. It is probably because Mr Vosburgh is rather uncharitably blackguarded and portrayed (by the spokesmen of an organization whose self-described mission is “To Protect & To Serve” in imitation gold leaf on its vehicle doors) as a plain nutter who was in the extremest elation of a bipolar dire mania, his condition further aggravated by illegal drugs and the fact that apparently he had stopped taking his official state-subsidized medication for schizophrenia, as well. He was as well said to be in the process of attempting to commit rape. Also, the police say that on their arrival he (Mr Vosburgh, eg) was stark naked as the proverbial jaybird and had one of two intended rape victims by the throat and was not inclined to be reasonable. There in fact ensued a Godawful battle royal, say police, a good deal of bad language got used, there were howls and bellows and strangled yelps, and an officer was positively thrown downstairs by the volatile and prancing Vosburgh. Moreover in the course of the general excitement, and when he was tasered possibly up to three times whilst brandishing a portion of a shattered mirror or windowpane at the baffled and raging authorities, Mr Vosburgh tore the repeated prongs from his naked breast with gleeful roars and sneers and, thus, finally was shot to death.
IT Was by all accounts an episode from the pen of Mr Jack Vance.
THE Shooter — in contrast to the Mr Skjervold matter — in the Mr Vosburgh case has been identified as Ms Officer Ellis, a female. And perhaps her attainment is some kind melancholy first, for Mankato women….
ALL Of this admittedly thin gruel thus far only yields initially perhaps six (6) questions that I can think of:
1) In the Mr Skjervold matter, which involved several jurisdictions converging on a night-time possible hostage situation, how consistent was the state of their training and rules of engagement to that date, with the Taser?
2) Were the authorities in fact possibly using a novel, or at least rare hereabouts, situation on 23 December 2006 as a previously-agreed ad hoc training opportunity, to rehearse new theories and guesswork about innovations in hostage situations management?
3) More specifically, were there unanticipated difficulties with effective deployment of the Taser posed by the fact that the subject had on perhaps several layers of clothing?
4) IE, Why did Mr Skjervold remain in a condition to run back into the house and take up arms against his would-be “helping professionals?”
5) AND, Does a part of the problem perhaps stem from a doctrine or notion in postmodern policing which has by now trickled down into the corn & hog counties, that when any suspect in any gunplay surrenders he then must be jumped and given snuggies and tasered and held down and given Indian wrist burns, and everything else possible be done to him, to “insure” that he “stays surrendered?”
6) MR Skjervold was described as distraught, whereas Mr Vosburgh is represented as an outright dancing devil, a howling dervish and a maniac — on this continuum of “dysfunctional” mentalities then, are we now finding that the Taser in fact only further stimulates and entices the very uproar it is allegedly designed to abate?
THIS Final question below may seem ludicrous, of course, but when I was a night-time janitor at the “copshop” here in 1988-9 during a downturn, the police had briefly then a Christawful time I believe it was with some chargers for their vest-microphones. Whereas now Mr Vosburgh is described as having been naked as a baby, this in distinct contrast to Mr Skjervold of course, and seemingly he should therefore have been an ideal target for the electrical machinery. So the question must be asked, here:
7) IN This most-recent Mankato case, were all of the Tasers — or, any? — in proper order and wholly charged?
CONSEQUENTLY To all of the foregoing, I was contacted by people who are advocates in Mankato, on behalf of the mentally ill. Their decent and humane interest may thereby help to point out a moral to us all:
FOR We now all do know, I hope, that the Taser seemingly is being pitched to beat Hell by the Taser company on account of the “Homeland Security” made-for-Tee Vee “free” money boondoggle & giveaway & swindle. The Taser company, says an Arizona cop
provides “careful training” to the police, in Taser use. I bet. A pinch will get you a pound, furthermore, that the Taserites offer swell discounts to any agency chiefs (like Red Indians) that can drag in as many neighboring jurisdictions as possible, on discounted bulk purchases and so on. Marketing, then, is an additional factor that drives all of the “coordinated” nine-county multiagency hoopla hereabouts, no doubt about it. As an historical matter, it all is a function of widening corruption as more and more classes are subsidized and allowed to get away with calling themselves “professional.” Alas, the miserable fate of the American clientle, in other words, today, all the rest of us. In this particular case, the great danger is that the mentally ill become a contention-bone as between the jaded psychiatric and the increasingly-militarized policing “communities.” Hopefully, our local advocacy chapter for the mentally ill can expose some of the depths of this swinishness….
AND, If the Taser company be pitching their bill of goods as hard as they can before the “Homeland Security” giveaway expires, then we can close in at last on the most God-damnable question of them all:
WHAT Accumulating body of evidence from its law-enforcement customers may the Taser company indeed be suppressing, about counterproductive experiences specifically with persons who are mentally ill?
IN This last and be there be culpability, then there is a Pulitzer Prize in it all for somebody, by God!
[Emmett R Smith all rights reserved 14 January 2008]