The Problem with Ray Kelly, the NYPD and Tasers


If you think that Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly—who as a young deputy inspector in 1985 was tasked by then PC Ben Ward to clean up the 106th Precinct after officers there tortured a prisoner with a stun gun—wasn’t just blowing smoke when he said he would consider a a pilot program that would arm police officers with stun guns, check out what some cops think an appropriate use of those zappers is.

A drug suspect who Southampton police said they had to Taser twice to stop him from swallowing a potentially lethal amount of cocaine died nine hours later at a Riverhead hospital, Suffolk police said Tuesday.

Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commanding officer of the Suffolk County Police Homicide squad, which is investigating the death, said the ingested cocaine, not the Taser shocks, likely caused the death, but a final determination of a cause from the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office is not expected for several weeks.

No way with a run at the mayor or possible consideration for the top Homeland Security or FBI jobs that Kelly’s opening that pandora’s box.

After Kelly’s announcement this week, Amnesty International has also asked the department to limit its use of tasers:

“Given their questionable safety record, TASERs should be used with extreme caution and not become a weapon of first resort for the NYPD,” said Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA. “Too often police departments have used these weapons as simply an alternative to lower-impact policing techniques.”

Amnesty International has tracked more than 300 cases in which individuals in the United States died after being shocked by a TASER. Nine of the deaths were in New York state, and two of them in New York City. In at least 20 cases, coroners have found TASERs to be a causal or contributory factor in the death. In only a small fraction of the 300-plus cases — about 10 percent — were the individuals carrying any kind of weapon.