By Heather Digby Parton
The horrific story of the unarmed Walter Scott’s death at the hands of Officer Michael Slager continues to reverberate. Aside from the incontrovertible evidence on the tape that the accused officer shot him in the back as if he were doing target practice, there has since emerged more tape of the traffic stop itself and audio of the officer speaking with his superiors on the phone raising even more questions about his state of mind at the time of the shooting. But as journalists have gone back and studied the officer’s record and found that he was previously investigated for taser abuse. And on even further investigation it was found that this jurisdiction is known as “Taser town”:
Until the eight shots heard ’round the world, cops in North Charleston, South Carolina, were primarily distinguished by their zesty use of Tasers.
As computed by a local newspaper in 2006, cops there used Tasers 201 times in an 18-month period, averaging once every 40 hours in one six-month stretch and disproportionately upon African Americans.
The Charleston Post & Courier did the tally after the death of a mentally ill man named Kip Black, who was tasered six times on one occasion and nine times on another. Black died immediately after the second jolting, though the coroner set the cause of death as cocaine-fueled “excited delirium syndrome.”
It’s important to note that Taser International has spent large sums convincing local coroners that this syndrome (which primarily seems to kill people in police custody) makes it the victim’s responsibility if they have the bad luck to die from being shot full of electricity with a taser. It’s not just illegal drugs in the system which can allegedly cause it. Adrenaline can as well. So if a person fails to remain calm in face of an arrest and finds the feeling of 50,000 volts going through their system to be stressful they have no one to blame but themselves if they die.