Police use Taser to disarm suicidal woman

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 | 10:34 a.m. CDT; updated 10:36 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 16, 2008

This article has been changed to reflect that the incident happened on Monday.

COLUMBIA — Columbia Police disarmed a suicidal woman wielding a large kitchen knife by shooting her with a Taser early Monday morning, a department news release said.

At 12:32 a.m., officers responded to reports of a woman struggling with a family member over a knife in a house. Officers removed the family member from the home and asked the woman to drop the knife, the release said.

Officers reported that the woman either did not understand the command or refused.

She was then shot with a Taser, causing her to drop the knife. She was taken into custody for a psychiatric evaluation at a local hospital, the release said.

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Charles Dudley Jr October 14, 2008 | 11:46 a.m.

Wow I wonder how long they actually tried to talk with her or if they called in a crisis councilor before they Tased her?

(Report Comment)
Jarrod Turner October 14, 2008 | 12:02 p.m.

good question....I wish they would get rid of Tasers. There are lots of other non lethal weapons out there that do just as good or better of a job. My dad has a pacemaker...and if they we're to fire a taser at him it would kill hopefully they would employ the new pepper guns or something better!

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 14, 2008 | 2:08 p.m.

I drove a neighbor of mine to a NAMI meeting last night and sat in to hear a presentation from a St. Louis police officer. He spoke of a successful training program, (40 hours worth), which many police departments participate in.
The program is called Crisis Intervention Training and creates a Crisis Intervention Team within each police department. This advanced police training, (C.I.T.), is available to all police departments. It gives officers other options than the conventional, "ask, tell, make-them-comply-by-force approach. It makes for a better, "to serve and protect" officer. It also helps them diffuse intense emotional/high alert situations without harmful physical consequences.
Several stories, such as the one above, were shared with us.
C.I.T. would agree that if this person wanted to commit suicide, she would have been dead before the cops got there.
C.I.T. officers would have handled the situation in a more humane manner.
Attorney Tim Harlan can put anyone interested in having our officers trained properly in touch with C.I.T. in St. Louis.
Harlen's number is in the phone book.
So too is the CPD, mayor, city manager and city council. Call them all and ask that our officers participate in Crisis Intervention Training.
It will help improve the manner in which our officers respond and make Columbia a better town to live in.
Columbia and Moberly are long overdue for this kind of training!

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 14, 2008 | 3:00 p.m.

Pepper spray does not cause the temporary loss of muscle control that a Taser does. This woman could be sprayed and still be able to injure herself. Beanbag shotguns would be a better method than pepper spray in this case I would think, but one can debate if they would be the better choice over the Taser.

At one of the Taser informational meetings that Captain Dresner held a few months back, a video (not locally produced FYI) was shown where a couple different police officers were sprayed with a pepper spray of some sort and then simulated attacks with a baton on other officers. The point demonstrated is that they were not immediately incapacitated by the spray and could continue "attacking."

A second video was shown where a different set of officers had a fake knife and were told to act as if they were attacking the camera. Again, the spray was ineffective as they continued to "stab" at the camera. They then repeated the exercise hooked up to Taser probes. When they tried to "stab" at the camera, the Taser was deployed and they fell to the mat immediately.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 14, 2008 | 3:21 p.m.

Ya let's just stop worrying about the human factor in all of this as the pro Taser bozo's always suggest towards and Taser everybody instead of actually using the oldest form of hostage negotiation known to man kind the power of speaking to people as real live human beings with feelings just as the one brandishing the Taser has.
You pro Taser idiots make my sick. They should line all of you up on the wall somewhere and use you for Taser practice since you are all pro gung ho Taser enthusiasts but then again you all talk a good game but I doubt you have the manhood or womanhood for that matter to stand up to the test if it were offered but you sure can talk a good story in favor of it now can't you.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 14, 2008 | 4:09 p.m.

Two things could have improved the following situation.
1. The fire department setting up a safety net.
2. Crisis Intervention Trained officers deployed to the scene.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 14, 2008 | 4:21 p.m.

Bozo? Idiot? Nice choice of words coming from you, Chuck. I'll go take a Taser shot if you'll take one with me. Are YOU man enough?

You are going off on this incident with almost no details released by the police, but I'm not surprised. For all you know, they tried to negotiate with the women and it did not work for whatever reason.

Ray, I don't know that the fire department has a net and do you really think it would have worked? You would probably need several station crews out there with multiple nets to cover four lanes, plus the median, plus the shoulders of I-70. Otherwise someone could maneuver around and evade any nets or airbags.

And the police department's report acknowledge they screwed up by not calling out the SWAT team with their negotiators.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 14, 2008 | 4:37 p.m.

Proper netting would have secured the area.
Crisis Intervention Trained officers would have saved this guy from a "shocking" experience.

(Report Comment)
Nate Birt October 14, 2008 | 5:34 p.m.

Hi everyone,
This is Nate Birt, one of the Missourian's teaching assistants. The disagreements that some of you are having seem to be about a police department's decision to use or not use Tasers and the process by which police departments make that decision. What, if anything, in your opinion does a police department's decision to use Tasers say about that department's mission or methods of handling particular situations?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 14, 2008 | 6:30 p.m.

First to John Schultz if the term fits wear it or do not bother reading my opinions which are upfront and to the point and I am not the one campaigning for their continued use as alot of people are. If they are so pro Taser toward people then they need to go take a shot IMHO so they actually know what they are perpetrating onto their fellow humans.That is the point.

To ray shapiro I agree that other non lethal measures could or can be used but it does seem to alot of citizens the police take the easy way out of this instead of talking as used to be done they just aim,shoot and then worry about or not worry about public opinion later.

To Nate Birt we as citizens do not see nor hear about many negotiations by the police departments these days as once was so long ago where they would actually talk to people and treat them as humans. We as citizens only hear of the point and shoot solutions the police have latched onto as the so called "easy way" to deal with humans these days. It is dam pathetic in nature when one human cannot take the time to talk to another human who might be having a psychotic break and that person really needs somebody to reach out to them not with a Taser in hand but in a genuine caring sort of way as was once done. Sure there are situations that warrant the use of force but it seems in our day and age all you see and hear is about the Tasing of citizens in these matters. Do you see where I am coming from in all of this?
What have we as humans become when the art of conversation has become limited by those who are supposed to look out for us and to protect us to a command of "Drop and get on the floor or I will Taser you".
It is totally pathetic what humans do,treat and perpetrate upon each other in our so called modern day and age and it disgusts me just as it really should disgust all who are apart of the human race if they had any sense of decency.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 14, 2008 | 7:34 p.m.

Ray, let me know about some netting that could have been quickly deployed such that the interstate was fully protected and Mr. MacDuffy would not have been able to jump if that was his intent. I just don't see that as being a practical solution, or maybe even a wise use of tax dollars when there has never been a similar need in the past. Maybe I'm wrong though.

Nate, Captain Dresner gave two presentations on the CPD's Taser user back around August I think. I don't know if the city still has tapes of his presentation available, but I found them pretty enlightening in how they described the use of Tasers. If I recall correctly, most of the Taser uses in Columbia were actually a demonstration (spark test or laser sighting) that made the person comply with the officer without any actual Taser deployment. He also displayed some videos and mentioned how the CPD Taser policy was more restrictive or would not permit a couple of the actions shown.

Chuck, people who are subjected to a Taser deployment suffer a brief muscular spasm and for the most part are unaffected just a couple minutes later. If I was under the situation where I was causing problems for the police and they decided to get me under control so to speak, I would rather it be with a Taser than batons.

How can you say that the police don't try to negotiate or talk with some of the people who have been Tasered in the past? I'll admit that I can't say they have, but seems like you are making some accusations without evidence.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 15, 2008 | 4:18 a.m.

I am making my opinions on alot of past news articles,internet research of past Taser stories openly in the news and by any and all police reports that actually get released to the public and by alot of reading of organizations that are openly against the use if Tasers.
Why don't you go ask that young Moberly man and all of those who were standing around how much negotiations were used when he got Tasered? Oh ya that's right you can't he died at the sting of the Taser before he could give his story and all of those standing around plus his mother gave their stories for him. Thank God somebody was there to give that young man's story.

(Report Comment)

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