[UPDATE: Tom speaks out on video.]
Now-famous 62-year-old Bay Arean Thomas Bruso (aka Epic Beard Man, Tom Swift, and Tom Vietnam) picks fights as he rides AC Transit in the East Bay, of course, (incident video now available in high def) but he also has been known to take BART to visit San Francisco from time to time. For example, here he is near Market Street back when he was just 48, as seen by Caliber photographer Troy Holden:
“Back in 1996, I was working at the intersection of 2nd & Market. Each and every day the man pictured above would walk by my shop, wave a loaf of sourdough in my face, and scream obscenities about the San Francisco 49’ers.”
Good times, via Troy Holden
This guy is as strong as an ox and quite onery to boot, needless to say. So, could Tasers help the SFPD control and handcuff Tom (the next time he’s off his meds) and people like him should the need arise?
Let’s find out, courtesy of footage of Tom at an Oakland A’s game last year. Is this a proper use of a Taser? I don’t know. It ended up being a time-saver for the cops, certainly. Would they have felt justified in shooting Tom with bullets at that moment? Obviously not. The question after any Taser discharge is what would you have done if you didn’t have the Taser, right?
If cops view using a Taser as a first resort, you end up with a tragedy like that of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International.
Speaking of Tasers and the East Bay, check out this excellent report from Demian Bulwa about how the BART Police Department ran the initial stages of its Taser program.
That’s a poorly-run operation. What about the California Highway Patrol? They seem to do be doing better with Tasers these days. For them, a Taser is just another arrow in the quiver. Check it, a CHP officer on San Francisco’s Octavia Boulevard with his two primary weapons, a Smith & Wesson Model 4006 semi-automatic and a TASER International X26:
So why shouldn’t the SFPD have Tasers? We already trust them with handguns and assault rifles, right? We’ll end up with a few more lawsuits but with fewer dead civilians. Sounds like a win, overall.
And finally, let’s hear from the RAND Coporation. They pondered the use of Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs) for the NYPD and had this to say:
“Our key less-than-lethal force recommendations:
We reviewed reports of about 455 NYPD shootings from 2004 to 2006 and identified 25 cases where we judged that had a less-lethal weapon been available, officers may have used it to subdue suspects instead of using their handguns.
We also note that when other departments have deployed Conducted Energy Devices or CEDs, commonly known by the brand name TASER, injuries to both suspects and officers have declined.
We recognize that some groups have criticized the deployment of CEDs, raising issues of safety, overuse, and misuse. As such we recommend that the NYPD undertake a pilot program for the deployment of CEDs.
Such a program should allow patrol officers in selected precincts to be trained and equipped with CEDs that can incapacitate suspects from a distance. We believe there is evidence that if NYPD officers had access to this device, some number of officer-involved shootings could be avoided, and injuries to both suspects and police officers will decline. A carefully designed pilot program conducted over six to 12 months in a few select precincts would give the department enough information to determine whether the devices would alter the way the NYPD officers apply force and whether the weapons could be used properly.”
So, it would seem a well-executed Taser program could be a good thing for the SFPD.
Oh and yes, an apology from videographer Iyanna, after the jump