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US Airways Passenger Lucky to be Alive as TSA Tases Man Leaving Item on Plane

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US Airways has had repeated problems and now one of its passengers has been tased after leaving an item on-board a plane. Despite the weapon causing nearly 700 deaths since introduction, TSA uses a taser twice on an unarmed man in Sacramento's California airport. It claims a man writhing on the floor in pain "wouldn't stop," tasing the unarmed man a second time.
TSA decided it was an excellent choice to tase a passenger flying into California, arriving at Sacramento International Airport, after the traveler refused to go through security a second time. Whether the passenger was panicked that the item he left on board would go missing is unclear. What is known is he was trying to get back to the plane he'd just departed, trying to retrieve an item left behind.
U.S. Airways certainly doesn't be part of this one. The airline's already had its host of recent problems. In recent times the airline hasn't only hiked overweight luggage fees. And Video footage of maggots falling from overhead plane bins are the least of the airline's problems.
US Airways arrested its own passenger for sagging pants in a ridiculous scandal where the DA later refused to prosecute or press charges. The airline's safety has been questioned after U.S. Airways allowed a passenger to stand during takeoff and flight, the traveler unable to fit in his seat next to an obese fellow traveler. And reportedly the airline yanked a passenger using the bathroom too often. But it was actually just weeks ago that U.S. Airways made headlines again.
It wasn't such a happy holiday season for a family flying U.S. Airways between Christmas and New Year's. On December 29, an entire family of six was kicked off a U.S. Airways plane for having too many kids -- despite the fact that parents had met all airline requirements pertaining to age. The airline physically allowed and cleared all six family members to board the plane before booting them from the flight. It's outrageous, and only the most recent in a string of incidents, but at least the family is safe and alive.
Edwin Barton is alive too. But perhaps TSA wanted to make sure that would be the case after tasing the man not once, but twice. U.S. Airways surely isn't looking forward to the controversy sparked by TSA only moments after one of its passengers got off a flight. Oh, how time passes: It was just months ago that naked scans and image transfer were monumental problems. But now, Sacramento TSA is upping the ante -- creating life-or-death scenes on par with playing Russian Roulette.
TSA made sure Barton got to the hospital after what's been dubbed a 'brief struggle'. If it was brief, it was long enough for an agent to use a weapon twice on a man, before booking him at Sacramento County Main Jail. The charges: resisting and obstructing law enforcement and intentionally avoiding submission to airport security screening. Those charges, by the way, will come to serve well for TSA in the future -- should Edwin Barton choose to file a lawsuit. Unlike Barton, law enforcement always has all its ducks in a row for those claims that are sure to arrive. In the meantime, the best questions is how does this type of scenario all occur over a common occurrence, like a missing item left on board? It's a question TSA officials should be responding to, in detail -- and addressing the agent(s) handing in what could easily have been a deadly occurrence. This needs scrutiny.
After exiting the plane on arrival to California, the young man reportedly exited the secured baggage claim area -- then tried to go back to the plane, telling TSA officials he'd forgotten an item that was left on-board. No, he didn't simply force himself back through security. TSA agents wouldn't let him back through, and didn't screen the man. And it's completely unclear why security officials didn't contact the boarding or arrivals gate for U.S. Airways in efforts to contact airline employees, to help recover the left item. That's kind of one of those simple things that could've helped avoid a melee. But that would require effort, be it minimal.
Instead TSA instructed the man to get in line for a pass from the U.S. Airways ticket counter, which the previous passenger did in fact do -- obviously with time ticking away. After returning to the security checkpoint with the recently issued pass, the scenario turned sour. TSA claims the man refused his baggage be screened again. After a man has already stood in line and taken the time to get an official pass issued, the statement seems a bit simplified. It seems likely that panic began to set in, after time passing, and perhaps an increased possibility of not being able to retrieve the left item. Whatever the issue, somehow TSA found itself incapable of handling the situation -- or simply arresting the man if the agency deemed necessary. The agency used a taser.
TSA claims the man attempted to pass the checkpoint and that somehow a Sheriff’s deputy -- responsible for monitoring one of the most crucial parts of an airport -- was unable to stop the US Airways passenger. The official claim is that the man broke away from the deputy's grasp and began to run past security. Technically an inch would be "past". It's unclear how far the guy got, if in fact he did pass the checkpoint at all, but the extremely interesting part is that the same deputy -- supposedly so involved in a physical struggle -- was apparently easily able to access that Taser, and use it. He must be an octopus with the ability to do all of those things simultaneously in the midst of chaos. Or the Taser was accessed far faster than a dedication to struggle.
It may make slightly more sense if the scenario included a second officer being required to deploy a Taser. That would imply a serious grappling scene that had taken place. It all sounds mighty strange. And it sounds even stranger considering the part the media isn't talking about -- that the former passenger was actually tased twice.
If once isn't good enough, two times is a charm: "The deputy deployed his taser in an effort to gain compliance from [Edwin] Barton. Barton fell to the ground, but then attempted to pull the taser barbs off of him as he continued to refuse the deputy’s orders to stop. The deputy re-deployed the taser and summoned assistance from other officers." That's right, Edwin Barton was tased not once but twice. A second tase likely increases the odds of death for the victim. And it may be understandable in certain scenarios where officers are in a life-or-death situation. This is not one of those scenarios.
A Taser device uses highly-compressed air to shoot two fish-hook style barbs, copper piecews that carry 50,000 volts of electricity through wires -- essentially pumping an overwhelming electric shock into the human body. The electricity is staggering to body function, creating a blast of confusion that hits a person's central nervous system like a dagger -- and causes loss of motor control until the Taser's trigger is released.
The law enforcement is claiming that an unarmed man, laying on the ground while in the throes of electrical shock -- and having the natural human reaction of trying to remove the barbs causing that pain -- "continued to refuse the deputy’s orders to stop." Following officer instruction is one thing. Experiencing a human reaction to yank out barbs, that doesn't involve battling or threatening an officer -- and an officer using that scenario as 'refusal' and reason to deploy a potentially deadly weapon a second time -- is another. It would seem that officer also had a good grip on not releasing the trigger after the first strike, the man struggling with the painful barbs. Yes, there's very good reason taser use by police officers and law enforcement has become so controversial. And this instance is one of them.
If it seems like a good thing that TSA doesn't carry guns, it may well be -- except for the common misconception that tasers themselves aren't deadly. Aside from whatever hefty legal cost is involved with defending himself, Edwin Barton is very lucky to be alive. A taser is not a weapon that simply stops humans. It kills. And unlike police officers being able to shoot a person to disable and not kill, law enforcement has no idea when taser use will prove deadly to the victim.
Ironically, the Taser's been marketed as "a non-lethal weapon". That may have been the intent. But what a company hopes for is not necessarily what provews true. And if over 600 deaths are "non-lethal", it's hard to say what the manufacturer considers lethal. It may serve as one of the largest cases of misadvertising -- considering the weapon's history -- to ever strike the nation.
The amount of taser-related deaths, since creation by twin brothers who created the weapon and introduced it roughly two decades ago, is staggering. Current reports say 515 people have died because of Tasers since 2001 and 679 have died in incidents related to the weapon since its arrival. A Taser isn't just a stun gun -- and newer, more advanced versions of the latest Tasers continue to be introduced. While machine guns are banned in the U.S., the newest X2 Taser has "an improved power magazine that can fire up to 500 times." And now, it seems, officers no longer even require good aim since the X2 offers dual lasers "to help take the guesswork out of aiming." The latest model also has "back up shot capability for multiple targets" -- maybe just in case someone in the background wants to get stunned by one too.
Death from a Taser can be as simple as a heart condition or drug interaction simply kills the victim. It might even be simpler yet because Tasers are just being studied to find why people die and the weapon's effects aren't entirely yet known: Death from a taser could be related to a person's excitement level -- and, in instances where a taser is deployed, the odds of excitement being through the roof is likely. It's one of the most controversial subjects in law enforcement.
Increased risk factors for death from taser use are though to include people suffering from epilepsy, those with pacemakers, people who are ill or on medication, those who may suffer from mental illness and those with past or current substance abuse issues. It's thought the severe electrical shock from a taser may disrupt the human heart beat, interrupt an ability to breathe or even cause irreversible brain damage, or interrupt acid-based (PH) balances in the human body. It all covers a wide range of people. And yet tasers continued to be used throughout the United States -- essentially without any control or serious monitoring in place. Unlike use of firearms, a fact among the most frightening is that police departments often develop their own policies pertaining to what has proved a very deadly weapon -- with no state regulation.
Despite lack of regulation and the argument that many police officers aren't officially trained, with 16,000 agencies across the U.S. using the weapon, Taser use among law enforcement is on the rise.
Taser use has become increasingly common among officers, in situations where it's questionably far from warranted. In Illinois, an officer tased a man after he wanted to view his wife's sobriety test that was being performed roadside on New Year's Day. When told to get back into the car, the man reportedly obeyed. But an officer claimed the man had obstructed his efforts and allegedly pulled the man back out of the vehicle -- to tase him. In Washington, a sheriff tased an unarmed and naked man having sex on his lawn -- then charged him with assault after tasing him twice.
"Don't tase me, bro!" was the video shot heard 'round the world in 2007 when University of Florida student Andrew Myers was tased by school police in a packed courtroom -- a video of the scene viewed over six million times. The scene was unbelievable. Over 100 hundred people have died since.
The brothers who created the taser, after bettering a stun gun by using parts from ACE Hardware parts, have been on media rounds just this week -- talking up supposed benefits of the weapon, no doubt foreseeing a backlash over recent deaths of people being tased. Of course they wouldn't want to see that industry die: The taser isn't a multi-million dollar industry, it's a multi-billion dollar industry. 60 Minutes just covered the topic in November and talk of the Taser and deaths are making their rounds again this week.
A State Bureau of Investigation probe has just completed in North Carolina, findings now released. A man in Fayetteville was stunned by a police officer's taser, because police say he was erratically jumping in and out of traffic. The man had cocaine in his system which the agency claims was four times the lethal dose. Oddly, he was very much alive before an officer sent a high dose of electrical shock through his body -- the combination deadly. In other words, he was still alive before meeting with officers.
And only days ago in North Carolina, a high school came under fire after a school officer of Kernersville Police Department used a taser on a student -- simply to break up a fight. Or to break up a non-fight. That part's questionable since video seems to show two kids swinging in the air without ever landing a blow. No, there was no weapon involved. But a school officer saw fit to use a potentially deadly weapon.
Just days ago, in California, a Colton man was killed by a police taser -- where witnesses say he was tased multiple times. A family can now be wracked with guilt because of officer response after a member phoned 911 emergency services because the man was intoxicated. Police called him "combative" when the man wouldn't calm down. Alcohol will do that, as will the thought of being arrested. Officers were called to the scene by worried family. The man, family, is now dead.
It was less than half a year ago, the weapon made headlines again when it came under fire with three people dead in one weekend after police taser use in August: In separate instances, police officers killed a completely naked man, a student whom had balled up his fists, and a partially handcuffed man whom had reportedly taken drugs. The scenario involved one of the involved agencies to immediately cease taser use within the University of Cincinnati Police Department.
The Taser manufacturer's been sued at least 170 times over claims of serious injury or death related to use of its weapon, including a major lawsuit that saw the city of Charlotte settle for $600,000 related to its officer's actions and a subsequent court trial against manufacturer. A jury awarded the family not one but $10 million in a verdict against Taser International. The North Carolina cop behind the teen's death pumped about 50,000 volts through a 17-year-old's body -- for approximately 37 seconds. It seems the jury was convinced that Taser International knew its product could cause heart problem if those barbs went into the body near a person's heart, but failed to warn customers -- aka, the law enforcement using it. If that ten million dollar verdict sounds big, it doesn't come close to the profits Taser International sees: The company makes literally billions off the device it touts as being so safe, in direct contradiction to the hundreds of repeated instances of deaths and injury that continue to occur weekly. 
CEO Rick Smith's been quoted as saying: "Occasionally, sadly, someone gets hit by a Taser and dies, and that becomes the whole story." It's an interesting viewpoint. Maybe that's because peoples' lives do become the "whole story" once they're dead. And Smith's input on those who've died after Taser use seems extremely broad: The Taser International CEO's referenced a physical state dubbed "excited delirium" and instances of people being on drugs and 'hyper-agitated'. In reality those aren't the sole instances where people have died -- far from it. People use prescription medications to treat illnesses and there's no proof those people are any less susceptible to injury by Taser.
For lack of a better term, the illegal drug 'explanation' continues to rotate in conversations concerninge use of Taser devices. It may be a topic better down-played by the weapon inventors. Intended or not, the portrayal or insinuation is that those people who die from a Taser -- and have illegal drugs in their system -- are at fault for their own deaths. Whether someone has a drug problem is their issue and their actions are theirs, but being Tased isn't their choice -- and they don't deserve to die at the hands of a product, or have that death be attributed as their own fault.
Over half a million law enforcement officers -- or roughly 600,000 police -- now carry Tasers. It's approximately every three minutes that someone in the United States alone is Tased by law enforcement, by the instrument that Taser International admits has a higher litigation budget for some years than funds dedicated to research. That's the U.S. stat for frequency. The Taser is used in 107 countries.
Police departments might feel differently about Tasers if the tables were turned: In fact, for all the law enforcement claims about how successful and worthy the weapon is, cops that been tasered don't like it. They might even hate it. Agencies often require a tasing experience for police officers -- though that 'experienced' usually varies drastically from the one police victims get to encounter.
For those who don't believe police are treated differently in their experiences with Taser testing, here's some video footage. This video of a Taser rep shows testing limited to the officer's leg -- not the commong, regular street use of the device where officers instead routinely aim the weapon at a victim's front or chest area as a target. In fact the Taser rep not only suggests using the officer's legs but also admits its his normal suggestion to potential clients.
There's a reason some cops really don't like Tasers -- or actually hate the device. That's right, the weapon that has been argued as literally 'torture' as far as Canada is equally unpopular among law enforcement in the United States -- at least among those who have suffered the same fate as citizens who become victims. Police officers die too with Taser use. Yes, cops die even though their testing typically involves a far different scenario than the average citizen encounters: When Tasers are tested on police officers for 'training', barbs are almost always shot into the officer's back -- not the chest. That practice probably has something to do with the allegation that people tased close to the heart region may be far more likely to die or sustain injury. In fact, a ten million dollar lawsuit against Taser International convinced a jury of that truth.
Law enforcement itself including police officers and agencies have sued Taser International over deaths and damages related to use of the weapon. Lawsuits have ironically followed simple 'testing' of the weapon so many agencies claim is safe -- and, in tests, that weapon's proved fatal. Taser International has been sued at least 14 times by law enforcement agencies over the weapon -- including a lawsuit filed by a Chief of Police who claims having suffered "two strokes, loss and impairment of his vision and hearing, neurological damage, a head injury and 'significant cardiac damage" after being stunned by a Taser. He's one cop left alive to sue.
Strangely enough, Taser International doesn't talk about those law enforcement claims against the company, including injuries and deaths sustained by actual officers during simple 'training'. Surely the product is safe. Very safe. Or not safe enough to even protect officers during what should be a basic training.
Taser International doesn't want lawsuits. But suits aren't really a threat to the company. The manufacturer's made clear that it refuses to settle legal claims. And that, of course, boosts its odds of never paying out for certain cases. Even with catastrophic scenarios like death, not everyone can afford to legally see a trial through or fund expert witness costs that have to be paid in advance -- particulary against a huge company that can funnel million upon million into its legal team. For those that do sue, lawsuits take years to wend through the court system. In the meantime, the company continues to rake in the dough. Even the largest, forced payouts are about on par with an annoying fly in comparison to incoming profits. And those profits are good. Very, very good. 
At the close of 2011, Taser International brought in roughly US $90 million dollars -- $73 million of which was directly related to the Taser product. And the company's latest product is an interesting one that doesn't involve the Taser -- while it truly does. It's brought out a brand-new product it hopes to be quite a moneymaker for the company. And it could be, in more ways than one: While Taser International sells its newest Axon units at $1500 bucks apiece plus nearly that price again (about $1200 additional) for cloud data storage, it seems the company just may be protecting itself twice. It sells a product and garners itself some legal protection too. 
The helmet-mounted Axon a video surveillance device to records police officer response to calls -- then save that footage as data available online, at a spot called "". That 'evidence' could double for two. It'd be surprising if Taser International didn't include its ability to access that stored data at any time -- just in case of those certain future lawsuits. In the meantime, the taser manufacturer's got a new client in its sights: the military. The new Axon's being marketed for military use -- though, ironically, Taser International's got another product that's probably far more suited.
If you believe this weapon should be banned from use -- and battles civil rights -- or have a story or information related to Taser use, how it's affected you or someone you know, and the potentially deadly dangers related to the device that should arguably be barred, pease sign up now add your wack at Be one of the people courageous enough to speak out against Tasers -- the device that equals an untimely and unnecessary death for so many. The time you take to share your voice could help save a life. Only your individual stories and experiences can help change the world. Wacktrap makes your stories heard, and matter -- to make change.


Sacramento International Airport TSA
6900 Airport Boulevard
Sacramento , CA 95837
United States
Phone: (916) 874-0681
38° 41' 33.6696" N, 121° 35' 16.5876" W
Taser International
17800 North 85th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85255-6311
United States
Phone: (480) 991-0797
Fax: (480) 991-0791
33° 38' 53.5668" N, 111° 53' 54.2004" W
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