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Taser Death Autopsy Overdue

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   By William Boardman  panthers007@comcast .net 


None of the officials involved in Vermont's first taser death will explain why it's almost three months since a Vermont State trooper tasered Macadam Mason, a 39-year-old epileptic artist who died almost immediately, and there's still no completed autopsy report. 


The same officials in two states, Vermont and New Hampshire, also failed to reveal last June that Taser International, the taser manufacturer, almost immediately intervened in the investigation, submitting guidance and background information for the Vermont State Police and the NH medical examiner's office that was in the midst of performing Mason's autopsy.  That was June 21 and Taser's involvement remained unknown to the public until reported September 9 by the Burlington Free Press


Taser's covert intervention into Mason's taser-related death is part of apparently long-standing policy on the company's part to intervene as early as possible to protect the Taser brand from bad publicity.  With some 500 taser-related American deaths since 2001, Taser has already changed its characterization of its 50,000 volt stun gun from "non-lethal" to "less lethal." 


Taser's approach to taser deaths is to challenge anyone suggesting that taser was in any way to blame.  Last July when ran a story headlined, "Taser Death In Vermont: Trooper Zaps Unarmed Epileptic Artist,"  Stacey Todd of Taser International posted a comment asserting that: "It's premature to describe Mr. Mason's death as a "Taser death.'  To simply infer that the use of one police tool may be to be to blame for this man's death is irresponsible as there are no facts to support that causal relationship." 


All reports of the event of June 20 are consistent, relating that when trooper David Schaeffer shot his taser at Macadam Mason, Mason dropped to the ground and never regained consciousness. He was taken to a hospital in NH where he was pronounced dead. 


When asked, "do you think Mason would be dead even if no taser was used," the Taser International spokesperson did not answer the question.  Instead, Stacey Todd wrote that: "Until a medical expert, coroner or medical examiner, determines a cause of death it's speculation to state that the Taser device caused Mr. Mason's death." 


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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)
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