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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

March 22, 2010


TIMES ARGUS, BARRE VT – Some city councilors and a handful of residents Tuesday night suggested revising a policy that governs the police department's use of Tasers, and raised questions about a local officer's decision to repeatedly use his stun gun to subdue a 58-year-old homeless woman who suffers from a mental illness.

During a lengthy discussion, councilors, who received their first official briefing on the incident that occurred last Wednesday morning in the parking lot of the Cumberland Farms on North Main Street, did not shrink from their decision to authorize the acquisition of Tasers last year. However, some told Police Chief Timothy Bombardier that the events that played out last week were not quite what they had in mind when they approved the purchase and adopted the policy outlining how officers should use the newly acquired devices.

Some councilors questioned why Cpl. Henry Duhaime chose not to call for backup before deciding to use his Taser on an arguably defiant, but not outwardly aggressive woman that he repeatedly asked to leave the parking lot of the convenience store before placing her under arrest.

According to newly released documents, Sgt. Bob Miller was parked just up the road on the corner of Second Street. Miller could see Duhaime's marked SUV, but not Duhaime or Ann Osborn, the woman he was attempting to take into custody.

According to reports, Miller responded to the scene when he heard Osborn's screams after having been tased. . .

In the use-of-force report he filed in the wake of the incident, Duhaime outlined his repeated attempts to persuade Osborn to leave the property, explained how she crossed her arms defiantly immediately before he placed her under arrest for unlawful trespass.

According to Duhaime's report, he asked the woman, whom Bombardier said is still being treated for mental issues, to put her arms behind her back twice before warning her she would be Tased if she didn't comply.

Osborn kept her arms crossed, according to the report, prompting Duhaime to unholster his Taser. As had previously been reported, Osborn responded by saying: "Give me a thrill." Duhaime then fired the Taser, but claimed the probes did not penetrate Osborn's jacket and the woman doubled over laughing.

According to the report, that's when things escalated.

"I could see that this was not getting any results so I pulled out the cartridge and went for a drive stun to Osborn's left thigh," Duhaime wrote in the report that was presented to the council. "This did have some affect and she screamed a little bit and went down on her buttocks, in the shrub area, next to the store at which time the Taser slipped off her thigh."

According to Duhaime's account that is when Osborn, who was struggling to get up, "took a swing" at his knee and missed.

"Before Osborn could get up I was able to apply a second drive stun to her right thigh," he wrote. "This again kept her down and she began to scream. I advised her to roll over and place her hands behind her back, which she did and the Taser came off her leg losing contact again.

"Now Osborn was still screaming without the Taser being on her, and would still not put her hands behind her back," he continued. "I again applied the drive stun to the back of her left thigh. Osborn finally complied, put her hands behind her back at which time I was able to get the handcuffs on her and take her into custody."

Bombardier told councilors Duhaime did shout "Taser, Taser, Taser" as required by the policy and, he believed was appropriately used the weapon to subdue and "actively resistant" subject.

That said, Bombardier conceded there were some issues that deserved review. Among them, he said, was the less-than-effective use of the Taser and a need to consider training in identifying and handling subjects with mental issues.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Went for a drive stun"? Sounds like he was calling a football play.

March 22, 2010 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America's Police and Sheriff Departments are becoming more and more like chapters of lawless bullying "skinheads".

Our military isn't much better.

Government contracted mercenaries are like skinheads on steroids.

As for the "free lancers" working for corporations? Nothing less than criminally insane sociopaths. If they can't find work here The Knesset would hire them in a minute


March 23, 2010 1:02 AM  

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