Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Detroit Protest Calls For End to Use of Tasers

May 22, 2009

Protest calls for end to use of Tasers

BY STEVE NEAVLING
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

More than 100 protesters marched at the 8 Mile border of Detroit and Warren on Thursday, calling for the end of Tasers by police in the wake of the death of a 16-year-old Detroit boy in April.

The protesters, organized by the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, also called for the termination of Warren police officers who chased Robert Mitchell into an abandoned house in Detroit on April 10 after he fled police during a traffic stop.

Police said Mitchell was shot with a stun gun after he refused to stop. He died a short time later. The cause of death has yet to be determined by the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office.

"This isn't just about Robert. We need to save all the children," Mitchell's mother, Cora Mitchell, told those gathered before the marchers moved out.

Robert Mitchell's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Warren in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

"This is about human beings getting together to stop the killing. We have to stop this madness," said protester Sandra Hines, 55, of Detroit.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer said his officers followed procedure.

"The Taser is an acceptable tool throughout this country and has probably saved thousands of lives," he said.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Dead teen's family, friends march against Taser use

Family, supporters of teen who died protest police use of devices

Christine Ferretti / The Detroit News

Detroit -- Desperate for answers, the family of a teen who died after being zapped with a Taser by Warren police assembled Thursday for a peaceful march they hope will change police policy on the use of force.

More than 100 family members, friends and anti-brutality advocates attended, pinning on ribbons and wearing T-shirts with photos of Robert Mitchell, 16, who died April 10 in an abandoned home on Pelkey. The scene was just blocks away from the park where supporters rallied Thursday near the Boys and Girls Club on Schoenherr.

"Robert Mitchell is going to be the catalyst for peace. He didn't die for nothing," Sandra Hines of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality told the crowd. "It's so important to bridge together between Warren and Detroit. We want peace."

Group organizers said they hope to establish a "Warren-Detroit" peace zone, urge law enforcement agencies to suspend use of Tasers and see the officers who shocked Mitchell prosecuted.

Warren Police said the Detroit Kettering High School sophomore bailed out of the Dodge Stratus he was riding in during a traffic stop on Eight Mile near Schoenherr, and led officers on a half-block chase. He was stunned one time with a Taser for resisting when officers tried to pat him down. Shortly after, he became unresponsive and died.

Carrying signs with messages scrawled in black marker, including "No more Tasers," the group set out toward Eight Mile after 6 p.m., chanting along the way.

"This is a blessing," said Mitchell's mother, Cora Mitchell, of the outpouring of support. "We need to take back our neighborhood."

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer said Thursday that Tasers have saved lives and his officers acted in accordance with department policy.

"There was no misconduct on the part of any police officers from Warren," he said. "I wouldn't tolerate any brutality and there hasn't been any."

Mitchell's family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Warren over his death.

The Macomb County Medical Examiner's Office on Thursday said autopsy results are pending. Preliminary toxicology testing revealed marijuana in the youth's system, but it is unknown if the drug contributed to his death.

cferretti@detnews.com (586) 468-0343

Find this article at:
http://www.detnews.com/article/20090522/METRO03/905220376/Dead-teen-s-family--friends-march-against-Taser-use

1 comment:

Villager said...

I encourage your blog readers to sign our online petition asking for congressional hearings on these taser torture incidents.

Robert Mitchell was the 14th person killed by taser in America this year. Six more have died since he did. 50% of the taser-related deaths in America this year are Black men.

When will we stand up and say 'Enough'.

peace, Villager