March 28, 2006 in Nation/World

Stun gun deaths rising, report says

The Spokesman-Review

The number of people who have died in the U.S. after being shocked by police stun guns is growing rapidly, Amnesty International says in a report that catalogs 156 in the past five years.

Deaths after the use of Taser stun guns have risen from three in 2001 to 61 last year, the international human rights group said. Fourteen have died so far this year, it said, citing police and autopsy reports as well as press accounts.

Amnesty urged police departments to suspend the use of Tasers pending more study.

Taser said the study was flawed, falsely linking deaths to Taser use when there has been no such official conclusion. “We remain concerned that Amnesty International continues to ignore the fact Taser systems have been medically cleared in nearly all of these incidents,” Taser vice president Steve Tuttle said.


Judge keeps election on track

A federal judge on Monday refused to delay New Orleans’ April 22 mayoral election, telling both sides to solve any problems that might hinder displaced residents’ ability to vote.

“I recognize that there is still room for improvement in that electoral process,” U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle said.

Civil rights groups wanted to postpone what would be the city’s first municipal elections since Hurricane Katrina, arguing that too many black residents won’t be able to participate.

“We can see that train wreck coming in slow motion,” plaintiffs’ attorney Bill Quigley said Monday.

Secretary of State Al Ater said he was prepared to work with the plaintiffs and the judge. “I’m very proud of what we’re doing,” he said.


Tribal leader backs abortion clinic

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Cecelia Fire Thunder is one of the people behind the effort to put South Dakota’s near-total ban on abortions on the ballot in November.

But if the ban, which outlaws all abortions except to save the life of the mother, goes into effect, she said, she’ll work to establish a clinic on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, outside the reach of state lawmakers.

“In our culture children are sacred, but women are sacred, too, and somebody who has been victimized by rape or incest should have options,” Fire Thunder said in a prepared statement.

She said she would open a Planned Parenthood clinic on her own land if the law were to go into effect.

Sarah Stoesz, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said the organization has no plans to close the clinics it operates in Rapid City and Sioux Falls or to open new ones.

Compiled from wire reports

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