Police Accused of Tasering Washington Man Four Times Before He Collapsed and Died

140512_tased_bigWe have discussed a long litany of taser controversies including the recent tasering of a 10 year old boy. Now, in University Place in Washington, Ron Hillstrom is dead after he was reportedly tasered by four officers — each tasering the man. Hillstrom died after the encounter with the police.

Witnesses reported that they saw the four officers confront 44-year-old Hillstorm. One neighbor said that Hillstorm was pacing around the parking lot. She said that he told them that “you’re not the police” and walked in a circle. When the circle returned to the police, she says that they hit him with four individual tasers at the same time. That witness also claimed that one of the officers struck Hillstrom several times with a flashlight .

The Sheriff’s Office insisted that Hillstrom was resisting and has a history of police encounters with 26 arrests. This includes prior convictions for assault and drugs. Hillstorm was reportedly holding screwdriver but witnesses insisted that he was not threatening anyone with the tool.

To make matters worse, officers in Pierce County later used tasers on a suicidal 80-year-old man.

There is a disagreement on the number of taser hits. Witnesses say four, police say two because one missed. The initial autopsy also did not reveal blunt force injuries to his head, though a full autopsy will take time. The striking difference of accounts between officers and witnesses is difficult to reconcile.

Source: Komo News

Kudos: Michael Blott

37 thoughts on “Police Accused of Tasering Washington Man Four Times Before He Collapsed and Died

  1. I think we are going to have to wait until the coroner’s inquest before we have a better idea on what transpired.

    A standard procedure would be to take each of the officers’ Tasers and download the information on it. That will show who fired what and if contact was made and if multiple shocks were initiated and for how long. Plus, if there were punctures of the skin or areas receiving shocks, that should be noted in the autopsy report.

  2. Police: judge, jury and executioners. When are public officials going to do something to stop this out of control behavior. Police do these things because they get away with them. Tasers are NOT non lethal. These officers should be fired and prosecuted.

  3. Americans….. Start carrying guns, to protect yourself from the Police…….!

  4. I am sure Taser has already contacted its attorneys. And since our discussions of cops firing 200 rounds and not hitting anything, I can believe the two cops missed. There are some new studies on the lack of reliability of witnesses.

  5. Darren – even with the coroner’s verdict, I doubt anything official will happen to the cops, the relatives are sure to sue though. They are probably sorting through business cards of attorneys as we speak.

  6. There are also privacy risks but police body cameras may reduce this type of police corruption or make it easier to prosecute officers that intentionally turn off the cameras when these color of law crimes are perpetrated.

    The ACLU (www.ACLU.org) did a complete assessment of requiring police to wear body cameras and with proper policies in place this technology could reduce this type of police corruption.

  7. Ross – the problem with body cameras is who gets to pay for them? Including a police car, etc. we are probably on the hook for $75K of equipment for each officer on the force over their job life.

  8. You don’t think that the cops meet with lawyers every year to decide which offenses they will commit so the lawyers can make money? Should we be investigating to see if there is a connection between police unions and the ABA?

  9. 10 Rules for Dealing with the Crazy

    1. If you don’t have to deal with a crazy person, don’t.
    2. You can’t outsmart crazy. You also can’t fix crazy. (You could outcrazy it, but that makes you crazy too.)
    3. When you get in a contest of wills with a crazy person, you’ve already lost.
    4. The crazy person doesn’t have as much to lose as you.
    5. Your desired outcome is to get away from the crazy person.
    6. You have no idea what the crazy person’s desired outcome is.
    7. The crazy person sees anything you have done as justification for what crazy’s about to do.
    8. Anything nice you do for the crazy person, crazy will use as ammunition later.
    9. The crazy person sees any outcome as vindication.
    10. When you start caring what the crazy person thinks, you’re joining crazy in crazy’s craziness.

  10. Lrobby99

    “As bad as yet another Taser onslaught may be, at least it wasn’t a hail of bullets.”

    So what’s the difference to the victim?

  11. Paul S,

    Developed for and used by NYC subway train passengers.
    Try them at 2:00am on the A train going to 1 Police Plaza. It could be a life saver.

  12. Reblogged this on angrymanspeaks and commented:
    Politics is politics and I understand the games that politicians play but while My President and his Vice are giving awards to Cops for saving lives etc.; other Cops are out there doing the everyday grunt work of beating and killing innocent civilians. Sadly; tomorrow; one of those cops who were awarded so ceremoniously for bravery and good work; is just as likely to be involved in the oppression of my friends and neighbors and/or the enforcement of unenforceable and unconstitutional laws by use of “Lethal Taser Attack” with three or four non-lethal Tasers at once. You just knew really; didn’t you? Like me you have been waiting for some “Cowboy Cop” to find a way to make a Taser lethal. God Bless America.

  13. angrymanspeaks – I think the Taser has been potentially lethal since its inception. However, there seems to be some science behind the idea that some of the deaths are caused by something called ‘excited delirium.’ In those cases it would not have made any difference what the method of restraint was, the person was going to die.

  14. Rob, I got into a real tight situation doing undercover work in a VERY nasty crime ridden neighborhood. Several dudes were approaching and my instincts told me it was not going to be a friendly conversation. I don’t know what caused me to do this but when you’re undercover you are constantly acting, but almost always within your own range, to keep it real. Well, I knew something drastic had to happen and I just started acting crazy. I started twitching, yelling, laughing maniacally, etc. The dudes started asking me questions and I talked crazy. They mocked and laughed @ me, and moved on.

  15. Recording Taser cameras cost in the neighborhood of $400 each. After the incident shown in the news video below, the city of Ozark, MO equipped all Tasers with cameras. Before this time, Taser use had been frequent in the police department.

    The first month after the Tasercams were installed, Taser used dropped to zero. Not one instance of the “need” to use Tasers to subdue a suspect.

    As for cost objections, the cameras cost less than one week’s pay for an average officer (average pay nationwide is $26.000-). That is not excessively burdensome, especially if the department can negotiate offsetting rate reductions in their liability insurance.

  16. Rob, thank goodness the guys in that car were there to help her. In the advent she had been alone with her and the crazy person persisted it might be time for some pepper spray.

  17. I am going to go to Sentencing Law and Policy Blog and see if tasers have been discussed as an alternate to jabbing needles in a human’s groin and injecting poison in an effort to “execute” him. That was the Oklahoma method.
    I suggest a Taser Firing Squad of Six with the Governor of the State as the lead shooter. The Governor’s ability to pardon will end the day before the electrocution.
    This would be more humane than the electric chair, the gas chamber, poison in the scrotum, or hanging. Guillotine might beat it but its messy. Plus with a guillotine you might have the heirs squabble over two burials. In California the death penalty (human killer) advocates are talking about guillotine and then feeding the head to sharks at Sea World in front of the public so as to educate the public to the notion that high crime has its rewards.

    The people in Russia are laughing at us as we experiment with this execute on sight practice in America. They have trials before they kill. Only in America.

  18. There is a disagreement on the number of taser hits. Witnesses say four, police say two because one missed.
    =======================================

    new math?

  19. There are a lot of videos floating around, showing Taser use. A misconception about numbers of “hits” based on the sounds heard in the videos. If you hear the sound of loud clicking, that is a miss, not a hit. The sound is the probes arcing. When the probes make full contact with the subject’s skin, they don’t make the sound of a spark arcing.

  20. Pete

    That would be interesting to find out. Targets used for Taser training are metal foil sheets having a silhouette of a person. When they are hit with the Taser’s probes it makes a blue sparkling effect about the target along with the clicking sound that Chuck described above.

    You can see this effect in the below video. [move the slider to 7:25 and then to 9:25]

  21. OK, so is that any clothing one can wear to protect against tasers? why have i never heard of any way to thwart them.

  22. So about 25 states legislators remove the allowance for death penalty executions by electrocution, AFTER A TRIAL, where in THEORY, some semblance of due process is supposed to occur, and instead, now all the states, counties and cities have issued out HAND-HELD, DEATH-BY- ELECTROCUTION, PORTABLE UNITS, that do not have to have the accused be brought before some lengthy, expensive, troublesome TRIAL, so that NOW it is just electrocution BY SUMMARY JUDGMENT for something as non-criminal as CONTEMPT OF COP which isn’t even the lawbooks. Yeah, THAT makes sense doesn’t it?

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