Experiencing stunning pain at RCPD Taser exercise

By Tim Weideman

Those who want to put up a fight with a law enforcement officer after being shot with a Taser are either not in their right mind or just stupid — maybe both.

Believe me. Thanks to an opportunity Thursday during the Riley County Police Department’s Media Taser Day, I speak from firsthand knowledge.

“You can’t fight through it,” said Lt. Tim Schuck, one of the department’s Taser instructors, “You’re done.”

Yep. You’re pretty much toast.

When an officer fires a stun gun, the weapon shoots probes with fish hook-like barbs designed to pierce through the subject’s clothing and skin.

For the record, I didn’t have probes shot at me. They were poked through my shirt by hand and taped to my body.

That was fine with me. Needles and I don’t really get along.

After the probes find their target, a low electrical amperage of 0.0036 pulsates throughout the subject’s body for five seconds, disrupting nervous system communications. For comparison’s sake, a Taser has less amperage than a strand of Christmas lights (about one amp) and less than a 110-volt wall outlet (it varies, but it can be around16 amps).

As the electricity is released, assuming everything deployed correctly, the subject (in this case, me) loses control of his body. However, oxygen still flows through the blood, the heart still beats and breathing doesn’t stop.

The best way to describe the crippling pain is that it was the most intense, dull pressure I’d ever experienced – easily the most painful sensation of my life. A video of my exposure is online at themercury.com.

I felt the worst pain up and down my spine from my lower back to my neck, both of which are still sore. Although I was aware of my surroundings, all I could focus on was the pain and the intimidating crackle of the Taser unleashing its electricity into my body.

At about three seconds in – maybe it was only two – I was fairly sure the five seconds had to be up. I remember realizing then that I had a few more counts to go before the immobilizing pain would stop.

Lucky for me, I had two volunteers holding me up on my feet. In the field, most subjects fall to the ground after being hit and are incapacitated.

That’s the goal – to stop what could be a more prolonged struggle before someone gets hurt.

“It’s able to get them quickly under control and in handcuffs,” said Lt. Greg Steere, the department’s other Taser instructor.

At the RCPD, every sworn officer, from lieutenant and below, has been trained to use a Taser and carries one. The same applies for Riley County Jail corrections officers ranked lieutenant and below.

“It helps officers definitely get a sense for what it would feel like,” Steere said.

Tasers have been in use at the RCPD since 2009, when Steere and Schuck rolled out the program after attending instructor school in 2008. In 2013, the department introduced a new, improved model, the X2, to begin replacing the older X26.

From July 2013 to this month, RCPD officers have shot Tasers at subjects 21 times. On 11 occasions, a Taser was pointed but not deployed.

Anyone on the wrong end of the Taser in the latter scenario should be grateful.

When my Taser exposure finally did cease, the pain went away immediately. The volunteers lowered me to the ground and, almost instantly, I felt ready to hop back up on my feet.

“Once it’s done, it’s done,” Steere had said earlier.

Though true, were I an unruly subject and the training officers instead were on patrol, I would be completely compliant with their next orders. I do not want to go through that again.

One and done for me. Thanks.

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