BART cop Johannes Mehserle may rely on the “taser confusion” defense in Oscar Grant killing


D. H. Williams
Daily Newscaster
January 9, 2009

News station KTVU has aired a new video recorded by an anonymous source and released by Grant family attorney John Burris. Listen as KTVU Channel 2 anchor Claudine Wong says, “But watch his reaction he stares, then looks up and looks down. Then puts his hands to his head as the other officer stares at him. In fact it takes them another 7 or 8 seconds to start reacting and checking Grant.”

What could possibly be the purpose of this unusual narration?

Building a case for Taser Confusion:

For several days sources inside BART have leaked information that veteran officer Johannes Mehserle is organizing a defense around the idea that he meant to unholster his taser but mistakenly reached for his Glock 40 cal. instead. Claudine Wong seems to be working very hard for the defense by suggesting that a look of confusion and lack of response by the officers on the scene immediately after firing a bullet into the back of their prisoner proves that some sort of mistake was made.

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What the anchor person and BART officials hope to sell to the public and any future jury members who happen to be watching is TASER Confusion. Taser confusion is a defense recently created by taser manufacturers and promoted by police unions around the nation.

Taser confusion is based on the cognitive theory of human error.

Promoters of this defense claim police officers may reach for their service pistol, most commonly a Glock .40 caliber automatic instead of their taser weapon in moments of stress. This theory is describe as double-capture slips or perceptual confusion.

In double-capture slips attention is captured by some distraction and some triggering cue is missed, then the activity is captured by the most active schema or plan which is most commonly the alternative leading away from the point where the cue was overlooked.

In cases of perceptual confusion the argument is objects that are similar in appearance, location, or function are used erroneously.

These theories are used to encourage the public to believe whenever a citizen in police custody is shot it was merely a cognitive error caused by situational stress usually attributed to the victim.

However these hypothesis also suggest that training will greatly reduce or eliminate perceptual confusion and double-capture slips.  Add in that a Glock .40 Caliber with a full magazine is well over 30 oz. and a taser weapon weighs about 7 oz., the difference in hand grip feel and overall appearance perceptual confusion and double-capture slips are weak arguments.

If these hypothesis were true you would think it would be justification for an immediate ban on police use of these dangerous electronic cattle prod devices nationwide.

I am sure there will be much discussion about these two theories from the defense, taser manufactures, police organizations and the media in coming days.

Video: KTVU airs new video of shooting


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