Burnt Offerings

Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest.

—Deuteronomy 12:13 

Excited they were, the officers of the Lancaster, Ohio police department, with their newly issued tasers. So, the day after they were armed with the fry rods, officers encountering Daniel Wood—a well-known local substance-abuser, who’d been arrested some 50 times on minor charges—well, they figured they’d give ’em a try.

Problem is, Wood had been inhaling aerosol fumes. And so when they shocked him with 50,000 volts of electricity, they also set him on fire.fun with fry rods

“Clearly,” said Police Chief David Bailey, “this is not the way we’d hoped to get started.”

It’s not like the officers didn’t known any better. As set forth here, an Australian man recently exploded into flames—suffering third-degree burns to his face, neck, chest, and arms—when he was electrified after sniffing gasoline.

And during four months of training, Lancaster officers were exposed to a six-page policy paper that decreed that tasers “shall not be deployed in an atmosphere where flammable fumes are present or on indivudals that are known to have come in contact with flammables[.]”

Oh well. At least Wood lived. Unlike the thus-far unidentified man who was electrocuted Thursday for fleeing an officer in a Los Angeles County subway station. Or Craig Prescott, who in April was fried to death in the Stanislaus County Jail.

Wood was sniffing fumes from an aerosol can of keyboard cleaner when he was set upon by Lancaster police officers, who chased him in and out of traffic. When the officers caught up with him, they hurled him to the ground. Not satisfied with his “compliance,” an officer then shot him in the chest with a taser. At which point Wood’s body burst into flames.

“They don’t like me in this town,” Wood said from jail, where his burns make it difficult for him to sleep.

Wood is being charged with assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, because those are the charges that are always filed when a prosecutor wishes to protect a police department from a civil lawsuit. A series of United States Supreme Court decisions crafted by the racist perjurer William Rehnquist generally prevent citizens from collecting monetary damages from police officers who have abused them, if those citizens are convicted criminally of assaulting, resisting, or disobeying those officers.

The local Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, to its credit, chided the department for its cruel buffoonery.

What concerns us most is immediately after the training was completed and the stun guns started being used in Lancaster, an officer used the stun gun in what potentially could have been a more harmful situation for suspect and the officers. The possible presence of a flammable substance (in this case the alleged aerosol fumes) could have caused more injury to the suspect and officers.

Out here in California, Craig Prescott worked for nine years as a custodial officer in the Stanislaus County Jail. He left the county sheriff’s department in 2006 after he was criminally charged with promising to supply tobacco to an inmate, although those charges were later dismissed.

On April 11 of this year, Prescott died in that same jail. He died after he was repeatedly pepper-sprayed and burnt with a taser as he was being moved from one cell to another.

As mentioned here, tasers were originally sold to the public on the lie that they would be used only in situations where officers would otherwise use a firearm to shoot to kill. On those rare occasions when an inmate is killed in jail or prison by gunfire, the news goes national. But the now-routine electrification of prisoners with tasers stays local, even when the victim dies.

An autopsy conducted by Stanislaus County officials lies that repeated jolts from the taser did not cause, or contribute to, Prescott’s death. Instead, it is claimed—as it is usually claimed when tasers kill people—that Prescott had a bad heart.fried man and family

“This could’ve occurred if he had gotten into vigorous exercise,” upchucked Undersheriff Bill Heyne.

“Unbelievable,” replied Prescott’s widow, Rachel.

Rachel Prescott had originally asked officers to arrest her husband, on “suspicion” of stalking her and their six children; she hoped he would receive mental-health treatment.

“I felt my husband was in good hands,” she said.

Rachel Prescott dismissed the “vigorous exercise” bollocks from Undersheriff Heyne, noting that her husband regularly played racquetball.

Prescott’s family has commissioned a second autopsy of Prescott’s remains, which Stanislaus County officials have seized upon as an excuse to snail their investigation into his death. “That has not yet been forthcoming,” intoned jail-torture enabler and Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager. “Once we receive that report, or a confirmation that it either doesn’t exist or that they will not provide it, we will be able to complete our review.”

In the meantime, Fladager & Co. will not even disclose how many times Prescott was electrocuted, or by whom. The officers wielding the fry rods that killed Prescott have not been identified, and county officials will state only that during the initial autopsy “a few” taser marks were found on the dead man’s back.

As mentioned here, in late July, in the Canadian province of British Columbia, retired Justice Thomas Braidwood, appointed to oversee an inquiry into the use of tasers in that jurisdiction, ordered transit officers to cease shocking and burning people for evading fares.   

“It would embarrass me as a Canadian,” Braidwood said, to see an officer Taser a suspect “for merely walking or running away.”

Anyone who has paid much attention over the years to law-enforcement officers down in Los Angeles knows that it is impossible to embarrass those people. And so Thursday night an unidentified law jockey in the San Fernando Valley whipped out his taser and fried three times, unto death, an unidentified man, because the miscreant failed to produce a subway ticket.

We are of course expected to believe that the dead man first “broke free,” then “raised clenched fists” and “charged the deputy several times.” Why the victim would first “break free,” and then unaccountably return to “charge,” is not explained. But then it’s early: the cops don’t have their lies straight yet.

Being that this is LA, home even of “the throw-down gun”—the practice of dropping a firearm near a dead person after that person, unarmed, has been killed by the police—a police spokespeak noted that “a pipe used to smoke drugs fell to the ground during the scuffle.”

Uh-huh. Stay tuned.


12 Responses to “Burnt Offerings”

  1. 1 Jean Jeys September 2, 2009 at 8:04 am

    This is an excellent story about how our Stanislaus police officers
    take care of the public. The county officials did not let Rachel
    take her husband off life support. They took it upon themselves to
    do this. I feel this whole episode was unjust and still should be
    investigated until the truth be known.

  2. 2 smelf September 5, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Once again, thanks for bringing this to the wider eye. Eye for an eye, anyone? Tasering those who do so to others might help reduce the heaving overpopulation in L.A.

  3. 3 Jennifer September 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Here’s another example of the way our law enforcement bozos make use of their tazers:


    Will it ever end?

  4. 4 Jennifer September 21, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I’m sorry to keep sending you these, but this one is the “best” so far!


  5. 5 Marilyn Prescott June 20, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. My name is Marilyn Prescott and I am Craig’s mother. My family will never fully recover for what has been done to us by heartless and brutal men. We live in Stanislaus County where politics rule in every arena. Even our newspaper editor has taken a public political position. Many people here are relatively good people, but they have an unrealistic view of law enforcement. The folks here have the impression that cops cannot do wrong, just as some members of the Catholic Church believed that priests cannot sin.
    Craig was forced to resign in 2006 by fellow deputies after they accused him of bringing tobacco and drugs into the jail and threatened to harm his family. They alleged that Craig had made arrangements with inmates to sell drugs to them. It was later proven to be false and the allegation was dismissed. However, even after they knew the allegations were proven false, the sheriff and deputies had a fake warrant issued for Craig’s arrest. When he learned about the warrant more than a year after he resigned, it drove him insane. He lived in constant fear.

    • 6 bluenred June 22, 2010 at 1:06 pm

      I’m sorry for what happened to your son. They should never have used a taser on him. Tasers are only supposed to be used as an alternative to firearms, and there is no way they ever would have shot your son, there in the jail.

      It is very hard to get justice and accountability in these cases, because law-enforcement and its protectors in the DA’s office never want to admit culpability, and the taser manufacturers spend millions, in the courts and in phony “studies,” to convince everyone that tasers cannot cause death. One jury so far has found otherwise; more will follow. But it’s going to take a very long time, and it doesn’t help your son, and it doesn’t help you.

      Unfortunately law enforcement seems to be growing more and more insular and protectionist, just like the church, as you mention. They will not admit error, and have forgotten, long ago, that they are given those badges and weapons not to protect each other, but to serve the public.

  6. 7 Marilyn Prescott June 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Although they surmised that heart disease was the cause of my son’s death, we had our own autopsy performed the day after the coroner’s. Our pathologist is very well known as an expert in his field. He concluded that my son died from anoxic-hypoxic brain injury. That means that his brain was deprived of oxygen for more than five minutes. The hospital records concur with his findings. I forgot to mention a very important detail to Craig’s case; well several details. Craig was beaten with batons, pepper balled, sat on by eight deputies, and developed Rhabdomyolysis(a condition that follows a crushing and or a severe beating). Craig was on a ventilator from the time he arrived at the hospital by ambulance from the jail. The paramedics started his heart en route and his heart continued to beat at a regular rhythm until either the sheriff or the hospital took him off the ventilator two days later. We were not consulted by any hospital staff nor from the sheriff’s deputies. They took Craig off and refused to allow him one more day so that family members from out of town could say their goodbyes. If you listen to Blog Talk Radio/ Morning Mayor Show, on the internet, 12/07/2009, you can hear the full story.

    • 8 bluenred June 28, 2010 at 8:34 am

      Thank you for this information. I will listen to the radio program, and also see what else I can find in print. Again, I’m very sorry. Such a waste.

  7. 9 Marilyn Prescott September 9, 2010 at 10:52 am

    The Stanislaus County and the sheriff are stalling by postponing prescribed dates given by the courts to meet with the family attorneys. The sheriff has a GAG order issued for the entire sheriff’s department, threatening those who talk about my son’s case can lose their jobs. The members on the Board of Supervisors are trying to hinder all possible depositions that could reflect light on the lies told by the sheriff and the DA for fear the county will be held responsible for the flagrant and brutal crimes committed against Craig.
    In my opinion, the evidence overwhelmingly intimates that what was done by the eight deputies to Craig was egregious, vindictive, barbaric, and retaliatory. I am throughly convinced the sheriff intentionally and willfully contrived a ruse in order to cover up the crimes his deputies committed against my son, Craig Edward Prescott. Thank God they will not get away with it.

    • 10 bluenred September 11, 2010 at 9:48 am

      I know this won’t help you any, but what you describe is common. I work in criminal-defense law and have also been involved in a few civil cases that involved police abuses. It is my experience that they will use every means at their disposal, fair or foul, to try to prevent information from being released. They will do this, bizarrely enough, even if the information is innocuous. There is really this deep-seated belief among police agencies these days that they should not be subject to any civilian oversight, period.

      • 11 Marilyn Prescott September 13, 2010 at 5:46 am

        I want to make it known to everyone that my son’s death was a result of pay-back, evil retaliation from vicious deputies who treated him like garbage as he suffered from a mental disorder. According to eyewitnesses, Craig was brutally beaten and taunted during his five day incarceration. Although he had worked as a deputy in that same jail for nearly 10 years and showed respect to both inmates and fellow deputies, he refused to allow the corruption in the department to go unnoticed by making what he discovered be known to the sheriff and under-sheriff. The good ole boy system was firmly in place and Craig could not accept the double standard policies unfavorably expressed toward African American employees. As a result of his complaint, he had to work in a hostile environment, harassed and given unnecessary reprimands for the least infractions. He eventually was forced to resign when fellow deputies threatened to harm his family. Unfortunately, our cry for help became a death sentence for my beloved son because it was also an opportunity for the wicked behavior of these monsters including the current sheriff, to get even with the whistle blower.

  8. 12 Marilyn Prescott September 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks Bluered. I was given some copies of letters my son had written dating back to 2002 while he was still employed as a deputy for the sheriff’s office. The letters were forwarded to his friend and co-worker at the department who had misplaced them but just found them last weekend. I would like to share those with you. The letters clearly state that Craig was retaliated against for filing a complaint against the department with the EEOC, the Grand Jury and the NAACP. The website has my permission to share my e-mail address with you. Thanks.

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When I Worked

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