Thursday, November 15, 2007

Man in coma shot by terror police

A man who had gone into a diabetic coma on a bus in Leeds was shot twice with a Taser gun by police who feared he may have been a security threat.

Nicholas Gaubert has described how the incident happened in July 2005, just a week before the fatal shooting of Brazilian man Jean Charles de Menezes

Mr Gaubert said he was told the police believed he looked "Egyptian".

Mr Gaubert said he was on his way to meet friends when he suffered a hypoglycaemic fit on the bus which left him slumped on his seat clutching his rucksack.

Armed police were called to the bus depot in Headingley and when he failed to respond to their challenges he was shot with the Taser.

He said as this was happening, another officer was pointing a real gun at his head.

He was restrained and eventually came round in the police van.

He said it was only then that the officers realised it was a medical emergency, despite him wearing a medical tag round his neck to warn of his condition, and took him to hospital.

More on the BBC

I'll think I'll just throw this one over to comments for your reactions. It's late, and words fail me right now.


Blogger Henry North London said...

He doesn't look Egyptian to me, I think this is clearly a case of Racial illusion. Its a known psychological phenomenon that if you brand a certain section of the community For example people with green hair as having a certain characteristic then everyone thinks that all people with green hair are bad good or indifferent according to the circumstances.

The book The Naked Ape is very good reading on this particular subject

November 16, 2007 11:09 am  
Blogger Debi said...

Amazing that we're only just hearing about this now!

This raises so many issues and the obvious one here is how near he came to being killed.

My partner has insulin dependent diabetes. The term 'coma' is inaccurate in describing a hypo ie low blood sugar. (I know it wasn't your words, Rachel.)

What happens is that when there isn't enough sugar in the system, the body cleverly draws it away from wherever it can in order to keep vital organs functioning.

One of the places it draws from is the brain, resulting in bizarre behaviour that can often be mistaken for being drunk or on drugs. When the sugar plummets really low, it can result in loss of consciousness.

Quite what triggered the ridiculous over reaction of the police in this case is unclear. That he had a very narrow escape is abundantly clear!

November 16, 2007 11:12 am  
Blogger Leighton Cooke said...

The word gypsy is supposed to originate from the idea prevalent in the middle ages that the Roma people came from Egypt. It seems quite bizarre that this case of mistaken ethnic origin might yet again have resulted in someone being killed. What are Egyptians supposed to look like anyway? I know a few Coptic Christian Egyptian refugees in Amsterdam. None of them look like this bloke.

November 16, 2007 11:38 am  
Blogger Josephine said...

Shoot first, ask the questions later.


Reaction 1: F**king hell, what the hell do the police think they're doing, trigger happy...this incident and, of course, the terrible killing of JCdM on the tube!??? Jeez...

Could stop there.


Reaction 2: We as a society have to come to grips with this issue properly. The police aren't all Rambo style maniacs out to gun down anyone who looks shifty and has off white skin. Much as some would like to believe. They make mistakes. They probably regret them too - on an individual level, if not a systemic one (the 'system' just shrugs and says 'collateral damage...price of staying safe blah blah blah').

What we need - desperately - is better process. Mechanisms and methods with give individual police officers ways of assessing the situation they (and we as passers by) are in and the actual risk. Then provides options - alternatives - for them in how they deal with the situation.

My sense is that this isn't being properly explored. Bipolar thinking through and through - all the way to the Home Office. A script written by The Daily Mail or the (now even more racist/xenophobic) Daily Express in one of their Big Self Righteous Rages. Such thinking says:

Man on a bus looking 'suspicious'? Shoot him OR the 'bomb' WILL go off

Lock everyone up who might - in some security geek's head - pose some kind of 'threat' in some obscure way - OR we WILL have hundreds dead any day now.

58 days detention without charge OR the terrorists ARE going to run riot.

Black and White. A stupid, no, worse - Bushite - attitude. At its worst, it means if you express doubt about the necessity of tazering a guy in a diabetic coma, you are spinless, or even somehow a friend of the terrorist. Bullshit.

The quality of the thinking, the quality of the response to the situation we face in Britain these days, is just SO poor!

November 16, 2007 1:38 pm  
Blogger Brennig said...

I suppose it might be argued that the output of our dumbed down education system is dumbed down police officers?

November 16, 2007 3:01 pm  
Blogger Henry North London said...

Oh that is certainly true. Most of them can't even speak grammatically

I shudder when I hear Police officers saying Was you there at that time

November 16, 2007 3:07 pm  
Blogger Josephine said...

Dumbed down politicians is the real problem. Dumbed down because of the media (which really run Britain and prevents any serious debate in the chase for newspaper sales or ratings based on visceral, base reaction). And from there the idiocy just runs down the food chain till it reaches someone who has a gun in his hand.

November 16, 2007 8:43 pm  
Blogger Leighton Cooke said...

Having been on the other side often enough as a nurse I have usually found the police to be really helpful in an emergency situation. Most of my experience has, I admit, been in Holland and Germany, both countries where the police carry guns. So far, touch wood, I've never seen one pulled out of its holster and used. Alarming as this case is we do perhaps need to remember the number of emergencies the police deal with every day and not lose our sense of proportion. It's the politicians who need to get their act together.

November 16, 2007 9:03 pm  

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