Blame Canada. Again. Blame Blizz. Again.

Matticus’ Note: This a partially related WoW post which happens to tie into a current event. It’s also very lengthy.

I just checked out the video of that Polish guy who was killed in YVR (Vancouver International Airport) a few minutes ago. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to check it out. It’s a rare insight into possible law enforcement confrontations. It must be one of thousands of possible situations that they face yearly.

So in a nutshell, here we have a foreign immigrant who flies into our beloved country without a clue as to what he’s doing, where he’s going, or how to speak English. He sets up a wall of chairs, throws around some equipment, causes a big mess, and then the cavalry are called in. He gets shocked and subsequently dies.

Let’s make one thing clear. I’m not trying to condone what the police did was right. I think they acted as best as they could under the circumstances. Hindsight is always 50/50. It’s easier to see flaws in decisions that people make long after they’ve been made. With that being said, I could only imagine the call the police received.

“Hey, control?”
“Uhh, we have a problem here. We have an individual acting erratically.”
“On our way.”

Remember we’re at the airport. We’re in an era of post 9/11. Those events are still fresh on our mind. The police probably had no idea what level of a threat they’re dealing with. My guess is that when you get summoned to a problem situation, you’re initial reaction is to assume the worst case. The worst case would be someone carrying, you know… a bomb. Obviously this poor fellow wasn’t.

How Tasers work

In a nutshell, a Taser is a cattle prod. It has an active range of about 10 meters. When it’s fired, twin prongs shoot out with attached metal wires. Electricity is then sent down the wires with the aim of disrupting nerve and muscle functions. Don’t ask me the physics behind it. I’m sure you have science friends. Go ask them.

Anyway, electrical current then courses through your entire body, you become incapacitated.

At least, that’s the general idea.

Remember, most of these trials take place in controlled environments that involve strong and healthy test subjects. Typically, these are people who do not ingest any kind of alcohol, drug, or some other form of illicit drug abuse. When Tasers are used on them, they work absolutely great! No one dies and they get up five minutes later slightly singed and crispy.

Unfortunately, real life is not like that. The intended targets for Tasers are disorderly individuals who are not in the right state of mind whether it’s chemically induced or otherwise. As a result, the effects produced in a controlled, clinical environments will strongly differ from public areas when the weapons are put to practical use.

I don’t think the public would like it very much if the police simply pulled out their Glocks and shot people in the knee. That was back in the 30s when Al Capone was the law.

I don’t believe the Taser is non-lethal. It may be intended as non-lethal, but it has the potential to kill people. Anyone with a pacemaker would not last very long, I imagine. However, I do think it is less lethal. When you compare it to a firearm or even a baton, it will not provide as much fatal results (statistically speaking). You have a better chance to survive an injury from a taser then you would from a gunshot wound or a severe clubbing from a police baton.

So if Tasers are recalled, then police will have one less less lethal tool to rely on. Guns, batons and… pepper sprays, I believe. Even then, pepper spray is used mostly for riot police. I don’t think it’s part of the standard RCMP loadout. But you know what? Pepper spray is lethal too! When under the effects of pepper spray, people are prone to coughing, having a runny nose, having their eyes slam shut, and having difficulty breathing. Gee, if you have asthma, you’re kind of a goner too.

Next option? Tear gas. Dropping a gas grenade in the baggage claim area of YVR is just plain dumb.

Last option? Physical subjugation. The cops could’ve tried to man handle him to the ground or something as a last resort. However, that would then place cops at risk to being assaulted. I know, the video showed four police officers vs one guy. But I think they’re trained to bring down a subject as best as possible while minimizing damage to them and to him. There was no one any could’ve foreseen that a Taser would have killed him. Automobiles are rated as one of the top causes of death in North America. But we still drive them.

Then there’s waiting. Yeah that probably should have been the way to go. Hindsight. 50/50. Who knows why they weren’t waiting? Wait, what would they wait for? An interpreter? If you watch the footage, there’s someone clearing calling for an interpreter. But they made a wrong choice.

I do not for once believe that the police had any intent to kill. If they did, I think we would be at war with Poland right now or something over a bullet riddle corpse. The media already makes it out that way.

If it were me, I would not have known what to do in that kind of a situation. Clearly he looked agitated. Was he a threat to people near by? Tough call. He might’ve been. When you’re in a situation like that, you walk a very fine line. Let him be and he might randomly go after some innocent bystander. Cops lose for failing to do their job (Why wasn’t he subdued earlier?!) Contain him with the risk of death and he just happens to die. Cops lose for failing to do their job properly. In high pressure cases like that, it is very difficult to make the proper judgment call not knowing what the consequences will be. Obviously if I know my Taser was going to kill him, I wouldn’t use it. Would I try to subdue him hand to hand? Yeah. Press reports said that he’s been in there holed up for five or so hours. You can’t just leave a guy in there all by himself throwing junk around. So those guys who tasered him are now in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of situation. I don’t even know if there is a right answer.

A taser, I believe, is meant as a less lethal response to a lethal situation. However, the police utilized it differently. They exercised a less lethal response to a non-lethal situation. Maybe the best thing to do was temporarily seal off the area until an interpreter was present. But cops are trained to act swiftly, because if they don’t, something bad might happen. It’s way too easy now to condemn them knowing everything that we do know.

If I tried a baton to the knee, people would cry out police brutality.

Another thing that occurred to me. Notice how theres four police swarming the body after it’s been shocked? The body behaves in an uncontrollable state. Would it not have been in his best interest to have been held down a bit to prevent him from biting his tongue or punching a wall or something else that might’ve damaged him? Obviously four cops holding him down is over kill. I’m not a medical student so I don’t know much about that. But I’ve generally seen him people going into some kind of get held down. Or something.

All of a sudden, I don’t want to go into law enforcement anymore knowing that my intentions (however noble) will always be looked down upon by the public. Isn’t that what an Ombudsman is for though? I can’t remember. Anyway, it would seem as if the same people that I want to protect would hate me. I guess I’ll try for that CRIM/PSYC dual major.

What does this have to do with WoW?

Sometimes the best of intentions of developers are not properly carried out. There might be an unforeseen consequence in a patch that is designed to fix problems. So even though there’s a feature added that causes a public outcry doesn’t mean that the idea’s necessarily bad. It just needs more testing and tweaking so it’s able to do what it’s designed to do without any unforeseen side effects.

Check out our Hunter friends for instance. They’re one of the best classes to have behind your back. Now the latest patch has applied all sorts of things that makes them not as overpowered as before. The whole “pet moving behind target” thing seems like a good idea. But there seems to be some problems and pathing and such.

There any problems for Priests? As of yet, I haven’t really discovered much. We had our one of our resist tanks go down awfully quickly for some reason during the Hydross encounter. I don’t know if downranking heals has been adjusted again or not, but endurance is a lot longer then before. Between potions, trinkets, flasks, mana oils, Sporefish, the two piece T5 set, and a Paladin with Spellsurge, I notice that my mana return is pretty damn good. Less drinking involved, that’s for sure. MP5 while casting has hit a number above 250 which is just sick.

Three Stars, later tonight. I didn’t get one in last week. This flu like symptom isn’t fun at all.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.


  1. Re: Your flu-like symptoms. Have you had a blood test done? You’re in a high-risk group for mononucleosis (no, it’s not transmitted only by kissing :p)–late-teen to mid-20s, student.

    Have that blood-test done.

    And an excellent article–agree with you completely. A huge problem with our society today is that we are too quick to judge via hindsight. And the classic, “Well, why didn’t you anticipate thus-and-such?” “Because, Mr. Know-it-all, I was faced with particular circumstances and a limited amount of time to react. I made the best decision possible UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, BASED ON MY TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE.”

    Bah. The press sickens me.

  2. No, but I did check in with a Doc the other day. He said it wasn’t a big issue. Just keep taking the usual over the counter meds. Although I heard theres a virus going down in the states at the moment.

  3. On the matter of Tasers, what bugs me is that because it is supposed to be a less lethal or non-lethal weapon, law enforcement everywhere is more prone to use it in situations where they would have drawn their guns previously but wouldn’t have used them.

    The “less lethal” part actually leads to applying more unwarranted violence where the mere threat of violence would have been enough. This is something which strikes me on all these similar Taser videos making the rounds recently.

    As for the unintended consequences, I cannot agree more (but you starred some of my thoughts on the matter yourself, so you know that 🙂

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