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Daniel Newby

"The mechanism used by the police was specifically designed and advertised as nonlethal."

Companies with competent lawyers always use the phrase "less lethal". The intent is not to be perfectly safe, but to be safer than beating the rioters with clubs then cramming them into vans. Even a simple sticky bomb will kill if someone takes it in the face.

My pet theories:

(1) She fell on her head and injured her brain that way. That is a popular way for completely disoriented people to die, after all.

(2) The pepper balls are filled with finely-powdered capsaicin and it poisoned her.

Why all the hand wringing anyway? As a homicide, won't the details be released in a coroner's report?


I'm sorry if I made the whole thing too complex. It really isn't targeted for those who don't have the patience or intellect or education to analyze and appreciate the constellations of data, the careful alignment of logical arguments, and the long hours of work and thought.

Better to be a liberal mudslinger, terminally cynical, open to nothing except the facile explanations that fit into their own stereotypical universalities(I'd rather be a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn!). By all means wait for the coroner's report, and drop me a line so I can explain to you what it means.


If you fire a 'less-lethal' (as it is advertised on the FN Herstal web site) at a crowd, you take the risk of that million-to-one shot hitting home. The questions you are asking are perfectly reasonable, but so are questions about whether the police were trained to use the weapon properly, whether they did use it properly, and whether they should have been using it in the first place.


I do not disagree.

But we cannot ascribe blame -- if it is owed -- until we know how this girl died and why.

If we GET those answers and it is clear that there was negligence by some party, there should then be justice served.

Let us also remember, however, that if one ventures out into the street at ANY time (not to mention in a crowd of eighty thousand during an unplanned and unpredictable celebration), one also is implicitly agreeing to face the increased odds of an untoward event occurring to oneself.

Negligence is negligence; however, we need understand the difference between an accident and malfeasance.



You are consistently providing some thought-provoking commentary and analysis.

Thanks, your blog is now part of my daily routine.


I had to wait a while to see if your message was going to explode or something -- I'm not used to getting compliments, but they are welcome, and they are a driving force. Thank you.



Interesting analysis.

I'd take issue with your 20 million to one calculation however. The trajectory was not random, the officer who fired pointed his gun at the crowd at about head level, according to eye-witness testimony. That immediately reduces the target area to a much smaller window. It was reported that the officer fired several shots, so unless he was aiming specifically at particular people, the target area was probably no more than about 4 sq. ft.(approx 1 sq. m.)

While the probability of being in that small area was very low, 1 in 80,000 or so. The probablility of being hit in the face by one or more of those shots was much higher.

At 20 yards, which I belive was the reported distance, the projectile would still be travelling at that height. Therefore the "target" area for people at the front of the crowd would be probably top of head to about nipple-level on the chest (depending on the individual's height relative to the shooter's).

As to the lethality or not of the projectile. At that short distance it probably retained most of its initial velocity. According to MedicineNet.com:

While nonpowder guns use compressed air instead of gunpowder to launch projectiles, they are often nearly as powerful as traditional firearms. According to the CPSC, 80 percent of nonpowder guns have muzzle velocities (the speed at which the object leaves the gun) at 350 to 450 feet per second, and 50 percent between 500 and 930 feet per second. A traditional firearm pistol has a muzzle velocity of 750 feet per second to 1,450 per second. Eye penetration can occur at a muzzle velocity of just 130 feet per second.

I don't know the muzzle velocity of the police issue guns, but I'd guess it's probably higher rather than lower. In which case, the projectile that hit Ms Snelgrove was probably travelling fast enough to shatter the back of the orbit and enter the brain, in pretty much the same way as a bullet would have done. I don't have a clue what a large jolt of pepper powder (along with non-sterile ball fragments and shards of bone) would do to the human brain, but I suspect it's not pleasant.


URL fir the MedicineNet cite:



The odds I calculated were a priori. That means that it doesn't matter where the policeman aimed, the chances of him hitting those few square centimeters on Victoria Snelgrove's globe were 20 million to one.

You can't really take issue with a mathematical certainty. That's like saying you take issue with the square root of 84.

It has absolutely nothing to do with trajectory. Unless he stood up to her face and someone held her down and he fired the shot INTO HER EYE his otherwise striking her there IS AN ACCIDENT.

I don't care what medicine dot net says NO ONE DIES FROM GLOBE INJURIES. Is it possible to get this message across? If globe injuries were fatal, the human race would have died out centuries ago. READ MY POSTS. I explain it as well as can be.

I mean I have described this many times in my posts. There is no friggin' way THAT pepper balloon "penetrated" her brain. And if it did? Can you e mail me back and tell me EXACTLY what the mechanism of DEATH was?

You don't have a CLUE according to your own letter what this projectile might do. And you OBVIOUSLY have not read and digested what I have said about this case...so...what the hell ARE you saying????

Bart Schut

You are completely mad. I like this blog. This is the place where YOU are always right. Hold on to that.


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