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Thursday, May 31, 2007

California mother files suit over son's death

May 31, 2007
Sarah Burge, The Press Enterprise

"Strep throat is caused by streptococcus," said Dr. Werner Spitz, a well-known forensic pathologist and former chief medical examiner in Michigan. "Excited delirium is caused by police."

Saturday, May 26, 2007


May 26, 2007
Only Magazine, Vancouver

While the country’s media reacts in disgust to the RCMP’s cover-up in the death of 22-year-old mill worker Ian Bush in Houston, BC, there has been scant care or coverage into the Vancouver Police Department’s cover-up of the death of 44-year-old coke addict Robert Bagnell.

Two years ago, the VPD didn’t announce the death of Bagnell until a full month after he had been tasered in the Continental Hotel on
Granville. The police didn’t even tell Bagnell’s family about the Taser when they called them. The police said they suppressed the news because of the controversy surrounding the TaserĂ¢€”a “non-lethal” US-manufactured weapon that Amnesty International has linked to the death of 267 people in North America.

Seven weeks after the VPD dropped the bomb about Bagnell at a press conference (where they came prepared with a toxicology report and dragged out the president of the BC Schizophrenia Society to support their position), they magically changed their story and told everyone there had been a fire in the building and they were actually trying to rescue Bagnell. Really!?!

The country’s media is doing a good job of holding the police to
account over the death of Bush (a popular young man with a grieving family), but can’t be bothered to do the same for Bagnel (a poor drug addict with AIDS who had cut himself off from his family).

Bagnell’s sister has demanded the police stop using tasers and stop investigating themselves. Really No, actually, she’s fucking right.

Taser shareholder meeting attracts PETA protesters

May 26, 2007
Michael Ferraresi, The Arizona Republic

PETA received enough shareholder support to have the group's concerns mentioned in future Taser publications.

Friday, May 25, 2007

No recommendations from Taser death inquiry

May 25, 2007
Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun

An inquest jury that spent 10 days hearing evidence about the 2004 death of a Vancouver man who was zapped by a police Taser made no recommendations today.

The five-man jury concluded Robert Wayne Bagnell died on June 23, 2004 of a "restraint-associated cardiac arrest" due to acute cocaine intoxication and psychosis.

Bagnell's mother, Riki Bagnell of Prince Edward Island, and his sister, Patti Gillman of Ontario, were disappointed by the lack of recommendations, considering much of the testimony focused on the police use of Tasers.

Gillman said she hoped the inquest jury would recommend police shouldn't investigate themselves when an officer is involved in a fatal incident.

"They should move to the SIU [Special Investigation Unit] model in Ontario," said the Ontario resident.

Riki Bagnell agreed, saying she had discussed the issue with the mother of Ian Bush, the 22-year-old millworker from Houston, B.C., who was fatally shot by an officer in 2005, which is currently being probed by another inquest jury.

"We're certainly in solidarity with the Bush family," she said.

Gillman also hoped the jury would recommend Amnesty International's call for a moratorium on the use of Tasers until independent research can be conducted on risk factors that have led to so many deaths.

She pointed out 267 people have died after they were zapped with Tasers in North America.

"My brother was No. 58," she said. "There have been 51 deaths since the September adjournment of this inquest."

Gillman and her mother, who attended the inquest, had hoped the inquest jury also would heed their urging for the coroner to provide funding for families to pay a lawyer to represent their interests at an inquest.

Gillman credited Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward for working tirelessly on the case. The inquest would've only lasted a few days without Ward asking tough questions, she said.

She pointed out Taser International, which makes the Taser weapon, had two lawyers attending the inquest. Gillman said she was impressed by the testimony of Alan Nakatsu of ETL Semko, the Coquitlam lab that tested the two Tasers used on her brother.

"He testified one Taser was producing two and a half times [the electrical output] the manufacturer's specifications and the other one was 84 times more than spec," Gillman said.

Robert Wayne Bagnell, 44, died after receiving two electrical shocks from Tasers by Vancouver police, who tried to arrest him after receiving a 911 call about a man rampaging in a common washroom of the Continental Hotel on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver, where Bagnell lived.

He had locked himself in the bathroom and was smashing things before police arrived. Police stayed outside the washroom, waiting for him to calm down, but a fire began on the ground floor and smoke began filling the building. A Taser-equipped emergency response team was called in. Bagnell was zapped by two separate Tasers, which incapacitate a person by discharging 50,000 volts of electricity.

The inquest heard that Bagnell's heart was enlarged to one-and-a-half times normal size, an indication of a chronic cocaine use. He also had undergone open-heart surgery to repair a heart valve.

A toxicologist testified Bagnell's blood sample results were 4.2 milligrams of cocaine per litre of blood. The minimum lethal level is one mg per litre if cocaine is injected or smoked as crack cocaine, but 10 times that if snorted.

The probable cause of death was a "restraint-associated cardiac arrest due to acute cocaine intoxication," Dr. Laurel Gray, a pathologist, testified at the inquest.

She said it was unlikely Taser use would've contributed to his death. The Vancouver police department stated earlier that Tasers are an effective tool to save lives and prevent injuries during dangerous encounters.

The Taser is designed as a non-lethal weapon designed to subdue people. The pistol-shaped device uses compressed nitrogen to propel a pair of electrically-charged barbs.

No safety standards for Tasers, inquest hears

May 25, 2007

From the website of Cameron Ward

There are no Canadian safety standards for Tasers, a "less-lethal" weapon that is designed to fire 50,000 volts of electricty into a person's body, inflicting excruciating pain and overwhelming the central nervous system, a coroner's jury heard yesterday.

Allan Nakatsu, a project team leader with global product testing firm ETL Intertek Semko, testified that, unlike toasters, hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, or even cattle prods and electric fences, no electrical standards or testing protocols exist for the weapons, which were quietly introduced into Canada in 2000.

Mr. Nakatsu also testified that one of the two Tasers Intertek tested generated energy output of 30.42 joules/pulse, eighty-five times greater than the manufacturer's specification of .36 joules/pulse. Earlier, the jury heard that police investigators took the two Tasers used on Robert Bagnell to the lab to be tested.

The manufacturer, Arizona company Taser International Inc., maintains that the Taser is safe. Company spokesman Steve Tuttle has reportedly said that the energy output of .36 joules/pulse is too low to cause cardiac damage.

Amnesty International has just released a much-anticipated report on Canadian Taser use, recommending that the use of the weapons be discontinued.

Robert Bagnell, 44, died on June 23, 2004 after at least 13 Vancouver police officers responded to a 911 call for an ambulance. Bagnell was in a state of mental distress in his bathroom. Police ERT (SWAT) members Tasered him twice while extricating him from the bathroom, according to testimony at the inquest.

Update: The five person jury presiding at the coroner's inquest classified the death as an accident and was "unable to agree on any recommendations", the coroner's court heard yesterday.

Meanwhile, an unidentified San Jose man died yesterday after being Tasered by police, bring the reported Taser-related death toll to 268. Ten people have died so far in May, 2007 after being Tasered by police. 209 people died after being Tasered in the period between Robert Bagnell's death on June 23, 2004 and the conclusion of the inquest into his death on May 25, 2007.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

PETA to Address Taser Annual Meeting, Protest Shock Tests on Animals

May 24, 2007
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

A PETA representative will address stockholders in support of a shareholder proposal calling on Taser to enact a policy that eliminates the use of animals in Taser experiments.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CANADA - Inappropriate and Excessive Use of Tasers

May 23, 2007
Amnesty International

SIU charges Halton officers in taser incident

May 23, 2007
Bob Mitchell, Toronto Star

Three Halton police officers have been charged with several criminal offences in connection with subduing an elderly Oakville man with a taser.

Gerry Morgan, 79, was hospitalized following the Nov. 25, 2006 incident and later died. However, the province's special investigations unit (SIU), which laid the charges, today said his death wasn't related to the alleged criminal actions.

SIU director James Cornish said investigators believe the Halton police officers were criminally responsible for serious injuries sustained by Morgan.

According to the SIU, police went to a call for assistance at a home on Marine Dr. in Oakville about 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2006.

Once inside the residence, officers used an ARWEN (anti riot weapon enfield) and Morgan was struck with a rubber projectile on his arm. It's alleged he sustained a serious injury to his upper arm as a result of being struck.

Officers also used a taser on Morgan, who is alleged to have fallen to the floor and broken his hip. He was transported to nearby Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital where he was treated for his injuries and later released.

The SIU said Morgan was re-admitted to hospital a short time later and died there on May 4, 2007.

"There is no clear evidence from the SIU investigation that Mr. Morgan's death is linked to the Nov. 25 incident," SIU spokesperson Rose Bliss said.

After an extensive SIU investigation, Cornish concluded there were reasonable grounds to believe Halton police officers Joe Davis, Richard Dodds and Matthew Kohler committed criminal offences.

All three officers have now been charged with assault causing bodily harm and unlawfully causing bodily harm. As well, Davis and Kohler are also charged with assault with a weapon: an extended range impact weapon, also known as an ARWEN.

In addition, Dodds and Kohler have been charged with assault with a weapon in connection with using the taser device.

The officers are to appear next in a Milton court May 28.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bagnell inquest resumes

From the website of Cameron Ward

After an unusual eight month adjournment, the coroner's inquest into the death of Robert Bagnell is scheduled to resume tomorrow at the offices of the BC Coroners Service in Burnaby. In September of 1997, a five person jury heard evidence that Robert Bagnell, 45, died in June of 2004 after he was jolted with 50,000 volts from two Taser guns wielded by Vancouver Police ERT (SWAT) members. Bagnell, who had a pre-existing heart condition and was in poor health, was unarmed and alone in his bathroom when he was confronted by police. The inquest has heard that at least a dozen police officers responded to a 911 call for an ambulance.

Friday, May 18, 2007

SAEM: Shocking Truth: Tasers Safe for the Healthy

May 18, 2007

"If the human target is healthy, a shock from a Taser X26 causes no lasting ill effects."

"Healthy" being the key word.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Explanation in fatal Taser case draws fire

May 5, 2007
Brian Chasnoff, San Antonio Express News

While naming cocaine as the primary factor that led to Galvan's death, Frost conceded: "There's a great deal of physiology about (excited delirium) that's not known." The ruling "allows for the idea that (the Taser) may have played a role (in the death) in that it made his agitation worse," he said. "It allows for that. It doesn't say it. We're just not sure how much of a role (the Taser) plays in it."

And, therein lies the problem.