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Friday, November 16, 2007

Alberta reviews taser use after death

November 16, 2007
Calgary Sun

EDMONTON -- Alberta is already reviewing the use of Tasers and police guidelines following the death of a man at Vancouver International Airport, Premier Ed Stelmach said yesterday. The commitment came after a request from NDP Leader Brian Mason.

"The question is not limited to what happens in B.C.," said Mason. "On Aug. 10, Jason Doan of Red Deer died after being Tasered three times and on Christmas Eve, Alessandro Fiacco died after being Tasered in Edmonton a year ago." Mason called it a "continuing pattern."

Stelmach didn't commit to an all-out review, but agreed to have Justice Minister Ron Stevens look into the issue. The solicitor general's department was already studying the possibility of provincewide guidelines.

Dramatic video of a distraught Polish immigrant dying has ignited debate on use of the weapon. The 10-minute clip of Robert Dziekanski, 41, was captured by another passenger. Yesterday, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said the RCMP will review the use of stun guns, and the incident will be scrutinized by a coroner's inquest.

Calgary Police Service Chief Rick Hanson said he remains in favour of the judicious use of Tasers. "A taser is still a use-of-force tool that has been proven to be safe in the numbers and tests," said Hanson, adding he is concerned about the incident, as anyone would be. Amnesty International Canada is calling for an independent investigation, saying the Oct. 14 incident and the video released this week raise serious concerns.

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