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Monday, November 19, 2007

Edmonton police officer facing taser hearing

November 19, 2007
Edmonton Journal

Two Edmonton constables face a police disciplinary hearing for firing a Taser in 2004 at a man after he had surrendered and lay flat on the pavement. Hector Jara, then 21, was driving a stolen car and was high on methamphetamine when he led police on a 27-kilometre chase through north Edmonton. Police eventually stopped the car with spike belts near St. Albert Trail, but Jara got out and ran. Then he stopped and lay on the ground.

Constables Ryan Sparreboom and Darryl Fox were with four other officers when they surrounded Jara. According to court records, one officer kicked Jara in the head, another pinned him with his knee, and then Sparreboom and Fox each fired their Tasers. When Jara appeared in court in November 2006, Justice Sterling Sanderman called the use of the Taser unnecessary. "(Jara) was completely at their mercy," he said, and described Sparreboom's attitude as "I have (a Taser). I'll use it."

Sanderman knocked eight months off Jara's 20-month sentence to compensate. Today, Sparreboom appeared before the hearing to deny charges of insubordination and unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority. Const. Darryl Fox was on holidays when the police service tried to service him notice of the charges. The presenting officer said Fox will be served notice and scheduled to enter a plea shortly. The hearing reconvenes to hear evidence in February.

The Taser incident happened in 2004, before Edmonton police brought in tighter regulations for monitoring Taser use. Since March 2006, every time officers use a Taser, they are required to report it immediately. Two senior officers are required to go to scene, assess what happened and download data on the Taser's use from its computer chip. According to an Edmonton Police review, officers fired their Tasers 253 times in 2005, 130 times in 2006, and 69 times so far this year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find that there is one main event that is being overlooked here. It seems that everytime we hear of Officers deploying Tasers that seems to be the focus rather than the event that perpetuated the deploying of the Taser by Police. In the JARA event it seems clear to me that someone opertating a stolen car, running from Police for 27 Km and high on Methamphetamine possess a significant risk not only to the rest of the public but to the Officers attempting to arrest him. I for one am going to keep an open mind before I criticize the Police for risking their lives to protect myself and my family.