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Saturday, November 10, 2007

RCMP punched, Tasered me: senior

November 10, 2007
Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun

KELOWNA - An elderly newspaper delivery man, who claims he was punched and Tasered by an RCMP officer following a dispute over double parking, plans to lodge a formal complaint, his lawyer said Friday. John Peters, 68, says he was confronted by the officer last Monday morning after he double-parked on a downtown street to wait for his wife after they had delivered newspapers around the city. His wife, Anne, said she heard shouting before she got in the car, which had its hazard lights on. When the officer tried to give him a ticket, she said, Peters drove off.

He pulled over a half block away, however, when the police chased him down the street. "They put the siren on and told him to pull over," Peters's lawyer, Marty Johnson, said Friday. "The cop came over, opened the door and punched him. The guy put his arm up over his face and he got Tasered. "This is pretty unbelievable, this one." Johnson described Peters as "frail," noting he had suffered a stroke in 1990, was hard of hearing and suffered from a neurological disorder called aphasia that affected his speech.

Peters's wife Anne said it was shocking that anyone would Taser an elderly man like her husband, who she said was a "very mild-mannered, reserved, God-fearing kind of person." She said other people who have heard about the incident are also upset. "We did the paper route today [Friday] and this whole town is in an uproar," Anne Peters said. "Nobody can believe anybody would do this to him. "All he had to say was, 'Get out of the car, you're under arrest,'" she said. "He wanted to use that Taser on my husband. He was like a little kid with a new toy. I saw the look on his face, it was scary. It was a horrible nightmare."

The Peters, who are semi-retired, are well known in the city because they deliver the local newspaper, which comes out three times a week. They were taking a coffee break when the incident occurred. Their car is licensed for delivery, Anne Peters said, and the car had been double-parked for only a few seconds before police confronted the couple. She said the same officer had given her husband a ticket in May.

Since the latest incident, her husband has not been sleeping well and "keeps dreaming at night of fighting these policemen," she said. Peters has been charged with obstructing the peace, resisting arrest and assaulting a peace officer. He has also been issued a ticket for double-parking, Johnson said. He is scheduled to appear in court in December.

Kelowna RCMP Sgt. Cory Hamelin said Friday the matter was under investigation but would not reveal further details. He said the officer in question was experienced but could not say how long he has been with the force. He has not been suspended pending the investigation. Johnson said he understood the police have ordered an administrative review of the officer's conduct. "Tasering is in the news because it's used far too often," he said. "It's a shame."

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