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Friday, November 30, 2007

Widow of Paul Saulnier files suit against RCMP

November 30, 2007
The Canadian Press

DIGBY, N.S. — A widow who is suing the RCMP for negligence says an officer shot her husband in the back with a Taser before he died during an altercation in 2005.
Helen Saulnier alleges in her civil suit in Nova Scotia Supreme Court that her late husband, Paul Saulnier, was Tasered outside the Digby RCMP detachment while he was arguing with another officer. She is suing the RCMP and three specific officers.

Saulnier, 42, of Waldeck, N.S., died July 15, 2005. He had been taken to the police station for questioning and was told he would be fingerprinted, the statement of claim alleges. It does not say he was ever under arrest. Some information in the statement of claim came from the provincial medical examiner’s report, said Saulnier’s lawyer, Jamie MacGillivray. ‘‘It was based on the RCMP’s own version of what happened,’’ he said.

When an agitated Saulnier decided to leave the police station through a back door, two Mounties followed him outside and ordered him back inside, the statement of claim alleges. One officer went back inside to grab a Taser, then returned and fired the darts into Saulnier’s back. An RCMP spokesman said shortly after Saulnier’s death that they had been planning to charge him with criminal harassment. The spokesman admitted that officers used pepper spray, batons, and a Taser to subdue him.

Saulnier fell to the ground and both officers jumped on him, the statement of claim says. A third officer came outside to help. Nova Scotia’s chief medical examiner found that Saulnier died of cardiac arrest due to excited delirium caused by paranoid schizophrenia, MacGillivray said. On Thursday, the RCMP said they would not comment on the lawsuit. The allegations have not been proven in court.

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