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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Halifax cops had no right to arrest girl they tasered - judge; 'Set up circumstances for intense confrontation'

A 17-year-old girl who was Tasered by police in her bedroom was acquitted Tuesday of assault by a judge who said the officers had no legal grounds to arrest her. Judge Anne Derrick found the girl not guilty of resisting arrest and assaulting two officers by kicking them in the face during a struggle on her bed.

After her acquittal, the girl said outside court she intends to file a complaint with Halifax Regional Police and is contemplating a lawsuit. "I just don't understand why I was Tasered because I'm not a criminal," she said.

Three officers went to the girl's Dartmouth home last February after her mother asked her to leave following a dispute over the phone with her sister. Upset that the officers were standing in her room, the girl swore at them. When police tried to arrest her, she fought back, was wrestled to her bed and shocked.

Derrick suggested the officers could have done more to try to defuse the situation and wondered why they simply didn't leave the bedroom and speak with the girl's mother. By not doing so, police "set up the circumstances for an intense confrontation," Derrick said. And since the arrest wasn't lawful, the girl was entitled to resist, the judge ruled.

Tasers have been the subject of much discussion in Nova Scotia and elsewhere in Canada in recent months. In November, Howard Hyde died in a Dartmouth, N.S., jail, 30 hours after he was shocked by police during a violent struggle.

The province has since ordered a review of Taser use by police.

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