February 7, 2008
Trish Audette, Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - There was no "causal" connection between a 33-year-old man being Tasered on Christmas Eve two years ago and dying soon after, an inquiry judge has ruled. On Dec. 24, 2005, Alessandro Fiacco was seen and heard thrashing and screaming in the streets of McKernan neighbourhood, complaining of bugs and snakes crawling over his skin. One of two Edmonton police officers who arrived on the scene shot Fiacco shot three times with a Taser in 17 seconds. Nearly half an hour later, when Fiacco was in an ambulance on the way to the University of Alberta Hospital, he went into cardiac arrest and died.
"Current medical (scientific) research (one has to wonder WHOSE research) shows Tasering does not cause death," Provincial Court Judge Fred Day said in a written decision released today. "That is, it is not a direct cause of death. (Google Ronald Hasse!) Whether further research will show otherwise remains to be seen. There is an ever-increasing body of anecdotal (anecdotal?! dead is dead) evidence about death due to Tasers. They tend to show casual rather than causal connection."
At the inquiry hearing last October into Fiacco's death, the medical examiner said more than five milligrams of cocaine per litre of blood was found in the area of the man's legs and groin during the autopsy. More than two milligrams of cocaine per litre was found in his heart. Anything higher than a single milligram of cocaine per litre of blood could be fatal. Toxicologists estimate a "line" of cocaine might make for 0.2 milligrams of cocaine per litre of blood. The official cause of Fiacco's death was acute cocaine toxicity, or a massive drug overdose.
The purpose of a public fatality inquiry is to examine the circumstances of a sudden death occurring when a person is in police custody, dealing with officers, or in another government institution. Judges look at whether there are policy changes to be made in the future, but can not rule on legal responsibility.
In this case, Day made no recommendations to prevent similar deaths because of a "complete lack of evidence that Tasering caused or contributed to" Fiacco's death. He also noted the Solicitor General recently issued new provincial guidelines on the use of the stun devices.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Thursday, February 07, 2008
February 7, 2008