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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ottawa police threaten 10 year old with taser

April 16, 2008
CBC News

An Ottawa couple has filed a complaint against local police after they came home to find their 10-year-old son handcuffed in a cruiser. Lukasz Gurzynski said officers threw him on a chair, threatened him with a Taser, questioned him and then handcuffed him.

Lukasz Gurzynski said he and five friends were in the midst of a noisy swordfight with sticks and a loud game of Xbox on Sunday when the next-door neighbour yelled at them to quiet down. The children turned the video game down and then went outside for a bit, said Lukasz. When they came back to the apartment, three police officers were standing outside.

"They came [into the apartment] with their guns and kicked the door open with their guns drawn," the boy told CBC News on Wednesday. "And when they saw there was no one in here, they hid their guns. So then they threw me on a chair and I have a scratch over here," said Lukasz, pointing to his back. "They started questioning me, and then after they threatened me with a Taser and they also threatened me that they'd put me in a straightjacket and take me somewhere. And then when they were done questioning me, they handcuffed me."

A neighbour called the boy's mother, Santana Gurzynski, who was at a nearby apartment, to tell her that her son had just been arrested. Gurzynski said she freaked out when she walked outside her building and saw her son in the back of a cruiser. "They just walked him out in the handcuffs. He was all crying and shaking," she said.

The parents say they were gone from their home for 40 minutes, and two 12-year-old girls were among the children in the apartment at the time. The father, Tomasz Gurzynski, said his son is no angel, but the officers' conduct toward Lukasz was unnecessary and unprofessional. "No father or mother wants to see their 10-year-old boy being handcuffed and treated like a criminal," he said.

Tomasz and Santana said that ever since the Sunday incident Lukasz has been "much calmer" and sadder and has spent most of his time quietly playing games at home. Lukasz said he has been having nightmares about the police raid and is startled every time he hears a door slam.

The Gurzynskis have filed a complaint and hired a lawyer to explore their options, but say what they really want is an apology.

Ottawa Police Service Const. J.P. Vincelette refused to comment on the case specifically, other than to confirm there was an incident, but added that police do handcuff children from time to time. "In general terms, I can state that for the safety of a young person involved or for the safety of the officer involved would be two circumstances where handcuffs could be used with a young person," said Vincelette.

As for Lucasz, he says he learned a lesson and will try to keep the noise down from now on.

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