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Thursday, April 03, 2008

RCMP accused of misusing taser on BC teen

April 3, 2008
CBC News

An RCMP detachment in a suburb of Victoria, B.C., is being accused of misusing a Taser stun gun on a 15-year-old boy who was being arrested for disobeying a court-ordered curfew for a mischief charge.

The boy was combative while being arrested and he was shocked at least two times, once in the leg and once in the chest, according to a West Shore RCMP report about the March 21 incident.

"The conducted energy weapon was deployed because the individual was combative and kicking at the officers, and it was important for officer safety to control that individual," RCMP spokeswoman Tasha Adams told CBC News Wednesday.

The report said the boy was attempting to wriggle out of a police car when an officer fired a Taser shot into his leg. Shortly after, the boy began kicking the police-car door from the inside and the officer decided to use the Taser again, on the boy's chest, the report says.

The boy's mother admits her son is no angel, has anger issues and has been in trouble with the law. "He yells and he screams a lot. He's voracious when he's in an angry state. He's damaged property at home," the mother said. But using the Taser on the boy was an overreaction and the RCMP had other options, the mother said. Her name cannot be used to protect the identity of her son, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. "If the kid was kicking up that much of a fuss, could you not have cuffed his feet to prevent him from kicking? Did you have to use such force?" she said.

Tom Morino, the boy's lawyer who saw the marks on his body, said this is clear abuse of the Taser. "[He's a] 15-year-old boy, who is 135 lbs. His hands are handcuffed behind his back. There are several officers present. How could they possibly justify Tasering him twice?" Morino said. It's also wrong for the RCMP to use a Taser on his client for "attitude adjustment," Morino said. "We really, as the public, ought to be concerned about the type of force that is used [by police] and we really ought to be ensuring there is sufficient civil oversight so that this isn't used in an indiscriminate fashion."

Morino said he advised his client to file a formal complaint but the boy said he's reluctant because he fears retribution from police.

West Shore RCMP said the teen is not being charged with resisting arrest or damage to the police vehicle. There'll be no formal investigation into whether the Taser was improperly used in this case other than the standard review that is always done whenever a police weapon is deployed.

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