April 3, 2008
Richard Watts and Louise Dickson, Canwest News Service
VICTORIA - Police should be prohibited from using Tasers until clear rules are in place governing their use, a leading civil liberties lawyer said Wednesday.
"The solicitor-general should issue a moratorium on the use of Tasers until official policies or training are in place," Jason Gratl, president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said in a telephone interview. In the absence of any policy, "the weapon has become a lawless instrument of coercion."
Gratl was speaking on an incident reported Wednesday in which several West Shore RCMP officers handcuffed a 135-pound, 15-year-old boy and then Tasered him at least twice. The boy told his mother and lawyer that the Taser-inflicting officer laughed after administering the electric shock.
An incident report from police confirms the Tasering was done in the handheld "touch" mode, where the electrical terminals of the device touch the subject, and not by firing the instrument's darts. But the report also says the boy was resisting. Even after he was placed in the rear seat of a squad car, the boy kicked at the window and door hard enough to rock the car, the report added.
The boy, who is known to police, was arrested March 21 for being out past his 9 p.m. curfew. The court had imposed the curfew as one condition of his interim release while the boy awaits trial on a mischief charge. The acting solicitor-general, John van Dongen, was not available for comment. The use of Tasers has become especially controversial since the Oct. 14 death of Robert Dziekanski. Mounties at the Vancouver International Airport Tasered Dziekanski, a 40-year-old Polish immigrant, in an incident captured in video on a bystander's cellphone. Dziekanski died shortly afterwards.
Victoria interim police Chief Bill Naughton, who co-wrote a Tasers report, said people are under the misconception that a person who is handcuffed is under control and somehow incapable of causing injury. "And that's not the case," Naughton said.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Thursday, April 03, 2008
April 3, 2008