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Friday, June 06, 2008

Man tasered eight times gets apology from Mounties

June 6, 2008
By Martin van den Hemel - Richmond Review

A man who was tasered eight times while handcuffed in the back of a Richmond RCMP police cruiser five years ago finally received an apology from the Mounties last year.

According to published reports about written submissions made to the ongoing Taser inquiry in Vancouver, Phillip Spicer, 58, was admittedly drunk when he was placed into the back of a police car in 2003.

A large man, at six-foot-five, 275 pounds, Spicer was repeatedly jolted while police were trying to remove him from the cruiser.

Spicer’s lawyer, Wayne Guinn, wouldn’t elaborate on what happened to The Richmond Review, citing privilege. “We settled with the RCMP,” Guinn said.

Reports indicate that Guinn wrote a letter to the Richmond detachment, in which he wrote: “The problem arose when officers tried to fit too big an object into too small a place...they created the trouble.”

A complaint by Spicer, who couldn’t be reached for comment, was investigated by then RCMP Supt. Ward Clapham, who found that his officer did not use excessive force, and couldn’t support Spicer’s complaint. The officer who tasered Spicer, Lorne Malkoske, was a staff sergeant at the time, but has since retired.

The RCMP’s Public Complaints Commissioner, however, did find that Malkoske used excessive force and recommended that Malkoske receive guidance on the use of Tasers and apologize to Spicer.

Last year, Beverley Busson, currently a commissioner of the RCMP, apologized to Spicer on Malkoske’s behalf. Malkoske was also the subject of another complaint involving a man who claimed he was having a heart attack while sitting in an RCMP cell, after he’d been struck twice by a Taser blast. It turned out that he wasn’t lying, but he wasn’t taken seriously for an hour, a case which also resulted in a police apology.

Richmond RCMP Cpl. Nycki Basra said that there is a process involving checks and balances to deal with complaints such as Spicer’s. If an independent body comes to a different conclusion than the RCMP about a case, Basra said Mounties are always open to listening to the recommendations, and in the case of Spicer, did follow them.

Thomas R. Braidwood has been appointed by the province to head two inquiries, the first respecting the use of conducted energy weapons. That inquiry will result in a written report. The second commission of inquiry involves a hearing and study into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who died in October after being taser by RCMP officers who were responding to a disturbance at the Vancouver International Airport.

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