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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manitoba Liberal Leader calls for suspension on taser usage

July 31, 2008
BREAKING NEWS - Winnipeg Free Press

Following a recent Taser related death, Manitoba Liberal Leader Dr. Jon Gerrard today charged the provincial government with continuing to put Manitobans at risk by failing to provide and implement guidelines for proper Taser usage.

"The lack of appropriate guidelines and standards for Taser usage creates a tough situation for law enforcement officers," Dr. Gerrard said. "I have called for a suspension on Taser use for some time now and recent events have reinforced this notion that Taser usage should be put on hold until proper guidelines and protocols are available and implemented."

On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 22, Michael Langan, 17, was shocked by a police Taser in a back lane behind 871 William Ave. He was rushed to the nearby Health Sciences Centre in critical condition and was pronounced dead.

Langan was the first person to die in Manitoba after being Tasered by a police officer.

A fatal Taser incident in British Columbia in October 2007 sparked national outrage.

"This is an issue of humanity and the fact that a weapon labeled as non-lethal has on several occasions caused fatalities is ample reason to reassess the situation," Dr. Gerrard said.

Saskatchewan released its taser report, listing 21 recommendations including the call for a multi-disciplinary team with medical practitioners to analyze complied data on the human effects of Tasers.

Tasers have been used in Canada since 1999 and according to Amnesty International there have been more than 290 fatalities in North America following Taser shocks since 2001, approximately 22 occurring in Canada.

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