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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Police didn't tell taser victim's mom right away he was dead: family spokesman

Four years ago TODAY my family learned through the MEDIA that Vancouver police used tasers on my brother the night he died on JUNE 24, 2008 - one month earlier. Some things never change!

July 24, 2008
The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — The mother of a 17-year-old Winnipeg youth was visited by police in the middle of the night after he was zapped by a stun gun, but wasn't told of his death until the next day, says a family spokesman.

"They just showed up and advised her to see if they could get a picture of Michael," David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, said Thursday.

"She shared, not knowing why, only to find out the next day they were going to come tell her they killed him."

Michael Langan died Tuesday after being struck by a police Taser.

"Not to be told until the next day, that's not good at all. That's really bad," said Chartrand.

Why police didn't tell Sharon Shymko about her son is one of the many unanswered questions her family is dealing with, Chartrand said in a telephone interview from Saskatoon.

Winnipeg police have said little about what happened, but called a news conference for late Thursday afternoon with Chief Keith McCaskill.

On Wednesday, Const. Jacqueline Chaput said the youth was a suspect in a theft and an officer deployed what she described as an "electronic control device" when the teenager refused to put down a knife.

Police declined to provide details on the alleged theft, saying only that it involved the contents of a vehicle.

Chartrand said Langan was close to his family, particularly his grandmother, and went out of his way to help her with errands such as filling her prescriptions.

The teen had dreams of becoming a cabinet-maker after finishing high school. He planned to continue Grade 11 in Winnipeg after spending the last year going to school in Kelowna, B.C., Chartrand said.

But Langan may have experimented with marijuana and "may have done crack once somewhere," he admitted.

"He did seem to have challenges. He wasn't a bad kid. You know, he had dreams like anyone else."

Amnesty International believes Langan is the youngest Canadian to die after being hit by a stun gun. The rights group has been keeping records since 2003 - the year it recorded the first death linked to the device.

The group says at least 21 people in the country have died after being hit by a police Taser.

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