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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Winnipeg man dies after being tasered by police

July 22, 2008
JOE FRIESEN, Globe and Mail Update and The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — A man is dead after being tasered by police in Winnipeg.

Police have confirmed that officers used a taser Tuesday on a man who was then taken to hospital and pronounced dead. A police source said the victim was a male in his 20s, but a name has not been released pending notification of next-of-kin.

Officers were responding to a call for help from a citizen in the 900 block of Arlington St, close to the national virology lab. Witnesses said they saw officers and paramedics pounding on the chest of a man who was lying motionless in an alley. They also administered electric shocks in an effort to revive him.

While CTV Winnipeg reported the man had been wielding a knife, police would not say whether the male who was killed was armed when he was confronted. "I'm not privy to the information surrounding that encounter, however it did result in the deployment of an electronic control device used by one of our officers against the male," said Winnipeg police spokeswoman Jacqueline Chaput. However, the initial confrontation was serious enough that more than five police cars were dispatched, she said.

Constable Chaput did not know how many times or where on his body the man was tasered. She said paramedics were called to the scene by police, who requested a “rush” be put on the ambulance. "The male was initially taken to hospital and there he did succumb to his injuries. At this point the investigation is continuing. Our homicide unit has been dispatched to attend and they will be investigating the matter as is protocol." Constable Chaput says it's the first time in Winnipeg that someone has died after being stunned with a taser. "It is yet to be determined by the investigation whether the electronic control device had a hand in the fatality," she said.

Constable Chaput says the homicide unit is investigating as is protocol in any officer-involved fatality. “It was our executive members' decision to continue with the use of electronic control devices despite some of the controversy that we've seen all over the country,” she said.

Amnesty International Canada renewed a call for a temporary taser moratorium last month after an Ontario man died in custody after being shocked by police. The human-rights group said an independent review of possible risks is needed.\

Calls for bans on the devices have also followed several high-profile deaths. A public inquiry is scheduled for this fall into the death of a Polish immigrant who died shortly after being tasered by RCMP officers at Vancouver's airport last year. Robert Dziekanski had been waiting at the airport for several hours for his mother, and RCMP were called after he became agitated. A video taken by a bystander set off a public outcry and resulted in several inquiries into taser use by police.

The national police force pledged to restrict taser use and give officers clearer direction on how and when to use the weapons following a scathing report by RCMP Public Complaints Commissioner Paul Kennedy.

Earlier this month, Nova Scotia's government issued new restrictions aimed at ensuring stun guns are used appropriately. An earlier study done for the province found officers had become increasingly reliant on the devices.


Anonymous said...

Police couldn't say if the suspect was Tasered in the process of committing an offence -- but a police source said the man threatened officers with a knife, causing police to use the stun gun to subdue him.

So this meets all the current rules for use

Anonymous said...

You may be interested in reading the article, No Taser Deaths In USA, found here that discusses the experiences of a man who attended a Citizens Police School as part of his local police department's community outreach program. His account of the course, which led him to conclude,"It is very clear that at the training level, Police officers are being encouraged to harbor an "Us vs Them" mentality towards criminals and civilians alike. The line has been seriously blurred to the point of not really existing anymore. All of this taken together strongly suggests that we are moving inexorably toward a police state." is compelling reading. He was also told -completely contradicting a great deal of evidence - that there have been no deaths by taser in the USA!
Thanks for your post.