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Friday, August 29, 2008

Montreal family wants public inquiry after coroner says taser use avoidable

August 29, 2008
The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — The family of a Montreal man who died after police zapped him several times with a Taser says a coroner's report still leaves questions unanswered about his death.

Quilem Registre died last year, four days after Montreal police subdued him using a Taser. A Quebec coroner's report into his death suggests that had the officers been better trained they could have brought the agitated Registre under control without using a Taser.

Registre's family gathered at the offices of a local community organization Friday to demand an independent public inquiry.

"All we feel is that if we have our questions answered and we have the policemen's version, we will feel a little bit better," Registre's cousin Evans Sanelus said during a news conference at the Black Coalition of Quebec. It still won't bring Quilem back. But if we have justice, then maybe we will feel a little bit better."

The family said they want to hear from the police officers.

"If they would have taken the time to use better judgment, maybe the situation would have been different." Sanelus said. "We're asking for a public inquiry to re-evaluate the entire situation."

Registre, 38, was stopped by Montreal police in October 2007 for driving erratically.

Police have said he was intoxicated and aggressive and they used the stun gun - which emits a 50,000-volt electrical charge - to subdue him.

In her report, coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier said the Taser cannot be blamed for Registre's death. However, she said the fact he was struck six times may have been a contributing factor.

Rudel-Tessier said electronic stun guns can be effective policing tools and should be used instead of firearms whenever possible.

Registre's loved ones, meanwhile, do not want his death to be in vain. "Life goes on, he's dead but we're still alive," Sanelus said. "We have to ask for justice. That's the only thing we can do right now and that's what Quilem would have wanted."

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