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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Man's death blamed on taser, alcohol and enlarged heart

September 30, 2008

ST. CHARLES COUNTY - Several factors caused the death of an Alton man who died in May after being shocked with a sheriff's deputy's Taser, St. Louis County Medical Examiner Dr. Mary Case said today.

James Wilson died from several factors: the use of a Taser, an enlarged heart and alcohol intoxication during moments of intense physical activity, Case told the Post-Dispatch.

"I can't specify which one," she said. "There's a natural process going on there: the enlargement of the heart. There are unnatural things going on there: the use of the Taser and the use of alcohol. So which contributed the most or to what percentage, I can't be precise. But all of these things are felt to have some role in why the man died."

Wilson's blood-alcohol content was 0.134, Case said. Under the law, 0.08 is considered legally intoxicated.

Wilson, 22, of the 2000 block of Henry Street died the night of May 6 after he was shocked by a deputy responding to a call about an assault in the parking lot of the Piasa Pantry gas station and convenience store in West Alton.

Wilson was punching his sister outside the store when a deputy arrived about 9:15 p.m., authorities have said. The deputy ordered him several times to lie down, and Wilson verbally threatened and lunged at the deputy, prompting him to shoot Wilson with a Taser.

Case's investigation included Wilson's autopsy, toxicology results, a microscopic examination and several police interviews with witnesses and investigators.

Case said she could not conclude whether Wilson would have survived if he hadn't been shocked by the Taser. "I cannot say that the Taser caused his death," she said. "I've put down the factors that were involved and that's the best that I could do."

Good behavior, TASING factor into plea agreement

September 30, 2008
Seacoast Online

PORTSMOUTH (New Hampshire) — A Maine man accused of threateningly to kill local police officers while in possession of marijuana was fined and given a suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to reduced charges Tuesday.

Richard Lathrop, 22, of 73 Betty Welch Road, Kittery, pleaded guilty to a charge of resisting arrest as part of a plea deal that dismissed counts of drug possession and disorderly conduct.

When asked by Judge Sawako Gardner if he thought the deal was satisfactory, prosecutor Corey MacDonald said arresting officers agreed with the deal because Lathrop has no prior criminal history and was hit with a Taser by officers at the scene.

Lathrop was arrested July 6 at 1:20 a.m. at the scene of a fight at 80 Hanover St.

"It’s probably not a good idea to be out past midnight," the judge told him. "Next time if you are in this kind of situation, just walk away."

In exchange for his plea, Lathrop was given a 90-day jail sentence with all of it suspended pending his good behavior for one year. He was also fined $500, with half suspended pending the same good behavior.

Oversight Unseen

A report on the investigation by the Ontario Ombudsman into the Ontario Special Investigations Unit’s operational effectiveness and credibility.

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) must dispel “toothless tiger” image: Ombudsman investigation finds culture of complacency at SIU

Press Release

TORONTO (September 30, 2008) – Ontario’s system of police oversight has failed to live up to its promise due to a “complacent” culture and a lack of rigour in ensuring police follow the rules, Ontario Ombudsman AndrĂ© Marin says in his latest special report, released today.

In Oversight Unseen, Mr. Marin calls for new legislation to help strengthen the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), as well as sweeping internal changes to dispel “conspiracy theories” and public perceptions that the SIU has a pro-police bias.

“We heard repeatedly from SIU staff and members of the public alike that the SIU was essentially ‘toothless,’ ” Mr. Marin says in the report. “It is clear that something must be done to dispel the SIU’s image as a toothless tiger and muzzled watchdog if it is to earn the respect of police officials as well as the public at large.”

Among the serious problems the Ombudsman identified within the SIU were “endemic” delays and lack of rigour in SIU investigations, a reluctance to insist on police co-operation, and an internal culture overly influenced by a preponderance of ex-police officers among its staff.

Despite legal regulations requiring all police forces to notify the SIU immediately whenever one of their members is involved in an incident resulting in serious injury or death, the Ombudsman’s investigation found notifications are routinely delayed, sometimes by days or weeks. Interviews with “witness officers” are also often delayed, even though SIU rules state they must take place immediately and no later than 24 hours after the SIU requests them.

The Ombudsman found the SIU not only tolerates these delays and fails to demand justification for them, it also keeps no records of them. These practices fly in the face of the SIU’s motto “One Law” – stipulating that police and civilians should be treated alike in investigations – and are compounded by the SIU’s low public profile, he said. “The SIU is practically pathological in its avoidance of public controversy and consistently goes for the path of least resistance.”

The report makes 45 recommendations, including that the SIU aggressively pursue reasons for police non-co-operation, and use “whatever means are available” to diversify its workforce. The Ombudsman also recommends that the SIU director’s reports be made completely public and calls on the province to amend legislation to, among other things, make it an offence for police forces not to co-operate with the SIU.

The investigation, SORT’s largest to date, was launched in June 2007 and involved more than 100 interviews and the review of tens of thousands of pages of documents. The SIU and Ministry of the Attorney General co-operated fully and welcomed the Ombudsman’s recommendations, agreeing to report back to him on their progress in implementing them. However, Mr. Marin noted he will be “watching closely” because the SIU’s commitments were “couched in vague and vapid generalities,” while the Ministry’s promise to consult with Ontarians on new legislation was “rather amorphous.”

The SIU, a civilian agency that investigates – and is empowered to lay charges – whenever police are involved in an incident causing serious injury or death, is unique in Canada. It was established in 1990 to dispel concerns about “police investigating police.” Mr. Marin’s investigation marks the seventh time the SIU has been reviewed since its creation.

“The history of police oversight in Ontario is marked by successive governments reacting reflexively, whenever public controversy erupts,” Mr. Marin says in the report. “Consequently, government interest in reforming the SIU has tended to be short-lived and incomplete.”

Since SORT was created by Mr. Marin in spring 2005, its systemic investigations have sparked reforms to such diverse government programs as newborn screening, support for special-needs children and the disabled, compensation for crime victims, legal aid and the lottery system.


Backgrounder – Quotes from Oversight Unseen

“My investigation found that the Special Investigations Unit continues to struggle to assert its authority, maintain its balance against powerful police interests, and carry out its mandate effectively.” (page 4, paragraph 4)

“Delays in police providing notice of incidents, in disclosing notes, and in submitting to interviews are endemic.” (page 5, paragraph 7)

“The SIU has not only become complacent about ensuring that police officials follow the rules, it has bought into the fallacious argument that SIU investigations aren’t like other criminal cases and it is acceptable to treat police witnesses differently from civilians.” (page 5, paragraph 8)

“The SIU’s system of oversight is out of balance. It must not only ensure accountability of police conduct, but be perceived by the public as doing so.” (page 5, paragraph 10)

“Rather than attempting to scale the ‘blue wall,’ the SIU has adapted its practices and tried to go around it.” (page 55 paragraph 196)

“It has been too willing to accept excuses for delays and its own self-image of powerlessness.” (page 55, paragraph 197)

“We heard repeatedly from SIU staff and members of the public alike that the SIU was
essentially ‘toothless.’ ” (page 62, paragraph 221)

“The SIU is practically pathological in its avoidance of public controversy and consistently goes for the path of least resistance.” (Page 72, paragraph 259)

“It is clear that something must be done to dispel the SIU’s image as a toothless tiger and muzzled watchdog if it is to earn the respect of police officials as well as the public at large.” (Page 74, paragraph 265)

“When civilians are seriously injured at the hands of police, it is critical that the results of the consequent criminal and administrative investigations are exposed to public view – to ensure confidence not only in police oversight, but in policing itself. That was the intent behind the creation of the SIU.” (page 88, paragraph 317)

“At present, the absence of publicly available explanations for the SIU Director’s decisions only helps feed conspiracy theories by critics who believe the SIU favours or is in collusion with the police.” (page 88, paragraph 317)

“In the minds of many community stakeholders, the continuing presence of a large number of former police officers at the SIU is a disturbing remnant of the past.” (page 89 paragraph 321)

“Even some of the SIU investigators we interviewed acknowledged that if the general public were aware of the composition of the SIU, it might leave the impression that the relationship between the SIU and the police was too cozy.” (page 91, paragraph 331)

“The SIU today is in a state of identity crisis.” (page 102, paragraph 367)

“The SIU is steeped at the moment in a culture of consensus – and while consensus can be a very good thing, it does not take the place of effective management.” (page 105, paragraph 375)

“The history of police oversight in Ontario is marked by successive governments reacting reflexively, whenever public controversy erupts. Consequently, government interest in reforming the SIU has tended to be short-lived and incomplete.” (page 106, paragraph 377)

“Continuing issues with police resistance are reflective of a system of oversight with too few consequences, and an SIU administration too reluctant to take decisive action.” (page 106, paragraph 378)

“The SIU was born out of public distrust of police investigating their own. It is critical that the organization move swiftly away from the police ties that continue to hold it back from being a truly civilian oversight body.” (page 106, paragraph 378)

“Ontario’s promise of civilian oversight of police in the context of incidents involving serious injury and death has yet to be fully realized. I have confidence that the established oversight model can still work – and work well. However, the SIU and the MAG will have to change their practices, and the government will have to implement legislative reform if the SIU is to achieve its full potential.” (page 107, paragraph 381)

“The SIU has signalled a willingness to implement my recommendations, however, for the most part, its commitments appear quite superficial and couched in vague and vapid generalities.” (page 119, paragraph 396)

“While the Ministry’s praise is certainly appreciated, it remains to be seen if the steps it has committed to take, including the rather amorphous promise of a dialogue with Ontarians on legislative change, will actually translate into the concrete and necessary improvements I have recommended.” (page 120, paragraph 400)

Tasered neck 'an accident'

September 30, 2008
The Province

A Vancouver police officer who intended to Taser a teenage mother in the back accidentally Tasered her in the neck, Const. Tim Fanning said yesterday.

"I looked back through the reports and the officer tried to apply the Taser to her back but she moved and it touched the back of her neck," said Fanning.

Police were trying to take custody of 16-year-old Misha Peterson's one-month old son Taige on Sept. 22. Police said earlier the girl was Tasered because she was grasping her son tightly and they feared she might smother him.

A letter to the editor published in today's edition of The Province:

Taser record

The science of electricity is simple. Once a Taser's electrical current is released it follows whatever path it finds. If Misha Peterson was holding her baby as tightly as the police claim, then they were electrocuting him too. We should submit the names of the police officers and social workers involved to The Guinness Book of Records for Tasering the youngest person so far.

Edward Roe, Delta

Monday, September 29, 2008

Editorial: VPD should investigate neck wounds

September 29, 2008
The Province

The official police report on any given incident requiring police attention is an incredibly important document. It carries tremendous weight in determining the course of action for the Crown and/or other agencies, such as social services.

The expectation is that the veracity of the police report must be beyond question. In other words, that report must be an honest, accurate and thorough account of the incident as seen and interpreted by the police officer.

Anything short of that is an affront to a just society.

Given the physical evidence, it would be wise of the Vancouver Police Department to pay immediate attention to the report that followed the Tasering of a 16-year-old teenage mother last Monday.

VPD Const. Jana McGuinness told a news conference Friday that officers touched the slight teenager twice with Tasers -- once on the arm and once on the back. The teenager who received the thousands of volts of electric shock claimed she was zapped twice on the neck. Pictures taken by Province photographer Ric Ernst appear to support that claim.

Knowing the optics of Tasering a distraught young mother holding her child would not be that good, it would be an appalling betrayal of duty if a police officer falsely reported the incident as a way of minimizing public outcry.

Earlier this year, as a number of perjury charges were tried against Canadian police officers, James Morton, a Toronto lawyer and adjunct professor at York University's Osgoode Hall Law School, offered the following to a Canadian Press reporter in January: "I have not seen this many examples of perjury charges brought against police officers. I don't think this means that police are lying more than they used to. It used to be that people just didn't believe policemen would lie. That sort of restriction has disappeared now." The Canadian Press story went on to report: Though it's historically rare to see perjury charges against police, it has long been a cultural problem, said Frank Addario, president of the Ontario Criminal Lawyers' Association.

"I think it's a constant problem. The police get corrupted because they think the cause they're working for is noble and righteous, and therefore it's OK to shade the truth because the defendant is a slime bucket." In order for the Canadian justice system to work, the police have to tell the truth -- on the stand and in their official reports.

If the police report of last Monday's Tasering incident says the teenage mother was struck once on the back and once on the arm, then, given the evidence to the contrary, someone ought to investigate the veracity of that claim. If it turns out the neck wounds are not Taser burns, that would be welcome information for the record.

If the report says nothing about where the teenager was zapped, then Const. McGuinness should not be relaying hearsay at news conferences.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Editorial: Cops wrong to taser teen

September 28, 2008
The Province

On Monday, a 16-year-old mother was clutching her baby, who was born one month ago with a series of life-threatening medical conditions. As the baby was released from hospital, the threat of those medical conditions had obviously diminished.

Social workers wanted the baby taken away from the mother, and when they were unable to do so, the police were called in.

With a number of police officers and social workers in the room, the distraught teenage mother allegedly gripped her sickly infant more tightly.

For three hours they negotiated.

Efforts to have the teenager willingly turn the baby over to the Vancouver police and social services went nowhere.

At that point, someone decided, for the well-being of this baby, that the standoff demanded immediate action: It was Taser time.

Not one Taser, but two Tasers.

As a result of the blasts, the mom involuntarily released the baby, the police rushed the child into an ambulance and all was resolved.

Well, sorry, but we still have a bunch of questions, starting with: What the hell just happened? Three, maybe four police officers couldn't wrestle an infant from the clutches of a 110-pound, 16-year-old mother? You negotiated for three hours with the teenager, then, 180 minutes later, concluded the infant was in trouble and only a Taser could resolve the situation? VPD Const. Jana McGuinness said officers had no choice but to Taser "the extremely distraught mother to rescue her critically ill infant." Rather than call that a lie, let's just say it's not true. Officers did have a choice. They could have left the room, for example. They could have continued to negotiate. Hell, they could have shot her.

Choices were everywhere. So, apparently, were Tasers.

Const. McGuinness went on to say: "It might appear to be harsh, but we have to remember that if the child died because we hadn't used the Taser, what criticism would we face then?" First off, police officers shouldn't make life and death decisions based on the optics and the potential for criticism. You do the right thing, and if some criticism comes along with doing the right thing, you live with it. Tasering this teenager was not the right thing.

As the citizens of Vancouver are well aware, the use of a Taser comes with the possibility of death. If the mother had a gun to the baby's head, fine, Taser her to Pluto. But the mother reportedly had no plans to hurt her child. The mother was holding the child during three hours of negotiations. Was it really worth risking the life of the 16-year-old by blasting her with thousands of volts of electric shock? Meanwhile, in New York, police Tasered a naked guy with a fluorescent light. He fell from the side of a building, landed on his head and died. A bystander recorded the incident and that recording was shared with the world on YouTube. Prosecutors are now investigating the police on the scene at the time of the death.

Perhaps if someone taped the Tasering of the Vancouver teenager, a similar investigation would ensue.

Perhaps the police themselves should have taped it. After all, they had three hours to set up the cameras.

Mom claims cops tasered her neck

September 28, 2008
Susan Lazaruk, The Province

Vancouver police say a teen mother was Tasered on her arm and upper back after three hours of talks failed to persuade her to give up custody of her son -- but the teen told The Province she was zapped on the neck.

Misha Peterson, 16, told The Province three or four officers held her down on a bed and zapped her twice on the neck until she let go of her baby, a boy named Taige.

Misha had shown The Province red marks on her neck where she said she was hit with the Taser, capable of delivering 50,000 volts of energy.

"She's got the two marks on the back of her neck," said Doreen Duncan, the grandmother of Scott Michell, Misha's boyfriend and the baby's dad. "There's nothing on the arm or shoulder." Const. Jana McGuinness told a news conference Friday that officers touched the five-foot-one, 110-pound teen's arm and upper back with the Taser at the end of "emotionally intense" negotiations to attempt to take custody of the one-month-old baby.

She couldn't be reached for further comment on the weekend.

Spokesman Const. Tim Fanning said he wasn't familiar with the file and couldn't comment.

Friday, McGuinness defended the officers' decision to Taser the teen.

"Some people may criticize our actions, but there was a child's life in the balance here," she said.

"The last thing we would have ever wanted to do was get in a tug-and-war situation with the mother." The mom was seated at the time and officers were able to retrieve the baby, who they say has been critically ill since birth, from her lap, she said.

McGuinness said the mother was seated and her body at times was over the child.

"Officers felt it was critical to intervene because the actions of the mother led them to believe the baby would be smothered," she said.

"The use of the Taser allowed us to bring this to a safe conclusion for the mother and the child," she said.

Police were called Monday afternoon to Scott's apartment by social workers after Misha failed to return to her foster home on Sunday. Scott isn't allowed to see the child without adult supervision.

McGuinness wouldn't reveal how many officers were involved.

Police didn't identify what condition the baby was born with nor confirm Misha is the mother involved, but they say a woman was arrested under the Mental Health Act and not charged.

Duncan said the baby was healthy except for a minor brain condition and the couple spent their days with Taige, although Scott lives with friends and Misha is in foster care.

"They had a stroller and they went everywhere together," she said. "They're used to having the baby all the time and it's like a part of them has been wrenched out." She said Misha absconded with Taige after social workers told her there would be a custody hearing and Misha would have to earn her baby back.

"How do you earn your baby back?" Duncan asked.

A lawyer has offered to help them but Duncan said she wants to discuss the situation with Misha before pursuing legal action.

McGuinness said the incident would be reviewed internally and with the Ministry of Children and Families.

A ministry spokesman said he couldn't discuss any issue under police investigation and he couldn't confirm that social workers were present at the incident.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New York City officers to get new training in dealing with mentally disturbed

September 27, 2008

All Emergency Service Unit cops will undergo a day-long refresher course in dealing with the emotionally disturbed after a deranged Brooklyn man died in an encounter with a Taser-wielding officer.

The reeducation blitz is just part of a shakeup ordered by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly in the wake of ESU's botched handling of psychiatric patient Inman Morales. Morales, 35, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, went berserk Wednesday, climbed onto his fire escape naked and fell to his death after he was zapped with the stun gun.

"This is all about reinforcing training as it pertains to emotionally disturbed persons and not Tasers per se," said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.

Kelly Friday also tapped a deputy chief - 26-year NYPD veteran James Molloy - to oversee the cadre of 440 ESU officers, who are specially trained and armed and are assigned to answer all calls involving emotionally disturbed people, about 80,000 a year.

The training session, set for Monday at Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field, will include mock rescues of disturbed people, indoors and out, including cases when the subject is elevated, as Morales was.

ESU Officer Nicholas Marchesona stunned Morales as the 35-year-old stood atop a security gate 10 feet off the ground and poked at ESU cops on a fire escape above with an 8-foot-long fluorescent light bulb.

After being shocked, Morales pitched forward and cracked his skull on the pavement. No air mattress had been placed to cushion his fall.

It was unclear whether Marchesona or the superior who ordered him to fire - 21-year veteran Lt. Michael Pigott - would be included in Monday's training, Browne said.

Pigott, 45, was stripped of his badge and gun Wednesday and placed on desk duty for ordering Morales Tasered when it was likely he would fall - a violation of NYPD policy, brass said.

Marchesona retained his gun and badge, but was taken off the streets and assigned to desk duty.

The NYPD has 525 Tasers assigned to ESU officers and patrol sergeants. Only ESU members will take part in Monday's refresher course.

Morales was the first Taser death in the city this year. The NYPD uses the stun guns about 300 times annually, including 180 times so far this year, police said.

The top ESU slot has been vacant about two months as the unit's commanding officer, Inspector James Dean, is on extended sick leave, Browne said. NYPD watchers said ESU had been without a commanding officer for closer to six months.

Deputy Inspector Robert Lukach has been acting commander in Dean's absence.

Browne said Kelly had "full confidence" in Dean and Lukach.

But Kelly wanted a chief in charge of the unit and selected Molloy, Browne said. Dean will become the executive officer of the Special Operations Division, which oversees ESU, when he returns, Browne said.

Tasering of mom with baby 'necessary,' police say

September 27, 2008
Gerry Bellett, Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER - Vancouver police are defending a decision by officers to Taser a 16-year-old mother who wouldn't hand her baby over to social workers last Monday, saying the officers were afraid to engage in a tug of war with the mother for what they said was a critically ill baby.

However, the great-grandmother of one-month-old Taige said Friday the baby boy was not critically ill.

Doreen Duncan said she saw the baby and his parents -- her grandson Scott Michell, 17, and Misha Peterson, 16, -- the night before the Taser incident.

"They came to my house and I fed the baby and Misha burped him and they were real happy," Duncan said.

"The baby was born with a minor brain condition and they'd checked him out the week before, and the baby was fine. They were told that a scan would be done when the baby gets older and other than that, everything was normal," she said.

Police spokeswoman Const. Jana McGuinness said social workers had come to apprehend the child so he could be taken to hospital and called for police assistance when the mother refused to give the baby up.

"Our members found it necessary to Taser a mentally distraught teenager to save the life of her baby," McGuinness said.

"They felt it was critical for them to intervene as they were afraid the child might be smothered, and they applied the Taser to her arm and upper back and she released the child," she said.

"We couldn't risk a tug of war or a physical struggle with the mother over the child," McGuinness said, adding that the officers were afraid such a struggle would injure the baby.

Duncan said Michell and Peterson had known each other for three years and that Peterson was living in a Vancouver group home. Michell had quit school after the baby was born and had found a job, she said.

It appears that when Peterson didn't report back to the group home with the baby Sunday evening, social workers and the police came looking for her, Duncan said.

"They phoned me and said it was a missing persons case and I told them that everything was fine and that they would likely be at Scott's place," she said.

"Then Scott called later and told me they'd Tasered Misha. They had told him to leave the room and Misha had asked him not to because she was afraid they were going to take the baby. She's never been separated from the baby since it was born," Duncan said.

Negotiations for release of the child had gone on for three hours when the officers intervened, McGuinness said.

"We're talking about a critically ill baby. The actions of the mother led us to believe the baby might be smothered," McGuinness said.

"This is a situation we never want to see -- a mother being separated from her child,"It's traumatic when we use force and we use care, especially when we are dealing with a distraught young mother. The last thing we want to do is use force on a child," she said.

"Some people might criticize our decision, but there was a child's life in the balance here."

But Duncan said the police were wrong to Taser the girl.

"She didn't want to let go of the baby. I don't know why they did that to her. She's a good mother and to get Tasered while she had the baby in her arms -- she's still got the marks on her neck," Duncan said.

Duncan said she saw the couple Thursday evening and both were withdrawn and upset.

"She's quiet and missing the baby. She wanted to know when she's getting the baby back and she's been told she'll only get it back when she earns it.

"How do you earn a baby? She's been told its coming up in court Monday, so now she's concerned they want to keep it," Duncan said.

The incident occurred at a time when police use of Tasers is being questioned across North America following a number of high-profile incidents in which the electrical device was used and victims died.

McGuinness said the incident will be the subject of an internal review.

"We do that on all incidents in which force has been used," she said.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Vancouver cops use taser on teen mom holding 1-month-old baby

September 26, 2008
Katie Mercer, Canwest News Service

A teen who was Tasered by police as she clutched her one-month-old son just wants her baby back.

Misha Peterson, 16, said Vancouver police held her down on a bed and shot her with a Taser twice on Monday while she held her one-month-old son, Taige. "Three or four cops were holding me down and they Tasered me twice in the neck until I let go of my baby," said Peterson.

Peterson said social services were trying to take Taige because her 17-year-old boyfriend, Scott Michell, broke a supervision requirement. Michell can't see his child without adult supervision after an argument about Peterson moving back to her mother's "got out of hand," she said. The young mother spent last weekend at Michell's east Vancouver home. When she didn't check back in to her foster home on Sunday night, a missing person report was put out.

Michell said he and Peterson were sitting in his room at about noon on Monday when two case workers dropped by. Fifteen minutes later police arrived and things quickly escalated when police and the social workers tried to remove the baby.

Const. Jana McGuinness said officers had no choice but to Taser "the extremely distraught mother to rescue her critically ill infant."

After three hours with police negotiators, officers were worried that Taige -- who was born with a series of life-threatening medical conditions -- was being smothered against Peterson's chest. "They touched her arm and upper back with the Taser until she released her grip on the infant," said McGuinness. "It might appear to be harsh but we have to remember that if the child died because we hadn't used the Taser, what criticism would we face then?"

Under the Criminal Code, officers can only use force if it will prevent themselves or someone else from being grievously harmed.

Taige and Peterson, who is five feet one and about 110 pounds, were taken by ambulance to B.C. Children's Hospital. She was held for observation under the Mental Health Act for two days.

Michell admits everyone's emotions were running high that afternoon. "Taige was crying. Everyone was yelling in that room," said Michell. "By the way she was screaming it was really hurting her. They shouldn't be Tasering teenagers. We aren't even fully developed yet. It could hurt us."

Michell's grandmother, Doreen Duncan, said she was disgusted when she heard Peterson was Tasered. "The police should have just said, 'OK, we just want to see how you are doing.' But no, they used force," said Duncan, 57, adding the family has consulted a lawyer. She's 16 and she's being Tasered with a baby in her arms? It's gone too far. It's just wrong."

Taige has been in foster care since the incident. Peterson hopes she will be able to stay with him in foster care and "earn him back." "I've had him since birth. We've been doing really, really great and I'm only 16," said Peterson. "I just want him back."

Minister not part of taser review

September 26, 2008
Metro Halifax

AMHERST Justice Minister Cecil Clarke is not going to intervene in a review of Taser use being conducted by the Amherst Police Department following their use on a patient in medical distress.

“Everything I’m aware of is it (fell) within the standards and the department is doing its followup and due diligence on the matter,” Clarke said.

The minister’s comments come a few days after Amherst Police confirmed officers used a Taser on a man in diabetic shock who was resisting treatment by paramedics.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

NYCLU says Brooklyn man’s death shows potential danger in expanding NYPD’s use of tasers

September 25, 2008

NEW YORK -- The New York Civil Liberties Union Thursday expressed concern about the NYPD’s consideration of expanding its use of Tasers, in light of the death of Inman Morales, who died from a fall Wednesday after police shot him with a Taser as he stood on the ledge of a Brooklyn apartment building.

The following statement can be attributed to NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman:

“At a time when the NYPD is considering arming patrol officers with Tasers, this incident illustrates the dangers they pose and highlights the need for both clear policies and extensive training on the use of these potentially deadly weapons.

“Clearly, firing a Taser at someone is a poor substitute for strong police negotiating skills and common sense. While there may be instances where Tasers are effective and appropriate law enforcement tools, they require the same degree of scrutiny and supervision as handguns.

“The NYPD has appropriately acknowledged that the Taser use in this incident violated Department guidelines. We urge Commissioner Kelly to proceed cautiously and seek public input as he considers the Rand Corporation’s recommendation to expand the Department’s use of Tasers.”

'Dangerous' emu flees coop in Camas

Meanwhile, over in Pennsylvania, an emu was tasered and died earlier this month.

September 25, 2008

CAMAS -- Of all the drunk, belligerent or otherwise threatening subjects to meet the wrong end of a police Taser, the one stunned Tuesday in Camas stands out for his name alone.

There it is, on the front page of Clark County sheriff's office report 08-14151:




Before this story goes further, let one thing be clear: The emu survived, and on Wednesday was showing no ill effects of having his feathers ruffled.

"He recovered," said owner Daniel Garrison. "He's up and running around now."

The emu tale began Saturday, when Garrison reported his big bird missing from his home in the 200 block of Southeast Everett Road. The day before, he and his wife, Svetlana, had sold two other emus and three llamas, leaving the emu by himself.

Lonely, he escaped his pen to search for his friends.

Garrison, who had recently sprained his ankle, wasn't feeling up for a bird hunt and assumed the emu would be home by Saturday morning. Wrong.

On Tuesday afternoon, drivers along the 700 block of Everett Road, near Grace Foursquare Church, reported a big bird was slowing traffic and pecking vehicles.

Some reports were exaggerated, with one caller describing the emu as a 7-feet-tall, 350-pound ostrich.

The emu, Garrison said, is actually 5 feet tall and 110 pounds. And unlike ostriches, emus don't have wings. But like ostriches, they run fast.

Also -- and this is what prompted use of the Taser -- they can rip people apart with their feet.

Also Tuesday afternoon, Kay Watson was at her home, which is in the middle of 7 acres on 271st Avenue, a private road east of Camas High School.

The retired teacher was cleaning her carpets when she glanced out at her patio and "saw something fluffy go by."

She thought it was a weird sighting, but shrugged it off because she has seen plenty of animals on her property.

Later, she left her home to run an errand and saw the emu in her field. Students had just been let out for the day at the high school, and students at Lacamas Heights Elementary School would be released next. She didn't want the emu to run up on Southeast 15th Street and tie up traffic or start chasing children.

She called her neighbor and asked him to call animal control.

Officers from the Camas Police Department and the sheriff's office responded instead. They called Garrison to let him know his emu had been found, and he showed up, too.

Watson said that before Garrison arrived, the officers were keeping their distance from the bird as they figured out what to do. The concern was the bird's big feet.

Watson said she remembered hearing once at the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup that a toe on each foot has a long talon for fighting, and could rip people apart.

Once Garrison arrived, a plan was hatched.

Deputy Gregory Chaney Tasered the emu, while Garrison bound the bird's feet.

Sergeant James Eastman kept his rifle on the bird, just in case.

Garrison took his emu home. He understands why people were afraid of his emu's feet, and said he was fine with the use of the Taser.

"They are dangerous (birds)," he said. "They've ripped three pairs of jeans right off my body."

Taser guns 'weapons of torture'

September 25, 2008
BBC News

Lawyers described the Taser as a torture weapon

Taser stun guns have been described as torture weapons and a judge has been urged to ban them immediately.

Lawyers acting for an unnamed Belfast child have won the right to a judicial review of the Police Service of Northern Ireland using the weapons.

On Thursday, they asked for an interim order at Northern Ireland's High Court banning their use until after the outcome of the hearing in January.

They argued their medical effect on "vulnerable people" remains unclear.

Twelve of the Taser stun guns were bought by the PSNI in January for use in a pilot scheme. Since then the weapon has been used once.

A lawyer described stun guns as "weapons of torture" and claimed that a proper equality impact assessment had not been carried out.

"The use of this weapon relies on pain as a means of ensuring compliance. Under UN conventions there can be no lawful reason for the use of torture," she said.

Lawyers for the police said it was about balancing the risk to the public and the target.

Mr Justice Morgan adjourned the hearing until a copy of the relevant equality impact assessment could be provided to the court.

NYPD officer suspended after deadly taser incident

I have to add this poor man to the List of the Dead - had it not been for the taser, Iman Morales, 35 (armed with a 2.5-metre-long fluorescent light) would still be alive. I want the record to permanently show this unlawful/godawful use of a firearm (!!) that has yet to be proven safe on human beings.

September 25, 2008
Steven Edwards, Canwest News Service

NEW YORK - Prosecutors were investigating Thursday after a deranged naked man, who had been armed with a 2.5-metre-long fluorescent light, died hours after police hit him with a Taser dart.

Witnesses said Iman Morales, 35, was perched on a first-floor ledge of a rundown apartment block in Brooklyn on Wednesday when he used the light to poke at an officer who'd emerged from a window to remove him.

As onlookers began to laugh, a police officer among the Emergency Service Unit on the ground raised his Taser and fired. Witnesses watched in horror as the man at first appeared to freeze up, then toppled face-first onto the pavement below. He died a few hours after being taken to hospital.

"While the officers had radioed for an inflatable bag as the incident unfolded, it had not yet arrived at the scene when Morales fell," Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, spokesman for the New York City Police Department (NYPD), said in a statement following a preliminary investigation. "None of the ESU officers on the scene were positioned to break his fall, nor did they devise a plan to do so."

At least four NYPD officers were on the ground at the time of the incident, and one angrily waved off onlookers after Morales crashed to the ground.

A video of the incident is currently circulating on YouTube.

Browne said the officer who fired the Taser - formally called a Conducted Energy Device, or CED - did so at the direction of a lieutenant in charge at the scene.

Witnesses said Morales's mother was also present and begged the officers not to hurt her son, explaining he was ill. "You're all going to die with me," Morales was heard to shout during a mostly unintelligible rant.

The Brooklyn District Attorney is looking into the incident, which unfolded Wednesday afternoon, to see if criminal charges should be laid. He has directed the NYPD to not interview the officers involved. [Huh?!]

Browne said the NYPD has placed the lieutenant on modified duty, which means he's had to surrender his badge and gun. The officer has been given administrative duties.

The man's death has renewed the focus on the department's use of stun guns, which fire barbs up to 12 metres that deliver 50,000-volts of electricity, immobilizing their target.

A similar debate was sparked in Canada following the death last year of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport during an incident in which he was subdued with a Taser.

The NYPD expanded the use of Tasers this year, and now thousands of police sergeants have them on their belts as they patrol city streets. The department's guidelines - reviewed and re-issued as recently as June 4 - say that "where possible, the CED should not be used . . . in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface." They also say Tasers should be used against emotionally disturbed people only when they are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Browne's statement says the lieutenant's order "appears to have violated guidelines."

Witnesses said Morales's mother had called police after she and her son argued. As they arrived at the building, he fled out of a third-floor window, made his way up to the fourth floor by the fire escape and unsuccessfully tried to enter another apartment, then descended to the first floor.

Police are heard on the video shouting for the man to "walk down now," and "move down."

France’s 20,000 local police to carry stun guns

September 25, 2008

PARIS -- France's 20,000 local police officers will be able to carry Taser stun guns under a decree published Tuesday, despite calls from human rights groups for the weapon's use to be suspended.

Municipal officers will join the national police and gendarmes in using the weapon, which packs a 50,000-volt punch that can paralyse targets from up to 10 metres away, and is intended as an alternative to handguns.

Local mayors will have to apply for individual permits for each officer, who will receive a Taser blast as part of their training, under the decree published in the government's official gazette.

Many officials see it as a safer alternative to the handgun, which local officers have been authorised to carry since 2000.

According to the head of Taser France, Antoine Di Zazzo, 346 mayors have expressed an interest in the newest Taser X26 model, which has a built-in camera to record the scene each time it is used.

To date, 4,615 Tasers have been issued to France's national police and gendarme force.

According to police chiefs, Tasers were used 280 times without causing serious injury, cutting handgun usage by 15 percent in 2007.

But France's opposition Socialist Party is firmly opposed to rolling out the Taser to local police.

Amnesty International says that more than 290 people have died around the world after being zapped with a Taser and is demanding a moratorium on the weapon's use while a full investigation is conducted.

Taser France says the figures do not apply to the Taser X26 model.

A United Nations committee ruled in November 2007 that the Taser's use constitutes "a form of torture" which can result in death.

The UN criticism followed a string of deaths in the United States and Canada that occurred after police used Tasers to subdue people, including a Polish man who was filmed dying after being stunned at Vancouver airport.

Taser responded by saying the UN committee was "out of touch with modern policing".

Police chief leads taser research group

So ... let me get this straight. Taser fan Tom Kaye has already concluded that “There is no scientific evidence, no empirical data that would indicate that (Tasers) are posing any kind of a danger, in terms of fatalities, after being used.” What about the so-called "elephant in the room"? You can't ignore 23 dead Canadians and 352 dead Americans.

Wow - so, this is the guy who will lead the "research" that will ultimately produce taser guidelines for police across this country?! Well, it's good to know the outcome of the "research" has already been pre-determined and that we don't have to worry the report will smack of unbiased independence.

I can't wait to see if this "research group" will include the rest of the taser/excited delirium fan club, including but not limited to: Dr. Christine Hall? Ontario Police College Team Leader Chris Lawrence? RCMP Cpl. Greg Gillis? Steve Palmer, Executive Director of the Canadian Police Research Centre? Former Taser shareholder Sgt. Darren Laur of the Victoria Police Department? (He wrote the book on Taser research projects!!) Lt. Michel Masse, who trained Montreal police officers in how to use Tasers and was paid by the manufacturer to promote their use? Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino? Nova Scotia Justice Minister Cecil Clarke? Ontario's former Deputy Chief Coroner Jim Cairns?

While you're at it, why not throw in a couple of Taser International employees? They LOVE to educate dumb Canadians!

Forgive me if I sound jaded.

September 25, 2008
Maria Canton, Owen Sound Sun Times

Owen Sound’s police chief is leading a national research group that has been given the job of producing a paper about Tasers that may include recommendations and guidelines for police across the country.

Tom Kaye was appointed the head of the Taser committee in August while at the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs meeting in Ottawa and he says the paper will hopefully put to rest the angst the public feels about the use of the conductive energy devices.

“The research into the use of these devices and the deployment of them still has yet to show any kind of casual linkage between the use of (Tasers) and any fatalities anywhere in Canada, North America or even around the world,” Kaye said Wednesday.

“There is no scientific evidence, no empirical data that would indicate that (Tasers) are posing any kind of a danger, in terms of fatalities, after being used.”

The Owen Sound police service has four Tasers and officers have used them four times since 2005. In Ontario, only sergeants and acting sergeants are authorized to use Tasers and members of the Owen Sound force have been Tasered as part of their training.

“There are people who have died from the use of these devices, but (their deaths) are not directly linked to the actual use of the (Taser),” said Kaye, who is also the vice-president for the central region of Canada on the executive board of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

Many of the deaths that have occurred after a person has been Tasered have been attributed to “excited delirium,” a heightened state of distress usually brought on by an intense struggle that can lead a person’s heart to stop.

Several high-profile Canadian Taser cases, including several deaths, have prompted calls for Tasers to be banned, but Kaye says what the public really needs is to be better educated on the devices.

“The idea of using a (Taser) is so the person doesn’t die. If I thought for a minute that someone would die, we wouldn’t Taser our own people and we certainly wouldn’t Taser someone if we thought it was going to kill them, there would be no point, if that was the case we would use a sidearm or the baton,” he said.

“The city police have no plans to either start to curtail or withdraw the use of the conductive energy devices here in Owen Sound. There is a risk to every form of force that police officers use, whether it’s a baton, (pepper) spray or a sidearm.”

The research paper is due out in the spring of 2009 and Kay said he hopes it brings about a set of national guidelines for Taser use.


Police Chief leads taser review
Written by Mark Beaton

Owen Sound's Police Chief is looking at tasers on a national scale.

Tom Kaye was appointed to head up a team to bring forward a position paper on the use of conducted energy devices or tasers at the Executive Board of Canadian Association Chiefs of Police Meeting in August.

Kaye says the committee has begun researching the use of tasers by police on a national level but also looking at taser use by police forces in other countries.

Kaye say the idea behind the report is to bring forward the position of the Canadian Association Chiefs of Police on deployment of conducted energy devices in the country.

Kaye says the report will have recommendations on when tasers should be deployed, who should use them and better training information.

Kaye says the report will also clear up the air on taser use being linked to any deaths in the country.

Kaye says the research is on going into the use of tasers but has yet to prove to link the devices to any death in Canada.

Kaye says there has been 25 deaths in Canada where a taser was deployed and in inquests into 16 of the deaths showed the conducted energy device was not the cause of the death.

Since 2005, Owen Sound Police has had 4 tasers and has been used only 4 times.

Kaye adds city police has no plans of eliminating the use of tasers.

The report is expected to be released to the public by the spring of 2009.

Man falls to death after police stun gun shock

September 25, 2008
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A naked, distraught man fell to his death after a police officer shocked him with a Taser stun gun as he stood on a building ledge, authorities said.

The man, Iman Morales, 35, was pronounced dead at a hospital after his nearly 10-foot fall Wednesday. Police said he suffered serious head trauma when he hit the sidewalk. The death of the man, who witnesses and neighbors said had become distraught and had threatened to kill himself earlier in the day, brought renewed focus to the use of Tasers by the police.

It also raised questions over why Morales was shocked with the stun gun when there was no inflatable bag placed on the sidewalk to catch him if he fell. "They didn't try to brace his fall. They did nothing. I've seen a lot of things in my time. But what they did was wrong," said neighbor Kirk Giddens, 39, in Thursday editions of the Daily News.

In a video posted on the Web site of the New York Post, Morales can be seen clambering along a building's fire escape until he reaches a ledge and begins swinging a large fluorescent light bulb at officers below. One of the officers raises a Taser at Morales, who freezes and topples over headfirst.

Police spokesman Paul J. Browne told The New York Times that Morales' death was under investigation. He said that it was unclear whether an inflatable bag had been requested or whether it had not yet arrived at the scene.

Officers are allowed to use Tasers if they believe psychologically distressed people are a danger to themselves or to others.

Thousands of city police sergeants began carrying Tasers on their belts this year. The pistol-shaped weapons fire barbs up to 35 feet and deliver 50,000-volt shocks to immobilize people.

Editorial: Don’t taser the patients

September 25, 2008
The Chronicle Herald

IN JULY, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Cecil Clarke said this province was "poised to be a world leader in the safe and prudent use" of Tasers by law enforcement officers.

On Tuesday, Mr. Clarke said he had no problem with the recent, controversial actions of Amherst police, who Tasered a local diabetic – disoriented and combative due to extremely low blood sugar – after being called to assist with an emergency medical situation at the man’s home.

It’s likely safe to say the world will not be looking to Nova Scotia for leadership on this issue anytime soon.

Mr. Clarke might have been more "prudent," to use his earlier language, if he had awaited the results of an internal Amherst police review of the Sept. 14 incident before exonerating the officers.

It might also have been wise for Mr. Clarke to consider that spokespeople for Emergency Health Services – who had asked for assistance in dealing with an unco-operative patient – have said they would never advise Tasering a diabetic in that situation. In fact, EHS spokesman Paul Maynard said police never asked paramedics at the scene whether using the Taser would be helpful. He said once paramedics realized police intended to use the Taser, the officers ignored their verbal attempts to prevent the weapon from being fired. All of this took place in a matter of seconds, Mr. Maynard said.

The justice minister’s July comments came as he accepted all the recommendations of a ministerial review on Taser use in Nova Scotia, a review which said an absence of usage data made it impossible to say if the weapon was being used in an appropriate way. At that time, Mr. Clarke outlined strict rules for police Taser use, although he, as did the review, rejected calls for a moratorium.

We believed then, and maintain now, that was a mistake. Given public lack of confidence in police Taser use, after a series of highly publicized misuses of the stun gun across the country – including the deaths of some of those Tasered – and the lack of clear standards in Nova Scotia, the prudent course would have been to holster the weapon for the time being.

It’s frankly appalling that Amherst police, called to assist in a medical emergency, not at a crime scene, would consider firing a weapon at the person whose health is in distress.

Diabetics whose blood sugar reaches dangerously low levels often become disoriented and combative. To argue, as some who defend the police have, that the man could not be controlled by several officers and therefore posed a danger to himself and others is to suggest medical staff don’t have alternate ways to deal with such unco-operative patients. On the contrary. Paramedics, nurses and other health professionals have handled similar situations for years. And none, to our knowledge, has ever had to reach for a Taser.

Which is what happened. After realizing setting up an IV wouldn’t be possible in the circumstances, the paramedics gave the patient an injection of glucose, which calmed the man almost immediately.

EHS officials rightly say they plan to set up a protocol with police forces concerning Taser use in medical calls. How about "don’t Taser the patients"?

In the meantime, police who are called to help in medical situations should look to the trained health care experts on the scene to lead on how best they can be of assistance.

Doctor questions use of taser on man in insulin shock

September 25, 2008

An Amherst physician is questioning police’s use of energy weapons following an incident in which a man in insulin shock was Tasered. “For the life of me, I can’t understand the rationale behind using this weapon in this situation,” said Dr. Brian Ferguson. “You have a man with a dangerously low blood sugar and two paramedics and two or three police officers couldn’t control him?”

Amherst police officers used the Taser on a 34-year-old diabetic man who wouldn’t stay still while paramedics tried to put in an intravenous line.

Ferguson is not blaming the officers for using the weapon, but feels those who use it have to understand the risks associated with using it on someone with a medical or mental condition. “If you’re on certain medications that affect heartbeat or have a genetic connection to that, an electric shock can kill you,” Ferguson said.

New protocol was followed - Minister won't intervene in taser case

September 25, 2008
DARRELL COLE, The Amherst Daily News

AMHERST - Justice Minister Cecil Clarke is not going to intervene in a review of Taser use being conducted by the Amherst Police Department following the recent shocking of a patient in medical distress.

"The local department has its own review process and my understanding from talking to the chief of police there is that the new governance standards were followed," Clarke said. "Everything I'm aware of is it falled within the standards and the department is doing its followup and due diligence on the matter."

The minister's comments come a few days after Amherst Police confirmed its officers used a Taser on a man in diabetic shock who was resisting treatment by EHS paramedics.

The man's wife, who spoke on the condition of withholding her identity, is calling for an inquiry into Taser use so no one else will have to go through what her husband did.

Clarke suggested giving the department time to conduct its review and said the man who was tased by police and his family have the right to complain to the police complaints commission.

The minister also took exception to comments made by Liberal justice critic Michel Samson, who called on him to clearly define appropriate protocol for using the device.

"There is a protocol in place and the changes we have put in place are based on the two reviews we completed. Nova Scotia has completed one of the most comprehensive reviews in Canada," the minister said. "Mr. Samson is wrong and is misinformed about the fact the standards have changed. There is a strict criteria with regards to the imminent threat to members of the public or law enforcement officials and others and it was followed."

In July, the province completed the second part of a ministerial review of the policies and use of conductive energy devices. The 36-page review contained 16 recommendations from an advisory panel that looked at policies and procedures governing the use of Tasers.

Officer fired over use of taser - 2nd member suspended

September 25, 2008
The Times Picayune, New Orleans

The New Orleans Police Department has fired an officer and suspended another for allegedly using excessive force during an incident last year. Officer Chad Perez, a 10-year veteran, was fired last week in connection with a November Tasering incident, NOPD spokesman Bob Young said Wednesday.

Perez and another officer, whose identity has not been released, used a Taser and excessive force during a traffic stop and the arrest of a local man, police said. Both were members of the Special Operations Division.

The man filed a complaint with the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau, an internal investigative unit. Investigators looked into the complaint, and the inquiry culminated in the disciplinary actions meted out last week, police said. Perez is appealing his dismissal to the Civil Service Commission.

The other officer was suspended for 105 days, Young said.

Police declined to release additional details.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coroner: Inmate´s Death Caused by Taser

September 24, 2005

Lancaster - The Lancaster County Coroner says a 29-year-old inmate at the county jail died as a result of a being stunned twice by a Taser in a scuffle with detention officers. Lancaster County Coroner Mike Morris says a pathologist's report showed that Maury Cunningham died July 23rd from cardiac arrhythmia as a result of electrical shock by a Taser weapon. Incident reports say Cunningham stabbed two of the officers in the face with pencils. Morris says a toxicology analysis released by the Medical University of South Carolina showed no evidence of drugs or alcohol in Cunningham's body. The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the death.

Cocaine, not police tasers, killed man, autopsy finds


Allegheny County medical examiner Dr. Karl Williams should just order himself two rubber stamps: one that says "Cause of Death Pending - Awaiting Toxicology Results" and another that says "Cause of Death - Excited Delirium Syndrome". Then he can just rubber stamp all the future "un"taser-related death certificates. I wonder who got to him.

See also Ruling in Cocaine Related Taser Deaths Splits Experts

See also Chad Cekas

See also Judge rules for Taser in cause-of-death decisions, which says: "Taser officials have repeatedly said that MEDICAL EXAMINERS WHO RULE AGAINST THE STUN GUN ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO JUDGE WHETHER A TASER WAS A FACTOR IN SOMEONE'S DEATH (emphasis mine). In court disputes, it often presents opposing testimony from company representatives, doctors and medical examiners paid by the firm. "The qualifications of a medical examiner depend on their professional and educational background as well as their level of understanding of Taser technology and the underlying effects of electricity upon the human body," [Steve] Tuttle said.

Which leads me to ask: What fabulous credentials, then, does Dr. Karl Williams possess that QUALIFY HIM to judge that the Taser was NOT a factor in someone's death?

September 24, 2008
Daniel Malloy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Cocaine, not police Tasers, killed a man who died in police custody in Swissvale in August, the Allegheny County medical examiner announced today. Dr. Karl Williams said Andre Thomas died of "agitated delirium" related to acute cocaine intoxication. He said there was no evidence to link the use of Tasers by police to the death. He also said there was no evidence of choking or asphyxiation. Mr. Thomas died as police struggled to restrain him after responding to calls for a neighborhood disturbance.

Pointing Taser at baseball fan violated no rules

Welcome to the brave new world of policing, where pointing a taser at an unarmed and handcuffed man's head doesn't violate ANY rules.

According to "police officials" Officer McGovern didn't intentionally point the taser at the man's head. One look at the photo tells an entirely different story - I'd say it looks pointedly intentional.

September 24, 2008
Bay News 9, Tampa, Florida

PINELLAS COUNTY (Bay News 9) -- The St. Petersburg Police officer who placed a Taser to a man's head at a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game last week did not break any rules with those actions. That's according to officials with the St. Petersburg Police Department.

In an image captured by our partner newspaper the St. Petersburg Times, officer Pat McGovern can be seen pointing the Taser at Boston Red Sox fan Chris Sciesinski. Police said he was drunk and tried to jump onto the field.

Police officials said McGovern did not intentionally aim the Taser at Sciesinski's head.

Sciesinski said he was already in handcuffs when McGovern threatened to hit him with the Taser. Sciesinski pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge. A judge sentenced him to one day in jail and a $375 fine.

Diabetic man zapped by police as he resisted paramedics’ treatment

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Cecil Clarke said the officer’s decision to use the stun gun was in compliance with Canadian standards. And WHAT CANADIAN STANDARDS would those be?! There ARE NO Canadian standards!

One of the people who commented on this news item said - and I can only agree: "Unbelieveable. So now what we are seeing is a God given right for police to exert a dangerous level of control over individuals who not only present combative behaviour but for medically induced combative behaviour as well. What has this world come to?"

September 24, 2008
By TOM McCOAG, The Chronicle Herald

AMHERST — An Amherst woman wants an inquiry into why police Tasered her diabetic husband as paramedics treated him.

"I just can’t believe they’d Taser an obviously sick man," the woman said Tuesday. She agreed to an interview but asked that neither she nor her husband be named.

The incident began shortly before 2 p.m. on Sept. 14 after the man’s children couldn’t wake him. "I checked his blood sugars. It measured 1.4 on the scale and it should read around eight," the distraught woman said, her voice trembling. "I’d never seen it that low before."

She attempted to boost her husband’s blood-sugar level by giving him some maple sugar, but he began making strange noises that scared her. "I called 911. They came really quick."

She admitted that her husband, who is six feet tall and 230 pounds, wasn’t keeping still for paramedics. They asked her if it was all right to call the Amherst Police Department because they needed to get an IV into him quickly. She agreed.

Four officers arrived and went into the bedroom. She left because the small room was becoming crowded. "I didn’t hear any sounds of a struggle when I heard an officer scream, ‘I’m going to Taser you. I’m going to Taser you,’ " the woman said. "I ran down the hall screaming ‘No’ when I heard the zap. When I got into the room, he was sitting up holding his side, crying."

After a few minutes, she said her husband calmed down enough to be given an IV. But she said the change in her husband’s disposition was the result of a glucose shot, not the result of being zapped with a stun gun. Paramedics offered to take him to the hospital, but he refused. "He doesn’t remember anything about the incident, is feeling fine now and is back at work," the woman said. "He really wants the whole thing dropped and we aren’t planning on suing anyone."

But she doesn’t understand why officers Tasered her husband, who has been a diabetic for 12 years.

Paul Maynard, spokesman for Emergency Health Services, said Tuesday that paramedics were trying to give the man an IV for a life-threatening diabetic condition when police were called because of the man’s combative nature. "It’s not unusual for someone to become combative when blood sugars are low," Mr. Maynard said. But he said this is the first time that he knew of where an officer has Tasered a man after paramedics were on the scene.

"I don’t know why they would have Tasered him," Mr. Maynard said. "That is a question you will have to ask the police. But it is not something that would have been recommended by the paramedics."

Deputy Police Chief Ian Naylor said the department is conducting an internal review, as required under provincial guidelines, adopted in July, involving Taser use.

On the afternoon of the incident, paramedics called police "to assist them with a combative 34-year-old man who required immediate medical assistance," Deputy Chief Naylor said. Officers attempted to restrain the man, with one officer holding each of the man’s arms and a third holding his legs, the deputy chief said. The man continued to struggle, sat up, lifted the officer holding his legs into the air and attempted to bite an officer holding an arm, he said.

"The officers were unable to control the man due to his size and strength. The officers were concerned that if he did break free, he would be a danger to himself, the . . . paramedics and the officers."

The struggle lasted about five minutes before the man was warned that the stun gun would be used if he did not calm down, the deputy chief said. He said the man kept struggling, so "a touch stun was applied to the man’s left side for approximately one second. Shortly after, the man’s resistance decreased and paramedics were able to treat" him.

Deputy Chief Naylor said the review is still underway so he could not say if the Taser caused the man to stop struggling. "All I know at this stage is that shortly after the Taser was applied, the paramedics were able to give him the medication he needed."

Deputy Chief Naylor said the public needs to know that the officers were told by paramedics that the man was facing a life-threatening situation and needed to be subdued quickly for medical treatment.

The officer who Tasered the man was trained to use the stun gun last summer. Officers must undergo Taser training every 36 months.

Provincial guidelines leave the decision to use a Taser in the hands of officers at the scene but indicate it can only be discharged "where a subject exhibits behaviour consistent with aggressive or violent resistance or active threat that may cause serious injury to the police officer, the subject or the public."

"If the province decides that (the incident) should be reviewed by an outside agency, we will co-operate," the deputy chief said.

Justice Minister Cecil Clarke said he has no problem with the actions of the Amherst officers. "It’s my understanding that all of the appropriate governance criteria have been met with regards to that case," Mr. Clarke said. He said the officer’s decision to use the stun gun was in compliance with Canadian standards. Police must determine the potential for threat on a case-by-case basis, he said.

New Democrat justice critic Bill Estabrooks would like to see better guidelines for Taser use. Mr. Estabrooks said he isn’t questioning the officer’s judgment, "but what I am questioning is the use of Tasers again in an inappropriate manner basically to sedate a patient. Maybe it would have been a situation where if he’d been allowed to calm down or if his blood-sugar level was that low, I would assume that he would have basically passed out or gone to sleep or whatever."

Liberal critic Michel Samson is not impressed that a 911 call regarding a man in medical distress ended up with that man Tasered. "Due to the lack of protocol from the minister of justice and the government on the use of Tasers, our law enforcement officials are left at a disadvantage, having to make a determination on their own as to when these Tasers are to be used."

With Dan Arsenault, crime reporter

Review held on use of stun gun during NS medical emergency

September 24, 2008
The Canadian Press

HALIFAX — Paramedics were discussing a glucose injection to calm a struggling diabetic when police in Amherst, N.S., caught them off guard by jolting their patient with a stun gun, the director of the province's emergency services said Tuesday.

Dr. Andrew Travers, the medical director of Emergency Health Services, said the paramedics would have advised against using a stun gun on the man if local police had asked. "The paramedics would come back and say there's other ways we can approach this," he said in an interview.

Details of the incident on Sept. 14 emerged Tuesday after the man's wife told the Amherst Daily News that she grew concerned for her husband when she couldn't wake him up, so she checked his blood sugar and found it was low. She called 911 when the 34-year-old man started coughing and was having difficulty breathing. As he awoke, he wouldn't let the paramedics administer an intravenous, so they asked police officers who had been sent to the home to help.

"I left the room because it was very crowded and I was upset," the woman, whose name was withheld, told the Amherst Daily News. "All of a sudden I heard the officers telling him they were going to Tase him. I ran down the hall yelling to them, 'He doesn't understand,' but they zapped him anyway. "I told them to get out of my house. They stood in the hallway for a while and then left. After that an IV was put in."

Travers said that the two paramedics called the emergency medical centre in Halifax to indicate the 220-pound man was difficult to approach. The centre sent a team of three officers to assist.

Deputy chief Ian Naylor of the Amherst police force said when the officers arrived, the man wouldn't allow the paramedics to apply the IV, so two officers held his arms and a third sat on his legs. When he struggled, one of the officers fired the stun gun for one second into the man's abdomen, said Naylor.

The police decision to use the device came moments after the paramedics said they were giving up on the IV, said Travers. "They couldn't put an intravenous in because he was moving around too much. So the paramedics said, 'Can we give this alternative therapy?' and as they were saying this the police made the decision to Taser the patient," Travers said.

They decided to use a needle to treat the man instead, he added. "When they realized that an IV wasn't going to work, the paramedics had realized that an injection by a small needle might reverse the process." After the needle was administered, the man's blood sugars rose, and he calmed down, said Travers.

The paramedics then provided the man with several tablets to raise his blood sugar levels and they stayed with him for about an hour. He decided not to go to the hospital.

Naylor said a full internal review will be completed on the incident and the statements by the paramedics will be taken into account. "I'm not aware of that specific information, but part of our internal review of the process would be to obtain information from the Emergency Medical Service they might have," he said.

Naylor said officers only applied the stun gun when they felt he was a danger to himself or others. "The officers did apply physical restraint. That included three police officers. There was one officer at each shoulder and one on the legs," he said. "Because of the man size and strength they couldn't control him. The third officer on the officer's legs was literally picked up in the air."

Naylor said the officers considered other options, and decided the one-second "touch stun" would be the most effective. Naylor said every incident involving a stun gun is reviewed.

Meanwhile, the man's wife said her husband bit off part of his tongue during the incident and couldn't walk for three days. "I am very upset and feel he was Tasered for no reason. It was cruel for them to do that considering the state he was in," she said. The woman said her husband is a big man but is not a risk to anyone. "The scream that came out of my husband when he was Tasered was the worst thing I have heard in my life."

Dr. Mark Kroll, the head of the medical advisory committee at Taser corporation, said the use of the device by the police may have been the best choice. "If somebody has significantly low blood sugar, and its so low they're not functioning, they need to be taken under control so their life can be saved," he said in a telephone interview.

Kroll noted that using a Taser wouldn't have any impact on the diabetes itself.

"The alternatives are clubbing, pepper spraying and wrestling. ... It would appear to me that the electronic control device would be the safer approach because it resolves the conflict most quickly."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No anatomical cause of death in taser incident

September 23, 2008
The Brampton Guardian

BRAMPTON - Friday's autopsy on a Brampton man zapped by a Taser in a Peel police station has not revealed any "anatomical" cause of death, the province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has revealed. The pathologist has ordered toxicology tests at the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Toronto to try to determine how Sean Reilly, 42, died.

He went into "medical distress" after being Tasered in the cell area of Mississauga's 12 Division Sept. 16. He was in a struggle with four Peel officers who have now been designated as subject officers in the SIU investigation. A fifth officer has been deemed a witness officer in the incident.

Reilly was jolted with the Taser around 5 p.m. Sept. 16, following his arrest for assault with a weapon at a Mississauga home. He was taken to hospital where he died almost 12 hours later.

Reilly's family members have said, through their lawyer, that they want to know the details surrounding his Tasering and death.

Decree authorises use of tasers by French local police

September 23, 2008
France 24 International News

France's 20,000 local police officers will be able to carry Taser stun guns under a decree published Tuesday, despite calls from human rights groups for the weapon's use to be suspended.

Municipal officers will join the national police and gendarmes in using the weapon, which packs a 50,000-volt punch that can paralyse targets from up to 10 yards (meters) away, and is intended as an alternative to handguns.

Local mayors will have to apply for individual permits for each officer, who will have to receive a Taser blast as part of their training, under the decree published in the government's official gazette.

Many officials see it as a safer alternative to the handgun, which local officers have been authorised to carry since 2000.

According to the head of Taser France, Antoine Di Zazzo, 346 mayors have expressed an interest in the newest Taser X26 model, which has a built-in camera to record the scene each time its used.

To date, 4,615 Tasers have been issued to France's national police and gendarme force. They were used 280 times last year without causing serious injury, cutting handgun use by 15 percent, according to police chiefs.

But France's opposition Socialist Party is firmly opposed to rolling out the Taser to local police.

Amnesty International says that more than 290 people have died around the world after being zapped with a Taser and is demanding a moratorium on the weapon's use while a full investigation is conducted.

Taser France says the figures does not apply to the Taser X26 model.

A United Nations committee ruled in November last year that the Taser's use constitutes "a form of torture" which can result in death.

The UN criticism followed a string of deaths in the United States and Canada that occurred after police used Tasers to subdue people, including a Polish man who was filmed dying after being stunned at Vancouver airport.

Taser responded by saying the UN committee was "out of touch with modern policing".

Nova Scotia woman wants stun gun review after sick husband zapped during medical emergency

September 23, 2008
The Canadian Press

AMHERST — A Nova Scotia woman wants the Amherst police department to review its use of stun guns after a recent incident that saw her husband zapped by one of the conductive energy weapons during a medical emergency.

The Amherst woman, who asked that her identity be withheld, said she grew concerned for her husband last Sunday when she could not wake him up. She checked his blood sugar and found his level was only 1.4, normal blood sugar is between four and six.

When the 34-year-old man started coughing and having difficulty breathing, she called 911 and paramedics were quick to respond. However, as he was waking up he was not letting the parmedics administer an IV, and they asked for police help.

"I left the room because it was very crowded and I was upset," the woman told the Amherst Daily News. "All of a sudden I heard the officers telling him they were going to tase him. I ran down the hall yelling to them, `he doesn't understand,' but they zapped him anyway. I told them to get out of my house. They stood in the hallway for a while and then left. After that an IV was put in."

Amherst deputy police chief Ian Naylor said officers only applied the stun gun when they felt he was a danger to himself or others. "He struggled with the officers and attempted to break free. He was able to sit up and kick his legs even though he was being restrained. He was also trying to bite one of the officers," Naylor said.

"The officers were unable to control him because of his size and strength and the officers were concerned that if he did break free he would be a danger to himself, the officers and . . . paramedics."

Naylor said the man was warned before the stun gun was applied, adding that he was only touched by the device for one second. "The Taser was used as a last resort when other use-of-force options available to officers were ineffective," he said.

Naylor said every incident involving a stun gun is reviewed.

Meanwhile, the woman said her husband bit off part of his tongue during the incident and couldn't walk for three days. She believes the stun gun had something to do with it. "I am very upset and feel he was tasered for no reason. It was cruel for them to do that considering the state he was in," she said, adding she realizes her husband is a big man but is no risk to anyone and didn't deserve to be treated that way.

"He needed their help and was treated cruelly. The scream that came out of my husband when he was tasered was the worst thing I have heard in my life."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Post mortem inconclusive in taser death

September 22, 2008
Bob Mitchell, Toronto Star

It will now be several weeks before Sean Reilly's family knows why he died nearly 12 hours after being tasered while under arrest.

SIU spokesperson John Yoannou said today an autopsy has failed to find any "anatomical" cause of death of the 42-year-old Brampton man.

"Toxicology tests are now being conducted," Yoannou said.

Essentially, that means the post mortem examination failed to determine the cause of death so further blood tests must now be conducted. These tests usually take between four to six weeks.

Reilly died last Wednesday about 4:45 a.m. at the Trillium Health Centre after being rushed to hospital when he went into medical distress after being tasered the day before at a Mississauga police station.

He was tasered during a struggle with four Peel Police officers at about 5 p.m. in the cell area of 12 Division police station.

Reilly, who was still mourning the recent death of his sister, was arrested and charged with assault with a weapon in connection with an incident at a home on Runningbrook Dr. in Mississauga.

Peel Police are prohibited from discussing the case because of the SIU investigation but a police source told The Star the weapon involved a knife.

Four Peel officers are now being probed by the SIU. Investigators are determining whether criminal charges are warranted against the officers. A fifth officer has been designated a witness to the struggle.

Reilly, who was single and worked as a carpenter, has been described as a "non-violent" and "friendly man" by relatives and friends.

Ian Smith, a lawyer for the Reilly family, said they're co-operating with the SIU and are anxious to "find the truth" as to what happened.

Although no details about the incident - and what led to the tasering - are being released, a police source told The Star that officers went to a home on Runningbrook Dr. in Mississauga just before 4 p.m. after receiving a 911 call from a motorist about a suspected impaired driver.

When police arrived, Reilly was standing outside of his vehicle with another man.

Reilly was arrested and charged with assault with a weapon and placed into the back seat of a cruiser.

In addition to losing his sister to sleep apnea about two weeks ago, Reilly's father died in 1992, a loss he never got to over, according to relatives. They say he also hadn't been sleeping well since the death of his sister.

Battershill saga: what happened to the police chief

September 21, 2008
Rob Shaw, Victoria Times Colonist

Just a year ago, Paul Battershill was the highly regarded police chief of the city of Victoria. He had a reputation as a progressive police officer -- Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe called him a "New Age kind of guy."

Then suddenly, on Oct. 11, 2007, he was placed on administrative leave, and on Nov. 6, he was suspended with pay while the RCMP investigated allegations of misconduct against him.

Eleven months later, Battershill resigned, five days before a scheduled disclipinary hearing. His resignation was accepted because the Victoria Police Board had suffered a "loss of confidence" in Battershill, Lowe said.

Until now there has never been a public airing of the allegations against the former chief. But today, for the first time, Times Colonist reporter Rob Shaw reveals the events that set in motion Battershill's downfall. Using sources who were present at the time, he has pieced together the heretofore secret events that led to resignation of the police chief.

The fall of Victoria police chief Paul Battershill started, oddly enough, at a meeting about crime in the city's downtown core. It was Aug. 29, 2007, and Mayor Alan Lowe was facing tough questions from the business community about rising petty crime and whether the police force had the money to continue boosted downtown police patrols.

Business owners told the mayor they loved seeing extra officers walk the beat to tackle the city's chronic street problems. But the mayor and the department warned that those extra bodies had to come from other units, and the budget was stretched thin.

Among those attending that night was businessman Gerald Hartwig, who owns numerous downtown buildings. Hartwig believed there was more money in police coffers than the mayor was suggesting and wondered how much had been spent on a series of severance packages for high-ranking officers in the last few years.

He hired lawyer David Mulroney to file Freedom of Information requests into Battershill's expenses and the costs paid for Battershill to travel to West Vancouver to oversee an investigation into a constable accused of drunk driving. At least six senior employees had been dismissed from Victoria's police force since Battershill became chief, and the FOIs, requested between Sept. 8 and 20, also asked to see the cost of their severance packages.

At first, the FOI requests were unimpeded as they wound their way through the system, Mulroney said. But on Oct. 2, Mulroney received a phone call from Murray Rankin, a Victoria partner in national law firm Heenan Blaikie, which was representing Battershill, to challenge the FOIs. Mulroney said he was surprised, because many of the expenses requested were Heenan Blaikie legal bills. He wrote the company a letter suggesting they were now in a conflict of interest.

But the phrase "conflict of interest" had a second meaning. Although the letter did not explicitly say so, it was widely known that Heenan Blaikie lawyer Marli Rusen was having an affair with Battershill while accepting contract work from him and the Victoria Police Board. Mulroney suggested Heenan Blaikie ask its partners about their relationships with the chief.

In the corridors of police headquarters and in the business community, people had been talking about the chief and Rusen, whom Battershill hired to provide labour advice for the 222 police employees then under his command. More than one officer heard admissions of the affair - and explicit details - from Battershill himself. The affair ran contrary to Battershill's public image. When he arrived in Victoria from the Vancouver Police Department to become chief in 1999, he quickly built a reputation as a progressive thinker, champion of reform and advocate of public transparency. Lowe called him a "New Age kind of guy."

If an officer was under internal investigation, Battershill would most often release the officer's name voluntarily to boost what he said was confidence in the department's accountability. In a 2002 interview, Battershill said: "We've built a relationship based on transparency and not hiding stuff."

Battershill's work also won praise from city hall. In 2005, with his reputation at an all-time high, Battershill was hired by Lowe to be acting city manager. It was the first time in city history that someone managed both the police force and municipal bureaucracy. Battershill even wore a gun on his belt at city hall following a death threat that forced police tactical team members to lock down city hall.

But two years later, Mulroney's letter to Heenan Blaikie set off a flurry of activity that ultimately would cause Battershill's downfall.

On Sunday, Oct. 7, 2007, Hartwig and Lowe met for coffee at a Victoria White Spot restaurant, where Hartwig said he showed Lowe the letter and passed on rumours and worries he'd heard from senior polce officers, many of whom are his friends. Lowe said he was concerned.

The next day, on Thanksgiving, the mayor met with senior officers to hear their concerns first-hand. The mayor asked if the officers would talk to the police board, the civilian body that oversees the police department, and the officers agreed.

The following day, Oct. 9, Hartwig's secretary hand-delivered Lowe a copy of Mulroney's letter in a brown envelope. Hartwig said Lowe had requested a copy and asked him not to tell anyone he had sent it.

Coincidentally, there was a regularly scheduled police board meeting later that day. The timing appeared key - Battershill was away in Halifax at a conference.

At the time, the police board had these seven members:

- Chairman Alan Lowe, Victoria mayor
- Vice-chairman Chris Clement, Esquimalt mayor
- Catherine Holt, a management consultant
- Kathy Mick, a former dental hygienist and vice-president of Dr. Dave Mick Inc.
- Bruce Gibson, a real estate agent at Newport Realty
- Maureen Meikle, former director of communication for the B.C. Pension Corp.
- Ken MacLeod, former assistant deputy minister of B.C. Municipal Affairs.

Ralston Alexander, a local civil lawyer, and Christine Stoneman, a management consultant, would join the board a little more than a month later and land smack in the middle of the controversy.

The police board is automatically chaired by the mayor of Victoria and vice-chaired by the mayor of Esquimalt. Both municipal councils also appoint an additional civilian member, not a politician.

The provincial government fills the other positions. Collectively, the board is supposed to be the department's boss, approving hires and fires, salaries, budgets and departmental priorities. It also hires the chief constable.

Although it had the potential to be explosive, the Oct. 9 board meeting fizzled into nothing. While the board discussed such things as financial reports, two nervous senior officers sat outside the boardroom at police headquarters waiting for Lowe to call them in to answer questions about their chief. It did not happen. Eventually they went home. The meeting ended with board members oblivious to the situation. "I was going to bring it to my board's attention, but I only had four board members there that day," Lowe would explain later. "You need to bring something like this up when everyone is there."

The next day, Mulroney's letter found its way to the media and was, literally, waved in the mayor's face as reporters asked for answers. Lowe was angry at the leak. "I would have preferred to handle it internally," he said. "We wouldn't have had all this media attention and wouldn't have had to put the Victoria Police Department through this."

Lowe summoned the police board members to his office at city hall to brief them. Battershill was piped in by speaker phone from Halifax. The board members told him they'd be meeting with senior officers that night to hear their concerns.

The board then called an emergency meeting at police headquarters and asked all senior inspectors and civilians in the department to attend - around nine or 10 people were present. One by one, the senior employees were led into the board room and questioned by the civilian board.

Some board members had already heard rumblings about what was about to occur.

The rank and file of the department had expressed displeasure toward senior management and Battershill after the suicide of a constable in September, sources said. The officer had killed himself after being informed by senior managers he was to be investigated for alleged misuse of a Taser. The suicide seemed to bring the crisis between Battershill and his senior managers to a head, even more so than the FOI request from Hartwig, sources said.

"It was precipitated by the businessman's letter, but it was on its way anyway, it was coming down the pipe," said a source with first-hand knowledge of the process.

Nonetheless, some board members expressed shock at what they heard in the meeting. Vice-chairman Chris Clement has called it one of the most extraordinary meetings he has ever attended.

In addition to Battershill's affair with Rusen, sources say other allegations heard by the board that night included:

- That Battershill had offered Insp. Cory Bond the job of police chief in the future if she supported his decision to get rid of the department's backup police boat, to save money. She interpreted this as inappropriate. The police board was unaware of the offer.

- That sometime in late 2006 or early 2007 Battershill had placed numbered locks on his office door and limited access to the office, including cleaning staff and his executive assistant. He had also placed a surveillance camera in the ceiling.

- That Battershill kept alcohol in his office, even though he knew the board had approved a policy prohibiting alcohol in the building and was waiting for the policy to receive provincial approval. Earlier that same year, 2007, he disciplined a West Vancouver constable who drank in her station and then drove drunk.

- That some senior officers were dissatisfied and worried that numerous colleagues had been dismissed without cause during Battershill's tenure as chief.

- That some officers were fearful of coming forward because they felt their careers were at risk and feared retribution by Battershill when he discovered who they were.

"It became obvious there was a severe loss of faith by senior management," said a source who was there. "Those men and women who came into the room that night were so severely concerned about the path the police department was taking that they were willing to put their jobs on the line."

Still, some of the senior officers and civilian employees had nothing bad to say when asked about Battershill and were unaware of the allegations by their co-workers. Some officers praised him, while others continue to believe certain allegations were unfounded, leaving a deep divide among working colleagues.

At the time of the meeting, the department had a deputy chief and seven inspectors beneath Battershill. Four of them - then deputy chief Bill Naughton, Insp. Cory Bond, Insp. Darrell McLean and Insp. John Ducker - refused to come back into police headquarters if Battershill remained as chief.

Shortly afterwards, in what would be one of his last public interviews, Battershill told the Times Colonist from Halifax the allegations were "wrong" and "spun" and he would address them when he returned.

The board took the ultimatum from senior staff, and their concerns about their jobs, seriously. Clement said the staff's lack of confidence in Battershill affected the board's confidence in him as well.

"You can't run a police department if your senior management refuses to show up because of their grievances with the chief," another close source said. "You do not have a police department that can function under that leadership.

"You can't ignore four of your most senior officers saying the same thing."

The eight-hour meeting finished after 2 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11. "At the end of the meeting that night, everyone agreed Battershill could not come back into the building," said one person in the room. "It was unanimous."

Lowe then e-mailed Battershill to tell him he had been placed on administrative leave, with pay. The chief was barred from the building, and his BlackBerry was blocked. The news spread quickly to the Halifax conference, where Battershill was giving a presentation on effective civilian oversight of police departments.

When Battershill returned to the city days later, Lowe said the two walked along the waterfront to talk. Lowe would not say what about. He said the meeting was in keeping with his role as the board's discipline authority for the chief.

The police board was left with two options - it could do its own investigation and make a decision as Battershill's employer about whether to fire him, or it could send the matter to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner for review under the Police Act.

With its own investigation, the board could have set parameters and made its own decision about what to do with the chief. On the other hand, the complaint commissioner could provide a third-party review, and also limit whether the city and police department could be sued for wrongful dismissal.

Sources in the room say the board was divided on its decision, but ultimately chose to have Battershill's conduct investigated by the complaint commissioner.

On Nov. 6, Battershill's administrative leave was changed to suspension with pay as the RCMP began its investigation on behalf of the complaint commissioner. Naughton was promoted to interim chief, a position he has now held for almost a year.

To aid in the investigation, the board summarized approximately 13 points of concern for the complaint commissioner. However, since the Police Act deals with issues of public trust and code-of-professional-conduct regulations - such as deceit, corrupt practices, neglect of duty, discreditable conduct and abuse of authority - the investigators deemed that several of the staff concerns about personnel matters and management style were not applicable. The allegations were narrowed to seven, although the board was not told how or why, sources said.

Six RCMP investigators spent six months and 1,900 hours interviewing 37 people and examining 900 documents.

For months, the public heard nothing about the investigation, about who was interviewed, or even what the investigation was about. All Lowe said publicly was that the allegations against Battershill involved a "personnel matter."

On April 23, 2008, the RCMP submitted its final report, which concluded that only one allegation - the affair with Rusen, to which Battershill had admitted - was substantiated. The Mounties suggested Battershill be suspended. As a result, Lowe began negotiating with Battershill's legal team to schedule a disciplinary hearing, where the chief would be allowed to present his case before Lowe ruled on what kind of discipline, if any, he would impose on Battershill. Different dates came and went without progress, because Battershill requested more information and the lawyers kept negotiating details, Lowe has said.

The rest of the allegations pitted Battershill's word against that of his officers and could not be proven to a civil standard - the legal benchmark used by the Police Act, which is less than the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

The complaint commissioner also didn't examine whether Battershill had lost the confidence of his police board - which it seemed he had. According to members, the board viewed the affair as a direct conflict of interest, because Battershill was having a relationship with a person he had contracted, with taxpayer money, to give unbiased advice on sensitive labour issues for his employees, sources said.

Although Rusen denied the affair to Heenan Blaikie, and the RCMP investigation determined neither party profited by the relationship, the board was angered at the poor judgment Battershill showed, sources said. "Either he was having an affair or he wasn't, but the fact he told people he was makes it appear he has a serious conflict even if he's lying," a source said.

All the RCMP's investigative work made for a lengthy final report - but the board was never given a copy to read.

Instead, members received an oral summary from Lowe, a troubling fact for many members. In addition to his close working relationship with Battershill, Lowe had also been interviewed by the RCMP as a witness during its investigation. This prompted the police board to debate numerous times, at in-camera meetings, whether Lowe was in a conflict of interest and whether it was appropriate to get information filtered through him.

Despite the board members' concerns, B.C.'s Police Act didn't allow for an alternative. Under the act, the mayor is always the police board chairman and is the only person who can discipline the chief constable. He doesn't need to get the rest of the board's consent to discipline the chief, nor does he need to share all his information with members. Currently, the Police Act does not explicitly say whether he can delegate the disciplinary job to another person should he feel it necessary, although changes that would allow this are being drafted by the province.

After reading the complaint commissioner's report, Lowe began negotiating with Battershill's legal team, which included high-profile Vancouver lawyer Len Doust. On July 28, Battershill offered to resign, Lowe said.

Board members were not included in the negotiations, sources say, and only received word from Lowe when he had reached a settlement agreement.

Under the deal, Battershill received $15,000 for his legal bills, and both sides signed a non-disclosure clause that forbade them from talking about the issue. The board voted in favour of the deal and Lowe publicly called it a good arrangement for taxpayers.

On Aug. 13, Lowe held a press conference to announce Battershill's resignation, five days before he was to face a scheduled disciplinary hearing.

"The investigation completed by the RCMP did not find that Battershill had committed any criminal acts, had any involvement with any criminal activity, nor did it find any financial impropriety," he told media.

But Lowe's reference to a criminal investigation was a red herring. The next day, Police Complaint Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld told the Times Colonist that the RCMP investigation was never about criminal acts.

A review of Battershill's severance shows Lowe was required to make the carefully worded statement as part of the deal.

Lowe did not mention to the press the one substantiated allegation, the affair. He said the board suffered a "loss of confidence" in Battershill's leadership but would not elaborate on what that was.

Ryneveld's 12-page report, made public on Sept. 4, 2008, outlined the reasons for the decision not to hold a public hearing into the Battershill case and released excerpts of the RCMP investigation. It was this report that confirmed the substantiated allegation of the affair with Rusen and clarified that it wasn't the complaint commissioner's place to examine Battershill's management style or his grievances with staff. Ryneveld's report made passing references to camps, political motives and departmental infighting his agency was not willing to investigate.

But for Victoria and Esquimalt taxpayers seeking answers about the complicated 11-month saga, Ryneveld had nothing. He said he recognized the public's desire for details, but said an "exemplary" RCMP investigation, combined with Battershill's resignation, left "insufficient grounds to conclude that a public hearing is necessary in the public interest."

Ryneveld did address the thorny issue of Lowe's role as Battershill's disciplinary authority, noting that a mayor's dual role as police board chairman can be problematic because a police chief and mayor don't work at arm's length - they have a close relationship because they attend the same functions and talk frequently.

Yet Ryneveld concluded the fault lay with the provisions of the Police Act, and not with the mayor's actions. He said that Lowe's close ties with Battershill, and his RCMP testimony, didn't go outside the normal bounds of a police chief-mayor relationship and that, ultimately, Lowe acted appropriately.

Officially, Ryneveld's report was the end of the Battershill affair. There would be no public hearing, no disciplinary hearing for Battershill, no release of the full RCMP investigation, no official explanation of the allegations.

For their part, neither Battershill nor Rusen has returned numerous requests for comment from the Times Colonist.

The police board is looking for a new chief and have hired a company to help in the search.

Whoever it is will take command of a department that remains, by all accounts, bitterly and deeply divided by the Battershill issue, how it was handled and what allegations, if any, were true.

The new chief will also be subject to annual performance evaluations by the police board thanks to a new policy disclosed this month by the board members.

Lowe, who is not running for office again, has said he hopes to swear in the chief at the November police board meeting, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 11 - four days before a new mayor is voted into office in the municipal election.