September 18, 2008
JOSH WINGROVE, Globe and Mail
TORONTO — A 42-year-old Brampton, Ont., man died yesterday morning after he was tasered during a struggle with four Peel regional police officers while in custody the night before.
Peel police arrested Sean Reilly at a home in Mississauga around 5 p.m. Tuesday, charging him with assault with a weapon. He was taken to Peel's 12 Division station, where a "struggle" ensued in a cell, according to a statement by the province's Special Investigations Unit, which is now involved in the case.
Before being shocked with a taser, Mr. Reilly struggled against four officers, while a fifth looked on, the statement said. He then went into "medical distress" and was taken to Trillium Hospital, where he died at 4:45 a.m. yesterday, the statement said. No cause of death has been determined.
As is common with SIU investigations, Peel police have reserved comment, saying only that the SIU was investigating an "incident."
Mr. Reilly's death follows that of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who died after being tasered in Vancouver International Airport last October; and of Michael Langan, 17, tasered and killed in Winnipeg last July.
Mr. Reilly is the 23rd person in Canada to die after being tasered. His family refused to comment last night.
A federal review on the use of tasers is ongoing, as well as several provincial reviews, including ones in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Ontario regulates use of the devices, and won't approve any request for new tasers until its own review, which began in February, is completed some time this winter.
"Ontario will continue to take a measured approach on the use of tasers. Any decision on expansion will be withheld," said Anthony Brown, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
Currently, only tactical officers and police supervisors are permitted to carry a taser in Ontario. Police must submit a use-of-force report to the province every time they use the device. The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, however, has been pushing for any officer to be equipped with them.
"We believe that they are safe devices for use by police services," said Joe Couto, the association's director of communications, adding: "It's a little bit easy to blame the device, without knowing all of the other factors involved ... "
The manufacturer, Taser International, said yesterday its product is "among the safer use-of-force alternatives," citing various studies that support its claim. "We believe that taser technology protects life and we are prepared to help in the investigation of this unfortunate incident if asked," spokesman Steve Tuttle said in an e-mail.
An earlier, nationwide taser report delivered to the RCMP in June, commissioned after Mr. Dziekanski's death, said the Mounties did not perform "due diligence" in approving the use of the devices. It also said national standards, increased resources and co-ordination are needed to train officers to use tasers safely.
Former RCMP head Giuliano Zaccardelli said this month he believes police forces should stop using the devices.
A new, in-depth federal report on taser use, currently being compiled by the Canadian Police Research Centre, is due out next year.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Thursday, September 18, 2008
September 18, 2008