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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

British Columbia man dies after RCMP attempt to subdue him with taser

October 1, 2008

JANE ARMSTRONG, Globe and Mail
With a report from The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER -- A man has died after Mounties in the Vancouver suburb of Langley used a taser to subdue him after he jumped out of the window of a house.

Police said the man died en route to hospital yesterday afternoon. Officers used the stun gun after they responded to reports that an armed bank robbery suspect was holed up in a Langley house.

RCMP Corporal Peter Thiessen told CTV news that shortly after police arrived at the house, the man smashed through the front window and landed on the ground. He was naked and bleeding from the chest.

Earlier, shouts were heard from the house and police said there were reports that a woman was inside.

Cpl. Thiessen did not release the name of the man nor say if he was the bank robbery suspect.

Police tried to subdue the agitated man, but he tried to run back into the house, Corporal Thiessen said. "At that point, believing that he was a possible armed robbery suspect, the fact that the firearm was unaccounted for and the fact that there was a known female still inside ... officers used their [taser] in an effort to restrain this individual, which they subsequently did," the officer said.

The bank robbery occurred just a few blocks away, earlier in the morning.

It's the second time recently that police in the Vancouver area have used the device to subdue a suspect. Last Monday, Vancouver police used a taser on a 16-year-old mentally ill mother, saying they feared she would harm her baby.

Police have stood by that decision, saying they tried to reason with the girl for three hours and warned her they would use the device. The girl's baby was critically ill since birth and police said they believed she would smother the infant. Social workers called police after she failed to return to her foster home on Sunday. She was at the apartment of her 17-year old boyfriend, the child's father, who is not permitted to see the baby without an adult's supervision.

Last year, Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died at the Vancouver airport after four Mounties subdued him with a taser. An inquiry has been called into the circumstances of Mr. Dziekanski's death, which sparked outrage and made headlines around the world after a video recorded by a witness at the airport was released. The incident sparked a dozen investigations, including a review by the Ontario Provincial Police, the B.C. Coroner's office, the RCMP Public Complaints Commission and a House of Commons committee.

A report released last month said the RCMP didn't get enough input from medical experts about the impact of stun guns on people.

The head of the Mounties' complaints commission, Paul Kennedy, has called for more restraint by police when they use the weapon.

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