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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Man dies after Edmonton police use taser twice

October 29, 2008
Canwest News Service

EDMONTON - A man died Wednesday after police stunned him twice with a Taser outside a pawnshop in Edmonton - the latest person to die after being hit with a conductive energy weapon in Canada.

The city police force said officers responded to a mischief call just after 11 a.m. local time and found a man threatening people and smashing windows at Dan's Pawnshop.

Officers deployed a Taser twice on the man, to no effect, said police spokesman Jeff Wuite.

He said the man continued to resist arrest, but police officers eventually forced him to the ground and handcuffed him. He then lost consciousness, Wuite said.

The man was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has been called in to investigate. The team investigates deaths that may have resulted from the actions of police officers.

Officials said it was too early yet to tell whether the man's death was the result of being hit with a Taser.

At least 23 other people have died in Canada after being hit with a Taser by police in recent years.

The most high-profile death was that of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski.

The 40-year-old died after being shocked with a Taser at the Vancouver airport in October 2007.

The incident was videotaped by a witness. That tape, showing RCMP officers using a Taser on an agitated man who spoke no English and then pinning him to the ground, drew outrage from around the world.

An inquiry into the death was delayed this week pending the Crown's decision on whether charges are warranted against the RCMP officers involved.

While research has found no conclusive link between Taser shocks and deaths, there have been indications that body size, existing medical conditions, ingestion of drugs and acute stress can increase the risk of harm to a person struck with a Taser.

A report by the Mounties public complaints commission chairman Paul Kennedy urged the RCMP to rein in their use of Tasers. He said it appeared Tasers were being deployed by RCMP more often and much earlier in encounters with suspects than originally intended when they were adopted.

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