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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Law prof calls for moratorium on stun gun use

November 5, 2008

A city law professor is calling for a moratorium on stun-gun use following a series of deadly incidents. That's despite assurances from doctors at a mental health conference that there is no certain link.

"It is no longer enough to say, 'Oh, we're not sure (stun guns) are safe, but we'll still use them," said Sanjeev Anand of the University of Alberta.

A conference of mental-health professionals held earlier this week in Edmonton probed the danger for mentally-ill suspects subject to being zapped. Dr. Dorothy Cotton said: "... It'd be safe to say in situations involving Tasers and excited delirium, it's just not known. We're just not there yet."

Excited delirium, wherein brain mechanisms cause the heart to race and then eventually stop, has been picked as a possible alternative explanation for Taser-related deaths. "What the public hears about are the bad news stories," she added. "I don't want to play down the level of tragedy here ... (but) police are well-trained."

Anand said he recognized that police are well trained, and left with few other non-lethal tools to handle violent suspects. However, he said the answer is to increase the number of police officers so there is always backup available.

He called for a moratorium until more independent studies disprove a link between the Taser and deaths of vulnerable victims.

Last summer, the RCMP's complaints commissioner said Mounties should automatically call for medical assistance after using a stun gun. An Edmonton police spokesman said local police already do that after every use.

Trevor Grimolfson, the 38-year-old owner of Big Daddy's tattoo shop, died last Wednesday after police jolted him in an attempt to end a violent rampage near 153 Street and Stony Plain Road.

1 comment:

chetthejet said...

The police department in your post reportedly already calls for medical after employing a taser, but if it isn't on the books, as a law, mandatory, you'll end up with more tragedy and no accountability, which does the deceased no good.