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Monday, December 08, 2008

Fatality inquiry to look at Taser use

December 8, 2008
Gwendolyn Richards, Calgary Herald

The events surrounding the death of a Red Deer father who died after he was shot with a Taser more than two years ago are set to be heard starting today in a nine-day fatality inquiry.

The inquiry, which is scheduled for Dec. 8 to 11 and Dec. 15 to 19, is expected to call numerous witnesses to examine what led to the August 2006 death of 28-year-old Jason Doan.

Doan was allegedly smashing vehicle windows in an alley when police were called on Aug. 10 of that year. Officers chased him and shocked him with a Taser to subdue him. He died in hospital three weeks later.

At a pre-inquiry hearing in April, Judge Monica Bast was told that at least 16 witnesses will testify over the course of the inquiry. Following the inquiry, Bast will make recommendations to try to prevent similar incidents in the future.However, she can't assign blame.

At the April pre-inquiry, the Doans' family lawyer said they are just looking for answers.

Reached Thursday, Doan's grandmother, Lydia Doan, said she doesn't expect the judge will recommend police in the province stop using Tasers. But she said she doesn't want this to happen to another family.

"They are not safe. They ought to get rid of those (Tasers)," she said, pointing out that since Doan's death others have died after they were shot with the weapons.

Last month, a 30-year-old man died in hospital following a confrontation with Calgary police in the city's southeast. A Taser was deployed during the arrest, but it is unclear if a charge was delivered. In October, an Edmonton man died after he was Tasered by police.

Both incidents are being investigated by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.

Lydia Doan said the loss of her grandson has been difficult for the entire family, but particularly for Doan's daughter, now five years old.

"Her father was taken away from her,"she said. "They should consider when something like this happens . . . the family, and not use the (Tasers). There are other ways."

The inquiry comes months after Doan's family launched a civil suit against RCMP members, the David Thompson Health Region, the Red Deer Regional Hospital, two doctors, two paramedics and a civilian alleged to have been involved in the incident. It has also named the company that makes Tasers in the $1.7-million wrongful death suit.

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