You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Norfolk police board boss urges review of taser use

December 18, 2008
DANIEL PEARCE, Brantford Expositor

The chairman of Norfolk's police board has called for an independent study on Taser use -- which has killed more than 20 people in Canada, including one in Norfolk -- to see whether it is safe to use it.

"The OPP has dropped the ball on this," Peter Hellyer said at the monthly meeting of the Norfolk police services board after pointing to stories in the media suggesting the devices can emit more of a shock than the manufacturer promises.

"There are all kinds of questions raised here. The safety of the machine is very suspect. This needs to be followed up on and followed up quickly."

After being peppered by a number of questions from Hellyer, Norfolk OPP Insp. Zvonko Horvat said he had no expertise on Tasers and would bring someone to the next meeting who could better explain how the devices -- used by police to subdue unruly and violent people -- work.

"If I you hit me with a wand on the head, I will get a bump but it won't kill me," said Hellyer, who reminded the meeting of the taser death last summer of a Delhi man, an incident that is still under investigation.

"You're raising a big question mark on use of this instrument," he said to Horvat. Police, Hellyer said, "should know how many times in a hundred it will misfire."

At least 20 people in Canada have died after being Tasered by police, raising questions about the device's safety.

Testing by the CBC found that four out of 41 Tasers generated electrical current that exceeded manufacturers specifications. The manufacturer countered that the tests were scientifically flawed.

Last June, Jeffrey Marreel, 36, was Tasered in the lakeside hamlet of Fisher's Glen. Reports from witnesses say Marreel, who had previous arrests for drugs and assault, was outside at the time acting strange and threatening passing cars with a long piece of aluminum. Marreel was Tasered, arrested and taken to the OPP detachment, where he collapsed. He later died at Norfolk General Hospital in Simcoe.

Hellyer noted that 280 people have died worldwide from the device. "That in itself warrants further concern. It is of extreme concern to the people on the (police) board and of Norfolk County," he said.

Municipal police forces in Winnipeg and Nova Scotia have banned the use of Tasers.

No comments: