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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Saskatchewan man suing RCMP over 2008 Taser incident

April 1, 2009
CBC News

A lawsuit alleging that RCMP in Saskatchewan used a Taser on a man more than a dozen times has generated vastly conflicting versions of what happened.

The matter has not proceeded to trial, but court documents reveal how the two sides — the man and the police — view the episode, which dates back a year.

In his statement of claim, Bruce Janvier, 43, from the northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche, says he continues to suffer from the aftereffects of being hit with a Taser stun gun in April 2008.

Janvier told CBC News that he was plucked off a La Loche street by two RCMP officers for no reason and taken to the local detachment.

Upon arrival, his claim alleges that the RCMP constables "in an attempt to cause further embarrassment to the plaintiff, pulled the plaintiff's pants down and made him enter the detachment building in that manner."

"They just put me in the drunk tank," Janvier told CBC in an interview. "That's when they Tasered me, in there, with those two guys [the RCMP officers] still holding my arms."

Janvier said he was shocked 14 times and suffered burns to his back, thighs and buttocks.

"It's horrible," Janvier said, describing what he felt. "The pain I've never felt in my life."

In his statement of claim, Janvier said he lost consciousness for a time.

According to Janvier's court documents, although the RCMP laid two charges — one of resisting arrest and a second of committing an indecent act — the case was not pursued by prosecutors.

'He told the officers he was Elvis Presley'
— RCMP statement of defenceThe RCMP have a markedly different recollection of the encounter.

In their statement of defence, the police say Janvier was stunned with a Taser three times in their cells and that he was struggling violently and posed a threat to officers and himself.

RCMP say plaintiff mooned them
They also said they had good reason to arrest the man, after noticing him on the town's main street.

They said he had pulled down his pants and was mooning officers.

The RCMP approached the man and determined he was drunk.

"The plaintiff smelled strongly of beverage alcohol, slurred his words and did not make any sense while speaking," the RCMP's court filing said. "He told the officers he was 'Elvis Presley' and asked the constables not to kill him."

According to police, Janvier was arrested at 9:25 p.m.

Their statement of defence also dealt with the allegations about what happened in the cells.

The RCMP version holds that Janvier was kicking and screaming and not following directions.

"The plaintiff was given numerous Taser warnings," the RCMP said. They admit that the officers delivered three Taser jolts and that the device sent a shock to Janvier's back and arms.

The RCMP said the man did not lose consciousness and did not have any difficulty breathing after being shocked.

They say Janvier was released the following afternoon.

The statements from Janvier and the RCMP are part of the beginning stages of a civil lawsuit, and neither is considered factual until determined so by a court.

People in La Loche told CBC News that the use of Tasers by police had become an issue in the community.

Georgina Jolibois, the mayor of La Loche, said other incidents prompted people to raise concerns.

"Individuals did come forward and express their concerns, and some of them have been actual victims of Taser usage," Jolibois said.

She added that the local village council met with senior RCMP to discuss the matter, and that they now have a good relationship.

La Loche is a community of about 2,400 situated roughly 650 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

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