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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cause of death 'undeterminable' for Red Deer man jolted by Taser: inquest

Geez, um, is it possible that Jason's untimely death might have had anything to do with the one in ten (1 in 10) (10%) (10/100) (100/1000) malfunctioning tasers in Alberta?? See One in 10 Tasers malfunctions in Alberta test

May 13, 2009
CBC News

An inquiry into the death of an Alberta man shocked three times by an RCMP stun gun couldn't come to a conclusion about what ultimately killed him.

In a report released Wednesday morning, provincial court Judge Monica Blast said the most likely cause of Jason Doan's cardiac arrest was "excited delirium," but because no underlying medical diagnosis could be identified as the trigger that put him into that state, the cause of death remains "undeterminable."

Without a cause of death, the judge said she had no recommendations.

Doan, a 28-year-old unemployed pipeline worker with a three-year-old daughter, died on Aug. 30, 2006, in the Red Deer hospital.

Lydia Doan, his grandmother, told CBC News said she was hoping the judge would make recommendations regarding Tasers.

"In every case, they say that they should use them and they're not dangerous, and that's bologna," Doan said. "That is not the truth. A shot like that just effects your whole body, and as many as he had, [that would] definitely put him out right quick."

Doan didn't attend the inquiry at the request of her family.

"He's gone, and we can't bring him back," she said. "What concerns me is the little girl. She is kind of left … high and dry. She still wants her daddy."

Smashing windows, yelling threats

At the time of his death he was living with his sister, Doan was under "significant stress," and often staying up all night drinking, according to the judge's report.

He wasn't under the care of any psychiatrist or psychologist and there was no evidence he had a psychiatric illness, but he told his sister about a desire to live in the woods to protect himself against the risks terrorists posed in urban areas.

Doan was arrested on Aug. 10 after several Red Deer residents called police complaining a soaking wet man was yelling profanities and threats, as well as smashing windows on vehicles. Doan struggled with the first two RCMP officers who tried to arrest him, using a stick as a weapon.

"Doan displayed enormous strength, stamina and endurance and appeared to be impervious to all of the pain compliance techniques used on him by police in their attempt to subdue him," the judge wrote.

The officers had one handcuff on Doan when a third officer arrived and threatened to use a Taser on him if he didn't comply. The officer used the Taser, set on touch-stun mode, three times on Doan's back. On the third try, Doan's resistance "eased off" and after a few seconds he said "Please help me," the judge wrote.

Police got the second handcuff on him and noticed he was turning blue. The officers tried to help him, performing CPR, until paramedics arrived, took over, then took him to the hospital.

Excited delirium not a medical diagnosis: expert
Doan had chronic hypertensive cardiovascular disease, which was unusual for his age, and a liver that was larger than normal, according to Dr. Sam Andrews, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy. Andrews said Doan may also have had pneumonia.

Andrews testified that that Doan was in a state of "excited delirium" before his cardiac arrest, although Christine Hall, an expert on the condition, also testified that it is not a recognized medical diagnosis.

Summarizing Andrews's testimony, Bast wrote: "In cases of excited delirium, death is preceded by bizarre and agitated behaviours, often involving the breaking of glass, and it is often reported that pepper spray and Tasers have no effect on the victim. Essentially the body ramps up, overcharges and then the heart stops. Excited delirium can be triggered by drugs, alcohol, and psychiatric disorders."

Doan's heart condition would have put him at higher risk for cardiac arrest if he was in a state of excited delirium, but didn't cause it, she said. Nor did the electrical discharge from the Taser, she said.

Doan's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The suit alleges negligence by the U.S.-based stun gun company Taser, the RCMP, three RCMP officers, the local health region, a civilian who allegedly helped police, a hospital, two doctors and two paramedics.

Allegations in the lawsuit, filed in August with the Court of Queen's Bench in Red Deer, have not been proven in court.

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