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Monday, May 25, 2009

Inquest begins into Taser death in Beamsville

See also: "How Can You Justify Using A Taser 12 Times?" which reported: "one fired an X-26 taser once ... one officer discharged his taser 11 times, using what's known as a drive stun technique, where the device is pressed against a person and fired. Mr. Foldi fell to the ground and was handcuffed. He started breathing heavily, lost consciousness and never recovered." Niagara police had been using tasers for only a week when the Foldi incident took place.

May 25, 2009
KARENA WALTER, St. Catharines The Standard

A man who went on a tear through a Beamsville neighbourhood and died after being Tasered seemed unaffected when the stun gun hit him, police officers testified Monday.

James Foldi, 39, continued to run and smash windows, even when his back was visibly sparking from the electrical jolt, a coroner’s inquest jury was told.

The jury began hearing testimony Monday in St. Catharines into the July 1, 2005 death.

Niagara Regional Police had been called to the area of Village Park Drive and Crescent Avenue around 2:30 a.m. after reports of a man breaking into residences.

“It was similar to something out of a horror movie,” said Const. Patrick Diver, who spotted Foldi walking through the fog on Crescent Avenue.

“I could see his face was covered in blood. His eyes were wide. He looked anxious.”

Diver had been dispatched to a residence on Village Park Drive for a break in, but when he arrived was advised to go to another call on Crescent Avenue, where a resident was pointing down the street.

After he spotted Foldi, Diver said Foldi ran into a nearby bungalow and people inside started screaming.

Foldi ran into a bedroom in the house and the residents, who didn’t know who he was, let Diver and Sgt. Richard Ciszek inside.

The two officers went down a hall, where Diver said Foldi was yelling nonsensically.

“I kept saying to him, ‘We’re trying to help you. Get down on the ground, do what we’re telling you to do,’ ” Diver said.

“At that point, he jumped out the window of the bedroom.”

As Foldi went through the window, Ciszek testified he pointed a Taser in the probe mode and hit Foldi in the back.

Ciszek said Foldi’s two arms went up at the elbows and there were sparks on his back, but he continued running beside the house.

Police went out the front door and met Foldi at the side of the house, who was trying to climb a gate.

Ciszek said he pepper-sprayed Foldi but the man turned around and started running. “I could see the whites of his eyes and there wasn’t even a blink,” Ciszek testified.

Ciszek discharged the Taser a second time, again hitting Foldi in the back. He said Foldi ran and jumped through a glass window in the garage.

“Mr. Foldi was wildly beating on the vehicle parked in the garage with his fists,” Ciszek told the inquest.

Foldi ran out of the garage as officers came in. They ended up getting him to the ground outside and Ciszek said it was a violent struggle.

Ciszek said he fired the Taser in stun mode at Foldi’s calves and upper thighs.

“Mr. Foldi continued to yell and scream. There was no change in behaviour at all,” he said.

Ciszek held Foldi’s legs and ankles while Diver and two other officers tried to handcuff him.

Ciszek said soon after Foldi was handcuffed, he stopped struggling. When police discovered he wasn’t breathing, Ciszek preformed chest compressions.

Pathologist Dr. John Fernandes testified he found the cause of death was excited delirium, a consequence of acute cocaine poisoning.

The inquest is scheduled for two weeks and is expected to hear testimony today by police officers, a cardiologist, medical toxicologist and members of the Beamsville neighbourhood.

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