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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Man petitions court to charge Mounties for using Taser on him

May 19, 2009
CBC News

A retired soldier who says RCMP officers used Tasers on him while he was handcuffed was in court Tuesday to take on the Mounties.

Matthew Gray, 47, is presenting evidence at a hearing in provincial court in Winnipeg this week in an attempt to get a judge to authorize criminal charges against 15 officers and three civilian members of the RCMP.

The Portage la Prairie, Man., man says he suffers from post-traumatic stress, bipolar and anxiety-panic disorders. In June 2003, he wanted to be admitted to a mental-health facility, so he called a hospital psychiatric ward for help.

According to court documents filed in 2005, the hospital called RCMP, fearing Gray might be a danger to himself.

There was some confusion over whether Gray's committal to hospital would be voluntary or involuntary, and RCMP say he became violent and aggressive and a scuffle ensued. RCMP documents indicate Gray was handcuffed at his own request and a Taser was used on him twice in the hospital.

Taser used in ambulance
After he was given sedatives, the Taser was used again — more than once — during an ambulance ride to another hospital in Winnipeg, according to RCMP documents. An RCMP weapon-use report filed in court says Gray became "extremely aggressive" in the ambulance and freed himself from some restraints.

Officers used the Taser in the ambulance out of fear for the safety of ambulance attendants, police officers, other drivers on the road and Gray himself, RCMP said.

There is some dispute over how many times the Taser was used on Gray. He alleges it was used as many as eight times. The RCMP say it was four times, while hospital records indicate six.

Gray said police assertions that they arrested him under the Mental Health Act are false. Consequently, he believes police had no jurisdiction to detain him or use force against him.

He told the court he is also presenting facts to support his belief that RCMP officers are trying to cover up what happened to him. He says he has been the victim of a smear campaign by the federal force to discredit his reputation.

The Crown has appointed independent prosecutor Marty Minuk to observe the hearing but at this point, Minuk is not involved in the proceedings.

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