June 18, 2009
By KEVIN MARTIN, SUN MEDIA
Some Calgary cops may be resorting to Tasers when they should be using less severe arrest options, a senior Calgary judge says.
Provincial court Judge Brian Stevenson, in a written ruling released yesterday, said he's concerned officers may view Tasers as an "easier" way to subdue suspects.
Stevenson made the comments in acquitting Calgarian Nicholas Ashe on charges of obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest.
Stevenson said he believed Ashe's claim he was simply trying to ask some patrons outside a bar for a light when he was "manhandled" by Const. Clint Gravelle.
"As to what occurred outside Schanks Bar that night I believe the evidence of the accused," the judge said of the Dec. 1, 2007, incident at the entrance to the northwest Calgary club.
"I do not believe that Ashe assaulted Gravelle in the execution of his duty, and if there was contact between Ashe and Gravelle it was only incidental to Gravelle's actions and accidental."
Ashe testified he had gone outside for a cigarette and, realizing he had forgotten his lighter, approached a group outside.
Before he got to them he was twisted around by Gravelle, who was investigating a report of a fight, and told to "back off."
When Ashe started to ask Gravelle what he meant, he was cut off and again told to back off.
The accused then tried to tell Gravelle he was only asking for a light, but before he could get the words out he was pushed towards the ground and "manhandled" before being Tasered twice and arrested.
Defence counsel Paul Brunnen had argued Gravelle fabricated his claim Ashe had kicked him in the face and his credibility was seriously damaged by testimony from a nurse who treated his client.
Gravelle described Ashe as being in a "drunken state", "ranting", belligerent" and "aggressive," while the nurse described him as being pleasant and co-operative, unlike most Tasered patients, Stevenson noted.
"I have a concern that deployment of the Taser is viewed by some officers as an 'easier' way to effect an arrest rather than the use of options of a 'less intrusive manner,'" said Stevenson in ruling it was not necessary in this case.
"Taser use is resorted to too frequently where the circumstances governing its use are not present."
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Thursday, June 18, 2009
June 18, 2009