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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Calgary police who fired taser not at fault in man's death: agency

"It is not helpful to blame resulting deaths on “excited delirium,” since this conveniently avoids having to examine the underlying medical condition or conditions that actually caused death, let alone examining whether use of the conducted energy weapon and/or subsequent measures to physically restrain the subject contributed to those causes of death." - Braidwood Report, July 2009

August 6, 2009
The Canadian Press/Globe and Mail

An Alberta government agency that investigates deaths linked to police says Calgary officers who fired a taser at a man are not responsible for his death.

“I've concluded that the actions of the four subject officers were justified in all of the circumstances,” Clifton Purvis, head of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, said Wednesday.

“No criminal charges will flow as a result of their actions in relation to this tragedy.”

Mr. Purvis said police were called Nov. 1, 2008, after someone spotted a man acting erratically.

When they arrived, they saw Gordon Bowe from Castlegar, B.C., in the basement of a vacant house, running in the dark and screaming.

He had cuts from breaking through a pane of glass and didn't respond to verbal commands from the police.

One officer fired his Taser while trying to arrest Mr. Bowe, 30, but since one of the machine's prongs did not make contact, the stun gun did not work.

Eventually the officers were able to physically subdue and handcuff Mr. Bowe, at which point they noticed that he was in medical distress.

Mr. Bowe was treated by paramedics on the scene and died in a Calgary hospital the next day.

The taser was deployed three times, he said, and twice it was not effective due to the missing prong. It was fired in “stun mode” a third time during the struggle with Mr. Bowe.

Mr. Purvis said he's satisfied that Mr. Bowe died of excited delirium syndrome related to cocaine toxicity, not as a result of the taser.

No marks on Mr. Bowe's body suggest the third attempt made contact, although it's not known for sure, he said.

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