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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Edmonton police chief directed to charge officer over Taser incident

August 18, 2009

Police Chief Mike Boyd has been directed to lay charges against an Edmonton cop who repeatedly used a stun gun on a 16-year-old boy nearly seven years ago.

In its decision, the Law Enforcement Review Board calls for charges of "unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority" and "insubordination" against Const. Mike Wasylyshen.

The board also recommends a presiding officer outside of the Edmonton Police Service oversee the disciplinary hearing.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Wasylyshen and four other officers were dispatched to a complaint of people trying to steal a parked car. The call was in the area of Abbottsfield Road. The cops, including Wasylyshen, ordered the people out of the vehicle without first questioning them or conducting a query on the licence plate. Three of four people inside immediately exited, but Randy Fryingpan was passed out in the backseat "as a result of his alcohol consumption and did not respond to the order to get out of the vehicle."

Wasylyshen fired his Taser at Fryingpan eight times over a period of a little more than a minute.

Fryingpan was arrested and later taken to the Sturgeon Community Hospital "where he was noted to have bruising to the left eye area, a skin flap laceration to the left fifth finger and a broken tooth."

Later, at the Edmonton Young Offenders Centre, he was observed to have several marks on his body "that appeared to be consistnt with burns caused by a Taser," states the decision.

The board concludes that: “Wasylyshen deployed his Taser on (Fryingpan) eight times in the span of 68 seconds, in what appeared to be an effort to remove the passed-out youth from the vehicle," states the decision.

"No evidence was presented to justify the use of a Taser; nor was any evidence presented to explain why the Taser was deployed eight times in just over a minute."

During the incident, Fryingpan suffered a blow to the back of his head. He fell to the ground and chipped his tooth, states the decision.

The board said there is sufficient evidence to suggest Wasylyshen "could have administered the blow."

Judge Jack Easton later halted Fryingpan's trial for breaching his bail conditions after concluding the teen's charter rights had been repeatedly violated by Wasylyshen, who, the judge declared, had used excessive force on the teen.

But Wasylyshen was never disciplined over the incident, as the EPS found insufficient evidence to support charges against him.

Fryingpan's lawyer launched an appeal to the Law Enforcement Review Board in 2005.

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