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Friday, August 07, 2009

Inquest called in Chilliwack Taser incident

August 7, 2009

Chilliwack residents are finally going to hear details of the Taser-related death of Robert Knipstrom two years ago when a coroner's inquest convenes in November.

Coroner Vincent Stancato and a jury will publicly hear evidence from subpoenaed witnesses in order to determine the facts surrounding Knipstrom's death on Nov. 24, 2007.

The inquest is scheduled for Nov. 16-20 at the Coroner's Courtroom in Burnaby.

Knipstrom, 36, died four days after he was Tasered, pepper-sprayed and struck with batons by Chilliwack RCMP officers responding to an "aggressive" customer report at the Eze Rent-It Centre on Airport Road.

But to date the cause of Knipstrom's death, or even if the Taser darts struck him, has not been made public.

Knipstrom was reportedly driving "dangerously" before he arrived at the store and "combative" when he got there.

The RCMP has come under fire for its use of Tasers, most notably in the case of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who died after he was Tasered at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14, 2007, a month before the Knipstrom incident.

In June, 2009, the B.C. government ordered the recall of older-model Tasers used by the RCMP because tests showed they did not meet manufacturer's specifications most of the time, putting out fewer "pulses" per second, making them less effective in bringing down a subject.

It's not clear what model Chilliwack RCMP officers were using when they attempted to subdue Knipstrom, but he was reportedly pepper-sprayed and hit with a baton after the Tasers seemed to have no effect.

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