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Friday, August 14, 2009

Taser International to challenge Braidwood findings

August 14, 2009
CBC News

Taser International plans to launch a legal challenge against the findings of a British Columbia inquiry into how police use the stun guns.

In an email to CBC News, a spokesman for the company said it will file papers in a B.C. court on Friday.

"Taser International intends to file an application for judicial review in the Supreme Court of British Columbia related to the Braidwood Commission," said Peter Holran, the vice-president of public relations and government affairs for the company.

Taser won't make any further comment beyond the contents of the filing, he said.

The B.C. inquiry was launched in the wake of the death of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, who died at Vancouver International Airport in October 2007 after being shocked multiple times with an RCMP Taser.

Released in July, it concluded that stun guns can be deadly and much tougher rules must be adopted if they are to remain an option for police.

Former B.C. Appeal Court justice Thomas Braidwood, who headed the inquiry, also recommended that stun guns only be used in single five-second bursts in most cases — rather than multiple bursts — citing increased medical risks associated with repeated shocks, and that paramedic assistance be requested in every medically high-risk situation.

Taser, which makes virtually all the stun guns being used by police forces, has steadfastly argued its stun guns are safe.

It argues the inquiry based its recommendations largely on speculation and that Braidwood's recommendations do not meet the realities of modern day law enforcement.

Liberal MP Ujal Dosanjh, the party's former public safety critic who has been outspoken on the use of stun guns, said Taser's challenge is a tactic aimed to intimidate.

"I think it's a very flagrant attempt on its part to intimidate the critics of Taser and to discredit the inquiry report of a distinguished jurist," said Dosanjh from B.C.

"They are solely motivated by profit. Public safety can't be their priority," he said, adding the company has a battery of lawyers to "vigorously pursue" any critics.

The second phase of the inquiry, focusing on Dziekanski's death, will resume in September, following which Braidwood is expect to issue his second report.

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