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Friday, August 14, 2009

Taser International to file suit over Braidwood Inquiry

August 14, 2009
Ian Bailey, Globe and Mail

Stun-gun manufacturer Taser International is going to B.C. Supreme Court Friday to try to overturn the initial conclusions of the Braidwood inquiry because it believes those rulings are unfair.

David Neave, the Vancouver-based lawyer for the company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., told CTV he will file documents outlining the company's grievances.

The main concerns of the company, he said, are that the inquiry's rulings, announced last month, will place law enforcement and the public at greater risk. Taser International argues that stun guns are safe.

“The grounds for the judicial review application are numerous. However, it appears upon a review of the report itself that the commission did not consider or refer to a substantial body of scientific and medical literature concerning the safety of the devices that Taser itself provided to the commission,” Mr. Neave said.

He referred, among other concerns, to 25 studies on the testing of the devices on people Taser provided that were not used. “The assertion is that commission breached basic principles of fairness and fundamental justice,” Mr. Neave said in an interview with CTV at his Vancouver office. “They were biased in the sense that a substantial body of science and medical study we provided to the commission was not considered.”

The B.C. government recently adopted the 19 recommendations of Thomas Braidwood, a retired justice of the B.C. Appeal Court, as standard practice for B.C. police forces.

Mr. Braidwood looked at the police use of stun guns as the first part of a process that is now looking at the October, 2007, death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski.

Mr. Dziekanski, 40, died following a confrontation with four Mounties at Vancouver International Airport. Mounties used a stun gun on him for more than 30 seconds. He died of cardiac arrest following a struggle with officers. Although his death has not been conclusively linked to the use of the taser, his demise has raised questions about the use of the stun guns.

Mr. Braidwood's recommendations included tougher standards for the use of tasers, a five-second time limit on the deployment of the devices and a call for province-wide standards for their use.

“Those recommendations are based on incomplete information with respect to the medical and scientific information that was available and that we provided to the commission,” said Mr. Neave.

Officials with the Braidwood inquiry were not available for comment.

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