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Friday, September 18, 2009

Police chief suggests report on Taser case may have been premature

See also: I heard what I heard, that much I know

September 18, 2009
Thana Dharmarajah, Guelph Mercury

GUELPH — The police chief says too much is being made of police communications surrounding a mental health incident in the city’s northeast earlier in the week when a Taser was used on a man.

Rob Davis said police spokesperson Sgt. Doug Pflug didn’t have the sufficient information on hand Tuesday to respond to media inquiries about whether a Taser was used to subdue a mentally ill man earlier that day. A report on whether a Taser had been used in the incident may not have been filed until the officers, at the scene, wrapped up their shift for the day, Davis said.

“There’s nothing here to be hidden,” Davis said Thursday, following a Guelph Police Services Board meeting. “We are not denying that he was Tasered.”

On Tuesday just before noon, police were called to an apartment building at 11 Manhattan Court, the residence of a mentally ill man. His mother placed the initial call to police. Police were told the agitated man might be carrying a sword or similar weapon.

A reporter arrived at the scene to find police officers trying to coax the man from his second-floor apartment, when a struggle ensued in the hallway. He saw and heard pushing, shoving, grunting and groaning. One of the officers shouted out “Stay down . . . or you’ll be Tasered again!”

When the reporter contacted the police spokesperson, he was told the man was “arrested under the Mental Health Act without incident. No one was injured.”

Davis said when the spokesperson said “without incident,” he meant that no one was injured.

Davis added the use of a Taser may not have been revealed immediately to the police spokesperson, because it’s simply another use of force tool that police officers now use.

“The use of a Taser when no one was injured is not a major incident,” he said.

This case was a perfect example of what the Taser was designed for, Davis said, adding the weapon was used to immediately immobilize the man without discharging a firearm. The man was able to be quickly taken to the hospital, where he can get the help he needs, Davis said.

The man’s mother declined to be interviewed yesterday. Her son is now in the care of the Homewood Health Centre.

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