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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Winnipeg: Injured zapped man was combative

September 30, 2009

Sources say a male who is in critical condition after he was zapped by a police Taser was belligerent and combative with officers when they encountered him behind a downtown Winnipeg apartment building Monday night.

Officers deployed a Taser to bring the male under control but he possibly struck his head as he fell to the ground, a source said yesterday.

City police revealed little about the circumstances but said the male wasn't compliant with officers during an altercation, so they used the electronic control device.

Police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said he was unaware if the male was armed with a weapon.

A man who lives in the Kirkby Terrace apartments at Kennedy Street and Qu'Appelle Avenue said he heard police scream at the male to get on the ground, so he rushed to his balcony, where he watched police Taser the male below.

The witness said the male was standing on or near a path at the north side of the building, facing at least five "riled up" police officers.

The man said he didn't hear the male say anything and couldn't tell if he was armed because it was dark.

"I think he just didn't get on the ground when they told him to," the man said.

Yesterday, a bloodstain was still visible on the path. The male remains in hospital.

Police are investigating to determine if the level of force used was appropriate.

Winnipeg police have used Tasers hundreds of times. Last year, Michael Langan, 17, died after being jolted with a police Taser. The cause of death hasn't been released. Police said at the time Langan ignored orders to drop a knife he was allegedly holding.

Officers stopped the male to find out if he was involved in a domestic dispute moments earlier at Balmoral Street and Sargent Avenue at 10:15 p.m.

Police went to the intersection to find the people involved -- a woman, her boyfriend and ex -- but they were gone, so officers searched the area.

It turns out the male who was jolted by a Taser wasn't involved in the domestic matter but officers didn't know that at the time, Michalyshen said.

Regardless of that fact, the male was aggressive towards the officers for some reason, a source said.

Michalyshen said investigators were still trying to confirm the male's identity yesterday.

Meanwhile, police have two males, aged 17 and 23, in custody for their alleged roles in the beating and robbery of an 18-year-old man in front of the apartment at 4:50 a.m. yesterday. The man is in stable condition.

Police believe the same suspects robbed a 23-year-old man at Ellice Avenue and Kennedy about the same time.

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