November 17, 2009
Suzanne Fournier, The Province
The father of Robert Knipstrom broke down in tears as he unexpectedly took the stand at a coroner's inquest Tuesday.
RCMP were called to control Knipstrom at the EZE Rent-it Centre in Chilliwack on Nov. 19, 2007 after the man became distraught and refused to leave and employee-only area.
Knipstrom was pepper sprayed, struck with batons and tasered at least six times by Chilliwack RCMP. He died in Surrey Memorial Hospital five days later.
At least eight RCMP officers were handling Knipstrom when his father, also named Robert Knipstrom, responded to his son's telephone call for help and arrived at the Chilliwack business.
Three young officers, who have testified at the coroner's inquest, said they tried pepper spray and Tasers to control Knipstrom, with little effect.
An RCMP officer, who cannot be named because of a publication ban, said he emptied his pepper-spray can into Knipstrom's face and also struck him repeatedly with a baton, although he said the blows to the head that badly bloodied Knipstrom were "accidentally" inflicted.
When Knipstrom's father arrived at the EZE rent-it centre, his son was lying facedown in handcuffs, covered in blood, howling and did not respond to his father's attempts to speak to him.
Knipstrom Sr. said his son, 36 when he died, was very "sports-minded" and played baseball, soccer and even basketball, although he was "a small kid, short."
He said his son became a skilled tree-topper who had his own business for 10 years.
"He was very generous, bringing his mother flowers and was very close to all his family," Knipstrom's father said.
After his son was taken away by ambulance, Knipstrom Sr. said he prepared to drive his son's abandoned pickup away but was called immediately to hospital.
There, he and wife Jo were astonished to learn "he'd gone into cardiac arrest" and resuscitation was attempted for 28 minutes before his heart restarted.
"He was on life support," said Knipstrom's stricken father.
"He was brain-damaged. His heart wouldn't run on its own. He stayed on life support and kidney dialysis and then he died," he said, breaking down again.
Two members of Chilliwack Fire and Rescue also gave evidence Tuesday morning.
Fire Capt. Jim Clarke testified he would have taken off Knipstrom's handcuffs himself if he thought help was urgently needed, but Clarke said the man appeared to be breathing well and had "a clear airway."
Firefighter Andy Brown said that he offered Knipstrom oxygen twice but that the man became more agitated and refused help. Brown said he helped clean some of the blood off Knipstrom's head, which appeared to have minor lacerations.
RCMP lawyer Helen Roberts argued against the release of the video, which was given to reporters Monday, saying it should be released only after police, ambulance and fire officials have completed their testimony at the inquest.
The inquest is slated to continue until friday.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
November 17, 2009