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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Video of man who died after Tasering may be released

November 18, 2009
By Katie Mercer, Vancouver Province

VANCOUVER — The video footage of an aboriginal man who died in custody after being Tasered while hog-tied is one step closer to being released.

Clayton Alvin Willey died shortly after being arrested in July 2003 for creating a disturbance at a strip mall in Prince George, B.C.

The RCMP security footage shows Willey being Tasered repeatedly while hog-tied, falling headfirst out of a police cruiser and dragged facedown through the Prince George detachment.

David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said Tuesday that the RCMP will be meeting with the family on Nov. 30 to discuss the full video’s release.

“I got a phone call from the family’s lawyer saying that he talked to the RCMP and that . . . they would discuss the full contents of the investigative file, as well as all the video they have, and if the family agreed, they would release the videotape,” said Eby.

Willey’s sister, Bryna Willey, said she was unaware of the particulars surrounding the release and forwarded all questions to her lawyer, Simon Wagstaffe. He could not be reached for comment.

The family had previously provided the RCMP with a notarized release supporting a freedom of information request to release the video. The request was denied, with Mounties citing privacy concerns.

Grand Chief Stewart Philip, of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, who viewed what he called the “sickening” video himself, said the family has turned down an offer to view the video solely in private.

“What the family is saying is they want a complete publication of the video in its entirety,” said Phillip. “They want full disclosure.”

Eby said he believes the release of the video will put pressure on politicians to reform police investigations.

“It’s an embarrassing video, it’s a deeply disturbing video and I think it’s one that will really compromise the image of the RCMP in the eyes of the public,” said Eby. “I think it’s something they don’t need right now, and I don’t blame them for not wanting to release it, but its their legal obligation to.”

Provincial Solicitor-General Kash Heed told reporters he was confident the RCMP will respect the family’s wishes to release the footage.

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