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Saturday, March 06, 2010

B.C. transit police release video of taser incidents

March 6, 2010
CBC News

Metro Vancouver's Transit Police Service on Friday released video of nine incidents in which its officers deployed Tasers in response to a CBC freedom of information request.

CBC originally requested videos of 10 incidents from 2007 and 2008 in which transit police used stun guns while making arrests.

According to police, an independent investigation by B.C.'s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has since concluded that in nine of the incidents, the person who was hit with the Taser either assaulted or actively resisted the officers before police used the stun gun. The commissioner's finding cleared the way for the police to release videos of those incidents, transit police Insp. David Hansen said.

One other case remained under investigation, so the video of that was not released.

Four of the incidents involved people who were initially stopped for fare evasion, but police say that in each of those cases, the person was resisting arrest or assaulting an officer before the Taser was deployed.

All of the incidents happened in 2007 or 2008, when police policy allowed officers to use stun guns when dealing with "non-compliant" individuals. They were recorded either by cameras on the weapons themselves or transit surveillance cameras.

Transit police policy has since been re-worded to restrict officers to using the stun guns only when dealing with someone who is "actively resistant."

Police also said that since the change, there has only been one incident in which transit officers used a Taser, and that case involved a man armed with a butcher knife.

Public scrutiny of the use of Tasers grew following the death in October 2007 of Robert Dziekanski, who died after being stunned several times by RCMP officers at the Vancouver airport.

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