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Friday, June 25, 2010

Collingwood man dies after being tasered by police

June 25, 2010
Jeff Gray, Globe & Mail

An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday morning on the body of a 27-year-old man who died after Ontario Provincial Police used a Taser to subdue him at a Collingwood, Ont., group home.

The province’s Special Investigations Unit is probing the death, which occurred after OPP were called to intervene after a man assaulted a elderly woman at the home.

At least four OPP officers confronted the man, whom the SIU identified as Aron Firman, around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. The OPP say he became “combative” and assaulted an officer before police used a Taser to subdue him.

The SIU, which probes incidents involving police that result in death or serious injury, is looking into the death, said the man then became “unresponsive.” The OPP says its officers performed first aid. The man was then taken to hospital and pronounced dead. The assaulted officer was also taken to hospital with minor injuries, OPP said.

OPP Constable Mark Kinney said he could reveal little more about the case, because it was now under investigation by the SIU. He said the group home housed people of varying ages with “a range of disabilities.”

SIU spokeswoman Monica Hudon said the agency had identifed one “subject officer” for investigation and designated the three other officers on the scene as witnesses.

The incident comes just a week after the release of a final report on the 2007 death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport. He was zapped with a Taser five times after brandishing a stapler at RCMP.

A Toronto Police report from earlier this year said the force had used, or threatened to use tasers 307 times in 2009.

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