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Friday, June 25, 2010

"Why couldn't they use a TASER?"

Just over a year ago, on June 23, 2009 (five years to the day after my brother was tasered to death in Vancouver, BC), Peter Holran, VP Government and Public Affairs, Taser International, "tweeted" on TWITTER, under his Twitter-name : TASERPeter - as follows:

RT @m2lowe I'm all for tasers if they prevent this: "Police shoot mentally disabled man"
10:27 AM Jun 23rd, 2009 via web
Reply Retweet

When I read Peter Holran's "tweet", I responded on this blog: taser executive tweets on tasering canadians with intellectual disabilities

Pete was referring to the tragic case of a Canadian fellow named Doug Minty, a man in Barrie, Ontario, with intellectual disabilities who had become agitated as the result of a visit from a door-to-door salesman. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were called to his home. Mr. Minty was SHOT FIVE TIMES by the OPP and he died on June 22, 2009.

The OPP were exonerated in Mr. Minty's death.

"Why couldn't they use a Taser?" asked his neighbour.

YESTERDAY, the Ontario Provincial Police USED A TASER on Aron Firman, a 27 year old man with mental illness. Within moments, Mr. Firman "became unresponsive" and he died. Like Doug Minty, Aron Firman was unarmed and posed no credible threat to trained police officers.

To Peter Holran, VP Government and Public Affairs, Taser International, and Julian Fantino, Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (aka Mr. "I am absolutely convinced that tasers save lives and injuries for both citizens and police officers", aka Mr. "Do your own homework"), I repeat: In Canada, we DO NOT shoot NOR do we taser our most vulnerable citizens. This man had mental illness, for god's sake. He did not deserve this.

This hurts.

I work for a wonderful Community Living organization in southeastern Ontario that supports people with intellectual disabilities. Our staff are trained in CPI, an international training process that specializes in the safe management of disruptive and assaultive behavior. It is seldom required but works beautifully.

A commenter this evening said: You fail to mention that FOUR (4) Ontario Provincial Police officers were involved at the Collingwood Ontario group home when Aron Firman, a 27-year-old resident when "Officers used a conductive energy weapon, a Taser, to subdue" him! FOUR COPS! Ontario Provincial Police sent FOUR cops to subdue one 27-year-old? What's wrong with this picture?

(There were THIRTEEN Vancouver police officers present when my brother, Robert Bagnell, died on June 23, 2004.)


There`s more to this story than meets the eye:

In May 2010, an Ontario Judge was asked to find OPP’s Julian Fantino violated Police Services Act in a landmark court case that will decide whether police officers in Ontario routinely break the law during SIU investigations. Doug Minty's case was highlighted: “In that time, the OPP received statements from the most significant eyewitnesses, had their media officer attend and had (the union involved),” according to court documents. The officers’ lawyers conferred with them at the scene before the SIU arrived on the scene almost four hours later. The officer would later say he saw Minty advancing with a knife. Also in May 2010, Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney-General's Chris Bentley stopped government lawyers from working for the SIU in the high-profile case. Four lawyers, including one of the ministry’s most senior counsel, had been representing SIU director Ian Scott in the proceedings. But, just hours before the hearing was scheduled to begin, the SIU – an arm’s length branch of the ministry – was told to find its own representation. For more information, GOOGLE Doug Minty+Julian Fantino.

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