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Friday, October 15, 2010

Taser jolts didn’t kill man, coroner’s inquest hears

Every time an inquest is held in this province after a person was tasered and died, the coroner parades the same cast of characters, whose testimony goes completely unquestioned and is counterproductive to finding out what really caused the person to die.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that cardiologist Paul Dorion has testified in the past that tasers aren’t quite as non-lethal as they might seem. But he's not being paid to say that here.

See, for example, this post:

Taser jolts didn’t kill man, coroner’s inquest hears

It’s pathetic that no one is at the inquest to ask these “expert witnesses” any tough questions!!

October 14, 2010
Barbara Brown, Hamilton Spectator

A Taser deployed by an OPP officer on a paranoid and out-of-control cocaine binger did not cause the Norfolk man’s fatal heart attack nearly one hour later, says a cardiologist’s report to a coroner’s jury.

Dr. Paul Dorian, a research scientist, cardiologist and pharmacologist, submitted his report to Coroner Jack Stanborough, but was not available to testify Thursday during a third day of evidence at the inquest in Hamilton into the death of Jeffrey Mark Marreel, 36.

The Delhi man suffered a fatal cardiac arrest while in police custody the morning of June 23, 2008, approximately 55 minutes after being jolted several times with a Taser on “stun mode.”

Marreel, who was erratic and agitated from a weekend of snorting, smoking and injecting cocaine, displayed almost “superhuman strength” and showed no response to the Taser or other pain during a struggle with up to six police officers.

Witnesses called Norfolk OPP because the man had been walking around destroying property and generally wreaking havoc near Fisher’s Glen Road and Front Road.

Marreel was eventually restrained by police and placed in the back of a cruiser, where he was briefly examined by a paramedic. He continued to be incoherent and combative and refused medical treatment for two lacerations to his head. Marreel was taken to Simcoe provincial police station.

The prisoner lost consciousness and was observed to have no vital signs. CPR efforts failed and the man was pronounced dead at Norfolk General Hospital.

Dorian noted there has been considerable debate about the potential for Tasers to have cardiac effects and possibly contribute to life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. But to have this effect, he said, the Taser would have to be applied to the torso with its current path crossing the heart. In that situation, he said, the cardiac effect would occur “within seconds of application.”

“In (this) situation, the Taser application was approximately one hour prior to the observed loss of consciousness, and appears to have been applied to the subject’s extremities (two jolts to the back of the shoulder and one to the arm). In this circumstance, there is no possibility that the Taser application played any role in the subject’s subsequent cardiac arrest.”

Dorian concluded Marreel’s sudden cardiac death was caused by acute cocaine toxicity.

In other evidence, Dr. Margaret Thompson, a specialist in emergency medicine and medical director of the Ontario Poison Centre, said she believes excited delirium (once called cocaine psychosis) was a contributing factor in Marreel’s death, secondary to acute cocaine toxicity.

The paramedic who examined Marreel in the back seat of the police cruiser noted a somewhat elevated heart rate, but was not able to do a proper assessment because of his combativeness. Thompson said she would not have released such a patient from medical care, given that he was exhibiting symptoms of excited delirium can lead to sudden death.

Coroner’s counsel Karen Shea, Lorenzo Policelli, counsel for the Ontario Provincial Police and William MacKenzie, the lawyer for the police association, are to make closing arguments to the jury on Friday.

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