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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Immigrant dies following police Taser shooting in France

November 30, 2010

November 30, 2010: Mohamadau Marega, 38, Paris, France

A Malian immigrant died Tuesday after French police shot him twice with a Taser stun gun during a clash in the Paris suburb of Colombes, a police spokesperson told the AFP wire service.

"During his arrest, a Taser was used twice. Following the intervention, the person died of a cause that remains to be determined," the spokesperson said.

The incident occurred just after midnight Monday when police were called to a disturbance involving the 38-year-old Malian, who was allegedly staying in France illegally, and a friend with whom he was staying.

When officers attempted to check his identity papers the man "flipped out" and seized a hammer, injuring four of the eight police who pursued him through the apartment block, a police source said.

The director of Taser's French subsidiary, Antoine di Zazzo, told AFP: "Only this man's autopsy will be able to say whether our pistol is responsible for his death. To date, worldwide, a Taser has never killed anyone."

Although Taser has thus far been successful in defending the safety of its weapon in court cases around the world, authorities in Canada and Australia are still investigating whether it was to blame in some deaths.

Human rights groups and left-wingers have criticised its use by French police.

Local prosecutors have ordered an inquiry to determine the cause of the man’s death.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Texas man dies after taser hit

"36-year-old Rodney Green died Thanksgiving Day (November 25th), but police are only now releasing the information."

November 25, 2010: Rodney Green, 36, Waco, Texas

Friday, November 26, 2010

EDITORIAL: Armed agents in [Canadian] airports invite trouble

Good one: "Luckily no one suggested they buy tasers instead."

November 26, 2010
Globe and Mail Editorial

Apparently some hostile travellers have been shouting at Canada’s unarmed border services agents at airports. Some travellers have acted in a threatening manner, and at times assaulted the agents for no reason at all. And so the Canada Border Services Agency is considering arming these agents, though there is no shortage of RCMP and other armed police officers at airports to protect them. It has called for bids on a study of the risks and benefits of putting weapons in the agents’ hands.

We could have saved them the money. (A donation, though, would be appreciated.) It is hard to fathom the purpose of arming these agents in airports. Would they be permitted to shoot people who yell at, threaten and assault them? Or are the guns simply meant as a deterrent, a way to promote respect among the travelling public?

Either way, the notion that guns breed respect is flawed. There are other ways to gain respect. True, some people – a sliver of a minority – may always be hostile to state officials, even to the kindest, smiliest border guard. That still leaves the problem of what to do with the guns. Shoot the hostile? (Luckily no one suggested they buy tasers instead.)

Adding to the number of guns (or tasers) in airports is an invitation to danger. The answer to a nail may be a hammer. But the answer to occasional public hostility is not a gun.

'Bad attitude' led to violence, Ottawa defence lawyers say - Public will be 'shocked,' police chief warns

November 26, 2010
By Andrew Seymour, The Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa police officers displayed a "bad attitude" from the very beginning of a controversial cell block video showing Stacy Bonds being kneed, pinned to the floor and stripped of her shirt and bra, the head of Ottawa's defence lawyers association said Thursday.

"She is the smallest person in the room and the officers losing control of themselves in the situation so quickly is very concerning," said Doug Baum. "Why was there such initial roughness? Why the knee strikes?

"There was a bad attitude here that led to violence and improper procedure," said Baum.

The video was obtained exclusively by the Citizen Thursday following the newspaper's application for access to it.

The video, which shows Bonds treatment in the cells following her arrest on Sept. 26, 2008, was central to Ontario Court Justice Richard Lajoie's decision last month to stay charges against her of assaulting police. The judge halted the case against Bonds, finding Ottawa police arrested her unlawfully and called her subsequent treatment in the cells and the strip search a "travesty" and an "indignity."

Lajoie released the video to the Citizen under conditions the newspaper not publish or put on the Internet any portions of the video which showed Bonds' partially exposed breast or her attempts to cover herself with her arm and what remains of her tattered shirt and bra as she is led into a cell.

One of her lawyers, Natasha Calvinho, said Bonds did not oppose the release of the video, but wanted her integrity and privacy protected by the court. Calvinho said Bonds was a "victim" and feared the release of "humiliating" portions of the video would force her to relive what happened.

"To have it played over and over again on a webpage or on television just furthers the indignity of what these police officers did to her," said Calvinho.

The Crown also didn't oppose the video's release.

The Citizen was the city's only media organization to argue before the judge for a release of the videotape.

"Publication and broadcast of the video is vital for a full accounting and understanding of what happened to Ms. Bonds. It's a very important issue to the Citizen," said Editor-in-Chief Gerry Nott.

In the video, which has no audio and was shot just before 6:30 a.m. on the day of her arrest, Bonds can be seen being led through the police holding-cell area. The 27-year-old theatrical makeup artist with no criminal record does not appear to be resisting or aggressive.

Another camera angle then shows her being brought to a booking desk, where she can be seen turning around and appearing to be speak to the officers.

Bonds, whose hands had been cuffed behind her back, has her right arm come free from the handcuffs, prompting one of the officer's to put her in a wrist lock.

That's when special constable Melanie Morris knees Bonds twice in the back of the leg. Bonds' head is violently jerked backwards by the hair several times before she is forced forward against the counter.

Bonds' shoes are then removed and is searched. During an overhead camera view of that search, one of the officers can be seen sticking their hand down the back of Bonds' pants.

It's at that point Bonds appears to mule-kick Morris in the leg. A frame-by-frame playing of the video appears to show four kicks before two of the three male officers at the counter take Bonds to the floor, one of them grabbing her by the arm while the second tightly holds her neck and trips her with his leg.

That's when Sgt. Steve Desjourdy joins the three male officers. He picks up a plastic riot shield and places it across Bonds' legs. Desjourdy and Morris testified at trial she had been flailing her legs around.

Morris, limping noticeably, leans on a garbage can and then a wall before walking out of the frame.

Desjourdy leaves and goes to another desk, where he appears to put on a pair of goggles. He goes down a hallway and returns with a pair of scissors in his hand.

Desjourdy is then seen cutting away Bonds' shirt and bra as she lies prone on the floor.

Morris returns and at one point removes a black leather glove and appears to indicate an area on her leg.

The riot shield is then moved to cover Bonds' face, possibly to prevent her from spitting on the officers. Bonds does not appear to be resisting at any time.

Her bare back visible, Bonds is eventually lifted by the four male officers, her arm across her chest holding what remained of her tattered clothing in an attempt to prevent herself from being completely exposed.

Another camera angle, which is covered by the publication ban, shows Bonds being led down a hallway to a holding cell with nothing but her arm and the small piece of fabric covering her chest. The side of her breast is briefly exposed at one point.

Morris, the female officer, can be seen tearing away what's left of Bonds' shirt and bra before putting her in a cell with the help of the male officers.

Bonds, who had soiled herself, is then left half-naked and in dirty pants for at least three hours and 15 minutes before eventually being provided a pair of coveralls -- an outcome Lajoie attributed to the vengeance and malice of the officers.

There is no video of Bonds receiving the coveralls, however, and the next available video shows an officer standing outside the cell for several seconds before a now-clothed Bonds emerges just after 11:30 a.m.

Bonds had been walking home on Rideau Street in the early morning hours when she was stopped by police. An officer later claimed she had an open bottle in her hand, although Bonds denied that was the case and no bottle was ever seized by police.

An officer ran her name through a police computer and found nothing, so they told her to keep walking home. When she turned back to question why they had stopped her in the first place, she was arrested for public intoxication -- an arrest Lajoie found unlawful at trial -- and taken to police headquarters.

Her lawyer at trial, Matthew Webber, said the video is "indisputable" evidence of an "egregious" violation of Bonds' Charter rights.

"What it shows is a compliant accused coming into the station, not resisting. She could have posed absolutely no risk to any reasonable thinking person," said Webber. "It's an utterly inexplicable and unjustifiable use of extreme force."

In a statement released Thursday, police Chief Vern White said he understood Ottawa residents "will be shocked" by the video, but couldn't comment further because the matter is under a sexual assault investigation by the province's Special Investigations Unit. White, who asked for the public's "understanding and patience" while that investigation was under way, immediately ordered an internal investigation into the actions of the officers following the judge's decision.

Nathalie DesRosiers, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said that was the right move.

"To the extent that she had no prior criminal record and was not obviously dangerous, the use of force and the way it is presented seems to be unwarranted," DesRosiers said after seeing the video. "Certainly, the cutting of the bra and the way in which it was done appeared to be another misconduct."

DesRosiers said the police reaction appeared excessive, especially when the four male officers appear to be "ganging up" on Bonds.

"You don't expect police violence of that sort unless they are in danger," she said. "They can only use reasonable force if it proportionate and warranted by the circumstances. In this case ... it seemed unreasonable force for the circumstances."

Baum said he was shocked by the initial attitude of the officers.

"She is not being escorted into the cell block, she is being yanked and pulled," said Baum, adding there was no apparent justification for the subsequent knees or strip search that followed.

In an opinion article on the Citizen's Arguments page today, the past president of the Ontario bar association, James Morton, concludes "for the sake of all Canadians a case like that of Stacy Bonds must never be allowed to happen again."

"The Stacy Bonds case shows a Canadian being mistreated by police in the nation's capital. Compounding the wrongful behaviour was the laying of charges for the apparent purpose of covering up misconduct," he writes in the opinion article.

OP-ED - How is it that people whose job it is to see justice done acted so unjustly?

November 26, 2010
James Morton, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Stacy Bonds, a young black makeup artist with no criminal history was arrested by Ottawa police, apparently for asking why police had stopped her for questioning. A video of her treatment in police custody is now available on the Citizen’s website, ottawacitizen.com.

The facts of Bonds’s treatment bear repeating. She was walking on Rideau Street in downtown Ottawa. She was neither drunk nor behaving inappropriately. The police stopped her and asked her name; she provided it.

After checking her name and finding nothing, the police told her she could go on her way. Bonds, as is her perfect right, asked why she had been stopped in the first place.

In response, the police arrested her for public intoxication and handcuffed her. As Ontario Court Judge Richard Lajoie later held, Bonds was not drunk. Once Bonds was taken to Ottawa Police headquarters, the judge noted that she was anything but “violent or aggressive.”

As can be clearly seen in the video, Bonds is much smaller than the police who confronted her.

In spite of the lack of violence or aggression, Bonds was assaulted by police. Judge Lajoie found she was the victim of “two extremely violent knee hits in the back ... and has her hair pulled back and her face shoved forward.”

Although it is hard to see exactly what happened afterwards because one police officer is blocking the video camera, it appears that a female police officer hurt her leg; she is seen limping in a later part of the video. Perhaps that injury explains what appears to be increasing hostility as the video continues. Bonds was forced to the ground with a riot shield — though she was “not resisting with hands flailing or feet flailing,” the judge said — and subjected to a strip search. The video shows four male officers and one female officer taking part in, or watching, as Bonds was forced to the ground.

Judge Lajoie severely criticized police actions at the station, saying it was “an indignity toward a human being and should be denounced.”

As a prosecutor and as a defence lawyer I have heard numerous complaints about police misconduct.

I have argued cases where an accused, charged with assaulting police, claims to have been the victim of police violence. Such claims have until now, I am afraid to admit, usually rung hollow with me. To be blunt, I did not believe them. I know that police have a difficult job. Police are often faced with violent, intoxicated individuals who have no regard for the truth and who will say whatever they think will get them out of trouble.

It is all too easy to assume that complaints about police brutality are false claims made to avoid the consequences of criminal wrongdoing. However, the Stacy Bonds case shows a Canadian being mistreated by police in the nation’s capital. Compounding the wrongful behaviour was the laying of charges for the apparent purpose of covering up misconduct.

How many “assault police” charges are merely trumped up for the purpose of concealing official wrongdoing? Put otherwise, absent a video recording, would Bonds have had a fair hearing?

The likely answer is depressing.

There is a malaise in the system. How could five police officers have taken part in the brutalization of Stacy Bonds and then allowed charges for “assault police” to go ahead? How could a Crown Attorney have failed to stay charges on seeing the video? More generally, how is it that people whose job it is to see justice done acted so unjustly? The system as a whole takes a beating when abuse occurs. Trust in the system is eroded.

To fix the problems the Bonds case uncovered will be difficult.

Yes, videotaping all police/citizen interactions will help and should be mandated. More broadly, a new professionalism is required in the justice system.

A free nation does not fear intimidation by police or the state. A free people can ask “why” when stopped by police. An honourable police force is not afraid to explain its actions to the people it is there to protect. Nelson Mandela rightly said, “I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.” For the sake of all Canadians a case like that of Stacy Bonds must never be allowed to happen again.

James Morton is a Toronto lawyer and past president of the Ontario Bar Association. He teaches evidence at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. The opinions expressed here are solely his own.

Ottawa police strip search video released

November 26, 2010
CBC News

A judge has released a portion of surveillance video showing the controversial strip search of a woman by Ottawa police officers in September 2008.

The video shows Stacy Bonds, 27, being forced to the ground and pinned by four police officers before having her bra cut off. Justice Richard Lajoie, of the Ontario Court of Justice, released the video to the Ottawa Citizen after the newspaper filed an application.

Bonds was strip searched after being arrested on Rideau Street for public intoxication — a charge stayed by Lajoie in a verbal ruling issued on Oct. 27.

The video shows four police officers leading Bonds into a cell area at the Elgin Street police headquarters.

When Bonds doesn't immediately turn to face the table-area, a female officer knees her twice in the upper leg, then grabs the woman's hair and forces her into place.

Bonds is held by at least one of her wrists by a male officer as the female officer removes her boots. The video then shows an officer reaching into the pocket of Bonds's pants and pulling out a handful of change, which is thrown onto a table.

At one point, Bonds kicks behind her, catching the female officer in the leg. The officer limps out of the frame, and another male officer can be seen entering the room.

Four male police officers force Bonds to the ground and place a riot shield over her legs.

A male officer leaves the room and returns with a box. He then cuts the back of Bonds's shirt and bra, leaving her back exposed. The female officer stands over Bonds, but does not appear to assist in the search.

The close to seven-minute video posted by the Ottawa Citizen ends with Bonds being lifted to her feet with her cut shirt still around her arms and covering the front part of her body.

In his Oct. 27 ruling, Lajoie said the officers left Bonds alone in a jail cell "half naked and having soiled her pants" after the search.

"That is why videos have become so important," Lajoie said.

"They provide us with these extra details that put meat to simple words that are spoken by witnesses."

Ongoing investigation

"I understand that Ottawa residents will be shocked by the video," said Ottawa police Chief Vern White in a media statement released Thursday.

White said he could not comment further due to an ongoing probe by Ontario's Special Investigations Unit.

White said the police force is "co-operating fully" with the SIU and has launched its own internal investigation.

The SIU is investigating whether Bonds was sexually assaulted while in custody.

"The key points are Justice Lajoie's comments regarding the strip search and the involvement of three male officers and the cutting off of the complainant's shirt and bra," said SIU spokeswoman Jasbir Brar. The SIU investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

Video shows Ottawa police cutting prisoner's bra

November 24, 2010
Andrew Seymour, Postmedia News

OTTAWA — Video of a wrongfully arrested Ottawa woman being kneed, pinned to the floor and her shirt and bra cut off with scissors has been released to the Ottawa Citizen.

The video of Stacy Bonds' treatment in the Ottawa police cells was central to Ontario Court Justice Richard Lajoie's decision on Oct. 27 to stay charges against her of assaulting police. The judge called her arrest and strip-search a "travesty."

In the video, which was recorded just before 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 26, 2008 and has no audio, Bonds can be seen being led through the police holding-cell area. The 27-year-old theatrical makeup artist with no criminal record does not appear to be resisting or aggressive.

Another camera angle then shows her being brought to a booking desk.

Bonds, who had been handcuffed, has her right arm come free from the handcuffs.

That's when Special Const. Melanie Morris knees Bonds twice in the leg and Bonds' head is violently jerked backward by the hair several times before she is forced forward against the counter.

Her shoes are then removed and she appears to be searched.

As she's restrained, Bonds appears to mule-kick Morris in her socked feet. Two of the three male officers at the counter then take her to the floor by the arm and the neck.

That's when Sgt. Steve Desjourdy joins the three male officers, picking up a plastic riot shield and placing it across Bonds' legs.

Morris, limping noticeably and appearing to be in obvious pain, leans on a garbage can and then a wall before walking out of the frame.

Desjourdy leaves and goes to another desk, where he appears to put on a pair of goggles. He goes down a hallway and returns with a pair of scissors in his hand.

Desjourdy is then seen cutting away Bonds' shirt and bra as she lies prone on the floor.

The riot shield is then moved to cover Bonds' face. Bonds does not appear to be resisting.

Her bare back exposed, Bonds is eventually lifted by the four male officers, her arm across her chest holding what remained of her clothing in an attempt to prevent herself from being exposed.

Lajoie put a publication ban on the next part of the video itself.

The judge had severely criticized the police officers' actions at the station, saying "there is no reasonable explanation . . . to have cut Ms. Bonds' shirt and bra off, and there is no reason, apart from vengeance and malice, to have left Ms. Bonds in the cell for a period of three hours and 15 minutes half-naked and having soiled her pants, before she received what is called a blue suit.

"That is an indignity toward a human being and should be denounced."

Bonds had been walking home on a downtown Ottawa street in the early morning hours of Sept. 26 when she was stopped by police.

An officer ran her name through a police computer and found nothing, so they told her to keep walking home. When she turned back to question why they had stopped her in the first place, she was arrested for public intoxication — an arrest Lajoie found unlawful — and taken to police headquarters.

In the earliest available video, which shows Bonds being led from a police cruiser to the cell area, she appears to be stumbling and having difficulty walking.

The province's Special Investigations Unit has since launched an investigation into the officers' conduct. Desjourdy is now subject to an internal investigation and has been banned from dealing with the public.

Mother overcome by autopsy pictures

November 25, 2010
Andrea Sands, Edmonton Journal

Beverly Grimolfson began sobbing then gasping for air during a fatality inquiry after she saw autopsy pictures of her son, who died two years ago after he was repeatedly Tasered by police.

Two security officers were called in as a precaution when Grimolfson became increasingly agitated while looking through binders of inquiry material during the lunch break Thursday afternoon.

"I have to try to calm down," she said, sobbing, after seeing autopsy photos of Trevor Grimolfson, who died after violent struggle with police.

"I've just never looked at these before."

She was led out of the room in Provincial Court, where she could still be heard yelling and sobbing outside as two court security officers came in.

She returned to her seat at the front of the courtroom, where she continued crying.

"I want to ask the judge how he thought I could come here and do this ... Why didn't he let me have a lawyer? A lawyer could have helped me. That's my kid in there. I never got to see him. I don't understand the cruelty of it all."

Hands shaking violently, gasping for breath, Grimolfson was given a plastic bag to breath into, and court officials urged her to calm down before she was led out of the courtroom a second time.

Grimolfson has been representing herself during the fatality inquiry that began Monday.

Family members of those who have died are allowed to speak and ask questions at an inquiry, but provincial legislation does not provide funding for their legal representation. Beverly Grimolfson was unsuccessful in her request for funding to hire a lawyer.

Inquiry counsel Glenn Epp asked that the inquiry be adjourned until Friday morning to give Grimolfson time to recover.

She told Judge Fred Day she is convinced police used excessive force on her son.

"My son is dead and I have the right to get to the bottom of this," he said. "I truly believe that excessive force was used here."

Det. Lee Scott painted a different picture in his testimony Thursday morning.

Trevor Grimolfson struggled violently against police and seemed oblivious to repeated jolts from their Tasers, said Scott, who was a constable at the time he fought with Grimolfson during the man's drug-fuelled rampage through a pawnshop.

The inquest heard testimony this week from Alberta's chief medical examiner that Grimolfson, 38, died of excited delirium caused by high levels of the drugs ecstasy and ketamine, an animal tranquillizer. The levels of each drug in Grimolfson's body were high enough to have been fatal, Dr. Graeme Dowling said.

Scott told the fatality inquiry Thursday he thought his Taser wasn't working when he fired the device at Grimolfson on Oct. 29, 2008, while trying to subdue him in the pawnshop on Stony Plain Road.

Scott said when he entered the pawnshop the smell of bear spray hung in the air.

He said Grimolfson's skin was yellow and he was sweating profusely and flailing his arms. Scott said he fired the Taser repeatedly at Grimolfson, who was heading toward another officer at the end of a long glass counter.

"I could hear it (working), absolutely, but it wasn't doing what it was supposed to do ... He should have been on the ground. He should have been incapacitated, but he wasn't," Scott said.

"I knew I wasn't going to let him leave the pawnshop. I knew there were people outside. I knew he was going to try to kill someone. I knew he was going to try to kill Matt (the other police constable)."

Grimolfson didn't react to the Taser and didn't obey police orders to get down on the floor, said Scott.

Police wrestled Grimolfson to the floor on his stomach, where he continued to twist and fight as Scott handcuffed him.

Scott Tasered Grimolfson again. "I did that on top of his back and he didn't even flinch."

Grimolfson was spitting and chanting "OK, OK" as Scott told him to stop fighting. He didn't seem to tire despite the intense struggle, Scott said.

"He was not calming down," Scott said.

"I'd never seen anything like this before.

Police immediately called emergency medical crews and superior officers, as is policy when a Taser is deployed, Scott said.

Roughly five minutes after police got the handcuffs on him, Grimolfson lost consciousness and stopped breathing, he said.

Scott started CPR but was later told Grimolfson had died.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Taser had no effect, fatality inquiry told

November 25, 2010
CBC News

The Edmonton police officer who deployed a Taser on Trevor Grimolfson moments before he died told a fatality inquiry Thursday that the stun gun appeared to have no effect.

"We're not using this anymore," Det. Lee Scott said he told his police colleagues during the daytime altercation with Grimolfson in a west Edmonton pawn shop two years ago. "It's not working."

Grimolfson, 38, died on Oct. 29, 2008, not long after police stunned him three times with the Taser. A fatality inquiry looking into Grimolfson's death is underway this week in Edmonton.

Scott, then an Edmonton police constable, testified he first met Grimolfson earlier that day when he responded to a call about a fight. Grimolfson seemed rational when Scott spoke to him in a back alley. He was released without charges.

About 40 minutes later, Scott raced to a call at a pawn shop in the same area. When he arrived, he heard yelling and the sound of glass breaking. A man Scott believed was the son of the pawn shop owner ran up to the police cruiser.

"He's going to kill my dad," he reportedly told Scott. "You've got to do something,"

When Scott entered the shop, he saw the man he had seen earlier in the alley — Grimolfson — covered in sweat and wildly flailing his hands around.

Grimolfson was standing on the other side of the counter and started walking toward police, Scott said.

Grimolfson refused to heed police instructions to get down on the ground.

Scott said he used his Taser once, but with no effect. Another officer deployed his Taser, but again, Grimolfson was not subdued.

'He could feel nothing'
Scott told the inquiry he struck Grimolfson twice in the jaw. Scott deployed a stun gun on Grimolfson a third time.

"Nothing was working," Scott said. "He could feel nothing."

Grimolfson was frothing, spitting and continued to fight. "Still chanting. Just not normal," Scott said.

Police were able to handcuff Grimolfson and put a spit mask on him, but then Grimolfson stopped struggling and ceased breathing.

Scott took off the handcuffs and Grimolfson's tongue flopped out as he removed the spit mask.

Scott could only detect a faint pulse and started doing chest compressions. Paramedics rushed Grimolfson to hospital where he was declared dead.

The medical examiner later ruled the cause of death as "excited delirium due to the consequences of multiple drug toxicity." Ketamine, ecstasy and cocaine were found in Grimolfson's blood.

Earlier this week, a man told the inquiry that when he arrived to do demolition work at Grimolfson's tattoo parlour, he was attacked.

Minutes later, Grimolfson went into the pawn shop. The owner told the inquiry Tuesday that Grimolfson broke a window on the front door of his store and threw a glass of water that hit him in the head.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Officer’s unlawful actions revealed in detail

November 24, 2010
Gary Dimmock, The Ottawa Citizen

Days before Sgt. Steve Desjourdy was caught on videotape strip searching Stacy Bonds in the police station booking room, the Ottawa officer lost his temper with another female prisoner who was also kicked in the back, stripped of her clothing and tasered.

Desjourdy, a former spokesman for the Ottawa force, was in charge of the cell blocks on Sept. 2, 2008, when a female panhandler was arrested on Rideau Street for public intoxication and brought into detention.

Desjourdy watched the jailed prisoner from a closed-circuit television monitor and when she took her shirt off and tied it to the cell bars he expressed concern that she was going to hurt herself. He grabbed a Taser and approached the cell.

But according to an agreed statement of facts, harm came to her not from her own hand, rather by Desjourdy’s, who would later plead guilty to unlawful exercise of duty — a Police Services Act charge.

Desjourdy threatened to use the Taser on the woman if she didn’t calm down. So she obeyed, and the topless female prisoner knelt, with her back facing the locked cell door.

Desjourdy then entered the cell and proceeded to kick the kneeling woman in the back, knocking her into the cell’s stainless steel toilet. He kicked her a second time, then took a position on the cell’s bed with his Taser at the ready while a female officer came in and stripped off the rest of the woman’s clothes.

At this point, the female prisoner grabbed at Desjourdy’s leg — that’s when he tasered her twice.

Terence Kelly, a retired York Regional Police deputy chief who presided over the Police Services Act case, said in a report that described the incident that he gave Desjourdy what he termed a lighter sentence — three months demotion to constable — because Desjourdy showed “remorse” and pleaded guilty right away.

“The public must be confident that police officers will strive to set the example for those in the community. Anything short of this will be seen as a contradiction and serve no other purpose but to undermine the efforts of all police officers and the explicit goals of the service. An informed police officer possesses a sense of responsibility to the service of which he is part, and the community, which he serves,” Kelly wrote in the April 9, 2009, decision.

The hearing officer noted that being a police officer can be stressful and “on occasion unfortunately leads to a loss of temper.”

“It is unfortunate that when faced with this situation Sgt. Desjourdey (sic) would not have permitted himself to be guided by his better judgment; he must be understanding of human failings and yet, for the good of the police … he must be tolerant of improper actions of prisoners under his care. It is clear from the evidence presented in this tribunal that he had all the necessary assistance to control this situation,” Kelly wrote. And, after 90 days, Desjourdy was reinstated as a sergeant.

Unbeknownst to the office of Chief Vern White, days after the Sept. 2, 2008, case described by Kelly, Desjourdy would use a pair of scissors and commit what a Ottawa judge last month branded as an unlawful strip search and an “indignity.”

On Sept. 26, 2008, Desjourdy cut the shirt and bra off a 27-year-old theatrical makeup artist named Stacy Bonds in the booking room of the police cell block. Bonds, who has no criminal record, had also been arrested on Rideau Street.

Ontario Court Justice Richard Lajoie said last month that not only was Bonds not drunk, but that he didn’t want to play any part in the case against Bonds, who was charged with assaulting police during her “unlawful” strip search.

Lajoie stayed the assault charge, calling it a travesty. He also described police treatment of Bonds as an “indignity” and condemned the officers involved as malicious.

Desjourdy is now under investigation by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit for alleged sexual assault against Bonds, who is now considering suing the police. She has told the Citizen that she felt as though she had been “mentally and verbally raped.”

She said she was simply walking home from an after-hours party when police stopped her on Rideau Street. They asked her name, ran it and came up with nothing and told her she was free to go. But she turned back and asked why she was stopped. “They wouldn’t even give me their names,” she recalled.

And when she questioned them, they arrested her for public intoxication.

White said last week that his officers have no authority to arrest citizens for public intoxication unless they pose a risk.

Desjourdy joined the Ottawa Police Service 12 years ago. Before joining the Ottawa force, he was a member of the MRC des Collines police force in the Outaouais. White has banned him from dealing with the public while he is under investigation.

Policing police no simple matter

November 24, 2010
Kelly Egan, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA-There are 64 cells in the Ottawa police station, monitored by 89 video cameras.

And soon, possibly, an array of microphones.

A senior police officer said Tuesday the force is investigating the option of adding audio recording to the “prisoner processing area” of the cell block.

Supt. Mike Flanagan was careful to point out the initiative began in the summer and is not a reaction to the Stacy Bonds case, which broke last week with a judge’s stinging condemnation.

An outside agency has been called in to investigate how a woman walking down Rideau Street, possibly sipping on a beer, ends up arrested, strip-searched, forcibly restrained, then left for hours in a cell in a dishevelled state, never to be convicted of anything.

The plan for audio recording is not a secret way to gather evidence on suspects or eavesdrop on cell conversations, he said, but should be viewed as an “enhancement” of existing video equipment. It is commonly used in other jurisdictions, he added.

“Our goal is to be as transparent as possible,” said Flanagan.

It is possible that it could be used to monitor the conduct of officers, just as the video is, and should raise the “standard of professionalism” on display.

How to discipline officers, including how to fire them, is much in the news these days. Outside the police services board meeting this week, Chief Vern White was addressing that very topic, just as he was assuring the board there would be accountability in the Bonds case.

It is, clearly, damage-control time. A day after reassuring the board, White was attending a meeting of taxi drivers, many of them upset with the acquittal of an off-duty police officer who was involved in a fight at the airport taxi stand that left the driver with broken bones.

White says he and other chiefs across Ontario would like more authority in the area of discipline, including the right to suspend officers without pay.

It is a contentious point.

The president of the Ottawa Police Association said he would oppose such a move, as it represents punishment before the officer has had an independent hearing on the grievance.

“You can’t jump to the conclusion that they’re guilty,” said Steve Boucher.

The Ontario government has legislated the rules for conduct under the Police Services Act and both sides have to live with them, said Boucher.

“Just like anywhere else, the workers need protection. They need protection from arbitrary discipline and arbitrary termination.”

Police, indeed, are in a special category. Unlike much of the private sector, where non-unionized employees are protected by labour laws but little else, police are both unionized and have a separate disciplinary protocol, as spelled out in the Act, for more serious infractions. At hearings, they are represented by lawyers — their bosses, in effect, can’t just up and fire them.

It is, in fact, quite difficult to dismiss a police officer.

In a force with more than 1,300 officers, there might only be one or two dismissals per year, with a handful of suspensions.

Even being charged with a crime — and convicted — is often not enough to get an officer tossed off the payroll.

For example:

A constable is charged with shoplifting, theft and uttering a threat after an incident in a Loblaws in 2004. He is found guilty in criminal court, given a 12-month conditional sentence. The force wanted to fire him. On appeal, he won his job back, but it took more than three years, during which time he was suspended with pay.

An Ottawa police officer admitted to stealing crack cocaine from a motorist he stopped and from the evidence room. He was ordered dismissed, but fought the decision. He was paid roughly $70,000 a year during his three-year suspension. In the end, his appeal failed. A newspaper access request found the force spent $59,000 to pursue the prosecution.

In May 2008, police went to the home of an officer, in response to a call about a possible domestic assault. The officer was a 20-year veteran. He fought police, was stunned by a Taser and later escaped custody. He was sentenced to two years’ probation and given the odd condition that he not possess any firearms, except in the course of his police duties. A disciplinary hearing led to his dismissal from the force. He is now appealing.

In a little over a month this year, two off-duty Ottawa police officers were charged with impaired driving. In one case, a motorist struck a pole and a parked car. It is believed both officers are still on the payroll.

White was visibly irked Monday evening with persistent questions about the Bonds case. It is hardly a leap to think he’d like to hoof a couple of derrieres and maybe take a badge away.

But, in policing the police, it isn’t that simple.

Two pictures of Trevor Grimolfson emerge at inquiry

November 24, 2010
Alexandra Zabjek, Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON — Two portraits of Trevor Grimolfson emerged during a fatality inquiry into his death in provincial court on Tuesday.

A close friend described Grimolfson as a generous and popular man, who loved his children fiercely and was never violent.

A worker who encountered Grimolfson on the day he was Tasered several times by police said he met an agitated man who appeared high on drugs and couldn’t be reasoned with.

Melinda Parasynchuk told the fatality inquiry she had known Grimolfson for nine years. They had once dated and remained close friends at the time of the Oct. 29, 2008, incident, when Grimolfson was Tasered by police in a pawnshop on Stony Plain Road.

“He was very giving, he was like a year-round Santa Claus,” Parasynchuk said, noting Grimolfson especially liked to spoil children at Christmas.

She said Grimolfson’s own children were “his everything.”

Grimolfson, 38, was a talented tattoo artist and a well-known wrestling commentator who was “very, very funny,” said Parasynchuk, who broke down in tears at several points in her testimony.

“Trevor was someone easy to reason with, easy to talk to. I can’t imagine Trevor being violent.”

But Patrick Saunders told the fatality inquiry Grimolfson assaulted him in his tattoo shop that day, leaving him with a fractured cheek bone, three broken teeth, and bruises on his body.

Saunders said he had met Grimolfson the day before the incident, when Grimolfson offered him demolition work at his tattoo shop on Stony Plain Road. Grimolfson seemed like a normal, trustworthy person, he testified.

When Saunders arrived the next morning, he said Grimolfson was sweating profusely, jumping around, and that he uttered the nonsensical phrase, “Bruce Lee’s revenge, bullets are flying.”

When Saunders tried to leave the shop, he said Grimolfson struck him. Saunders fought back, but was hit repeatedly before he was able to leave.

He said he saw Grimolfson approach a group on Stony Plain Road before he entered a nearby pawnshop, breaking a glass door.

When the pawnshop owner and his father asked Grimolfson to leave, Saunders said the man appeared, “lost, dazed, and confused.”

He said Grimolfson threw a cup at the older man’s head and the situation worsened from there.

“You could have said a million things to calm him down, it wouldn’t have worked,” he said.

Saunders told the inquiry Grimolfson was in a “rage” when police arrived and that he charged at one of the officers.

At one point, when questioned by Beverly Grimolfson, who is acting as her own lawyer at her son’s fatality inquiry, Saunders said: “I’m really sorry for what happened with Trevor that day.”

A medical examiner has testified Grimolfson’s death was caused by excited delirium, brought on by multiple drug toxicity. Fatal levels of ecstasy and ketamine were found in his body after his death.

Beverly Grimolfson has said she believes her son would still be alive if police hadn’t deployed a Taser.

The inquiry continues.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Georgia man dies after police taser him

November 23, 2010 - Denevious Thomas, 36, Doughterty County, Georgia

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two moms whose sons died after being Tasered by police lobby against stun guns

November 22, 2010
John Cotter, The Canadian Press

EDMONTON - The mothers of two men who died after being Tasered by police say they are forming a national group that will work to ban the use of electronic stun guns.

Zofia Cisowski, mother of Robert Dziekanski, made the pledge Monday outside a fatality inquiry into the death of an Edmonton man who was zapped with police Tasers a year after her own son died in Vancouver at the hands of RCMP.

Cisowski said it was painful to sit beside Bev Grimolfson at the inquiry as she asked questions about her son Trevor's death.

"I just want to support Bev because my son was Tasered at Vancouver International Airport," Cisowski said as she stood beside Grimolfson outside court.

"I am very frustrated because it reminded me of my son's death, struggling on the floor with his life."

Grimolfson said she is grateful for Cisowski's help. Together, they say they hope to make police more accountable in such deaths.

"I feel that there are a lot of questions that need to be asked," Grimolfson said.

"I was not allowed any funding for a lawyer so I had to come and stick up for my son by myself. I intend to get to the bottom of this."

Trevor Grimolfson, 38, died after Edmonton police shot him with a Taser several times on Oct. 29, 2008. A government investigation determined that Grimolfson was so violently out of control as he smashed up a pawn shop that officers were justified in firing at least three Taser darts into him, jolting his chest with numbing electric shocks.

When he finally fell to the ground, police handcuffed him and placed a spit mask over his face. Another officer also zapped him in the neck with a hand-held Taser.

After a few minutes, Grimolfson lapsed into unconsciousness until paramedics arrived. The former resident of Selkirk, Man., was pronounced dead soon after arrival in hospital.

The medical examiner said Grimolfson suffered from a heart condition and was extremely high on potentially lethal doses of ketamine and ecstasy. Cause of death was listed as excited delirium, a controversial term that has been linked to people who have died after being zapped by stun guns.

Last year, Alberta government investigators announced that no police officers would face criminal charges in Grimolfson's death.

Dr. Graeme Dowling, Alberta's chief medical examiner, reiterated his findings Monday as he testified at the inquiry.

When it was Grimolfson's turn to ask questions, she barraged Dowling: "Was he was aware that torturers use electrical devices in dictatorships? Did he know that Tasers have been used to subdue women and children in other countries?"

Judge Fred Day ruled that some of her questions were beyond the scope of the inquiry, which cannot find blame but works to glean information to prevent future deaths.

But he gave her latitude as she questioned Dowling on the public health risks associated with police use of Tasers.

"I found no evidence in this case that it was the cause of death," he replied. "I see no evidence of that."

More than 25 people have died in Canada after being stunned by Tasers.

The U.S. company that makes the devices points out that they have never directly been proven to have caused a death in Canada.

Cisowski said she will continue attending the fatality inquiry this week to give moral support to Grimolfson. She knows firsthand that such fact-finding takes time. She is still waiting for British Columbia to decide whether the four Mounties involved in the death of her son will be charged.

"We will work together to make something better for mothers like Bev and me and other mothers," she said.

Vancouver: Tasering transit cop to face public hearing

November 22, 2010
The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - The B.C. Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner will hold a public hearing into allegations a Vancouver area transit abused his authority by shocking a passenger with a Taser.

The hearing has not yet been scheduled but the office says it's in the public interest to hold one.

The incident occurred Sept. 13, 2007, when a transit officer tried to write a ticket for a suspected fare cheat who the officer said appeared to be drunk.

The passenger ran away and the officer chased him into a stairwell where he used a conducted energy weapon to jolt the man, who fell and struck his head.

An initial complaint over the incident resulted in differing conclusions, went to a judicial review and eventually back before the commission, which has now ordered a public hearing.

The use of Tasers by police has come under close scrutiny in B.C. since Robert Dziekanski died after being shocked with an RCMP Taser in October 2007.

Use of shock weapons by Metro Vancouver transit police came under scrutiny at the public inquiry into Dziekanski's death and officials from the B.C. Transit Authority Police Service had to be ordered by the B.C. solicitor general to appear at the inquiry.

The inquiry commissioner later recommended the province enact standard rules for forces across B.C. in the use of conducted energy weapons.

Mother represents son at Taser inquiry

November 22, 2010
CBC News

A mother is pressing for answers in the death of her son after Edmonton police used a stun gun while arresting him in 2008 during a drug-fuelled rampage.

The five-day inquiry into the death of Trevor Grimolfson begins in an Edmonton courtroom on Monday.

"This is the only chance I have to get some sort of justice," said Bev Grimolfson, 58.

Grimolfson is representing herself, because she can't afford a lawyer and a provincial court judge turned down her application for funding.

She said that without legal representation, it will be hard to ask the right questions.

"I don't know courtroom etiquette. I don't speak legalese, but I will do my best."

Her son, 38, died on Oct. 29, 2008, after police tried to subdue him with a stun gun.

He was high on drugs, smashing his way through a pawnshop in the west end. He died later in hospital. The cause of death was ruled “excited delirium due to the consequences of multiple drug toxicity.”

Grimolfson’s mother will be joined in the courtroom by the mother of Robert Dziekanski, whose son died after being shocked numerous times by police in the Vancouver airport.

“We are grieving mothers,” Zofia Cisowski wrote in a statement Sunday. “Many good people supported me. I am here to support her.”

Grimolfson said police misled her about the investigation into her son’s death.

“They have never told me anything,” she said. “I feel that I have been lied to right from the beginning; lied about what kind of Tasers they were; lied about how many times he was Tasered; where he was Tasered.

“It's just been a nightmare. And now this is the only chance I have to get some sort of justice.”

Alberta Justice won't comment on a pending inquiry, but a spokesperson said the process is designed to ensure an objective hearing.

Last year, the Alberta Serious Incident Repsonse Team, which investigates any death involving police, cleared the officers of any wrongdoing during Grimolfson's arrest.

The judge may make recommendations on how to prevent similar deaths.

Mothers united by Tasers & death

November 22, 2010
iNews 880

The mother of a city man, who died after he was Tasered by Edmonton police two years ago, will be joined at his fatality inquiry this week by the mother of the man Tasered at Vancouver International Airport.

Zofia Cisowski says she'll be at the inquiry into the death of Trevor Grimolfson to support his mother, Bev, because: "We are grieving mothers. Many good people supported me. I am here to support her."

Cisowski slams the refusal to provide legal aid to Grimolfson' mother and adds "because I had a lawyer, I was able to fight for the truth and get some justice for my son Robert (Dziekanski)." She goes on to say: "The police tried to blame my son for his death. They were wrong. We cannot put blind trust in the authorities."

Trevor Grimolfson died after he was Tasered by police during a drug-fueled rampage at a pawn shop on Stony Plain Road in late October, 2008. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has ruled officers were justified in their actions.

The fatality inquiry is automatic because Grimolfson died in police custody.

Dziekanski's mother to attend another Taser death inquiry

November 22, 2010
NEWS 1130

EDMONTON (NEWS1130) - The mother of Robert Dziekanski is becoming an advocate for other mothers who've also lost their sons in police Tasering incidents.

Zofia Cisowski is in Edmonton to show her support for Bev Grimolfson, whose son died two years ago. An inquiry into the death of her son Trevor begins in Alberta Provincial Court tomorrow. Grimolfson was Tasered at an Edmonton pawn shop, then went into medical distress and died shortly afterward.

Unlike Cisowski, Bev will have to question witnesses herself, because she can't afford a lawyer.

Zygmunt Riddle with the Canadian Civil Rights Movement says the prospects of getting to the bottom of what happened to her son are bleak. "On one hand you have government lawyers, you have Taser company lawyers, and on another you have just motherly grief without lawyers. So I don't think we'll learn much about the truth [of] what happened."

He says it was important for Cisowski to be at Grimolfson's side. "That is what Zofia was always promising that after her case is closed one way or another, she would support other mothers."

Riddle adds Cisowski vowed to support other mothers of Tasering victims after her own inquiry was concluded earlier this year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mom seeks answers in Edmonton Taser death

November 21, 2010
Alexandra Zabjek, Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON — The mother of a man who died after being Tasered by city police two years ago is worried that she won’t get any answers at a fatality inquiry into the incident because she can’t afford a lawyer to represent her.

Beverly Grimolfson, who is raising her son Trevor’s three children in Dauphin, Man., plans to attend the inquiry which is scheduled to begin Monday in Edmonton. Without a lawyer to speak on her behalf, she is determined to question witnesses herself.

It won’t be an easy process.

“There are far too many questions for me to have answered, for me not to have a lawyer there,” she said. “I feel the victim’s family should have representation in order for it to be a fair inquiry.”

Trevor Grimolfson died on Oct. 29, 2008, after a drug-fuelled rampage through a west-end pawnshop.

Police were called and confronted him in the shop, a 10-minute ordeal in which he was Tasered several times. After he was arrested, he went into medical distress and was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

His cause of death was listed as “excited delirium due to the consequences of multiple drug toxicity.”

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which investigates any death that may have been caused by a police officer, last year ruled officers were justified in their actions. No criminal charges were laid.

However, a fatality inquiry was automatically called since Trevor Grimolfson died while in police custody. The inquiry is scheduled for five days, and the presiding judge must report on the circumstances, causes, and manner of the death. The judge may present recommendations on how to prevent similar deaths in the future.

A fatality inquiry is not a trial and the judge cannot assign blame for an incident. Family members of those who have died are automatically granted standing to speak and ask questions at an inquiry, but provincial legislation does not provide for their legal funding.

Beverly Grimolfson said she was denied Legal Aid in her home province of Manitoba, as well as in Alberta. She applied to Provincial Court Judge F.A. Day, who is presiding over the inquiry, to recommend she receive funding, but he declined to do so.

Day ruled there was no legal authority to mandate funding. He noted that if financial need was a sufficient basis to recommend public funding, then provincial legislation or Legal Aid would have made provisions for that.

Alberta Justice says it is not common for families to bring lawyers to a fatality inquiry.

Julie Siddons, a spokeswoman for the department, said next of kin can speak at an inquiry and bring lawyers if they want.

“It’s a factual inquiry, it’s not a trial, so legal representation is not required,” she said.

Grimolfson’s inquiry comes in the wake of the high-profile and lengthy Braidwood Inquiry in B.C, which examined the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski who died at the Vancouver International Airport in 2007 after he was Tasered multiple times by Mounties. Video of the incident was viewed widely and prompted debate about the use of Tasers by police in Canada.

In his lengthy report released in 2009, former judge Thomas Braidwood said police should continue to use Tasers but warned it is not “helpful” to blame deaths on “excited delirium,” since it avoids having to “examine the underlying medical condition or conditions that actually caused death, let alone examining whether use of the conducted energy weapon and/or subsequent measures to physically restrain the subject contributed to those causes of death.”

Alberta Justice says it expects Dr. Graeme Dowling, Alberta’s chief medical examiner, will discuss the relevance of Braidwood’s findings at the Grimolfson’s inquiry.

When writing in 2009, Braidwood found 25 people had died in Canada since 2003 after a conducted energy weapon was deployed against them.

Beverly Grimolfson said she knows her son was in bad shape when he encountered police two years ago, but insists he was not “a monster.” She said he was a loving father and a generous person.

She thinks it is important the circumstances of her son’s death are investigated completely. She thinks that can’t be done without investigating the use of Tasers by police forces in general.

“We can’t forget any one of (those deaths). Just because there is no video of the other 25, their cases are no less important.”

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Jersey lets cops use stun guns

November 20, 2010

Police officers in New Jersey will start carrying stun guns within three to four months, state officials said, after new guidelines were issued allowing law enforcement officials to use the devices.

The state Attorney General's Office issued the guidelines last month after resisting a nationwide trend for years, making New Jersey the last state in the country to let police use stun guns.

The new rules expand on a previous policy, issued last year, that was so restrictive that not a single police department in the state bought or used the devices.

Officials say that New Jersey's new stun-gun policy is one of the most cautious in the country, taking into account lessons learned from other states.

Previously, the number of supervisors allowed to use stun guns in each department was limited by the population of the town, with a maximum of four stun guns per department.

The new rules let department chiefs determine how many officers should carry the weapons. An officer will not need authorization from an on-scene supervisor to fire a stun gun and will not need to make a diagnosis as to whether a target is "mentally ill" or "temporarily deranged" in order to use the weapon.

The policy, however, still carries tough restrictions: Each officer with a stun gun must be trained every six months, and the devices must have video-recording capability to document every use of the weapon.

Strict rules on usage

There will be no use of stun guns against passively resistant suspects, and no shooting of people who appear frail or as though they might fall and sustain serious injuries. Failure to follow the rules could lead to disciplinary and criminal charges against officers.

"There is definitely caution at work here," said Peter Aseltine, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office. "We have seen circumstances in which these devices have been used inappropriately."

The new guidelines took effect last month, but officials do not expect police officers to carry the weapons until March at the earliest.

The state is in the process of preparing a curriculum to train police officers on how to use stun guns, Aseltine said.

It will then start taking proposals and bids from vendors to determine the approved models that police departments will be allowed to use, Aseltine said.

Stun guns with video capability cost about $1,200 apiece, according to Taser International, which produces the Taser-brand stun guns.

Thousands of police departments, military agencies, hospitals and sports venues across the country use stun guns. Taser International has sold more than half a million of the devices worldwide, said company spokesman Steve Tuttle. As of the end of September, those devices had been used in more than a million incidents, he said.

Police officials say stun guns offer officers an important and potentially lifesaving alternative to conventional firearms in many instances.

"We have had incidents with armed suspects, people who carried knives and firearms," Englewood Police Chief Arthur O'Keefe said. "We have had situations where the police had to make life-or-death decisions."

One such case involved Francis Sanabria of Wayne, who was shot dead by police in 2005 after he allegedly charged at officers with a kitchen knife.

Walder later was charged with manslaughter but was acquitted after a trial last year.

Not everyone is a fan of stun guns, however. Critics, including Amnesty International, say more than 400 people have died after being shot by stun guns.

"I don't like them," said John Burton, a California attorney who has represented plaintiffs nationwide in stun gun cases. "I think they are more dangerous than the manufacturer lets on."

Burton said there is no evidence that the use of stun guns reduces deadly police shootings.

"That's because when the officers have grounds to shoot somebody, they shoot them," he said. "They don't mess around with a Taser."

Rather, he said, there is evidence that police use them on people who are not offering any resistance.

In one case from 2008, an emotionally disturbed Brooklyn man was standing naked on a ledge when a New York City police officer shot him with a Taser. The man, Inman Morales, fell headfirst to the pavement and died.

Drop in shootings?

Whether the use of stun guns reduces deadly police shootings and officer injuries is unclear, with different studies pointing to varying results.

A 2008 study by the RAND Corporation found that an increased use of Tasers by police officers in Cincinnati and Austin, Texas, led to a decrease in the use of other forms of force.

Another study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco reached a conflicting conclusion in 2009 after surveying the use of Tasers at dozens of police departments in California.

The researchers compiled data on injuries and police use of force for five years prior to the introduction of Tasers, and compared it with the five years after departments started using stun guns.

"Taser deployment was associated with a substantial increase in in-custody sudden deaths … with no decrease in firearm deaths" or serious injuries to police officers, it concluded.

Aseltine said New Jersey took anecdotal information from other states in formulating its new policy on stun guns, but did not rely on any studies. The new policy will allow the state to gather data on whether stun guns help reduce deadly shootings and officer injuries, Aseltine said.

New Jersey has had more than 450 incidents involving police shootings since 1997, resulting in 135 deaths, according to statistics from the state Attorney General's Office.

Law enforcement officials in New Jersey say the restrictions in the new guidelines are designed to avoid injuries and deaths, and that the required video recording will ensure accountability.

"All past attorneys general have been very concerned to make sure that stun guns are used in limited manner," Aseltine said. "It is an important tool for law enforcement, but still to be used in a limited manner."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Matt Gurney: Ottawa cop doesn't learn from "learning experience" in brutality

November 18, 2010
Matt Gurney, National Post

On Wednesday, we heard about an Ottawa-woman subjected to an illegal arrest and a beating by Ottawa police officers for no apparent reason at all. After being stopped while walking to a friend’s house, and then let go, Stacy Bonds …

… stopped and asked them why they’d stopped her in the first place.

That got her handcuffed, thrown in the back of a cruiser and spirited off to the police station, where police pulled her hair, kneed her in the back a couple of times, slammed her to the ground with a riot shield, cut off her clothes and bra while a few male officers watched, and strip-searched her.

The Ottawa police are investigating themselves, of course, and we all know how those usually end up: An officer might be sent to bed without any supper. But it turns out that this isn’t the first time one of these officers has been involved in a case like this. Why am I not surprised?

Just four days before Bonds’ arrest, on Sept. 2, 2008, Sgt. Steven Desjourdy, one of the officers involved, used excessive force on an aggressive woman who he kicked and shocked with a Taser while in custody.

The details of the earlier case are somewhat different. In the first case, the woman was drunk and hostile and spat on a police officer. She later pleaded guilty to the charge of assaulting an officer. But still, the facts of the case were disturbing enough that Desjourdy was demoted to constable for 90 days, which the adjudicator called a significant punishment. Then the adjudicator had this to say:

“You’re obviously a very good police officer with an exceptional career. These things are a learning experience for us police officers.”

You know, I’m not an adjudicator, but I get the feeling that if the average citizen did to a cop what this cop has done to two women, the law enforcement community probably wouldn’t deem it an important learning experience. Why a police officer should get special dispensation to treat other people with brutality is a mystery. We entrust these people with law and order, to be enforced on our behalf, if necessary, with state-sanctioned violence. They owe us better than this.

Kelly McParland: Ottawa police brutalize lone, 100-pound female – and aren’t fired?

November 17, 2010
Kelly McParland, National Post

There are so many mind-boggling crimes in the world it’s easy to get immune to surprise. But there is something so mind-bogglingly stupid and commonplace about this particular case that it makes you wonder what home for the congenitally brain-dead Ottawa uses to recruit police.

Two years ago a young woman named Stacy Bonds was walking along an Ottawa sidewalk on her way to a friend’s house. Bonds is 27, just five feet tall, weighs barely 100 pounds. She’s not a trouble-maker, has no criminal history, no record of causing problems for police. She had — horrors — enjoyed a few drinks, though a judge ruled later that she was not drunk. Two police officers stopped her, checked her out, discovered she was harmless and told her to be on her way. She took a few steps, then stopped and asked them why they’d stopped her in the first place.
That got her handcuffed, thrown in the back of a cruiser and spirited off to the police station, where police pulled her hair, kneed her in the back a couple of times, slammed her to the ground with a riot shield, cut off her clothes and bra while a few male officers watched, and strip-searched her.

That done, they threw her in a cell, half-naked, for three hours. They charged her with public drunkenness — though she wasn’t — and with aggressive behaviour, though a video showed that wasn’t true either.

Now, how big a moron do you have to be to pull a stunt like this? These cops are on video — which one assumes they are aware of, it being a police station and all — and they molest an innocent woman, then lay false charges, which can be easily disproved. Did they think Bonds would just go away and not mention the experience to anyone? Did they think no one would notice the video? Did they figure three male cops and one female cop was appropriate force to use against a lone, 100-pound female?

Or, being clearly of limited mental capacity, did they just figure the rest of the world was as stupid as they are?

The judge, rightly, denounced the whole episode, noting there was ”no reason, apart from vengeance and malice, to have left Ms. Bonds in the cell for a period of three hours and 15 minutes half-naked and having soiled her pants, before she received what is called a blue suit. That is an indignity toward a human being and should be denounced.”

The obvious question is: Are these four idiots still employed by the Ottawa police force, and if so, why? Ottawa Police Chief Vern White says the force has launched “an internal investigation.” We know what that usually means: a mild rebuke, maybe some lost pay, but nothing that might upset the union.

Chief, this is an easy one. Fire them all. They don’t deserve the right to demean their uniforms.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Don't tase me, Powe

The world needs more Jerrell Powe's.

November 16, 2010
Kyle Veazey, Clarion Ledger

OXFORD — Reporters crowded around Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerrell Powe Monday afternoon, and there was at least some news as a result. But there was something far more interesting than that: Powe’s personal opinion on the use of Tasers.


Let’s explain. Powe mentioned that he was on track to graduate in May with his degree. A reporter followed up and asked what that degree is in. Criminal justice, he said. Why, a reporter joked in response, just so you can Tase someone?

Not at all, Powe said.

“I don’t believe in the Taser,” Powe said. “I don’t like the Taser. I’m against that. When I was a jailer, they told me to tote one you have to get Tasered. I said I don’t need that in the first place. I am against Tasering, so that won’t be going on for me.”

Some background, of course: Back during Powe’s long eligibility fight, he once worked as a jailer in Wayne County. And judging by what he said there, he didn’t want a Taser.

“I did not tote one,” he said. “I didn’t need one. It’s all about respect. When you’re in that profession, it’s all about respect and how you carry yourself. You see a lot of those guys toting those Tasers — I ain’t going to say it.” He paused. “Growing up, those were the guys who didn’t get a lot of respect. I’m gonna be honest with ya. That’s how I feel about it.”

So there ya go. Jerrell Powe’s thoughts on tasers. You always wanted to know. Now you do. You’re welcome.

Australia: Corruption and Crime Commission takes over Spratt probe

November 16, 2010
Josh Jerga, Sydney Morning Herald

The West Australian corruption watchdog has taken over police investigations into the repeated tasering of an unarmed Perth man at a watch house in 2008.

The Corruption and Crime Commission directed WA Police and the Department of Corrective Services to stop any investigations into events which led to Kevin Spratt being tasered more than 20 times in two weeks.

On August 31 2008, Mr Spratt was tasered 13 times while in custody as nine officers surrounded him at the East Perth Watch House.

CCTV footage released by the CCC in a report last month showed Mr Spratt was subdued on a bench during the tasering.

No officers were charged over the incident despite a police internal inquiry finding two had used undue and excessive force.

However, police will assist the Director of Public Prosecutions in deciding whether to charge any of the officers.

A week later, Mr Spratt, now 41, was tasered 11 times when corrective service officers tried to "extract" him from his cell at the East Perth Lockup.

Commissioner Len Roberts-Smith said the CCC would try to determine the circumstances surrounding the use or threat of Tasers on Mr Spratt on five separate occasions.

These include a threat by police on August 30, the incident at the East Perth Watch House on August 30, the occasion of Mr Spratt's arrest on September 6 and his time in the lock-up.

The CCC will also examine WA police's internal investigation of the incidents.

"There is a high level of public interest in the circumstances surrounding these incidents and the investigations into them," Mr Roberts-Smith said in a statement.

"It is in everyone's interest that these matters are investigated thoroughly and that the outcome be placed on the public record."

Last week the WA opposition obtained the statement of police facts regarding the August 31 incident, which appeared to contradict the CCTV footage.

It said the use of the Taser had little effect on Mr Spratt, who had continued to "violently resist against police trying to restrain him".

As a result the Aboriginal man was charged with two counts of obstructing police.

Shadow Attorney-General John Quigley has accused the state's police force of misleading the courts.

Mr Quigley asked the government in state parliament on Tuesday to clarify how many times Mr Spratt was charged and what were his alleged offences.

WA Police Minister Rob Johnson said he would not comment on the matter while the CCC investigates, claiming Mr Quigley was "slowly killing off any possibility of a fair trial".

"I would think the member for Mindarie in all of his years of alleged legal expertise would appreciate the legal process surrounding these matters."

Australia: What is the truth about the Kevin Spratt affair?

November 16, 2010
Andrew O'Connor, ABC News Australia

The truth can be elusive, morphing into different forms over time.

In the weeks since the Corruption and Crime Commission released the video of Aboriginal man Kevin Spratt being tasered 13 times in the Perth Watch House, we've been offered three versions of the truth.

The first is Kevin Spratt as victim.

In this version of the truth, he is the victim of a criminal assault perpetrated by two police officers as seven of their colleagues looked on.

In this version, the jumpy frames of a security camera in the Perth Watch House show Mr Spratt being tasered again and again and again after he refuses a strip search.

The tasering is depicted as an act of brutality, a violation of his human rights and internationally embarrassing to Western Australia and its police.

Shadow Attorney General John Quigley called it torture.

"It is of the same quality of torture as the criminal US marines practised at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, that is torturing a prisoner by electric shock."

The next version is Kevin Spratt as villain.

In this version, Mr Spratt is an extremely violent criminal with a long history of violence toward police, a man who posed an ever-present danger to the public and police officers.

A specially prepared police flow chart was released to the media which timelines his criminal activities and interactions with police, making it clear he's repeatedly resisted arrest, assaulted officers, spat at them, kicked them and fought them.

The tasering then becomes just one incident in long continuum in which Mr Spratt has demonstrated his capacity for criminal behaviour and aggression.

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan says while he was not defending the police tasering of Mr Spratt, releasing the information about his criminal history provides important "context".

"These are violent confrontations with the police. They tell a history of why he's in police custody in the first place. It's actually impossible to provide the public with an objective view of how police have handled Mr Pratt without telling them why he was in police custody in the first place," he told a media conference in October.

The same explanation was in Mr O'Callaghan's letter of apology to Mr Spratt:

"While in no way excusing what was done to you, this provided some explanation for why the police officers involved acted as they did and why they were concerned about the threat you posed."

Incomplete puzzle

The third version of the truth is incomplete, like a puzzle with pieces missing but perhaps more disturbing.

This emerged when Mr Quigly released the statement of material facts submitted to the Magistrates Court by WA police to support a charge that Mr Spratt was "obstructing public officers" while he was being tasered 13 times.

In this version, the police are liars who have fabricated a description of Mr Spratt's violent behaviour to justify the charge and their actions in repeatedly tasering him.

The statement of facts says he was "initially calm and co-operative" as police walked him into the watch house. It says after his handcuffs were removed, Mr Spratt refused to accompany police for a strip search.

It then says he "began to resist by holding onto the seat and bracing his arms. He again became violent and aggressive towards police who were attempting to restrain him, by kicking and flailing his arms.

"The Taser was deployed to prevent any injury to the police or the accused, however, it initially had little effect with the accused continuing to violently resist."

But, in a video of the incident released by the CCC, Mr Spratt is shown refusing to move from his seat, and then reeling from repeated taserings, screaming in pain and at one stage, almost begging the officers stop.

In its report, the CCC concluded that Mr Spratt did not appear to be the aggressor.

"At the time of the initial deployment, there was no information to show police were at risk of assault, or in danger. When the man began struggling, WAPOL internal investigators found that deployments were perhaps justified, however, the man could have been acting in self defence believing he was being assaulted."

Internal inquiry

WA police are conducting a new internal inquiry.

When it was announced by the Commissioner on the 18th of October, he said it would examine each police interaction with Mr Spratt, except the one where he was tasered 13 times.

That, Mr O'Callaghan said, had already been satisfactorily examined by internal affairs.

He explained that although there was no complaint raised about other incidents where police had used force on Mr Spratt, the new inquiry would be an additional check.

"We are now reviewing those to make sure because there's such a high level of public interest in this matter, to make sure they were conducted properly."

The purpose of that inquiry, the Commissioner said, is to ensure public confidence in the police.

Police have already reviewed the use of force reports submitted by the officers in those incidents. They've already cleared those incidents as being without complaint.

So, is the internal inquiry just another opportunity to provide more information about Mr Spratt's previous encounters where he was violent and police were justified in using force against him?

Or is the inquiry an opportunity to have a fresh look at these incidents and subject them to a thorough, exhaustive review?

In light of the conflict between statement of material facts and the video, the police must now satisfy themselves and the public that the other police descriptions of Mr Spratt's behaviour can be trusted.


The timeline released by the Police Commissioner cites a number of incidents of Mr Spratt's violent behaviour.

Even though the media has been told none was captured on video, each description provides the opportunity for police to produce objective evidence to verify the police version of events.

On the 30th of August, the timeline says Mr Spratt was apprehended on Graham Farmer freeway by police, "...but struggled violently dragging police in front of heavy traffic."

The internal inquiry may be able to establish if Main Roads traffic cameras captured this incident and whether any such video evidence supports the police statements.

On the 30th of January 2009, the timeline states that Mr Spratt was arrested in Bayswater and "....became violent, kicking one officer in the chest and spitting in the other officer's face and biting his hand."

On the same day at the Perth Watch House, he "....later spat blood and saliva into the officers' face entering eyes and mouth."

One would expect these injuries to be recorded through police workplace safety procedures.

In the case of the officer who was bitten, and those who were spat on with blood and saliva, they presumably underwent blood tests to ensure they'd contracted no blood borne diseases.

The presence of these records would provide objective support to the police account.

Following the release of the statement of material facts, a spokesman for the Commissioner has told the ABC any discrepancy between the statement and the video of the 13 taserings will now also be examined by the police internal inquiry.

If the internal inquiry is not transparently exhaustive in verifying the police version of events, and resolving the conflict between the statement of facts and the video, it is hard to see how will instil public confidence.


But just what has this incident done to our collective confidence in the police?

I suspect it varies widely from person to person.

Many people will look at the video in the light of Kevin Spratt's criminal record.

Whether intentional or not, the context provided by the police has cast Mr Spratt as a violent man with a violent history, a threat police were justifiably concerned about.

Many of those same people will find it hard to imagine the circumstances where they could find themselves the target of what has been euphemistically described by police and politicians as "excessive taser use".

As a middle-aged father of three from the suburbs who is a non-drinker and whose definition of a wild night out is seeing a movie with my wife, I consider it unlikely I'll find myself slugging it out with anyone, let alone police officers, in Northbridge or anywhere else.

But what if I was coming home from the movies, and happened upon what appeared to be a police officer assaulting a private citizen, as other officers stood by and watched?

What if I stopped and confronted those police officers about what was happening and was told by them to move on but I refused and they physically tried to push me away?

And what if I resisted? Not by striking out but by simply standing my ground, and frustrated and angered by my refusal to move, a police officer tasered me to the ground, and then tasered me again and again.

What would the other officers do? Would they stand there and watch like the seven officers in the Perth Watch House?

And when we got back to the police station, would the charge read that I'd behaved in a threatening manner, and that taser-wielding officer feared for his safety, and that I had to be restrained while resisting arrest?

Would that version of events be supported by the other officers, irrespective of whether it was true or not?

And in the absence of CCTV, whose word would be believed? Mine or that of the police?

Or, would just one of those officers step forward, and stop his or her colleague because it was clear the tasering officer was breaking the law?

Monday, November 15, 2010


November 15, 2010
Damien Murphy, Sydney Morning Herald

Incapacitation seems de rigueur at awards nights, but no one quite does nervous-system overload like stun gun purveyors. Breon Enterprises, the company that distributes the Taser in Australia, teamed up with Rotary to sponsor the inaugural NSW Police Officer of the Year Awards. Breon's director, George Hateley, a former Victoria Police tactical expert, and the NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, were among those at the Shangri-La Hotel grand ballroom on Saturday where more than 130 officers were in the running for the title. Among them was a faceless man or woman listed cryptically as ''Manly undercover operations''. Fortunately, the officer was not required to come forward as the award went to Senior Constable Jason Brooks of Cabramatta for doubling the number of arrests associated with drugs in his local area command. The recent ARIAs are proof that awards nights do not require stun guns to be truly shocking, but Breon's participation is to be expected: the NSW government paid the company $10 million to supply 2200 of the controversial weapons to all front-line police, making Tasers nearly as ubiquitous as poker machines.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shift to Zog

In September, PR Week announced that Taser International had chosen Shift Communications "to help battle the public's negative perceptions about the brand, explained Jeff Kukowski, EVP of marketing at the company. He confirmed that the account is in the high-six-figures. The agency will handle media relations, social media, and consumer messaging and strategy around the well-known electronic control devices for consumers and law enforcement. Shift will also help launch a consumer product called Protector..."

Today, in the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch: "Zog Media, one of the nation's fastest growing digital marketing agencies, announced today the addition of TASER International to the firm's growing client roster. Zog Media was tapped for website design, search engine optimization, social media strategy and technology development for TASER International, the world's leading protection and prevention technology company."

"We continue to change the world in law enforcement and we have a great story to tell in terms of saving lives, effectiveness and accountability," said Jeff Kukowski, executive vice president of marketing for TASER International. "After an extensive search, we chose Zog Media to greatly enhance our marcom efforts in communicating this invaluable message of 'protection' worldwide to consumers with a new design to our website, vastly improved SEO capabilities and enhancing our social media presence. Just as important is having these proven capabilities and strategies for our new AXON(TM) and EVIDENCE.com digital evidence products and for the upcoming release of our Driver PROTECTOR technology."

Geez, I wonder what happened to the love-in between Taser International and Shift Communications!! Is it possible that the nice people at Shift came to their senses all by themselves and decided they didn't need the $$$,$$$ that badly after all?? Is it possible that my message to them on the day of the announcement in September had any impact??

Just in case either of those possibilities have any basis in reality, I will reiterate my message to the nice people at Zog Media:

Note to Zog Media: Your assignment - Put on a nice big pot of digital marketing coffee and keep it coming, pull up a big comfy digital marketing couch and begin by reading every word on THIS website. No really, I mean it - go all the way back to 1990 and read all 3,093 of the posts I`ve placed here - for a reason - from start to finish. Then read every single word at www.excited-delirium.com - don`t even blink in case you miss something. Finally, read the Braidwood Report, Phase I and Phase II.

Once you`ve completed the above assignment, and have got all the pieces of this twisted puzzle put together, then and only then will your digital marketing agency be all caught up with those of us who have been paying very close attention all along. At that point, you may want to revisit your corporate (and personal) code of ethics, your corporate (and personal) moral compass, consult your corporate (and personal) lawyer and then decide if this is truly the gig you want to align yourself with. Believe me, it ain`t pretty. We`re not talking about a few niggling `negative brand perceptions` here. This isn`t Domino`s Pizza or Pabst Blue Ribbon we`re talking about. Oh no, this is much, much more, by a long shot. And no amount of twittering, blogging, facebooking or any other social media cuteness can erase the sinister fact that 512 people who were alive one minute were dead the next. And, in every single instance, a taser was involved.

You will really want to consider your next move very carefully. If you do decide to proceed - perhaps you simply cannot live without the high six figures - you WILL (mark my words) end up in a place where you feel like the lawyer who defends his rich, sleazy client because he needs the money, even though he knows his client is no saint and is quite likely guilty on all counts. And where I come from, he/she could be seen to be guilty by association.

Australia: Tasered man charged with obstruction

November 11, 2010
Updated 5 hours 30 minutes ago

A man who was tasered 13 times at the East Perth Watch House was charged with obstructing officers during the same incident.

Kevin Spratt was tasered repeatedly by police in August 2008.

The incident was captured on closed circuit video camera and subsequently shown to the Corruption and Crime Commission.

The statement of facts relating to the charge says that Mr Spratt was cooperative when he first arrived at the Watch House, but once his handcuffs were removed that he resisted attempts by officers to move him.

The statement says he became violent and aggressive by kicking and flailing his arms at officers who came near him.

WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan earlier denied any knowledge of the obstruction charge.

Last month Mr O'Callaghan wrote Mr Spratt an apology for the taser incident.

Australia: Police training warned of Taser dangers

November 11, 2010
Evan Schwarten, Sydney Morning Herald

Queensland police had been warned of the potentially fatal consequences of repeated Taser use prior to an incident in which a north Queensland man died, an inquest has heard.

Taser expert Patrick Burrell told the inquest into the death of Antonio Galeano that officers were cautioned against using a Taser multiple times against one person when they were trained in the use of the device.

"The training at the time cautioned against multiple use," he told the inquest.

He said a 2005 bulletin issued by Taser International stated that repeated or prolonged exposure to the electrical charge generated by a Taser could impair breathing. .

Mr Galeano died on the floor of his girlfriend's home at Brandon, south of Townsville, after being tasered multiple times by Senior Constable Craig Myles.

The inquest has previously heard Senior Constable Myles had been trained in the use of the device, which was rolled out to Queensland police in 2009, only a month before the incident.

Data recorded by the Taser showed it had been deployed 28 times against Mr Galeano but Mr Burrell said evidence from eyewitnesses suggested some of the applications had not been effective.

He said evidence of flashes of blue light between the Taser wires and a loud clicking noise suggested the device was not able to perform a complete electrical circuit.

The device was almost silent when working effectively with only a small arc of electricity visible between the metal barbs which were in contact with the subject's skin, he said.

If the device was able to generate a complete circuit, only a small arc of electricity would have been visible between the two barbs which had connected with Mr Galeano's skin, he said.

Mr Burrell also said Senior Constable Myles' initial use of the Taser, through a bathroom window, went against training guidelines.

He said Senior Constable's Myles' partner Marina Cross was not near Mr Galeano at the time and therefore unable tohandcuff him while he was incapacitated.

The inquest has been adjourned to Brisbane next month where is will hear from expert witnesses, including the pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Mr Galeano.

Senior Constable Myles and Constable Cross are due to give evidence at a hearing of the inquest in March.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

$145M suit in Maryland taser death will go to trial

November 10, 2010
Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Four years after a 20-year-old man died after being shocked twice by a Maryland sheriff's deputy's Taser, a federal appeals court has ruled the family's $145 million lawsuit can go to trial.

WTOP has learned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond has dismissed an appeal from the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, the Board of County Commissioners and Rudy Torres, the deputy sheriff who administered two shocks to Jarrel Gray while trying to break up a fight in November 2007.

"This case is going to trial," says attorney Ted Williams, who represents Jarrel Gray's parents Jeffrey Gray and Tanya Thomas in the civil wrongful death lawsuit.

"We're appreciative the court noted in its ruling that the defendants manufactured a claim that we'd never made in a lower court," Williams says.

In its appeal, Frederick County officials had argued Torres should have been entitled to qualified immunity because the shockings occurred during his performance of duty.

However, the court ruled the appeal was based on an argument the Gray family had never made in its filings or oral arguments.

"Merely alleging that death resulted from Defendant's use of excessive force is not equivalent to alleging a wrongful death claim," wrote Senior Circuit Judge Bobby Baldock, of the Tenth Circuit, in a concurring opinion.

An autopsy showed Gray's sudden death was caused by a combination of police restraint, including the electric shocks, and alcohol intoxication.

The judge in Frederick County will set a trial date for next year, Williams says.

Court reinstates lawsuit over Mukwonago, Wisconsin Taser death

November 10, 2010
By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled the parents of a man who died after being Tasered by police in 2006 can proceed with their lawsuit against the officers and the village and town of Mukwonago.

Nickolos Cyrus, 29, died in July 2006 after officers fired a Taser at him repeatedly when he was trespassing at a home under construction. Cyrus, who suffered from mental illness, was known to officers from previous delusional episodes and had been reported missing.

The Waukesha County medical examiner later ruled that he died from cardiorespiratory failure, partly as the result of the multiple electronic shocks. An inquest jury in Waukesha County concluded the officers used reasonable force.

His family sued, claiming he had been subjected to excessive force. U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa granted summary judgment to the defendants in April 2009, finding that the force used by officers was reasonable.

In an opinion written by Judge Diane Sykes, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Randa and sent the case back for trial. The court ruled that key factual disputes under the Fourth Amendment -- like just how much of a danger Cyrus posed, and how many shocks were administered -- can't be resolved by summary judgment:

The evidence conflicts, most importantly, on how many times Cyrus was Tasered. Czarnecki testified that he deployed his Taser five or six times, and the autopsy report describes marks on Cyrus’s back consistent with roughly six Taser shocks. But the Taser’s internal computer registered twelve trigger pulls, suggesting that more than six shocks may have been used.

Australia: Taser cops not kept apart after death

November 10, 2010
Evan Schwarten, Sydney Morning Herald

Two police officers involved in the Taser death of a north Queensland man should have been separated as soon as possible after the incident, an inquest has heard.

The inquest into the death of Antonio Galeano heard on Wednesday that Senior Constable Craig Myles and Constable Marina Cross should have been kept apart to ensure the investigation into the incident was not compromised.

However, the inquest earlier heard the two officers remained at the scene for several hours following Mr Galeano's death and were not separated.

Superintendent John Sheppard, from Queensland Police Service Ethical Standards Command, said internal guidelines stipulated that officers involved in a death in custody be isolated so they could give an independent version of events.

"The policy is clear - we should take every opportunity to guard against the versions of the officers being tainted by inappropriate discussion," Supt Sheppard told the inquest.

On Monday, Inspector Dominic McHugh told the inquest he decided not to separate the officers when he arrived at the scene, an hour after Mr Galeano's death, because he did not consider it practical.

"There is a model way of doing things and a practical way of doing things," he said.

"I arrived well after the event. If they were going to concoct or discuss a story, if that's the suggestion, they would have done it well before I arrived."

Supt Sheppard was also critical of Senior Sergeant Gavin Oates, who was initially in charge of the scene, for leaving the address to get coffee for the two officers.

"It certainly wasn't what I would describe as optimal, it was a poor decision," Supt Sheppard said.

Mr Galeano died on the floor of his girlfriend's house at Brandon, south of Townsville, in June last year after being tasered multiple times by Sen Const Myles.

Last week, Mr Galeano's girlfriend Sandra Wynne told the inquest she had called police because her partner was acting erratically and destroying her house.

The inquest continues.