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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.

1 comment:

Kate said...

When psychiatric electroshock was common, precautions were taken to keep the patients from choking on their tongues, which appeared to swell during the convulsions. To me this is an indication that Grimolfson's body was reacting intensely to the taser shocks even if he did not register pain. Combatting the muscle spasms instead of rolling with them would increase the stress on his muscles and nervous system. Did they test for acidosis? Men dying in this way drool and spit to try and keep breathing, not as a hostile action. Depending on the make of the spit mask, it could suffocate someone who needed to gasp orally for air. An oxygen mask is vastly more helpful that a spit mask.