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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Probe wraps up on Tasering of 11-year-old Prince George boy - But it could be some time before the public learns outcome, police advise

April 12, 2011
By Sean Sullivan, The Province; With Files From Postmedia

West Vancouver police say it may be some time before the public learns why a Prince George RCMP officer used a stun gun on an 11-year-old boy last week.

The West Vancouver Police Department has been called in to investigate Thursday's Tasering after Prince George RCMP responded to an emergency call.

"Our chief constable has made this investigation the top priority of his department," WVPD Sgt. Paul Skelton told The Province on Monday. "Our goal is to determine whether the RCMP officer was justified in using this level of force."

Officers at the scene found a 37-year-old man suffering from stab wounds that he said were caused by the boy. Officers located the child at a nearby home, where he was Tasered.

The boy was taken to hospital but did not suffer physical injuries, Skelton said.

Detectives from West Vancouver began their investigation Sunday and expect to wrap up this afternoon.

Skelton said the detectives will also review the RCMP's policy on Tasers, as well as the RCMP officer's record and Taser training.

The Mountie involved has 18 months' experience on the job. He has been placed on administrative duties, Skelton said.

It's not known why the officer used a Taser on the boy. Skelton said police can't divulge that information during their investigation.

The incident touches on two hot-button issues in B.C.: Taser use, and the practise of police investigating other police, both of which Skelton said are being taken into account. "We're sensitive to the public perception of police investigating police," Skelton said. He said the RCMP officers involved are co-operating fully with the detectives.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Canada weighed in on Monday, saying it is "very troubled" by the incident. "Police forces should adopt guidelines which prohibit the use of Tasers against children unless there is an immediate threat to life that cannot be dealt with through lesser means," secretary-general Alex Neve said.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s child and youth advocate, is reviewing the case. She said she expects she will launch a formal probe of the case, noting the youth is an aboriginal living in care and among the "most vulnerable" group in B.C.

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