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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Officer says man 'appeared crazy'

June 15, 2011
By Daryl Slade, Calgary Herald

A city police officer called to a break and enter at an Erin Woods home on Nov. 1, 2008, testified on Tuesday that it quickly became apparent the intruder was in a state of excited delirium.

"He appeared crazy," Const. Dave Stewart told Crown lawyer Cynthia Hykaway during the second day of a fatality inquiry into the death of Gordon Walker Bowe.

"His speech . . . I couldn't make out what he was saying. There was incredible jumping and sweating."

Stewart said he had some experience dealing with delirium in recruit training, but never dealt with a suspect before or since that day.

Bowe, 40, was Tasered by a fellow officer and died in hospital, but it was later ruled the stun gun did not play a role in his death. Rather, it was deemed to be from the delirium caused by use of cocaine.

Dr. Sam Andrews, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Bowe, earlier told co-Crown lawyer Jo-Ann Burgess there was no physical evidence that both probes from the Taser struck Bowe. He agreed that even if the Taser was properly deployed and successful in giving a deceased electrical charge, it had no prolonged effect on him.

Andrews said the state of delirium was caused by the use of cocaine, likely from a binge situation.

Rick Smith, CEO and founder of Taser International in 1993, told court there have been 170 civil litigation cases in the United States where the weapon was used and of the 130 or so completed cases, only once has Taser been deemed even partially responsible -and it was only for 15 per cent of the cause of a death.

He said most of the cases have been triggered by the victim taking toxic doses of amphetamines.

Smith, who demonstrated the use of the gun while in a safe mode without its battery, said they are now being equipped with video cameras to see what occurs for the five seconds or so they are being deployed.

However, he added, officers are using head cams to be able to capture not only the firing time, but what leads up to it and afterward, to give it context. That, however, was not the case in the confrontation with Bowe.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) investigated the actions of four Calgary police officers in the death of the Castlegar, B.C., resident, who travelled back and forth to Calgary for work, and reported there would be no charges laid against the officers.

ASIRT concluded Bowe, 30, was high on cocaine and died of excited delirium and not as a the result of a Taser or police actions.

The fatality inquiry continues today, then will be adjourned until Aug. 24 for continuation. A fatality inquiry cannot find fault, but the judge can make recommendations.

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