September 23, 2011
Dale Carruthers, QMI Agency
LONDON, Ont. - A teenager is in hospital and a group of high school students are threatening a protest against police after an officer used a Taser to break up a brawl in London, Ont., on Thursday.
The clash between two young men around noon was captured on a cellphone video reviewed by QMI Agency and later posted to YouTube.
The images show one combatant hitting the other with a chair, when an officer on foot hurries in from the street and shoots a dart from a Taser stun gun at a young man wearing jeans and a black shirt.
From the video, it appears the two boys had separated when the officer approached.
The crowd gasps in horror as the Taser's prongs appear to hit the young man in the face. He falls to the ground and is motionless for nearly one minute.
"You shot him in the head. You never even asked him," screams another male on the video.
The officer didn't give any warning before using his stun gun, said witness Vivian Greening.
"He just pulled out the Taser and shot him," she said. "They didn't even try to talk to the kids (or) yell at the kids."
Student Cody Hill, 17, who was in the crowd watching the fight, also said the cop Tasered the boy without warning.
It's not clear from the amateur video, with its imperfect audio, whether the officer gave a warning.
The onlookers spilled onto the street to watch the fight, many of them students at nearby H.B. Beal Secondary School.
Hill and a group of friends say they plan to hold a protest on Monday to decry the police response.
Police confirmed a 17-year-old who was Tasered was taken to hospital and another boy is in custody, but wouldn't comment if the officer issued a warning before using the stun gun.
"Our investigation is unfolding," said Const. Dennis Rivest. "There's a number of people that need to be interviewed right now and we still have a lot of work that we have to do to complete this investigation.”
The boy's injuries aren't life-threatening, police said.
"And we're going to wait before any further comment on the situation."
Canadian researcher Andrew Podgorski, who studied stun guns for the Canadian government, said youth are more at risk of injury and death from being hit with a Taser's 50,000-volt jolt.
"The younger you are, the more susceptible you are," said Podgorski. "Younger people are generally . . . smaller in size."
One in 1,000 people who get Tasered die, said Podgorski, adding those under the influence of drugs and alcohol are more likely to die.
According to use-of-force statistics, London police used stun guns 28 times in 2010.
In 2004, Londoner Peter Lamonday, 33, died shortly after being Tasered by police at a convenience store.
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Friday, September 23, 2011
September 23, 2011