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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Taser lawsuit dropped

March 28, 2011
Mike Bothwell, VANCOUVER/CKNW AM 980

The family of a man who died after being tasered is dropping their lawsuit against Vancouver Police. They did have a strong case according to Cameron Ward, the lawyer for Robert Bagnell's family. But they decided not go ahead because of the high cost of what was expected to be a six week trial.

The 44 year old Bagnell was tasered in police custody in June 2004. A coroner's jury later found he died of cardiac arrest related to cocaine intoxication.

Cameron Ward says BC law doesn't value the life of a son who is not a breadwinner. The family was faced with spending alot of money with little chance of winning a court award to cover those costs.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Taser shocks didn't kill Galeano: expert Steve Gray

March 24, 2011
Sydney Morning Herald

A man repeatedly tasered by police did not die from the shocks, an inquest into his death has been told.

Pathologists said Antonio Galeano, 39, died as a result of his drug use and advanced heart disease.

Mr Galeano died in June 2009 after police were called to a disturbance at his girlfriend's house in the town of Brandon in north Queensland.

Senior Sergeant Craig Myles has admitted tasering Mr Galeano eight times, although the Taser he used registered 28 applications.

Professor David Williams said he did not believe the Taser had caused Mr Galeano's death. He said the man had an enlarged heart, severe coronary heart disease and was in a state of "excited delirium" caused by his methamphetamine use. Mr Galeano was "a man walking a tightrope", Prof Williams said. He was at risk of dying at any time, particularly when in a state of excitement or after blood loss, he said. He said Mr Galeano's heart weighed 500 grams, compared with 350-390 grams expected in a man of his size.

Prof Williams told the inquest he had no previous experience of Taser post mortems and little experience of people who died in a state of excited delirium.

"I felt there was no connection between the tasering and the death, because tasering is an external event and shouldn't affect the heart," he said.

"Tasers are not a threat to life, that's my bottom line," Prof Williams said.

Questioning of the professor about an Amnesty International report into 334 deaths attributed to Tasers was delayed after objections from some of the 13 lawyers attending the inquest.

World-renowned cardio-pathology expert Professor Steven Karch agreed that excited delirium or the condition of Mr Galeano's heart were the likely causes of death, but it could not be confirmed.

While he could not prove excited delirium could be fatal, he said he was "pretty sure" it was.

He said one study showed a 10 per cent mortality rate from excited delirium but "in anecdotal discussion with emergency department doctors they say it's common as dirt".

The San Francisco-based professor said he believed Mr Galeano was "stimulated maximally" and would have been impervious to pain, with a brain "short-circuited" from dopamine release.

"They could have tasered him all day long ... it wouldn't have made any difference."

Prof Karch said he believed heart failure or drug use were the likely causes of death.

The inquest continues before Deputy State Coroner Christine Clements.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Trigger memory can be faulty - "critical stress amnesia"???

March 23, 2011
Sydney Morning Herald

A type of amnesia can cause police to forget how many times they fire their weapons, a death in custody inquest has been told by a US Taser expert.

Richard Wyant on Wednesday gave evidence at an inquest into the death of Antonio Galeano after he was tasered multiple times by police.

The 39-year-old died on the floor of his girlfriend's home at Brandon, in north Queensland, in June 2009, after police were called to a disturbance.

Advertisement: Story continues below Senior Constable Craig Myles has admitted tasering Galeano eight times.

But the Taser gun he used recorded that Galeano had been tasered 28 times with a 50,000 volt shock.

Mr Wyant, giving video testimony from Baltimore, Maryland, said it was not uncommon for a police officer to forget the number of times he pulled the trigger of a Taser or a gun.

He said the phenomenon was described as critical stress amnesia.

Mr Wyant, who holds a licence to use a Taser in the US, said the only time he had cause to use a Taser he was affected by critical stress amnesia.

"I'd swear I pulled the trigger twice, but I really pulled it five times," he said.

He said he knew of another case where a police officer had said he fired two shots, but an empty magazine lay on the ground nearby and other shots had been fired after reloading.

The inquest continues.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More thought, less force - Cops defend Tasers; mental-health official has doubts

March 21, 2011
Gabrielle Giroday, Winnipeg Free Press

Local police used their Tasers some 61 times last year, according to a record obtained by the Free Press.

More than three years after Robert Dziekanski died after RCMP officers stunned him in a Vancouver airport, the use of the weapon is still under scrutiny.

Police say stun guns help officers save lives, but Nicole Chammartin, the Canadian Mental Health Association's Winnipeg region executive director, says she's concerned police can improperly turn to stun guns instead of other crisis-intervention techniques.

She'd like to see more training of police in non-violent crisis-intervention techniques instead of using Tasers.

"In the past, I think the police services had to use their heads a lot more in terms of how to intervene and how to use communication skills, and I think more and more, we're seeing less of that and more use of Tasers and other levels of force," she said.

The Winnipeg Police Service has about 203 Taser X26s, according to a record obtained through a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) request.

RCMP D Division also has 237 stun guns, called "conducted-energy weapons," or CEWs, according to figures provided last week by the Mounties.

Chammartin said people with mental-health issues are more likely to encounter stigmas and are more likely to deal with police.

"Because (Tasers) are seen as non-lethal, our concern would be that the police are going to, in their busy lives, start to more and more rely on that, as opposed to standard non-violent crisis techniques," she said.

Sgt. Jason Anderson of the Winnipeg Police Service said Tasers are used in a "minute" amount of calls. He estimated about 160 Tasers are available for officers to use and about 40 are in for servicing, training purposes, independent testing or repairs.

"A Taser offers some significant tactical advantages for us that we don't necessarily have with our other weapons," Anderson said.

"So if we didn't have a Taser, that tactical advantage is taken away from us, and I would guess that we would see a significant increase in injuries to officers, bad guys, and just the regular public.

"I have no doubt in my mind that without a Taser, there are some incidents that might end even in death without the Taser there."

Anderson said that for officers, "our first option is always talking.

"These incidents happen so fast, so the goal with the Taser and any of our weapons is to get the situation dealt with as quickly as possible, trying to minimize the risk of injury to everybody," he said.

The Taser issue will come under further scrutiny after an inquest is held into the death of a Winnipeg teenager after he was stunned in a William Avenue back alley.

The family of 17-year-old Michael Langan has filed a lawsuit against members of the Winnipeg Police Service and Taser International in regard to his death in July 2008 after he was stunned by police pursuing him.

An autopsy report said Langan died of "cardiac arrhythmia (ventricular fibrillation) due to deployment of electronic control device," but noted Langan had a heart abnormality that contributed to his death, as did running from police. Police said they warned Langan repeatedly to put down a knife he was brandishing. Taser International filed a statement of defence that strongly rejected his death was due to their product.

How often are police using Tasers?

Police have used Tasers six times so far this year (as of Feb. 14)

Police dispatched to 162,678 calls for service, used Tasers 61 times2009
Police dispatched to 162,394 calls for service, used Tasers 73 times 2008
Police dispatched to 154,097 calls for service, used Tasers 68 times

New Mexico Man Dies After Being Stunned With Taser, Police Say


March 21, 2011: Jerry Perea, 38, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Taser maintenance issue raised in Palo Alto independent police auditor's report

March 19, 2011
Jesse Dungan, San Jose Mercury

Palo Alto's independent police auditor is keeping an eye on Taser maintenance following an incident in which one of the devices malfunctioned when it was used on a combative suspect, according to a report released this week.

"It hasn't risen to the level where we think things have really gotten haywire and no one's taking care of their Tasers, but if we do see a pattern, we may recommend more needs to be done," said Michael Gennaco, one of the report's authors.

The auditor's report details complaints against the police department, changes in policies and Taser use by officers, but it does not provide times or locations of incidents.

The incident that caught the auditor's attention involved a nearly hour-long search for a burglar, which ended with officers and a police dog trying to nab the suspect. He resisted arrest when confronted in a fenced-in area, didn't show any pain when bitten and may have been under the influence of a controlled substance, according to the report.

During the seven-minute scuffle, two officers used their Tasers, including a sergeant whose device didn't produce an electric shock when he fired it at the suspect's back. The other officer fired her Taser at the man's chest and cycled it for 10 seconds, but it had little effect. She then pressed the Taser against the man's back as he continued to struggle.

The officers were justified in their use of Tasers and the police department did a good job of documenting the incident, according to the auditor's report. Another officer used the camera on his Taser to record part of the incident.

But the report noted, "One of the two Tasers deployed did not seem to work at all. After the incident, there were problems downloading the data and getting an accurate time stamp on it. The department has acknowledged these issues from previous Taser uses and we will continue to monitor its efforts to perfect maintenance and infrastructure for this weapon."

Palo Alto police Lt. Sandra Brown said Friday the incident examined by the auditor was an anomaly. The sergeant's Taser experienced some sort of software malfunction, which may have been a manufacturer problem, and the device later had to be rebooted. There is no widespread mechanical problem with the Tasers used by members of the Palo Alto Police Department, she said.

However, the department has taken steps to improve maintenance since Tasers were introduced four years ago, Brown said. For example, officers on Thursday were trained how to take apart and clean their stun guns, she said.

Previously, officers turned their Tasers in to be cleaned periodically, but that practice resulted in less frequent maintenance.

Brown said officers also "spark test" the devices before their shifts to make certain they're in working condition.

According to the auditor's report, no officers have fired a Taser since the police department revised its policy to reflect recent court opinions about stun gun use.

"It would be entirely speculative to conclude whether this is the result of fear of criticism by officers, a misunderstanding of the policy, or simply the absence of appropriate circumstances in the field necessitating the use of a Taser," the report states.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

North Carolina man dead after being tasered

March 16, 2011
News Observer

March 15, 2011 - Brandon Bethea, 24, Harnett County, North Carolina

Monday, March 14, 2011

Centre for Police Accountability (C4PA)

A new police accountability organization in Ontario - check it out at http://www.c4pa.ca

The site says: If you are a victim of police brutality or misconduct, you are not alone. Many people have a shared experience of being abused by the police. Unfortunately, people feel powerless when it comes to getting justice against the police. The C4PA is working to change this.

PLEASE NOTE: This site does not give legal advice. We make legal referrals. The C4PA is building a network of lawyers and legal workers to assist survivors of police misconduct and help get justice. Please contact us if you are interested in this initiative.


Counter Surveillance Video Project
Video recording and photographing the police is a great way to make them more accountable.Post your video and pics to our site and expose police misconduct when it happens. Share videos and photographs through our Counter Surveillance Video Project and learn about other peoples experiences with police.

California man dies after police taser him

March 14, 2011 - Christopher Davis, 36, Los Angeles, California

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"The Taser's not the be all and end all'

March 10, 2011
Evan Schwarten, Sydney Morning Herald

A Queensland police officer has admitted tasering a man eight times shortly before he died in custody, but has questioned the effectiveness of the device.

Senior Constable Craig Myles told the inquest into the 2009 death of Antonio Galeano he recalled activating the device eight times as he struggled to subdue the 39-year-old.

Told that data recorded by the device indicated it had been activated 28 times, Sen Const Myles said it was possible he'd used it against Mr Galeano that many times but doubted it.

"It's possible but I don't believe it, I did it eight times," he told the inquest.

However, following Mr Galeano's death, a short time after the last activation of the Taser, Sen Const Myles told other officers the device wasn't as effective as he'd been led to believe.

"I said `the Taser's not the be all and end all'," he told the court.

"It didn't seem to be as good as they say it does in the training."

The inquest heard Sen Const Myles and his partner Constable Marina Cross were called to Mr Galeano's girlfriend's home at Brandon, south of Townsville, after she reported he was "off his head" and destroying the property.

Sen Const Myles said they arrived to find Mr Galeano in the bathroom covered with blood and chanting phrases similar to "one, two, three, you're dead" out the window at the officers who were standing in the backyard.

He said he tasered Mr Galeano through the window, causing him to fall to the floor, and then asked Const Cross to go inside and handcuff him.

However, he said Mr Galeano continued to struggle so he activated the device twice inside, before going inside where he would ultimately activate it another five times.

He said some of the activations appeared to have little or no effect on Mr Galeano who resisted attempts to put him in handcuffs until after the eighth activation.

Mr Galeano, he said, was able to get up off the ground after the first few activations and was threatening to kill the officers throughout the ordeal.

However, his evidence contradicted the testimony of Const Cross who earlier this week told the inquest she saw the device activated only five times.

The officer's accounts also differ on claims Mr Galeano was armed - Const Cross said he was armed with a metal rod while inside the bathroom, and Sen Const Myles gave evidence he was armed with the cord from a hair dryer.

The inquest continues.

Australia police reduce taser use

March 10, 2011
Patrick Rocca, ABC News

New figures reveal taser usage by Western Australian police has plummeted since changes to the force's policy on their use.

In December last year the Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan changed the taser use policy to stipulate that officers only use the weapons to prevent serious injury.

The change was introduced as an interim measure and will mean officers have to believe they are at risk of serious injury before using a taser.

It came in the wake of video evidence released by the Corruption and Crime Commission showing Kevin Spratt being tasered dozens of times while in police custody.

In the two months to December, tasers were drawn a total of 148 times by police.

But in the two months since the new policy was implemented, the weapons have been drawn just 82 times.

There has also been a drop in how often police have actually discharged the tasers, from 62 in the lead up to December, to just 21 in the two months to the 31st of January.

The Commissioner says the figures show a change in the attitudes and behaviour of police.

"We've seen a 60 per cent reduction in the use of tasers since the introduction of that policy, " he said.

He says the figures show officers are adhering to the policy and adjusting the way they respond to offenders.

"I think police officers are now thinking about their deployment a lot more and we are not seeing an increase or a corresponding increase in the number of assaults on police, " he said.

He says he is not alarmed by the figures.

"We have been seeing this right across Australia since the introduction of tasers, police forces have been adjusting their policy to make sure it's properly controlled," he said.

"At this stage the statistics are quite new statistics so we need to be quite careful about the long term but we have seen quite a significant reduction in the first two months after the introduction of the policy."

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Investigator Who Cleared Deputies Has Ties To Taser International - Attorney Has Worked In Past For Stun-Gun Maker

March 9, 2011

CINCINNATI -- After an independent investigator found no reason to charge three sheriff's deputies accused of using a stun gun to subdue a man undergoing diabetic shock during a traffic stop, some are questioning whether she was the right person for the job.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters asked Los Angeles attorney Mildred O'Linn to independently review the arrest and use of force, and the results of this investigation were released Tuesday.

O'Linn said deputies John Haynes, Matthew Wissel and Ryan Wolf acted without criminal intent because they had probable cause to believe John Harmon, of Anderson Township, was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and because he failed to comply with their orders.

But Harmon's attorney said O'Linn's background was troubling, and he questioned whether she could be truly impartial in the case.

"When you find out that she is the attorney for Taser International and one of the issues here is misuse of a Taser, you wonder how biased she is and that is disturbing," said attorney Tim Burke.

The Hamilton County sheriff's deputies attempted to stop Harmon after they spotted him driving erratically Oct. 20, 2009, at about 1:15 a.m., but they said he instead continued driving erratically for about a mile and a half.

Harmon was forcibly removed from his vehicle after he ignored deputies' requests to get out of the car and shocked seven times with a Taser, and he was taken to a hospital and treated for a dislocated shoulder and diabetic shock.

O'Linn defended her investigation and said her previous work for Taser International played no role in this case.

"If I found what I believe was criminal conduct here I would not hesitate to tell Mr. Deters to prosecute the officers," she said.

However, O'Linn admitted to News 5's Amy Wagner that she had never found evidence of criminal conduct in a case involving police officer use of a Taser.

"I don't work for Taser, I do defense work for Taser," she said. "I'm not an employee of Taser."

Harmon said he was never contacted as part of the investigation, but O'Linn said his testimony wasn't necessary because she'd read his complaint.

Deters was unavailable for an interview, but he issued a statement saying he did not believe O'Linn had a conflict of interest in the case. O'Linn agreed.

"I wouldn't consider it a conflict ever," she said.

But Harmon and his attorney stand behind their claims that the investigation was tainted.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Department investigated the matter previously and found the deputies acted improperly during the arrest, and all three were disciplined, along with their supervisor, Sgt. Barbara Stuckey.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Taser contract criticised by Home Affairs Committee MPs

March 7, 2011
BBC News

The way contracts to supply Tasers to police in England and Wales are awarded has been questioned by MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Committee.

They call it "unacceptable that there appears to be confusion" over which Tasers are allowed to be supplied.

The inquiry followed the revoking of the previous Taser supplier's licence after an "unauthorised" Taser was given to police during the Raoul Moat hunt.

The MPs are to include the issue in a wider upcoming inquiry into policing.

The Home Affairs Committee's report says it was "concerned" that following the revocation of Pro-Tect Systems Ltd's licence police forces "were close to running out of Taser cartridges".

It also says there appears to be "widespread confusion" about the rules governing the supply of Tasers to police, saying: "Not only did the company distribute an 'unauthorised' Taser to Northumbria Police, it had previously sold the same make of Taser to the National Police Improvement Agency."

The MPs also question the adequacy of having "a monopoly supplier business model in police procurement" and note that the new official Taser supplier consists of "more or less identical personnel operating in the same premises with a near-duplicate website" as the former distributor.

Next inquiry

The committee's chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, said: "The fact that the new supplier is so closely linked to the previous supplier raises serious questions about the authorisation and procurement processes.

"It is is unacceptable that there appears to be confusion in an area of policy that deals with a weapon that has been deployed over 6,000 times by police in this country.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and intend to further examine police procurement as a whole in our next inquiry."

The committee says Tasers have been deployed more than 6,000 times since 2004, although it was not fired in almost 70% of cases.

When the licence was revoked last year, Home Secretary Theresa May said the company, based in Daventry, Northamptonshire, had only been permitted to supply the X12 Tasers to its scientific development branch testing.

The firm also "breached rules governing the secure transport of the devices and ammunition", the Home Office said.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Former Toronto mayor faced Taser in 2010

March 3, 2011
Henry Stancu, Toronto Star

Former Toronto mayor John Sewell was one of 226 people to face the business end of a police Taser in 2010.

The Toronto Police Services Board listened Thursday as he described his unexpected encounter with a Taser-toting Toronto officer.

“It should happen to every member of this board. It would change your opinions about how this weapon is used,” Sewell told them.

“I believe this is what happens a lot of the time.”

He was responding to a report by Chief Bill Blair that states while 545 Toronto officers packed Tasers in 2010 fewer people got zapped or had the weapons pointed at them than the year before.

The X-26s Taser has been issued to emergency task force members and supervisors in high-risk units such as the holdup, drug and fugitive squads.

“Officers are using good judgment under difficult circumstances and making appropriate decisions to use the minimum force to resolve often tense and dangerous situations,” Blair’s report states.

Sewell’s situation last October was hardly dangerous. The former mayor, who heads the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, was outside an apartment building with a man police were coming to arrest on a criminal harassment charge stemming from a relationship breakup.

An officer ran at them pointing the device and shouting: “You’re under arrest. You’re under arrest.”

After they both identified themselves, the man, who Sewell was representing as a lawyer, was forced to the ground by three officers and handcuffed.

“The (chief’s) report says the use of the weapon was effective. What it did was terrify us. Does that mean this in fact is happening a lot of the time?” Sewell asked the board.

Despite his experience, Sewell would rather see police use Tasers over lethal firearms, but calls for better training and restrictions on their use.

He did not file an official complaint, but the board members agreed to accept his deputation for their consideration.

In his report, Blair said the weapon was used 236 times in 210 cases, with 95 incidents (45.2 per cent) resolved by officers merely pointing the devices, but not firing.

By comparison, Tasers were used 307 times in 273 incidents in 2009. In 45.4 per cent of those cases, people complied when the devices were just shown.

No deaths resulted from Taser use and only three minor injuries occurred, including cuts to a chin, lip and cheek when jolted subjects fell to the ground, the report states.

In about half the cases, officers used Tasers when they felt a person’s behaviour was threatening and 29 per cent of the incidents involved armed suspects, the report says.

“Upon review, some of these incidents were life-saving events (including suicide attempts), and most certainly officer injury was avoided,” Blair said in his review.

Last May, two handcuffed men were threatened with a Taser by an officer trying to get information from them.

Police cruiser cameras showed Const. Christopher Hominuk, 37, pressing a Taser against a man’s neck and pointing it at another man’s groin.

Hominuk, who pleaded guilty to threatening bodily harm, is to be sentenced June 14.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Coroners jury classifies Tasered man's death as suicide

March 3, 2011
Kent Spencer, The Province

The death of Frank Jonathan Frechette, who died in 2008 after being Tasered by Langley RCMP, has been classified as a suicide by a B.C. Coroners jury in Burnaby.

The five-person jury, which was investigating Frechette’s death, found he had died after a massive blood loss from a (self-inflicted) stab wound.

It made no recommendations for future actions after releasing its findings Thursday.

Earlier, presiding coroner Lisa Graham reminded the jury that Frechette had “directed officers to shoot him” when he was confronted at his Langley home on Sept. 30, 2008.

Frechette, 49, died on Sept. 30, 2008, after a tumultuous morning in which he robbed a bank with a sawed-off shotgun, stabbed himself in the lung causing severe bleeding, and was Tasered twice by Langley RCMP in a confrontation at his Langley home, the inquest has been told.

He was pronounced dead at Langley Memorial Hospital.

Frechette’s sister Natalie Frenette told the inquest Thursday that her brother fell in with the wrong crowd about nine years prior to his death.

“He got in with the wrong group of friends,” Frenette, who lives in Quebec, told the court in a statement.

She said Frechette was asked “to be the brains” of a gang and plan robberies.

“They started doing harder and harder drugs,” she said.

“He went to jail for bank robberies, but he never killed anyone ... My mom never got over his death.”

Forensic pathologist Dr. David Charlesworth has testified that massive blood loss was the cause of death and cocaine was a contributing factor.

Outside court, Jody Pylypow, the estranged mother of Frechette’s two children, said she doesn’t believe it was necessary for police to Taser the naked and bleeding man.

“I understand police’s point of view that safety comes first, but that doesn’t mean you don’t help that person,” she said.

A publication ban has been placed on the name of the plainclothes officer who employed the Taser.

The coroners jury has been asked to classify Frechette’s death from among five categories: accidental, homicide, natural, suicide or undetermined.

It has been told its purpose is not to assign blame to any person or agency.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Weapon use down among Cobourg (Ontario) officers

March 2, 2011

COBOURG -- Local police are using their hands more than their weapons when dealing with "resistant/assaultive" individuals, Cobourg's police service board members learned last week.

For the past two years no officers of the Cobourg Police Service have used conducted-energy weapons, commonly referred to as tasers, Police Chief Paul Sweet reported. Town police officers also didn't discharge their guns in the course of dealing with the public during 2009 and 2010, nor during the same two-year period did they use impact weapons referred to as batons, according to the annual Use of Force report the chief gave on Feb. 24 to the Cobourg Police Service Board.

A Use of Force report must be submitted by each officer when a firearm is drawn in public, is pointed at any person, when a weapon is used on another person, when a taser is pointed at someone or when physical force results in an injury requiring medical attention.

Intermediate weapons are the "most effective when dealing with actively resistant/assaultive subjects," Sweet's report states. Intermediate weapons mean physical activity such as an officer using his hands to choke, hold or restrain a person, Sweet explained during an interview. There were four reportable incidents in 2010 and three in 2009.

At the same time as the reported use of guns, tasers and batons has declined, the total number of use-of-force officer reports increased from 10 in 2009 to 13 in 2010. In addition, the number of suspects using weapons themselves during these incidents increased 40% between 2009 and 2010. There were two incidents of suspects using weapons in 2009 and six in 2010.

Five officers and 24 suspects sustained injuries in 2009, according to the use-of-force report, but last year there were no injuries at all.

Aerosol (pepper spray) wasn't used at all last year and only once the year before, according to the chief's report.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Toronto Police detail taser use

March 1, 2011
Tom Godfrey, Toronto Sun

Toronto Police used their Tasers 236 times last year, during which the device was fired 130 times by officers against suspects in life-threatening situations, says Chief Bill Blair.

The chief said his officers relied on Tasers as a threat 106 times — 45% of the total number times they were used.

Blair’s report — to be presented to the police services board on Thursday — said 545 Taser X-26s were issued in 2010 to supervisors of the Emergency Task Force and other high-risk units, such as the hold-up and drug squads.

“The device is used strictly to gain control of a subject who is at risk of causing harm,” Blair said in a submission that was released on Monday. “The weapon is used in full deployment or drive stun mode when the subject is assaultive.”

The report notes an incident where a cop threatened to Taser two suspects’ testicles to obtain information. Const. Christopher Hominuk has pleaded guilty to threatening bodily harm and will be sentenced in June.

The report said Tasers were used in 210 incidents involving 226 subjects. It said officers at 31 Division were the highest users of the devices having relied on them 26 times last year. Officers from 41 Division were next with 24 times and 23 Division used them 11 times.

The report said 56 suspects in incidents where police used Tasers were believed to be emotionally disturbed.

“In 51% of the incidents officers perceived the subject behaviour as assaultive,” the report said. “In 30% of the incidents, officers believed the subject behaviour was likely to cause serious bodily harm or death.”

Police said in one case, a suspect who had just robbed a cab produced a knife and held it to his throat in a bid to evade police.

“Because he believed the suspect was about to further harm himself, the sergeant used his (Taser) in full deployment mode,” the report said. “The suspect was arrested and received immediate medical attention.”

Police believe suspects who are Tasered are armed about 58% of the time.

The report said when deployed in the drive stun mode, the taser can leave “minor burn marks” on the skin where it makes contact.