April 13, 2012
A man who was struck with a Taser while in Edmonton police custody earlier this week died in hospital Friday, his mother says.
Simone Oatway told Global News on Friday that her son, Jeff, had serious mental health problems for most of his life, and struggled with drug and alcohol addiction.
The 34-year-old was struck with a Taser at least once in the basement of the downtown police station on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Edmonton Police Association president Tony Simioni, Oatway was being transferred from his cell to a holding area to await a bail hearing at the time.
He had been in the custody of one female police officer and two civilian safety officers when he became violent, Simioni said.
"It was sudden, unexpected and violent as hell," said Simioni. "In a pre-Taser world, in that kind of serious circumstance, when a person is that out of control and there is that much apparent strength, the first option would have been your gun."
Simioni said at least 12 police officers tried to restrain Oatway.
The Taser, he said, didn't seem to have much initial impact on the man.
"The medical episode took place after the Taser was deployed. When the Taser was deployed, it had no effect, none. The Taser did not get this person under control. It was not effective. He fought on."
An ambulance was called and officers made efforts to resuscitate Oatway.
Edmonton police spokeswoman Clair Seyler said no new information is being released about the incident, which now has been handed over to Alberta's Serious Incident Response Team for investigation.
Simioni has described the incident as "a massive struggle" that left a path of destruction through the area.
Speaking to Global News, Simone Oatway said her son's life was troubled and he had bounced between jail and the streets.
"I know he probably was very violent and was out of his mind, but couldn't there have been another way without Tasering him?" she said.
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April 13, 2012