Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Come to think of it, I could use a Taser


VICTORIA (CP) - A report in British Columbia says
the full force of Tasers should only be considered for
use by police on suspects who are aggressively attacking
or trying to assault an officer.

The final report done for B.C.'s police complaints commis-
sioner on Taser technology and released on Tuesday also
recommended the appointment of a provincial co-ordinator
on the use of force to evaluate new and existing technologies
available to police.

"Canadian police forces should be obliged to stop using
Tasers until truly independent and objective studies have
been done on their safety implications," Cameron Ward
said in a statement.

At least six people have died in Canada after being shocked
by Tasers, which fire two barbs attached to a wire that
deliver a 50,000-volt shock on contact for up to five
seconds. The weapon is meant to immobilize aggressors by
shocking their muscles.
Latest Commentary - Taser report biased, flawed

Cameron Ward, (June 14, 2005).

A report on taser technology released today parrots
the manufacturer’s claims and glosses over 126 deaths
proximal to Taser use, says Cameron Ward, lawyer for
Robert Bagnell’s family. (Robert Bagnell, 44, died June
23, 2004 after being tasered by Vancouver police.)
“Canadian police forces should be obliged to stop using
Tasers until truly independent and objective studies
have been done on their safety implications”, he said.

There have been 126 deaths proximate to Taser use
in North America since September, 1999. Ten of those
have occurred in Canada.
[source: Arizona Republic]

Stun gun under fire
Law Enforcement, New MLA Pleased With Taser
CKNW, (Jun, 14 2005).

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - An extensive study
gives "thumbs up" to the Taser electronic stun gun, although
at least one human rights lawyer still has reservations.

The report by members of the Victoria police department
finds Tasers are an acceptable method of force, and while
they have been "involved" in over 140 deaths in North
America, they have not been the direct cause.


For that very reason, human rights lawyer Cameron Ward
has a lot of problems with police using Tasers on drug addicts,
especially when they're having psychotic episodes. "The
police often subdue people who have not committed any
criminal offence, but who have been the subject of a 9-1-1
emergency call for medical assistance and in fact, in some
of the cases here in Vancouver, deaths have ensued as
the result of those calls."

Meantime, newly elected MLA Wally Oppal says stun guns
are valuable when dealing with suspects who put the lives
of others and themselves in danger. "To say that they
shouldn't be using it is liks saying well, maybe they
shouldn't use handguns either. The fact is, under
appropriate circumstances, we authorize police to use
force to subdue people who need to be subdued."

The report recommends the appointment of a provincial
"use of force" co-ordinator, something Oppal suggested
more than a decade ago in the course of his investigation
into police conduct.
New report sets out taser guidelines
CKNW, (Jun, 14 2005)

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - A report written
for the BC. Police Complaint Commissioner is
setting out guidelines for the use of tasers.

The report was ordered after the deaths of four people
who were zapped by police officers.

The report recommends tasers not be used on people
showing only passive resistance - like a drunk who
won't get out of their car.

The level of taser use should escalate based on the
threat - with full deployment reserved for subjects
who could cause death or bodily harm.

There should also be a provincial use of force
coordinator to assist police.

The review was written by Victoria Police.

In the past taser proponents have indicated the fifty
thousand volt zap would not directly kill someone
but could aggravate a pre existing condition or
seriously affect someone freaking out while on drugs.

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