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Disabled Taser Victim Tells His Story

from Kelowna B.C., Canada

Read the story at the bottom of this page about the disabled taser victim.

Other stories about taser incidents have been added since.

Community Comment Form

LAST UPDATE January 26, 2015

Click on your refresh button in the top menu, to be sure you see any updates.

Blue Divider Line

Officers confiscate Taser
Vernon Morning Star - By Roger Knox - March 09, 2011

Police found a Taser that looks like a cell phone March 4.

It’s what was in the back of the Coldstream man’s truck that first caught the RCMP’s eyes.

And then, it’s what police found inside the man’s vehicle that really got their attention.

Police noticed a black truck on Aberdeen Road in Coldstream driving around with some loose black garbage bags in the back March 4 at 3 p.m., and pulled the vehicle over to check on a non-secured load.

“Police checked the driver of the vehicle and noticed an odour of fresh or vegetative marijuana,” said Vernon RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk, which led to police arresting the driver for suspected possession of a controlled substance.

However, a search inside the vehicle didn’t turn up any bud, but did produce a Taser that looked like a cell phone.

And it wasn’t your regular police-issue Taser.

“The manufacturer’s specs of this Taser is two million volts. Our Tasers have an output of 50,000 volts,” said Molendyk.

The 37-year-old man was taken into custody and was charged with possession of a prohibitive weapon.

He is slated to appear in provincial court at a later date.

Blue Divider Line

Mom seeks answers in Edmonton Taser death
By Alexandra Zabjek, edmontonjournal.com November 21, 2010

Determined to question witnesses in fatality inquiry to start Monday

EDMONTON — The mother of a man who died after being Tasered by city police two years ago is worried that she won’t get any answers at a fatality inquiry into the incident because she can’t afford a lawyer to represent her.

Beverly Grimolfson, who is raising her son Trevor’s three children in Dauphin, Man., plans to attend the inquiry which is scheduled to begin Monday in Edmonton. Without a lawyer to speak on her behalf, she is determined to question witnesses herself.

It won’t be an easy process.

“There are far too many questions for me to have answered, for me not to have a lawyer there,” she said. “I feel the victim’s family should have representation in order for it to be a fair inquiry.”

Trevor Grimolfson died on Oct. 29, 2008, after a drug-fuelled rampage through a west-end pawnshop.

Police were called and confronted him in the shop, a 10-minute ordeal in which he was Tasered several times. After he was arrested, he went into medical distress and was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

His cause of death was listed as “excited delirium due to the consequences of multiple drug toxicity.”

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which investigates any death that may have been caused by a police officer, last year ruled officers were justified in their actions. No criminal charges were laid.

However, a fatality inquiry was automatically called since Trevor Grimolfson died while in police custody. The inquiry is scheduled for five days, and the presiding judge must report on the circumstances, causes, and manner of the death. The judge may present recommendations on how to prevent similar deaths in the future.

A fatality inquiry is not a trial and the judge cannot assign blame for an incident. Family members of those who have died are automatically granted standing to speak and ask questions at an inquiry, but provincial legislation does not provide for their legal funding.

Beverly Grimolfson said she was denied Legal Aid in her home province of Manitoba, as well as in Alberta. She applied to Provincial Court Judge F.A. Day, who is presiding over the inquiry, to recommend she receive funding, but he declined to do so.

Day ruled there was no legal authority to mandate funding. He noted that if financial need was a sufficient basis to recommend public funding, then provincial legislation or Legal Aid would have made provisions for that.

Alberta Justice says it is not common for families to bring lawyers to a fatality inquiry.

Julie Siddons, a spokeswoman for the department, said next of kin can speak at an inquiry and bring lawyers if they want.

“It’s a factual inquiry, it’s not a trial, so legal representation is not required,” she said.

Grimolfson’s inquiry comes in the wake of the high-profile and lengthy Braidwood Inquiry in B.C, which examined the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski who died at the Vancouver International Airport in 2007 after he was Tasered multiple times by Mounties. Video of the incident was viewed widely and prompted debate about the use of Tasers by police in Canada.

In his lengthy report released in 2009, former judge Thomas Braidwood said police should continue to use Tasers but warned it is not “helpful” to blame deaths on “excited delirium,” since it avoids having to “examine the underlying medical condition or conditions that actually caused death, let alone examining whether use of the conducted energy weapon and/or subsequent measures to physically restrain the subject contributed to those causes of death.”

Alberta Justice says it expects Dr. Graeme Dowling, Alberta’s chief medical examiner, will discuss the relevance of Braidwood’s findings at the Grimolfson’s inquiry.

When writing in 2009, Braidwood found 25 people had died in Canada since 2003 after a conducted energy weapon was deployed against them.

Beverly Grimolfson said she knows her son was in bad shape when he encountered police two years ago, but insists he was not “a monster.” She said he was a loving father and a generous person.

She thinks it is important the circumstances of her son’s death are investigated completely. She thinks that can’t be done without investigating the use of Tasers by police forces in general.

“We can’t forget any one of (those deaths). Just because there is no video of the other 25, their cases are no less important.”

Edmonton Journal

Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

Blue Divider Line

Mountie, transit cop charged after Surrey man Tasered
By Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun October 25, 2010

METRO VANCOUVER -- A Mountie and a transit police officer have been charged after 73-year-old Surrey man, apprehended under the Mental Health Act, was Tasered at a hospital last April.

RCMP Const. Mitchell Spears has been charged with one count of assault and one count of assault with a weapon, while Const. Ken Jansen, of the South Coast of British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service, has been charged with assault.

On April 22, the RCMP investigated a report of a 73-year-old man with a knife causing a disturbance at a Surrey residence. The suspect was apprehended under the Mental Health Act and taken to a local hospital for assessment and treatment, RCMP Cpl. Annie Linteau said in a press release issued Monday.

While in the custody of the RCMP officer at the hospital, the victim was allegedly zapped once by a conducted energy weapon. The transit cop, who was at the hospital on other business, was also "involved in the incident," but neither police agency elaborated on these details.

The victim, who was not identified, was left with facial cuts that required stitches.

Surrey RCMP started a criminal probe and a parallel code of conduct investigation after senior officers became aware of the incident, Linteau said.

Spears was initially placed on administrative duties, but has now been suspended. He has been a Mountie since January 2008.

Jansen has been with the Transit Police for nearly three years.

In May, the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner ordered a public trust investigation into Jansen's conduct. He was initially placed on administrative duties "so that he would have no further direct interactions with the public," and then was suspended under the Police Act on Sept. 28, said a Transit Police press release.

Transit Police Acting Chief Officer George Beattie said in a statement that he is disappointed with the allegations.

"As the Police Act conduct investigation progressed, and we learned further details, a decision was made to suspend Const. Jansen," Beattie said.

"Allegations of this nature are troubling for all of us who are entrusted with the public's confidence."

lculbert "at" vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

Court tosses out Taser-maker's appeal of Dziekanski inquiry
Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun: Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Zophia Cisowski listens April 1, 2010 as RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass apologizes for the death of her son Robert Dziekanski. The RCMP offered an apology and undisclosed compensation to Cisowski after her son died in a taser incident during an October 2007 confrontation at Vancouver International Airport.

Photo Credit: Andy Clark, REUTERS

RELATED
Taser report bad for business: Company lawyer
Special prosecutor consider charges against Mounties in Dziekanski Tasering
Canadians support inquiry's damning findings in Dziekanski death: poll

VANCOUVER — The company that makes Tasers has lost its legal bid to quash a high-profile report that found the weapons can kill.

The B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a legal challenge by Taser International to overturn results of the inquiry into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski.

The company was trying to quash Justice Thomas Braidwood's findings that the weapons increase the risk of fatal heart failure.

Dziekanski, 40, died on Oct. 14, 2007, at the Vancouver International Airport after being Tasered five times by four RCMP officers responding to a 911 call.

In his report, Braidwood concluded that Taser hits contributed to Dziekanski's death.

"Conducted-energy weapons do have the capacity to cause serious injury or death," he wrote, adding that risk increases with multiple uses, specifically when aimed at the chest near the heart.

Justice Robert Sewell found there was little evidence the commission had any serious impact on Taser International's business. He also found no merit in the company's argument that the report's conclusion conducted energy weapons can cause death was unreasonable.

"It is quite clear to me that there were presentations made to the commissioner by medical experts and others to the effect that such weapons can cause serious harm and even death in exceptional circumstances," Sewell said, in the decision.

He dismissed the petition without costs.

Taser International filed its legal challenge in 2009 after the release of Braidwood's report following the first phase of the public inquiry.

The company contends that a significant body of evidence delivered to the commission to support the safety of the conducted energy weapon was ignored by the inquiry.

Taser lawyer David Neave argued that company officials submitted 174 academic and medical articles but Braidwood only referred to 60 in his report.

He also said that the conclusions and recommendations in the Braidwood report would put law enforcement and Canadian citizens at risk.

The second phase of Braidwood's inquiry focused on the circumstances of the death of Dziekanski, who had been immigrating to Canada to live with his mother.

After a 20-hour flight from Poland, he had to spend another 11 hours in the international arrivals area of the airport. He was unable to contact his mother, who had been waiting for him in another area.

Following a brief confrontation with the RCMP officers, he was repeatedly Tasered and died.

His death, which was captured on video by a bystander, led to international outrage.

Braidwood ruled the use of the officers' use of the weapon was not justified.

Blue Divider Line

Blue Divider Line

Inquiry findings hurt Taser's business, company to say
ctvbc.ctv.ca - Sunday Jul. 4, 2010

CTV News Video
CTV British Columbia: Challenged Taser report
A public inquiry's conclusion that a jolt from a Taser can be lethal wasn't based on all of the evidence and has hurt the manufacturer's business, Taser International will argue in court this week.

VANCOUVER — A British Columbia public inquiry's conclusion that a jolt from a Taser can be lethal wasn't based on all of the evidence and has hurt the manufacturer's business around the world, the company will argue in court this week.

Taser International filed a petition demanding the findings be thrown out, and the case will be heard in B.C. Supreme Court starting Monday.

Commissioner Thomas Braidwood, who oversaw two sets of hearings following the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport, released a report last year that found Tasers can be fatal and their use should be restricted, although he also said they are a necessary tool for police.

But Taser International argues Braidwood didn't take into account all of the information the company provided, and that it wasn't given an opportunity to respond before the report was released.

The Arizona-based company says the report has forced it to travel the world to defend its products, and the findings prompted law enforcement officials in Africa to scrap a contract worth "tens of millions of dollars."

"His (Braidwood's) decisions on the medical effects of a Taser CEW (conducted energy weapon) discharge on the human heart unfairly damaged and continue to damage Taser's reputation and commercial interests," co-founder Thomas Smith says in an affidavit filed with the court last week.

"The commissioner's decision . . . has been raised in virtually every meeting I have had with customers and potential customers since the report was released."

The report followed the first phase of a public inquiry announced in the wake of Dziekanski's death in October 2007, when he was confronted by four RCMP officers and repeatedly stunned with a Taser.

Braidwood said there was inadequate medical evidence on the exact risk of Taser use, but he said there was enough to conclude the weapons have the capacity to affect the heart and cause a fatal arrhythmia.

He also questioned some of the studies and statistics provided by Taser, saying their methodology and results were insufficient to conclude, as the company does, that the weapons cannot affect the heart.

A second report examining Dziekanski's death in detail, released last month, said that while the exact cause of the Polish man's death is unknown the multiple jolts from the Taser likely played the greatest role.

Initially, Taser's petition also accused the commission's lead lawyer and its medical adviser of bias, but a judge later forced the company to drop those complaints, calling them "an abuse of process."

B.C.'s attorney general, the lawyer representing the province in the case and the commission's lawyer declined to comment on the petition, but Braidwood was asked about it in June as he released his report into Dziekanski's death.

"I certainly read all their material, I read everything, it doesn't mean to say I'm going to put it all in a report," Braidwood told a news conference.

"Let me just say I disagree with them."

Taser also declined comment.

There are thousands of Tasers in use across the country by the RCMP, municipal police and other law enforcement personnel, such as sheriffs and corrections officers.

The B.C. government and the RCMP have both endorsed Braidwood's recommendations and restricted how and when the weapon can be used.

Taser has a long track record of vigorously -- and successfully -- defending its weapons in court.

The company has faced dozens of wrongful death lawsuits and sends legal demands to media outlets that suggest Tasers are responsible for anyone's death.

When an Ohio medical examiner ruled that three men's deaths were in part caused by the effects of Tasers, the company sued.

In May 2008, a judge ordered the medical examiner to change the autopsy findings to delete any references that suggested the stun guns were to blame.

Last year, Taser International sent out a news release boasting it had successfully won its 100th dismissal of a liability lawsuit.

However, the company cannot claim a perfect legal record: in 2008 a California jury ruled the weapon was at least partially responsible for the death of a man who died in police custody.

Blue Divider Line

Kelowna cops taser bad guy
Castanet.net - by Kelly Hayes - Story: 55418 - Jun 28, 2010

Kelowna RCMP were forced to taser a suspect Monday after he refused to stop.

The incident occurred early Monday morning on Abbott Street in front of City Park where a police officer tried to question the man who had an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

The man fled on foot toward the Sails and appeared to be reaching for a weapon, prompting police to taser him.

The man dropped to the ground and was immediately tended to by paramedics.

Police recovered a can of bear spray and a stolen wallet from the suspect.

Blue Divider Line

The damage is done
Kelowna Capital News - June 22, 2010

Justice Thomas Braidwood’s final report into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski is out—and it doesn’t mince words.

Calling the conduct of the four Richmond RCMP officers involved in the tasering death at Vancouver airport “shameful,” Braidwood stopped just short of recommending criminal charges against them.

A special prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Mike de Jong might not be so inclined to stop short, and will review the possibility of charges that would make an example of the officers who have so shaken confidence in our national police force.

About the only culpability Braidwood didn’t assign to the four was in finding there was no evidence they colluded to fabricate their story of what happened. Unfortunately for them, an amateur video of the tragedy gave the lie to their testimony—and, in so doing, made many of us question the reliability of police testimony in countless other cases.

While Braidwood said the actions of the four shouldn’t reflect on thousands of RCMP and other officers who have diligently served and protected the public for generations, there is really no way they can’t taint our view of police forces. But the Braidwood report doesn’t just point a finger only at the officers. He questions how Canada’s Border Services Agency could “lose” an immigrant, leaving him to wander alone for five hours in the airport customs hall, after an already stressful 20-hour flight, while his mother waited anxiously a short distance away.

While over time we may rationalize our way to a viewpoint that such a tragedy can’t happen again, one chilling fact remains.

Flaws in Canada’s system didn’t just fail Robert Dziekanski. They killed him.

Blue Divider Line

Taser model recalled by B.C.’s solicitor general 
Text By Alistair Waters - Kelowna Capital News - Published: June 02, 2009

Ten Tasers have been pulled from use by the Kelowna RCMP as a result of an order by B.C.’s solicitor general to stop using older model Tasers and send them for testing.

Cost. Steve Holmes said Tuesday that 10 model M26 Tasers were identified in the local RCMP’s arsenal of conducted energy weapons and have already been sent off for testing at a laboratory in Ontario, as per Solicitor General Rich Coleman’s order.

The order was given to all RCMP detachments in B.C. on Monday, after independent testing of the same weapon used by municipal police forces, sheriffs and corrections officers showed 102 of 128 tested did not meet manufacturer’s specifications 80 per cent of the time.

By order of the province, no M26 model Taser can be used by either a provincial agency nor the RCMP until it is independently tested, repaired and re-tested. If the weapon continues to fail to meet manufacturer’s standards after re-testing, it must be taken out of service and replaced with a newer model.

Holmes said the RCMP in the Central Okanagan still have nine newer X26 model Tasers in service, all of which he said are properly maintained and serviced as per provincial and RCMP specifications.

Tests showed that 101 Tasers used in B.C. had output below the manufacturer’s specifications and one failed outright due to a combination of factors.

Of the 102 units tested, 25 were from municipal police forces, 75 were from the sheriff’s service and two were from corrections officers.

According to a spokesman for the Attorney General’s ministry, last December the ministry sent 90 sheriff’s M26 Tasers in for independent testing. All were acquired by the province before Jan. 1, 2006. There was one Taser from the Kelowna area that was part of the testing at that time.

Although it is not known for certain, a ministry spokesperson said there is a good chance the Kelowna Taser was one of the 75 sheriff Tasers from across the province that did not meet the manufactures specifications because of low voltage.

He added the ministry will ensure all Tasers are in compliance with the manufacturer’s specifications before being used again. There is also one sheriff’s M26 Taser in the Kelowna area that was acquired after 2006, and, as a precaution, it will also be sent in for testing.

While the testing continues, there is to be at least one Taser available for use in the Kelowna area for sheriffs.

Holmes said an earlier call by the province for RCMP Taser testing resulted in the local detachment sending three older model X26 units to be tested, but no word on the outcome of those tests has been received by the RCMP here. The weapons have also not been returned to the local detachment.

The issue of police use of Tasers has been in the news since Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver International Airport last year, after being jolted five times by Tasers wielded by RCMP officers.

Since then, other cases of questionable Taser use by police have emerged across the country, including here where an older man was stunned with a Taser by a Mountie as he sat in his car. The officer was upset the man drove away after being confronted by the officer. The man’s wife, who was also in the car but was not struck with the Taser, said her husband had a mental condition. A police investigation found use of the Taser was justified but it should not have been done while the man was in the car.

Holmes said all use of Tasers, including the threat of use, must be reported by police.

Despite concerns about the weapon’s safety—it delivers a strong electric shock—it continues to be used here.

awaters [at] kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

RCMP return tasers to Province
Castanet.net by Kelly Hayes & Rachael Kimola - Story: 47307 - Jun 1, 2009

After failing to meet manufacturer's specifications, the Solicitor General has ordered all RCMP detachments in B.C. to turn over their older model tasers.

By order of the province Monday, all M26 models of conducted energy weapons, must be pulled from service until independently tested, repaired and re-tested.

Testing done in May on the M26 models revealed they did not meet manufacturer's specifications 80 per cent of the time.

Kelowna RCMP Constable Steve Holmes, says they have sent all of their M26 models, as well as some of their X26 models back to the province for testing.

“Kelowna has approximately 10 of the M26 tasers, and we have sent all ours back to be tested according to the criteria set down by the province. We did identify three of the X26s that we sent back for testing, the other X26s in our inventory did not fall within the criteria that was asked for, so we have retained those and continue to use them,” says Holmes.

He says the detachment still has nine of the X26 model CEW.

“We are confident of the fact that they have been checked and are within the criteria and are in working order. We will continue to use those as needed. We are certainly not taserless at this moment.”

Holmes says not all members carry tasers and those that do must meet strict testing requirements and yearly recertification.

The use of tasers by Kelowna RCMP was brought under scrutiny two years ago when a senior was tasered by an officer.

John Peters, 68, was tasered twice in November 2007 after getting into a verbal exchange with an officer over a traffic dispute.

Link: RCMP apologize for tasering senior

Blue Divider Line

RCMP deploy Taser in Grindrod stand-off
Vernon Morning Star - Text By Roger Knox - February 17, 2009

Just days after the RCMP adopted a new policy regarding Tasers, North Okanagan officers deployed the weapon in an incident Sunday.

Enderby RCMP were called to the Grindrod area amid reports of a distraught 60-year-old man on his balcony threatening to harm himself with a knife.

“Back-up officers from Sicamous and Vernon were dispatched to the scene, and negotiations were set up with the man,” said RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk.

“Officers negotiated with him for several hours and, after the lengthy negotiations, the man would not give up the knife or turn himself over to the officers.”

Seven officers at the scene had got themselves into a position where they could rush the man and subdue him. In the course of trying to subdue him, a Taser was deployed.

“In this particular case, the man was wearing a heavy jacket and the Taser did not have the desired effect,” said Molendyk. “It had only a limited effect, which sometimes happens.”

The man was subdued, taken into custody and arrested under the Mental Health Act. He is not known to police.

One of the seven officers sustained a minor knife wound to their hand while trying to detain the man.

On Feb. 12, the RCMP announced a new policy that recognizes Tasers can cause death, especially when a suspect is “acutely agitated.”

The new policy restricts the use of Tasers, saying they should only be used to defuse threats, and that Mounties will no longer be allowed to use the devices on suspects who only resist arrest.

“I think that’s a sound principle,” said Insp. Steve McVarnock, officer-in-charge of the North Okanagan RCMP, who said the use of a Taser Sunday was justified.

“You can see the danger involved in that. If you’re going to go after somebody that has a knife in their hand, you can get sliced or killed instantly. The Taser was there and used, it had some impact, obviously not the desired impact.

“I’m still very happy that we have the Taser as an intervention option.”

In a press release, RCMP Commissioner William Elliot said the use of a Taser is only justifiable “if there is a need for a reasonable and necessary response to a threat on an officer or the public.”

RCMP officers will also be subject to Taser training every year instead of the current training every two years.

The use of a Taser must be reported if it’s used, or even if an officer threatens to deploy the device.

Sunday’s incident remains under police investigation.

Blue Divider Line

Kelowna cops back to carrying Tasers
Kelowna Capital News - News - Published: December 16, 2008

Kelowna RCMP’s newer X-26 Tasers, which were pulled from service last week in light of concerns about some of those weapons, are back in the hands of police officers.

Last week, RCMP in Ottawa announced a number of Taser X-26s acquired prior to Jan. 1, 2006 were being pulled from service after a CBC report indicated they had found that several of those weapons generated electrical currents above the manufacturer’s specifications.

RCMP testing of a select number of older Taser X-26s didn’t find any problems, but the organization decided Tuesday to pull the older weapons for service pending testing.

Kelowna RCMP went one step further and pulled all of its X-26 Tasers from service until they could get further clarification from the B.C. RCMP headquarters.

On Monday, Kelowna RCMP said that all 15 of its X-26 Tasers that were manufactured after Jan. 1, 2006 are back in service.

However, three X-26 Tasers that fall within the recall remain on the shelf until local RCMP receive word on testing of the conducted energy weapons.

Kelowna’s nine M-26 Tasers were not affected by the move.

Blue Divider Line

Police pull pre-2006 Tasers after report raises questions
By Cheryl Wierda - Kelowna Capital News - Published: December 11, 2008

Local RCMP have now decided to pull all of its Taser X-26s from service in light of questions about the electrical currents generated by some of those weapons.

On Tuesday, RCMP in Ottawa announced that a number of Taser X-26s acquired prior to Jan. 1, 2006 were being removed from service for further testing after a media outlet found through testing that several generated electrical currents above the manufacturer’s specifications.

Later that day, Kelowna RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon said none of their weapons had been recalled, but that the decision could impact their Taser inventory.

Since Tuesday, McKinnon has decided to pull all Taser X-26s—including those that were manufactured after the beginning of 2006—until they could get further clarification about the issue, said Kerry Solinsky, who is responsible for training local officers in the user of Tasers.

The move affects some 15 conducted energy weapons that were made after the start of 2006, and three from 2005 that fall within the group of the Tasers currently under scrutiny.

Those three will be sent to B.C. RCMP headquarters, known as E-Division, for testing.

A date for that testing is not known.

Also unknown is how long it will take E-Division to issue some clarification on the use of newer X-26 Tasers, said Solinsky, but local RCMP are waiting for details from them before reissuing those weapons.

In the meantime, officers in Kelowna, Westside and Lake Country will continue to use the nine M-26 Tasers they have in stock.

RCMP nationally have already done some testing on some of their M-26 and X-26 Tasers, and said Tuesday that the electrical current remained within the manufacturer’s specifications.

However, they did decide to pull the older X-26s for further testing, saying the move is part of their “ongoing effort to ensure our policies and practices continue to be appropriate and are based on the best available information,” RCMP said in a news release.

Municipal police forces in the province, B.C. Corrections and the sheriffs’ service have also pulled Tasers manufactured prior to the beginning of 2006 for further testing.

cwierda "at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

So far, Kelowna RCMP gets to keep all their Tasers
By Cheryl Wierda - Kelowna Capital News - Published: December 09, 2008

None of Kelowna’s Tasers have been recalled in light of yesterday’s announcement that RCMP and B.C.’s peace officers were pulling Tasers acquired more than three years ago from service, but Supt. Bill McKinnon admits the decision to conduct further testing on the weapons could affect some of their stock.

On Tuesday, RCMP in Ottawa announced that some 24 Tasers model X-26s, that were acquired prior to Jan. 1, 2006, were being removed from service for further testing following the broadcast of testing done by CBC which showed the Tasers generated electrical currents above the manufacturer’s specifications.

That happened with four of the 44 units the CBC tested, the RCMP said.

The RCMP also said it tested 15 M-26 units and 15 X-26 units on Friday, and that the units it tested remained within manufacturer’s specifications.

However, they did decide Tuesday to pull a select group of Tasers, which are also known as conducted energy weapons, from service for testing.

“The steps taken by the RCMP to remove some CEWs from service and to conduct tests is part of our ongoing effort to ensure our policies and practices continue to be appropriate and are based on the best available information,” RCMP said in a news release.

The move, however, has not yet affected Kelowna RCMP’s Tasers.

“They haven’t pulled any of ours,” said Kelowna RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon.

However, he said Tuesday’s decision “will probably affect 15 of our inventory of the Taser model X-26 unit.”

The City of Kelowna has 15 conducted energy weapons, Westside has five, and Lake Country has three.

Following the RCMP announcement yesterday, the provincial government also announced that municipal police forces, B.C. Corrections, and the sheriffs’ service will also pull Tasers manufactured before the beginning of 2006 and conduct safety tests on a selection of the weapons.

All impacted organizations are determining how many devices will require mandatory outside testing.

Blue Divider Line

Are tasers safe?
June 14, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

The question of whether or not tasers are safe is in the news again this morning. This keeps popping up over and over again and invariably, no one acknowledges the time parameter, that is, how long the electrical power was applied to the victim. Was it a momentary application of power, a five-second shot, or did they hold the weapon against him, continuously applying power until he didn't move anymore?

We consider a hammer, scissors or a kitchen knife to be safe, household items but all can be used as lethal weapons. The taser is no different. It can kill. It is designed to interfere with the body's nervous system and can be a convenient tool to momentarily incapacitate someone, however, when applied for a long duration we must expect serious harm may result. When death occurs after tasering, the person wielding the taser must be held accountable as he would be had he used a hammer.

Al Johnson

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The other argument for Tasers
May 30, 2008 - Kelowna Capital News

On May 7, a disabled man attempted to chain himself to a Greyhound bus in 100 Mile House to protest the company not allowing his scooter on board. RCMP surrounded him, with Tasers drawn.

To prevent a tasering and to prove a point, the protester held a large knife to his gut. This action effectively prevented being shocked as a jolt would have sent his body into convulsions and the knife into his stomach.

That’s the last thing RCMP would need, considering the current reputation of the device.

Tasers were brought into RCMP officers’ hands to save lives. But every time the units are fired it is big news.

From the Vancouver airport to a Kamloops hospital, Tasers have been used to shock suspects into submission, sometimes with deadly consequences.

But if Tasers hadn’t been employed, then what would have happened to these suspects?

It is doubtful Robert Dziekanski would have been shot with a handgun at Vancouver’s airport. The same could be said about the 82-year-old man brandishing a knife in his hospital bed.

These men would have had to be subdued in another manner, more likely a good ol’ physical takedown or a baton to the knee. The hoopla surrounding Tasers makes it seem like they are used recklessly. But Mounties are just doing their job. The RCMP’s first order of business is to protect the public.

Bringing suspects down as fast as possible is the ideal solution, and Tasers give responding officers that option.

Officers have been given an instrument to make their jobs easier.

The question is, will the politicians feel the heat from the public enough to holster those Tasers permanently.

Blue Divider Line

Victim takes responsibility by complaining
January 11, 2008 - Kelowna Capital News

To the editor:

This letter is in response to a letter published Jan. 4: Taser Victim Should Take Responsibility.

I find it hard to believe that someone who wasn’t a witness to what happened could be so opinionated and appear so angry. Normally I wouldn’t bother to reply to something like this, but more than one person finds something fishy about this letter. If it was you who wrote it, Mr. Brown, please take a deep breath.

First of all, Mr. Brown, you are naively assuming that what you heard in the press about what the investigation had found, was true. I can assure you that it was whitewash and PR spin. Parts of it were so outrageously false that there was not even a grain of truth to it. I guess if you did the things that this particular constable did you would hardly want to admit it or be honest about it.

We had expected that the police investigation would be somewhat biased. We did not expect that it would be so absolutely falsified. Not that we weren’t warned that this would happen. Apparently in the end, the truth goes out the window and they protect each other. We thought that was a cynical point of view. We were nave at first, too. Boy, were we shocked by what we heard in the media about what the results of the investigation were! That was Friday and it went to all the media across the country.

People who know me were as outraged as I was. We received a number of phone calls encouraging us to not let this go or let them get away with it. Sometimes silence is an admission of quilt. We had no choice but to take action. So we took responsibility. To people I don’t know, my name has been defamed and it will always be connected to the false allegations in that report.

Here are some examples:

The truth: I was tasered two times while in the car. After the second one, I was completely dazed. My wife said that when I was finally let out of the car I swooned and staggered from the effects of the Taser. The version given to the press was totally false.

The truth: I never hit a police officer at any time. I wouldn’t have had a chance to hit him if I would have wanted to. The minute I opened the car door this constable lunged at me like a mad dog, tearing the weather stripping off the car door, the buttons off my shirt in the process. He punched me and bloodied my face. This was all in the first few seconds. I recoiled in horror and tried to shield myself in defence. This was called resisting arrest.

Immediately he said: “I’ll Taser him!” Before he did so, not after, he was warned by my wife of a stroke I had, but he went ahead anyway. To add insult to injury I was charged with assaulting a police officer. I guess this type of cover-up tactic is used a lot.

While I was being viciously attacked, my wife tried to tell the other officer the very things Mr. Solinsky proclaimed in the article, headlined In the Line of Fire, in the Capital News on Dec. 9. That was, that there were more civilized means than violence and the belligerent yelling on the street for dealing with things. For this she was mocked and threatened with being charged with obstruction by the other constable. If only Mr. Solinsky could see what some of his “trainees” are doing on the ground. None of what he advocated in the article was applied in this case.

I suggest Mr. Brown spend a couple of hours in front of the lab on Leon, a one-way street. Observe how constantly people come and go, dropping off and picking up people at this spot. Seniors’ buses drop off and pick up seniors for lab tests there all the time. Canada Post and couriers stop and go there as well.

There is no loading zone. No one has ever been stopped for double parking or even heard of someone who has (we have checked) for obvious reasons. Why was I? Did this constable have a childish vendetta? I know why and can easily prove it.

I had stopped, not parked, to pick up my wife who came out immediately. Suddenly, I am belligerently told that I was double parking and had my flashers on. I have a delivery license and was told by parking personnel to always have the flashers on so we would not get a ticket.

I was never told to move. This constable was not concerned about blocking traffic!

I did not argue with him.

The last thing I wanted was an argument with this guy. I said to him that I was picking up my wife and that she was on her way out. He repeated what he had said and immediately threatened that he would give me a ticket even when he saw her coming to the car.

He had not begun to write a ticket or even had the ticket book in his hand. When it was pointed out politely and tactfully by my wife, who was in the car by that time, that people were being picked up and dropped off here all the time, the officer in question pointed at her and yelled out. “Madam I am going to arrest you for obstructing a peace officer!” (His exact words.)

It sounds unbelievable but it’s true. One would think we were in Nazi Germany and were dealing with the Gestapo. That’s when I lost it and drove off. I later apologized for that.

Of course one reason he assaulted me a few minutes later was because I had left him standing in the middle of the street.

Mr. Brown’s comments about me being impaired and how that affects how I act to authority are way out of line.

They are an insult to anyone with a handicap as well as to seniors in general. For example, many older people have hearing problems to some extent. The other incident with this constable, in May, was triggered by me not having heard something.

It was followed by the rude, obnoxious and cocky behaviour of this cop and his partner. That’s what got it off the rails. There is a very credible witness to this. In that incident I finally got fed up because in the end I could not even make out what he was saying. All he would have had to do was use a professional, civilized approach.

Where we came from RCMP officers did not act like that and I have always respected them. From whatever armchair Mr. Brown is sitting, he is not a judge of how or to what extent someone’s handicap affects them in situations in spite of what was said in the press. What happened has left us changed, with a lot of questions.

One day we experienced something that we would have thought couldn’t happen in Canada. How could a constable be brazen enough to do what he did, unless he has gotten away with a lot of stuff before? We were told he had a history of incidents yet he was allowed to carry a Taser.

Why is this not properly addressed? Why does Kelowna have the highest rate of incidents per officer in B.C.? It only takes a few to give the police force a bad name.

How is it that officers can hide so much under the magic word, “combative?” That is, unless there is a video to prove it, or it is challenged in court. Why is there no mandatory drug testing for constables? Of course the question everyone asks is why do they investigate themselves?

Believe me I would be the last person on earth to be put on display. I don’t enjoy it one single bit. However, as so many people have said, this kind of out-of-control action, with such an absolute abuse of power and authority, has got to come to a halt otherwise more innocent people can be hurt.

When you try to protect yourself from getting hurt from an aggressive, vicious attack, you are now labelled as “combative.” Everyone has the right to defend themselves, so far, in this country.

There is never a need or reason to place someone’s life at risk over any road, or parking incident whether it is a minor, or even a major one. It just is not worth it. The RCMP are being paid, out of our tax dollars, to protect us, and not to terrorize us. We should not have to be afraid of them.

If I had run away from this and simply “let it go” what happens to others in the future, especially seniors? How many people who don’t have a voice have been assaulted and falsely charged? Evil continues when good people do nothing about it. Doing something about it is “taking responsibility.”

John Peters, Kelowna

This article above was found in the Kelowna Capital News

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