Canadian police urged to restrict Taser use

Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:42pm EST
 
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada's national police force was urged on Wednesday to reduce its use of Taser electric stun guns and get more information on the weapon's dangers and benefits.

A report, prepared in the wake of the death of a Polish immigrant at Vancouver's airport, chastised the Royal Canadian Mounted Police but stopped short of calling for a moratorium on the weapon's use.

The Mounties have increasingly used Tasers, or so-called conducted energy weapons (CEW), to subdue people, but lack the empirical data on whether they should be used or not, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP said.

"Current RCMP policy for CEW use has evolved without adequate, if any, reference to the realities of the weapon's use by the RCMP," commission Chairman Paul Kennedy said in an report for Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day.

Day, who had ordered the review in November, said he wanted to examine the interim report before commenting. The commission's final report is expected early next summer.

The Taser stun gun incapacitates people through a 50,000-volt jolt of electricity. Police say they are a needed non-lethal alternative to firearms.

Controversy over the use of Tasers erupted after the October death of Robert Dziekanski, following a struggle with police at Vancouver International Airport. A video of Dziekanski howling in agony received international publicity.

He died on the ground while being physically restrained by police officers.   Continued...

 
<p>A demonstrator attends a rally in memory of Robert Dziekanski in Vancouver, British Columbia, November 24, 2007. Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, died on October 14th after he was hit by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Taser stun gun at Vancouver International Airport. Canada's national police force was urged on Wednesday to reduce its use of Taser electric stun guns and get more information on the weapon's dangers and benefits. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford</p>