Weeping mother urges Taser moratorium in Canada

Thu May 15, 2008 5:30pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A mother whose son's death at a Canadian airport ignited debate over the safety of Taser stun guns wept on Thursday as she called for a moratorium on their use.

"I know my son would not (have) died if he was not Tasered," Zofia Ciscowski told a public inquiry launched into the death of her son, Robert Dziekanski, during a confrontation with police after he arrived at Vancouver's airport as a new immigrant from Poland.

Ciscowski's lawyer said too many questions have been raised about the weapon's safety and the adequacy of police training on using the Taser to allow it to be used until Canada completes an independent safety investigation.

"It's time to put the genie back in the bottle and to start from square one," lawyer Walter Kosteckyj told the public inquiry, which is looking at both the airport incident and the broader issue of the weapon's use.

The stun guns made by TASER International Inc. have become popular with police internationally as a means of subduing people. They use a 50,000-volt jolt of electricity that causes muscle spasms and incapacitates a person.

The stun gun's supporters say it is much safer for both the person being arrested and police officers than other weapons such as firearms and batons.

Critics have accused Arizona-based Taser of pushing the product into the market without adequate independent testing of health risks such as heart failure.

Taser announced on Thursday the release of three new studies in the United States that it said showed its devices had no effect on human hearts or pacemakers.   Continued...