Mounties say they will curb Taser use

Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:31pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said on Wednesday it would curb the use of Taser stun guns after the federal force's watchdog issued a stinging report accusing officers of zapping suspects unnecessarily.

The watchdog recommended that Mounties use Tasers -- made by U.S.-based Taser International Inc. -- only when a suspect threatened the safety of officers or the public.

The Taser, also known as a conducted energy weapon (CEW), incapacitates people through a 50,000-volt jolt of electricity. Police say they are needed as a nonlethal alternative to firearms.

"We will act on the recommendations as quickly as possible to provide clearer direction to our members, to further restrict situations in which the CEW can be deployed, and to develop and implement measures to enhance accountability," the RCMP said in a statement.

The watchdog's report, which said police were using the stun guns too often, was prompted by the 2007 case of a Polish immigrant who died shortly after Mounties shot him with Tasers at Vancouver airport and then subdued him.

"Our recommendations are designed to hold the RCMP publicly accountable for its use of a weapon that has caused considerable apprehension among Canadians, and to control usage creep," said Paul Kennedy, who chairs the commission on public complaints against the RCMP.

"This is a time for a more conservative use of this weapon," he said at a news conference, saying the Taser was now being used in "highly inappropriate" circumstances.

He did not call for a moratorium on Taser use, saying the weapon could be useful in some circumstances.   Continued...

<p>A TASER C2, spent cartridges and the probes that are attached to the insulated conductive wires fired from the stun device lie on the dining room table in Phoenix, Arizona, May 22, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Topping</p>