In 2007, Canadian police officers faced harsh criticism after tasering a Polish immigrant to death. The investigation that followed this tragedy concluded that Canada must establish province-wide regulations on stun guns. But the government has not yet put any standards in place -- an oversight that resulted in yet another taser-caused fatality last week.
Alberta's Serious Incident Response Team is now investigating the officers' actions. But they're too late to save the 27-year-old who died after suffering medical distress and loss of consciousness from the shock of being tasered.
A report shows that Canadian officers draw their tasers over a thousand times a year, and Amnesty International found that tasers are often used on those who are not a serious threat - often multiple times.
It's time for all provinces to start taking taser safety seriously. Tell them to adopt tighter restrictions on stun gun use.
We, the undersigned, join Amnesty International in its call for tighter restrictions on taser use by all police.
Canada should be particularly aware of the dangers of taser use after the highly publicized case of the Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, whom Royal Canadian Mounted Policed tasered five times, including several times after he’d been pinned and handcuffed and posed no threat at all. Not only did RCMP use deadly and excessive force that was found to be the cause of Dziekanski’s death, it lied about and tried to cover-up the incident that had been filmed by a witness.
Dziekanski’s death in 2007 was the 16th since 2003 and led to calls for suspension of taser use in Canada until an investigation was conducted. In the meantime another man was tasered to death in Montreal.
The Dziekanski investigation and Amnesty International’s investigation of US taser deaths conclude that tasers are deadly weapons that police often use improperly and unnecessarily. Additionally the Dziekanski investigation, led by commissioner Thomas Braidwood, concluded that there should be province-wide standards for taser use.
There is no excuse for any more taser-related deaths, and we request that Canada train its officers not to tase first and ask questions later.
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