B.C. boy youngest Taser recipient: professor
Policing in Prince George has been on the radar of civil rights groups
The West Vancouver Police Department is investigating the circumstances that led to an 11-year-old boy being stunned with a Taser by a Mountie in Prince George, B.C.
RCMP in Prince George said Friday that the device was used on the boy after a 37-year-old man was allegedly stabbed by the boy on Thursday evening.
Police found the boy inside a group home next door and, when the boy came out, he was shocked with a stun gun.
The RCMP wouldn't release any new information on the boy's case on Saturday, and said the incident is under investigation by the West Vancouver Police Department, whose officers will be flying to Prince George on Monday.
David MacAlister, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University's School of Criminology, studies police policies on the use of Tasers, or conductive energy weapons.
"It doesn't seem right," MacAlister said. "Canadian law doesn't even hold individuals who are under the age of 12 criminally responsible."
MacAlister said that it's difficult to know just yet why police used the Taser but, to his knowledge, the boy is now the youngest person ever to be shocked with a stun gun by RCMP in Canada, which is a medical concern.
"Commissioner [Thomas] Braidwood pointed out in his report that there is concern about police using the Taser on individuals who are particularly thin built," he said.
"The concern there is that there is a thin layer between an individual's skin and their heart, so that would obviously be of concern when we are dealing with a young person."
Police say the boy was taken to hospital for assessment after being shocked, and that the man is recovering from his stab wounds. The boy remains in police custody.
Prince George under scrutiny
On Saturday, David Eby, the executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, said his group had concerns about the police action.
"What situaton would justify tasering an 11-year-old? There would have to be pretty remarkable circumstances and there would have to be a serious threat to the life of the officer or the life of the public involved."
Eby said his group would like to know more about this incident and more about other use-of-force incidents in the northern B.C. town. Policing in Prince George has already caught the attention of civil rights advocates, he said.
In February, the association released a report examining the RCMP in northern B.C. that painted a troubling picture of Prince George.
"Prince George has been on our radar for a long time," Eby said.
"This is the city where Clayton Alvin Willey died. He was hog-tied. He was tasered repeatedly. He had fractured ribs and we found through that case there had been a number of other high-profile taserings."
With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway, in Vancouver