Mounties who used Taser on boy face no charges
RCMP officers in Prince George, B.C., will not be disciplined or charged after the use of a stun gun, commonly known as a Taser, on an 11-year-old boy at a group home earlier this year.
On Thursday, West Vancouver Chief Const. Peter Lepine told reporters that his department's investigation found that the RCMP officer's use of force was lawful.
"We found their actions did not violate the Criminal Code of Canada and we are not recommending any charges," he said at a press conference in Prince George.
An open letter posted soon after on the West Vancouver Police Department's web site offered little more information.
"The scope of our investigation was whether the actions taken by the police officers involved in the file exceeded the powers granted to police under the Criminal Code of Canada," Lepine said the letter.
"My team spent much of this spring and summer interviewing witnesses, collecting and analyzing evidence and consulting with those in the legal profession as well as subject matter experts in topics like police use of force."
The RCMP said at the time of the incident on April 7 that the boy was shocked after he allegedly stabbed a 37-year-old caregiver at his government-run group home.
When Prince George RCMP officers arrived at the scene, they found the boy had barricaded himself in a nearby home. When he came out, an officer stunned him with a conductive energy weapon.
The boy's mother said her son has a heart condition — as well as bipolar disorder — and she believes the stun gun, intended to incapacitate people with an electric shock, could have killed him.
The RCMP officers involved had been assigned administrative duties since the incident.
Officials have now said those officers will be returned to regular duties.
More probes ongoing
The RCMP are releasing few details of what happened.
Officials said they can't give more information because several other investigations — including one by B.C.'s youth and child advocate and another by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP — are underway into the incident.
Mary Turpel-Lafond, the B.C. Representative for Children and Youth, issued a statement following the announcement in Prince George, in which she expressed ongoing concern with the role of police officers in and around group homes.
"In reviewing this particular Prince George incident, I became concerned about a wider issue of police being called by group home staff to attend and act as a disciplinarian of sorts," Turpel-Lafond said.
Some group homes in the province appear to be repeatedly using police to help manage or discipline children with complex needs and behaviours, she said.
Her office will continue to work with the Ministry of Children and Family Development in ensuring that the needs of the boy involved in this incident are being met.
Turpel-Lafond has given no date for the release of her special report into group homes and the Prince George Taser incident.
She noted that legislation allows her office's investigations to proceed only when police investigations and criminal justice matters have concluded.
With files from the CBC's Betsy Trumpener and The Canadian Press