N.B. police change stun-gun policy
New Brunswick police forces are adopting new guidelines on using stun guns that call for officers not to aim for the chest.
The change comes after Taser International last week warned against shots to a person's chest.
The stun gun manufacturer said aiming for the legs, for example, would avoid controversy over whether the stun guns can affect the heart.
Taser International says there's a low risk of cardiac arrest from a chest shot, but police officers may not know if a suspect has an underlying heart problem or has been taking drugs.
The RCMP has already changed its policy in New Brunswick to reflect these new guidelines issued by Taser International, Sgt. Claude Tremblay said.
"What we're going to do now is in addition to what we used to do," Tremblay said.
"There are regulations in training stating that we were to avoid sensitive areas such as the throat, the neck and the groin area. What they're suggesting now is that we're going to add on the location in the chest area."
Fredericton police have also adopted the new stun gun procedures to avoid chest shots.
2007 coroner's inquest
In 2007, a coroner's inquest was held into the death of Kevin Geldart, who died of cardiac arrest in a Moncton bar following a violent confrontation with RCMP officers.
Geldart died on May 5, 2005, after RCMP officers hit him in the neck with a stun gun as they tried to take him into custody. Hours earlier, he had walked away from the psychiatric unit at Moncton Hospital where he was being treated for bipolar disorder.
But a coroner's inquest found that underlying medical conditions, not the weapon, caused his death.
Even with these new rules on stun guns, Tremblay said police officers have to balance the risks in using the device.
"It's the safety for everyone: safety for the public, the individual and the police," he said.
"If the person's extremely violent something has to be done to stop the person from hurting the members or him getting hurt even further."