Independent reviewer named to report on RCMP Taser use
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day on Tuesday asked the chair of the RCMP complaints committee to head up a review of the force's Taser policy.
Paul Kennedy is "to review all RCMP protocols on the use of [stun guns] and to assess the compliance of the RCMP with these protocols" in preparing an initial report by Dec. 12, Day announced in a statement late Tuesday.
"The government of Canada takes this matter seriously and recognizes that Canadians must continue to have full confidence in their national police force."
The request comesfive weeks afterPolish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died atthe Vancouver airport after being stunned by a Taser.
Kennedy's review will include only the RCMP and not other police forces that use the 50,000-volt electronic weapons.
The review will examine RCMP guidelines that govern the use of Tasers.
"And I will look at what training is involved, how often is it used, is it used in the appropriate circumstances and are those policies appropriate," said Kennedy.
Annual report called for changes
In his last annual report, filed in June 2007, Kennedy recommended changes to the way the RCMP use Tasers. The case study was a woman who was handcuffed and then stunned with a Taser for refusing to go into a holding cell.
Kennedy said the RCMP policy lacks clarity over what constitutes resistant behaviour, and whether police turn to the Taser too quickly.
"I have residual concerns as to where it fits as a device, as I pointed out earlier, relative to all the other tools that are available to the police," said Kennedy.
The federal government also plans to release a report Thursday or Friday on events leading up to Dziekanski's death. Day said the report by the Canada Border Services Agency will include recommendations on how to better deal with immigration incidents.
There has been intense speculation over what role border officials may have played. The government has not yet explained why Dziekanski remained in a secure area at the airport for 10 hours on Oct. 14 — a Sunday — before becoming so agitated that police were called.
Taser shock administered within 30 seconds
RCMP officers responding to a call about an aggressive man destroying property zapped Dziekanski with a stun gun at least twice before pinning him to the floor. He stopped breathing soon after and was pronounced dead.
The videotape shows the first Taser shock was administered within 30 seconds of the officers' arrival, with no sign of the attack on police that the RCMP spoke of before the recording went public.
The resulting international uproar spurred the B.C. government to announce an inquiry into the incident, which was caught on camera by a civilian witness.
Day said the RCMP probe into the case could result in criminal charges. He also highlighted the fact he ordered a review of Taser-use policy a few days after Dziekanski's death.
Asked Tuesday if he would apologize for the border agency's handling of Dziekanski's arrival, Day said he's sorry.
"I'm sorry it happened. I'm sure all Canadians are sorry it happened … This is a very serious incident that took place."