Manitoba

Inquest called after death of man Tasered by Winnipeg police during 2019 arrest

Viengxay Chommany was pronounced dead on Aug. 4, 2019. The 42-year-old's death followed an early-morning police chase that ended when he was subdued with a stun gun and became unresponsive.

Viengxay Chommany became unresponsive after police used a stun gun while arresting him in August 2019

Manitoba's police watchdog said earlier this month it would not recommend charges against the officers involved in the 2019 death. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

An inquest will examine the circumstances around the death of a man who died after police subdued him with a stun gun during a 2019 arrest, Manitoba's chief medical examiner's office said on Friday.

Viengxay Chommany, 42, was pronounced dead at St. Boniface Hospital on Aug. 4, 2019. His death followed a police chase in the early hours of Aug. 2, the medical examiner's office said in a news release.

Officers had responded to a domestic violence call on Consol Avenue in Winnipeg's northeast Braeside neighbourhood, the release said. When they got there, they saw an assault happening inside a house and forced their way in.

Chommany ran, and officers chased him down the next block. At some point during Chommany's arrest, police used a conducted energy weapon — commonly known as a stun gun, or by the brand name Taser — to restrain him, the release said.

After that, Chommany became unresponsive and was taken to hospital, where he died.

The medical examiner's office was notified and an autopsy was authorized, the release said. Chommany's manner of death was undetermined, though the cause of death was deemed "complications of anoxic brain injury, probable arrhythmia, excited delirium, and physiologic stress of physical struggle and restraint," the release said.

The inquest into the death was called under Manitoba's Fatality Inquiries Act to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident and whether anything can be done to prevent similar deaths in the future.

Under the Fatality Inquiries Act, there are several reasons why an inquest would be required, the release said. Those include Chief Medical Examiner Dr. John K. Younes having reasonable grounds to believe a person died as a result of police force, and a deceased person having been in police custody when they died.

The inquest's date, time and location will be determined by the chief judge of the Manitoba provincial court and announced later, the release said.

Earlier this month, Manitoba's police watchdog announced it had closed its investigation into the death and would not pursue charges against the officers involved. 

Though the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba's civilian director has the power to lay charges himself, the watchdog said prosecutors told its investigators they would not authorize any because there was reasonable doubt that there had been excessive use of force in Chommany's death.

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