Montreal family wants public inquiry after coroner says Taser use avoidable

A Quebec coroner's report into the death of a Montreal man who was struck repeatedly with a Taser stun gun is highly critical of how police used the device and concludes it may have contributed to his death.

Resport criticizes police Taser use in Quilem Registre's death

The family of a Montreal man who died after police zapped him several times with a Taser stun gun say a coroner's report still leaves questions about his death unanswered.

Quilem Registre, 39, died last year, four days after Montreal police subdued him using a Taser, a weapon intended to incapacitate people with an electric shock.

A Quebec coroner's report into his death suggests that had the officers been better trained, they could have brought the agitated Registre under control without using a Taser.

Registre's family held a news conference on Friday to demand that an independent public inquiry be held.

"All we feel is that if we have our questions answered, we have the policemen's version, we will feel a little bit better," Registre's cousin Evans Sanelus said during the news conference at the offices of the Black Coalition of Quebec.

"It still won't bring Quilem back, but if we have justice, then maybe we will feel a little bit better."

Family members said they want to hear from the police officers involved.

"If they would have taken the time to use better judgment, maybe the situation would have been different," Sanelus said.

"We're asking for a public inquiry to re-evaluate the entire situation."

'Taser is not an inoffensive weapon': coroner

The coroner's report is highly critical of how police used the device, and concludes it might have contributed to his death.

In her report released Friday, coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier also calls on police to recognize that the stun gun, also referred to as a conductive energy device, is a weapon that can cause serious injuries.

"We have to teach the police officers that the Taser is not an inoffensive weapon," she wrote in her report. "I think that until we have serious studies on intoxicated or sick persons that are conclusive, the Taser should also be considered as a weapon that can lead to death." 

Registre was arrested in October 2007 by two police officers and shocked with a Taser after he ran a stop sign in Montreal and smashed into a parked car.

Rudel-Tessier's report describes Registre as being highly agitated on the night of his arrest, with cocaine and alcohol in his bloodstream.

When Registre started screaming and kicking at the officers, one of them took a Taser from his belt and fired.

The first shock knocked Registre down, but he began to get up again as soon as the current was cut. In under a minute, police shocked him another five times, which Rudel-Tessier's report says was too much.

Registre was taken to the hospital and his internal organs began to fail. He died four days later.

Police ignored own regulations: report

Rudel-Tessier wouldn't say the use of the Taser killed Registre, only that the numerous firings of the device might have played a role in his death "in a context of agitation and intoxication" from the car crash and from the cocaine.

Police were right to arrest Registre after the collision and traffic violation, the coroner said, but her report criticizes the two police officers for ignoring their own force's regulations.

The stun gun should have been in the car, not on the officer's belt, she said.

Her report also notes that repeated shocks can cause serious harm to the human body, and the officers shouldn't have missed the opportunity to subdue Registre after the first shock.

Montreal police wouldn't comment, saying they are reviewing the report.

Registre's family will likely sue the Montreal police now that the coroner's report is finished, Claude Archambault, the family's lawyer, told CBC News.

Montreal's police department has said in previous instances that Tasers are used when a suspect is out of control, violent, or so numb to pain that pepper spray has no effect.

With files from the Canadian Press