New Brunswick

Controversy over RCMP use of Taser on Sussex woman

Witnesses have given conflicting opinions about the RCMP's need to use a stun gun against a woman who allegedly held a knife and chased her estranged husband into a Sussex barber shop on Tuesday.

Witnesses have given conflicting opinions about the RCMP's need to use a stun gun against a woman who allegedly held a knife and chased her estranged husband into a Sussex barber shop on Tuesday.

Julie Beers, a local barber, said Stephanie Doucette was threatening the life of a man this week during a disturbing event in a southern New Brunswick shopping mall.

Beers said she was dealing with customers on Tuesday when a man jumped through the door of her shop attempting to pull the sliding glass door closed.

"He said his wife was going to kill him," she said. 

Beers said the woman was incredibly strong, forcing the door partially open and breaking the glass.

"I had a shop full of people. If she had got in there, who was going to subdue her? Was it going to have to be me? Was I going to get cut? I think the RCMP did what they had to do," Beers said.

Witnesses described Doucette's weapon as resembling a kitchen paring knife.

During the dispute, a witness said, a woman grabbed a small child and hid in a bathroom.

RCMP Sgt. Steve Gordo said three police officers had their sidearms drawn and spent at least 12 minutes trying to calm the woman down before they resorted to the Taser.

"They were issuing commands to this particular lady, trying to draw her attention away from the male potential victim in the barber shop, that just wasn't working," he said.

Soon after a nearby onlooker saw Doucette drop to the ground after being incapacitated by the Taser's electric shock.

Dave MacFarlane said he watched the fracas from farther down the mall. And unlike Beers, he believes there was no need to use the controversial stun gun.

"I mean are they not trained in hand-to-hand combat? There's four of them there, they couldn't walk up and take that knife away from the lady? That's my opinion," he said.

MacFarlane isn't the only person raising questions about the necessity of subduing the woman with a stun gun.

Kelly Hourihan, who was working at a nearby lottery booth, said she had her arm around the woman and had calmed her down before police arrived.

"She made eye contact with me. She teared up. That's when she let go the grip on the knife and started toward my hand. She started to tremble, her lip was quivering. It was over," Hourihan said.

"I felt that in 30 more seconds she would have been a puddle crying on the floor. But unfortunately when the police came around the corner, it scared me. It had to have scared her."

After being jolted by the Taser, Doucette was taken to the Sussex Regional Hospital and released into police custody. She appeared in Hampton provincial court on Wednesday and is facing several charges including assault with a weapon and uttering death threats.

Doucette has been sent away for a 30-day psychological assessment.