Canada

Subdued with Taser, pepper spray and baton, B.C. man dies in hospital

A 36-year-old British Columbia man has died in hospital more than four days after being subdued by RCMP officers with a Taser and almost every other available weapon short of firearms.

Arrested Monday, Robert Knipstrom died early Saturday

A36-year-old British Columbia man has died in hospital more than four days after being subdued by RCMP officerswith a Taser and nearly every other available weaponexcept firearms.

The case is being investigated as a death in police custody,focusing partly on whether the use of force was in line with RCMP policy and criminal law, the RCMP announced Saturday.

RCMP Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick tells reporters that "soft hand tactics were used, hard hand tactics were used, as well as pepper spray, an Asp baton and a conducted energy weapon, a Taser" in the arrest of Robert Knipstrom. ((CBC))

Robert Knipstrom of Chilliwack, who died early Saturday in Surrey Memorial Hospital, was arrested Monday at a Chilliwack equipment rental store after an epic struggle with Mounties.

The investigation so far indicates that "soft hand tactics were used, hard hand tactics were used, as well as pepper spray, an Asp baton and a conducted energy weapon, a Taser," Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick told reporters.

An Asp is a collapsible metal baton. Police said after the arrest that Knipstrom was agitated and acting erratically when he arrived at the store and suffered head injuries while being subdued.

A woman wipes away a tear as she is overcome with emotion during a rally in Vancouver Saturday. ((Richard Lam/Canadian Press))

Adebate about theuseof Tasers — promoted as a non-lethal alternative to guns — has expanded in Canada after a series of incidents, notably the deaths of a Polish immigrant at Vancouver airport in October and an inmateat aDartmouth, N.S., jailin November.

Anti-Taser protesters rallied in Toronto and Vancouver Saturday, carryingsignsbearingsuch slogans as "Tasers are not Toys."

In the latest case, it remains unclear whether the high-voltage Taser projectiles actually hit Knipstrom and whether the weapon played a role in his death, Fitzpatrick said.

Police hope an autopsy will establish the cause of death and perhaps provide clues to Knipstrom's behaviour before his arrest, he said.

The RCMPdistributed a message from the Knipstrom family that seemed to suggest his relatives do not see him as blameless in the incident.

"The family is shocked and saddened by the recent incident between our son and the Chilliwack RCMP," the message said.

"We apologize on behalf of our son to staff at the Eze Rent-It Centre for any distress that was caused because of this incident.

"We would appreciate the media respect our continued privacy at this time as we grieve the loss of our son."

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