Man who was Tasered and hit with baton dies
A man who was hit with a baton, pepper-sprayed, and Tasered by police in Chilliwack, B.C., has died in hospital.
Thirty-six-year-old Robert Knipstrom died Saturday morning, four days after he was confronted by police at a rental store. During the confrontation, police brought out batons, pepper-spray, and an electric stun gun known as a Taser before subduing Knipstrom.
Police say the case is considered an "in-custody" death and an RCMP investigation has been launched along with the B.C. Coroner's Office.
RCMP Const. Lea-Anne Dunlop told CTV Newsnet on Saturday that "We're actually not sure if the Taser did make contact with the individual, but all of the levels of force and intervention options that were utilized are subject to the investigation at this time."
Witnesses told CTV British Columbia last week Knipstrom had been driving erratically before entering a Chilliwack business. He appeared to be extremely agitated and became even more so when he learned that police had been called.
When police arrived on the scene, "they encountered a very aggressive individual and the members, as we are informed at this point and time, were engaged in a very difficult struggle to control this person who was combative and aggressive," RCMP Assistant Commissioner Peter German told reporters shortly after Knipstrom was taken to hospital.
When none of the police tactics worked, the two Mounties who initially responded had to call for back-up.
According to police, Knipstrom was initially conscious and talking after he was taken into custody. But his condition worsened after he was taken to hospital.
His friends say he was liked by everyone who knew him. Cheryl Funk says she wants a full investigation to determine what led to Knipstrom's death.
"I don't know what the fight (with police) was like, but I'm against Tasers," Funk told CTV News British Columbia.
The RCMP have said it is not clear what led to the man's medical condition following his run-in with police.
On Saturday, the Mounties released a statement from Knipstrom's father Robert Thurston Knipstrom.
He asked for privacy, but the statement also said: "The family is shocked and saddened by the recent incident between our son and the Chilliwack RCMP. We apologize on behalf of our son to the staff of the EZ Rentals for any distress that was caused because of this incident."
The Mounties have been in the middle of a public firestorm since mid-October when a Polish immigrant died after another Taser incident with police.
A video recording of the incident released earlier this month showed that RCMP officers used a Taser on Robert Dziekanski within 30 seconds of confronting him at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14.
There are currently no less than seven provincial and federal public investigations under way regarding Taser use in Canada.