RCMP didn't research Tasers enough, report says
The RCMP didn't do enough independent research into Tasers and relied too heavily on data supplied by their American manufacturer before authorizing their use, a new report says.
"The information provided to the (RCMP) was limited in scope, as much of it came from the manufacturer," explains the independent report, which was released publicly on Friday.
The report goes on to conclude that a review "of the decision making process" authorizing the use of the stun guns "revealed several problems."
"While manufacturers understandably need to provide (and are entitled to do so) information to potential customers or clients as part of their marketing and promotion efforts, the policing community needs to be assiduous in assessing the manufacturer's information," the report states.
More than 70 Canadian police forces currently use Tasers, which were approved in December 2001 by Giuliano Zaccardelli, who was commissioner of the Mounties at the time.
Since then, the stun guns have been indirectly linked to about 20 deaths, and Zaccardelli has publicly stated that Tasers should be decommissioned.
The report goes on to state that excessive force by officers has lead to an erosion of trust in police forces across the country.
"The use of force by police, particularly when it has resulted in death, has posed serious issues for public confidence and trust in policing."
William Elliot, the head of RCMP, called for the report following the death of Robert Dziekanski.
Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, died in October of last year after he was shot by a Taser by police at Vancouver's airport. The incident was caught on camera and sparked international outrage.
Taser International maintains that the company has completed thorough research on their products, and that they say are safe.
The report also urges new national standards for stun gun use and suggests that Public Safety Canada and the Canadian Firearms Centre take an active role in their development.
The report's authors also conclude that had the RCMP done more independent research, they may have delayed, or at least limited, the use of Tasers.
The review also says "there was no consultation with national medical and mental-health associations" like the Canadian Medical Association, who may have provided important information to the Mounties.
While the report notes the RCMP used data from other Canadian police forces, it states this information lacked "the rigorous standards" of a proper peer-review.
"Some reports not only overlooked some important sources of information, but also contained some factual errors," it states.
"The problems ... have not only negatively influenced the RCMP's decision making process but also that of many other police organizations."
The report's authors also dismiss the term of "exited delirium," which is often used by police to explain the behavior of aggressive or combative suspects, as "folk knowledge."
The report states that the term, which was used to describe Dziekanski in the moments before he was Tasered, should not be included in any RCMP manuals without a full review.
The review, which was completed earlier this year, became public after the Toronto Star obtained a copy through an Access to Information request.
Its release comes as a Red Deer, Alta., family launches a $1.7 million wrongful death lawsuit against the RCMP.
The family is suing the Mounties over an incident in August 2006, when 28-year-old Jason Doan died after RCMP officers shot him with a Taser.
With files from The Canadian Press