Deaths in Custody

Heard this on the radio today and thought about all the posts on here about RCMP investigating themselves:

VANCOUVER – B.C. is in the “dark ages” when it comes to how police shootings and other in-custody deaths are investigated, Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin told a public forum Monday.

From 1996 to 1998, Marin served as director of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, an independent civilian agency that investigates all deaths and serious injuries caused by police.

Speaking at a forum on in-custody deaths sponsored by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Marin said it’s time B.C. adopted a similar system.

Police should never, under any circumstances, be investigating themselves where there’s a serious injury or death – full stop,” said Marin. “I think that your system of investigating the police is set in the dark ages.”

The current system, he said, gives the public a perception of bias and doubt that the police will investigate themselves fairly.

In some cases, police demonstrate real bias, said Marin, failing to properly investigate witnesses or secure evidence.

The SIU was created in 1990 after a series of controversial police shootings in Ontario.

“This is the kind of debate we were having in the '80s,” Marin said.

By law, the director of the SIU must not be a police officer and, while investigators can be former police officers, they are banned from investigating the force they used to work for.

Police in B.C. have been reluctant to give up the right to investigate themselves.

But Marin said officers would actually benefit from independent investigations because they would restore public confidence.

“You would see police officers being able to walk with their head held high, knowing they’d been cleared,” he said.

In his current position as ombudsman, Marin recently launched an investigation of the SIU following complaints that it has a pro-police bias.

“The system in Ontario is far from perfect,” said Marin. “But it’s light years ahead of ** system.”

Solicitor-General John Les, who is responsible for policing in B.C., called Marin’s comments “juvenile” and “inappropriate.”

“I have no reason to believe that the system today is that badly broken,” he said. “When it comes to the major investigations, I think they’re being handled as well as they can be.”**


RCMP killed another dude?

Don’t tase me, bro.

Will the RCMP investigate the RCMP in this situation as well?  When is that going to change?

That article hardly captures the havoc caused and how out of control this person was. Read up/watch about this incident.

[quote]The man had pushed over his luggage cart and was screaming and pounding on windows.

He had grabbed a computer off a desk, thrown it to the ground and was throwing chairs.

“They couldn’t make any rhyme or reason as to what he was doing,” Sgt. Lemaitre said.

Three Mounties working at the airport were called and tried to calm the man down.

“He kept yelling in what appeared to be a language from eastern Europe,” he said.

Sgt. Lemaitre said the man shouted “policia, policia” – Spanish for police – when officers arrived so it’s believed he recognized them as police officers.

“Unfortunately he didn’t calm down. He kept being very aggravated. He grabbed an object off the desk, we’re not sure what it was, and he continued to yell.”

The officers deployed the Taser.

“He fell to the ground immediately although he continued to be very physically combative,” said Lemaitre.

It then took three Mounties to hold the man down as handcuffs were put on him.

“He continued to fight after that, still kicking and flailing and then lapsed into unconsciousness,” he said.[/quote]

Although it’s tragic that this person is now deceased, what I ended up thinking was “Well if they didn’t use the TASER, what would they have done?”

If they went after him with batons, we’d no doubt be watching video taken by some tourist of police officers beating this man into submission. Pepper spray? It hardly ever works in situations like this and ends up contaminating every person in the area. Firearm? Same end result. As someone who could one day be facing a decision on what tool to use, I wonder if one day they will take the TASER away from us or if people will come to understand why some subjects die after being subjected to a TASER.

So you think that an officer’s choice of weapon should be decided by whether or not tourists nearby have cameras?

But anyway, all of that isn’t the point here.  The point is that this will be RCMP investigating RCMP actions, won’t it?  You’re ok with that?

One would think that several RCMP officers would be well enough versed in hand-to-hand fighting techniques that they could easily overpower one man and cuff him without beating him with batons or killing him with a taser.  Don’t the police practise unarmed fighting techniques?

Well, we weren’t there, so we don’t know the decision process.  Hopefully the decision wasn’t influenced by cameras and tourists :wink:

No problem with the taser, often it’s used when the only other option is pulling out a pistol and shooting someone.  Yes, it hurts to be tasered, and can be lethal.  But if the decision is between taser or pistol, then it’s a good thing the taser exists.

My problem is that the decision will be evaluated by other RCMP officers, and the incident itself will be investigated by other RCMP officers.  Read the first post in this thread for why this is a bad idea.

It’s the old “quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” question.

I noticed that in CrazyMike’s post, he always wrote “TASER” in all caps.

A quick wikipedia check shows that it’s an acronym for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”.

Anyhow, Mike, I actually don’t have a huge issue with TASERs (although it seems that there are dozens of stories popping up every day from the States about their over-use and abuse), but it seems that they are becoming increasingly commonly used as a first-resort tactic.

Has any sort of semi-official cause of death been released yet? Listening to the CBC just a few minutes ago, someone was saying that the majority of injuries and deaths resulting from getting tased are actually a result of the ensuing fall to the ground.

I think that my issue with the TASER as it is used currently, is that it was originally intended to provide an alternative to lethal force – however, it is now often being used as an alternative to non-lethal force.

Here is where you and I agree. I get frustrated by a lot of people and their anger towards the TASER as a tool instead of towards whether the tool should have been used. No one debates the fact that police officers need a gun, just when they use one. Most times when I see people criticizing TASER use it’s all about the tool and not whether that tool was used appropriately or not. I think the TASER is a great tool for our toolbox. I am not always impressed by some of the instances in which I see them used. Some of those reports from the US are downright chilling.

To address Mig’s point, I believe I’ve said many times in these forums I’m in favor of outside agency’s investigating use of force incidents.  That’s how it’s done for us. Yes, we do investigate ourselves but only so far as for policy adherence. For the use of force compliance we rely on the RCMP to investigate us. Sure… sure… I supposed to an outsider that still looks like police investigating police, but currently there are no other options.

I was looking on the TASER website earlier and came across this new product of theirs. The “Shockwave”.

I just listened to the CBC radio news at 6:00.  No word yet on the cause of death for the man who was subdued at the Vancouver airport.  An autopsy will be done.

or as an alternative to getting your hands dirty…


[quote]“I think the responsible parties are the Vancouver Airport and the RCMP for not having other negotiating tactics once he’s at the heightened state,” said Meltzer, who was the person who called in RCMP.

He said he clearly warned them the man didn’t speak English.

Meltzer claimed the officers gave Dziekanski two commands in English and within seconds Tasered him after he held a stapler in an apparent threatening manner.

“He [Dziekanski] raised the stapler in the air and they [RCMP] said, ‘Put your hands on the desk,’ in English,” Meltzer said.

Meltzer said the RCMP were too hasty to use the Taser and he refutes the police claim that the area was too crowded to use pepper spray, because “it was empty.”[/quote]

There ya go.  Another death at the hands of the RCMP.  The RCMP investigating the RCMP will conclude, of course, that the RCMP did nothing wrong. 

If I tasered a guy to death, I’d be charged with manslaughter, I’m sure.  But I’m not above the law, like the RCMP.

Much more interesting reading here: … n-custody/

I agree.  I also think that an independent audit of this incident is required.

Oh My God no, not the stapler
and it was a RED one!!!
Jayzuz save us all!

I agree with Hitest…How can 4 plus men and women not subdue an individual?Why is a taser needed? Firemen have to do the training so should the rcmp(lower case)…Unreal that one man poses a legitimate threat without a weapon…Oh well thats what you get when hire people via a lie detector!

To be fair, according to RCMP training, when faced with a crazed individual with no civilians nearby, the procedure is to use non-lethal tactics.  The one exception is a rare instance when the crazed individual is screaming “policia policia” and holding a Red Swingline 747 stapler.  In that case, the RCMP is trained to:

  • immediately deploy the taser without trying anything else
  • zap the suspect 4 times (or as many times as necessary until he stops moving)
  • insist that you only zapped him twice (video evidence to the contrary)
  • insist that civilians were in danger (though non were close enough to be hit by the Red Swingline 747).  In fact the room was mainly empty.
  • insist that all other options were exercised (despite all non-RCMP witnesses stating that they tasered him 2 seconds after engaging him)

This is the key part of the RCMP training:

  • make sure it’s the RCMP that investigates the RCMP.

[original attachment deleted after 2 years]


Sorry in my manual it was a blue stapler thus the taser…