Tasers and police shouldn’t mix

Andy Russell wasn’t a fan of carrying a rifle in the bush. He thought it changed a man’s approach to the woods and its dangers,…

Andy Russell wasn’t a fan of carrying a rifle in the bush.

He thought it changed a man’s approach to the woods and its dangers, especially bears.

A rifle changed the way a guy walked. Made him more confident, less careful. Cocky even.

And a cocky man approaches bear country differently than a cautious one.

Russell’s thoughts about weapons came to mind this morning as we were reading about three RCMP officers Tasering an 82-year-old man in a Kamloops hospital on Saturday.

Frank Lasser was recovering from heart-bypass surgery and has pneumonia. He requires an oxygen apparatus at all times.

For some reason, he’d become delirious while in the hospital’s care and had produced a three-inch pocket knife.

Nurses phoned the RCMP, and the three officers responded.

“I was laying on the bed by then and the corporal came in, or the sergeant, I forget which it was, and said to the guys, ‘OK, get him because we got more important work to do on the street tonight,’” Lasser told CBC Radio One.

“And then, bang, bang, bang — three times with the laser, and I tell you, I never want that again.”

Police had no other option but to “deploy the conducted energy weapon,” said Kamloops RCMP, noting the frail old man with oxygen tubes in his nose had a pocket knife.

It’s a ridiculous assertion. A simple hospital blanket tossed over the befuddled Lasser probably would have done the trick. 

And the Mountie’s defence seems at odds with Lasser’s recollection of the officer’s remarks, which suggests the cops had better things to be doing that night.

It’s the latest in a string of questionable RCMP Taser incidents.

In April, Vancouver Island Mounties Tasered a 135-pound, 15-year-old boy.

The youth had his hands handcuffed behind his back and was in the rear seat of a squad car.

He’d been arrested for breaking curfew.

The police were laughing as they used the Taser, said the teen.

“You have to be a blind fool not to believe many police are using the Taser as an attitude-adjustment device,” Tom Morino, the boy’s Victoria-based lawyer, told Canwest News Service.

Indeed, the Taser has a reputation among cops as a benign device.

It is anything but, as the death of Robert Dziekanksi in Vancouver International Airport attests.

Armed with the Taser, police approach troublemakers with more bravado.

They are anxious to get a job done, and get back on the street.

They are less cautious.

Less compassionate.

Cockier.

Carrying a weapon changes a man, noted Russell.

It alters the way a person perceives and moves through the environment.

And that’s probably the best reason why police shouldn’t be issued them anymore. (RM)

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