RCMP head zapped with taser gun

The head of the RCMP has been stung lately by criticism about Tasers and now Commissioner William Elliott has been zapped by one of the electronic guns.

Elliott was willingly Tasered during a visit to Alberta, along with the province’s solicitor-general, Fred Lindsay, and an assistant.

Lindsay said it was Elliott’s idea to be shocked with the electronic gun after they watched a demonstration by an RCMP emergency response team on Thursday.

“I think it started with the commissioner, just in conversation, so it just proceeded from there,” Lindsay said.

Elliott was the first to get the jolt, which burned a tiny hole in his shirt from the electric charge, said Lindsay, who added he put a T-shirt on over his own shirt before he was zapped.

“My shirt survived and so did I.”

It wasn’t clear exactly where in the torso either man was hit.

A spokesman for the RCMP in Ottawa said Elliott would not be commenting on the experience. But Lindsay described his shock as one of the most painful experiences in his life.

“I remained standing up, but certainly was unable to do anything as far as moving. It freezes you to the spot.

“I couldn’t describe any experience that would be more painful than that. It’s pretty much over the whole body,” he said.

“Certainly afterwards, it’s a little bit warm in those two entry points.”

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Lindsay said he was fine moments later, however.

“Within seconds, the pain is gone and you’re back to normal.”

Elliott told Liberal public safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh during a Commons committee meeting in February that he had never been hit with a Taser – voluntarily or otherwise.

Neither had Dosanjh, who served as British Columbia attorney general when Tasers were introduced there.

In April 2003, the RCMP issued an operational bulletin prohibiting use of the Taser on civilian volunteers for demonstration purposes. However, the force has frequently turned the weapon on officers in training sessions.

At least one Mountie and several U.S. police officers have sued over injuries allegedly sustained during such instruction.

More than 300 people in North America, including 20 in Canada, have died after being Tasered.

Arizona-based manufacturer Taser International has vigorously defended its devices in several lawsuits and it stresses that the weapon has never been directly blamed for a death. It has, however, been cited repeatedly as a contributing factor.

The electronic guns are highly popular with police, who say they avoid injuries to suspects and officers and are certainly a better option than firearms.

Lindsay said the experience has not changed his belief that Tasers are an effective alternative to physical force.

The Sudbury Star

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