Tag Archives: taser

Man Dies After Being Tased by RCMP in Chilliwack, BC (Feb. 24, 2018)

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) is investigating the death of a man in Chilliwack after he was shot by a taser by RCMP on the afternoon of Saturday, February 24, 2018. According to the IIO the RCMP were responding to reports of a parental abduction. According to the IIO, RCMP say that a stun gun was deployed during an “interaction” with the man who then went into “medical distress.” The IIO says emergency medical services were called to the scene, but the man did not survive. No further details have been provided and there has been no independent confirmation publicly of RCMP claims.


SIU Lets Off OPP Cop Who Killed 45-Year-Old Man in Nipigon in 2016

On January 11, 2018, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, released the decision of its investigation into the fatal police shooting of a 45-year-old Nipigon man by a Ontario Provincial Police officer in November of 2016. The SIU has concluded that no charges be laid. This is the too typical outcome of SIU investigations.

According to the SIU report, police were called to a Nipigon residence at around 6:59 PM on November 26, 2016. They report that a woman wanted a man removed from her home as he had allegedly been drinking and was being verbally aggressive with neighbors.

Two OPP officers attended the residence and met the woman on the street. The SIU reports that police claim that when they arrived on the front lawn of the Nipigon home, the 45-year-old man allegedly came out of the house holding a kitchen knife in his right hand down by his side (not in a threatening manner). An OPP officer took the decision to deploy a taser on the man.

Once the man was tasered, officers allege he “winced in pain and stepped back into the house” before stepping outside again. This time it is claimed that the man held the knife pointed forward but parallel to the ground. An OPP officer then shot and killed the man.

According to the SIU, officers called Emergency Medical Services at about 7:17 PM. EMS officials recorded that the victim had no heart beat or heart activity during his transport to the hospital. He was pronounced dead soon after. The SIU report listed the cause of death as a single gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Toronto Police Report Claims None Died from Tasers in 2016, Despite Killing of Rui Nabico

A 2017 Toronto police report on Taser use in 2016 claims that no one died from Tasers in 2016 despite the fact that the Special Investigations Unit, the agency that examines police harm to civilians, is still investigating the death of 31-year-old Rui Nabico. On November 4, 2016, Nabico went into medical distress after Toronto police fired a stun gun at him. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The young man only went into medical distress after being Tasered so the Toronto police report is clearly false. A piece of copaganda.

Inquest into Police Killing of Craig McDougall Sees No Racism Despite Mistreatment of Family, Eight Year Delay

Racism and policing have gone hand and hand in the Canadian context. From the settler colonial violence of the RCMP through contemporary practices from carding to assaults upon racialized people and communities. The settler colonial character of the Canadian state continues in the current context in the disproportionate arrest and incarceration of Indigenous people and the exertion of violence, often lethal violence, against them.

Not surprisingly the Canadian state and the various institutions of criminal justice have stridently denied claims of racism. Inquiries into police violence typically offer findings that diminish or deny the part of racism in police actions. Such an outcome was delivered again on May 12, 2017 with the results of the inquiry into the killing of Craig McDougall, a young Indigenous man, by Winnipeg police, a force with a long and notorious history of racist violence.

Twenty-six-year-old Craig Vincent McDougall was shot and killed by police outside his father’s home on Simcoe Street in Winnipeg on August 2, 2008. Police claimed to be responding to a 911 call when they arrived at the home in the early hours of August 2.  They suggest that found McDougall outside the house holding a cell phone and a knife. One officer shot him with a taser. He was then shot with a firearm which killed him. A private investigator who examined the case has cast doubt on the assertion that Craig McDougall held a knife at the moment he was shot.

Incredibly, the victim’s family members were immediately arrested and put in handcuffs on the front lawn, an act of what criminologists term the dramatization of evil, designed to denigrate and humiliate people targeted by the system. Jonathan Rudin, an expert witness on Indigenous people, policing, and the criminal justice system, testified that the treatment of McDougall’s family after the young man was shot exemplified systemic racism as the victims were assumed by police to be criminals and were treated as such.

Still, despite the actions of police, the inquest concluded that there was no evidence of racism in the police actions. It offered the typical statist finding that police were justified in their actions. In the inquest report, Associate Chief Judge Anne Krahn wrote there was “no evidence of racism direct or systemic in the moments leading to the shooting of Craig McDougall.” The judge found the arrest of McDougall’s father and uncle to be a simple misstep. In her words: “there were missteps in the immediate aftermath of the shooting when Craig McDougall’s uncle and father were left handcuffed and detained without lawful authority.” Such is the normalization of racism in the Canadian criminal justice system. Atrocious actions become mere missteps.

Critics point out that treating the family members in such disrespectful and accusatory fashion exemplifies racism. One might add the little regard shown for the family or the community in the eight year delay between the killing and the inquest report. It could be suggested that such an egregious delay would never be accepted in the case of a killing (by anyone) of a white, privileged victim. Of course police, and police associations, seek to delay and divert inquests to benefit their own interests.

The inquest report even contradicts its own conclusions by making recommendations that imply racism by police. Among these recommendations are that the police service should consider delivery of implicit bias training for its members at regular intervals (a recognition of racist assumptions) and work with Indigenous organizations to develop programs.

Dubious Diagnosis: Phony “Excited Delirium” Findings Get Killer Cops Off in Burnaby and Edmonton

Police agencies and their ideological supporters, often located in criminology and psychology departments in universities and colleges, have developed entire cottage industries producing pseudo-science and pseudo-forensics, phony analyses, concepts, and terms, to justify and excuse police killings of civilians. These pseudo-scientific projects have constructed their own literatures, bodies of ideas, and “expert” witnesses supporting dubious “diagnoses” used to “explain” how it is that victims of police violence came to be responsible (biologically or psychologically) for their own murders.

Among the most pernicious and extensively developed and deployed of these pseudo-scientific diagnoses are the notorious notions of excited delirium and so-called suicide by cop. Neither of these has any scientific basis or legitimate supporting evidence to back them. They offer little, in fact, beyond the statements of police “researchers” (cops and former cops who have used such work not only to support their colleagues and former colleagues but to claim positions in academia) and some compliant criminologists and psychologists and others supportive of police on ideological or opportunistic grounds (i.e. funding).

While the dubious claim of excited delirium has no psychological or medical basis it is routinely used to let police officers walk away from any accountability when they kill civilians. Despite the recognition that excited delirium has no basis in scientific, psychological or medical, reality, it is still used in investigative cases on police killings, often by coroners’ offices in the Canadian context, for example.

In Canada the excited delirium excuse was used to let killer cops off the hook in two cases within a three week period over October and November of 2016. These cases involved the police killing of Maurizio Facchin (50) in Burnaby, British Columbia, in 2014 and Simon Chung (34) in Edmonton, Alberta, in 2013. Both cases involved the use of tasers by police and the men went into fatal distress only after a taser was used on them. Chung was also subjected to attempts by two Edmonton police to restrain him forcefully. He was tased twice by an officer while restrained, including one blast that lasted 28 seconds (Parsons 2016). In both cases the role of the taser in the men’s deaths was acknowledged yet both deaths were ruled accidental.

Notably in the case of the police killing of Simon Chung one of the officers claimed to suspect that the victim was experiencing excited delirium yet chose to restrain and taser him anyway. This would suggest culpability in his death given the claims of police that excited delirium could lead to a fatal response to either restraint or tasing.


The Dubious Diagnosis of Excited Delirium

Excited delirium has come under growing public scrutiny in recent years given the overwhelming proportion of diagnoses related to deaths involving police use of compliance holds and/or use of tasers. Typically these diagnoses are provided only by medical examiners not by hospital or emergency room doctors. Furthermore, and as alarming, there is the fact that excited delirium is presently not a recognized medical or psychiatric diagnosis by either the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IVTR) of the American Psychiatric Association or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9) of the World Health Organization. Due to these troubling facts, it is widely considered that the real cause of death in cases identified after the fact as instances of excited delirium are actually caused by straightforward police violence and use if force. These are related to taser use and positional asphyxia.

Civil rights groups have argued that diagnoses of excited delirium are only applied after the fact to get police officers off the hook in cases in which excessive force has resulted in the death of a civilian. The NAACP reported in 2003 that excited delirium diagnoses are provided more often in explaining the deaths of minorities than they are in the deaths of white victims. In 2007, Eric Balaban of the American Civil Liberties Union noted that excited delirium was not recognized by the American Medical Association or the American Psychological Association and that the diagnosis simply served “as a means of white-washing what may be excessive use of force and inappropriate use of control techniques by officers during an arrest” (NPR 2007). Melissa Smith of the American Medical Association confirmed in 2007 that the association had “no official policy” on the supposed condition (ABC News 2007).

Excited delirium is not recognized in Australia by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the Australian Medical Association or any other registered medical body. Neither is it recognized in law. A 2015 case, in which a man who had been declared to have died from excited delirium was overturned by a ruling in the Victorian Coroners Court. The presiding coroner in that case concluded that neither excited delirium nor so called excited delirium syndrome are appropriate or helpful in providing a legitimate medical cause of death (Coroner’s Court of Victoria at Melbourne 2015).

The Burnaby ruling in the Mauricio Facchin case is particularly stunning, and disappointing, given that Vancouver was site of the 2007 police killing of migrant Robert Dziekanski whose death police initially lied about publicly suggesting he suffered excited delirium. Video by a civilian witness showed this claim to be untrue as Dziekanski was following police instructions when he was tased and jumped by police causing his death. During the inquiry into police actions that police psychologist Mike Webster that police have been “brainwashed” by Taser International to justify “ridiculously inappropriate” use of the weapon. Webster referred to excited delirium as a “dubious disorder” pushed by Taser International during its police training (Hall 2008). A 2008 report on taser use by the RCMP, An Independent Review of the Adoption and Use of Conducted Energy Weapons by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, concluded that excited delirium should not be included in the operational manual for the Mounties in the absence of formal approval following consultation with a mental-health-policy advisory body (Kiedrowski 2008). Justice Thomas Braidwood concluded the inquiry finding that excited delirium should not be used as part of police use of force training as it is not a legitimate medical condition.


Recommendations Based On What?

In the case of the coroner’s inquiry into the police killing of Maurizio Facchin, the coroner’s jury suggested that police receive training in identifying and properly responding to instances of excited delirium. It was also recommended that 911 dispatchers receive such training so that they might identify and inform police of potential excited delirium cases upon dispatch. Finally the jury suggested that officers contact emergency services when a taser is going to be deployed in such cases.

In the case of the police killing of Simon Chung, Provincial Court Judge Lloyd Malin provided two recommendations. In the first he suggested that while Edmonton Police Service mentions excited delirium syndrome in its policy and procedure manual on use of force, officers should also be trained to recognize the symptoms in all situations, not only during arrests. Malin also recommended that officers be trained to call for emergency medical services as soon as excited delirium is suspected. This call should be made regardless of the need for police to restrain an individual (Parsons 2016).

These recommendations are based on the dubious diagnosis of excited delirium and will do little to change police behavior, particularly violent behavior. They will not address police killings of civilians. The recommendations are based on treatment of a social fiction.



  1. The notion of suicide-by-cop was first used in the early 1980s by a former California police officer working toward a PhD in Psychology. Virtually all of the research on the issue has been prepared by people with connections to police departments.


Further Reading

ABC News. 2007. “Excited Delirium: Police Brutality vs. Sheer Insanity.” ABC News. March 2.

Coroner’s Court of Victoria at Melbourne. 2015. Finding into Death with Inquest—Inquest into the Death of Odisseas Vekiaris.

Hall, Neil. 2008. “Police Are ‘Brainwashed’ by Taser Maker. Psychologist Blames Instructions.” Vancouver Sun. May 14. A1

Kiedrowski, John. 2008. An Independent Review of the Adoption and Use of Conducted Energy Weapons by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Ottawa: RCMP

NPR. 2007. “Death by Excited Delirium: Diagnosis or Cover Up?” NPR. February 26.

Parsons, Paige. 2016. “Fatality Inquiry Finds Man Tasered by Edmonton Police Died of Excited Delirium Linked to Meth Use.” Edmonton Sun. November 17. http://www.edmontonsun.com/2016/11/17/fatality-inquiry-finds-man-tasered-by-edmonton-police-died-of-excited-delirium-linked-to-meth-use


RCMP Officers Who Killed Felix Taqqaugaq Identified as Constable Jason Trites (Shooter) and Sergeant Peter Marshall (Partner)

It is rare in the Canadian context that police officers who kill civilians are ever named publicly. This generally only happens in the few cases that result in charges laid against police or in case of a public inquiry or inquest. With the coroner’s inquest onto the police killing of Felix Taqqaugaq on March 20, 2012, mandatory in cases of police harm to civilians in Nunavut, the RCMP officers who killed him have been identified publicly as Constable Jason Trites and Sergeant Peter Marshall.

Constable Trites knew that Taqqaugaq was dealing with mental health issues, which the officer understood to be schizophrenia, yet he still moved quickly to arrest the man for supposedly uttering threats and fired a taser at him only moments into the encounter (and before the man had done anything more than speak to officers). The taser fire may have upset Taqqaugaq who was then chased back into his house by Sergeant Marshall. In response to this police chase Taqqaugaq may have returned brandishing a knife.

By Trite’s own admission he tripped (apparently in a panic) while backing away from Taqqaugaq and firing his handgun. This left Trites with a self-inflicted wound to his hand. This injury was initially reported publicly but it was not clarified that Trites had shot himself. Such early reports of officer injuries, without the information that the injuries are self-inflicted, can give the impression that police were physically threatened or harmed and thus justified in using lethal force. A similarly deceptive mention of injury to an officer (that later was identified as officer-inflicted) was given in the RCMP killing of Hudson Brooks in Surrey, British Columbia. While on his back Trites shot Taqqaugaq three times. The man was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to Mary Ijjangiaq, Taqqaugaq’s partner of 13 years the police instigated the situation that led to the killing. In her words to the inquest: “They ganged up on him. He was deliberately provoked. I think [the officer] deliberately made sure he died” (quoted in Murray 2016a). She says the victim held a knife at his chest not over his head in a threatening manner as police claim.

Police audio from the incident raise further questions and ppint to a very quick escalation to lethal force by police. From the moment that officers radioed in to the Iqaluit command centre reporting they had located the suspect only 60 seconds passed before one officer called out “Shots fired; suspect down” (Murray 2016a).

As cops typically do in such cases officer Trites has attempted to present himself as the victim requiring sympathy. In his pitch to the inquiry he attempts to make the family feel sorry for himself: “I just hope the family knows that they’re not the only ones that were hurt by this. The things that I deal with, do affect my personal life. I’m definitely not the same person as I used to be before this incident” (quoted in Murray 2016b).

Incredibly both Constable Trites and Sergeant Marshall were flown out of the northern community (where the RCMP is a still colonial force) the very next day after the killing of Felix Taqqaugaq. Trites has testified at the inquest by video from Halifax.


Further Reading

Murray, Nick. 2016a. “‘They Ganged Up on Him’: Wife of Igloolik Man Killed by Police Heard Shots Fired.” CBC News. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/felix-taqqaugaq-inquest-wife-witness-testimony-1.3842011

Murray, Nick. 2016b. “‘I Was Trying to Stop Him’: RCMP Officer Apologizes for Shooting Felix Taqqaugaq.” CBC News. November 9. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/felix-taqqaugaq-inqest-officer-narrative-1.3842623


Toronto Police Deploy Taser and Kill Man near Old Weston Road (November 4, 2016)

A 31-year-old Toronto man has died after police shot him with a conducted energy weapon. The man went into medical distress after being tased and was taken to hospital where he later died. Police had apparently responded to a 911 call from a home on Sages Crescent near Old Weston Road and St. Clair Avenue in the city’s west end on the afternoon of Friday, November 4, 2016.

Several Toronto Police Department officers arrived at the home where some type of interaction with the victim was said to have happened. While police claim the man was holding two knives and screaming (neither of which is necessarily threatening), the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has not confirmed that the man was in any way armed. They have also not confirmed the presence of any weapons at the scene other than those held by police. A conflicting report said the man was simply walking with one knife.

The SIU, which investigates cases of harm to civilians by police in Ontario, announced its decision to investigate the killing at around 2 PM on Friday afternoon. Six investigators along with two forensic investigators will carry out the investigation.