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Girl Tasered

February 3, 2009 permalink

A teenaged girl was tasered while already being held prisoner in a cell in Sioux Lookout Ontario. Police, who proclaim in public that tasers are an alternative to deadly force, used the taser to keep the girl from damaging paint inside the cell. According to her lawyer the girl had poor communication skills because of a handicap.



Father sues OPP after girl, 14, Tasered

By Linda Nguyen, Canwest News Service February 3, 2009 4:03 AM

The father of a 14-year-old girl who was Tasered while inside a jail cell with two Ontario Provincial Police officers last summer has launched a $500,000 lawsuit against the province's police force.

The girl, who is identified in court papers only as Jane Doe, was hit once in the leg "for three to five seconds" with a Taser inside the OPP detachment in Sioux Lookout, about 400 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

The family's lawyer, Jeff Roberts, told Canwest News Service yesterday that the girl was taken to the hospital for burn marks after the incident on July 10, 2008. The lawsuit claims that the girl was "left traumatized" when her leg went numb for a month.

More information was expected at a news conference scheduled for today.

Mr. Roberts said the two officers used the conductive energy device after the girl had been "sporadically peeling paint from the walls of her jail cell." The lawsuit said she "remained motionless for nearly an hour."

The girl, who is from the nearby Lac Seul First Nation, had initially been arrested the previous night for being drunk and disorderly. She eventually pleaded guilty to the charge.

"Police describe her as a dangerous girl. It's not true," Mr. Roberts said. "She has a cognitive impairment and her emotional responses have been stunted. She's not a bad kid."

The lawsuit claims police used unnecessary force to subdue the girl, after giving her only one warning.

It's seeking $250,000 in response to negligence, assault and battery allegations. It's also seeking $250,000 for punitive damages, an opportunity for the courts "to send a message," Mr. Roberts said. It also is calling for an order to ban the weapon from being used on minors, except in life-threatening situations.

The lawsuit lists the OPP and the two officers -- Mark Zappitelli and Andrew Hampson -- as defendants.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

OPP spokesman Insp. Dave Ross said yesterday the force was not contesting that the girl had been Tasered, but that the OPP's professional-standards bureau completed an investigation in December 2008 and cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.

"The OPP investigation was a result of a public complaint," he said from OPP headquarters in Orillia. "The matter was unsubstantiated. The complainants are able to appeal the decision to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services. I'm not sure whether they have done that."

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Addendum: Ontario's minister of community safety, Rich Bartolucci, has rebuffed a plea from provincial child advocate Irwin Elman to ban the taser on young people. Scratching paint remains a potential death-penalty offense.



Ontario won't ban Taser use on young people: minister

By Lee Greenberg , The Ottawa CitizenFebruary 4, 2009

TORONTO – The Ontario government will not ban police from using their Tasers on young people.

The province’s minister of community safety, Rich Bartolucci, said Wednesday he would leave the decision whether to use the device in officers’ hands.

“The police must use their best judgement possible in order to protect the individual, to protect the general public and to protect the police officer,” Mr. Bartolucci told reporters Wednesday before a weekly cabinet meeting.

Irwin Elman, Ontario’s child advocate, is calling for a moratorium on using stun guns on minors except in rare circumstances.

The call follows the case of a 14-year-old girl who was Tasered by two Ontario Provincial Police officers while in a northern jail last summer. The girl, who has fetal alcohol syndrome, was arrested for underage drinking and detained in Sioux Lookout, Ont., according to her lawyer.

She was Tasered after being told to stop picking at paint on the holding facility’s walls, the lawyer says. The girl’s family, which says the incident was caught on tape, is suing police for $500,000.

Mr. Elman issued his request reportedly after seeing the tape.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Wednesday, Mr. Bartolucci said he would await the results of a lengthy study on the stun guns before making any decisions.

“I’m not going to make a knee-jerk reaction to any individual case,” he said.

Premier Dalton McGuinty was equally non-committal.

“As you know, we have a panel that’s out there taking a look at this,” he told reporters. “We await their advice.”

Source: Ottawa Citizen