"When you think the only tool you have is a hammer, then the whole world begins looking like a nail," Dr. Mike Webster, police psychologist, told the Braidwood Inquiry into police use of the weapons.
Referring to excited delirium as a "mythical dubious disorder" used by Taser International in its training of police in Canada and the U.S., Webster said he has been "shocked and embarrassed" by recent "ridiculously inappropriate applications of the Taser" in low-risk situations :
"I am embarrassed to be associated with organizations that Taser sick old men in hospital beds and confused immigrants arriving to the country. Frankly I find it embarrassing, " he said.
Amnesty International has a slightly longer list of "ridiculously inappropriate" TASER™ use in Canada :
An Edmonton police officer in 2003 searching a hotel with two other officers for a robber armed with a knife, used his Taser to rouse two sleeping hotel guests. (The officer was charged with assault with a weapon.)
In 2004, Halifax regional police used a Taser three times on a woman who was handcuffed and held down in a police cell. (Both officers involved were cleared of assault.)
In 2005, a 42-year-old restaurant owner was shocked with a Taser as he lay unconscious. An RCMP officer ordered the shock in an attempt to revive him. (The officer pleaded guilty in court to assault with a weapon. He was given a conditional discharge and 50 hours' community service.)
A 66-year-old lawyer, Brian Fish, was taking photos of Edmonton police intervening at the 2006 Stanley Cup victory celebrations. When Fish refused a police demand to stop taking photos, an officer pushed Fish to the ground and Tasered him twice in his back. A police investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers. Fish has filed a complaint.
RCMP officers in New Brunswick in 2006 Tasered a 17-year-old boy at least 13 times, hitting his lower back and his front, including his groin. A witness to the arrest disputed claims by the police that the boy was resisting arrest:
"They kept telling him to get on his back but every time he tried to turn, they'd keep Tasering him. It was just horrible."
More recently there was also that fellow who was hit with a TASER™ for not paying his SkyTrain fare and clinging to a railing.
Thank you, Dr. Mike Webster, for speaking up to the inquiry. Frankly, we are all embarrassed.
Cross-posted at Creekside