The Taser Controversy: Are Stun Guns Really Non-Lethal?


September 30, 2008 :: Don Wright
Moderated by Ian McKenna

Ever since the hapless Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, died at Vancouver International Airport last year after being zapped with Tasers by RCMP officers, a flood of outrage has swept across the country and around the world. Serious questions are now being asked about the use of this controversial weapon by those paid to keep us safe on our streets.

Our newspapers are full of reports about the use of Tasers in what would appear to be inappropriate circumstances: by transit cops in BC against passengers suspected of skipping their fare; by Toronto city police who zapped a suspected drug peddler after he had already been handcuffed and was lying face down on the floor. Alarmingly, the use of Tasers has been growing dramatically, according to a recent Canadian Press/CBC investigation.

Who says Tasers are safe? Most of the research has been funded by the manufacturer, Taser International, themselves. The RCMP claim Tasers save lives, however to date, at least 22 people in Canada and over 270 in the United States are believed to have died after being zapped with Tasers. Should the use of Tasers and other similar electroshock devices be suspended, pending a rigorous, independent and impartial study into their effects?

Speaker: Don Wright

Don Wright is a regional development coordinator with Amnesty International, Canada, with responsibility for BC/Yukon and Southern Alberta. He works with AI members and groups, as well as the public and media, to promote respect for human rights and end the violation of human rights around the world. Don has been on the staff of Amnesty International for six years and is based at its Pacific Regional Office in Vancouver. Part of his brief has been to follow the Braidwood Inquiry into the tragic incident at Vancouver International Airport where Robert Dziekanski died after being “tasered” by officers of the RCMP.

Don Wright has a Masters degree in Adult Education and a Provincial Instructor''s Diploma.

Our local and regional law enforcement agencies have been invited to make short presentations at the session about the “rules of engagement” for Tasers.

Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Location: Lethbridge Public Library (Theatre Gallery) 810 – 5 Avenue South
Cost: Free, donations gratefully accepted

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