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article imageLondon, Ontario, police use stun gun on teen Special

By Ken Wightman     Sep 23, 2011 in Crime
London - City police in London, Ontario, used a Taser on a teenage boy involved in a street brawl Thursday. It is being reported that the boy may have been struck in the face by the prongs of the powerful stun gun.
After being shocked, the young man fell to the ground where he remained motionless for almost a minute. The teen was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries sustained in the fight. The seventeen-year-old youth was later charged with assault with a weapon; He had a belt wrapped around his hand and was using a folding chair to assault the other boy. The accused has also been charged with two counts of failing to comply with conditions of a recognizance.
It is not believed the injuries suffered by the young man were related to the use of the Taser used to control the teen who was fighting with another youth on London's main street. The other teen in the altercation was taken to the nearby police station for questioning.
The brawl between the two young men occurred shortly before noon on Dundas Street about two blocks west of the London Police Service headquarters and just east of London's downtown. A video of the melee was posted on YouTube.
In the video a chair can be seen being used as a weapon. When the London police officer arrives on the scene, the two brawlers separate with one backing up and the other closing the distance between himself and the officer. The policeman shoots a dart from his Taser stun gun, dropping the accused to the sidewalk.
One onlooker, a young man, yells at the officer:
"Why would you taze him? Why would you taze him? You shot him in the head! You shot him in the head! . . . You never even asked him to stop!"
Because of the poor audio captured on the cell phone video, it is impossible to discern whether or not the police officer called out a warning before firing. (Digital Journal is awaiting a return call from the London Police Service media contact.)
Concerned, a young woman onlooker approached and knelt beside the Tasered youth, gently touching his hand. Releasing her grip, the young man stirred groggily on the pavement.
Andrew Podgorski, who worked for Canada’s National Research Council until 1995, told this journalist that after studying the effect of Tasers: "I feel these devices can kill." Some people, for instance those with pacemakers, are extremely susceptible to the danger posed by stun guns. "At least one person in a thousand has a pacemaker," Podgorski said. (Podgorski, now retired, did his study some years ago. Today the figure in Canada is about 1 person in 285 has a pacemaker controlling their heart.)
"We are so different," Podgorski said in an interview. The Canadian researcher believes stun guns could induce fatal fibrillation of the heart in certain people. He suggests every officer carrying a Taser should also have a portable defibrillator handy. This could save lives.
According to Podgorski, the threat posed by stun guns is greatest for those with pacemakers or heart disease affecting the stability of the heart's electrical system. It is important to note that many causes of heart disease, such as Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), are commonly undiagnosed and yet can prove fatal even in the young. For these people, the danger posed by Tasers increases as body weight decreases. Young people, who have not yet attained their full adult size and weight, are at increased risk.
The London Free Press is reporting:
"According to use-of-force statistics, London police used stun guns 28 times in 2010."
The paper adds, "In 2004, Londoner Peter Lamonday, 33, died shortly after being Tasered by police at a Hamilton Rd. convenience store."
An inquest held into the Lamonday death concluded cocaine, and not the Taser, was the root cause of death. It was determined by Dr. James Cairns, Ontario's deputy chief coroner, that because Lamonday died some 50 minutes after being stunned by the Taser, the use of the stun gun clearly was not the cause of dealth.
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