DARTMOUTH, Nova Scotia – Canada is taking a closer look at the police use of stun guns after two recent deaths, including one in which a man died about 30 hours after being shocked.
The latest death was of a 45-year-old man at a jail near Dartmouth. On Oct. 14, a Polish man who had just taken his first flight died after he was stunned twice by police at Vancouver's airport — an incident caught on video that elicited international outrage.
More than a dozen people have died in Canada after being hit with Tasers in the last four years. However, the manufacturer of Taser guns says they have never been conclusively linked to any deaths in Canada.
A Parliamentary public safety committee launched a probe Thursday into events surrounding the death of the Polish man, Robert Dziekanski. A police watchdog group and British Columbia's provincial government had already begun investigating the incident.
The Nova Scotia provincial government joined the string of investigations into Taser guns Thursday, asking the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate the circumstances of the death of the 45-year-old man, whose identity has not been released.
The man died at a Canadian correctional facility, where he was being held on assault charges, after being shocked by a Taser stun gun Wednesday. The man died Thursday, 30 hours after being shocked. Police said the man had been taken into custody around midnight Wednesday and was being booked when he became exceedingly violent.
He was said to have jumped the counter at police headquarters, sprang past two officers and one booking agent and bolted for the door before one of the officers used a Taser on him.
"It is premature to draw any conclusions that the Taser contributed to this man's death," Nova Scotia's deputy police chief Tony Burbridge told a news conference. "We need to allow the medical examiner time to conduct an investigation into the cause of his death."
Burbridge said police tried to subdue the man and then resorted to using the Taser, sending at least one shock into him during the incident, which was caught on a surveillance video camera.
The man then went into medical distress and was sent to the hospital, where he was assessed, deemed to be OK and released back into police custody. He died later in the day.
The Taser has been under increasing scrutiny in Canada following the death of Dziekanski, 40.
That incident happened after Dziekanski, who spoke only Polish, began acting erratically at Vancouver's International Airport. He apparently became upset when, upon arrival, he did not see his mother, whom he was joining to start a new life in Canada.