CALGARY – An Alberta government agency that investigates deaths linked to police says Calgary officers who fired a Taser at a man before wrestling him to the ground are not responsible for his death.
“I’ve concluded that the actions of the four subject officers were justified in all of the circumstances,” Clifton Purvis, head of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, said Thursday.
“No criminal charges will flow as a result of their actions in relation to this tragedy.”
Purvis said police were called last Nov. 1 after someone spotted a man acting erratically.
They found Gordon Bowe from Castlegar, B.C., running and screaming in the basement of a vacant house. He was cut from breaking through a pane of glass and didn’t respond to verbal commands from constables.
One officer fired his Taser while trying to arrest Bowe, 30, but since one of the machine’s prongs did not make contact, the stun gun did not work.
The Taser was deployed three times, Purvis said. Twice it was not effective due to the missing prong. It was fired in “stun mode” a third time during the struggle with Bowe.
Eventually the officers were able to physically subdue and handcuff Bowe, at which point they noted that he was having trouble breathing. He was treated by paramedics at the scene and died in hospital the next day.
Purvis said he’s satisfied that Bowe died of excited delirium syndrome related to cocaine toxicity – not as a result of the Taser.
There were no marks on Bowe’s body, which suggests the third attempt didn’t make contact, although it’s not known for sure, he added.
Acting Calgary police Deputy Chief Trevor Daroux said the investigation’s outcome matched the description of what happened from the officers.
“This is a very tragic and difficult situation not only for the family members involved but for our officers as well.”
He said that excited delirium is a very tough condition to spot, although if it’s suspected, officers are trained to bring in medical help as soon as it’s safe.
“It’s a very difficult situation to deal with because it is a medical emergency,” he said. “So the soonest that we can get medical assistance to individuals that are suffering from excited delirium is what we’re striving for.”