B.C. is adopting strict new guidelines on the use of stun guns like the Taser in the wake of the 2007 death of a Polish immigrant at Vancouver’s airport, the province’s solicitor general said Thursday.
The new rules mean an officer can only discharge a conducted energy weapon if there is a risk of bodily harm and all lesser force options have been exhausted.
The rules are based on 19 recommendations issued by retired judge Thomas Braidwood, who was tasked with examining the weapon and its use by municipal forces.
Braidwood found that conducted energy weapons have the capacity to cause serious injury or death.
Despite its risk and calls by some for a moratorium on its use, Braidwood found the Taser a useful tool, since its mere presence could defuse potentially dangerous situations.
The Braidwood Commission was launched following the death of Robert Dziekanski, who died after being Tasered multiple times.
The province adopted all of Braidwood’s recommendations Thursday, said Solicitor General Kash Heed. The new rules apply to municipal police officers, sheriffs and RCMP.
“I expect every police officer operating in British Columbia to follow my directive and the recommendations that we are implementing — regardless of the colour of their uniform,” Heed said.
Braidwood’s recommendations had excluded the RCMP — who police 70 per cent of the province’s population — because they are a federal organization, not provincial.
It was a fact Braidwood found ironic given that it was RCMP who confronted Dziekanski with a Taser.