Druggie dies after Taser zap by cops

Mon, August 9, 2004

A VIOLENT man high on cocaine died in a Kingston hospital yesterday, less than three hours after police used a Taser gun to subdue him. Kingston Police said the 43-year-old man died after going into a seizure at the Kingston General Hospital, 2 1/2 hours after being taken into custody following a standoff at a Portsmouth Ave. residence around 8:30 a.m.

According to police, the man, who was armed with a large knife and baseball bat, had barricaded himself in a bedroom and was threatening to harm himself.

Officers attempted to disarm him using pepper spray, but it had no effect on the "drug-enraged" man, police said.

A tactical officer then used a Taser to control the man and take him into custody. The man, whose name is not being released, was detained under the Mental Health Act and taken to hospital, where he was sedated and treated for a suspected drug overdose.


Police said it appears the man's death is related to the cocaine he had ingested and not the use of the Taser, but the exact cause of death won't be known until after an autopsy is done today.

Kingston Police Staff Sgt. Brian Begbie said the man required no medical attention after the arrest.

"There was an ambulance at scene. He needed no treatment," said Begbie, describing the man as "lucid and coherent" while being transported to hospital.

Begbie said the man, who was not facing criminal charges, was talking with doctors and didn't complain of any injuries relating to the Taser.

"He walked in under his own volition," he added.

While the cause has not yet been determined, the man's death comes as police use of Tasers has come under increased scrutiny following the deaths of several people who had been jolted by the 50,000-volt stun guns.

There have been five Taser-related deaths in Canada in the past 18 months and more than 50 deaths across North America since 2001.


The "non-lethal" weapon is not approved for use in Britain and only recently have some Canadian police forces started issuing them to officers.

B.C.'s police complaints commissioner last week ordered an investigation into the police use of the guns after a man who was high on cocaine and other drugs died after being hit by a Taser.

Last month, former champion boxer Jerry Knight died after police used a Taser on him in a confrontation in Brampton.

In the latest case, Kingston Police have launched a sudden death investigation, but Begbie said yesterday there were no plans to launch a specific investigation into what role, if any, the Taser played in the man's death.

Police expressed fears yesterday that the man could have gotten into a batch of bad cocaine after a second violent incident involving a woman who was "flipping out" on drugs less than an hour after the man was taken to hospital.