News / Vancouver

Man dies after RCMP Tasering in Chilliwack

Debate on energy weapons reignites just after ten-year anniversary of Vancouver airport death

An unrelated RCMP investigation near Chilliwack, B.C. in this 2015 file photo.

DARRYL DYCK / The Canadian Press

An unrelated RCMP investigation near Chilliwack, B.C. in this 2015 file photo.

Chilliwack RCMP are being investigated by the province's independent police watchdog after a man in their custody died Saturday.

He had been hit with a conducted energy weapon, commonly known by the brand name Taser, after police responded to a call about an alleged parental abduction of his child.

"During police interaction with the male, a conducted energy weapon was deployed," the Independent Investigation Office of B.C. stated in a release Saturday. "Shortly afterwards the male went into medical distress. Emergency Health Services was called.

"However the male did not survive."

The incident reignites a long-simmering debate over police use of force, and in particular whether what proponents call "less-than-lethal" weapons are in fact that.

Last October marked 10 years since a similar death in RCMP custody sparked international outrage, after 40-year-old Polish man Robert Dziekanski was Tasered while in distress at Vancouver airport and died. Police came under fire for seizing witnesses' video footage.

The province held a public inquiry into the issue in 2009, which led to perjury charges filed against four Mounties. One was sentenced to 30 months in prison for lying on Feb. 20, 2015.

The IIOBC investigates B.C. police departments' use of force resulting in injury or death. The independent agency remained on scene during the weekend "obtaining physical evidence, reviewing available CCTV footage, interviewing any civilian witnesses and designating and interviewing officers."

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