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The London Free Press/Canada

Councillor In Ontario Targets Tasers Again

Kathy Rumleski

Undaunted by city council's earlier rejection of his plea to place a moratorium on Taser use by London police, Coun. David Winninger aims to try a second time tonight.1203 06

He wants to see use of the Taser stun guns banned until their safety is established "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Two weeks ago, Winninger failed to receive the required two-thirds support needed to bring an emergency motion to the council floor for debate.

Tonight he needs a majority, but he said it will be tight.

"I know there is some opposition to council passing this kind of resolution," Winninger said.

Controller Gina Barber, who has backed Winninger's motion, said council can only make a recommendation on a moratorium to the city's police services board.

"It's not anything we can order."

Win or lose, Winninger said he will take the issue to the police board.

"It would be good if I could go there with some support from council."

He said the deaths and injuries that have occurred after someone has been Tasered are alarming.

"There's just too many of them mounting up, not to want to take a pause."

Barber said if any other product was used repeatedly and death followed it would be pulled until proved safe.

"If there are deaths associated with cars, you'd be pulling them off the market until the level of safety had been met. If you were talking about a drug, same thing."

Tasers have come under heavy scrutiny since Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, 40, died after RCMP officers Tasered him at the Vancouver airport Oct. 14.

Locally, Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is probing an Oct. 15 Taser incident involving London police in which a man suffered a heart attack.

There are at least seven probes in Canada into either Dziekanski's death or the use of Tasers.

"I think there's some real cause for concern. We need to do the research," Barber said.

Police board chairperson Ab Chahbar said his members will discuss Tasers within the next month.

"Most people on the board are certainly looking for a common sense approach. Decisions are going to be made on the facts and not on emotion. We're going to make sure that it's looked at from a position of what is right."

Chahbar said he'd like to know how many people may be alive today because a Taser was used rather than a gun.

"By using a Taser, how many people have been saved from being potentially shot?

"We certainly have heard about cases where people have been Tasered where they could have been shot."

© 2007 The London Free Press

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