From the Friday, November 23, 2007 of the Vancouver 24 Hours:
"APEC inquiry: 10 years later"
I guess the "POLICE TASER innocent man to death at YVR" story has lost some of its grabbing power.
According to the BC Civil Liberties group, Robert Dziekanski's death at the secured Customs area of the Vancouver International Airport (where he had apparently been waiting for several hours) was the 16th "accidental" death involving the use of a TASER since 2003.
I have read in the on-line curricula at the California Commission for Police Officer Standards and Training, that the introductory course for use of "conducted energy weapons" includes the option for trainees to experience a "TASER employment" for themselves; but it is not a required element of the course.
Personally, I think it ought to be mandatory.
Cynics in the audience will ask; "why not require police trainees to be shot with their own service sidearm, while we're at it?" Simple distinction: a TASER is touted as a non lethal weapon. If it is truly non-lethal, then police agencies should have no objections to their trainees finding out exactly what it feels like to be hit with one.
Others may suggest that giving a police officer personal knowledge of exactly what a TASER does to the human body (his own) and what it feels like to be struck by one could leave the officers with a mental and psychological trauma that would act as a behavioral "block" --ie: the officers might hesitate in a crisis situation and fail to employ their "conducted energy weapon" in a timely and effective manner.
Of course, in Robert Dziekanski's case a few moments hesitation may have made a difference...or not; hindsight isn't always perfect.
For the four officers who struck him with a TASER - twice - I would say the issue of mental and psychological trauma is a moot point. We've all seen the video taken by Paul Pritchard on youtube.com, but those officers lived it...they got to see Dziekanski die up close and personal. I suppose it was a rather large shock - having what I imagine was an unpleasant and distasteful; though nevertheless routine police operation go horribly wrong. If they didn't have any mental or psychological issues with employing a TASER to subdue someone while on duty...well, perhaps they do now.
Now let's return to the APEC incident...
During the long, drawn out and tiresome course of the public inquiry into the APEC incident, it was revealed by then Staff Sgt. Hugh Stewart that during the training course in which he and fellow officers were evaluating "Oleoresin Capsicum" for possible use as a Non Lethal Force Multiplier, officer Stewart was himself dosed with pepper spray on more than one occasion. It is difficult to find the video of that day in 1997, but one fact remains clear:
Staff Sgt. Stewart was dosing the APEC protesters with pepper spray while fully aware of what it felt like and what it would do to them.
And he didn't hesitate at all.