A Matter of Safety...The Taser Issue

Tasers. This hot button word is quickly becoming as galvanizing a conversational topic as politics, religion and abortion. Tragically, their use was again called into question on August 2, when 27 year old Marc-Andre Fontaine was tased by RCMP in the Leduc Petro Canada parking lot and died two days later.
    Leading up to the incident it has been stated by several witnesses that Fontaine, a sheet metal worker and father of three, was in an agitated state and police had been called after he got into a physical confrontation with a liquor store employee at the Co-op Gas Bar in Leduc after the gas bar attendant called over to the liquor store requesting help with an erratic customer. 
    Several incidents occurred between the Co-op gas bar and his final stop at the Petro Canada where eye witness Monique (last name withheld upon request), saw the final few minutes of Fontaine's run through town.
    "I was standing outside Kosmos having a smoke when I heard the screeching of tires heading my way coming from the west down 50th Ave." stated Monique. "I watched as this guy came flying by in a blue vehicle driving like a crazy man doing probably 80-90 km/h, and as he was driving he was spinning his wheels 90 degrees in each direction back and forth slamming into curbs and swerving into traffic in the oncoming lanes. A couple times he was up on two wheels he was swerving so violently. He turned really fast north onto 50th Street hitting the curb there and that's when I ran back inside the restaurant to tell my friends what I'd just seen. A couple minutes later we heard the emergency sirens coming so we left the restaurant and walked down to the Petro Canada where police were already starting to put up the police tape but I could see this guy lying on the ground with paramedics working on him. I didn't know at the time the guy on the ground was the guy I'd seen driving the blue vehicle so I called an officer over and gave him my statement."
    As more people come forward to share what they witnessed that day I don't think anyone would argue the fact that Mr. Fontaine was not behaving rationally. The reasons behind why he was exhibiting these unusual and dangerous behaviours is still under investigation but the end result is that after Mr. Fontaine rampaged through Leduc on a Friday night, by Sunday morning he had died in hospital. 
    The RCMP have reported that in order to subdue Mr. Fontaine he was struck by a taser and then handcuffed, but that shortly afterward it was noticed he was in medical distress and he lost consciousness. Mr. Fontaine was then transported via ambulance to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton in critical condition, where he passed away two days later.
    Since that time this incident has prompted the generation of an online petition attempting to gather 5000 signatures calling for stricter guidelines controlling the use of tasers. Part of the petition site states "Canadian Police: Don't Tase First, Ask Questions Later! In 2007, Canadian police officers faced harsh criticism after tasering a Polish immigrant to death. The investigation that followed this tragedy concluded that Canada must establish province-wide regulations on stun guns." 
    Tasers, or electroshock weapons, which are classified as non-lethal weapons, are designed to incapacitate a person by disrupting superficial muscle functions. One of the problems that even manufacturers of these weapons warns about, is that with people coming in all different sizes,  tasers can have differing effects on different people. Primarily the manufacturers are speaking to the average person purchasing a taser as a personal protective device and addressing the possibility that depending on the size and muscle mass of the attacker, taking other variables into consideration such as thickness of clothing and the attacker being in an altered state due to drugs or alcohol in their system, there is the possibility that the taser will not be effective. However, the difference is the typical voltage on a personal use taser is 30,000 volts but the police models are generally rated at 50,000 volts. Pretty much guaranteed to get results.
    So the questions being asked now are not so much whether the training the police receive to use the tasers is adequate, but rather when they are deployed how will they react on each individual. Yes, they are designed to disrupt "superficial" muscle functions but when the same voltage that can take down a 250lb muscular guy is deployed on a 120lb thin person with a weak heart can you state with all surety that shock will not run deeper and cause almost instant death? 
    There are a lot of police officers who refuse to go through the training to carry tasers for varied reasons and they still seem able to ‘get their man’ when the chips are down. A fair question to ask is, is this really a necessary tool for the police to carry? More and more people are starting to demand more information and that further studies be done on this newest of weapons in law enforcements' arsenal. 
    In the meantime, while everyone is waiting for the coroner to announce the actual cause of death of Marc-Andre Fontaine, public opinion is choosing to place the blame firmly at the feet of the taser. 
    The RCMP were contacted requesting any updates on this case but we had not been contacted by press time. This case is an ongoing investigation with the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.

More Stories:
  • Power Off Predators Technology, the Internet and social media are facts of life in today’s society, and with all the benefits, there is a dark corner where predators groom and lure young people. When Warburg resident Colleen Foster was approached ...
  • Turkey Chase and Search for The Yeti The Annual Devon Turkey Chase is in its 9th year, held once again at the Lions Campground on the shore of the North Saskatchewan River. This fun outdoor event is so rooted in the Town of Devon’s local culture, that it has ...
  • Fall Food Roundup Success The shelves of the Leduc and District Food Bank are filling up again with another successful Fall Food Round Up. This year, 17,679 pounds of food was collected in the door-to-door food drive Oct. 6. Another 3,900 pounds have ...
  • Leduc Food Bank Cooking Lessons Each month, between 100 and 150 families in the Beaumont, Calmar, Leduc, Leduc County, Devon, New Sarepta, Thorsby, Nisku and Warburg walk through the doors at the Leduc and District Food Bank looking for help to feed their ...
  • Young Leaders To Be Praised At 3rd Annual Mayor’s Event On October 29th, from noon till 2 pm, at the Best Western, over 70 Leduc teens will be applauded for their character, service and leadership at the 3rd Annual Mayor’s Youth Leadership Recognition Awards Luncheon. Leduc Mayor ...
  • Battle Lake Church Welcomes New Pastor A Commissioning Service planned for October 25 marks the first six months of the Buchholz’ pastoral ministry at Battle Lake Community Baptist Church. This is a momentous event for the congregation as it marks the end of a ...
  • Saving Lives During Operation Impact Submitted by S/Sgt Neill Pearson A/Officer in Charge, Wetaskiwin RCMP October 10-13, 2014 will mark Operation Impact, a national campaign to make Canada’s roads the safest in the world. Members of the Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment ...
  • 1st Annual WCTS Walker-Thon Raises Over $3,000!!! The Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society held its 1st Annual Walker-thon earlier today (Friday, September 26, 2014) at the Wetaskiwin Mall. Led by Mayor Bill Elliot and W1440 Morning Man Billy Williams, 14 participants ...
  • Yee Haw Warburg Harvest Hoedown It’s pretty hard to beat toe-tappingly good, canned country music at events. In fact, only one thing can beat it - live music, from the heart music. From September 19 through 21, 2014, between 300 to 325 attendees of the ...
  • Pet Valu “Thanks for Giving” Campaign Pet Valu (Wetaskiwin) is participating in Pet Valu Canada’s 3rd annual, “Thanks for Giving” campaign to collect donations to help stock the Wetaskiwin Animal Shelter with dog and cat food, treats, toys, collars and leashes. ...
  • Wayfinding In Leduc The City of Leduc wants to help visitors and residents find their way around. On Sept. 30, around 45 people gathered in Lede Room at the Leduc Civic Centre to learn about wayfinding and offer their opinions on the best way ...
  • 2014 Jumpstart Pedal For Kids A Success Meeting the people that the Jumpstart program helps, was enough motivation for Leduc resident, Rachel Yeung, to push herself on the 2,500 km bike trek during the 2014 Jumpstart Pedal for Kids event last month. Yeung and 70 ...
  • Toxic And E-Waste, Be Gone! On Saturday, October 4th, the City of Leduc hosted its Annual Toxic and E-Waste Roundup at the Eco-Station located on 46 Street, on the east side of the railroad tracks (6102 - 46 St.). Members of the City of Leduc Public ...
  • Do Something Magazine Launch Do Something Magazine held its launch party on Saturday, October 4th, at 1:30pm at Leduc Composite High School. The afternoon was filled with entertainment and the first issue of the magazine was made available to the public ...
  • Leduc Food Bank In High Gear On October 6, 2014, the 20th Annual Food Drive will take place in the City of Leduc, one of the most significant ‘Food-raising’ campaigns for the Leduc & District Food Bank. (LDFB) Within the City and County of Leduc, residents ...
  • Looking At Today’s Wetaskiwin Library The Wetaskiwin Public Library has changed. The library started out in 1928 in a room within the Wales Hotel on Main Street in Wetaskiwin with 50 books and just 37 members. Look at it today. A major remodelling project that ...
  • Wetaskiwin 25th Anniversary Of Special Olympics When the Special Olympics athletes, coaches, families and friends came together to celebrate 25 years of organization and competition in Wetaskiwin, they celebrated an impressive record of success. This record is represented ...
  • Millet A ‘Five Bloom’ Communities In Bloom Recipient Millet can stand proud again with Communities in Bloom. The Town of Millet received a Five Bloom rating and a special mention for the Pipestone Park Enhancement Project during the 2014 National Symposium and Awards ceremonies ...
  • Grant Thornton 25th Anniversary Grant Thornton celebrated 25 years in Wetaskiwin with a barbecue and drive to collect food and funds for the Salvation Army Food Bank. In that time, the accounting firm has grown from about nine staff to the present three ...
  • Three Women Are Technically Twisted At Reynolds Museum Metal Art Show & Sale On September 20th and 21st, among the displays of antique machinery and cars at the Reynolds Alberta Museum, were displays of stunning jewelry, custom knives, chainmail, steam punk, and sculptures; creations from sterling ...




 
  • Leduc Radio Ad
  • Industrial Netmedia
  • Industrial Netmedia
  • Industrial Netmedia