We have heard, seen and read much about the unfortunate shooting of a young man on a Toronto streetcar this past weekend.
There has been a great outcry over this incident, based on a blurry cellphone video and news reports. The problem is that this is still being investigated – we don’t really know what happened. All the video shows (and this video did not capture the events from the beginning) is a young man standing on a streetcar wielding a knife near the front door and an officer on the street firing his weapon after orders to drop the knife were ignored. What led to this point; a moment in time that affected not only the family of this young man, but the officer as well?
I’ve heard the question “why didn’t the police use a taser rather than shoot him?” Why? Simple. Because the officers on the street don’t carry tasers. According to my information, at any given time, there are perhaps 15 tasers on the street of Toronto, each in the possession of a patrol sergeant. The reports state this young man was tasered after he was shot. If so, the police obviously felt they had just cause. The fact there are only 15 tasers on the street at any time naturally gives rise to the suggestion that all front-line officers be issued tasers.
I’ll admit I’m of two minds on this idea. Granted, it would provide another level of deterrent when dealing with a situation before resorting to deadly force. On the other hand, the case of
Robert Dziekan’ski at Vancouver International Airport does provide a good example of what can happen. And there have been other cases where use of a taser has resulted in the death of someone. Now from what I recall, some of these cases were the result of underlying medical causes aggravated by the voltage, but in the Robert Dziekan’ski case, his death was eventually ruled as homicide.
Now, I know all my readers are law-abiding citizens, but you may have a friend who isn’t. Think for a moment: How would you feel if that friend were to die from a heart attack brought on by what is supposed to be a non-lethal way of subduing him?
You posted some good questions and thoughts. I do think if possible a taser should be used instead of a gun. However it leads to tasers being used in situations that could be handled other wise. Training and a review like they have for guns when a taser is used may help.