Sep 25, 2013
By Jane Brown
Dozens of Toronto residents packed council chambers at City Hall last night to argue against the expanded police use of tasers. It’s an issue that’s resurfaced since 18 year old Sammy Yatim was shot and killed on an empty TTC streetcar in July. There was also the case of an 80 year old Mississauga woman who suffered a broken hip after being tasered by police near her home.
The speakers at the special meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board were a mix of concerned citizens, new immigrants, mental illness survivors and vocal Toronto activists. Toronto lawyer Peter Rosenthal spoke out against taser use as well. “They are dangerous weapons. They can kill,” he explained, “But more significantly given the numbers, they can injure. If they work properly, a person falls like a ton of bricks.”
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee says last night’s public consultation was a valuable learning experience. “I think there were some really really useful suggestions that will meet some concerns that cannot be ignored.”
The public consultation was called after the provincial government’s announcement this summer that all frontline officers would be permitted to use tasers. Previously, only tactical units and frontline supervisors could carry tasers in Ontario.