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RCMP Taser was functioning normally when teen jumped to his death at Kamloops hospital: investigator

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April 14, 2016 - 2:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - A Taser used to subdue a patient who escaped from the psychiatric ward in Kamloops was functioning normally, according to an independent investigator tasked to review RCMP conduct after the patient fell from a three-storey parking garage and later died from his injuries.

Presentation of evidence at the coroner's inquest into Jacob Setah’s death concluded today, April 14, and a five-person jury has begun deliberating.

Karpal Singh with the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. was called to the scene on June 16 to examine police conduct after a RCMP member used his Taser on Setah before the teen lept to his death from Royal Inland Hospital's parkade. He delivered his testimony yesterday afternoon.

The Independent Investigations Office’s role is to act as a third party which investigates police conduct in cases where the individual officers were dealing with are either seriously harmed or killed. The investigator prepares a report that can be used to determine if a criminal offence was committed by the officer or officers involved.

In this case, the Investigations Office did not forward a report to Crown counsel.

Singh paid particular attention to an RCMP Taser used in the moments before Setah’s death. Earlier evidence heard at the inquest, described two officers negotiating with Setah, who was suffering from psychosis, and using cigarettes to coax him to step down from the ledge.

Const. Nathan Poyzer deployed his Taser in an effort to incapacitate the youth and prevent him from harming himself, but the inquest heard Setah was not subdued before he jumped.

Singh said the Taser has two probes that shoot out of the device and land on a subject.

“In order for the Taser to be effective both probes must be connected to the body,” he said. “If they do not connect, the charge will still be deployed." 

He determined the device was working properly.

Singh said according to the autopsy notes, there were three marks on the teen’s chest. Two of those marks were consistant with a Taser probe, but he was unsure about the third.

“There was confirmation of one (shock) but I could not confirm whether there was a second,” he said.

To analyze the device itself, Singh downloaded its information and found it was deployed twice in a short period. To register a proper charge, a conducted-energy weapon must be deployed for five seconds, he said. The first shock delivered by the device lasted for five seconds and the second was four seconds long.

Sgt. Michael Buxton-Carr testified he heard the sound of the Taser go off but was taking notes at the time. He did not see if it knocked Setah to the ground.

As part of their findings, set to be delivered this afternoon, jurors will classify Setah’s death as an accident, suicide, homicide, natural causes or undetermined. The undetermined classification can be made if jurors have competing arguments between two other causes of death.

Along with providing the determination, jurors may also submit recommendations to the various organizations involved in the case as a way to prevent similar deaths.

Find past stories on this coroner's inquest here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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