Pay or Play: Vancouver Police Taser Transit Riders Who Fail to Pay Fare

Vancouver transit riders are being tasered. Documents show police have sued tasers on passengers 10 times in the past 18 months, including five occasions when passengers skipped fares.

It appears that the police view a taser as a standard response to a failure to obey police orders. In one case, a passenger accused of skipping the fare was tasered after he refused to let go of a railing.

The translink report said, “After several warnings to the subject to stop resisting arrest and the subject failing to comply with the officers’ commands, the taser was deployed and the subject was taken into control.”

The government is now considering a ban on tasers.

For prior taser abuse stories, click here.

For the full story, click here.

12 thoughts on “Pay or Play: Vancouver Police Taser Transit Riders Who Fail to Pay Fare

  1. This is an interesting contrast between Canadians (massed on our northern border) and Americans when it comes to what is acceptable in law enforcement.

    Both countries are increasingly up-arming their police. I think it would be more difficult for our politicians to say we ought to take a look at what this means.

    It’s telling that Canadian police would even consider, let alone actually, tase people for fare skipping. Police are just like anyone else in the population, both good and bad. the fact that so many police are willing to tase in this circumstance points to a structural problem–a new set of values that makes for bad law enforcement.

  2. Tasers are a classic bait-and-switch. They were plugged, perhaps only implicitly, as an alternative to deadly force when force is necessary. But instead of being used as an alternative, law enforcement simply lowered the threshold for when force can be used. It is my understanding that the standard for taser use is “passive resistance.” Do you know what “passive resistance” is? It is failing to follow an officer’s orders. I can also be failing to follow an officer’s orders promptly; delayed compliance is non-compliance. Now we have a blurring of the lines between what is and is not a lawful order. Who would have seen that coming?

    Here is an interesting question: If it is torture to water-board an enemy combatant, then why is it not torture to taser a citizen? After all, water-boarding is a non-lethal technique that puts the subject in fear of immanent death, while tasering is sometimes lethal (or has preceded death in a few instances) and puts the subject in excruciating pain. I am not advocating water-boarding here; I am questioning the validity of tasering. Using extreme pain to obtain compliance with a police order, or as a form of punishment without notice or an opportunity for a hearing, seems inconsistent with civil society if not due process. If arrest is always an option, why not just do that and save the tasers for resistance with force?

    Here is another interesting question: If some people die after tasering, which is fairly common knowledge, is law enforcement on notice that every time they use their taser they are using potentially deadly force? If so, are tasers really that different from guns? And should that not change policy for taser use?

  3. Gene, these are all good points. Other supposedly non-leathal methods of civilian crowd control, now in use, were developed by our military (supposedly for use on the battlefield). These are usually agents of incapacitation. I do not think DARPA manufactured “blue light specials” should be used by civilian authorities.

  4. JT, is there a way to include more than one line in a post without being moderated?

    Also, I have a fantastic memory and I used to be able to almost effortlessly find past remarks. Did you change some THING recently
    -????????? :)

    These are my two samples of earlier posts on the contradictory path Canada has taken with respect to taser use – which is also no model as it turns out- but neither is ours as ‘leaders in the field’, here, in the US of A…

    ***

    Taser Use Drops After Ottawa Introduces “Responsibility Pay”

    Patty C 1, February 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    The Crisis Prevention Institute has been around for 30 years-in the beginning primarily for human services professionals.

    Crisis Intervention Training for law enforcement personnel has gained in popularity among Police Department Units and Sheriff Departments, especially in the past 8 years or so in the United States.

    Check out what UVA is doing with their summer program.
    (UVA link omitted for purposes of general info inclusion, here)
    ********************

    Video Shows Police Tasering a Handcuffed and Disabled Man by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Patty C 1, March 14, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    This story is very sad. I hope that his untimely tragic death will not affect any case brought by his estate, by his family, on his behalf.

    Canadian law is not like ours.

    (link modified from original post)

    http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/

    ***citation included separately, here:

    Criminal Code ( R.S., 1985, c. C-46 )

    ‘Protection of Persons Administering and Enforcing the Law

    Protection of persons acting under authority

    25

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  5. gene:

    Well I am impressed. It really never crossed my mind, and I do occasionally come across them in my practice. Many thanks for somethng new to consider. That is why I enjoy this blog so much.

  6. Gene,

    The government considers tasers to be non-lethal force, not potentially lethal force. If someone dies from the application of a taser, that is often due to some defect or fault of the victim, often officially stated to be due to alleged drug use or some kind of physical impairment that couldn’t have been reasonably known by the officer.

    There’s no question in my mind that these “pain compliance” tools are nothing less than dressed up modern instruments of torture, which will be used for lesser and lesser infractions. We see this force drift across the spectrum of government action, perhaps most notably in the application of the term “terrorist” to a myriad of common crimes. In my view, this is primarily due to the potential to start from a higher asking price in plea bargained sentence, and statistical justification for “anti-terrorist” funds.

    I don’t expect that the broader public will question the use of tasers or other new technologies (such as new heat rays that superheat the skin, sonic weapons that induce pain, or green lasers that temporarily blind pedestrians and drivers) to compel compliance with the wishes of government demands. Tasers will continue to be used more broadly, and the precedent they set will be used to introduce new tactical options for our paramilitarized police forces.

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