Victoria, B.C., suspect Tasered twice in arrest captured on video

Matthew Coutts

Another week, another police incident captured on camera and posted online.

The increasingly common occurrence of bystanders recording police found a new battleground this weekend when two officers in Victoria, B.C., were recorded arresting a man in a downtown street.

The suspect is alleged to have pulled a knife on a group of people earlier in the evening. Police were able to find him, and in the process of trying to arrest him Tasered him twice.

According to Victoria Police, officers shot him with a Taser after he pulled a knife in a standoff with police, and fought to escape custody.

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The police account follows what appears to be seen in the video. The subject is Tasered, but escapes a struggle with two officers. A second Taser was deployed, dropping the suspect to the street where he is taken into custody.

The suspect suffered minor injuries and was treated in hospital.

"Additionally, one of the officers suffered cuts and scrapes during the struggle, but was treated and returned to duty," a statement reads.

The police account makes note of the videos that have appeared online.

This is the new reality for Canadian police officers. Actions will be recorded and shared, parsed and publicized.

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In the wake of the shooting of Sammy Yatim, whose death bystanders captured on video and released to the public, Canadians remain concerned about the long arm of the law.

How police act while responding to a call, or out on patrol, is closely scrutinized by the public. Even the simplest incidents are captured on video by those who fear something will go wrong.

In the case of Yatim, Toronto Const. James Forcillo now faces the charge of second-degree murder. Many believe the investigation into the shooting was aided by those videos captured by bystanders.

Be prepared to stand up to scrutiny. That’s the mantra. In fact, police forces are more often taking the matter into their own hands.

Police in Edmonton and Amherstburg, Ont., are currently conducting trials with body-worn video cameras.

In Calgary, police officials announced this week that they hope to expand a test program to more officers. Currently as many as 50 Calgary police officers wear body cameras, capturing interaction with the public.

Videos have already been used in cases to secure quick resolutions and convictions.

"Ongoing testing and research will be done to ensure body worn cameras are used effectively allowing police officers to capture evidence, enhance officer and public safety and provide transparency," according to an announcement.

But there are shortcomings to the project, which the Calgary Police Service admits will need to be ironed out.

Under the pilot program, officers could turn the cameras on at their discretion. They were not required to alert members of the public that they were being recorded.

Supt. Nina Vaughan told the Calgary Herald there would need to be more detailed rules about the use of the cameras.

We have come a long way since the death of Robert Dziekanski, whose 2007 Taser attack at the Vancouver airport was captured on video. That video, which was improperly seized but eventually returned to its owner, led to charges against the officers involved for allegedly misrepresented what happened leading up to Dziekanski’s death. One officer was found not guilty of perjury last month.

Whether it’s a streetcar standoff in Toronto, the arrest of a knife-wielding hoodlum in Victoria, B.C. or Halloween night in New Brunswick, police activity is bound to be photographed and recorded.

Officers should get used to it. It’s not always a bad thing. In Victoria, they acknowledged the existence of the video. In Calgary, they are taking it into their own hands. When officers act justly, it shouldn’t be a concern.

In fact, without public oversight we would never know about this officer.

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