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Coroner Finds Man Didn't Die From TASER

The Globe and Mail, Vancouver BC

LONDON, ONT. - A man who died in police custody after being shot three times by a taser didn't die from the device, Ontario's deputy chief coroner told an inquest yesterday.

Had Peter Lamonday died in the parking lot where he absorbed the shots, the powerful stun gun could be considered responsible, Dr. James Cairns said.

But because the London man died some 50 minutes after taking on eight London police officers, the taser clearly didn't kill him, Dr. Cairns said on the opening day of the inquest into Mr. Lamonday's death May 14, 2004.

"This is the big question: Do tasers kill?" Dr. Cairns said of the popular weapons that temporarily stop attackers with a 50,000-volt jolt of electricity.

Last year the British Columbia Police Complaints Commissioner ordered an investigation into the case of Robert Bagnell, a Vancouver man, who died last June after being stunned by a taser.

The report has not been released and late last month Mr. Bagnell's family demanded answers. They complained they have learned nothing, including the official cause of his death.

In London, Dr. Cairns told the jury: "If you're going to die from an electric shock, you die when you get the electric shock, not minutes or hours later.

"Death cannot be attributed to the taser if there is an interval between use and death."

A postmortem has ruled that Mr. Lamonday died of cocaine-induced excited delirium -- during which a person can feel no pain and exhibit incredible strength, but eventually crash.

Earlier, coroner's counsel David Carruthers told the jury that Mr. Lamonday, whose manner was described as "paranoid" by witnesses who saw him at a bar, smashed his head through the glass door of a nearby ceramics business and appeared unaffected.

The inquest, which is mandatory because Mr. Lamonday died in police custody, continues today.

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