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TAMARA KING, CP
The Canadian Press(CP)

TORONTO - The case of a mentally disabled man allegedly zapped with a Taser when Toronto police burst into his bedroom highlights the need for an ongoing national debate on the use of the stun guns, a prominent lawyer said Tuesday.
The family of George Lochner is suing the police for more than $9 million, claiming the man was beaten and zapped with a Taser in August 2006 when officers entered the family home looking for his brother, Silvano, who was wanted for threatening a neighbour.
Armed with a warrant, police were searching for Silvano when they came across George, who has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old and was sleeping at the time.
The sequence of events is unclear.
George, 43, has difficulty explaining what happened and the police force's statement of defence does not contain many details of the encounter. The family's lawyer, Clayton Ruby, says photographs of Lochner's body taken one day after the incident show he was zapped with a Taser in five places.
''Tasering someone on at least five separate occasions is inhumane and wrong. Just wrong,'' Ruby said.
''He's an unarmed man in his own bed.''
The pictures, displayed at a news conference Tuesday, show marks that resemble two side-by-side cigarette burns on various parts of Lochner's body. He was also photographed with a black eye.
Ruby says the officers used ''abusive and unnecessary force'' with the five-foot-10, 220-pound Lochner.
''I can see how George might seem menacing to somebody. He's large... and he speaks in a peculiar way,'' Ruby said.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
Although the Toronto force is the focus of the lawsuit, Ruby said the case has national implications.
''I think it's very important that there continue to be an ongoing debate about the wisdom of this technique. This is just one little piece of that debate, in my view,'' he said.
More than 20 people have died in Canada after being hit with Tasers, which can deliver a shock of up to 50,000 volts.
The company points out the devices have never been directly blamed for a death.
In a statement of defence, police say Lochner tried to attack them. The document states officers encountered the man in a bedroom and told him not to move, but he ''immediately tried to attack members of the team and eventually he was subdued.''
The statement also says Silvano had ''become increasingly violent and aggressive towards police and others.''
''It is our very firm belief that our officers acted reasonably and responsibly given what they were faced with,'' said police spokesman Mark Pugash, who declined to discuss the details of the case.
Police use Tasers out of convenience, said Ruby, who added that rather than tackling an aggressor, officers find it's more efficient to use the stun gun.
''They don't actually have to get their shirt mussed,'' Ruby said.
''(Toronto police) Chief (Bill) Blair is addicted to Tasers and that addiction has to be stopped.''
Several reviews on the use of stun guns are underway across the country.
Recently, a report commissioned by the RCMP said national standards, more resources and better co-ordination are needed to ensure officers are properly trained to use Tasers.
In Lochner's case, his lawyers also plan to challenge the validity of the warrant. The warrant was signed, but in a space designed for warrants issued in Ontario but for use in other provinces, said Brian Shiller, a Toronto lawyer who is working with Ruby on the case.
On that basis, the search police conducted before Lochner was Tasered would have been illegal, Shiller said.

Story From: The Canadian Press(CP)
 

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Police use Tasers out of convenience, said Ruby, who added that rather than tackling an aggressor, officers find it's more efficient to use the stun gun.
''They don't actually have to get their shirt mussed,'' Ruby said.
That's what T.A.S.E.R's do, efficiently subdue someone without having an officer get hurt. Douchebag lawyer.
 
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