Knives and other types of blades were a factor in almost half of the cases of Saskatchewan police officers using a Taser to subdue someone last year, a new report shows.
Steak knives, machetes, axes and other sharp weapons were seen or even pointed at officers before 10 out of the 24 uses of a stun gun recorded by police officers in Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert in 2016, according to the Saskatchewan Police Commission’s latest annual report.
In one incident in Regina, a man was Tasered twice after he walked toward officers “with a large machete-style knife in each hand raised over his head” and repeatedly refused to drop the weapons.
The first Tasering dropped the man to the floor but he maintained his grip on the machetes. After the man got back up on his feet, a second Tasering finally disarmed him.
Serve and protect
Sometimes officers used a stun gun to prevent harm to someone other than the person subdued.
In one case in Saskatoon, police Tasered a man who had barricaded himself in a bathroom with a woman.
“Members successfully breached the bathroom door and observed the female seated on the toilet with the subject behind her holding a knife against her neck,” according to the account.
“He was commanded to drop the knife but refused to comply and responded by saying in an eerily calm voice, ‘For what she did to me.'”
The use of a stun gun does not always have the desired effect, however.
One man in Saskatoon, who appeared to be intoxicated, approached officers with a small axe “in a threatening manner,” according to the report.
Two Taserings did nothing to “eliminate the threat,” police said. The man barricaded himself into a home with another bladed weapon and eventually surrendered.
Suspect growled at officers, spoke of ‘demons’
The report also paints a stark portrait of other circumstances under which officers feel compelled to discharge their Tasers.
One “very agitated” Regina man was followed by officers to the third floor of an apartment in which he did not belong.
“He continued to growl at the members and to speak of demons,” according to the report.
Alternating between calm and agitated states, the man grabbed a small black knife in his right hand and refused to drop the weapon repeatedly.
“Fearing for the safety of members, other tenants in the [apartment] building and the subject himself, one member discharged a [conducted energy weapon] to eliminate the threat.”