Turpel-Lafond 'disturbed' by Taser incident
The province’s youth advocate is “disturbed” by the Tasering of an 11-year-old boy at a Prince George group home and is poised to launch a separate investigation into the events leading up to the incident.
“It’s a particular concern for me where a dispute arises in a group-home setting and police are called in to resolve that dispute,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth.
“These incidents do not generally come out of the blue.”
While she wouldn’t discuss specifics of the boy’s case, Turpel-Lafond said he is an aboriginal youth who is “completely dependent as a ward of state on his caregivers to provide for his support. He doesn’t have the natural love and affection of a family environment.”
Citing privacy concerns, none of the agencies involved would reveal the name of the facility at which the boy was living, although it’s believed to be in a rural area southeast of the city.
Turpel-Lafond would not say if she dealt with complaints about that particular facility, but said she has had general discussions abut the region and the “patterns of cases that I’ve seen at some facilities.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Children and Family Development said the boy was not in a group home, but rather a “staffed residential resource” with three round-the-clock staffers and no other children.
Turpel-Lafond said she had a “quibble” with that description: “I consider that the young person was in a group home setting.”
West Vancouver police, who are investigating the Mountie’s use of the Taser following a reported stabbing, said the boy, who is believed to have attacked a care-giver, was uninjured by the jolt, although Turpel-Lafond called that “a very narrow lens” through which to view harm.
“The issue is: is it traumatic to have four police officers do a take-down with a Taser?” she said.
Turpel-Lafond said the “major issue” for her now is finding a new home for the boy and dealing with the psychological fallout from the incident.
As of Tuesday, she was still waiting on medical reports to decide if she would launch a formal probe into the boy’s care.
The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP is also “closely monitoring” developments in the case and is awaiting the results of the West Vancouver police investigation.
“Although an independent police force has been called in to investigate the case, the age of the individual involved merits special attention,” the commission said in a statement, which added it “has previously expressed caution on the use of tasers against at-risk populations.”