Taser contributing factor in Aron Firman's death, jury finds
Published Tuesday, July 23, 2013 10:35AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 23, 2013 6:39PM EDT
Aron Firman's death was accidental. A Taser only contributed to his death. That's the ruling of a coroner's jury today.
Firman’s death, the inquest ruled, was caused by a heart condition due to excited delirium and schizophrenia. It isn't the verdict his family had hoped for. His father says he believes the Taser was more than just a contributing factor.
“I'm actually disappointed,” says Marcus Firman. “Obviously the science is unclear. This jury's had to sit through 14 weeks of evidence, very contradictory evidence.”
Firman, who suffered from schizophrenia, died after he was tasered during an incident with Collingwood OPP officers in June 2010. Police were investigating a domestic call at the group home where Firman lived. The SIU had already cleared the officer responsible of any wrong doing.
The jury made 21 recommendations with almost half focusing on the use of Tasers by police. One key recommendation is that more data needs to be collected on police use of Tasers. The jury also called for a national data base of Taser deaths involving police.
The jury also recommends more Taser training for police including what to do if the tasered suspect doesn't respond. It says police must contact EMS immediately, take out the probes and start CPR.
“Tasers serve a purpose in policing and it’s not about eliminating them, but managing whatever risk there is,” says the family’s lawyer Sunil Mathai.
Mathai hopes the province will follow through on the jury's recommendations.
“It demonstrates that there is a lot of research that needs to be done," he says. “We need to study this further and hopefully Ontario will heed the call and study this further because there is an opportunity to prevent deaths."
Firman’s father is encouraged by the jury's call for more research to help with police training, but isn't sure if this will prevent deaths like his son's.
“You can hope that,” he says, “but I suspect not."
The jury's recommendations will be sent to the province and the OPP to review but are not required to be implemented.
Aron Firman is shown with his sisters Gemma Firman, left, and Samantha Firman in this undated family handout photo.
A police-issued Taser gun is displayed at the Victoria police station in this 2008 file photo. (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
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