Complaints commission completes Knipstrom review

A final report by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) finds no fault with the way Chilliwack officers responded to and eventually Tasered a Chilliwack man who died following the 2007 incident.

A final report by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) finds no fault with the way Chilliwack officers responded to and eventually Tasered a Chilliwack man who died following the 2007 incident.

But the CPC criticized the 21 months it took the RCMP to respond to its Nov. 25, 2009 interim report.

“In the view of the CPC, that delay was neither appropriate nor necessary, nor has it been explained,” the authors of the report said in a statement released last week.

“Historically, there have been lengthy delays in the provision of the (RCMP) Commissioner’s response to the CPC’s interim reports,” a CPC spokesman told The Progress.

“At the end of August, the Commission was awaiting 48 responses from the RCMP Commissioner, 31 of which had been outstanding for more than six months,” he said.

A coroner’s inquest in 2009 found that the use of Tasers had little, if anything, to do with the death of Robert Knipstrom, who was in the throes of “excited delirium” brought on by the use of Ecstasy resulting in a psychotic state characterized by extra-ordinary strength and resistance to pain.

Knipstrom, 36, died in hospital five days after the violent confrontation with RCMP officers in which he was Tasered at least five times, pepper-sprayed and struck with a metal baton on Nov. 19, 2007.

The police use of Tasers, in light of the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski a month earlier at Vancouver International Airport, raised immediate questions about Knipstrom’s death.

But the CPC found the use of Taser’s in Knipstrom’s case was “reasonable in the circumstances” and made 27 additional findings and four recommendations in its final report.

The RCMP accepted all but two of the CPC’s findings and agreed with all but one of the CPC’s recommendations.

The RCMP Commissioner did not agree with the finding that it was “inappropriate” for officers involved in an incident to be interviewed by members of the same or lower rank, or with the recommendation that a staff relations representative should officially attend such incidents to protect members’ “welfare, dignity and operational effectiveness.”

RCMP officers interviewing members involved in the Knipstrom incident were not always superior in rank, and in some cases conducted interviews alone, instead of by a two-member team.

But the CPC spokesman said those areas of disagreement have since been addressed by new RCMP policies.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2