Nelson’s police chief is relieved the Taser was available last weekend as police used it to gain control of an agitated man intent on injuring himself.
“In this instance, thank goodness we did have it available to the officer who responded. Things could have turned much more ugly, much more quickly had that less-than-lethal option not been available,” Chief Wayne Holland told the Star.
On Sunday, the Nelson Police Department responded to a call about a man who’d stabbed himself with a knife and fled his place of work.
“We had a young man who was unfortunately… very upset and suicidal,” said Holland.
“He had a large and very sharp knife with which he was self mutilating and he was also making statements he intended to kill himself.”
When police found the male sitting on a curb in Fairview, he was approached with caution. Initially he was calm but became agitated, combative and punched the NPD member twice in the face according to a release issued by the department.
The officer attempted restrain the man using physical force, but because the person still had a knife and was continuing his agitated behaviour, the Taser was used.
“The officer did as he was trained and used something that was less-than-lethal force,” said Holland.
With one use of the Taser, the man was unable to use his muscles to resist and was easily handcuffed by police.
The man was taken to Kootenay Lake Hospital immediately by EHS and examined by a doctor. No injuries from the Taser were received and the man was treated for the self-inflicted stab wounds as well as mental health issues.
“It may not have been the case if they’d continued to do battle. Everything worked well,” said Holland. “We are very happy we had the Taser available to our member that day.”
This was the first time officers in Nelson deployed the conducted energy weapon since they were reinstated for use in the city this April.
Holland says all officers are reluctant to use force of any kind.
“Obviously the officer was distressed he had to use any force at all, but later commented thank goodness he had the Taser on him because who knows what would have happened if the person continued to fight,” Holland relayed.
The incident was reported to the Independent Investigation office and the Police Complaints Commissioner. At this time, there is no reason for them to “assert their jurisdiction,” said Holland.