Nearly 18 months after Robert Bagnell died suddenly in his Vancouver rooming house, Regional Crown Counsel of the Criminal Justice Branch, Ministry of Attorney General have advised his family that “no charges will be approved for prosecution.”

Robert’s parents and sister are now looking forward to a mandatory coroner’s inquest, where they hope to uncover the facts related to Robert’s untimely death. The BC Coroners Service has not set a date yet. So far, the family has learned that Robert was unarmed and lying on the floor in the presence of at least five police officers when two of them shot him repeatedly with Taser weapons, apparently to subdue him so he could receive medical attention.

Robert Bagnell is one of at least 160 North Americans who have died after being shot by the Taser, a high tech police weapon that emits a 50,000 volt electrical charge designed to incapacitate and inflict excruciating pain on, but supposedly not kill, the subject. This year alone, 66 people, including four Canadians, have died after being Tasered.

Critics, including Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, say that insufficient safety testing was done on the weapons before they were deployed by police forces in the United States and Canada. Police forces in Chicago and Montgomery, Alabama have discontinued use of the weapon, citing safety and liability concerns.

Meanwhile, people keep dying. The latest was race car driver Dale Earnhardt’s first cousin, Jeffrey D. Earnhardt, 47, who died last Thursday, December 1, 2005, in Orlando, Florida after being shot twice by a police Taser.


Robert Bagnell, 44, died on June 23, 2004. The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) initially told his family that Robert died of a drug overdose, then a month later revealed to the media that they had Tasered him twice just before he died. Another month after that, the VPD acknowledged that he was not a threat to anyone and that he was not involved in the commission of a crime when they sent an ERT (SWAT) team into the washroom Robert was in. The police said Bagnell was shocked with 50,000 volts so they could “rescue” him from a “fire” in his building. The family is skeptical of these claims, but it has been unable to obtain autopsy reports or get a coroner’s inquest scheduled, even though one is mandatory.