Dale Burns

Man was tasered and pepper-sprayed prior to death by police

Compiled from various sources
published: 4WardEver UK – December 2011

Updates listed at the foot of this item

27 year old Dale Burns, on died 16th August 2011 after being shot with a Taser by police in England. The incident occurred when police were called to a flat in Barrow where the victim, who lived in the premises, was allegedly causing a disturbance. Neighbours are understood to have called police on Tuesday after they heard him ‘shouting and screaming’ inside for an hour. They also claim to have heard him smashing things inside.

It was claimed that the father-of-two was confronted by up to eight officers after they were called to reports of a disturbance at his bedsit in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. He was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage but when he refused to calm down officers used pepper spray before one fired at him three times in quick succession.

His death reopened the debate on the controversial use of Tasers amid calls for a radical overhaul of their use.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) launched an investigation into the death. A statement from the commission confirmed that one officer discharged a Taser at the man a “number of times”. A pepper spray was also used on the man by another officer.

“A taser and spray were deployed during the arrest and we will be examining whether the actions of police officers were proportionate in the circumstances and in accordance with police procedures,” said IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik.

“We will need to await the results of a post mortem and any necessary tests to establish how Mr Burns died. In the mean time I would urge people to have patience while we seek to gain answers to the questions understandably raised.”

The IPCC appealed to members of the group which gathered outside the flat on Hartington Street to get in touch. It was thought they might have witnessed some of the events, including Mr Burns being taken to a police van.

IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik said: “We recognise that any potential link between Mr Burns’ death and the use of a police Taser is of considerable interest and concern. Therefore we have asked for further tests that may establish a cause of death to be conducted with the utmost urgency.”

A friend, who did not want to be named, said: “I don’t know what kicked off the trouble but when the police got to him they couldn’t control him so they Tasered him. But he got back up and was going off his head because he was angry at what they had done, so they Tasered him twice more.

“They got him up to the hospital and his body went into shock. They brought him back to life with the shockers but then he just went flatline.” He added: ‘The police went overboard with the Taser. They didn’t need to Taser him three times.’

Stan Dewhurst, 48, the owner of Flex Appeal gym, said: “Dale was definitely not a violent person. He was a lovely man and he came to the gym to work out nearly every day. Nobody had a bad word to say about him. Why seven police officers feel the need to Taser someone is beyond me.”

Amnesty International expressed its concern about the wider deployment of Tasers following the incident. Spokesperson Eulette Ewart said: “While we’re not able to comment on the details of this specific tragic incident, Amnesty International has long been concerned at the wider deployment of the Taser across UK police forces.

Since 2001, Amnesty International has recorded the deaths of more than 450 people in the United States after they were struck with a Taser. In many instances, most of the deceased were unarmed and did not appear to present a serious threat when they were shocked, in some cases several times.


Follow-up News:

Dale Burns inquest: Bodybuilder ‘Tasered four times’
21 January 2013

Another man is dead after being shot by a police Taser
25 August 2011

Amnesty criticises police Taser use after death
17 August 2011

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