Watchdog to probe Taser man's death

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The Independent Online

The police watchdog has launched an investigation following the death of a man after he was tasered by police.

Dale Burns, 27, was tasered several times at his flat in Barrow-in-Furness last night as officers tried to arrest him on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

Mr Burns, who was also sprayed with pepper spray during the attempted arrest, was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead last night.

A post mortem examination is due to be carried out as soon as possible.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) today said an investigation had begun, with investigators in Barrow gathering evidence, examining police logs and getting initial accounts from officers.

The watchdog said officers were called to the upstairs flat in Hartington Street at around 6.30pm to a report of a "concern for welfare" for a man inside.

Police attended 10 minutes later and after speaking to the man decided to call an ambulance which then arrived. The IPCC said: "Police attempted to arrest the man on suspicion of causing criminal damage at the flat.

"During the arrest one officer discharged a taser at the man a number of times.

"Another officer deployed Pava spray (commonly known as pepper spray). The taser deployed is understood to be a conventional police weapon."

The IPCC said Mr Burns was restrained and taken to Furness General Hospital by police at around 7.30pm, where his condition deteriorated and he was pronounced dead at 8.41pm.

A spokesman said IPCC investigators were making preliminary contact with Mr Burns' family to make them aware of the watchdog's involvement and explain its role.

IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik said: "I would like to send my condolences to the family of Mr Burns at this difficult time.

"In these circumstances where a man has died relatively soon after being arrested by police it is right that we undertake a fully independent investigation.

"Investigators are at the locality beginning their inquiries and are making contact with Mr Burns' family to explain to them what we know so far and how the investigation will progress.

"A taser and spray was 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.

"We will need to await the results of a post mortem and any necessary tests to establish how Mr Burns died.

"In the meantime I would urge people to have patience while we seek to gain answers to the questions understandably raised."

Friend Stan Dewhurst, who owns the Flexappeal gym, said Mr Burns was a keen gym-goer and father-of-two.

Mr Dewhurst, 48, said: "I have known him since he was 15 when he joined the gym.

"He worked for me for five years. But he was more than an employee, he used to open up and lock up for me, he was like a son."

Mr Dewhurst said he is godfather to Mr Burns' daughter with a previous partner, who celebrated her fourth birthday today, and said he also had a son, who is two-and-a-half, with a current girlfriend.

He said his friend was alone at his flat in Hartington Street, the same street as the gym, when police tasered him.

"I went to the hospital last night, I got told what had happened and I went up there because I knew his mum was there," he said.

"I don't really know what happened. I heard the landlord called police because he had left the bath on and it was dripping through the ceiling, and he couldn't get in.

"What I heard was that Dale wouldn't get on the floor so they tasered him once, he fell onto one knee, and they tasered him again, and then he wouldn't let them cuff him so they tasered him a third time.

"But that's just what I've heard, I don't really know what happened."

Mr Dewhurst paid tribute to Mr Burns, saying: "He was very, very popular, just a really nice guy."