September 27, 2008
Vancouver police are defending a decision by officers to Taser a 16-year-old mother who wouldn’t hand her baby over to social workers last Monday, saying the officers were afraid to engage in a tug of war with the mother for what they said was a critically ill baby.
However, the great-grandmother of one-month-old Taige said Friday the baby boy was not critically ill.
Doreen Duncan said she saw the baby and his parents — her grandson Scott Michell, 17, and Misha Peterson, 16, — the night before the Taser incident.
“They came to my house and I fed the baby and Misha burped him and they were real happy,” Duncan said.
“The baby was born with a minor brain condition and they’d checked him out the week before, and the baby was fine. They were told that a scan would be done when the baby gets older and other than that, everything was normal,” she said.
Police spokeswoman Const. Jana McGuinness said social workers had come to apprehend the child so he could be taken to hospital and called for police assistance when the mother refused to give the baby up.
“Our members found it necessary to Taser a mentally distraught teenager to save the life of her baby,” McGuinness said.
“They felt it was critical for them to intervene as they were afraid the child might be smothered, and they applied the Taser to her arm and upper back and she released the child,” she said.
“We couldn’t risk a tug of war or a physical struggle with the mother over the child,” McGuinness said, adding that the officers were afraid such a struggle would injure the baby.
Duncan said Michell and Peterson had known each other for three years and that Peterson was living in a Vancouver group home. Michell had quit school after the baby was born and had found a job, she said.
It appears that when Peterson didn’t report back to the group home with the baby Sunday evening, social workers and the police came looking for her, Duncan said.