VANCOUVER - The province's police watch dog is investigating a case where a man was sent to hospital after a police officer's stun gun caught fire when one of the probes struck him.
The man was transported to Vancouver General Hospital with "first and second degree burns," said Ron MacDonald, chief civilian officer, Independent Investigations Office.
"I’ve done a lot of these cases," said MacDonald, "It's the first time I’ve seen this occur."
Investigators would not confirm what the item was but a witness who saw the man arrive at VGH told CTV News Vancouver it may have been a deodorant can in the man's pocket.
"What it was, where it was, how it was being carried could well be important to the investigation," said MacDonald. "We don't like to disclose those kinds of facts until such time as we've spoken to all the witnesses."
The incident happened Sunday afternoon. According to the IIO, Vancouver police responded to a call around 2:15 p.m. about complaints of "a man who spat at a couple near Jack Poole Plaza and attempted to touch a number of women." Officers caught up with the man on the seawall near Bute and Cordova street, and there was some sort of altercation that lead to the use of a Taser.
"One of the key parts of our investigation will be, what was the nature of the struggle between the police and the male," said MacDonald. "One of the questions that we have to ask, that we will ask and attempt to answer is, was the use of a Taser justified on the circumstances of this incident."
The IIO investigates all interactions with police that result in serious harm or death whether or not there is any allegation of wrongdoing.
Investigators are asking anyone who may have seen the incident or filmed it to contact them at 1-855-446-8477.