A 14-year-old girl was needlessly zapped with a stun gun by two officers last summer in a jail cell for peeling off strips of wall paint, according to her lawyer.

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This article was published 2/2/2009 (4449 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A 14-year-old girl was needlessly zapped with a stun gun by two officers last summer in a jail cell for peeling off strips of wall paint, according to her lawyer.

The teen and her family are seeking $500,000 in damages in a lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court against the Ontario Provincial Police.

Ontario's provincial advocate for children and youth, Irwin Elman, who has reviewed a videotape of the incident and the OPP's internal investigation, said he can't understand why police needed to stun the girl, who was lying on a cot when the two officers entered her cell and allegedly zapped her.

The incident allegedly occurred in the OPP's Sioux Lookout detachment in July 2008, according to the girl's lawyer, Jeff Roberts. He said the teen and her family want justice after police concluded a complaint filed about the incident was "unsubstantiated."

The teen's lawyer said officers zapped the girl once with a stun gun after she was taken into custody for underage drinking.

"You explain to me why it's necessary to Taser a 14-year-old girl," said Roberts, a Kenora-based lawyer who represents the family from a reserve near Sioux Lookout.

Roberts said the identity of the now 15-year-old youth is not being made public.

"I can tell you from what I saw there was no harm to herself or to any other person. It's not proportional to use a Taser... . It's a 14-year-old child in a cell, not harming herself or anybody else," said Elman, Ontario's independent children's advocate.

"It doesn't make sense to use a Taser on that person."

His office issued a statement on the incident, referencing findings by the RCMP complaints commissioner that there were 90 reports of stun guns used on people under the age of 16 between 2001 and 2008.

Elman said he was concerned about the "proportionality" of the police response.

The use of stun guns on youths has been under debate in Manitoba since the death of Michael Langan, 17, in July 2008 after Winnipeg police Tasered him. Another teen from Petersfield told media she was held down in November 2007 by RCMP officers in a jail cell and stunned. An investigation is underway into the Selkirk detachment's treatment of the matter.

OPP spokesman Insp. Dave Ross said police are limited in what they can say due to the ongoing civil suit.

He said the two officers involved in the incident remain active in the force after the investigation into the complaint concluded.

A statement of defence has not been filed, according to Roberts.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca