Mountie testifies Taser victim's stance made him fear for his safety
By NEAL HALL, Vancouver SunFebruary 23, 2009 4:11 PM
Source: Mountie testifies Taser victim's stance made him fear for his safety (external - login to view)
VANCOUVER - The first of four Mounties to testify about a fatal incident at the Vancouver airport in 2007 said he feared for his safety because of Robert Dziekanski's combative stance before being Tasered.
"I recall fearing for my safety, to some degree
," Richmond RCMP Const. Gerry Rundel testified Monday at the Braidwood inquiry, which is probing Dziekanski's death and Taser use in B.C.
Rundel described Dziekanski as being unkempt and disoriented when police arrived.
"He had a wide-eyed glaze," Rundel recalled of the look on Dziekanski's face. "He seemed to be disoriented."
The man also had messy matted hair, his shirt untucked, was pacing and seemed agitated, Rundel said..
He said the call was dispatched as a possibly intoxicated person who was throwing around luggage.
Rundel and the other officers - Constables Bill Bentley, Kwesi Millington and Cpl. Benjamin Robinson - were all on a lunch break at the airport detachment when the dispatch came in.
They jumped in four separate police cars and arrived on scene about a minute later.
None of the officers said anything as they walked in the airport and saw
Dziekanski standing at the exit of a secure area of the international arrivals area, Rundel said.
He said Bentley greeted Dziekanski with a friendly, "Hi, how you doing."
Dziekanski, who spoke no English, responded with several words in Polish
, the officer said.
He recalled that a woman had told him seconds earlier that the man did not speak English, but he didn't pass that along to the other officers.
Dziekanski, after police arrived, bent down and motioned toward his luggage.
"No," Robinson told Dziekanski, holding out the palm of his hand to indicate "You're not going into your luggage," Rundel said.
"Mr. Dziekanski clearly understood the command
," the witness said.
Then the man "disobeyed Cpl. Robinson by flipping up his hands and leaving," Rundel said.
Rundel said he didn't think that the fact Dziekanski spoke no English was a factor in his disobeying a police command.
"I don't think the language barrier was a problem
," he testified.
"He understood what Cpl. Robinson was instructing him to do," the witness said.
"He disobeyed that command and then was non-compliant - he flipped up his hands and moved away," Rundel recalled.
"My interpretation of that was 'To hell with you guys - I'm out of here,' " he added.
"I didn't see it myself but he grabbed a metal object, later determined to be a stapler. He had a firm grasp of it."
Rundel said Dziekanski then assumed a combative pose
- with his arms near his upper chest, with the hand not grasping the stapler in a clenched fist and moved his left foot forward
That's when Millington deployed the Taser, he said.
Dziekanski yelled, indicating the Taser shock was having an effect but the man failed to fall.
"Hit him again
," Robinson told Millington, meaning deploy the stun gun again,Rundel said.
After the second shock, Dziekanski dropped the stapler and fell to the ground
He said the incident unfolded very fast.
Rundel thought Dziekanski was Tasered twice, but the inquiry has heard the Taser was deployed five times.
Rundel and his colleagues then moved in to handcuff the suspect.
He said they had trouble handcuffing Dziekanski's hands behind his back and had to get on his back and hold the man's legs down.
"Once Mr. Dziekanski was handcuffed there was still a kicking motion
for five or 10 seconds," then he stopped resisting, Rundel said.
Dziekanski died minutes later at the scene.
Hours after Dziekanski died, Rundel made a police statement that said the suspect "raised the stapler above his head and started motioning toward us."
But after watching a citizen's video of the event, the witness said it appeared Dziekanski lifted the stapler above his head after the second time the Taser was deployed.
The stapler then is dropped and Dziekanski writhes on the floor, howling in pain.
At the time of the incident, on Oct. 14, 2007, Rundel had only been a Mountie for two years.
Dziekanski, 40, had no alcohol in his system that night. He had left Poland 24 hours earlier and had spent about 10 hours in the airport unable to find his mother.
His mother had left the airport to return to her home in Kamloops after being told by officials that her son could not be located.
Several people called 911 after the exhausted man became agitated and began throwing luggage and furniture.
Dziekanski's mother began crying in court when the video of her son's final minutes were shown. She left court sobbing.
If we as Citizens of Canada (and others around the World) hadn't SEEN
and HEARD the video recording of this death of Mr. Dziekanski, this
would almost sound believable. I watched that video (as did we all) and
I HEARD one of the RCMP ask, before they crossed into the secure area
where Mr. Dziekanski was, if he'd be able to get to use his Taser!
Four Armoured Mounties vrs one guy who didn't speak English, who picked
up a stapler and moved his left foot (the B@stard!!!). Start to finish, arrival to
the first of FIVE Taserings in just 26 seconds. Could it be that Mr. Dziekanski's
legs where kicking still as he was on the floor 'cuz he was being Tasered 2-3
more times? How DARE this guy squirm as he's being electrocuted!!!
Last edited by Ron in Regina; Feb 23rd, 2009 at 08:22 PM..Reason: Underlined "to some degree" for emphasis.