Murder at the Vancouver Airport by the RCMP.Nov 15th, 2007
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It looks like the RCMP broke his neck with the knee of an officer pressing down after being Tazered at least three times.
Tasered man's last moments
Globe and Mail Update
November 14, 2007 at 10:18 PM EST
VANCOUVER — Astonishing video footage released yesterday shows Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski did not resist police or confront them before officers zapped him with a taser, setting off a struggle that ended in his death in the international arrivals area of Vancouver's International Airport.
The footage, shot by Victoria resident Paul Pritchard, was released to the news media yesterday and widely broadcast, providing a raw look at events that have prompted a furious debate in B.C. about the police use of tasers.
The release comes exactly a month after the incident that ended in the death of 40-year-old Mr. Dziekanski, who had come to Canada on his first-ever airplane flight to begin a new life here with his mother, who lives in Kamloops and had been eagerly awaiting his arrival.
He began acting erratically after more than 10 hours being processed — the footage picks up as he was positioning chairs and a table in a manner that caused the automatic doors to remain open. Security guards look on.
Paul Pritchard, 25, who witnessed and recorded the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport, holds the video camera he used to capture the event, after a press conference at his lawyer's office in Victoria in this Nov. 1, 2007 file photo. (Deddeda Stemler/CP)
From the archives
Tasers: Could paranoid rage be the real killer?
Taser-related deaths since 2003
Task force rejects call to stop using tasers in Quebec
Quebecker dies several days after taser shock
Taser victim likely confused, mother says
Globe editorial: Time to recognize the risks of tasers
When four Mounties arrive, they briskly move up to Mr. Dziekanski. He calls out "policia, policia" as they approach. One bystander is recorded saying that he is speaking Russian.
He appears to turn and move away from officers, putting up his hands in frustration. He appears to pick up a stapler on a counter. He is then tasered with a 50,000-volt shock, and jittering he drops, screaming in pain.
Someone yells "hit him again." He was tasered twice. Police pile on, seeking to restrain him. One officer places his knee on Mr. Dziekanski's neck.
Mr. Dziekanski went into medical distress and died there. The footage shows officers attending to him. One man in a suit checks for a pulse. It is impossible to tell from the footage whether he is dead at that point, although he appears non-responsive.
An autopsy later found no sign of drugs or alcohol in Mr. Dziekanski's system, but failed to come up with any specific cause of death.
His mother, Zofia Cisowski, had gone home to the B.C. Interior after waiting several hours to meet her son.
The footage was especially horrifying to Ms. Cisowski. Her lawyer said she had watched parts selected for her by a friend.
"She's profoundly saddened seeing her son look frightened and in need of help and wanting help," Walter Kosteckyj said in an interview shortly before he released copies of the video to the media by arrangement with Mr. Pritchard.
"She would have expected that he would have got that help from the police, but clearly he did not."
Mr. Kosteckyj said his client would not watch TV news broadcasts for a while to avoid seeing the images, although she had wanted to view them on her own terms.
"You want to be able to, if possible, see the last moments of your child's life and see what, if anything, you could do, and what could have been done."
He said she has been resigned to the release of the video. "Whether it got out now or four months from now, she knew that it was going to come out, and that's just the reality of modern life," he said.
Mr. Kosteckyj said it's too soon to comment on legal action, although he has been talking to witnesses to prepare for a planned coroner's inquest. He said people have called him from as far away as Texas to offer their comments on what they saw.
"I was expecting to see a confrontation, a discussion and things go sideways, then the tasering. That's not what you see," he said.
"The biggest thing that surprises me is there were four professional police officers there, and that the four officers showed up on the scene, [and] none of them seemed to take the time, not one of them, to go and talk to the crowd of people, the witnesses that were there and get some background on what was going on," he said.
He urged people to watch the video and draw their own conclusions.
A spokesman for the integrated homicide investigation team, which is investigating the incident, urged the public to await the coroner's inquest and consider the video in the context of evidence that will include officers explaining their conduct.
But Corporal Dale Carr, a spokesman for the police team investigating the incident, conceded that may be a futile request. "People are going to form their opinions. They are going to make their conclusions and I, unfortunately, don't expect I can control that."
Asked about the absence of attempts to defuse the situation with conversation, Cpl. Carr said, "That's part of what we are trying to get to the bottom of, what was going through these officers' minds, what did they choose, and why they chose the intervention they did."
He said the investigation is about 30 to 45 days away from completion.
Cpl. Carr said he was especially sympathetic to Ms. Cisowski despite her criticisms of the police.
"I don't want to counter what she has to say. She's a grieving mother who tried for years to get her son to come to Canada, and upon his arrival he ended up deceased. It's a tragic story, and she's entitled to her opinion."