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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Man dies at Vancouver airport after being tasered by RCMP

October 14, 2007
Jonathan Woodward, CanWest News Service

VANCOUVER - A man is dead after he was Tasered by police following an incident at the Vancouver International Airport Sunday. Police say the incident involved a man in his 40s who had disembarked from an international flight and was waiting for his luggage at about 1:30 a.m. He began screaming in an Eastern European language and throwing chairs around, said RCMP spokesman Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre. RCMP officers stationed in the terminal building were called to deal with the situation after airport security failed to calm the man down, Lemaitre said. He grabbed a computer off a desk, he was pounding on the desk, he was sweating profusely," said Lemaitre in an interview.

Three policeman tried to speak to him, telling him to calm down, he said. When the man refused, officers used a Taser, which discharges 50,000 volts of electricity. "The three officers tried to physically hold him down," said Lemaitre of what occurred after the Taser was used. "There was no chokeholds, no punching. He was still yelling." Lemaitre said officers managed to get handcuffs on the man, who then lapsed into unconsciousness.

Paramedics were called, but about four minutes after being Tasered, the man died.

The incident is now under investigation by the region's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, which initially investigates in-custody and police-related deaths.

Investigators have yet to determine which flight the man was on, and what his destination was, and are contacting Interpol to determine if his passport shows the man's true identity, Lemaitre said.

About a dozen witnesses have been interviewed by police.

Police continue to look for passengers who may have been sitting near or next to the man on the flight.

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