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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Man who videotaped the death of Robert Dziekanski sues RCMP to release footage

October 30, 2007

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Paul Pritchard, the witness who recorded a video of the death of Robert Dziekanski after being Tasered by police at Vancouver International Airport, is suing the RCMP for return of the video.

Pritchard took "excellent quality" footage of Dziekanski's actions in the minutes before police arrived, the use of the Taser by police, as well as the "incredibly shocking" moment the witnesses realized they had just seen a man die. He continued videotaping even when a security guard told him to stop. Pritchard later hid his camera in his bag, as he was worried someone would confiscate it. "I had just returned from China, so I still felt guarded about the authorities suppressing information."

However, Pritchard agreed to lend his camera and the footage to the RCMP when he was promised they would only take a copy and give everything back to him within 48 hours. Instead, he received a call stating the police were not going to return the footage. "I'm upset they've gone back on their word and are trying to keep my video from coming out."

Victoria lawyer Paul Pearson of Mulligan Tam Pearson agreed to help Pritchard get his footage back. Pearson filed a lawsuit in British Columbia Supreme Court on Thursday, and plans to apply for a judge's order to return the video before the end of the week.

"When I saw Mr. Dziekanski's mother crying on television, I knew I had to get that video back and make sure the public gets an accurate picture of how this happened," Pritchard stated. He plans to release the full video to the media when he gets it back.

Pritchard had been working as an ESL teacher in China. He says he took great pride in telling his adult students about the rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy. "It's too bad that so soon after coming back to Canada I've been made to feel like I may have been overstating those rights."

UPDATE: Cpl. Dale Carr of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says the evidence is vital to the investigation, and making it public could compromise evidence still be to gathered from other witnesses. He says the police will hold on to the video as long as necessary, and all the evidence will eventually be forwarded to the B.C. Coroners Service, adding that the truth will come out.

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