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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

'Awful screaming' in taser video to be made public

November 14, 2007
CTV News

Video of a confrontation between the RCMP and a distraught man in Vancouver International Airport who died after Mounties used a Taser on him will be made public later today.

The man who shot the footage warned the video is disturbing. "There's going to be some really awful screaming on it, and it's going to be hard to watch because it is what it is -- it's a man dying on film," Paul Pritchard told CTV British Columbia on Tuesday. The RCMP officers confronted Polish national Robert Dziekanski on Oct. 14 when he started acting out in the early-morning hours.

Pritchard said the footage will show the following: Dziekanski was very agitated, acting irrational and throwing things around when police arrived. Witnesses were able to calm him. There were four RCMP officers on scene, not three as the RCMP have claimed. Once they arrived, the officers made no real attempt to engage Dziekanski or defuse the situation. Police gestured to Dziekanski that he should back up. In response, the 40-year-old raised his hands and retreated.

"He's almost excited the police are there -- somebody who works there can sort him out," Pritchard said about the video. "The police surround him and he puts his shoulders like this," Pritchard said, demonstrating a hands-up motion, "and walks away from them. That's when they shoot him."

The tape then shows the following, he said:

Upon arrival, the Taser was quickly drawn;
The Taser was first used about 35 seconds after police arrived on scene;
As three officers held Dziekanski down, a second attempt to Taser him was made;
After they had Dziekanski restrained, an officer placed his knee on Dziekanski's neck and held it there; and
Although the officers were trained in CPR, none of them attempted to revive Dziekanski after he lost consciousness.

Emergency radio logs leaked to CTV British Columbia show a 12-minute gap from when Dziekanski lost consciousness and when B.C. Ambulance arrived. The airport has its own paramedics who could have been at the scene within two minutes, but the airport supervisor did not call them, CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger reported.

Dziekanski, who didn't speak English, had just arrived from Poland on his first airliner trip ever. He had come to Canada to be with his mother, Zofia Cisowski, who lives in Kamloops. However, for reasons that are still not clear, it took 10 hours for him to clear customs. Dziekanski and his mother never connected, and she left the airport to return to Kamloops.

The Polish government wants the tragedy to be thoroughly examined. "We would be grateful for the speediest investigation and if there was wrong-doing we need to know about it," Maciej Krych, the Polish consul general told CTV British Columbia on Oct. 23.

"It's disgusting to watch but it's an example of how not to handle a situation," Pritchard said of his video. "We need to do something different -- different procedures. Something needs to change so this doesn't happen again."

The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has filed its own complaint about the case. The RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is also investigating the incident.

Some cellphone video of the fatal confrontation had been released previously but Pritchard's video is of much higher quality. Pritchard turned the video over to the RCMP, who then told him it could be up to two years before they returned the footage. When he threatened to sue, they returned it to him.

While Cisowski said last week she wanted to view the video, her lawyer said Tuesday that she is now having second thoughts. She still supports releasing the video to the public. Cisowski will bury her son on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Kamloops.


Anonymous said...

No sympathy here. As an upstanding citizen myself, if you put yourself in position to be tasered, you deserve it and whatever follows. The police and the rest of society are not your mothers, and we don't have to snuggle you in our bosom when you decide to throw a tantrum in public. Grow up or let us laugh at your dumb a$$ on video, too. More tasers, please!

Anonymous said...

How many deaths are going to be accepted with this weapon which to me is cruel and unusual punishment. In this atmosphere where police use it on people like target practice. I can tell you from experience and I'm not a doctor but IF you taser anyone who has heart problems, is on drugs (legal or illegal), the elderly or the young most likely THEY WILL DIE!

Anonymous said...

tasering people is nothing more than torture. You mean to tell me that 5 cops cannot subdue one man without tasering him?
that's bullshit. They tortured him and killed him.
all tasers should be banned immediately.

Anonymous said...

No sympathy here. As an upstanding citizen myself, if you put yourself in position to be tasered, you deserve it and whatever follows. The police and the rest of society are not your mothers, and we don't have to snuggle you in our bosom when you decide to throw a tantrum in public. Grow up or let us laugh at your dumb a$$ on video, too. More tasers, please!
You sound more like a complete cock than an upstanding citizen.
So what you're saying is that you deserve to DIE if you get angry at the airport? Western civilization, although it claims to be an anti-muslim, anti-oppression, freedom bonanza, is becoming a police state, and this is a perfect example. Law enforcement officers are trained to shoot first, ask questions later. Sickening.

Anonymous said...

Anon #1... umm... did you even READ the posting? The cops came in and made no attempt to communicate. The man then put his hands up, backed away and was tasered. Then they let him lay there dying for 13 minutes without attempting to help in or alerting airport Paramedics. When the EMS arrived, he was dead. Are you completely insane?

Anonymous said...

>>Grow up or let us laugh at your dumb a$$ on video, too.

I'll bet you call yourself a Christian, too, right? Yes, we know your type. You're the first to whine when getting pulled over for speeding. Laws don't apply to YOU - just to everyone else.

Listen up, jackass: DEADLY FORCE can ONLY be used when defending against someone ready to use deadly force. This guy may have thrown some furniture, but not when confronted by police, and NEVER to such a degree where deadly force would have been justified.

If you don't like that law, then I suggest you educate yourself enough to be able to write a coherent enough letter to your lawmaker to change it. Until then, it's really best to not show the rest of us how moronically retarded you are.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how many people overlook the fact than in most police forces, most police officers who are trained to carry and deploy (use) a taser HAVE been tasered themselves.

I have been tasered several times voluntarily, and have had no side effects besides a few grazes when I fell and wasn't caught in time by my colleagues.

I wouldn't have allowed myself to be hit if I hadn't known tasers to be safe. They are certainly safer than being shot, and (I would say) safer than being hit over the head by a baton.

Now, people (including Amnesty) say using a taser on people who aren't being immediately violent to police is excessive force and causes injury and death. I disagree. In fact, long term it is the complete opposite:

A new study out of Wake Forest University School of Medicine finds that Tasers are relatively safe. Tactical physicians (doctors who work with SWAT teams) looked at 1,000 cases of law enforcement use of Tasers in six locations around the country. They found that 99.7 percent of the cases had mild injuries, such as scrapes or bruises, or no injuries at all. In the study, only three people suffered severe enough injuries to be sent to the hospital. Of those, two had injuries from falling immediately after being Tasered. The third person was admitted to the hospital two days after being Tasered, but researchers says it is unclear whether the hospitalization had anything to do with being Tasered. It's important to note that the new study followed patients only if they had to be hospitalized or needed follow-up care from initial injuries. There was no long term follow-up with all of the patients. The study was funded by the National Institute of Justice, but researchers say that the study was independently designed and conducted.

Amnesty International points out more than 245 people in the United States have died, many from cardiac arrest after being shocked with Tasers. Amnesty and other groups call for more investigation into how dangerous these devices may be. The Wake Forest researchers acknowledge that there have been roughly 270 people who have died in police custody after being Tasered, but they say that there is no clear evidence that the deaths can be attributed to Tasering or other causes.

Further, a taser allows a minimal number of officers to respond to an incident and remove the risk in a minimal period of time.

It's not uncommon for someone who is showing even slight resistance to require four or five officers to hold them down and handcuff them. That number of officers usually means two or three squad cars (2 per car)

If a taser means that only 2 officers can be deployed to an incident, and they can clear that incident in ten minutes, then the other 4 officers can be sent to other incidents instead of backing up the original 2. 4 officers on the streets means more crimes can be prevented, and in the long term, less people get injured because of shorter response times.

Additionally, if the person is being violent, why should I - as a police officer - have to stand there and be punched, kicked, spat on and injured while trying to detain someone just to prevent an UNLIKELY injury to the person who I am trying to arrest?

My only concerns in this instant are that two tasers were used simultaneously on the suspect, and that a suspect who didn’t speak any English was not helped by airline or airport staff before police had to be called. (No-one at the airport was able to act as, or call a translator to find out why the person was upset?)
This should be investigated by the Canadian Internal Affairs division of the police as is standard in all use of force incidents. It should not result in tasers being banned.

When it all comes down to it, if the person being tasered had simply complied with the LAWFUL directions given by the Police, then they wouldn't have had the taser used against them in the first place. Instead of complaining about excessive use of force every time police are forced to use their equipment, perhaps Amnesty and these other groups should look at why these people had the taser / CS spray / baton / firearms used on them in the first place.
Even this guy threw a table at a window before the police showed up. He wasn’t as innocent as people are making out.

So why are THEIR human rights (having committed crimes - often violent) seemingly held in greater regard than those of the innocent public and police they are threatening, or posing a risk to?

Educated said...

To those of you proclaiming that the Taser was the cause of this man's death, and calling for it's banning, you need to educate yourselves. The Taser is NOT a lethal weapon. In fact, several studies have demonstrated that the power of the Taser would have to be amplified 15 times, in order to be lethal. My guess is, this individual died as a result of the pressure applied to his neck, causing asphyxiation of the brain.

ABSOLOUTELY NO deaths have been directly attributed to the Taser, and in fact the vast majority of the individuals that died after being Tasered, were at risk for sudden death because of various cardiovascular issues or drug use. If you're looking to find a common factor in the deaths of this individual as well as others, you might consider that oxygen intake caused their deaths as I'm sure all of them were breathing before they died.

Last, but certainly not least, this individual was acting in such a manner (throwing objects, erratic behaviour) that in the standard force continuum, at least here in the United States, is precisely the sort of situation the Taser was meant to negotiate. In truth, given the fact that he was quickly becoming a risk to the well-being of others, had the situation escalated any further, he would have likely been shot if the Taser didn't exist.

Of the 100,000 times a Taser has been deployed in the US and Canada, thus far 150 have died over a 8 year period, after being tasered. 150 in 8 years. Statistically speaking, it's more likely that the deaths were a matter of coincidence. Not one of those cases has been directly linked to the Taser use, and in fact some of the deaths described as 'taser-related' occurred well over 24 and sometimes 48 hours later.

Reality Chick said...

educated said: ABSOLOUTELY NO deaths have been directly attributed to the Taser.

Here's the reality: an autopsy report from the Cook County's Medical Examiner's Office (Chicago) attributed the death of Ronald Hasse, 54, to electrocution from two Taser jolts.

Anonymous said...

The fact that police officers have been tasered themselves is irrelevant in a discussion involving it's use on the public which results in death. The viewers of this video knew the situation this man had been in for the previous 10 hrs. This video is the last 10 minutes of his life. When the officers arrived on scene, did anyone see them take the time to assess or gather information? They were quite clearly told that he spoke no English, yet they spoke to him as if he did. With no hesitation they approached him, spread out around him & tasered him. After he fell they tasered again & at least 2 knelt on him. They stayed on him until he was dead. Did anyone see them perform CPR? Or even begin to? My question is, if this is RCMP policy on how to handle an unarmed person, why all the fuss? Seems pretty efficient, no wasting the officers time with details like "who, what, why or how". Just taser, tag 'em & tow 'em. Sure, a few might die, but they were all bad anyway, right? Yup, makes me proud to be Canadian.