November 14, 2007
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.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
November 14, 2007