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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Opposition calls for special prosecutor to look into airport death

Wednesday, November 14, 2007
CBC News

RCMP say video only 1 piece of evidence in large investigation

B.C.'s opposition party is calling for a special prosecutor to help investigate the death of a Polish immigrant who was shocked by an RCMP Taser and died at the Vancouver International Airport. The fatal Taser incident on Oct. 14 is serious enough to warrant the appointment of such a prosecutor, said New Democratic Party MLA Mike Farnworth.

"This incident is being watched across the country and has attracted international attention," the public safety critic said in a press release on Wednesday. "It isn't adequate to have a review in which the police investigate themselves," Farnworth said. "Only an impartial and external investigation will give the family and the public the answers they deserve."

The RCMP said the public should treat an eyewitness's video shown Wednesday as one piece of evidence in a large investigation. The force said no one can judge what happened to Robert Dzekanski, 41, by just watching the video. "It's just one piece of evidence, one person's view. There are many people that we have spoken to," said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dale Carr in a press conference. "What I urge is that those watching the video, take note of that. Put what they've seen aside for the time being. And wait to hear the totality of the evidence at the time of the inquest," Carr said.

The NDP's call comes after the public release of an eyewitness video that recorded the moments before and after Dzekanski was jolted with a Taser gun. Under the Crown Council Act, the assistant deputy attorney general in the province has the power to appoint a special prosecutor to assist with an independent investigation, Farnworth said.

Carr said after police investigation there'll also be a coroner's inquest, but he wouldn't speculate on whether the officers involved will be charged. "I'm confident at the time of the inquest that this report will be played again and it will refresh your memory so then you'll be able to take the context of the video and the context of what the officers have said, under oath and all the other witnesses and then form an opinion and then scrutinize the police," he said.

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