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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Taser death makes worldwide impression

November 15, 2007
Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun

The world is talking about Robert Dziekanski.

The death of the Polish immigrant, who died after being Tasered twice by police at Vancouver International Airport in October, has made the top slots in newspapers, blogs and websites from New York to Taiwan. "Tasered immigrant took just 25 seconds to die, video shows," screamed a headline in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post. "'Awful screaming' in Taser video to be made public," CNN's world website promised.

The video, filmed by bystander Paul Pritchard, was in fifth spot on YouTube on Thursday evening with 102,941 hits - two ahead of the Family Guy - while the Huffington Post received 218 comments. The video was the most watched video on the BBC website Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon - edging out "how to arm a nuclear bomb." On the CNN website, Dziekanski's death was in the top four most-viewed world news items. It also made the top news section of the New York Times website and topped all stories on the New Zealand Herald website Thursday. Polish media outlets were expected to run the video in Polish Friday morning.

Letters, e-mails and online comments have also been flooding into The Vancouver Sun. By 4:30 p.m. Thursday, more than 55,000 people had viewed one of The Sun's copies of Pritchard's video. Nearly 1,000 people had submitted comments through vancouversun.com, registering opinions from across Canada and around the world, including Poland and elsewhere in Europe.

Vancouver Sun letter-writer Winthrop Hyde drew parallels between Dziekanski's death and Rodney King, who was beaten by four Los Angeles police officers, and the subsequent 1992 riots. He said this was just "another situation of video testimony confirming that police lack political judgment and civil intelligence."

The Tasering led to an outcry among Polish people in B.C. as well as politicians and lawmakers. Nelson Kalil, spokesman for the Commission into Public Complaints Against the RCMP, said politicians and other agencies reviewing Dziekanski's death were aware the world has its eye on what's happening here. "Politically, this resonates when CNN and BBC start carrying this," Kalil said. "There's a voyeuristic attitude."

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