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Friday, November 02, 2007

Vancouver Airport CEO discusses Taser victim's final hours

November 2, 2007
CBC News

A man who died after being shot with a Taser at the Vancouver airport last month spent more than six hours in a secure area controlled by the Canada Border Services Agency before he was granted landed immigrant status. Larry Berg, president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, spoke publicly for the first time Friday about the death of 40-year-old Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant.

Berg told CBC Radio that Dziekanski arrived at the airport on a flight from Europe around 4 p.m. PT on Oct. 13, and cleared the passport check shortly after. He said it is still unclear why Dziekanski waited 6½ hours in a secure area controlled by the Canada Border Services Agency near the luggage carousel before proceeding to the second stage of immigration. The CBSA declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation of the case.

At around 10:30 p.m., Dziekanski moved on and presented himself at the secondary customs check, where he was granted landed immigrant status at 12:30 a.m., Berg said. Dziekanski then "went out into the public area, where the ultimate tragedy occurred," he said.

Witnesses have told CBC News that Dziekanski appeared confused and agitated when they saw him at 1 a.m. Police arrived shortly after and shot him twice with a Taser. He died minutes later. Berg said at no time did anyone employed by the Airport Authority have any contact with Dziekanski.

The customs area, controlled by the border services agency, can have 15,000 people pass through in a single day and Berg said he could understand how a person could be overlooked by CBSA personnel for several hours. The customs area is not under the direct control of the Airport Authority or its security personnel, said Berg, and both the entrance and exit are controlled by CBSA. "We deliberately stay out of that area," said Berg.

Berg said 14 security cameras monitor the area, and the footage from those cameras has been turned over to investigators.

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