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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Video of Vancouver taser death released - mother of Robert Bagnell hopes clip will set off demands for regulations

November 14, 2007
The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — The mother of another man who died after being jolted by a police Taser hopes the release of a video showing Robert Dziekanski’s death at Vancouver’s airport will lead to action. Riki Bagnell’s son Robert died in 2004 after Vancouver police shot him with a Taser stun gun.

Bagnell said all reports of the Dziekanski video describe it as being brutal and she feels badly that his mother may see the video. “I believe that if and when I see it, it’s going to be like witnessing the death of my own son,” Bagnell said in a telephone interview from her daughter’s home.

Traveller Paul Pritchard of Victoria took the video of Dziekanski’s last moments alive, which he says shows Mounties shocking the 40-year-old Polish immigrant seconds after confronting him at the airport’s international arrivals terminal. Dziekanski was coming to Canada to join his mother, Zofia Cisowski of Kamloops, B.C. She waited for hours at the airport before returning home without him, only to be summoned back and told about his death.

For reasons still unclear Dziekanski, who spoke only Polish, apparently spent about 10 hours in the terminal, becoming increasingly agitated. Airport security called police, who witnesses say used the Taser almost immediately after confronting him.

Bagnell died as Vancouver city police tried to remove him from a low-rent downtown hotel. A pathologist concluded he died of a cocaine-induced heart attack during the scuffle.

The cause of Dziekanski’s death still has not been determined but an autopsy found no drugs or alcohol in his system.

As horrible as the video may be, Bagnell said she hopes it will lead to government action to better test and regulate police use of the stun gun. “I think it’s finally coming to that,” she said. Robert Bagnell’s mother and his sister, Patti Gillman, have been lobbying the government and others since Bagnell’s death for Canadian standards for Taser use. They even started a blog — TNT, Truth...Not Tasers — outlining their concerns about the device. “I think it’s overused,” Bagnell said of the police stun gun. “It’s an easy way to subdue people and it has deadly results. Seventeen deaths cannot be taken lightly.” Since 2003, 17 people across Canada have died after being jolted by a police stun gun.

Both Bagnell and Gillman will be attending Dziekanski’s funeral in Kamloops on Saturday. Bagnell said they wanted to support Dziekanski’s family. “We’re also representing all the people in connection with all the families ... whose loved ones have died.

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