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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Vital signs of Robert Dziekanski checked, RCMP says

December 1, 2007
IAN BAILEY, The Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER -- Responding to the impression that police did nothing to help an unconscious Robert Dziekanski, investigators yesterday suggested that four Mounties on the scene after the Polish immigrant was blasted twice with a taser attentively monitored his vital signs.

Mr. Dziekanski, 40, died at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14, launching a fierce debate over the police use of tasers, especially after video of the confrontation shot by a bystander was released and broadcast around the world.

RCMP Corporal Dale Carr, speaking for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team that has eight detectives investigating the incident, said the impression the video created is a concern to police. "What we're doing is an attempt to set the record straight," Cpl. Carr said.

"There's this wide response and constant theme that police officers did nothing, and people are forming opinions based on what they're seeing and thinking they're seeing in a video that is, at times, not totally recorded and, at times, blocked by people," he said.

But yesterday's account - and a comment from the Richmond Fire Department - also said that the police rejected a request from firefighters, who arrived on the scene within minutes, to remove Mr. Dziekanski's handcuffs. "Initially the firefighters asked for the cuffs to be removed. The police response was no. They were not going to take the handcuffs off because the individual had been previously violent," said Geoff Lake, deputy chief of administration for the fire department.

Walter Kosteckyj, the lawyer for Mr. Dziekanski's mother Zofia Cisowski, said the account raised a number of unsettling questions, including a concern about why the handcuffs were not removed. "What would be the safety concern? There were four of them. They had a taser and a baton. Here are the firefighters requesting for medical reasons he be uncuffed, and that's denied," he said.

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