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Friday, April 04, 2008

MP blasts slow pace of taser investigation

April 4, 2008
Petti Fong, Toronto Star

An exasperated MP lashed out at the RCMP yesterday, saying the force has provided few answers on Taser use and its role in the death of a Polish immigrant at Vancouver airport last fall.

Bloc Québécois MP Serge Ménard is part of a House of Commons committee studying the case. "I'm extremely disappointed with your presentation," said Ménard after hearing one of the province's top RCMP officers give a talk about policing in B.C. "We are here to find out information on what occurred Oct. 13 and not to learn about general RCMP operations. I would like us to get to the heart of the matter."

Ménard, who is part of the standing committee on public safety and national security, said he wanted to hear from the RCMP about what procedures were followed the night Robert Dziekanski was confronted by four officers. He died after a Taser gun was used on him.

"We would have liked to hear certain information from you so we can see whether the proper procedures were followed and where the fault lies," said Ménard.

But the RCMP presentation fell short of providing answers about what happened the night Dziekanski died. "I'm sorry you're disappointed," said acting commissioner Al Macintyre. "But there are processes we're obliged to follow, a criminal investigation has not been completed, there is a coroner's investigation and evidence will be given under oath."

Macintyre said there is more work to be done and an official cause of death for Dziekanski, 40, hasn't been released yet.

Dziekanski died after spending hours lost at the Vancouver International Airport, unable to connect with his mother.

MPs were also taken on a step-by-step re-enactment of the path Dziekanski would have followed after he stepped off his flight from Poland for the first time as an immigrant to Canada.

Macintyre said there are at least 13 investigations underway, including one from the criminal division to determine whether charges should be laid, as well as a coroner's inquest and a public inquiry.

Committee member and Liberal public safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh said there still hasn't been an answer to the pressing question of whether this kind of incident can happen again.

"There is some frustration here that there has been usage creep," he said. "We were persuaded that Tasers would be used sparingly."

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