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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mountie refuses chance to apologize at Dziekanski Taser inquiry

Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province

VANCOUVER — The first RCMP officer to testify at the inquiry into the death of a Polish immigrant Tasered at the Vancouver airport ended his evidence Wednesday by refusing to apologize — even when offered an opportunity to do so by a lawyer for the Polish government.

The inquiry also heard evidence for the first time Wednesday morning that the actual Taser used against Dziekanski cycled for 31 seconds, including at least three jolts directly attached to the man’s skin, one of which lasted as long as nine seconds.

“I never heard anything from this officer (Const. Gerry Rundel) other than words in defence of what he had done,” said Don Rosenbloom, lawyer for the Polish government.

“I gave him what was his last opportunity before the commission to offer a mea culpa and apologize to the Canadian public and acknowledge certain improprieties were committed that night by those officers,” said Rosenbloom.

Rundel insisted that a bystander video backs up the version of events, which Rundel set out in two statements given to police, one on the night of the incident on Oct. 14, 2007, and the second four days later.

“The officer’s statement was patently absurd, as it is clear from the video that Mr. Dziekanski never raised the stapler above his head or made any threatening gestures before he was hit the first time by the Taser,” said Rosenbloom.

Rundel also testified that the Polish man was Tasered because he was trying to flee the scene.

“If he flees and got into the public area, I’d venture to say it could have gone bad,” Rundel said. “He could have injured other members of the public.

“That was a dangerous situation for the public.”

Rundel said there was no doubt in his mind that Dziekanski intended to try to harm the four officers who surrounded the man, and possibly harm members of the public.

The amateur video of the incident was played again in court for the witness, which caused Dziekanski’s mother to run out of the courtroom in tears.

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