February 2, 2009
Petti Fong, Toronto Star
VANCOUVER – The public inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski yesterday heard in detail the distraught words of the Polish immigrant just seconds before he was shot with a Taser gun by police.
A Polish translator brought in by the commission looking into the Oct. 14, 2007 incident described the man as confused and scared.
Kris Barski, who is a court translator, was able to hear Dziekanski's words after enhanced audio techniques were used to clear up the sounds on a video shot by a bystander. The video has been seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers around the world.
"I will trash this office," said Dziekanski, picking up pieces of furniture in the international arrivals area of the Vancouver International Airport. "For f---'s sake. I will sue you and everyone else."
The video showed interaction between Dziekanski and others who were also in the waiting area. He picks up a table and in the audio, a number of voices can be heard saying "no, no, no." Then Dziekanski responds, "What did you say? You will not let me?"
The small group of about half a dozen people witnessing the incident, including Paul Pritchard, who shot the video, can be heard repeatedly asking where the police and airport security are.
The witnesses also mistakenly believed that Dziekanski, who had arrived at the airport after making his first international flight and had been left wandering by himself for at least eight hours in the arrivals area, was speaking Russian.
"Leave me alone everybody. Go away, I said," Dziekanski is heard to say when one woman tries to talk to him.
Just before the RCMP arrived, Dziekanski appeared to believe that he was being forced to stay in that area of the arrivals zone.
"How long do I have to wait?" he asked. "So you will not let me go? You will not let me out of here?"
Canada Border Services officials testified earlier at the inquiry that they knew Dziekanski could not speak English.
His mother Zofia Cisowski had waited for her son but because they could not find each other, she left after more than six hours at the airport to return home to Kamloops, a three-hour drive away.
"This is very hard to hear," Cisowski said outside the inquiry.
When the RCMP arrived, one of the officers asked Dziekanski how he was doing and the Polish man recognized their uniform.
"Police. Police," Dziekanski said. "Leave me alone. Did you become stupid?"
Barski said another translation could be that Dziekanski's demand to be left alone meant that he wanted calm or to be left in peace.
That didn't happen. Within 10 seconds of police encountering Dziekanski, one of the officers asked whether to use the Taser on him, and the Polish man was shot five times.
He said "police" twice more in a near whisper and screamed in anguish, dropping to the ground.
He died shortly afterwards.
Two of the officers left the scene separately and returned a short time later. No evidence has been presented yet as to where the officers went.
Lawyers for the four RCMP members involved have challenged assertions made by a senior firefighter who arrived on the scene minutes later that the RCMP did little to help Dziekanski as he lay handcuffed after being shot with the Taser.
RCMP counsel Helen Roberts challenged the translator's interpretations of Dziekanski's words.
"In the context of throwing a computer on the floor and smashing a table, you don't see those swear words as aggressive?" said Roberts.
Barski said he considered they were the words of a self-defensive person who was cornered.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Monday, February 02, 2009
February 2, 2009