April 28, 2009
By Suzanne Fournier, Canwest News Service
VANCOUVER — Two “experts” who both admit to being paid by Taser International said that they don’t believe the five Taser jolts inflicted on Robert Dziekanski contributed to his death.
The Polish immigrant died at the Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14, 2007 after four RCMP officers Tasered and restrained him after he threw furniture.
Dr. Charles Swerdlow, a U.S. cardiac electrophysiologist who is paid to sit on Taser International’s scientific medical advisory board, concluded that “there is no medical, scientific evidence to support the conclusion that (conducted energy weapon) discharges contributed to Mr. Dziekanski’s death.”
Swerdlow, who testified by videolink, also concluded that “the circumstances of Mr. Dziekanski’s death are typical of the poorly-understood syndrome of sudden, in-custody death, often occurring after restraint.”
Swerdlow admitted in a letter that he has “two types of financial relationships” with Taser, and has been paid at least $122,000 since 2004 by Taser International, which also pays for his travel expenses to board meetings.
He said he bought $10,000 in Taser stock, but has since sold it.
Swerdlow said that Dziekanski’s heart could not have been fatally injured by Taser jolts because he still had a pulse after he was Tasered and lay handcuffed facedown on the floor, according to evidence from airport security guards.
A second witness, electrical engineer Dorin Panescu, who said that in 2008 he “invoiced Taser (about) $92,896 for expert consulting work,” concluded that “with a high degree of scientific certitude, it is my opinion that Mr. Dziekanski’s death was not caused by, and not contributed by, the use of a TASER X26.”
Panescu said the Taser used on Dziekanski “wasn’t strong enough” to cause his heart to stop or to beat irregularly.
Outside the inquiry, Walter Kosteckyj, the lawyer for Dziekanski’s mother Zofia Cisowski, said the fact the two men receive fees from Taser undermines their conclusions.
“They are Taser’s witnesses, not independent scientists.”
Kosteckyj also noted that pathologist Dr. Charles Lee, who also testified Monday, “admitted Mr. Dziekanski would still be alive if he had not been Tasered.”
Lee did not cite the Taser as a direct cause of death, although he said he thought Dziekanski had been Tasered only once, not five times.
Lee said he was not told by the two homicide investigators who attended the autopsy to check for multiple Taser marks.
Lee’s report concluded only that Dziekanki’s cause of death was “sudden death during restraint.”
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
April 28, 2009