April 20, 2009
The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER, B.C. — It's difficult to say how many times Robert Dziekanski would have actually felt the jarring shock of an RCMP Taser before he died at Vancouver's airport, says a police expert on stun guns.
Const. Craig Baltzer of the Delta police department is the investigator who downloaded the information from the Taser used on Dziekanski in October 2007.
A public inquiry into Dziekanski's death has already heard that the trigger was pulled on the RCMP stun gun five times, but it's unclear how many times the device actually made contact with Dziekanski.
Baltzer told the inquiry Monday that he listened to a witness' video of the final moments of Dziekanski's life.
He said a Taser makes a distinctive clack, clack, clack noise when it is deployed ineffectively, and that sound could be heard during the first two of the five deployments the night Dziekanski died.
"You don't hear it right off the bat, you don't hear the Taser working. But within a second or so you can hear the clack, clack, clack sound and it's intermittent in relation to his movements," Baltzer said.
"So from that were you determining intermittent contact from the first deployment?" asked commission counsel Patrick McGowan.
"Yes," said Baltzer.
The witness video shows Dziekanski drop to the ground after the first deployment. Baltzer was asked about the second deployment.
"On the second deployment as he's gone to the ground and he's starting to curl up you can still hear at the very start of that the loudness of the Taser, but then it goes quieter as there is better contact. You can hear the clack, clack, clack sound but then it sort of shuts off after about one and a half to two seconds into it," Baltzer said.
Baltzer said Dziekanski "appeared to be under the influence of the Taser" with the second deployment.
Baltzer said he could hear no clack-clack noise during the third deployment.
"What does that make you conclude?" McGowan asked.
"That he was under the effect of the Taser," the officer replied
The fourth and fifth deployments were in the push stun mode, where an officer holds the Taser device against the suspect to deliver the shock, as opposed to the probe mode, which shoots probes at the suspect from a distance to deliver the shock.
Baltzer said ambient noise in the airport and from the commotion prevented him from hearing enough on the video soundtrack to draw any conclusions about the fourth and fifth deployments.
Police were called after Dziekanski started throwing furniture in the early hours of Oct. 14, 2007. They stunned him within seconds of arriving, and he died shortly after on the floor of the airport.
The number of times he was shocked, as well as the speed with which the Taser was deployed, have been issues at the inquiry, along with the manner in which he was monitored and treated after his collapse.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Monday, April 20, 2009
April 20, 2009