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Monday, May 25, 2009

Dziekanski moved toward Mounties, video expert tells B.C. inquiry

Grant Fredericks is the owner of Forensic Video Solutions and is a lead instructor to LEVA, which is sponsored by Taser International.

May 25, 2009
Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun

An expert forensic video analyst, who testified Monday at an inquiry probing the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport, said the Polish immigrant took steps toward four RCMP officers before he was hit with the first of five Taser shots.

"He appeared to be moving away from the camera," Grant Fredericks told inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood, a retired judge, about the three-second clip before Dziekanski was Tasered.

Fredericks, a former television reporter before he became a Vancouver police constable in 1988, said he stabilized an amateur video taken of the 2007 incident at the airport and measured the computer pixels between Dziekanski and fixed objects such as an overhead sign and an airport counter.

He explained each video image is 640 pixels across and 480 pixels top-to-bottom.

"It showed a move forward from the hip and shoulder area," Fredericks testified. "He's shifting his weight and turning his shoulders slightly."

He concluded that Dziekanski was advancing toward the officers with a stapler in his hand, which he had grabbed off a counter at the airport.

The four officers testified earlier that when Dziekanski grabbed the stapler, they feared for their safety, justifying the force used.

Don Rosenbloom, the lawyer representing the Government of Poland at the inquiry, objected to Fredericks's testimony, saying the witness is not an expert in biomechanics.

Braidwood allowed the witness to continue, saying Rosenbloom will be able to cross-examine Fredericks.

The witness became the Vancouver police co-ordinator of the forensic video unit in 1997 and left the force in 2000. He now works in the private sector in Spokane, Wash., and teaches forensic video analysis in the context of law enforcement.

Fredericks was contacted by David Butcher, the lawyer representing one of the Mounties at the inquiry. There are two other experts, contacted by Polish government, waiting to testify.

These two experts are expected to say Fredericks's report is flawed and has three critical errors.

Dziekanski, 40, had left his home in Poland 24 hours before he arrived in Canada to live with his mother in Kamloops, B.C. He grew frustrated waiting for his mother inside the international arrivals section that was not accessible to the public. After nine hours Dziekanski, who spoke no English, eventually became agitated and began throwing around furniture. Seconds after the four Mounties arrived on the scene, Dziekanski was zapped with the electronic weapon. He died minutes later after the officers struggled to handcuff Dziekanski's hands behind his back.

Police testified they thought the man was resisting arrest and didn't realize that Const. Kwesi Millington was continuing to Taser the man four more times. Millington testified he had never fired a Taser before.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From looking at the video, it appeared as though part of the time that Dziekanski would have been "resisting" (judging from the swarm of cops on top of him), he was already dead or unconscious. It appeared that towards the end the cops were struggling bravely to get cuffs on a dead man.