May 12, 2009
An expert report written by a police psychologist says an inappropriate level of force was used on Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski the night he was stunned by a Taser at Vancouver airport in 2007.
Mike Webster, who was hired by the inquiry looking into Dziekanski's death, testified Tuesday that the four RCMP officers called to the airport's international arrivals lounge did not have an adequate plan to deal with the agitated man.
Dziekanski died on the airport floor after police discharged a Taser stun gun on him five times. The four Mounties had been sent to the scene in response to reports Dziekanski was throwing furniture and acting out. Within seconds of their arrival, they used the Taser.
Webster argued that a plan could have been devised by the Mounties to dispatch an officer to the customs hall, where Dziekanski had been throwing furniture, while another officer could have evacuated the public from the area.
Were such a plan implemented, Webster said, "the 'contact' member could take his time to communicate with a hyper-aroused subject."
Webster also contested police testimony that Dziekanski posed a significant danger to the officers. The officers should have known that the Polish man's unresponsiveness to their orders was due to his disrupted cognition, Webster said.
"They would have been told that a highly aroused person does not process instructions well, doesn't use good judgment and is not a good problem solver," he told the inquiry.
Police testified earlier that Dziekanski — who spoke no English — was initially peaceful, but after being ordered to a nearby counter, he picked up a stapler and turned to face the officers, squeezing staples onto the floor.
According to Webster, it would have been difficult for Dziekanski to respond to their instructions to drop the stapler in the state he was in.
The provincial inquiry was called in the wake of Dziekanski's death and is being overseen by Thomas Braidwood, a retired B.C. Court of Appeal justice. Braidwood will make recommendations to prevent similar incidents, and he could make findings of misconduct against the officers or anyone else involved.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
May 12, 2009