Taser Death Sparks Uproar in Canada

A taser death captured on video at the Vancouver airport has caused an uproar in Canada.

The shocking death of a Polish traveler who was confronted by policemen with stun guns at the Vancouver airport last month has shamed Canada and its federal police, editorials said Friday.

A bystander's video released late Wednesday showed Robert Dziekanski dying after a bizarre series of events that culminated in police approaching him on October 14 and, in less than one minute, zapping him repeatedly with a Taser stun gun. The 40-year-old immigrant had traveled to Canada to live with his mother.

The Globe and Mail accuses the RMCP of conducting a disinformation campaign and calls the incident a "summary execution of an innocent man for the crime of being disoriented, for not understanding, for being a stranger."

How long did the police wait before tasering the man, who did not speak English? 24 seconds. He was not a threat to anyone else and was not resisting arrest. They needed an interpreter, not a a taser gun.


Taser International issued this press release denying the taser caused Dziekanski's death.

From the Globe and Mail:

The video shows Mr. Dziekanski rearranging furniture, and throwing something earlier on, but not as the four officers approached him. Instead, he raised his hands and moved away a few steps. He gave the appearance not of posing a threat but of exhibiting resignation. There is no evidence on the video of any attempt to negotiate with the man, or to calm him in the few seconds before he was hit with 50,000 volts.

The first taser blow left him immediately convulsed and screaming on the floor. Sgt. Lemaitre's claim that the taser “didn't seem to have any kind of effect on him” is laughable. The officer also said that “even after the handcuffs, he continued to fight.” That is the RCMP's stated justification for tasering Mr. Dziekanski again, and putting pressure on what Sgt. Lemaitre claimed was his “shoulders.” The video shows Mr. Dziekanski writhing, not fighting, before he was hit again with the taser, and reveals that pressure was placed not on his shoulders but on his neck, with a knee.

Now, the entire world knows how the RCMP callously misread and brutally dispatched a distressed and exhausted man from Poland.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I don't know what the law says (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by manys on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 09:50:38 AM EST
    ...but even if the TASER didn't cause his death doesn't mean it wasn't used to kill him.

    why is it so many police (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by cpinva on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 10:33:37 AM EST
    seem to act like kids with a new toy, when it comes to the taser? are they not being trained properly or what? in part, taser itself bears some responsibility, they've marketed it extensively as a "non-lethal" alternative to guns, to the law enforcement community. being non-lethal and not dangerous are not, by definition, mutually inclusive terms.

    if being hit, briefly, with massive jolts of electricity, was totally benign, the electric chair wouldn't exist as a method of execution. being hit repeatedly with massive jolts of electricity has never, by any standard, been considered benign. even the most poorly trained should kind of know that inherently.

    I wonder that too. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 10:42:15 AM EST
    Maybe the mindset is the same as the "waterboarding isn't torture" self delusional thinking?

    "I can get away with this because it won't kill him - besides it's fun to watch him scream . This'll show him who's boss."

    Tasing has been billed by Taser International and the press as being "non-lethal" in the same way the waterboarding has been billed as "non-torture".

    But people keep dying being tased, and people keep screaming in agony being waterboarded...


    I think it's the training. (none / 0) (#5)
    by manys on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 11:04:49 AM EST
    I just don't think police officers are required to be very good or intelligent anymore. It seems they are trained to gain compliance by any means necessary, and sometimes this means shooting an unarmed person in the back. What, you think they're going to let some punk get over on them? I'd be curious to see police training manuals crossreferenced with the incidence of use for each technique in the manual. I think we'd see a nice spike round about the page where they learn to take a knee on someone's neck.

    I don't know about that. (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 11:18:19 AM EST
    Most of the cops I meet are really good and intelligent people.

    But it is an authority and power position - the kind of position that insecure nutbars seem to gravitate to as well, and  when they tip over somebody generally gets hurt and the press is all over it - with good reason, I think.


    The Vancouver, BC press has more this morning (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 10:07:19 AM EST
    Sgt. Lemaitre sounds like a Canadian equivalent of Tony Snow or Dana Perino, or a Fox News anchor.

    The Vancouver Sun:

    The RCMP's handling of the Taser-related death of a Polish immigrant Sunday seems as mindless as the offensive attempts to whitewash the shooting of Houston(BC) mill worker Ian Bush.

    Mountie spokesman Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre and the rest of the force just don't get it -- they are not a law unto themselves.

    That the Horsemen are investigating themselves in this situation raises the same concerns that turned the October 2005 death of Bush into a scandal.

    From the moment Robert Dziekanski of Pieszyce, Poland, died in the customs area of Vancouver International Airport, Sgt. Lemaitre has been running damage control.

    Just as he did in the Bush case.

    Bush died inside the Houston RCMP detachment after he was shot in the head during a scuffle with a Mountie who had arrested him for having an open bottle of beer outside a hockey game.

    Lemaitre would have us believe that Tasering the distraught Dziekanski was the only way of dealing with the situation.

    That's disingenuous.

    What's worse is that while quickly jumping to the defence of their members, the Mounties treated the Dziekanski family like dirt.

    How would you like to be told police had found your missing son, but when you arrived to see him, they told you he was dead?

    That's what the RCMP did to Dziekanski's mother. They were just as insensitive with Bush's mom. Can these guys even spell c-o-m-p-a-s-s-i-o-n?

    When I saw the video (none / 0) (#7)
    by Nowonmai on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 05:09:31 PM EST
    I almost wept. Even I, an 'untrained' person, could see that the man was disoriented, and scared. Even after the Mounties were told several times "He doesn't speak English." several times by by-standers, they wouldn't listen. All it would have taken was one or two of those mounties to park their a$$es on a chair, and gesture for him to join them. But no, they circled this confused man, and then whipped out their new toy, and he ended up dead.

    Way to go, Mounties. It was very LAPD of you. :-/

    How many 'Cops' episodes... (none / 0) (#8)
    by garyb50 on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 05:35:06 PM EST
    ... and how many morons like CNN's Sanchez volunteering to be tased for sh*ts and grins (I'll bet thousands of local TV news field grunts have done it all over the USA in the past decade) does it take for us to be desensitized to this 'tase me bro ha ha' mentality.

    Most people think it's no big deal. Better than shooting them ain't it? Uh huh you bet.

    Classic (none / 0) (#9)
    by Joe Bob on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 07:16:26 PM EST
    Taser International issued this press release denying the taser caused Dziekanski's death.

    How did they deduce that? By remote autopsy? Maybe they had a consulation from Dr. Bill Frist; I hear he has experience making diagnoses from videotapes.

    yeah, i was impressed by (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 10:41:39 PM EST
    that too. of course, they're right, the taser itself didn't cause his, or anyone else's death, just as the bullet didn't. rather, it was the damage resulting from the use of the taser, like the ruptured heart from the bullet, that caused the death.

    again, in defense of the taser concept, if used properly, more likely than not, it isn't going to be lethal, far less so than a gun. the key word is "properly".


    Probably used (1.00 / 0) (#11)
    by Patrick on Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 05:58:50 PM EST
    the same method as those reporting a "Taser Death."  I think perhaps both are a bit premature since if there has even been an autopsy the results certainly have not been released.  

    TASER (none / 0) (#12)
    by TruthHurtzIndeed on Tue Nov 27, 2007 at 04:00:10 PM EST
    It hasn't been marketed as an alternative to guns. It is supposed to be a device to control resisting subjects to prevent the escalation of force to the point where officers and citizens are not injured or killed during arrest. This should not be oversimplified as it frequently is, to perpetuate the agenda that Tasers should only be used when deadly force is justified.

    Taser is supposed to prevent the injuries that occur during the swarm and tackle tactics of the past that resulted in numerous in custody deaths as well.

    These cops responded as they were trained. The tragic end result aside.

    I would like to see an autopsy report (none / 0) (#13)
    by katmandu on Mon Jan 07, 2008 at 08:16:30 PM EST
    I wonder what the man's physical condition was.
    Was he on drugs?  Tasor doesn't mix well with
    some drugs.  Something caused the man's very
    bizarre actions.  
    I wouldn't be so quick to blame the cops,
    or Tasor.  Tasor is safer than a bullet.

    tasering (none / 0) (#14)
    by pdsbornin1958 on Mon Sep 22, 2008 at 12:54:15 AM EST
    I am a highly regarded medical professional that deals with neuropathic pain in patients hen institutions like mayo, vanderbildt, etc. don't know what to do. I lso have a serious adrenal condition that causes me to crash & become sort of crazy much like a diabetic does. This happened several months ago and the police became involved in my own home. I was told to calm down.ONCE...
    I was tasered 4 times. No treat to several police in my home. I could here the skin crackling,taste the taste of burning skin. Four holes were burnt into my intestines. I have heart damage, permenant left sided paralysis and severe pain, and my ability to taste is gone. Sounds pretty harmless, doesn't it? I would have rather been shot, there would have been a better chance of healing. By the way, you do lose all muscle control, and I mean all. Why not use a ballistic net? I guess that wouldn't have been as much fun.