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Killing of Robert Dziekanski by Canadian Police

The killing of Robert Dziekanski is so sad for me that I will not write much about it now. But I will say it is another example of how the failure to listen has led to a preventable death. S. Hein

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Articles below


from http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=5ebff0c6-29cb-4290-b912-5e32105f9a78&k=86542

Footage of fatal Taser incident will be returned to Victoria man

Richard Watts, Times Colonist
Published: Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Victoria man who recorded an incident where RCMP Tasered a man at Vancouver International Airport has been told he will get his footage back.

Paul Pritchard, who appeared in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday, had been attempting to compel the Mounties to return his footage of the incident, which he said he plans to release to the media because it shows the man, who died, was Tasered unnecessarily.

But lawyer Paul Pearson, acting for Pritchard, said in court a lawyer with the federal Department of Justice had provided assurances the digital recording will be returned within six days. The matter was put over to next Thursday in case the tape isn't returned.

Pritchard, 25, was in Vancouver International Airport Oct. 14 when he saw police Taser a man, and he captured the incident on his digital camera.

Pritchard had only been in Canada a few hours after returning from China, where he taught English, and was waiting for a connecting flight to Victoria.

The Tasered man, Robert Dziekanski, 40, spoke no English and was in the process of immigrating to Canada from Poland.

His mother, Maria Cisowski of Kamloops, was apparently having trouble finding Dziekanski at the airport.

While still at the scene, a police officer asked Pritchard to show him his footage and he agreed. When the officer asked if he could borrow his camera to make copies, Pritchard said, he reluctantly agreed.

Since then, Pritchard has received the camera back, but police kept the memory chip with the footage. He said he's twice been promised it would be returned but it has failed to appear.

Pritchard has said use of the Taser was unnecessary because three police officers and accompanying security guards could easily have restrained Dziekanski.

Outside the courtroom, Pritchard said he wants to be a good citizen by releasing the footage to the media, but plans to show the tape to Dziekanski's mother first.

"Nobody wants to be the guy to sue the RCMP but I think it's my duty as a Canadian citizen," said Pritchard. "If I don't do it then it would probably just get swept under the rug."

As a teacher in China, he has said, he often spoke proudly of rights Canadian citizens enjoy, such as freedom of the press.

But Pritchard's lawyer noted yesterday the exercise of those rights can sometimes require external pressure.

"There is no doubt in my mind that a combination of public pressure and the court application caused the police to change their position," said Pearson outside the courtroom.


I see that the police will take 10 days to return this stolen recording. Making a copy would take less than 10 minutes. Given that, does anyone really believe that the video will be returned intact and unedited? I suggest that Mr. Pritchard not drop the court application just yet.
Dr.DawgSat, Nov 3, 07 at 10:54 AM

Let's hope that the video isn't doctored, Air India style.
bogusbobSat, Nov 3, 07 at 11:21 AM

about time someone stood up to the Police
JasonSat, Nov 3, 07 at 02:42 PM

That's fascinating. Pritchard is completely correct to have a lawyer and be pressuring the RCMP. Justice requires defenders.
ConcernedCanadianSat, Nov 3, 07 at 02:46 PM


I pray this footage will reveal the inapropiate behaviour of the police officers involved. Our prayers are with Maria Cisowski.
Candace JamesSat, Nov 3, 07 at 03:36 PM


No doubt! Good for Pritchard, but I won't be satisfied until he actually gets the original, undoctored, tape back. There are too many government bodies with no accountability - we are rapidly losing our freedoms, and more and more people are becoming afraid to exercise them. The judicial system has become very cumbersome and expensive, deterring all but the rich with plenty of time / money from pursuing their rights. Politicians cater to whomever will keep them in power (regardless of what is good for the country), and have become criminals themselves with no regard for the law (e.g., how much more criminal can you get than driving drunk?). Instead of teaching our children about freedom and the rights of the individual, we are indoctrinating them with "computer skills" as soon as they are toilet-trained (if not before). People are afraid to stand out, because they are afraid of the hammer that might beat them down. If we don't shape up, we will have no freedoms to boast to China about; we'll be just like them.
Lorne Babcock SrSat, Nov 3, 07 at 05:06 PM


The police need to have evidence in order to conduct their inquiries but they also must realize that the people have rights. The police, whether they realize it or not, are there at the pleasure of the people. We would be in a terrible situation if it were not for the police but if they obtain unfettered power our situation would be at least as bad if not worse. This tape should be returned to its owner while the police are probably within their rights to retain a copy.

John Sat, Nov 3, 07 at 05:16 PM


I am myself immigrant from one of East European countries from a dark time of communism. I still remember how I was afraid of police in that country in that time. They were above the law and had power and means to do with anybody what they want and best was just to be as far away from them as possible. When I had arrived in Canada years ago I had that optimism in myself that this is a mature democratic system and police is a friend of every citizen and is to protect them and to serve. I've lost that optimism just because of too many stories of corrupt police, of dead bodies found after police interrogation, because of brutal beatings of protesting citizens, of powerful police unions dictating even to their own superiors what is in their own best interest not in best interest of citizens or even this country. Police should not have unions and not at least as powerful as they are here and they should answer for their actions to justices and to parliament. Without that police in this country is more like an armed well organized and state sponsored mafia looking only after their own interest and interest of its members (anybody knows that polce forces in Toronto are costing this city 45% of total city budget expenses?).

Anytime there is an incident like this when somebody is injured or dies because of police action a civilian independent body should investigate this and not another police organization. Police investigating police is a joke made of justice system in this country and I thought was possible only in some dictatorial banana republic but it is reality here and I do not see this to be changed any time soon. Same old rule applies here, be afraid and stay away from them and this is probably what they want. I am in awe of Mr. Pritchard's stand in defense of truth and for rights of victims of police brutality. Just because there are stil people like you Mr. Pritchard there is hope for this country. We need more people like you to stand against police becoming a state within a state and for police beeing really for to protect and to serve.

Candace JamesSun, Nov 4, 07 at 01:21 AM


John, your comment, "good or bad (i.e., cops' decisions) we need to support them," I cannot agree with. If cops are making bad decisions that result in the death of an innocent person, I am NOT going to support them. Yes, cops do have a tough job, but they chose their job, no one forces them to do it, and a LOT of power comes with it, not to mention the power of the state that backs them up. Unless we want to become a police state, we need to carefully protect the rights of citizens, and ensure that we aren't, for example, judged guilty because we are acting out of the ordinary (and tasered and killed). By the way, this probably would never have happened if the location was not an airport.

Things have just gotten ridiculous (e.g., women getting kicked off of airplanes because they aren't dressed appropriately???!!! - what kind of Big Brother control freak mentality is that?). Meanwhile, a recent study shows that bomb detection at airports in the USA is feeble (and, no doubt, even worse in Canada). Our fanatical push catch terrorists is diverting resources from what really harms and kills people (e.g., drunk drivers, like our illustrious premier). The cops would gain a lot of respect if they would get rid of gangs and drunk drivers, and not focus on things which seem more glamorous (i.e., taking down "terrorists"). As public servants, their job is to serve and protect, not kill innocent people. Yes, cops have a very tough job, but I just wish they would have more of a presence, for example, on the highways, where the real "terrorism" kills people in the most brutal, heartwrenching way imaginable.

Joe PublicSun, Nov 4, 07 at 12:00 PM


what did they do before (bear sprays) and (taser guns)? It appears that since that use to contain allegded suspects, it is causing people to go to other extreamities, like mass killings, etc. like has been occuring in BC lately. I urgently recomend that the Tasers, and sprays be outlawed at once. And let University brains discover something more humaine. emsa

Candace JamesMon, Nov 5, 07 at 01:44 AM


An eyewitness's video recording of a man dying after being stunned with a Taser by police on Oct. 14 at Vancouver International Airport has been released to the public.

Robert Dziekanski is jolted by a shot from an RCMP Taser.
(Paul Pritchard)
The 10-minute video recording clearly shows four RCMP officers talking to Robert Dziekanski while he is standing with his back to a counter and with his arms lowered by his sides, but his hands are not visible.

About 25 seconds after police enter the secure area where he is, there is a loud crack that sounds like a Taser shot, followed by Dziekanski screaming and convulsing as he stumbles and falls to the floor.

Another loud crack can be heard as an officer appears to fire one more Taser shot into Dziekanski.

As the officers kneel on top of Dziekanski and handcuff him, he continues to scream and convulse on the floor.

One officer is heard to say, "Hit him again. Hit him again," and there is another loud cracking sound.

Police have said only two Taser shots were fired, but a witness said she heard up to four Taser shots.

Robert Dziekanski falls to the floor as an RCMP officer looks on.
(Paul Pritchard)
A minute and half after the first Taser shot was fired Dziekanski stops moaning and convulsing and becomes still and silent.

Shortly after, the officers appear to be checking his condition and one officer is heard to say, "code red."

The video ends shortly after.

Minutes later, ambulance attendants arrived but their efforts to revive Dziekanski were unsuccessful and he was declared dead.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dale Carr said no one can judge what happened to Dziekanski by just watching the video.

"It's just one piece of evidence, one person's view. There are many people that we have spoken to," RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dale Carr said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

"What I urge is that those watching the video, take note of that. Put what they've seen aside for the time being. And wait to hear the totality of the evidence at the time of the inquest," Carr said.

But retired superintendent Ron Foyle, a 33-year veteran of the Vancouver police who saw the video tape, said he didn't know "why it ever became a police incident."

"It didn't seem that he made any threatening gestures towards them," Foyle said.

Much of the video was shot through the glass walls that separate the international arrivals lounge from a secure area outside the Canada Customs exit.

The video was recorded in three segments. The first segment shows Dziekanski before police arrive.

Four RCMP officers subdue Robert Dziekanski after stunning him with a Taser on Oct. 14 at Vancouver airport.
(Paul Pritchard)
He is clearly agitated, yelling in Polish, and appears to be sweating. He can be seen taking office chairs and putting them in front of the security doors. He then picks up a small table, which he holds, while a woman in the arrivals lounge calmly speaks to him in apparent effort to calm him down.

4 officers arrive in lounge
In the second segment, Dziekanski picks up a computer and throws it to the ground. Three airport personnel arrive and block the exit from the secure area, but Dziekanski retreats inside and does not threaten them.

Then four RCMP officers arrive in the lounge. Someone can be heard mentioning the word Tasers.

Before police arrived, Robert Dziekanski picked up a small table and put it in the doorway between the customs exit area and a public lounge.
(Paul Pritchard)
Someone replies, "Yes," as the officers approach the security doors.

Police have said repeatedly that there were only three RCMP officers involved in the incident, but the video shows four men in RCMP uniforms.

People in the lounge can be heard clearly telling the police Dziekanski speaks no English, only Russian. His mother later said he only spoke Polish.

Police enter the secure area with no problems and can be seen with Dziekanski standing calmly talking with officers. They appear to direct him to stand against a wall, which he does.

As he is standing there, one of the officers shoots him with a Taser.

Paul Pritchard, right, accompanied by his lawyer, Paul Pearson, at a recent press conference, said that he feels police are trying to manipulate the truth.
RCMP officers have also said police did not use pepper spray because of the large number of people at the airport at the time. But the video shows Dziekanski standing alone with the four officers in an otherwise empty area, which is separated from the public area by a thick glass wall.

Paul Pritchard shot the video with his digital camera, but afterward he surrendered it to police for their investigation on a promise that they would return it within 48 hours.

Pritchard hired lawyer
The next day, police told Pritchard they would not be returning the recording as promised.

Carr previously stated investigators kept the video longer than they anticipated in order to protect the integrity of the police investigation while they interviewed witnesses.

Saying he feared a coverup by police, Pritchard then engaged a lawyer to start legal proceedings to reclaim the recording. Police returned the recording to him on Wednesday.

Dziekanski, 40, died on Oct. 14, hours after he arrived at Vancouver International Airport. He was on his way to Kamloops to live with his mother in the B.C. Interior.

The Polish immigrant arrived from Europe the previous day around 4 p.m., but for some unknown reason he did not clear customs until after midnight.

Robert Dziekanski with his mother Zofia Cisowski in Poland, before she immigrated to Canada.

Dziekanski's mother had already returned home to Kamloops after waiting for several hours at the airport. She claims airport officials offered her no help locating her son.

The RCMP's integrated homicide investigation team, the B.C. coroner's service, the Vancouver International Airport Authority and the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP are each conducting their own investigations into the incident.

from http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=a48c7e1e-d9cb-4aea-8512-5a0511809fb4

'I just felt sick,' says witness to Taser case Paul Pritchard says seeing victim's mom weep on television prompted legal challenge

Eve Edmonds , Richmond News

Published: Friday, November 02, 2007

At first he was amused, then he was sickened, now he's furious.

Paul Pritchard, 25, recorded police using a Taser gun on Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport Oct. 14; Dziekanski later died.

Immediately following the incident, police interviewed Pritchard and asked if they could have the memory card that contained the recording from Pritchard's Sony digital video camera. Pritchard gave it to them, under the condition it be returned within 48 hours.

Three weeks later, the card still hasn't been returned and Pritchard has been told he might not get it back for another couple of years, when the investigation is completed.

Police claim they don't want the recording to be made public because it may taint the memories of other witnesses -- a point Pritchard calls ridiculous.

"I don't know how it can influence others," said Pritchard, who spoke to reporters in Victoria yesterday. "It's simply what happened."

Pritchard's lawyer, Paul Pearson, believes the RCMP's argument is "disingenuous" at best.

"They certainly made their version of events public."

Pearson wonders why they would worry about tainting witnesses when they issued a press release describing in some detail what they claim was the sequence of events.

Police are also refusing to release Dziekanski's toxicology report, which showed that Dziekanski was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident. The lawyer for Dziekanski's mother made those findings public.

Pearson and his client are also determined to make Pritchard's recording of the incident public. They are scheduled in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria today (Friday) to make an application to have the memory card returned.

"They have no legal right to hold on to it because, at this point, there's no indication that this is a criminal investigation," Pearson said.

Perhaps what infuriates Pritchard most is the sense of betrayal.

"At that time, (the officers) were really nice, really professional, and I was trying to co-operate and help out."

Pritchard stayed at the airport for four hours after the incident to be interviewed and show the recording.

Now Pritchard suspects he was lied to all along. He notes an officer suggested making a copy of the card. "I was ready to do that, then they came back and said the technician wasn't there so they would have to keep it until they got a copy made."

Pritchard now thinks they had no intention of giving him back the recording.

An officer also told Pritchard that his was the only recording made because the surveillance cameras in the area are only for monitoring and don't record, another point Pritchard finds somewhat questionable.

Police appear like they have something to hide, said Pritchard. And, indeed, Pritchard's memory of events doesn't mirror the details in police accounts.

For one, Dziekanski had been acting strangely for a good hour before any security arrived to defuse the situation.

"Security was called numerous times. A couple of people actually went off to try to find security, nobody came."


I just felt sick,' says witness to Taser case
Paul Pritchard says seeing victim's mom weep on television prompted legal challenge
Eve Edmonds , Richmond News
Published: Friday, November 02, 2007
Pritchard said at first, he and another man were amused by Dziekanski's antics.

"We thought maybe he was drunk."

But the 40-year-old's behaviour got increasingly bizarre. At one point, Dziekanski stacked his suitcases in front of the glass doors between the immigration area and the public lobby. A chauffeur who was there to meet someone told Dziekanski to get out of the way as a flight was landing and people would be coming through soon. An argument ensued. It was clear Dziekanski didn't speak English.

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Font:****There was a phone nearby to call a translator, but the phone didn't work," said Pritchard.

At some point, Pritchard remembered he had his video camera in his luggage. He took it out and began filming.

Dziekanski's odd behaviour continued to escalate.

"He would pick up the computer, then put it down, pick up a keyboard and put it down." He then began banging on the glass windows and yelling in a foreign language.

"We started to wonder, maybe he was getting on a plane, not getting off one. So you've got this guy with bags, acting weird, yelling in a foreign language in an airport -- you don't know what's going to happen."

Finally, two security guards and three officers arrived.

"As one of the officers ran past me, I heard him say 'can I Taser' or 'should I Taser,' something like that. I hope the recording picked it up."

Within seconds, police surrounded Dziekanski, who backed up behind a desk on the immigration side of the glass wall, Pritchard said.

Policed yelled something, then shot him with the Taser gun, said Pritchard.

"I heard pop, pop, pop, pop."

Dziekanski fell to the ground. There was still a struggle on the ground as the officers tried to handcuff him. Then Dziekanski went limp.

"I thought maybe that's just what happens when people get Tasered."

Suddenly, one of the officers jumped up and yelled, "code red" and ran off.

"That's when I felt sick." It took another eight minutes, by Pritchard's reckoning (others say 12), for paramedics to arrive.

"She (the paramedic) checked for vital signs and immediately started doing CPR," said Pritchard.

When Pritchard was later asked by an officer if he had any concerns about how the police handled the situation, Pritchard said he couldn't understand why the officers just stood there waiting for the paramedics to arrive and didn't perform CPR themselves.

As a lifeguard, Pritchard said even he could have performed CPR.

By the time Pritchard, who had just flown in from China to YVR, arrived home in Victoria, he hadn't slept in 52 hours.

"I put it out of my head for a while and then I was watching the news and seeing his mother crying and I just felt sick again and realized I had to do something."

He told the police if he doesn't get the memory card back, he would go to the media, and if that doesn't work, he will take them to court.

"I don't really want to be doing this. Taking the police to court doesn't exactly look good on the resumé, but I can't just roll over."

"In China, I teach English and I talk to my students about human rights. They have no human rights over there, and I tell them about Canada where we have rights -- and then this happens."

It might be time to adjust the lesson plan, he added.

Police did not return calls to the News by press time.



Anonymous said...

Just another example of an RCMP execution excerise. I wonder if the fuck up who zapped this innocent civilian got a charge out of it. Probably.

There is no excuse for it, and I'm glad we got to hear all of the excuses from the fat-ass RCMP media mouths BEFORE the tape is released.

All these tests trying to find an escape hatch and lay the cause of the death on the victim. I can tell you what killed this guy - the trigger happy RCMP who were obviously very excited about finally - FINALLY being able to BLAST some motherfucker who would DARE fuck with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police!

Royal Canadian Mounted FUCK-UPS is more like it.

And let's never, ever forget the execution of Ian Bush. Shot in the back of the head while in custody. Self-defense and the murdering prick who executed Ian is still in uniform handing out tickets somewhere in Canada.

And when the rest of the RCMP don't speak out they are complicit in the these murders.

In Canada, we are a police state. We need real Mounties to protect us from the bad ones.

A special fuck you to the guy who killed this poor, innocent, lost traveller. I hope you take a couple right in the face someday you piece of fucking shit.

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