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Ban Tasers Now

On Wednesday a video was released of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, being tasered to death by the RCMP at the Vancouver airport.

Watch part 1: The guy is clearly pissed about something. Turns out he'd been waiting for 10 hours for his mother. But his mother couldn't get in to the secure holding area that he was in, consequently didn't see him come out with the rest of the passengers, waited a while longer and then left thinking her son had missed the flight. Robert, meanwhile, is freaking out because he apparently speaks no English (cheers to the woman who tries to communicate with him, but confuses Polish with Russian) and is wondering why his mother abandoned him in this foreign land. So he freaks out.

Watch part 2: He freaks out more, throwing a computer. Security comes but hangs back, waiting for the big guns. The RCMP make their entrance, walking into the room. As they enter, you can hear " say "They say something to Dziekanski, whereupon he throws his hands up in what seems to be a gesture of resignation and walks over to the right with his back against the wall. The police then surround him, something else is said, and then begin tasering. They do it at least twice, the second time sending him flying out the door. They then pile on top of him and hold him immobile. All through this he is screaming. Then, at 5:34 of the second part, watch the cop on the right. What is he hitting with his baton? Is it Dziekanski's head? Then you see the cops realize they've killed him.

Watch part 3: Code red. It looks to me like he was asphyxiated from behind, from force to the back of the neck. I don't think the tasering killed him.

From the Toronto Star:
Traveller Paul Pritchard, who shot the video, said officers seemed to come prepared to zap Dziekanski.

"As they ran in, I heard one of the officers say, `Can I Taser him, should I Taser?' before they actually even got to Mr. Dziekanski," said Pritchard, who lives in Victoria.

But why is this information missing from the Vancouver Sun's transcript?


Surrey-North NDP MLA Penny Priddy said that the "screams of a dying man echo throughout the country" and that Canadians wanted answers before more lives were lost.

"Is it standard operating procedure for the RCMP to use Tasers when there is no obvious physical threat?" she asked Day in Parliament.

Good question. Put a supposedly non-lethal weapon in the hands of cops, give them free reign to use it, and sure enough non-lethal turns into lethal. Apparently they were acting in accordance with RCMP guidelines:

The four officers involved are still on active duty following an internal review, according to RCMP Cpl. Greg Gillis, a training instruction in the use of Tasers.

Gillis said the review did not show any concern that the officers acted punitively or outside their regular duties. If it had, he said, the officers would likely have been relegated to desk duty or suspended.

This is absurd. A man who was not resisting, had hurt no one, was unarmed and acting calmly when confronted by police was tasered long enough for him to die. So an officer's duty is to taser frustrated, impatient people to death?

It's time to outlaw these obviously lethal weapons. There is no way to prevent this from happening again except to prohibit their use completely.

update: In relation to the transcript of the event being scrubbed of the dialog between the RCMP officers, they've been withholding the video since July. Understandable, since it looks so bad. Their reason of tainting witnesses is rational. At least they didn't destroy it.

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