Man in Airport Tasered to Death by Police

This post, written by Manila Ryce, originally appeared on The Largest Minority

Robert Dziekanski was a 40-year-old Polish immigrant who had arrived at Vancouver International Airport and was on his way to live with his mother in the B.C. Interior. He arrived at the airport at 4 pm on Oct 13th but for some unknown reason did not clear customs until after midnight, more than 8 hours later. Dziekanski's actions were then caught on video by a witness at the airport.

Dziekanski appeared agitated, sweating and yelling in Polish while placing office chairs in front of security doors. In another section of the video, he throws a computer to the ground and is talked down by an employee at the airport. It is then that three personnel arrive. Dziekanski then retreats into the lounge where he is later met by four Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers. It is this part of the video which documents Robert Dziekanski's death.
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. 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.
An RCMP spokesman has tried to downplay the incident, saying that the video documenting this excessive use of force is merely "one piece of evidence, one person's view". Dziekanski is shown being tasered in the video even after he is handcuffed. Aside from lying about the number of taser shots fired, the RCMP has also lied about the number of officers at the scene, declaring that only three officers were there when the video clearly shows four. People in the lounge are also heard telling police that Dziekanski does not speak English.

Though his behavior is unusual, Dziekanski does not threaten any of the officers and is eventually able to comply with a direction to stand against a wall, despite not knowing the language. After he does, police begin to taser him.

Dziekanski's mother had arrived at the airport to pick up her son on the previous day, but returned home after waiting several hours. Airport officials did not help her locate him.
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. 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.

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