Taser video shows RCMP shocked immigrant within 25 seconds of their arrival
Last Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2007 | 9:52 AM PT
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.Four RCMP officers subdue Robert Dziekanski after stunning him with a Taser on Oct. 14 at Vancouver airport. (Paul Pritchard)
"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.
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.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)
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.
Officers arrive in lounge
Then four RCMP officers arrive in the lounge. Someone can be heard mentioning the word Tasers.
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.
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.
Pritchard hired lawyerPaul Pritchard, right, accompanied by his lawyer, Paul Pearson, at a recent press conference, said that he feels police are trying to manipulate the truth. (CBC)
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.
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.Robert Dziekanski with his mother Zofia Cisowski in Poland, before she emigrated to Canada.
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.
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.
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