Polish authorities probe Taser use in Dziekanski's death
Prosecutors in Poland have launched their own investigation into the death of a Polish immigrant at Vancouver International Airport after RCMP stunned him with a Taser.
A video recording that a witness captured of Robert Dziekanski's death on Oct. 14 sparked a national and international furor over the use of Tasers by the RCMP.
Now a spokesman in the 40-year-old's hometown of Gliwice, Poland, says the prosecutor's office wants to find out whether Canadian police officers "exceeded their authority and unintentionally caused the death."
Michal Szulczynski, a spokesman for the Gliwice prosecutor's office, said Wednesday that the Polish investigation was opened Nov. 22 after Polish diplomats in Canada informed the prosecutors of Dziekanski's death.
He refused to provide details of the investigation, but said it was independent of those in Canada. A number of investigations into the death are already underway in Canada, including a federal government review of the RCMP's use of Tasers.
A report published by a regional TV station in the Polish city of Katowice on Wednesday said Polish law allows for the pursuit of foreigners for crimes against Polish citizens abroad.
The report said that if the police officers were found guilty in Canada, they could then theoretically be brought to justice in Poland, but that would hinge on Canada facilitating the handover of those officers to Polish officials.
Walter Kosteckyj, the lawyer for Dziekanski's mother, said the legal action shows how much of an impact Dziekanski's death is having in Poland, and how Polish officials think Canada's action on the issue has been inadequate.
"They're obviously also concerned about the progress of the investigation and obviously the lack of what they perceived to be action by the RCMP against its members," Kosteckyj told CBC News on Wednesday morning.
But Kosteckyj said he doubted the investigation would accomplish much because Polish prosecutors don't have the authority to conduct an investigation in Canada.
"As far as I can see, the only thing that they would be able to do is get information that the Canadian government provides to the Polish authorities," he said.
"Apart from that, they would need some kind of special standing to be able to come to Canada and investigate it, and I just don't see that happening, to be frank."
Dziekanski died shortly after being stunned at least twice with a Taser by RCMP officers in the international arrivals area of the airport. The Polish immigrant had been acting distressed and was shouting and smashing furniture before four officers arrived.
Initially the RCMP claimed Dziekanski attacked the officers and could only be controlled by the use of the Taser. But the video, which was released publicly later, showed him standing metres from the officers when he was stunned. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
With files from the Associated Press