The Current

Reporter who covered Robert Dziekanski's death says there's more to the story than 'four bad-apple cops'

Long-time CBC journalist Curt Petrovich covered the death of Robert Dziekanski in 2007. The Polish immigrant was Tasered by RCMP officers in Vancouver airport, but Petrovich says there's more to the story than a narrative of "four bad apple cops." Now he's written a book about Dziekanski, and the four RCMP officers present that night, and whether justice has been served.

In 2007, a Polish immigrant died after being tasered by an RCMP officer in Vancouver International Airport

Robert Dziekanski falls to the floor as an RCMP officer looks on. (Paul Pritchard)
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RCMP officers involved in death of Robert Dziekanski were not "four bad apples," according to an author and long-time CBC reporter.

"It's tragic that Robert Dziekanski died," Curt Petrovich told The Current's  Anna Maria Tremonti. "He didn't need to die, it shouldn't have happened." 

"I'm not an apologist for the police. I'm not an apologist for anything they did that night. That being the case, I had to ask myself 'is it justice?'"

Robert Dziekanski died in 2007 after being tasered by four RCMP officers at YVR. (Dziekanski family)

In October 2007, Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who did not speak English, was moving to Canada to live with his mother.

When he arrived at the Vancouver International Airport he spent approximately 8 hours in customs

Dziekanski eventually began acting erratically, smashing things inside the terminal. 

Police were called and the situation quickly escalated, resulting in an RCMP officer tasering Dziekanski multiple times, who collapsed on the ground.

Ambulance attendants arrived but were unsuccessful in resuscitating Dziekanski.

The incident was caught on video by a bystander, and sparked a national conversation about police use-of-force, and whether the four officers — and the RCMP — tried to cover-up what really happened. 

Petrovich has written a book Blamed and Broken: The Mounties and the Death of Robert Dziekanski, which explores the complicated story.

"I started learning things there were a contradiction to that narrative, that you have four bad-apple cops who lied and tried to cover something up."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Written by Lito Howse. Produced by John Chipman.