What kind of closure the current public inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski can find will be anyone’s guess.
For those of you not familiar with this tragic event, Dziekanski was a traveller from Poland who was tasered five times and died at Vancouver airport on Oct. 14, 2007, at the hands of four RCMP officers.
I have delayed blogging about this event because it simply gets me so upset in so many ways. Watching the last nine minutes of Dziekanski’s life, there for anyone to see on YouTube, is uncomfortable, maddening and compelling. How could our system fail this traveller to our country?
Warning, I am blogging long here, I figure for anyone reading past this sentence and not familair with the issue, you might as well get the background you need and find more on your own.
Dziekanski had demonstrated aggressive and agitated behaviour after spending 10 hours in the airport after arriving from Poland. From slow immigration processing, to a language barrier to waiting for his mother near baggage carousels the public had no access to, one delay after the other and no way to communicate , only contributed to the man’s state.
We have now also learned through the inquest he had two shouting matches with a limo driver, and the driver himself now regrets having been as aggressive as he was in the confrontations, surmising that he contributed to Dziekanski’s already “ramped up” state by “10 per cent”.
Watching the last moments of Dziekanski’s life are difficult. Here is a man clearly in distress, shouting loudly and throwing furniture about. All aggressive and dangerous behaviours, no disputing that. The man has no weapons but looks like he could be a danger to the general public. However, notice his heavy breathing. Look at his face. He looks lost. Scared. Confused.
Four trained and armed RCMP police officers eventually arrive to try and corral Dziekanski. They instruct him to lift his arms and before doing so, he manages to pick up a stapler, yes, a stapler, from a desk. In the video, the only time you see the stapler get raised above his head is when he his hit by the first taser blast. They tasered him within their first 30 seconds at the scene.
Let me say, I do not envy police officers and the responsibility they carry. There is a potential for injury and death at every call they receive. However, the general public expects them to be of a higher standard and judgement in how they execute their force and power.
The RCMP dropped the ball in this event. They outnumbered him four-to-one and were armed and he had a bloody stapler, nevermind his agitated state. Yes, they chose to use one of their least lethal weapons, but it was used five times on the man. Five times.
Just watch the video, the taser was not used as a last resort, it was used as the first option after only a short attempt at talking with Dziekanski.
The B.C. Crown decided against laying charges in this case and three of the four officers have been reassigned elsewhere in Canada. The officers may be summoned during the inquest and could face misconduct charges.
Where will justice be found for not just Dziekanski’s family but for the Canadian public, is justice even warranted?