Tasered @ YVR

Thu 15 Nov, 2007 at 5:28 pm 3 comments

If you don’t live in Vancouver or you don’t watch the news wherever you live then you may not have heard about the recent tragedy that happened at YVR on October 14th, 2007.

Paul Pritchard videotaped the tragedy and the video was just released to the public yesterday.

Robert Dziekanski died 14 hours after arriving at YVR on an international flight from Poland. He’d become agitated after failing to meet up with his mother, who had come from Kamloops to pick him up. Within 24 seconds of the RCMP arriving at YVR, the officers tasered him. After he collapsed on the ground in obvious distress, all four officers attempted to restrain him, including one who was kneeling on his neck.

After Dziekanski stopped moving the officers checked for vitals, and upon finding none, made no apparent efforts to resuscitate him.

The following video is what Pritchard released after finally receiving his video back from the RCMP via a lawyer.

The use of a taser is  intended to be nonlethal. When shot at an individual, it delivers a 26-watt, 50,000-volt charge for five seconds. Since 2003, there have been 17 deaths as a result of this nonlethal force in Canada and more than 50 in North America.

Taser International, the U.S. company that manufactures the weapons, argues on its website that, ‘Independent medical and scientific experts have determined Taser devices to be among the safest use-of-force options available.’ A peer-reviewed study by Journal of Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology (PACE) suggest a safety margin of greater than 20:1 for human adults greater than 100 lbs — Acetaminophen has an 8:1 safety margin.

It is true that the video does not show the entire time of Dziekanski’s distress, but there were alternatives. For starters – find someone who spoke Russian (which is apparently what he spoke). This was a man in distress with no weapons at his disposal. He was in a foreign country, and was terrified – all the more so when he was shot by the police.

I am not impressed by the RCMP’s reaction to the situation. Pepper spray was another option, but so to is the use of a translator (we live in a multi-cultural city here – and there was no one around who spoke Russian??). The officer could have done less damage by not having his knee on Dziekanski’s neck after being jolted with 26,000 volts. Attempts could have been made to resuscitate the gentleman, and none were.

Responses in Vancouver have been mixed. But my mind is made up.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. timothycairns  |  Fri 16 Nov, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Jen, Moving into political comment!!! dangerous!

    Reply
  • 2. melissa  |  Sun 18 Nov, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Hey there
    i was talking to my rcmp friend about this incident the other day and she had some interesting comments (one of them being the overly negative bias of the media). She wasn’t involved so she doesn’t know the whole situation, though she pointed out htat the released video looked edited (which i thought too when i viewed it). As far as pepper spray goes, apparently they can’t use it inside at all, which gets rid of that option.

    Her comments were that the guy was HUGE (6.5) and had been in jail for dangerous crimes for awhile (meaning he’s capable of a lot). And that, apparently, tasering is one of the safer methods for taking someone down who is combative. Perhaps this guy could have been talked down, but while waiting for a translator, the guy could have killed or hurt others.

    ITs hard to know what to think about all of this. They say that tasering can cause heart attack, but only in those who have prior heart problems — and if that’s the case, many forms of stress could trigger heart problems.

    Reply
  • 3. timothycairns  |  Mon 19 Nov, 2007 at 10:40 am

    The video is edited but the full version is on the main news agencies web sites. As for his imprisonment for dangerous crimes, these were all juvenile convictions, 3 years for robbery when 14. This means that the conviction is spent and the cops on the scene had no idea that this was the case when they arrived. The man had not been a danger to anyone at all. People had spoken to him but the language had caused a problem. He had not been violent towards any person who approached him so no one was under threat.

    The guy might have been huge but a swift hit with a night stick will bring him down. The media are biased because what the RCMP did was frankly awful. A very bad day at the office. I think the police officer with his knee on the neck of the guy should be immediately fired. I think the other three should be facing the sack for not administering first aid. I think the police acted in a disgraceful manner.

    The real issue is this, regardless of the threat should a taser gun be used. Maybe yes but it should never be deployed as quickly as these guys did. The problem is that a taser is meant to be the LAST resort, the police in this case used it within seconds, it was a first resort. That is just sloppy police work and must be punished. The media are quite right to go after these police officers, I hope this issue isn’t dropped. Police cannot act in any way they want. Law enforcement must be beyond reproach.

    Reply

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