Taser Death in Canada

Polish asking how Robert Dziekanski airport death could have happened in Canada

By —— Bio and Archives--December 11, 2007

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The tragic events that led to the death of confused and visibly anxious Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski are giving Canada’s image as a kind and hospitable country a black eye in Poland.

  “Everybody’s asking how this could happen,” journalist David Dastych told Canada Free Press (CFP).  “We expect to hear of things like this in Iraq and Iran, but Canada?”

  Poland is conducting its own official inquiry into the last hours of Robert Dziekanski on Earth.


How this newcomer to Canada could have spent 10 long hours—at least six of them languishing without notice in the baggage area on arrival to Vancouver International Airport—is a question that should never have to be asked.

  “The baggage area is as big as two football fields and about 4,000 passengers went through it while Dziekanski was there,” says a report tabled by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).  The report was part of a media conference some six weeks after Mr. Dziekanski’s death that came within minutes of being Tasered and tackled by four physically fit members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

  Dziekanski’s death is being wrapped into taser-related deaths in Canada, one in British Colombia and one in Nova Scotia. 

  At least the Polish inquiry will guarantee a probe over the many hours between Dziekanski’s arrival in Vancouver at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 13 and his death sometime after 1 a.m. on Oct. 14.

  Knowing no English and having flown alone for the first time, Robert Dziekanski took his mother to heart when she asked for him to meet her in the baggage department upon arrival to Canada from Germany.

  Not only did Canadian authorities fail the arriving immigrant, they failed his mother who left the airport, having been given the information that no one there matched her son’s description.

  Canada enjoys a reputation for having an open door policy for immigrants from many lands. 

  Dziekanski’s mother, Zofia Cisowski, who worked two jobs to get the money to bring her son into Canada, told him to wait for her in the baggage area never knowing she would not be permitted to meet him there because it is designated a “secure” area.

How could Mrs. Cisowski possibly know that airport personnel who said that no one fitting her son’s description was there had seriously misinformed her?

  With their characteristic hustle and bustle, international airports can be distressing places for anyone, even for those familiar with the country’s two official languages.

  Ten hours with up to 4,000 passengers going by with no one to talk to on arrival in a foreign country and no mother in sight must have been nightmarish for a had-to-be bewildered Dziekanski.
  In his report, CBSA president Alain Jolicoeur concluded that upon reviewing all of the information at hand, his officers did their jobs.

  “There is no action that in my view requires discipline,” he said.

  “The procedure was followed.  If we had any hint that the individual showed any sign of distress during that period we would have serious questions.”

  Procedure works for cows and baggage, Mr. Jolicoeur.  It does not work on human beings.

  The report further concludes that officers who interacted with the traveler that long evening said he did not ask for any assistance during the protracted time he was waiting in the CBSA area, but was given several glasses of water after having been taken to a secondary processing area. 
  How could Mr. Dziekanski ask, “Why am I still here?” or “Where is my mother?” when he knew no English or French? 

  Were it not for a video shot by a fellow traveler who was there that night, would the public ever have come to know the tragic fate of Robert Dziekanski?

  That video shows a perspiring, obviously distressed Dziekanski throwing furniture around while a lone woman stood outside the glass of the secure area, trying to calm him.

  RCMP were called and within minutes, Dziekanski was twice zapped with a Taser, fell writhing to the ground and died after four officers pounced on him.

  Was Mr. Dziekanski asphyxiated, or did he die of fright?

  There are at least eight inquiries underway stemming from what happened in the early morning hours of Oct. 14, 2007, including a provincial inquiry and a federal inquiry into Taser use by the RCMP.

  The inquiries into the incident, like all other semi judicial inquiries will ultimately be handled by bureaucrats and politicians.

  None of the public inquiries, no matter how comprehensive the details, could ever dry the tears or ease the heartaches of Zofia Cisowski.

Mrs. Cisowski must be asking herself a thousands questions and will likely be tortured the rest of her life with the “if onlys”.

  The same “if onlys” that will plague decent people everywhere.

  Meanwhile, the Polish have the first question right: How could this ever have happened in Canada?


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Judi McLeod -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com.

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