Wednesday, December 09, 2009

RCMP Complaints Commissioner Report on Tasering Death of Polish Immigrant

Paul Kennedy, chairman of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, yesterday released his long awaited report into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport on October 14, 2007.

On that day, four RCMP officers responded to calls about erratic conduct by Dziekanski, who had arrived to begin a new life with his mother already living in British Columbia.

Mr. Dziekanski was described as exhausted and confused after being lost in the terminal for hours. When he brandished a stapler at the officers, he was shot with a Taser stun gun. He died of cardiac arrest.

In his summary, Kennedy writes:

"I do not accept the version of events as presented by the four responding RCMP members. The statements provided by the members are sparse in terms of detail of the events and the thought processes of the members as events unfolded. When tracked against the witness video, the recollections of the members fall short of a credible statement of the events as they actually unfolded. The fact that the members met together prior to providing statements causes me to further question their versions of events."

"An issue inextricably linked to the incident is the use of a conducted energy weapon (CEW), also known as a TASER®, by an RCMP member during the arrest of Mr. Dziekanski. The CEW is a prohibited firearm pursuant to the regulations under the Criminal Code of Canada.1 Debate pertaining to the overall appropriateness of the use of CEWs by police had been ongoing for some time prior to the YVR incident (and has been previously commented on by the Commission as indicated below), but this particular use of a CEW focused considerable attention and scrutiny on appropriate CEW usage and the nature of the CEW as a weapon."
The report makes numerous recommendations. Among others, Kennedy calls on the Mounties to review their taser quality-assessment program and improve training in awareness of the potentially dangerous nature of tasers. As well, the RCMP should do more to teach officers techniques to communicate with people who cannot meaningfully communicate with them. Dziekanski could not speak English.

Other Library Boy posts on the Taser weapon include:
  • Canada Orders Review of Use of Tasers After Video of Polish Immigrant's Death Released (November 15, 2007): "Yesterday's Globe and Mail recounts 'Tasered man's last moments' and provides links to the 10-minute amateur video of Dziekanski being shot with the Taser, convulsing and screaming in pain, being subdued by police and then going silent and no longer moving."
  • RCMP Told To Curb Taser Use (December 15, 2007): "Earlier this week, Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, released an interim report outlining recommendations for the government on the Mounties' use of the Taser stun guns. The Commission is an independent civilian agency. Kennedy's report does not call for a moratorium on the weapon. However, it concludes that the federal police force needs to limit its use, increase training for officers and conduct more research on its effects."
  • Canadian Parliamentary Committee Report on Taser Stun Guns (July 29, 2008): "To prevent confidence in the RCMP from eroding further, the Committee [House of Commons Standing Public Safety and National Security] considers that the RCMP must react immediately by revising its policy on CEWs to stipulate that use of such weapons can be justified only in situations where a subject is displaying assaultive behaviour or represents a threat of death or grievous bodily harm. This immediate restriction is necessary given the persisting uncertainty about the effects of CEW technology on the health and safety of persons subjected to it, and the scarcity of independent, peer-reviewed research in this regard. The Committee also urges the RCMP to implement preventive methods designed to diminish the use of Taser guns during police interventions, in particular by enhancing accountability at the RCMP and improving officer training on intervention involving persons suffering from various problems, including bipolar disorder, autism and autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and drug addiction."
  • RCMP Report on Taser Usage (September 12, 2008): "The Toronto Star has obtained a study on the use of Taser stun guns that was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner.The June 2008 study on "conducted energy weapons" (CEWs) was published by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, an independent civilian agency. The newspaper requested a copy under the Access to Information Act... The report finds that the RCMP relied too much on the advice of the weapon's American manufacturer and did not consult enough with medical professionals."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:36 pm


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