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Killing at Vancouver Airport.

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
On October 14, a 40-year-old Polish man was murdered by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) at the Vancouver International Airport. Robert Dziekanski was supposed to meet his mother at the airport but, since he didn't speak a single word of English, he had no idea where to go after he got off the plane. His mother has been a Canadian citizen for 20 years and has worked to save money to bring Robert to Canada. It is still unclear why there was not a Russian translator there to help him.

For those of you who may not have flown to a different country before, when you get off the plane you have to go through customs and no one other than the passengers of the flight and airport staff is allowed in that room. As a result, Robert's mother, Zofia Cisowski, was not able to go meet him there. She talked to many of the staff and they just kept on telling her that he had not arrived because he was not in their computer yet. They were too lazy to walk less than 100 feet to check with customs and to look around a room.

Robert and his mother were less than 150 yards from each other for over 6 hours. Finally, Zofia decided that maybe he had just missed his flight and started the long journey to her home in Kamloops. When she finally arrived back home there was a message on her answering machine from the Airport that said that her son had just cleared customs and he is waiting for her. So she drove back to Vancouver.

Meanwhile, Robert had become very agitated. He was very scared and confused started to throw chairs and things like that. He wasn't trying to hurt anyone, he was just scared and annoyed. Airport security arrived and shortly after, 4 RCMP officers came in. After 24 seconds of being in the room, they shot Robert with a tazer gun sending 50,000 volts through him. Robert went unconscious but the police didn't stop. They shot another tazer at him after he was down. Robert was tazered to death.

His mother arrived shortly after. She thought she would just be picking up her son and then going home with a smile on her face but when she walked in and saw him laying there, that happiness she was expecting turned to grief and sadness.

There was a man who had videotaped the last few minutes of Robert's life. It shows the police using excessive force with no reason to be forceful at all. The video was aired on www.youtube.com less than 3 minutes after it was released to news stations across the world yesterday.
post #2 of 20
I've seen the video, and almost posted it here. What I don't understand is why he was tasered a second time, and then physically subdued with such force. He was retreating from the security staff, not attacking anybody. Vancouver is a pretty big city, so why didn't anybody attempt to call in an interpreter?
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat View Post
I've seen the video, and almost posted it here. What I don't understand is why he was tasered a second time, and then physically subdued with such force. He was retreating from the security staff, not attacking anybody. Vancouver is a pretty big city, so why didn't anybody attempt to call in an interpreter?
They called an interpreter but their phone apparently wasn't working. I don't know why they didn't try again later.
post #4 of 20
This whole thing could have been avoided ,if they had called someone. who could speak to him in his language, this is an international airport. I am appalled at the way this man way treated, I can't imagine been that frightened, and there is no one, who understands you, no one to help, he must have felt so desperate.
post #5 of 20
I can understand how he must have felt. When I had went to my assignment in Korea, no one was waiting for me but they luckily had signs for U.S. military that pointed me in the right direction. The Korean officers in the airport didn't know English but they were helpful. I was really nervous though, being in a strange country, a head taller than everyone and not being able to understand a single word.
IMO, if someone there had shown a bit of sympathy and talked calmly to him, I think he would not have panicked as he did. There were two Chinese siblings that were in my English class in high school years ago and even though they could barely speak English (Other than the basics like yes, no, thank you.), I was still able to 'understand' them, if you know what I mean.
post #6 of 20
Several years ago, I left my home country to move to another country. Customs is confusing, even when you speak the language of the country to which you are traveling (in my case, England). I passed through customs and wound up sitting in the "holding area" for a long time because I didn't know where to go and there was nobody available to explain it to me. My ex nearly left and went home when it looked as though I'd missed my flight.

I can completely understand and sympathize what this man must have been going through! It's hard enough when you speak the same language, but when you can't understand anyone or make yourself understood, it's got to be a truly sickening feeling.

Why tazer an unconscious individual?

Are there repercussions for those who did the tazering?
post #7 of 20
If I'm annoyed and frustrated I don't go throwing chairs around and acting like a lunatic. And if someone did start throwing chairs at an airport how can anyone say "he wasn't trying to hurt anyone". Just because he wasn't trying, doesn't mean he was going to.

And why didn't he have contact details of his mother? Why didn't find a way to get someone to call his mother?

I'm not saying he deserved to die by any means, but he looks like he was a danger to others, and that's obviously why they tasered. I can't tell when the second tasering happened. And I wonder if he died from a weak heart due to the tasering rather than from excessive force. The Police have a tough job, and someone at an airport going nuts for no apparent reason is something that has to be dealt with immediately in today's world.

There looks to be a breakdown in communications, but the Police were just doing the best they could at the time with what they had - they wouldn't have known any previous details.
post #8 of 20
One major problem here is the misuse of tasers in the first place. Tasers are meant to be an alternative to deadly force -- not an easy way to avoid having to physically restrain someone. And as too many cases have now proven, the taser sometimes does carry deadly force.

I think every time a taser is used, it should trigger exactly the same detailed documentation and action review that are required when a gun is discharged. Otherwise, some officers will continue to taser needlessly and irresponsibly.
post #9 of 20
A video came out today regarding an incident which occurred last month in British Columbia, Canada.
It shows a polish man who is very upset and frustrated throwing furniture (not at people) in an airport, people mistakenly identifying him as Russian, a lack of translators and then the RCMP coming in and tasering him to death within 20 seconds of arrival.
Apparently he was upset because of a 10 hour flight and being stuck in the airport in a strange country where he can't find his mother who was supposed to meet him for another 10. He didn't approach the officers or fight them in anyway.

I'm having a very hard time wrapping my head around this. The comments on youtube were of the nature of "get out of your little bubble". The poor man must have been so scared, and his last hours of life, let alone moments must have been so frightening.
One of the things that bothers me the most is I can't find footage or a news report which talks about how diligently the police officers and then later on medics worked to revive this man. the footage stops right after he stops moving and I'm assuming he is still alive because the officers are obviously unconcerned.

I think there were a lot of mistakes made in this situation, starting with the security office not uniting him with his mother, who was looking for him, and not getting a translator. I'm sure these police officers are wonderful people and are dealing with many demons right now.....

I just don't understand
post #10 of 20
I agree with everything sarahp said. My husband travels all over the globe for his work and I shudder to think what would happen if he started throwing chairs in an airport! People are really jumpy in airports.

It was a tragic nontheless.
post #11 of 20
Yea, i have to agree with Sarah and swampwitch.
and if there is not review process like carol said, there should be.

I used to travel alot, and have been in many places where no one spoke english/
post #12 of 20
"Murder" is a legal definition - the unlawful taking of a human life. Until the autopsy results are in, this is technically a homicide.

I saw the video, too and prefer to reserve judgement, until the autopsy results and investigation are complete. People who become disruptive in airports are routinely restrained and sometimes more stringent methods are required to restrain SOME people. This man threw around furniture AND a computer monitor, presenting a potential danger to others.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by katl8e View Post
"Murder" is a legal definition - the unlawful taking of a human life. Until the autopsy results are in, this is technically a homicide.

I saw the video, too and prefer to reserve judgement, until the autopsy results and investigation are complete. People who become disruptive in airports are routinely restrained and sometimes more stringent methods are required to restrain SOME people. This man threw around furniture AND a computer monitor, presenting a potential danger to others.
I agree completely. Everyone is so eager to put the police down, but I honestly believe if they were to change places with these officers for a few days, they may have a whole different outlook. If I were at that airport and some man near me started throwing chairs and monitors, I would certainly be concerned and don't for a second believe I'd be saying he was harmless like folks are trying to say now, after the fact. I don't care how frustrated a person is, it does not give them the right to destroy property or put people around them in peril.

I also don't believe for a moment that the taser is the cause of death - I think this person must have had a weakness (heart or whatever) before the taser. Better to be tasered than shot IMO.
post #14 of 20
I spoke to a good friend of mine who is a police officer last night, hoping that he could make sense of what I was feeling.
He watched the video for me and had a lot of questions himself. We both agreed that what things can look like from the outside can often be different in the inside (I used to work with the criminally insane and have been in situations where what is happening to outsiders is very different to the people in the situation).
Neither of us know why they tasered him, since it's pretty obvious that he backs up with his hands in the air. My friend said that once they present a weapon of any kind to force compliance, if compliance does not happen, they are obligated to use the weapon. I think it's unfortunate that they walked in brandishing their tasers which may not have been necessary.
Again...where's that translator?
Apparently it's quite amazing that he got hit 3 times and still had enough power to push off 4 men for 10 seconds. It may point to some reasonable use.
Tasers are not an non-lethal method of attack, they are a less-lethal method, and I really do believe that his death was directly connected to the use of them, heat defect/the way they placed him on the ground (another one I heard) or not.

I feel so badly for all concerned in this situation. His family must be crushed and confused and angry. The officers must be going through their own stuff too. In the end, I really do hope that the airport footage shows that they really did use reasonable force, it would still be very sad for the families, but at least it would make sense.
post #15 of 20
I've found out more about this and have changed my opinion.

The man had never been on an airplane before the fateful trip. After a ten hour flight, he tried to get help for ten hours in the airport. I believe being in this kind of situation would put just about anybody over the edge as far as frustration goes.

It seems also unclear just how much stuff he threw during that frustration, and the police did taser him when he had his hands up. Then the police continued to taser him although he was obviously no longer a threat.

I think what happened is a disgrace and that the police did NOT access the situation properly.
post #16 of 20
I think all of this could have been avoided if somebody found a translator for this man. And I don't think Russian translator would do the man any good since he was Polish. He would need a Polish translator. The man must have been really confused showing up in the new country and then couldn't find his mother. That said, if the guy knew he was going to Canada, it might have been a good idea to try and learn some basic language.
Very sad.
post #17 of 20
I think if he'd never been on a plane before the whole situation must have been a lot more terrifying for him that we could imagine. It's a shame when any kind of police tactics result in death.

I have to wonder though (and this is not aimed at anyone here) how the world would be reacting if this man had been of middle eastern descent? I wonder if people would be equally as horrified, or if any efforts would be made to look deeper into the situation? I'm thinking not.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva! View Post

I have to wonder though (and this is not aimed at anyone here) how the world would be reacting if this man had been of middle eastern descent? I wonder if people would be equally as horrified, or if any efforts would be made to look deeper into the situation? I'm thinking not.
I disagree. I believe we Canadians would have been equally upset regardless of the ethnic origin of the person.
post #19 of 20
I didn't say nobody would be upset - I said I wondered how the world media would have handled it. I just said `the world' though - which didn't really illustrate what I meant. Woopsie.
post #20 of 20
I saw this on the news right after I read the title of the thread. From what I understood from the news was that he was sent to see his mom without anyone to help him. What I want to know is why you would send some guy with an anger problem to another country where very few people speak his language. That just seems like a bad idea right there.

Yes it was a very sad story, but these police/security people have a job to do. What would you do if this guy was going crazy and throwing chairs at you? He's got to be 250 lbs. We didn't get to see what happened so we can't really say "How could they use so much force, or why would they tazer him again".
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