Vancouver Airport police taser killing

News: On October 14, RCMP officers at Vancouver Airport tasered a Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who was traveling for the first time on an airplane to relocate to Canada with his mother. Mr. Dziekanski spoke Polish, so he may not have understood everything going on at the customs check point. He became agitated, and then Canadian police officers came in and soon tasered Mr. Dziekanski several times. He died right after the tasering. (More)

VIEWER DISCRETION: This video is the raw footage of what happened taken by a bystander. It is unedited. It contains disturbing scenes of Mr. Dziekanski getting tasered, falling to the ground, and then dying. I believe this is a newsworthy video, but viewer discretion is advised.

Analysis: I’m not an expert in airport customs procedures or the use of tasers. But what happened here is quite disturbing to me. If anyone knows the general safety of tasering, please comment.

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38 Responses to Vancouver Airport police taser killing

  1. Sandy Zeleznik says:

    It is a dicrace that 4 RCMP had to tazer one man,not once but twice, then attack him when he was in pain, then the one cop,looks like he in on his neck with all his force,then what did the other cop slam on the ground at him? Either way you look at it they murdered him.Shame on those RCMP.If the coroner says he died of natual causes ,he should be FIRED.

  2. iain rannachan says:

    This video disgusts me, these situations require an experienced (one) officer to direct the rest. These guys as obvious are totally out of there league with dealing with this man. Shame on them to break the protocol of basic human interaction, defuse and calm the person.There was no threat, they had four, he was held for ten hours in immigration. As you can see from the video, he was heavy breathing and so close to a break down before the RCMP showed up. I hope we learn from this, a mistake that it was and ban those tasers as they are or tune them down, so it’s not your relly getting zapped next time.

  3. Dave Henderson says:

    The only differance between the SS and the RCMP is the uniform. They make the Hells Angels look like elementry school thuds. They will get away with this killing like they did when they shot the kid from Huston B.C. in the back of the head in self defence.

  4. Kev Vikanova says:

    I’m not saying how the officers handled the situation was necessarily “correct”, but I do wish arm chair quarterbacks would lay off with the “they oughta” stuff – most posters have no idea what they are talking about in terms of ‘protocol’ to deal with situations like these. There are several factors in play that we as casual observers ought to consider ourselves before passing judgment: 1) Those officers were actually there and had to deal with the situation and potential consequences, 2) They actually received formal training (which isn’t easy and which likely most posters couldn’t even pass the physicals for let alone the rest of the courses and testing) along with having actual experience, 3) they don’t have the luxury of watching a video first and then contemplating the whole situation calmly for several minutes before deciding a course of action, 4) Tasers were meant to be a non-lethal control method so these guys were obviously trying not to kill this man even if that’s what ultimately happened, 5) Officers aren’t paid to roll around on the ground with deranged men acting bizarrely (which would likely still be subject to complaints by posters) just because they are police, 6) this isn’t Star Trek: Next Generation and you can’t always reason with people to get to a solution. Sometimes force is required in the real world and that is just a sad reality, 7)Unless you’ve got direct experience in law enforcement or dealing with serious situations, how about waiting for those that do to make pronouncements about how the matter was handled?

    This is a real tragedy for everyone involved and obviously most of all for the deceased and his family. But jumping to quick, knee jerk conclusions isn’t helpful nor rational. Give the officers the same respect you’d give anyone else accused of something – the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

  5. brad smith says:

    are you joking buddy?

    first of all those officers are violating every protocal in the book.. they should have first tried to calm down the man down that was clearly upset then if he tried to attack one of the officers thats where the other 3 come into play.. its simple, think it only takes 1-2 guys tops to tackle a guy down then cuff him?? but hey i guess 2 had to tackle him then taser him right??? it makes me sick to my stomack to watch that video and im assuming all 4 of those officers didnt clearly have any training to handle a situation like this.. did the guy have a weapon?? oh wait he did right?? the chair??? very sad and to think i had respect for the RCMP.. i hope all four of those officers get fired and then some..

  6. Rob Logjam says:

    The RCMP are an armed force trained to maintain internal security. Unfortunately, the type of person the force attracts are more like Nazi SS Police. They are quick to use arms when confronted with opposition of any sort. They have been given the authority to use weapons such as Tazers and semi automatic hand guns to subdue instead of being trained to disarm. Their record is abominable, shooting deranged hospital patients, unarmed prisoners and even beating to death harmless drunks.

    I hate to think what will happen during the 2010 Winter Olympics when thousands of confused and non English speaking athletes and sports fans turn up at Vancouver. No one can tell them before they arrive that they have no defense against Canada’s Violent one-stop justice system. Even if they commit a minor driving offence they will face a one-man (woman)arsenal who will be quick to use whatever means he(she) decides to make them submit to whatever law they decide is broken.

    Canada should be ashamed that the International reputation as Peace Keepers in foreign places is besmirched by the violent actions of the police at home.

  7. Brian Campbell River says:

    What I would like to know is why this Man was detained by Customs Officals in the first place? And for such a very long time. Confined to that area of the airport. Do you think their first clue would have been to find someone that spoke his language. I am sure they knew he was from Poland from his travel documents.
    Yes I would have become upset being held for so long. Of course, when he became upset who did they call, the RCMP. Just when this man’s anger and frustration was at his peak. I would like to know what information the RCMP were provided by the Customs Officers prior to them approaching this man.
    Well the comment how can the RCMP deal with those coming here for the 2010 Olympics, don’t loose sight who greets these people when they first get off the planes. Not the RCMP.

  8. Scottofreason. says:

    I am ASHAMED of how the RCMP conducted themselves. Ashamed of being a Canadian that lives in the same city as his poor mother. She has had her life changed FOREVER because of of poor judgement of Canadian customs and worse yet the RCMP. There is NO doubt at least two of the Cops should be held accountable for this disgusting crime against a lost soul who merely needed assistance in a different language. Shame on the RCMP …. AGAIN ! For God’s Sake get off the force. You are an EMBARASSMENT to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Four against one ???? Get off the steroids., I am soooo upset.

  9. Cory Connelly says:

    This is an unbelievable video. Canada is supposed to be a great place for people to immigrate in order to better their lives. Robert Dziekanski showed no signs of resistance after the police arrived, and couldn’t understand the demands of the officers if he wanted to. The officers who used the taser on Dziekanski should be charged. They used the taser, which was completely unnecessary. The reputation of Canada as a peaceful nation, and as peace keepers has been tarnished by these 4 individuals. If we do not enforce the law upon these officers for their crimes, then our image as multicultural will be changed amongst the world forever. Politicians in Poland are up in arms about this, and that does not look good towards our country. If these 4 officers can taser and attack Robert Dziekanski without reason, why couldn’t they do the same to a citizen walking down the street.

  10. Sam says:

    Ken, are you kidding ? I wonder if your comments would have been the same had Mr. Robert Dziekanski been your family member. Have a heart dude or are you from the RMCP?? There was NO show of strength required to take on an unarmed, harassed guy who had been waiting for 10 hrs! If the RMCP folks have the balls let them come forward and be tasered. Also, this is not war, this guy is not a terrorist – the only thing he did wrong if you can say so was to get agitated. Given the circumstances, I bet anyone would have been calm. Ken, hats off to you for your comments man. Shameless and distasteful. I feel sorry for you and the way you think. May God never put you in a situation such as this but if you ever do your own comments will come to haunt you. As for the RMCP guys involved in the incident, I don’t know how you guys sleep at night and I admire the courage of your families who support you in this dark moment.

  11. T.Villeneuve says:

    I watched this video and saw a very erratic person pacing back and forth, picking up things and breaking them. At first I didn’t know they had him there for 10 hrs before calling the RCMP. Why did the security at the airport not find a translator for this man. What did the security people tell the RCMP for them to tase this man. I’d like to know what the one officer was doing with his billytick. I guess we will have to wait for the investigation to be over with. For myself. I will not judge them till I hear the whole story.
    You really don’ tknow what your going to do when faced with situations like this. With a person acting erractically. Only when you see it on video can you say. We could of done this or we could of done that. Wait before you judge someone.

  12. Viga, North Vancouver says:

    This is a very disturbing video and thank God that it was recorded and shown to the world. It exposes, first the uslessnes of the Security at our Vancouver Airport, and second the brutality of those 4 police officers. Canadian Customs and Emigration also has nothing to be proud of. Why was this man kept in emigration for so long? Why wasn’t there a translator provided to him right away? I am sure that there must be a Polish speaking person working at the airport at any time of the day. Besides, his mother was waiting for him outside, why wasn’t she called in? If he saw her he would calm down and this tragedy wouldn’t have even happened. Anyone after being on the plane for so many hours, extremely tired and hungry and not being able to understand what is being said to us, would react the same way. And the lies that all the public was told about this incident? If it wasn’t for this video this would be covered by the police. A brief announcement would be made that a person died at the airport, probably heart attack or something like that. I am really hoping that the results of this investigation will be published, the entire world needs to know the truth. It is a shame how just a few people managed to tarnish Canada’s reputation in the world forever.

  13. john says:

    When I look at this clip I see a man on drugs. He is acting irationally. Someone called the police. They came and are required to remove the man. The man did not obey their commands. The police had the choice to either fight him into compliance or use the tazer. I am a Sheriffs Deputy. I have been shot with a tazer. I did not die because I am not strung out on dope. I have had the need to use the tazer many times. Imagine this, 3am as a cop on patrol. Your’e alone and need to arrest a violent offender who does not want to go to jail. Your back up is 30 minutes away. You have three choices. You fight him, even if you win someone will get hurt, shoot him with a tazer or other less lethal weapon, or shoot him fatally. Plain and simple, in order to subdue a suspect you have to deliver more force than he is using against you or you will loose. Cops die every year doing their job. Before you critisize us, walk a few feet in our shoes. Tazers have saved thousands of lives when the only other alternative is fatal force. If you don’t like cops, next time you need help call a crack head.

  14. Sam says:

    Mr. T.Villeneuve, being erratic does not give the police anywhere in the world, specially in the so called “developed” countries as we like to call ourselves, to do something like they did. What about human rights, what about tolerance, what about police procedure ? Police work would be so easy, wouldn’t it if they were to just use tasers and in a couple of years just start shooting people? why go thru the process of questioning or being courteous or following any procedure at all? With so much technology, the police thinks they are invincible and no one can stop them. We are going back to the dark ages. There will come a time when the people will rise against this and taser the police when they feel threatened. On top of all this, is the miserable way the police lied about the incident. Why are they not treated as criminals ? It really sickens me that people like you and Ken think that the RMCP should be given the benefit of DOUBT or wait for judgment to come in. Sure, why not. I would love to hear if that had happened to anyone in your family, if you would have been as tolerant. Robert Dziekanski was someone’s son, someones brother. For you guys to even think about it is such a casual manner is freaking awesome

  15. Sam says:

    John, I respect cops. I agree with what you have written as well. There is a difference in being alone on a watch alone at 3 am with crackheads vs having all the folks in the force to help you, than taser the guy. With a hand on your heart, having seen the video, if you feel that the cops had no other choice and what they did was right, well I think we will be better off calling a crackhead than calling the cops, next time anyone needs help!
    If your answer is yes, then i am sure that you feel it is ok to kill Iqari civillians too?

  16. Sam says:

    Oh and John you think Robert Dziekanski was on dope? that shows how high headed you guys can be. You have pre conceived notions about anybody that does not obey you guys. So what if he does not understand your language. everyone understands the language of force, why not use it, eh ? Cute John very cute. And you think there was no other way of subduing him right? Like you said, tasers have saved a lot of lives , so you think it is time to take some. Sorry due that what i feel for you , really sorry.

  17. Sam says:

    For 4 or 5 cops not to have enough courage or training to subdue a unarmed man but to tazer him several times is right? What kind of training are cops given? Or is the RMCP crackheads in uniforms? Having to use excessive and unnecessary force and humiliate a guys who has been tazered and lying on the ground helpless – John tell me cops like you don’t subscribe to these thoughts? To stand with your own is one thing, but being obstinate is plain stupid.

  18. Sam says:

    John – here is something else for you…
    “Man dies after police jolt him with stun gun”. I am sure you defend this one too.
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/18/taser.death/index.html

    In the same article, it says ” Amnesty International has reported that, since June 2001, more than 150 people have died in the United States after being subdued with a stun gun. The organization has called for police departments to suspend use of the devices pending study of their possible risks. “

  19. DRG says:

    You guys are ridiculous. The man was a nutjob acting like a maniac. People need to start taking responsibility for their own behavior!

  20. john says:

    My statement about the man being on dope was just a guess based on my observation of his actions. This was based on years of experience in dealing with this type of thing. In reality we are all speculating on what the facts are. Why are some of you saying the man was being attacked while on the ground? I only see officers gathering around him. How do you know they are not giving cpr? On the video I see an officer kneeling on the floor appearing to hit someone? If you look closely he is hitting his expandable baton on the floor in order to retract it and place it back in his belt. How do you know they did not try to communicate with him. There is no audio. Did he brandish a weapon? In any language or culture, if the police point a weapon at you, even if you believe you are right, you are required to stop whatever you are doing and do what it appears they want you to do. Most of us cops are reasonable people, we have families who we love and love us. They want us to come home at the end of our shift. Does your wife worry that every day she may be saying good by for the last time as you drive off to work? Don’t be so quick to judge anyone until you have all the facts.

  21. john says:

    Sam, if you read the complete arcticle you posted you will see that the man was still alive and continued to struggle with police after being tazed. Tazers have never been proven as being the cause of death in any case. Tazers are not a cure all for every situation. I have had to fight many suspects into hand cuffs. Without the tazer my only options have been peper spray, baton or firearm. The tazer has proven to be a safe and efective alternative to deadly force.

  22. Sam says:

    Oh come on John. it was 4 people against 1. I am not saying they were hitting him, but kneeling on him with one knee on his neck isn’t CPR. If 4 cops were to try and bring him down they could, without using a tazer. I have a military background so don’t tell me if my wife worries about it being my last day. You come home every night. Have you been away from duty for 2 yrs? Have you ever come back home to find that your kids have grown up so much. Have you ever cried for them?
    Its like a salmon asking a shark if they know how fast the water flows.
    The RMCP lied saying that he attacked them and then retracted the statement once the video cam out. Know YOUR facts buddy.
    And DRG, if you were left alone without for 10 hrs without anyone telling you for what, you’d be in the same situation bud.
    I have a lot of respect for folks in the armed forces and cops because people take us for granted . There is however a difference in continuing to support them like you are , even when they are wrong. Take the Abu Garibh for example – that was necessary too??

  23. Sam says:

    DRG how do you know he was not taking medication for High blood pressure or anxiety?

  24. Sam says:

    Now women are buying it too. Beware before you stop a woman for a traffic violation. you could get Tazed !!!
    http://www.local6.com/news/14570961/detail.html
    I am sure very soon kids will own one too.

    John, whats your take on Gun control though, just curious.

  25. Tom says:

    DRG, How about this …..
    “Man, killed in Bostwana by local police with spears and arrows that had poison darts on them. Local police tried to communicate with the man in local Swahili but when the man did not respond, they cornered him and after wounding him with deadly spears and arrows, bludgeoned him to death. The man was initially agitated and thus put in a cordoned off lounge for almost 10 hrs before the incident occurred.”

  26. Brad says:

    John,
    He wasn’t on drugs, he was mentally handicapped. Now, if you don’t feel like an asshole, then you really ARE an asshole. 🙂

  27. Bill M says:

    I understand that Canada has as it’s Minister of National Security one Stockwell Day, a man that proclaims a Jewish carpenter who purportedly lived some 2000 years ago is in complete and total control of the universe and all it contains. Scary stuff…

  28. graham says:

    It.s a lovely world apart from Canada,England,US,come to think about it anywhere people live

  29. Nikki says:

    I believe this is utterly the most enraged i have been in a long time. There was no need for the protocol they chose instead of what they are trained to do. These police officers in the video should be NOT only fired from the department but locked in prison for murder, but OH i forgot of course, the canadian government and the RCMP are all just one big group who will support eachother in whatever they may do! This is ridiculous, i have family in Poland and even though this is not just about ONE citizen from ONE country, im sure they would be frightened to come and visit us here in Canada now, and i would be scared for them to come here! It was clearly a miss understanding for both him and his mother since she waited at one end while he was locked in another for TEN HOURS??? like why so long? i wanna know WHY they were holding him? AND DO NOT tell me that the Vancouver International AIrport did not have ONE person in the entire place who spoke polish!! Dont u think since it is a “international” airport there should be one person for each language spoken to translate for immigrants! I DO! Just as well, especially polish considering next to Toronto and Edmonton , Vancouver has the 3rd largest population of Polish people in Canada! There is only one word to describe the video…DISGUSTING! and a few i could come up with to say to those officers! I feel saddeneed for him and his mother and pray something liek this doesnt happen again anytime soon in our “peaceful” country! Canadians and Americans have to understand that people coming from anywhere else in the world are scared of police. To them, in their countrys police are the enemy..well when they come here..they think the same..although they have heard our police “serve and protect” they are in disbelief because of what happens over there! This man was clearly happy to see the police and all they needed to do was shake his hand and say “we come in peace” but noooooo again they are “trigger/tazer” happy and “had no other choice” …IDIOTS!
    Personally, i do not believe tazers should be banned but do believe they should be more careful of who comes onto the force. It seems to me every new addition to the police forces in Canada gets worse and worse!

    Thanks! 🙂

  30. Sam says:

    Good response Nikki!
    John John ohn ohn hn hn n n n n !!! Where is he ??Where is DRG ? No response now eh ?

  31. Tom says:

    I have been tazed. It is a terrible feeling… but it is not deadly by any means. The taser is designed so that it will not even affect a pace maker. All it does is over-ride the synaptic impulses. Some officer will tell you that it is a horrible pain while others will tell you that it is the instant fear of being “out of control” that causes a fearful fright that is interpreted as pain. The “pain” instantly ends when the shock stops… with no after effect.

    Death occurs if the individual’s heart is overloaded with drugs or chemicals. In this case, the fight continues long after the tazing is over. Clearly this is a case of the individual exerting himself into a deadly strain due to something completely unrelated to the tazing… even though that condition caused him to be tazed.

  32. Ellie says:

    I think that its a disgrace and an emabrressment that the RCMP had to use four men to take down one man, I mean do 4 GROWN men really find a chair or table threatening and dangerous? Its a disgrace of police brutality, and could have been handled with more professional alternatives that probbably not have resulted in death!! The man was probably suffering from Hig anxiety which very possibly could have been shocked more from the taser, yes we are only basing mostof our opinions form this one video, but it seems pretty clear that the force and methods used were absolutely unnecessary and ridiculous! 4 against one man that has been held for 10 hours that does not speak english is the low of lows! I feel sorry for this mans mother, family, because to you mr officers he may just be on human being in the world, but to others he is probably, a son, a father, a brother, and becasue of YOU people he is nothing now! I hope that the saying is true ” WHAT GOES AROUND , COMES AROUND”

  33. Jenn says:

    Police brutality at airports is out of control! This is similar to the police beating of the girl at Reagan National Airport in DC except she suffered brain damage and is still alive. My thoughts and prayers go out to Robert Dziekanski’s family.

  34. John & friends says:

    Killing an unarmed man by government people= unreasonable usage of force: no space for excuses.

  35. Tom Smith says:

    I am not a cop but I am a front line emergance worker. My stress at work comes from medical emergances. Just imagine trying revive an 2yr old. Nearly all psychologist are in agreement on the fact that interperson conflict is significantly more stressfull on the body than what I have just mentioned. To believe a stressfull emergance situation is simple is very foolish. To believe a hostile emergance situation is simple is even more foolish. Just follow the text book and everything will be fine! That does not work in the real world. It does not work in real time. Imagine receiving these call details: emotionaly disturbed person, in secure room at the airport, throughing chairs around. Police are like eveyone in this world, at the end of the day they want to go home to their family’s, kiss their wife and pick up their kids. The safist option is always to talk the situation down. Unfortunately that was not an option because the man did not speak english. At the time the police did not have the option of an interpreter. No one could say how long it would have been before one could have arrived. So then the moment to make a choice has arrived. Put an end to this very quickly or not. At the time of the arrest the situation had been in favor of the police. Some say at the time of the arrest the suspect had been surrendering. He was not, he was walking away. To where I have no idea. Perhaps he was going to look for a bathroom, wash his face and calm down, or he was going to pick up an other chair and through it at the police, or he was going to pull a knife and take hostage. Really who knows. The point is the police had the upper hand, it would have been foolish to give that away to a crazy person. Leathal force was out of the question, so the officers choose a non leathal weapon, the tazer. That is how it is classified and that is what they are taught. Sure they could have tackled him. Four on one may seem like alot to anyone who has never had to fight with a psychological patient or someone freaking out on drugs, but believe me it is not. At least on of those officers would have been hurt attemping to arrest this man. So they choose their safety before some guy at the airport who obviously had been crazy. No officer was kicked, had been hit by a chair, or had been punch. Not mentioning what could have happened if he would have had a knife in his pocket. The officers had no way of knowing. So the ended it quickly rather than let the situation get further out of control. Things always could go better when shit hits the fan but you do the best you can with the information and resources you have at the time. At the end of the day you go home and live with you choices. Hopefully every one goes home safely. If that does not happen, then hopefully you go home safely. I would not risk my body, my health, or my ability to pick up my kids for some crazy guy who may or may not kill me if given the chance. I would take the safist option, the option safist for ME. Think I am selfish? I save lives daily. I can not do that if I am injuried or dead. Minimize your risks always. In this case taz him and go home safe. Rather than take an unnecessary risk and go home injuried.

  36. Uncle Sam says:

    Canadians suck.

  37. Draek says:

    It was not his fault that he died, however, if you see cops, and they are coming at you, you STOP MOVING, STOP YELLING, STOP BEING CRAZY. No matter what the situation is, no matter how long you have been in the airport, it DOESNT MATTER. You do not go against the police.

    Now, noone likes to see anyone die. It’s sad for him and his family. Alas, he made a fatal mistake, and that was to play with fire (in this case, the cops).

    Police will never stop brutalizing people, its the nature of law enforcement. There are so many crazy people out there. There are many crazy people who kill cops, who kill others. Not every situation can be scrutinized in retrospect the way we all our doing now. That man should have stood still and quiet until the cops did not see him as a threat anymore.

    Why was he throwing computers? Is he mentally handicapped? I mean honestly. No matter how upset I get, I never start throwing things. That man made a huge mistake.

    Everyone is so quick to judge the police. They used excessive force, YES, but the man is the one who triggered this situation in the first place, and he lost his life for it!

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