VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A Canadian judge refused on Monday to block possible misconduct findings against police officers who repeatedly jolted a Polish immigrant with a stun gun in a fatal incident at Vancouver’s airport.
The judge rejected claims by the four Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers that a civil inquiry into the incident and the safety of Taser stun guns, lacked the legal authority to find them responsible for any wrongdoing..
The head of the government inquiry is expected to issue his report later this year, and has warned the officers that it may include findings that they acted improperly during the 2007 incident and tried to cover up their actions.
An attorney for the Polish government, which has been allowed to question witnesses during the hearings, praised the court’s decision and said the public deserved to know the full story of what happened.
“We want to process to continue. We want (the inquiry‘s) findings, and we want them as soon as possible,” Don Rosenbloom told reporters outside the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver.
Robert Dziekanski, who was in the process of immigrating to Canada where his mother lives, died during the confrontation with police although the exact cause of his death has never been determined.
An amateur video of the incident received international publicity and raised controversy in Canada over the police use of the electronic weapons that are intended to disable victims as a safer alternative to firearms.
Police said after the incident that they jolted Dziekanski at least twice because he posed a threat, but acknowledged during the hearings that he was actually shocked five times even as he lay on the ground screaming in pain.
Witnesses also disputed police claims the man, who did not speak English, resisted the officers or had to be wrestled to the ground.
Lawyers for the officers declined comment on Monday’s ruling, which can be appealed.
Prosecutors have already said the officers will not be criminal charged.
The stun guns, built by U.S.-based Taser International, are designed to disable a target with a 50,000- volt jolt of electricity as an alternative to shooting them with a firearm.
Taser says there is no scientific evidence the weapons have ever killed anyone, but critics say not enough is known about the weapon’s health side effects and whether they can accidentally cause a victim’s heart to stop.
Reporting by Allan Dowd; Editing by Frank McGurty