Mounties slammed in fatal Taser case

Tue Dec 8, 2009 5:12pm EST
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police acted prematurely and inappropriately in their use of electronic stun guns in an incident at Vancouver airport that led to death of a Polish immigrant, a government commission reported on Tuesday.

Robert Dziekanski died in October 2007 shortly after he was repeatedly shocked with a Taser stun gun and subdued by RCMP officers. A bystander's video of Dziekanski screaming on the floor as he died was broadcast around the world, drawing public outrage and contradicting initial police statements that they shot him after having to wrestle him to the ground.

The four Mounties who confronted Dziekanski at the airport had no plan when they arrived on the scene, and did not warn him before they fired, said Paul Kennedy, chairman of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.

"Use of the (stun gun) against Mr. Dziekanski was premature and inappropriate," Kennedy said, dismissing police claims that Dziekanski posed a serious threat.

He sharply criticized the Mounties for wanting to delay the release of the commission's report, and for failing to adopt earlier recommendations on the use of Taser stun guns that were issued following the 2007 incident.

Kennedy also warned the iconic national police force that its risked losing the public's trust over its handling of the case.

Dziekanski, who did not speak English, had just arrived in Canada to join his mother and became distraught after a communications mixup left him stranded for hours in the airport's luggage pickup area with no explanation of what he should do. Police were called following reports of a man creating a disturbance.

The RCMP officers called to the scene waited less than 30 second before using a Taser stun gun and shocked Dziekanski repeatedly without determining if the further shocks were needed, the report said.   Continued...

<p>Retired judge Thomas Braidwood (C) listens to questions during release of the first half his findings following the inquiry into the taser death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski in Vancouver, British Columbia July 23, 2009. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>