December 12, 2008 / 8:23 PM / in 9 years

Canada police won't be tried over airport death

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Four Canadian policemen who fired repeated blasts from a Taser stun gun at an unarmed Polish man and then physically subdued him will not face any charges over his death, authorities said on Friday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were widely condemned after a 10-minute graphic video of the October 2007 incident was broadcast around the world. The footage showed Robert Dziekanski, 40, howling in agony after he was hit by 50,000-volt Taser blasts at Vancouver International Airport.

Dziekanski, moving to Canada to be with his mother, became confused as he waited in the international arrivals area for several hours before the incident. Police used Tasers after he threw a chair at a window and brandished a stapler.

“There is a substantial body of independent evidence which supports that the officers in question were lawfully engaged in their duties when they encountered Mr. Dziekanski,” said a statement from the attorney general’s office in the province of British Columbia.

“The force they used to subdue and restrain him was reasonable and necessary in all the circumstances.”

The Polish embassy in Ottawa issued a statement saying it found the decision most disappointing.

“We would be interested to know, for example, if it is in accordance with the rules to use (a) Taser five times, including twice toward a person who is already lying on the ground convulsing,” it said.

“It is difficult to believe that the accident at the Vancouver International Airport could not have been avoided,” it added, saying Dziekanski’s mother should be compensated financially.

Dziekanski died of cardiac arrest. An autopsy said possible contributing factors included his chronic alcohol abuse, his “agitated state of delirium” as well as the stress of being hit by Taser blasts and then restrained.

A separate statement cited friends who had accompanied Dziekanski to Warsaw airport as saying he was very nervous and did not want fly. The autopsy found no signs of alcohol or drugs in his body.

The decision means the four officers will be able to testify before a public inquiry into the death.

Taser stun guns are made by Scottsdale, Arizona-based Taser International Inc.

Reporting by David Ljunggren

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