Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Victoria Police Chief Darren Laur's Actual Conflict of Interest

Seargent Darren Laur's private little business dealing with Taser International have now been exposed, but also read how Dirk Ryneveld decribes an conflict of interest as "not actual" when reality seems to proof him differently.

Wanna know what I was thinking when I read Dirk Ryneveld's describe that Darren Laur's conflict wasn't "actual": that Dirk Ryneveld is a lying bastard, helping to cover up this story of a corrupt police chief. But no worries, these were my thoughts at that time, and those aren't necessarily actual.


Globe and Mail

December 11, 2007 at 5:02 AM EST

Perhaps no one is more responsible for tasers coming to Canada than Darren Laur. The veteran Victoria police officer played a pivotal role in a 1998 pilot program that led to his force adopting the weapons permanently. A subsequent research paper he wrote - which concluded that tasers were safe and effective - laid the groundwork for the devices' spread to police departments across the country.

But questions linger about his motivations.

Sgt. Laur has received several payments from Taser International since 1999, documents show, including expenses to travel to its training courses and to train two U.S. police forces to use tasers. In 2001, a private company that Sgt. Laur co-owns with his wife designed a holstering system for Taser, which paid the couple by issuing them 775 stock options days after Taser International went public.

The Globe and Mail's investigation reveals Sgt. Laur's financial dealings with Taser International recently caused his own police department to recommend that officers be prohibited from business relationships with outside weapons manufacturers. The British Columbia police complaint commissioner also concluded that Sgt. Laur should not have been selected to conduct a high-profile 2004 review of tasers, one that advocates use of the weapon and that the company itself often cites.

Despite this, there has never been a comprehensive review of Sgt. Laur's early influence on the myriad of Canadian pro-taser studies, including a highly lauded review from the Canadian Police Research Centre.

In December, 1998, the Victoria police became the first in Canada to launch a six-month pilot program to test stun-gun technology on patrol. This caught the attention of police departments across Canada.

At the time, Sgt. Laur was the department's top use-of-force expert, and he was the first Canadian officer to travel on Taser's expense to its Arizona headquarters to be trained as what the company calls a "master instructor."

After the pilot program ended in the summer of 1999, Victoria police decided to add tasers to their toolkit, and a report by Sgt. Laur was circulated to police departments nationwide.

"I have been inundated with phone calls from Canadian police departments and correctional agencies wanting information on the TASER and the results of our study," Sgt. Laur wrote in the report. "As I predicted, the floodgates in Canada for the use of TASER technology have opened up."

Victoria's self-described success with the weapon seemed to prompt other departments to launch pilot projects. At the end of 2000, forces in Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto were all testing tasers.

By then, Sgt. Laur was also being paid to train some U.S. police forces on behalf of Taser International.

Neither Sgt. Laur nor Taser International responded to requests for comment yesterday.

Victoria police documents show that in April, 2000, the Laurs' private company was retained by the Jackson County sheriff's department "to provide training in TASER's weapons system." Taser paid for Sgt. Laur to make the trip.

In 2001, Sgt. Laur's company designed a "holstering system" for the M26 Taser. In exchange for the design rights, the company issued 775 stock options, worth about $5,000. Sgt. Laur sold the shares on Nov. 7, 2003, when the stock traded at between $5.04 and $5.39.

The public wouldn't learn of Sgt. Laur's investment until 2005, when the officer was asked to conduct an impartial review of tasers after a Vancouver man, Robert Bagnell, was shot a year earlier with the weapon and soon died.

Four days before his 45th birthday, police found Mr. Bagnell behaving erratically at a Vancouver residential hotel. He was high on cocaine and had barricaded himself in a bathroom on the fifth floor. They tasered the struggling man. His heart stopped.

After Mr. Bagnell's death, the B.C. office of the police complaint commissioner ordered two investigations.

One was an examination of taser use in B.C. The investigating team - which included Sgt. Laur - issued two reports, both of which advocated the future use of stun guns.

The first report in September, 2004, made no mention of Sgt. Laur's financial dealings with Taser International. However, in the ensuing months, Bagnell family lawyer Cameron Ward learned about Sgt. Laur's investments and raised the issue with the Vancouver police and the police complaint commissioner.

When the final report was issued four months later, it included a disclaimer on its final page: "Darren Laur held stock in TASER International and provided training to two external agencies at the request of those agencies."

In an interview yesterday, B.C. police complaint commissioner Dirk Ryneveld said he didn't know about Sgt. Laur's stock options when he was assigned to the review. "I probably would have preferred that no one who had any relationship with Taser [be involved]," Mr. Ryneveld said. He added that any conflict of interest was "perceived" and not actual, and didn't undermine the validity of the report.

U.S. court documents show Sgt. Laur and five other U.S. police officers - most of whom promoted Taser's products or urged their cities to buy them - got stock options between 2001 and 2003.

The revelations in 2005 about Sgt. Laur's financial relationship with Taser led Mr. Bagnell's sister, Patti Gillman, to log a formal complaint with the police complaints commissioner. That sparked Victoria police to launch an internal investigation into whether Sgt. Laur had violated the force's conflict-of-interest policy.

"I do consider Sgt. Laur to have been in an apparent and perceived conflict of interest by reason of having held a financial interest in TASER through his stock options," the investigator, Inspector Cory Bond, wrote in her report.

Insp. Bond concluded that Sgt. Laur did not specifically violate the conflict-of-interest policy at the time, because the force had no procedure for conflict-of-interest disclosure.

Insp. Bond recommended that the force review its policy and develop specific restrictions on relationships with weapons manufacturers. "Such an interest might be seen to influence or impair police officers in the exercise of their duties," she wrote.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Taser update: 6 people dead in one week after being Tasered

There's an interesting article on Tasers at CBS website today:

Tasers have become increasingly controversial in the United States, particularly after several notorious cases where their use by police to disable suspects was questioned as being excessive. Especially disturbing is the fact that six adults died after being tased by police in the span of a week.

Last Sunday, in Frederick, Md., a sheriff's deputy trying to break up a late-night brawl tased 20-year-old Jarrel Grey. He died on the spot.

"I want to know what he did that was so bad," the victim's mother, Tanya James, said. "Did the deputy think that their life was in danger? Did he have a weapon?"

The death came just weeks after Frederick police used a Taser to subdue a high school student.

Black leaders held a rally Tuesday calling for the department to ban Tasers, at least until there is a clear policy on how they are used. The NAACP says it appears the sheriff's office is using Tasers routinely, rather than as a weapon of last resort.

Also this week, in Jacksonville, Fla., in two separate cases two men died after being stunned.

One suspect, who fled a car crash and tried to break into a nearby home, struggled with a policeman, prompting the officer to tase him three times. The man continued to fight, and tried to bite the officer, while he was being tased. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Another man died Tuesday after a Jacksonville officer pulled over his car. When the officer approached it, the man took off running. When the officer caught up with him, during a struggle, authorities say the officer used his Taser to subdue the suspect.

After being placed in the back of the police car the suspect became unresponsive. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Last Sunday, in New Mexico, 20-year-old Jesse Saenz died after Raton police used a Taser to subdue him. Police say Saenz was struggling and fighting with them as they attempted to take him into custody.

Saenz died after being transported to a county jail.

In Nova Scotia, a 45-year-old man who was jailed on assault charges jumped a counter and ran for the door as he was being booked. He died yesterday, about 30 hours after being shocked.

- CBS: U.N.: Tasers Are A Form Of Torture - "Stun Guns" Are Under Fire After Six Deaths This Week; Rallies Held Demanding They Be Banned

Friday, November 23, 2007

Canada Taser Update: Taser Moratorium now in place at Whitehorse Jail.

The latest Canada Taser Update with news from the CBC:

The Yukon Justice Department has imposed a moratorium on using Tasers at the Whitehorse jail in light of recent deaths involving the stun gun elsewhere in Canada. [...] The decision to introduce the temporary moratorium comes as numerous reviews of Taser use are underway across Canada.

"No one wants to have to access a tool that they're using with uncertainty about, you know, what the outcome of its use might be," Superintendent Phil Perrin said.
- Read also: UN Committee: Taser guns torture and kill
- CBC: Taser moratorium in place at Whitehorse jail

UN Committee: Taser guns torture and kill

The latest news on Tasers (and other electroshock weapons) comes from the UN Committee against Torture (CAT):

Taser electronic stun guns are a form of torture that can kill, a UN committee said on Friday [November 23, 2007] after several recent deaths in North America.
"The use of these weapons causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture," the UN's Committee against Torture said.
Not really any new information for regular visitors of my site. But what's interesting is WHO is saying this, the United Nations Committee Against Torture, a "body of highly regarded independent human rights experts that monitors implementation of the Convention by State parties".

They've got more to say too:
"In certain cases, [tasers] can even cause death, as has been shown by reliable studies and recent real-life events," the committee of 10 experts said.

Three men, all in their early 20s, were reported to have died in the United States this week, days after a Polish man died at Vancouver airport after being tasered by Canadian police.

The man, Robert Dziekanski, 40, fell to the ground and died after the police officers piled on top of him. There have been three deaths in Canada after the use of Tasers over the past five weeks.
So now even the United Nations regards tasers as torturous weapons that can kill. When will our police stop using Tasers?

- Stun Guns "a form of torture"
- wikipedia: UN Committee against Torture (CAT)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tasers kill, but do they actually save lives?

We've heard the catch phrase many times in the last few days, tasers are supposedly saving lives. Here are some recent examples:

London Free Press (November 21, 2007): Taser critics don't know what they're talking about, Fantino says
"“I can say without qualification that Tasers save lives,” said Fantino."

570News Victoria (November 19, 2007): Police weapons expert says Tasers save lives, prevent injuries
"A Victoria police weapons expert says Tasers save lives and he personally believes he would have killed several people in the line of duty if it wasn't for his Taser. Const. Mike Massine says his use of the Taser diffused several tense situations where using his firearm was the next alternative.

CBC (November 17, 2007): RCMP to review Taser policy in wake of airport death: commissioner
Numerous police forces say the weapon is a crucial "non-lethal" option for officers that helps save lives and protect both them and civilians from injury.

Not that there's any hard evidence of course, on the contrary, there's a growing number of cases in which the Taser has been considered a primary or secondary cause of death.

So how can "experts" keep claiming that tasers save lives?

They use a technique called informal predictions, which are often nothing more than opinions marketed as "evidence".

Here's one of Taser's own fallacies, from Taser's paper: TASER Device Liability and Litigation Riskown fallacies (p.3):
TASER technology is saving lives as well. Houston (TX) Police reported that in 39 instances between December 2004 and October 2006, incident involved officers would have been justified in using deadly force instead of stunning them;
Taser makes several mistakes in reasoning:
- reporting that in 39 instances officers were "justified in using deadly force" doesn't mean that these officers would have actually used deadly force if they wouldn't have had a taser.
- using deadly force doesn't guarantee that the "victim" will die from it. There are many ways to shoot someone without killing; try the legs for example. And not all "use of deadly force" will actually result in a hit; police officers miss too.

So how many lives were actually saved? We don't know and neither does Taser. There is simply no hard evidence. What we do know for sure is that tasers kill. There's proof that between June 2001 and June 2007, there were at least 245 cases of deaths of subjects soon after having been shocked using Tasers.

Then why are there so many police officers repeating the "tasers save lives" myth? Well, why don't you read it for yourself?

(don't forget to read the comment section)

Update: more "Taser Saves Lives" bullshit below:

CBC (November 22, 2007): B.C. police chiefs defend Taser use but support reviews
But [British Columbia Association of Chiefs president Gord Tomlinson said the association is rejecting calls for a moratorium on Taser use because
members believe the weapon is safe and saves lives. (November 22, 2007): Commons committee to probe Dziekanski's death
"Forgive us if we sound biased in the defence of the Taser. But if we didn't believe completely that they've saved live[s] and prevented injuries . . . we wouldn't be using them."

Thunder Bay's Source (November 22, 2007): Fantino concerned about rhetoric over Taser use
[Fantino] says Tasers have been studied enough and is adamant that they save lives.

Note: Not a single journalist asked what the reasons are for believing that tasers save lives. Neither did anyone bother asking what the equation between lives saved and people killed is: so much for sound evidence or good journalism.

Upper-date: more "Taser Saves Lives" bullshit below: (February 24, 2009): Tasers save lives, police associations say
Canada's two main police associations are defending the use of Tasers, saying in Ottawa Tuesday that [tasers] save lives and there is no proof the stun guns have been directly responsible for civilian deaths.

CNW (February 24, 2009): British Columbia Police Association supports national position on Taser use
Describing the Taser as a "vital tool that protects the lives of police and the public" BCPA President Tom Stamatakis notes that the 2,500 members of the 12 police services across B.C. that he represents "support the use of the Taser within clear guidelines".

Calgary Herald (February 13, 2009): RCMP limits use of Tasers
During a meeting of the Commons public safety committee on Thursday, [Commissioner William Elliott] insisted Tasers are still useful weapons that save lives, but also said the RCMP now recognize they can cause death in"acutely agitated" suspects.

Metro Canada
(February 24, 2009): Chief Backs use of Tasers
[Police Chief Rick Hanson]: “Absolutely, they should have Tasers; Tasers save lives."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

RCMP Watchdog continues whitewash of RCMP lies and spin

What do we expect from the "Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP"? One would think that such a commission would be critical of the RCMP right? Nothing could be further from the truth:

An RCMP watchdog has dismissed a civil rights group's complaint that the Mounties "misrepresented the facts" surrounding the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, even as the force continues to receive e-mails accusing it of "lying."

The Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP will instead follow up an internal complaint into whether officers followed proper procedures, according to a letter from its chairman, Paul Kennedy.
Insiders are probably not all that surprised because the commission is far from independent
The Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP is mandated to conduct reviews when complainants are not satisfied with RCMP handling of a complaint, but even it has no teeth, says the past chair of the commission, Shirley Heafey.

[...] the commission can't subpoena evidence or question witnesses involved in an RCMP investigation. It only has access to investigation material if the RCMP commissioner willingly hands it over.
And to be frank, when a watchdog uses euphemisms like "conducted energy weapon" (likely invented by Taser to describe the sometimes-lethal, other times torturous electroshock weapon, better known as the Taser) one has to wonder how "critical" this commission will be of ANY Taser use.

So did the RCMP lie? Many people think they did, and they've let the RCMP know too:
"We've been outright called liars," said Carr of e-mails he'd received from the public. "But a liar is someone that has one piece of information and says something else. We were giving the information we knew at the time. That's not a lie."
Well, this seems to become a classic example of an agency that, because of all the lying, doesn't know when to stop lying anymore. Of course the RCMP was lying; here's why, with some help from the Victoria Times Colonist.
The morning after the incident, Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre told a Sun reporter that three police officers tried to reason with Dziekanski, but instead he "continued to throw chairs around" despite efforts to calm him.
How many lies can one put in one paragraph? Just watch and see:

Did the RCMP know that there were not (lie #1)"three" police officers, but four?
Did the RCMP know that the four officers did not (lie #2) "reason with Dziekanski?
Did the RCMP know that Dziekanski did not (lie #3) "throw chairs around [after the police arrived on the scene]"?

The answer to all these questions "YES", they knew all these facts because they had the now famous RCMP Taser Killing video in their possession right after Robert Dziekanski had died.

The fact that the RCMP keeps lying about their lies is a good indicator that the whitewash has continued. Who IS going to stop it?

- CanWest: Watchdog rejects spin charge against RCMP
- Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP: Complaint
- The Tyee: As Killings by Police Mount, a Call for Independent Probes
- Wikipedia: Taser Controversy
- An interview with the Paul Pritchard (rush transcript; includes audio)

RCMP keeps tasering: Now a Chilliwack man tasered by RCMP is in "extremely critical condition"

They say that the Taser saves lives. So where are all these people that have been saved? Where's the evidence? Have you talked to somebody yet who has been saved?

What we do know is that, contrary to what Taser and Co. would like you to believe, Tasers DO kill:

A Chicago medical examiner has ruled (in 2005) that shocks from a Taser were responsible for the death of a man in February, marking the first time that the electronic stun gun has been named as the primary cause of death. (HT Frank Frick)

Closer to home we are faced with more RCMP Taser use, possibly with deadly consequences:
Investigators are looking into how a Chilliwack, B.C., man ended up in "extremely critical condition" after a confrontation with RCMP officers in which a Taser was used on Monday afternoon.
So why use the controversial not-lethal-if-you're-lucky Taser?
Police said the man became combative and aggressive when two officers arrived. They tried to subdue him using pepper spray, batons, and then a Taser gun, police said.
No videos that contradict RCMP's version of events are available yet.

- CBC: Chilliwack man hit by taser in "extremely critical condition": RCMP
- The Arizona Republic: Taser shocks ruled cause of death

U of A Student Paper argues RCMP not to blame in RCMP Taser Killing

When reading the a problematic article titled "Tools, not police, to blame for death" by Paul Owen (probably a journalism student at the University of Alberta, writing for "the Gateway") , I tried to leave the following comment at their site, but it was "rejected" (error code 4 ?). His writing is in quotation marks, mine follows.

"Police officers are trained to prevent a violent action, not to react to one."
You must be kidding yourself, Mr. Paul Owen.
"but to place the blame for it solely on the shoulders of the four officers who simply did what they were trained to do"
Did you watch the same video I watched?
- I saw that these officers were using excessive (and evidently lethal) force in a situation that could have been resolved by good policing, assessing the situation better. Are you sure they were simply doing as they were trained to do?

All that this confused man needed was a little help (an interpretor would have helped). Never did the RCMP consider waiting for an interpretor. Why not? That's what you should ask the RCMP.

He never attacked bystanders, and in the opinion of many witnesses and several experts it seemed very unlikely Robert Dziekanski would have attacked anyone.

- What they should have known is the following, taken from the "office of the police complaint commissioner review" on "taser technology" p.39):

5. What role does restraint play in sudden and unexpected death proximate to restraint?

Subjects who struggle with police are almost always restrained in a face-down position.

If subjects are pinned down with a great deal of weight placed on their shoulders and back for a long period of time it may hamper their ability to breathe rapidly enough.
Did you watch the video? All four were on top of Robert Dziekanski, who was in a face-down position for about 90 seconds while being handcuffed, and then he lost conscience.

- We DO KNOW that the RCMP lied about this RCMP Taser Killing. Lying has often been the RCMP strategy to protect their own but never was there a video in which reality appears to be significantly different from the RCMP whitewash/lies.

- These officers were also trained to resuscitate any person in the need of CPR. Did YOU see a single officer applying CPR? There were four of them present. None of them helped him when it mattered most; the point between life and death. These four officers are all guilty of gross neglect, if you ask me.

In short, your story is based on two false premises:
1) The police is not trained to react to an violent action. -
2) The four officers simply did what they were trained to do.

Once you've got the premises right, then proceed to argue what's proper or not.

- The Gateway: Tools not Police to blame for death

Monday, November 19, 2007

In other news today: US man dies in Taser incident

Within days of Taser International going on defensive due to the death of Robert Dziekanski, another man dies.

From the Register:

A 20-year-old man died yesterday in Frederick City, Maryland, after being tasered by a police deputy, the Frederick News Post reports.

The victim, identified by friends and relatives as Jarrel Gray, was allegedly involved in a fight with three other people in Gresham Court East early on Sunday morning. The unnamed deputy responded to reports of the altercation shortly before 5am, "found four people fighting outside and deployed a Taser", according to police spokeswoman Cpl Jennifer Bailey.

Bailey added that the man "fell on the ground unconscious and was given first aid on the scene, then taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced dead".
- The register: US man dies in Taser incident
- ZDNet: Within days of Taser International going on defensive due to one death, another man dies

What members of Canada's Law Enforcement think about the RCMP Taser Killing; it's disgusting!

An anonymous person shared a link of the Blue Line Forum with me. What follows is a selection of what Canadian Law Enforcement has been expressing on this "wonderful forum", right after the release of the RCMP Taser Killing video:

"Setting up a barricade at the doorway does not strike me as the actions of a confused traveller. It indicates to me that he was preparing for a confrontation with the authorities."

"well IMO with the control tactics/use of force training I have I can see the RCMP being 100% justified in how they reacted to the situation."

"Why in God’s name should a copper get hurt just to avoid tasering or OCing a subject that it violent and out of control?"

"Today we have use of force tools that allow us to effect our purpose without getting a "bloody nose". Getting hurt isn't part of my job. My job is to get the job done and go home safely to my family."

"what would look worse to the general public, 4 coppers on top of this guy using knee strikes, arm bars, or possibly, batons to restrain him, or 2 "zaps" with a taser which drops him...they then place him in cuffs?"

"I don't go to work to become a punching bag, and weapons and tools are available to me so I go home. These guys are cops who are no different. At the end of the day it's ME who goes home, if some jerk-off who tried hurting me gets hurt or killed in the process, that's just too damn bad."

"Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six."

"Hell, WHY did this guy pick up a solid metal object with sharp corners? Do you REALLY think he was going to staple some loose papers in his passport? [..]Did this guy at one point have : ABILITY, INTENT, MEANS? Bet your ass."

"Again, no one has asked the obvious question: Why for the love of mike, if you had 7 years to learn even simple English phrases like " I am lost, can someone call my mother?" didn't he do so?"

"Broadcasting the videotape did nothing but inflame public opinion, without providing any additional information on whether the officers' actions were justified. [...] But, you do see the guy writhing in pain and then go limp - images which do little but crank up Joe Q. Public and the media."

"And as for Mr. Pritchard, if he sold this video for profit, he is less than a "global citizen" IMHO"

"I like that Ottawa Police demonstration of the Taser to the CBC, but it should have been someone in the CBC that they tasered....."

"Wow this [Paul Pritchard] guy is now Canada's newest hero. Yep 25 years old now he can move out of his parent's basement and change the world. One shitty, grainy video at a time. I noticed he did sweet nothing to try to calm the guy down, or maybe he could have subdued him by himself. Funny how easy it is to lay blame when you are sitting on your useless ass watching. Loser."

"Why is no one talking about how this Candian hero is benefiting financially from someone's death??"

"I'm glad all the RCMP members involved in the incident made it home to their families after shift."

"I'm always amazed that people try and profit from someone else's misery, either #1 I wouldn't film that, or #2 if I did, I would give it to the police and never think about it again. "

"i don't even read the news stories now. it's too frustrating."

"I guess that's what separates us from the scum of journalism. They see a duty to film. We see a duty to actually do something. Then they see a duty to criticize. Gaping crap pipes."
See for yourself how a single member of this forum (named VoteQuimby) gets bullied by all other members: start reading here or here.

And just so you know, the above comes from a "public" forum. One is only left to guess what the "tone" will be at Blue Line's "private" forums, which are unaccessible for "Joe Q. Public and the media".

Here is couple of images that two "Canadian Law Enforcement" members use to bolster their profiles:

User avatar

User avatar


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Upcoming rallies for Robert Dziekanski - show your support!

Yesterday about 500 people gathered at the international arrivals gate of the Vancouver International Airport, only meters from the place where Dziekanski died.

"We are not here to point fingers -- we all know what has happened," said organizer Martin Karcz. "I know many of you are angry. We failed to protect a person whose only crime was an inability to communicate.

"We hope the RCMP will never let this happen again."
Rallies in support of Robert Dziekanski and family have been organized (for next Saturday, November 24th, 2007) in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto. Here's an overview:

Update: For the most current information about the planned rallies for Robert Dziekanski, please visit the following website: Events in memory of Robert Dziekanski

The site also includes links to picture slight-shows and YouTube video clips of past events.

Vancouver: Protest against RCMP using excessive force on Robert!
Host: Facebook Group - "Petition against RCMP officers involved in YVR Tazer Death"

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: Downtown Vancouver, Art Gallery (Georgia Street side)
City/Town: Vancouver, BC

A protest against the brutality shown in the video, which resulted in the death of new immigrant Robert Dziekanski, 40. Please express your interest by showing up next Saturday November 24th, downtown at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Georgia Street side. Rally will commence 12pm. Please try to wear the red/white colors of the deceased's Polish heritage, in his memory. Remember, this is about awareness of the tragedy and a protest against the excessive use of tasers, _NOT_ an anti-police rally. THIS WILL BE A PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION!

More info on Facebook:

VICTORIA: Solidarity and Justice for Robert Dziekanski.
Express your outrage and show supprt for his family through a peaceful demonstration

Host: Facebook Group - "Petition against RCMP officers involved in YVR Tazer Death"

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
City/Town: Victoria, BC

Description: PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION - come along and express your outrage and your disgust at the recent events resulting in the unlawful killing of Robert Dziekanski. Show Solidarity for the Dziekanski family and demand Justice so that this kind of thing NEVER happens again

More info on Facebook:

TORONTO: Defend Robert Dziekanski Toronto Queen's Park Protest Nov 24
Protesting Unreasonable Force/Showing Solidarity with Vancouver BC Protest Nov 24

Host: Facebook Group - "Protesting the use of Excessive force on Robert Dziekanski"

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: Queen's Park
Street: University Avenue
City/Town: Toronto, ON

Description: This Protest is designed to continue raising media awareness about the mistreatment of Robert Dziekanski and protest the unreasonable use of force. We want the government to know that Canadians, regardless of their location in Canada are disgusted and heartbroken by the handling of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver Airport. This situation involves issues of race, nationalism, violence and most significantly ethical human behaviour of kindness, patience and compassion.

More info on Facebook:

Please show your support!

- All events in memory of Robert Dziekanski

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Airport surveillance video from RCMP Taser Killing could provide more evidence

There's more video of the RCMP Taser Killing of Robert Dziekanski, still in the hands of the investigators (RCMP, I suppose), which has not gone public.

[Larry] Berg [, president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority,] said 14 security cameras monitor the area, and the footage from those cameras has been turned over to investigators.
The RCMP has probably been studying these tapes like crazy, to see how they can spin their own story in order to get away with manslaughter, but this time it might be harder to so than ever. The release of Paul Pritchard's video has given the whole world a good view on what went wrong, and most people agree that actions of the four policemen and their superiors were sub-standard (to say the least).

Vancouver Police recently released original surveillance footage of a 2005 Hells Angels incident downtown Vancouver. Expect some delay but demand from authorities that the surveillance footage of the RCMP Taser Killing WILL be shown too. Fair is fair.

- CBC: Vancouver Airport CEO discusses Taser victim's final hours
- CBC: Surveillance video shows attack by alleged Hells Angels members

Friday, November 16, 2007

Why do police love their tasers so much?

Many things have been said about the latest Taser killing of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport. But why is it that the police keeps trying to convince us that the use of the Taser is safe, and that they need the weapon?

Amnesty International has an interesting take on the issue:

Amnesty International has serious concerns about the use of electro-shock devices in general, both in terms of their safety and their potential for misuse. Portable and easy to use, with the capacity to inflict severe pain at the push of a button without leaving substantial marks, electro-shock weapons are particularly open to abuse. Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of serious abuses involving electro-shock weapons around the world.
I'm sure Amnesty added the latest case.

Why do you think the police love their Tasers so much? Anyone who has an answer, please leave a comment.

- Owen Sound Sun Times: City police stand behind Tasers
- CBC: Ottawa police zap officer with Taser to show device's safety
- Amnesty International Canada: Amnesty International's concerns about Tasers
- Amnesty International USA: Amnesty International's continuing concerns about Tasers (pdf)

Taser did not kill Robert Dziekanski, the Vancouver RCMP police did; expert

This comes from the Times Colonist (CanWest) today;

Donald Van Blaricom, the former chief of the Bellevue, Wash., police department, said the officers should have made Dziekanski sit up as soon as possible after he was Tasered to help him breathe normally. He said Dziekanski's resistance after being handcuffed might have been due to his inability to catch his breath.

The 2005 B.C. Police Complaint Commissioner report concluded many Taser-related deaths are likely due to the way suspects are restrained after being Tasered, rather than the Taser itself. The report recommended that following a Taser shock, a subject should be restrained in a way that allows him to breathe easily, preferably face up.

After watching the video several times I noticed that it took about 90 seconds for four policemen to handcuff Mr. Dziekanski. During this time at least one policemen sat on top of Mr. Dziekanski, feet off the floor, and all this time he was restrained on his back.

Nevertheless many conclude that the tasering itself was unnecessary, including this policing expert;
Michael Lyman, a policing expert at Columbia College in Missouri, said the four officers on the scene should have been able to physically restrain Dziekanski [..]:
"I don't even think batons or mace would have been necessary, given that there were four officers on the scene."

A report into the use of Tasers commissioned by B.C.'s Police Complaint Commissioner in 2005 recommended that Tasers should be used only against a subject who is actively resisting arrest or posing a risk to others, not someone who is simply "passively resisting."

How long do we have to wait until these four officers involved be arrested and put on trial for manslaughter? According to some bloggers these four Vancouver RCMP officers are still on duty, WITH tasers.

An appalling thought.

- Times Colonist: Footage appears to conflict with RCMP
- 2005 BC Police Complaint Commissioner Report on Taser

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mr. Robert Dziekanski last words, translated

The New Zealand Herald reports that a polish YouTube blogger has translated the last words of Robert Dziekanski:

"I want to get out, help me find the way...Police! Police! Can't you help me?"
He got his way out, I suppose...

- new zealand herald: Man tasered to death was 'asking for help' (warning: graphic video, photos)
- Local lesson in taser death - lawyer

Sergeant Pierre Lemaitre (RCMP Vancouver) caught lying; who will fire him?

RCMP spokespeople have continuously spread lies about the Vancouver Taser incident; here the two most obvious ones:

1. Sergeant Pierre Lemaitre (and possily other RCMP officers) have said repeatedly that there were only three RCMP officers involved in the incident, but the video shows four men in RCMP uniforms

2. Sergeant Pierre Lemaitre (and possibly other RCMP officers) have said that officers "did not use pepper spray because of the large number of people at the airport at the time". The video shows that this part of the airport is virtually empty.

Who's going to fire him?

Below you will find several RCMP Press Releases, including the very first one. Emphasize mine:

2007-10-14 13:22:36 File #IHIT (Integrated Homicide Investigation Team) 2007-36874

Death of Man Being Investigated by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

Sunday October 14, 2007

Richmond, BC: At approximately 1:28 am RCMP officers who work at YVR were called because a man in his 40’s was in the international arrival area at Vancouver International Airport, He was sweating profusely, behaving irrationally, throwing chairs, tipping his luggage cart over, pounding on glass windows, and yelling. The security personnel at YVR attempted to have a dialogue with this man, to no avail. He grabbed a computer off a desk and threw it to the ground. They then called the RCMP.

Three officers attempted to speak with the man, who continued to ignore their commands. The male remained violent and aggitated. When attempted to grab something off a desk, the RCMP member used the conducted energy weapon (taser) in order to immobilize the violent man. The man fell down but continued to flail and fight. The officers then held the man down on the ground and placed handcuffs on him. He continued to be combative, kicking and screaming. He then became unconscious. His vital signs were monitored while waiting for emergency medical personnel. EMS arrived and continued to monitor and provide aid to the male. Moments later, he died.

IHIT was immediately called, as well as the Coroner’s Office. The RCMP notified the civilian oversight component, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP in accordance with the pilot project to ensure that their oversight begins at the start of such incidents.

The Coroner’s Office will conduct an autopsy and determine the man’s exact cause of death. IHIT are just beginning the arduous task of determining the man’s identity, next of kin, nationality and cause of his death.

The IHIT Tipline is 1-877-543-9217

Cpl. Dale Carr has advised this office that there will likely be an update for the media on Monday October 15th, 2007 and not before. Please check with “E” Division Strategic Communications for updates on Monday.


RCMP Media, /Communications
"E" Division
5255 Heather Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1K6

Phone: (604)264-2929
Fax: (604)264-3200

"E" Division RCMP Media, /Communications

2007-10-16 06:00:10 File #IHIT (Integrated Homicide Investigation Team) File - 2007-LMD-36874


October 15, 2007


VANCOUVER: The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team continue to investigate the in custody death that occurred at Vancouver international Airport on October 14, 2007.

IHIT investigators have learned the identity of the deceased male in yesterday’s tragic in custody death at Vancouver Airport. The male has been identified as 40-year-old Robert DZIEKANSKI of Pieszyce Poland.

Investigators have also learned that Mr. DZIEKANSKI arrived here in Canada on October 13, 2007, in the mid-afternoon.

It has been learned that Mr. DZIEKANSKI was in the process of immigrating to Canada from Poland in order to live with family here in British Columbia. Police are not prepared to release which community in which Mr. DZIEKANSKI was going to immigrate too in order to provide privacy to his family. The airline and flight number will not be released at this time for investigative reasons.

British Columbia Coroners Service has advised that the autopsy is schedule to be preformed on October 16, 2007.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the IHIT tip line at 604-543-9217 or outside the Lower Mainland 1-877-543-9217. If you wish to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.


Pierre Lemaitre, Sgt.
"E" Division Strategic Communications
5255 Heather Street
Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 1K6

Phone: (604)264-2929
Fax: (604)264-3200

"E" Division Strategic Communications Pierre Lemaitre, Sgt.

2007-10-18 14:57:36 File #IHIT (Integrated Homicide Investigation Team) 2007-LMD-36874


RICHMOND: The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is continuing to investigate the in custody death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski that occurred on October 14, 2007 at Vancouver International Airport.

IHIT investigators are hoping that anyone that was on the flight from Frankfurt Germany, will call police. Police are interested in identifying the passengers in an attempt to identify a complete and thorough background into Mr. Dziekanski’s movements prior to arriving here in Canada.

Investigators have learned that Mr. Dziekanski arrived in Canada on an Air Condor flight ( A company affiliated to Luftansa Airlines), the flight number was 6070 which came direct from Frankfurt Germany and landed at 2:50 PM on October 13, 2007.

Anyone on the flight or with information about this incident is asked to call the IHIT tip line at 604-543-9217 or outside the Lower Mainland 1-877-543-9217.

Dale Carr (Cpl.)
Integrated Homicide Investigation Team
Strategic Communications/Media Spokesperson
Office: 604-598-4609
Cell: 604-760-8020


Dale Carr, Cpl.
IHIT Media Relations
12992 76 Avenue
Surrey, B.C V3W 2V6

Phone: (604)598-4609
Fax: (604)543-4992

IHIT Media Relations Dale Carr, Cpl.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All RCMP officers involved in Vancouver's taser killing should be fired and prosecuted

After seeing the RCMP Taser Video I can only conclude the following:

1. This teaser death was completely unnecessary.
The video shows pure police brutality resulting in death. These officers are not our friends; these guys act like coldblooded beasts out to taser the hell out of somebody, nothing more, nothing less. Where is the compassion? Why can't these officers handle this confused man in a humane way?

If these officers felt threatened (which is extremely hard to believe after watching this video), they could have used other means of force such as the baton to defend themselves. The use of a taser in this killing should be considered torture resulting in death.
2. The officer in charge and the officer who applied the taser should be fired and prosecuted for the use of excessive force (torture) resulting in death.
Again, there really was no reason to use the taser, and definitely not twice. Whoever (most likely an officer) yelled "[taser] him again, [taser] him again" should also been charged for encouraging violent behaviour.
3. All officers who were trained to assist with CPR but neglected to do so should be charged with gross neglect.
There was a living being, dying right in front of all officers eyes and not a single RCMP officer had the decency to give CPR? WTF!
4. Sergeant Pierre Lemaitre should be fired for purposely misrepresenting the facts and suppressing the video on a false premise.
From the BCCLA complaint:
"Shortly after the incident, Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre publicly stated that the officers present at the incident attempted to calm Mr. Dziekanski down verbally and with hand gestures. It was stated that Mr. Dziekanski ignored the officers, prompting them to use the taser. [...]"

Anyone who has seen the video can clearly see with their own eyes that is assessment is false. Why Mr. Lemaitre appears to be lying is less clear, although the BCCLA gives some more insight into Sgt. Lemaitres spin:

"Sgt. Lemaitre repeatedly made statements implying if not alleging that Mr. Dziekanski was under the influence of alcohol or drugs or had a medical condition that caused his death. Sgt. Lemaitre spoke without specific evidence to support his position. [...] Mr. Dziekanski's autopsy and toxicology results refute Sgt. Lemaitre's position. [...]

Sgt. Lemaitre appears to have misled the public while casting aspersion on the character of Mr. Dziekanski. Either the intent or effect of the characterizations of the events and of Mr. Dziekanski appear designed to provide a favourable account of the RCMP’s role in this death.

This is inappropriate especially given the fact that the RCMP members are under investigation and the RCMP has a lead role in undertaking that investigation.

With respect to the video, an unnamed officer spoke with Paul Pritchard and obtained his recording of the incident under the promise it would be returned immediately. The officer quickly informed Mr. Pritchard that the available equipment would not allow a copy to be made, and an agreement was reached to return the recording within 48 hours. Once in possession of the recording, the RCMP first informed Mr. Pritchard that previous agreements would have to be retracted and the recording would not be returned until a coroner's inquest concluded, some 1.5 to 2.5 years in the future.

According to public statements by Cpl. Dale Carr of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, the video had to be withheld because it would contaminate witnesses' memories (see also this YouTube video). Yet, by the time these statements were made, the RCMP had already
established and publicized their version of the story in great detail. If there were witnesses that had not been interviewed, contamination had already occurred. [...]

Read the whole letter here: Complaint against the RCMP over public statements and actions in the investigation of the in-custody death of Robert Dziekanski

Other progressive views on Vancouver RCMP Taser electrocution:
-- Dr. Dawg: "Deadly Dudley"
-- Unrepentant Old Hippie: "Vancouver Airport taser death"
-- The Galloping Beaver: "Your State Police"
-- Creekside: "Another RCMP Murder"
-- Sean in Saskatchewan: Taser Video: RCMP fail to cover it up

- there's now a support site named "Justice for Robert Dziekanski" that includes a call for contacting "your MP, the minister for Transport Canada - Lawrence Cannon and the minister for Public Safety - Stockwell Day". This site also shows YouTube footage of the killing.

YouTube and Google videos

some sources used:
- CKNW News Talk 980: Taser Video Now Released
- wikipedia: police brutality
- BCCLA: Jason Gratl's complaint againts the RCMP (pdf)
- Taser video
- CBC: Taser video shows RCMP shocked immigrant within 25 seconds of their arrival
- CBC The National: video of RCMP Vancouver Tasering (.mov)
- CBC: download complete taser video (.wmv)
- wikipedia: CPR
- wikipedia: Taser Incident Vancouver

Monday, November 05, 2007

Waterboarding, is it torture?

Of course it is. And it's not a new technique either; the French used waterboarding during their occupation of Algeria in 1950s and 1960s (first used during the Spanish Inquisition).

86 year-old French journalist Henry Alleg describes at Democracy Now! how he was subjected to waterboarding by the French during the war for Algerian independence:

HENRI ALLEG: Well, I was put on a plank, on a board, fastened to it and taken to a tap. And my face was covered with a rag. Very quickly, the rag was completely full of water. And, of course, you have the impression of being drowned. [..]

So, very quickly, the water ran all over my face. I couldn’t, of course, breathe. And after a few minutes, fighting against the impression of getting drowned, you can’t resist. And you feel as if you were drowning yourself. And this is a terrible impression of coming very near death. And so, when the paratroopers, the torturers, see that you’re drowning, they would stop, let you breathe, and try again. So that impression of getting near to death, every time they helped you to come back to life by breathing, it’s a terrible, terrible impression of torture and of death, being near death. So, that was my impression.
In other news:
Protesters staged a waterboarding Monday outside the Justice Department (Washington, calling for a Senate committee to reject attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey because of his reluctance to define the interrogation tactic as torture.
So much for human rights in America.

- Democracy now: French Journalist Henri Alleg Describes His Torture Being Waterboarded by French Forces During Algerian War
- LA Times: Mukasey Protesters Act Out Waterboarding

Thursday, November 01, 2007

RCMP gives in to pressure about Taser-video; when will they apologize?

The RCMP seems to have smartened up; they are now planning to return the footage of the taser-video within 10 days.

VANCOUVER - The RCMP says it could return the video recording of a Polish immigrant being hit with a Taser stun gun at Vancouver airport to its owner in a week to 10 days.

Victoria resident Paul Pritchard turned the Oct. 14 video of the fatal confrontation over to police on the promise he would get it back within 48 hours - but RCMP later refused and now he's going to court.

Not that the RCMP is finished lying about it all, on the contrary. In the latest press release, Cpl. Dale Carr is explaining the early release as follows:
[Cpl. Dale Carr] says police kept the video bit longer than they anticipated to protect the integrity of investigation.
Talk about distortion of the facts. In an interview with "As it happens", the videographer explained that police intended to withhold the video for 1.5 to 2.5 years. Reducing this to 10 days is a reduction, not an increase, Cpl. Dale Carr.

It's crystal clear that the lawsuits combined with public pressure forced the RCMP to give the video back to the rightful owner within the next few days. And I'm sure we'll all be surprised how much effort the police put into trying "to calm the man"; with a taser, twice.

Isn't it time the RCMP apologizes for being far too trigger-happy?

It's appalling to see this RCMP is continuously trying spin stories instead of dealing with the RCMPs culture of trigger-happy officers, using far to often excessive and unjustified force. Who are the officers that killed Mr. Dziekanski and why were they not fired or put in jail for killing an immigrant? According to several witnesses Mr. Dziekanski was no danger to anyone, so isn't it time the police admits these RCMP officers completely misread the situation? Or is the killing of an immigrant by the RCMP "business as usual?"

I'm sure the RCMP does a lot of good work too, but the level of pure incompetence when it comes to distinguishing critical from less critical situations (think Arar, Sechelt pepper spraying, Montebello, Taser killing in Vancouver) combined with the amount of spin and usual cover up (Arar cover up, Taser killing cover up, Montebello provocateurs) makes one wonder if it isn't about time we get rid of the RCMP altogether.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Canada Taser Update: An interview with the videographer who's sueing the RCMP (rush transcript; includes audio)

From CBC's "As it happens" (audio from this interview can be found here)

For the Mounties, there is mounting pressure -- over a few minutes of videotape. The RCMP now faces a lawsuit over video that was shot at the Vancouver International Airport about two weeks ago -- when police tasered Robert Dziekanski, who was visiting Canada from Poland. He later died. The RCMP convinced the owner of the tape to hand it over, and they promised to give it right back. They have not.

Paul Pritchard is the man who shot the tape and launched the lawsuit [against the RCMP], and we reached him in Victoria.

(rush transcript follows)

- Mr Pritchard, can you tell us what you actually captured on film at the [Vancouver] airport when mister Dziekanski died.

I was filming, I was sleeping at the airport actually, I had missed a connecting flight so I was right in the international arrival lobby there. I woke up to the sound of banging on glass, that's what kind of startled me and I woke up.

There was a man there obviously kind of confused trying to get back into the international airport [section], yet he had all his suitcases with him which was kind of strange to see.

We stood up and watched this happen for twenty-five minutes and called security a couple of times. Nobody came.

People kept trying to talk to him, trying to get him out of there, trying to calm him down, and that's what brought the agitation-level so high.

Two security guys showed up, I thought it was the police, I have them.. the camera is rolling at this point.

- Why did you take out your camera at this point?

That's funny, I had totally forgotten that I had the camera with me, I had all my bags with me. Once [Robert Dziekanski] got into the isolated area, he just stood at the doors and barricaded all the suitcases at the doors [..]. He would open the glass door and yell something out [..] one word in Polish and kept saying this one word and sticking out his arm. [...]

I said to the guy next to me, "why am I not filming this?" He said "you got a camera" and I said "yes" and I grabbed my bag and started taping everything.

- At what point did the RCMP arrive?

Right after security, within a minute after security [had arrived].

- And what happened?

Security ran up to the door and stopped when they saw [Robert Dziekanski]. He had a chair in his hand and put it down, he had a keyboard in his hand and he put it down, and security didn't know what to do.

Police right away ran in, three big cops ran in right after.

I heard one of the policeman say "Can I Taser him?" or "Should I Taser him?" .
The reply was "yes"

He hopped over the gates into the passage way, through the doors, the three of them, kind of made a triangle toward him. There was a desk behind the door. [Robert Dziekanski] tried to move behind it. He made no threat that I saw, toward [the police]. One [RCMP officer] followed [Robert Dziekanski] behind the desk; the other two [RCMP officers] followed the other way and then they just tasered him.

-How long after the RCMP arrived did they taser Mr. Dziekanski?

Right away, within ten seconds of entering the same room as him. Right away.

- And all of this you've got on tape?

All of this is on tape, yes.

- When did the RCMP approach you to get your tape?

Quite a while afterwards. A security [guard] saw me filming, told me to stop, tried to get me to stop. I refused of course.

- Why did he tell you to stop?

I don't know, he just [wanted me to] stop taping, he made these gestures for me to quit. Obviously I know my right and I kept the camera going. After the police tasered him there was a struggle on the floor and they handcuffed him and then he was laying there, what we thought unconscious for quite a while. This is when I stopped filming him. Nothing was happening, they were just laying beside him. He was just kind of laying there, with no movement coming from him. [...]

At this point one of the RCMP officers jumped up and ran out of the room and I heard "code red" being jelled. The officer left the airport, and it was a good 8 minutes, 5 to 10 minutes anyway, before medical help arrived. As soon as they came in they started to give him CPR right away. This made me wonder why CPR wasn't administered earlier.

-You had stopped filming earlier then this...

I had stopped filming a few minuted after he had stopped moving. I didn't resume filming when CPR was administered, for respect.

- When did the RCMP ask for the tape?

I was dealing with a couple of different detectives. They told we are going to need a copy, and this was no problem [for me]; I was fully cooperating with them. At first they told us that we were going down to the station to get a copy made. I was going to go with them, and I would get my footage back [right after]. That was the plan. Then he comes back saying, "what if we just take it - we don't have the computers necessary to [make the copy], it's going to take us a day or two to do it - what if we just take it from you and we will get it back from you within 48 hours?" [..]

I said "Yes, if I'm getting it back, that's no problem. I'm here to help, I'm on the good side here." So [I] had a verbal agreement [with Constable Mulhall] that within 48 hours [the video] was going to be returned to me. It was until the next day that I got the phone call [from Constable Mulhall] saying "Sorry, we're going to return your camera but were going to [withhold your] footage: You're are not getting [the footage] back for 1.5 to 2.5 years. "

- Did they tell you why they wouldn't be giving [your footage] back?

They just said that it would interfere with the investigation. It didn't really made any sense to me.

- Were you compelled to give the tape over to [the RCMP]?

No. I knew I didn't have to, I know my right[s]. I knew it was my camera and that I didn't have to. As I said, I was trying to help out the situation. I wasn't against [the RCMP] in this; we're all trying to do the right thing. With the promise that I would get the video back I had no problem helping him out. If I had know that I would not be getting the tape back, I wouldn't have given it to them, and that's the bottom line.

- So you regret doing it now?

Of course I regret doing it, yes.

- Do you think the police want to prevent the public from seeing the incident on tape?

At first the RCMP called back and I sought legal advice as my right as a Canadian citizen. They've got my possession, and what can I do? I talked to Paul Pierson, my lawyer, about it. He said "they can't do that".

We wrote a formal letter saying that we want [the footage] back. The RCMP said "OK, no problem, we're going to give it back". So [my lawyer and I] thought this was all done. Then we received a call saying "Sorry, we're retracting our statements. We are going back on what we said (again), and we can't just give it back to you".

- So what do you make of the RCMP's concerns that you might compromise their investigation if witnesses saw this tape.

This is what I don't understand. They're saying they don't want to taint witness's stories and they don't want to taint other people's opinion on what happened, but, what is on tape IS what happened. Maybe [this tape] will change witness's [opinion] who got it wrong, but it's all on tape, it's all there, crystal clear zoom in zoom out footage, it is what happened. [..] The speculation and guesswork will all be over as soon as everybody sees it.

- And because it is not edited but all in real time, you can actually see how long after the police arrived that he was actually tasered. [This] is the issue at question right now, how long [the RCMP] actually tried to help things before they actually used there tasers.

That part is crystal clear, yes.

- Would you consider to make the commitment to not make the tape public until the investigation is over?

I don't know. Once it comes back, I want to give it to Mr. Dziekanski mother and his lawyer. Obviously they want a copy. My first thing is to get it out to the media, but if it is comprimising other situation then...

- Have you met Mr. Dziekanski mother?

I haven't met her, I've only seen her on television and my lawyer and her lawyer have been in contact.

- How distressed was it when you saw her statement that she was trying for 18 hours to get to see her son and then....

That's kind of what made me feel compelled to do this as my duty [..]
- Listen to the whole conversation at the CBC website: As it happens
- More at G&M: Taser Photographer sues RCMP

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Canada Taser Update: Taser photographer sues RCMP to get his video of Vancouver's Taser killing back

Yes, I know, the police is our friend and wants the best for all of us. But how do you explain the following?

Paul Pritchard says he took high-quality video of the Oct. 14 "incident" (emphasis mine) where police confronted 40-year-old Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport and just minutes later was dead.

The Victoria lawyer [Paul Pearson], acting for Mr. Pritchard, says the video is an excellent version of events, clearly indicating what happened in the minutes before police arrived, the use of the taser [...].

[The Victoria lawyer] says his client willingly surrendered the video to RCMP and was assured it would be returned, but was contacted the next day and told investigators would not hand it back.
I'm sure we can trust the RCMP when they'll say it's in the best public interest to withhold the video (wink wink), but what about the photographer, doesn't he have any "rights"?
“Mr. Pritchard has no difficulty whatsoever with the police having a copy of the footage that he took,” Mr. Pearson said. “The difference here is police have taken the original and aren't giving it back.”

(from CBC)Pritchard's lawyer, Paul Pearson, has filed documents in B.C. Supreme Court demanding that at least a copy of the video be given to his client.

"It's not the subject, as I understand it, currently of a criminal investigation. It's not a court exhibit. There is in fact very old law that says if you have somebody else's property in your possession and they ask for it back, you have to give it back to them."

The guy shot the video, handed it over to the police (indeed, in the best public interest), and now he wants back what is rightfully his, his own copy of the tape. RCMP, it's time to give it back before becoming suspect of next cover up.

- Globe and Mail: Taser Photographer Sues RCMP
- CBC: Police say they won't return witness's video of airport taser incident

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Naomi Wolf - The End of America (video)

Interesting video from an interesting lady. Watch the talk she gave on October 11, 2007 at the University of Washington, Seattle:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pigs of War: Donald Rumsfeld - Human Rights Groups File Torture Suit against Rumsfeld

It certainly looks like Rumsfeld will have a hard time traveling to Europe in the years to come. There have already been war-crimes cases filed against Rumsfeld in Germany (one was dismissed, one is being appealed), in Argentina, Spain and Sweden. Today France and the US have been added to the list:

French, German and US human rights groups have filed a lawsuit in France accusing former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld of torture during the "war on terror."

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), the French League for Human Rights (LDH), the US Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Germany's European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed the joint suit before a Paris prosecutor on Thursday.
With the increasing amount of evidence on Rumsfeld's torture practices, these human rights groups actually have a strong case:
In a statement posted on the FIDH website, the groups say that during his time as defense secretary, Rumsfeld authorized interrogation techniques that led to rights abuses in US-run detention centers at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, as well as elsewhere.

The rights groups notably cite three memorandums signed by Rumsfeld between October 2002 and April 2003 "legitimizing the use of torture" including the "hooding" of detainees, sleep deprivation and the use of dogs.The group also has testimony from Janis Karpinski -- the one-time commander of US military prisons in Iraq -- to bolster its claims. more
- Deutsche Welle: Human Rights Groups File Torture Suit against Rumsfeld
- Democracy Now!: On Visit to France, Donald Rumsfeld Hit with Lawsuit for Ordering, Authorizing Torture
- New York Times: Torture Complaint Filed against Rumsfeld
- Wikipedia: Donald Rumsfeld

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Canada Taser Update: Mounties shouldn't handle investigation - Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun

The Vancouver Sun has a good opinion piece by Ian Mulgrew today:

RICHMOND - The RCMP's handling of the Taser-related death of a Polish immigrant Sunday seems as mindless as the offensive attempts to whitewash the shooting of Houston mill worker Ian Bush.

Mountie spokesman Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre and the rest of the force just don't get it -- they are not a law unto themselves.

That the Horsemen are investigating themselves in this situation raises the same concerns that turned the October 2005 death of Bush into a scandal.

From the moment Robert Dziekanski of Pieszyce, Poland, died in the customs area of Vancouver International Airport, Sgt. Lemaitre has been running damage control.

Just as he did in the Bush case.

Bush died inside the Houston RCMP detachment after he was shot in the head during a scuffle with a Mountie who had arrested him for having an open bottle of beer outside a hockey game.

Lemaitre would have us believe that Tasering the distraught Dziekanski was the only way of dealing with the situation.

That's disingenuous.

What's worse is that while quickly jumping to the defence of their members, the Mounties treated the Dziekanski family like dirt.

How would you like to be told police had found your missing son, but when you arrived to see him, they told you he was dead?

That's what the RCMP did to Dziekanski's mother. They were just as insensitive with Bush's mom. Can these guys even spell c-o-m-p-a-s-s-i-o-n?

Meanwhile, the force rushes therapists and lawyers to officers caught up in such incidents because of the trauma.

According to Lemaitre, Dziekanski came to the attention of airport security because he was agitated, pounding on windows and throwing around furniture.

The three officers Lemaitre said responded couldn't use pepper spray or their batons because there were too many people around.

Sima Ashrafina, a medical lab assistant from North Vancouver, saw it go down differently.

First of all, she says there were few people around -- it was 1:30 in the morning.

Secondly, she says five officers were present, two of whom Tasered the unarmed man. In her view the response by the RCMP was "too harsh."

While Lemaitre says the officers only fired two bursts of the Taser, she says she heard four blasts.

Since she's not facing lawsuits or potential charges for causing a death, I can't imagine why she would lie.

She was there -- I believe her, a disinterested observer.

The force's need to stand behind its officers appears clearly at odds with its duty to the public in these incidents and breeds suspicion.

I think it's obvious independent investigations of deaths involving police would dispel such concerns and prevent clouds of distrust gathering over the RCMP.

Regardless, we need to have an inquiry into the use of Tasers.

Dziekanski was the sixth person in B.C. to die in the past five years after being zapped by the Taser's 50,000 volts -- one of 16 people across the country who have died after such a shock.

Amnesty International says there have been nearly 200 deaths across the continent during the same period following Taser use.

Of course, the company that makes Tasers claims the deaths were caused not by its device but by drugs, a pre-existing medical condition or "excited delirium."

I love that term -- which is not a recognized medical or psychiatric condition. It has been used over the last decade to explain deaths in police custody, but is so vague it appears to mean little more than your heart is racing.

It's a bogus label that indicates little more than the person was distressed and ramped up -- could be from fear, a physical or mental health problem, intoxicants or, God forbid, an attack of acute claustrophobia from being stuck for hours in customs.

That's why there are urgent calls for higher standards to be imposed on the use of the Taser and demands for more training for those who use the controversial weapon.

The bottom line is at the moment police don't know what the outcome will be when they fire a Taser. What we do know is they are taking a chance with the target's life.

Consider the Taser's history.

The Taser was invented in 1974 by NASA scientist Jack Cover who named it after Tom Swift, a fictional inventor in a series of sci-fi adventure novels. Taser is an acronym for the "Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle."

Cute, huh?

Originally it was considered a firearm because it relied on gunpowder to fire the electric prods.

In the early 1990s, that changed.

The Taser was redesigned to use a nitrogen propellant so it would no longer be classified as a firearm.

Since then, the company has built a lucrative monopoly through the use of former cops and army officers to tout the weapons.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department was among the first to sign up for the new product and thousands of police and corrections departments have followed suit.

Taser International's success story unfortunately overlooks the mounting body count.

The company says its product had nothing to do with those fatalities -- the deaths can not be attributed to the Taser.

But I don't think that's the issue: People are dying after Taser use and we need to recognize and respond to that.

Whether it is from being zapped or a combination of factors doesn't matter in my opinion -- too many people have died.

If Tasers are going to be used by police, they need to be placed high up on what the cops call the "continuum of force" model. They should not be a first response.

For Lemaitre to insist responding RCMP in this instance could not use pepper spray, their batons or hand-to-hand combat training is ridiculous.

Any bouncer in a downtown nightclub deals with similarly unarmed unruly patrons on a weekly basis.

Why could a handful of police officers not take down one unarmed man without resorting to this weapon? This is responsible policing?

Before they drew their Tasers, the Mounties should have tried other options. We deserve to know why they didn't.

- Vancouver Sun: Mounties shouldn't handle investigation

Monday, October 15, 2007

Canada Taser update: 16 people died in last 5 years after being tasered by Canadian Police

If there are still people out there that think the Taser gun is harmless, then think again. According to Mr. Ward, sixteen people have died in Canada (6 in BC, that's 36% in one province!) after being shot with a Taser gun:

April 19, 2003: Terrance Hanna, 51, Burnaby, B.C.

July 22, 2003: Clay Willey, 33, Prince George, B.C.

Sept. 28, 2003: Clark Whitehouse, 34, Whitehorse, Yukon

March 23, 2004: Perry Ronald, 28, Edmonton

May 1, 2004: Roman Andreichikov, 25, Vancouver

May 13, 2004: Peter Lamonday, 38, London, Ont.

June 23, 2004: Robert Bagnell, 44, Vancouver

July 17, 2004: Jerry Knight, 29, Mississauga

Aug. 8, 2004: Samuel Truscott, 43, Kingston, Ont.

May 5, 2005: Kevin Geldart, 34, Moncton, N.B.

June 30, 2005: Gurmeet Sandhu, 41, Surrey, B.C.

July 1, 2005: James Foldi, 39, Beamsville, Ont.

July 15, 2005: Paul Sheldon Saulnier, 42, Digby, N.S.

Dec. 24, 2005: Alesandro Fiacco, 33, Edmonton

Aug. 30, 2006: Jason Doan, 28, Red Deer, Alta.

Oct. 14, 2007: Unidentified male, Vancouver airport

When will this stop?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Vancouver RCMP uses Taser and kills man at Vancouver Airport

A taser gun has been used today at the Vancouver International Airport and resulted in the death of a man who, according to the police, was out-of-control:

RCMP have confirmed they used a Taser on an out-of-control man who died at the Vancouver International Airport early Sunday morning.

Police were called to the international arrival area of the airport at about 1:28 a.m. on Sunday after airport security officers were unable to calm the man down and his level of violence was escalating.

The man, a Caucasian in his late 30s to early 40s, was yelling in an eastern European accent, sweating profusely, throwing chairs and pounding on windows, according to police. [...]

When the man picked up an object from a counter, a trained officer pulled a conducted energy weapon -- commonly known as a Taser -- from his holster and deployed it.

This is not the first time someone dies after being tortured with a Taser. Amnesty International has confirmed 245 Taser-related deaths since they began research in 2001.

- more information on why taser-torture should be outlawed.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dion 's 'deep' corporate tax cuts build the road the fascism

Who thought that Dion would be so openly, what's the word here, neoliberal?

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion pledged to reduce the federal corporate tax rate on Friday to further bolster economic growth and fuel competition with foreign markets.During a speech at the Economic Club of Toronto, Dion said the previous Liberal government lowered the rate from 28 per cent to 19 per cent. [...]

"What I have said for our economic prosperity, what will be especially important is to have a competitive tax system and to have a way to decrease our corporate tax, deeper than what was planned," Dion said after his speech at a downtown hotel.

Right-wing corporatism would be another way to describe the direction, I suppose. And we all know how that story finished.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Scott Tribe, Jason Cherniak, and the ProgBlog Code of Conduct

I consider most verbal displeasures expressed at ProgBlog symptoms of mainly three “problems”:

- perceived authoritarian behaviour by the ProgBlog moderators
- conservativeness at ProgBlog
- petty partisanship by some of the members
Sure a code of conduct can stifle some of the frustrations by force, but is there really no other way to deal with these problems?

Here are some simple solutions that I came up with:
a. make progblog ultra transparent, as progressives would envision the ultimate transparent and responsible government

b. oust those blogs/bloggers/moderators who continue to adhere to a right of centre political agenda (most obvious by promoting anti-social policies). This could possibly be done through use of a popular vote among the PB members, or some other transparent and democratic form. Perhaps give ousted bloggers the ability to reapply if they still feel they deserve to be part of PB*.

c. exclude members who predominantly post to promote their party (there are other blogrolls for that type of propaganda, not at PB please) and make it mandatory for future moderators be non-partisan (use grandfather clause).
That's about as far as I would go.

The above would make ProgBlog more transparent and accountable (suggested by many), and probably far less combative resulting in a more coherent community of bloggers.

I realize fully well that my suggestions will never be picked up by the moderators. Not that I think that Scott and some of his tribe is not “lefty” enough (Scott considers himself to be on the left side of the Liberal spectrum) but because the chief in question is a partisan Liberal, and partisans by definition are biased and loyal to their party and party members; that's what partisanship is all about.

My proposed code would give ProgBlog members the power to scrutinize and oust blogs (up until now the exclusive right for moderators), likely resulting in the removal of several Libloggers, especially those that daily spout their partisan, right of centre propaganda into the PB blogosphere (no names needed, we all know who you are).

This will prove to be inconceivable to a partisan Liberal moderator. Furthermore, chief Scott owns ProgBlog...

My two cents, for what it's worth.

*I realize that b. Could turn into a cycle of dumping and adding to ProgBlog, but who said that any democratic model would be easy?

My post "ProgBlog's CoC, Tutu and the Right the Offend" also deals with the issue in another light.

- Wiktionary: partisanship
- ProgBlog Proposed Code of Conduct

ProgBlog's CoC, Tutu and the Right the Offend

I apologize to all ProgBlog members for not posting earlier on the Code of Conduct (CoC) but the latest developments in my own personal life have kept me fairly busy (insiders know what I'm talking about).

First of all I want to praise the PB moderators for giving members the ability to contribute to a code of conduct. I do have the following criticism and they deal with the phrase about religion. The following suggestion was made:

A member of the Progressive Bloggers shall be determined to be conducting themselves in an unacceptable manner when they submit material to the Progressive Bloggers, automatically or otherwise, which: [...]
(b) contains [..] religiously offensive language.

Doesn't freedom of speech include the right to offend? Who doesn't remember Salman Rushdie's

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist"
Personally I have no problem with the fact that many religious people conspire regularly (Christians, Muslims, Jews etc.), express their superiority (by those same people or their leaders) over other believe systems, simply because they're the followers of the “right” religion.

I have no problem with religion BECAUSE I'm allowed and able to differ with those particular religious believes.

And the ability to differ HAS to include the right to offend, because “offensiveness” is subjective; it completely depends on the party who receives the comment, in how it will perceive it.

The recent dealings of the St. Thomas University and Desmond Tutu comes to mind. Tutu wasn't allowed to speak, because of a speech he had given several years ago, in which he had compared the powerful Jewish lobby to other major powers that people had to overcome: "Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin". Although Tutu's statement is clearly not anti-semitic, the remarks were still perceived as offensive by some Jews (especially the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas) and therefore enough reason for the University of St. Thomas to cancel a planned speech. From a progressive point of view, where the free flow of information is paramount, University of St. Thomas' behaviour is unacceptable.

In a free and progressive society, people have the right to their own believes, including their own religion. But since religion itself can be perceived as offensive (for example: I do find most religions' take on so-called pagans quite offensive), there has to be the right to offend by those of different believes or believe systems. Only then are we, all believers and non-believers, on an equal footing.

- ProgBlog proposed CoC
- Wikipedia: Desmond Tutu
- St. Thomas won't host Tutu
- BBC: The right to be downright offensive