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.