Saturday, April 12, 2008

Vancouver Airport Taser tape conveniently erased

Does anyone remember me talking about an airport surveillance video of the Robert Dziekanski Taser-killing that could give some more insight to what exactly happened? Well, most of it is gone. Erased. And not a single investigating police officer has made a back-up copy of the whole ordeal. How convenient.

Border services says it deleted security footage inadvertently
Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun

Published: Friday, April 11, 2008

Several hours of surveillance footage recorded at Vancouver airport the night Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski was Tasered and died were inadvertently erased by the Canada Border Services Agency a week after his death, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

The mistake is revealed in a series of internal CBSA e-mails on the Dziekanski matter released to The Sun in response to an Access to Information request.

Dziekanski was Tasered by the RCMP early on Oct. 14, 2007 after he began behaving erratically in a secure area of the airport -- pacing and throwing items against a glass wall.

However, before Dziekanski's interaction with the Mounties, he spent more than six hours in the airport's customs and baggage-claim hall without being noticed by anyone from the CBSA.

After Dziekanski's death, a CBSA officer reviewed all the agency's surveillance footage from that night to see if it provided any indication of what Dziekanski did for several hours in the customs hall.

That review found Dziekanski was picked up by CBSA cameras only about a dozen times, and just for a few minutes each time.

Between 4:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. -- a five-hour stretch -- the officer couldn't find Dziekanski on any of the footage, something the agency later said may have been due to construction in the area blocking camera angles.

The officer who reviewed the footage copied all the clips he found of Dziekanski onto a video disk.

However, weeks later, the CBSA decided it should take another look at all the footage to make sure it didn't miss anything.

"This is a significant undertaking, but close review may provide some additional information," John Dyck, head of the CBSA's Pacific Region Program and Communications division, wrote in a Nov. 1 e-mail to regional director Blake Delgaty. "We have requested that the full time period from all cameras be loaded to DVD for further review."

Unfortunately, by that point the original footage had all been erased.

In an e-mail to Dyck the same day, Binder Kooner, head of CBSA passenger operations at the airport, explained that there had been some confusion over how long the footage would be stored before being erased.

"I'm advised that footage was originally available for 16 days but due to subsequent modifications to the surveillance system, the footage is now only available for 7 days after which it automatically erases," Kooner wrote. "The footage is no longer available."

Kooner added that the CBSA officer who viewed all of the footage would write a declaration stating any clips of Dziekanski were included on the DVD.

Still, Dyck wrote back that "this is an unfortunate turn of events; we were under the impression that steps had been taken to preserve the video."

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, which is investigating Dziekanski's death, said Thursday it wasn't aware the CBSA's original footage had been erased.

However, IHIT spokesman Cpl. Dale Carr said the team is not worried because one of its investigators reviewed the complete footage before it was erased and was confident all clips of Dziekanski are on the DVD.

CBSA spokesman Derek Mellon refused to comment this week on why the agency didn't take steps to preserve the original footage or how confident it is that no shots of Dziekanski were missed.

In an e-mail, Mellon said only that he believed any questions about the footage were already answered in the documents released to The Sun.

The few clips of Dziekanski the officer burned to the DVD were released to The Sun earlier this year in response to a separate Access to Information request.
h/t The Coast of Bohemia: Tazer Video Deleted

- Vancouver Sun: Video of YVR taser victim erased


Anonymous said...

How convenient that the CBSA lost important footage. I think they lost it around the same time as the RCMP still had Paul Pritchards camera refusing to give it back. Then the RCMP could have lost that footage and there would be nothing to see. It would then only be the RCMP's lies about this whole tragic situation that would determine the outcome of this murder/manslaughter. If the RCMP had cared for the truth they would have made sure all videos at the airport were preserved immediately.

Eric said...

If the RCMP had cared for the truth they would have made sure all videos at the airport were preserved immediately.

Well said.

It proves once again that WE (the people) can't take RCMP investigation into their own actions serious because in the best take on this they don't take their own investigation serious; so why should we?

In the worst take, and my opinion is leaning to this, it's just another symptom of continuous RCMP whitewash.

Don't expect things to change soon as long as police forces are investigating themselves; convenient indeed.

darren said...

I certainly have a bad taste in my mouth give my most recent experience with YVR 'security'.


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