Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Henry Aubin on the Police Murder of Robert Dziekanski

cellphone-video of an RCMP murder:
Robert Dziekanski was killed on October 14 in
Vancouver International Airport

Pulling the plug on Taser deaths
INCLUDING A CAMERA on the electric-shock weapon would help clear up questions on its use

Everyone is appalled by the tragic death of a man in Vancouver after police shot him with a Taser. But you don’t have to go far to find other cases of questionable use of this electric-shock weapon.

So far this fall, two men have died in Quebec after police tasered them. Unlike the death of Robert Dziekanski in Vancouver International Airport, no videos exist of the incidents, and they have received too little attention in the Montreal media.

On Oct. 14, the same day that Dziekanski died, Montreal police stopped Quilem Registre, 38, because of his erratic driving in the St. Michel area. Police say they shot him with a Taser because he was aggressive. Cocaine has been linked to numerous deaths of tasered people, and tests show that cocaine was in Registre’s blood when he was admitted to hospital after the incident. Relatives say he was in a coma for three days and suffered heart problems before he died.

The other case is still more troubling because a witness says the victim was peaceful. Claudio Castagnetta, a 32-yearold translator, was arrested for loitering barefoot and acting strangely inside a small grocery store in Quebec City. Unlike Registre, he had no criminal record.

The store owner who called police because of Castagnetta’s annoying presence told the Quebec City newspaper Le Soleil that when he asked the man what he was doing, “To my great surprise, he was not at all arrogant and was very diplomatic.” The store owner said that when the cops arrived, Castagnetta told them he had the right to be where he was. When police took him to their cruiser and tried to put handcuffs on him, he resisted – not with violence but by making his body rigid.

Two witnesses say police fired a Taser at him not once but at least three times – although they were unable to say how many times the weapon’s two darts hit him. It took six cops to bring him under control while lying on his stomach. Afterward, he was well enough to tell a lawyer that he suffered from bipolar disorder, but he died two days later in his cell.

Let me say right off that there’s not a mote of evidence that the Taser directly caused the deaths of Dziekanski, Castagnetta or Registre. Eight police forces in this province use Tasers (including the Sûreté du Québec and the Laval and Longueuil police), and a spokesperson for Quebec’s public security ministry, which oversees police, stresses that no deaths are directly attributable to the weapon since its introduction here in 2001.

The key word in all this, of course, is “directly.” The fact is that people hit with Tasers have a way of dying shortly thereafter. Amnesty International counts 18 such deaths in Canada and more than 240 in the U.S.

The only time police ought to be able to use Tasers is to defend either themselves or other citizens from life-threatening attack or injury – precisely the same criteria that governs (or is supposed to govern) police use of firearms.

We can’t tell if the Registre case meets that criteria because Montreal police have divulged so little about it. But the Castagnetta and Dziekanski cases flagrantly fail the test. First, neither victim had threatened police or endangered the public in any way. Second, police fired the Taser at them more than once, then pounced on them en masse (possibly inflicting serious injury on Dziekanski when an officer knelt on his neck).

Both times, then, police used the weapon gratuitously as an easy way to master people. Pardon me if I sound like the National Rifle Association, but Tasers don’t kill people, irresponsible police do.

A way exists to deter police from such casual use of this dangerous device. Taser International now makes a camera that clips on to a Taser and records what’s happening in video and audio. The company’s website notes that this “offers increased accountability – not just for officers, but for the people they arrest. Until now, it’s been the officer’s word against the suspect’s word.” If the suspect survives, that is.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has made the camera a precondition for introducing the Taser to his country. This little gizmo might be worth the Charest government’s consideration.

The above is from today's Montreal Gazette - i apologize for not having time to write about this myself, as some of you have noticed i'm posting a lot less these days. Too much work, and it's not showing any signs of abating...


  1. I agree that the Taser is not the only factor in the demise of this poor innocent man. After the RCMP had tasered him several times and he was lying on the floor writhing and screaming in pain, two (2) RCMP knelt on his body; one with his knees on his back and another with his knee and body weight on the poor man’s neck until he died of asphyxiation! The video clearly reveals the RCMP standing to the extreme left had a big smile on his face when they said their victim had died. They never even tried to revive him.

    I am haunted by the images of this video every day. I am outraged, horrified and furious that our police force is allowed to torture and take the life of innocent people without paying the consequences of their sadistic actions. The RCMP have lied about the true facts in the deaths by their hands of many people over the years. Thank God that Paul Pritchard recorded the whole disturbing and gut wrenching damning and incrimating evidence of how Robert Dziekanski’s life was brutally ended by the hands of the RCMP.

    The RCMP are a Federal Government agency who have become corrupt and sadistic and have been given the authority to torture and murder innocent people without any questions being asked and with no consequences for their heinous crimes. I shudder every time that I think of the thousands upon thousands of men and woman who fought and died during the 1st and 2nd World Wars to put an end to this type of corruption, terrorism and injustice against humanity.

    Unless all the people in Canada band together and take a forthright stand against the Federal Government to change the control and power they have given to the RCMP, our everyday lives will end up being totally controlled by this corrupt and sadistic entity of law and order. This form of law and order existed under the Russian KBH and the German Gestapo. We are heading in that same direction faster than we think.

    The RCMP should be disbanned and dissolved in order to put a stop to this corruption. They have destroyed any creditability and honour they had throughout the countries of the world since the release of the damning and incriminating video of Robert Dziekanski’s horrific death.

    I believe that Robert Dziekanski’s disraught Mother, Zophia, should have the right to sue the Federal Government and the RCMP on behalf of her son for his unjustifiable and horrific death, and for the unmeasureable suffering and loss, heartache and grief she is and will suffer throughout all the remaining days of her life. They have destroyed her life forever. Zophia should be awarded at least $20 million settlement plus all her legal costs seeing as how the Canadian Government so willingly paid Maher Arar $10 million settlement plus $2 million legal costs. These funds should be paid from the RCMP’s Pension Fund.

    I have now lost any and all respect I ever had for the RCMP.

  2. I am totally opposed to ANY use of the tasar and what frightens me is that this proposed omnibus crime bill being fought for by The Harper, and not criticized by anyone in the opposition is set to buy even MORE police equipment without any thought as to the consequences. What is reallly happening is that police (and idiotic citizen patrols)will be patrolling the streets with tasars.

    Prior to Montebello, Harper tried to sneak in tasars without being registered! He was caught out; but they posted the public notification on a very obscure newspaper so no one would see it; but it was found. We then wrote off to Stockwell Day about it saying NO DICE, we know what you are doing. This weapons came in on the bodies of ATF officers and God knows who else coming in to protect the slimebag (excuse me, can't help it) BuZh who had NO BUSINESS bringing Imperium and his body into Canada in the first place.

    To me tasars are totally fascistic. They allow the officers to inflect torture while feeling no pain themselves. They are of great use in inflicting real harm to people of color, to women, to the disabled. They don't like using nightsticks if a person really needs subduing, TOO BAD. Having to make a decision based on sound reasoning and real danger is far preferable to people thinking that they are playing with a paintball tool, which they are not. These are DEADLY and the research on their effects was not done; they were rushed to market to make the greatest amount of profit$ for the companies that make them.

    Britain had some success against them by using the Freedom of Information Act to find how people were trained to use them, how many were being bought, what training soemone gets after they have used them, now often retraining takes place and so on and that should be employed here in Canada, too.

    In the US, Andrew Meyer case, I investigated it for many days, concluding that that use was a cointel pro operation entirely to make us ALL AFRAID of tasaring but left with few options about what to do about it. The plants were already when the youtube posting went up - aggravating everyone who posted. NO PETITION AGAINST THEIR USE was ever put up there.

    However, in this case in BC the petition is already circulating. Stockwell Day has a whole bunch to get squirmy about.

    Here is are links to the search box on my blog for lots of info on tasars. I have been writing to NDN groups to get as many of those activists to help me spread the word.


    Stop The Taser Petition
    Can we can deliver this with a couple hundred thousand signatures ?
    Check also http://nomoretasers.com and http://truthnottasers.blogspot.com/