Braidwood

Kelly McParland does an admirable job of summing up the testimony of RCMP officers at the Braidwood Inquiry:

Whatever conclusion is ultimately reached at the Braidwood inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, one conclusion now seems inevitable: the original tale peddled by the RCMP about that day at Vancouver airport was overwhelmingly bogus.

The 40-year-old Mr. Dziekanski did not grab a killer stapler and wave it threateningly over his head, as the police claimed. He did not advance on four officers with threatening gestures. He did not stay on his feet after the first jolt of the Taser they fired at him. He did not have to be wrestled to the ground. He did not, it appears from the testimony of the officers who were there that day, represent any kind of threat at all. Continue reading

Poetry for Dziekansky

The Dziekansky Inquiry

If you’re a skier in distress,

We’ll overlook your SOS,

For Mounties just don’t want to know

When dying words are left in snow.

But when a man steps off a plane

And cries for help, our Mountie brain

Knows right away the proper course

Is swift and painful use of force.

Get lost in our arrival hall?

We’ll be there in no time at all

To help you see, when you’re upset,

That you’ve become a deadly threat.

Pick up a stapler in your hands,

Refuse to meet our firm demands,

Act strange in ways that raise our fear,

And Mounties answer loud and clear.

Sometimes we fail to get our man,

And things don’t work out quite to plan,

But next time, when you need our aid,

Stand still and show us you’re afraid.

Please understand, the Mounties strive

To help our suspects stay alive,

But if you won’t or can’t comply,

Don’t blame our tasers when you die.

John Allemang

RCMP Threatened By Stapler

We’ve all seen the video of RCMP at Vancouver International Airport tasering Robert Dziekanski five times until he dies.  It appears that lawyers will argue that what we can’t see on that video is the stapler in Dziekanski’s hands.  Right.  Four big touch macho RCMP officers armed to the hilt, threatened by what Dziekanski could do to them with a stapler.  Fuckneckery.

The sequence of events surrounding the police confrontation with Robert Dziekanski is becoming a central issue at the public inquiry into his death.

A bystander’s video that shows Dziekanski being repeatedly stunned by an RCMP Taser at Vancouver’s airport in October 2007 has been played several times as witnesses recount what they saw.

The inquiry has heard that Dziekanski picked up a stapler that he had in his hand but what he was doing with it in the seconds before he was shocked is under question.

On the infamous video, Dziekanski’s arms appear to stay down by his sides as officers surround him, and only raise above his head after he is stunned.

But lawyers for the RCMP officers suggest the video, which shows Dziekanski’s back, doesn’t show what he was doing with his hands or the stapler.

The stapler was cited by Crown prosecutors in December when they announced they wouldn’t charge the officers involved, who are expected to testify later at the inquiry.

Here ya go.

Beyond the Pale

vet29.jpg

The RCMP murdered Robert Dziekanski.  That’s what I think.  Of course, no charges will be laid against the officers.  The more that is revealed at the Braidwood Inquiry, the more firm I become in my view.  I can hardly bear to read it.

The RCMP tasered Dziekanski twice though he had done nothing more than wave his arms at them and walk away when they didn’t want him to walk away.  That’s my take on the video.  Help yourself – go watch it, as I have, again and again and again – mesmerized by the brutality, stupidity and inhumanity.  Watch while a passenger in the terminal chats with Dziekanski and calms him down.  Watch while four macho RCMP officers move in, don’t talk to him and behave in a way that would threaten anyone, never mind a non-English speaking person who’d been on a plane for hours and hours and hanging around the terminal looking for his mother for hours and hours and who hadn’t hurt a goddamned flea.

They tasered him twice and then noticed, while he was face down and cuffed, that he wasn’t moving.  They stood around for a bit and then called paramedics (never did call the on-site Emergency Response Team) and then wouldn’t let the medics treat him – wouldn’t remove his handcuffs so that he could be properly examined.  Robert Dziekanski died face down on the floor with his hands cuffed behind his back.  But that’s okay.  The paramilitary RCMP were just doing their jobs, as defined by them.  No one will hold them to account.

In the ’60s, we had a word for cops like these.  As I always told my sons, respect the police.  They kill people.

Forgotten at Christmas … And the Rest of the Time Too

Human Rights Protest

From mississauga.com:

Mississauga’s Hassan Almrei will spend an eighth consecutive Christmas behind bars without ever being formally charged with a crime or standing trial.

Hundreds of his supporters, including jolly old St. Nick himself, reminded the federal government of that tonight when they staged a protest outside the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in Toronto.
The suspected Cooksville terrorist has been denied bail three times since his arrest at his Agnes St. apartment back in October 2001. He has been in custody since then.

Almrei is one of five Muslim foreigners held under a national security certificate that allows the Canadian government to detain them indefinitely as a threat to public safety based on secret evidence.
But, while the four other men have been released on strict conditions, Almrei remains in jail. He has even staged several hunger strikes to bring public and media attention to his case.

“Security certificates represent two-tier justice, the lowest-standard available because of the fact that those affected are refugees and permanent resident,” said Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada organization. “We’re here tonight to remind the Canadian public, government officials, and federal court judges that secret trials and deportations to torture cannot be subject to amendments and tinkering. They must be abolished.”

Almrei is now being held at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre.

The federal government is continuing its efforts to deport the five Muslim men. All five are scheduled to go before Federal court judges soon.

“Even though the Supreme Court of Canada declared unconstitutional the process under which he has been detained, it is a telling indication of the Canadian government’s blind obedience to the fear-mongering lies of CSIS and the RCMP that he remains behind bars,” Behrens said earlier. “All he has ever asked is for the government to charge him if there is a case to be made, or release him so he can get on with what remains of his life.”

The Syrian-born Almrei’s bid to be released received a huge boost last year when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law that has allowed federal authorities to keep him behind bars.

The country’s high court ruled the old security certificate system, used by the federal government to detain people without charging them on the basis that they’re an alleged threat to national security, violates the charter of rights.

Almrei was being detained under that process for more than five years.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, the federal government earlier this year filed an updated national security certificate against Almrei, renewing its intention to deport him from Canada over allegations he is connected to terrorists.

Under the new law, a special legal advocate can now check on the state by challenging the government’s claims that evidence must be kept secret. They also can challenge the relevance and weight of the facts.

CSIS alleges Almrei is linked to terrorist kingpin Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.

Almrei said he has never had anything to do with bin Laden, and denied any links to terrorism.
In interviews with The News, Almrei has consistently expressed fear that he will be tortured if he’s sent back to his native Syria, a country with a horrid human rights record, according to Amnesty International.

Almrei admitted to training in a military camp in Afghanistan in 1991-92, but not to become a terrorist. He told the court he wanted to help Afghani refugees who were devastated by the Russian invasion.

Dziekanski Mounties Won’t Be Charged

From the Globe & Mail:

Four Mounties who used a taser to subdue Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski moments before he died of undisclosed injuries at Vancouver International Airport last year will not face criminal charges for their conduct, B.C.’s criminal justice branch will announce Friday.

CTV News is reporting that the Crown concluded there is insufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution in the case, which raised a furious debate over the police use of tasers that still continues.

The Crown’s decision caps a far-flung investigation by members of B.C.’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team that took officers as far away as Poland.

Zofia Cisowski, Mr. Dziekanski’s mother, said from her home in Kamloops Thursday night that she had been informed of the Crown’s decision by her lawyer, but that she could not comment on the matter before a news conference Friday.

The criminal justice branch of the B.C. Ministry of the Attorney-General has convened a media briefing Friday.   [more]

Most Canadians and many people around the world have seen the video of RCMP officers dealing with Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport, which ended with Dziekanski being tasered not once, but twice, before he collapsed and died.  I found what I saw deeply disturbing, perhaps as disturbing as the video of Rodney King being “subdued” by Los Angeles police.

Obviously, I haven’t reviewed all the “evidence” in the Dziekanski case; but that video is awfully difficult to explain away.

The original video has been removed from YouTube due to “terms of use violation”.  The video I’m posting below is ten minutes long and shows a female passenger talking to Mr. Dziekanski, who calms down substantially while she is doing so.  Dziekanski does pick up a small table at one point, but it looks to me that he is holding up as a shield more than anything else.  He also picks up a chair, but does nothing with it. 

Four RCMP officers approach him and he does walk away from them.  He gestures somewhat wildly at one point and is then tasered.  At this point, the video I’m posting gets difficult to watch – the picture goes sideways and several people stand in front of the camera at various points.  Nevertheless, I think you will get the idea.

Why it took four Mounties and two taserings to deal with this man, I just cannot see.  It’s also more than a little difficult to explain why the Mounties never attempted CPR on this man and why it took so long for an ambulance with paramedics to arrive.

Perhaps we’ll learn more from the inquiry into this man’s death.  But apparently, we’ll not see criminal charges being laid against the Mounties.  It’s difficult to maintain one’s “faith” in the police when we witness acts such as this.  As I see it.

UPDATE:  Nothing said by B.C.’s Crown office has changed my mind.

Taser Co. Hosts Police Chiefs

Oh gimme a wtf break:

Taser International is a major sponsor of an upcoming police chiefs conference at which new research into electronic stun gun safety will be presented.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police commissioned a review into conducted energy weapons last fall after Robert Dziekanski of Poland died at Vancouver International Airport after being hit with the device by RCMP. At least five other Canadians have since died after being tasered by police.

Steve Palmer, executive director of the Canadian Police Research Centre, said he will present an overview of the report at the conference later this month in Montreal, but said the full review into the weapons commonly known as tasers is not yet complete.

“It’s an update,” said Mr. Palmer, who declined to give details. A final report is expected by next year after a full and independent peer review.

Called RESTRAINT, Risk of Death in Subjects That Resist, the review compares tasers with other methods police use to subdue difficult people.

It also looks at the characteristics of those who have been zapped, including excited delirium, a condition in which suspects are in a heart-pounding state of agitation. Excited delirium has been repeatedly cited to explain the sudden deaths of people after being tasered.

Taser International is one of the platinum sponsors of the conference that runs Aug. 24-27. The corporation has sponsored similar events in Canada and around the world.

For a minimum $25,000 fee, platinum sponsors can display their name on banners and signs, provide promotional items in delegate kits, be given an advance list of participants and attend conference sessions.

Steve Tuttle, vice-president of Arizona-based Taser International, said the company’s presence is important.

“You have to be there. It is a major sales event. It is advertising,” said Mr. Tuttle, who will be at the conference to answer questions about his company’s products.

Mr. Tuttle said while the new Canadian research is important, he has DVDs that contain 130 studies that have found the devices to be safe.

“You want to be there to be a conduit for information because clearly we have controversial issues in Canada, and the last thing that we want to be is shy. We stand behind our technology.”

Hilary Homes of Amnesty International Canada, which has called for a moratorium on stun guns, said having Taser as a sponsor and exhibitor sends a mixed message.

“It is very troubling,” Ms. Homes said from Ottawa. “What we need now is an objective discussion and accountability and this doesn’t seem to be creating the proper context for what needs to be a very frank and open debate.”

Officials with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police were not available for comment.

Taser staff will be on hand to exhibit the company’s trademark X26 model used by the RCMP and other Canadian police forces. Taser is not listed as an exhibitor under its own name, but under its Canadian distributor, M.D. Charlton Co. Ltd.

The company will also be promoting new products such as a wireless taser round that is fired from a shotgun and has a range of 20 metres, he said. There will also be information on new products being developed, including a system called Shockwave that fires multiple taser rounds that can incapacitate a number of people in an area up to 100 metres.

A special video camera and audio device that police can wear to show what happens when an officer restrains someone is also in the works. Cellphone video of Mr. Dziekanski’s death that was shot by a member of the public made headlines around the world, but there was no police video of the encounter.

“Right now we have officers that are being called into question because of controversial uses,” Mr. Tuttle said. “The rage right now is that people are recording police officers with their cellphones.”

A total of 22 people have died in Canada after being hit with tasers, which can deliver a shock of up to 50,000 volts.

I’m not sure that I can say anything you’re not already thinking.  It horrifies me that tasers that can affect more than one person are in the works, though why wouldn’t that be the case?  Taser use for crowd control is a pretty scarey thought though, given the tendency of the police to overreact in such circumstances.  To say nothing of the fact that there is less ability to make any judgments about the meaning of the behaviours of more than one person.  Freedom of speech and the right to demonstrate are more and more at risk.

Given the fact that the police have often shown little insight into the meaning of the behaviour of one person, that’s not exactly comforting.  This is an issue for the rights of the mentally ill as well.