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For those of you who don't know, there was a death at Vancouver's Int'l Airport (YVR) last month. A death of tasering by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Robert Dziekanski was the victim, a 40-yr old Polish immigrant on his first international flight who spoke no english and was immigrating to Canada to live with his mother. His mother (erroneously) told him to just wait at the baggage claim area. But she didn't realize or forgot that baggage claim is still in the secured area, and she would not be able to meet him there as she thought. For ten hours, Dziekanski waited for his mother at the luggage carousels. *10 hours*. Just outside the doors, his mother waited seven hours in the public receiving area. After that, she figured he must have missed his flight and headed back for home in inner BC. Anyway, in those ten hours lost and confused and wondering where his mother was, Dziekanski grew agitated and the authority came in and tasered him, twice, to restrain him. Dziekanski died as a result of the electric jolts.
I remember when I first flew to YVR back in 1998. I was equally confused about the setup. It was my first time through international airport customs and security. Sim hadn't told me that he didn't have access to baggage claim. So I was lost as can be, and just focused on following the rest of the crowd. Eventually, I found my way out of the public area. But I think I had to ask someone in baggage claim area where to go next. Thankfully for me, I could speak english. I cannot imagine what a horror it'd be to do all that and not speak a word of english. Of course, one can always say why didn't he learn basic english on the long flight over? Why did he not talk to an authority, even in polish? Surely someone would've sent over a translator. Why didn't he just watch and do as the thousands of other arrivers as they went through the last check before leaving the secured area? So many questions could be asked. And hopefully with a full inquiry, some of these questions may be answered. But point is, YVR does NOT make much effort to make it an easy transition to a first-timer. I don't recall seeing any signs that point to the end of the security gate. It's very ambiguous, and you have to rely on observation to get the idea of what to do. YVR should realize this, and make changes to allow more ease. Sure this was a one-time thing, but I'm sure I'm not the only person around who felt confusion the first time in YVR.
What made me most angry about this whole situation was the cover-up by the officers who were on duty. A photographer managed to videotape the last ten minutes of Dziekanski's life, and it discounted what the RCMP was saying happened. Thank goodness for that. But, I haven't worked up the desire to watch the video of Dziekanski's death. One thing to see people blown up in an action movie. It's another to watch the death of a real person. In the same place you've been countless times in travels. I feel it's a bit of an invasion. A person's death is a personal thing. And do I really need to see that to know what happened? I should, I know. And maybe one of these days, I will. But not yet.
I'm tired of hearing about the taser. Now I understand it's a lot nicer than pulling a gun on someone. But I think it's almost made the job too easy for police, all police around North America. Now instead of using their wits to restrain, they just taser the hell out of anything that moves. Tasering someone two times? Give me a break. Surely someone could've been over there immediately after the first taser to handcuff him. No reason to show excessive brutality. Especially as you probably also know he's been walking around there for ten hours beforehand. That'd make anyone agitated. After seeing someone walk around unhelped for ten hours, why don't you go over to him and ask him if you can help? There are always staff around the area. It's a big open area. Why didn't anybody go help him beforehand? Ten hours! I don't just blame RCMP for this, I also blame YVR for not helping him in those ten hours he likely needed it.
I can't say it's murder, as the death wasn't intentional. But it's a true shame. And highly avoidable.