What do you get when you mix bored police with frantic immigrants and a raucous, confusing immigrations hall? A dead Pole whose mother was waiting for him at the arrivals terminal.
Dazed and confused after more than 15 hours of travel, unable to communicate in English and scared because he couldn’t find his mother, Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski was jolted by a taser just 24 seconds after being confronted by police in Vancouver International Airport.
CTV reported there was a 12-minute delay before medical help arrived. Mr. Dziekanski died shortly after being tasered — only 10 hours after arriving in the country that was to be his new home.
Airports are a mess. Too many rent-a-cops are given too much authority and not enough communications training the result is a confounding maze of requests, requirements, and half-baked directives that ends up with a guy who speaks no English getting Tasered after spending 10 hours in an immigrations hall for no good reason and dying from the shock.
Worst off, this happened up in Canada, America’s hat. You’d expect this out at JFK in Queens — a screaming foreign guy is taken down every hour out there. It’s part of the the floor show. But this sort of mess — a man killed by Taser — is just horrible anywhere, from Vancouver to Bangkok.
I don’t want to get into an argument about what would have been better — getting shot in the leg or Tasered in the arm. I just want to point out that Tasering suspects can and does kill them. I’m sure a tired Polish guy fresh from 15 hours of travel and 10 hours of waiting wasn’t much of a match for a few fat and sassy security guards, but the resulting death could have been avoided with a little communication. In the end, we see abuse of authority and trust in a weapon that its makers — and few other people — deem as perfectly safe.