December 12, 2008

Negligent RCMP won't face charges in Taser death

CANADA/TECHNOLOGY - The Mounties involved in Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski's death at Vancouver's airport last year will not face any criminal charges.

The Crown concluded there was not enough evidence to warrant criminal charges, according to announcement this morning by the criminal justice branch of the B.C. Attorney General's Ministry.

Robert Dziekanski, 40, died Oct. 14, 2007, after he got off a flight from Germany at the Vancouver International Airport. He spoke only Polish and became lost, wandering for hours, unable to understand how to move through security and immigration barriers that prevented him from connecting with his mother, who waited hours for him at the airport.

When RCMP responded to a disturbance call about Dziekanski, four officers confronted the unarmed Polish man and less than a minute into the encounter, a Taser gun was used, jolting Dziekanski, who fell screaming to the ground. Video, captured by a bystander, shows officers piling onto Dziekanski and electrocuting him with multiple tasers at the same time. He died within minutes.

The Taser is only designed to be used once on a target, sending 50,000 volts into them (or 2.1 milliamps). Using multiple tasers at the same time creates a circuit which amplifies the amount of electricity going through the victim's body. The four "trigger happy" RCMP officers ignored the manufacturer's warnings about shooting the target multiple times and/or at the same time, resulting in approx. 200,000 volts (or 8.4 milliamps).

NOTE: Its important to keep track of the amps. Voltage doesn't necessarily kill a person, amps do. 50 to 200 milliamps can kill a person instantly. A lesser amount can still kill, although it may take longer to do it. The level of electricity literally melts a person's insides.

The precise amount of volts or amps required to kill a person varies, depending on weight, level of health/fitness and whether they have any heart conditions and the duration of the shock. Robert Dziekanski had a pre-existing heart condition, but the amount he was shocked with could have easily killed a child or an elderly person.

IRONICALLY the RCMP might have tried to save Robert Dziekanski's life when he went into cardiac arrest by shocking him again, using the Taser as a crude defibrillator.

Since Dziekanski's death, the RCMP has come under fire for its lengthy investigation of its own members and the force's continued use of the Taser weapon.

CBC/Radio Canada commissioned its own tests of the weapon and found some older models discharged electrical currents above the accepted limits.

Since the CBC report, other jurisdictions have pulled the older Tasers from use. Yesterday, Alberta became the latest province to announce it is testing all its Tasers purchased before 2006.

More than 20 Canadians have died after receiving an electric jolt from a Taser gun. Amnesty International and other groups have called for a moratorium on the weapon's use.

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