Taser ye all who enter…Welcome to Canada in 2007

TaserOK, I’ve had enough of reading about people getting tazered by the cops under the most ridiculous of circumstances. Now we have cops killing people with tazers for not speaking English. This needs to stop. This is the third time I’ve had to write about this crap in as many months. (Article one | Article two)

Twenty-four seconds after Canadian police approached Polish immigrant Daniel Dziekanski, police welcomed him to their country by jolting him with a tazer. Minutes later, the man died from the attack. Zofia Cisowski, mother of Daniel, grieves over the loss of her only living family member after spending months saving money to get her son into Canada.

Daniel, seeking a new life in Canada, had spent fifteen hours flying to his new home. As he spoke no English, he had previously arranged to connect with his mother at the airport. He proceeded through post-flight customs and then into a secondary customs check, standard procedure for an immigrant that doesn’t speak English. What happened after that defies explanation.

For ten hours, Dziekanski stayed in the Arrivals Hall trying to connect with his mother. Meanwhile, his mother paced the halls for six hours, trying to locate her son. After repeated attempts by the mother asking airport personnel where her son was, they were unable to locate her son. Eventually, Canadian airport personnel informed Daniel’s mother that he was no longer at the airport. Truth be told, he was probably less than 200 feet away from her. Thanks to nearly impenetrable airport security, the two were unable to see each other and received no assistance from airport security in locating one another.

Daniel, unable to communicate with anyone around him, became increasingly frightened and agitated in the busy Vancouver airport. He became increasingly disoriented and desired only to connect with the familiar, his mother, whom was less than a football field’s length away.

Taser ShotAfter 10 hours in the airport, police approached Daniel. Exactly what happened in the exchange is not entirely clear, but according to reports, twenty-four seconds after approaching Daniel, the RCMP (police) pulled their tazers in an attempt to disable and handcuff the man. He sustained “a couple shots” from a tazer, lost consciousness moments later and failed to receive medical treatment for at least 12 minutes after the attack. A few minutes later, Daniel died from injuries sustained by the ultra-high voltage tazer gun.

Here’s our security bureaucracy at it’s best – admittedly it’s not in America – but the same kind of thing could happen here just the same. Thanks to zero-tolerance police training and the human immigration process being buried by hundreds of layers of red tape, we have set the stage for killing people, simply because they are unable to speak English. It’s reasonably safe to assume that if the guy could’ve spoken English, the situation would have been quickly diffused, or more likely, never would have occurred.

My heart goes out to Zofia Cisowski, the mother. This never should’ve happened and I grieve for her loss.

What we’re doing here in “the war on terror” is not good. We have to find a better way.

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