Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Justice for Robert Dziekanski

On October 14, Robert Dziekanski, 40, died at Vancouver International Airport hours after he arrived in the country. He was on his way to Kamloops to live with his mother in the B.C. Interior.

An excerpt from article in the Toronto Star on Robert Dziekanski's final moments. Here's the video [warning: graphic visualization].

The bystander's camera clicks on early in the morning of Oct. 14 as the 40-year-old Dziekanski appears to be attempting to barricade himself inside a secure area of the airport's arrivals terminal.

No one yet knows why Dziekanski spent 10 hours in that secure area already, having arrived via Frankfurt earlier the day before.

Police were trying to find other people who had been on his flight as part of their investigation.

In the video, a tall and swarthy Dziekanski lines up desk chairs, a small wooden table and a clipboard along the doors separating the secure zone from the public waiting area.

The doors wave open and shut as he builds his barricade.

People gathered in the arrivals hall look on and Dziekanski glances furtively over his shoulder. His blue- and beige-striped shirt is open at the collar and appears wet with sweat.

He steps outside the doors, wielding the table in front of him, fear apparent in his eyes. He is muttering in Polish – the crowd thinks it's Russian – and some try to soothe him.

"There's nothing wrong, it's OK," one man says. A woman approaches, holds out her hand and beckons.

But he turns away and goes back inside, ignoring the woman now trying to speak with him through the glass.

Kostackeyj says of the segment of video that Cisowki has seen, it is this section that most breaks her heart.

"She saw her son, at the beginning, looking for help. She thought that maybe he was trying to write a message, he was looking for help and he was frightened," he said.

"He, in her mind, was trying to get help and he ended up dying as a result of seeking that help."

The woman eventually turned away from Dziekanski and chaos begins.

"He's freaking out," a bystander yells on the video as Dziekanski heaves a computer onto the floor.

The wooden table shatters against the glass. He picks up the computer a second time.

"Sir, sir, put it down," someone yells. Dziekanski stops.

Security approaches the doors, and Dziekanski, chest heaving, mops his face with the sleeve of his dirty white jacket.

He stands waiting, fear evident in his eyes, but calm.

"He's so scared," a woman can be heard saying. "Just leave him."

Security officers turn their backs and talk to each other, and in the background what sounds like airport officials discuss what to do next.

A Cathay Pacific flight with 300 people aboard is due shortly and someone can be heard suggesting customs officials hold passengers back.

A spokesman for the Vancouver Airport Authority said they wanted to review the video before commenting.

Four RCMP officers arrive, the camera panning from the frustrated looks on security guards' faces to the men in uniform striding through the hall.

Loud cries of what sound like "polizia," can be heard as the officers are told by someone that the man is behind the door and only speaks Russian.

They vault over a railing and walk Dziekanski behind the glass doors. He gestures at his luggage as they appear to be talking to him.

He throws up his hands in the air and walks away.

The officers follow, apparently indicating he should put his hands on the counter of an information desk behind the glass.

Dziekanski stands with his back to the counter and the officers fan around him.

Crack – the sound of the 50,000 volts of electricity zapping from an officer's gun can be heard.

Dziekanski winces and starts screaming, his hand waving a stapler madly in the air.

He grabs at his chest and lunges through a doorway, howling.

Crack – a second shot, electricity sizzles, and Dziekanski writhes on the ground, spinning in circles.

Police surround him again, the bystanders gasp in amazement. A voice can be heard yelling "hit him again, hit him again."

The four officers clamber on top of him, restraining his arms, his head.

Dziekanski twitches as they fight to restrain him.

Finally, he is still.

The video is hard to watch. It has four brawny men going up to a clearly petrified man who's suffering an anxiety attack. He even seems to welcome them by saying Polizei, Polizei - perhaps mistakenly believing that they are coming to his help. They zap him twice and sit on his neck. The use of the force was uncalled for. Keeping a disturbed man penned in a secure area in the airport for ten hours is hard to explain. We need an inquiry into these.


Anonymous said...

What a tragic very sad and disappointing this should of been the happiest time for mother and son first time entering Canada and he was treated as if he was terrorist or a criminal , the RCMP should be a shamed of them selves. Now would they do this if it was one of their own family members or somebody they know............obviously not!!
Poor guy just came to visit his mother and couldn't speak a word of English and YVR should of taken action and called an interpreter to speak with him and the RCMP what a coward maneuver the four officers had to resolve the situation by using a taser gun without giving him a cahnce to speak this goes to show us how much our RCMP our really trained, I pray the justice system will punish them and charge them with 2nd degree murder they deserve it and Mr. Dziekanski and his mother mother deserve to see them suffer like he the "INNOCENT MAN" did.

Anonymous said...

I would like to send flowers to Roberts funeral in Kamloops. Is there anyone who can post an address here? It would be nice to let Robert's mother know how much other Canadians feel her pain.

Mike, Calgary

Anonymous said...

Mark, that is a very kind thought. Robert's mother is reportedly in seclusion to avoid repeated exposure to her son's death. But her lawyer should be accessible and you could consider reaching out to him. Interestingly Walter Kosteckyj used to be a member of RCMP.

Anonymous said...


I don't know whether words are going to describe what we all have seen. I don't know and really don't believe they, the four.. men of the law.. will receive the punishment they deserve. I only hope... they will... I only hope Canadian Government... ALL politicians... Citizens and every single men involved in this case will see and recognize... there was no a moment... thre was no justification... there was no a requirement... at the point when it was used... to use the taser gun...
It is not a lack of training... don't full us with that .. RCMP...
It is simply a lack of being human in those four officers

Martin M. said...

A MSN Groups site dedicated to both Zofia & Robert.

Anonymous said...

I found a news article that said Robert's public funeral would be in Kamloops on Saturday at 11 am. I looked up the funeral home to send flowers and their details are below.

Kamloops Funeral Home

Their address is
285 Fortune Drive
Kamloops BC V2B 2H7

The news article also said that there is a fund set up at a Kamloops bank to help Zofia take her sons ashes back to Poland. I didn't track down any details of how to contribute to this fund.

Mike, Calgary
(concerned citizen)

Anonymous said...

Bless the victim and his relatives. This is a terrrible tragedy. In a culture of Canadians that kids itself it has wholehearted love for multiculuralism, those who were in the position to help Robert - Customs, RCMP, security, failed a fellow human dismally and as people must atone for this regardless of their employer.

Those officers could have handed him a bottle of water or done something - then he would have seen their vision of help. Instead, they were mentally committed to confront him.

In an airport age post 9/11 with all its sensitivities, is YVR so lacking that it could not have shown initiative?

Prosecute the killers. Their behaviour doesn't distinguish them as individuals, from those that we might wish to have some protection from the law that we trust to protect and serve us and our rights and freedoms. If policing is a dangerous job; individuals (RCMP) must deploy the mentality that reflects that they have prepared for challenging circumstances. In demanding physical settings such as those, could not the RCMP use communication and compassion? Aren't these far more obvious choices to deal with a troubled traveller committing acts out of pain, frustration, confusion and all potential personal issues?

Was their talent with communication limited to speech?

They immediately judged. Bad call.

It is good that this was photographed.

It is good that this forum exists.

Show and tell the world that we as Canadians mourn for Robert and his family. That poor guy could have been helped.

David/Richmond BC

Anonymous said...

I think gestapo can be proud as they found very good followers regarding very quick and effective and effortless killing method that the black "death commando" is using. I would like to see the faces of those four stinky cowards finding a Joy in harrassing and tourmenting most probably ill and teryfied man. Does they have a families? Maybe even keep some animals... I wish them see their own children being treated this way and dying within some minutes. Do You think they would then understand something? Do they became less animallistic then? Do they understand the meaning of being Human or it's doesn't matter for them as we have seen. What else Can You do to eleminate such a dangerous fools that kills people instead protect them. I hope they will be Judged accordingly to their ruthless murder act. I Expect to see them guilty and punished.

Anonymous said...


Proud to be Canadian but ashamed and embarassed by our so called police.....RCMP.......

My deepest sympathy to Robert's mother and heartfelt apologies on behalf of all Canadians.

Shirley, Nelson, B.C.

Boiling Pot said...

Was it really all four cops who sat on him? I saw only two...not that that is a justification for behaving like a pride of lions who just found an old impala to eat.

Anonymous said...

I am haunted daily by the horrific images of that video showing how the RCMP so brutally and cold bloodedly snuffed out Robert Dziekanski's life within seconds! My heart goes out to his poor dear Mother as she will be haunted and suffer heartache, pain, sorrow and a great loss the rest of her entire life on earth.

I am outraged and angry that the Federal Government is not charging the 4 RCMP who committed this heinous crime of cold blooded murder which is proven by the incriminating images of the video. They are no different than the terrorists! But of course, the RCMP are the Federal law enforcement which obviously condones corruption, terror and the sadistic activities of the RCMP with no consequences for their actions.

The Federal Government should be keeping our Armed Forces at home to fight our home grown terrorists, the RCMP, instead of sending them to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight terrorism and lose their lives! The RCMP are becoming the Canadian GESTAPO.

Mr. Dziekanski's mother should be suing the Federal Govt and the RCMP for at least $20 million damages plus all legal costs, and the funds should be paid to her from the RCMP Pension Fund. If they can pay Maher Arar $10 million settlement + $2 million legal costs for the torture he proclaims to have suffered which was not captured on a video for the world to review; payment of $20 million settlement to Mr. Dziekanski's mother. Zofia, for the murder of her son and the suffering and haunting nightmares she will endure the rest of her life is nothing.

There is nothing that we can ever say to Mr. Dziekanski's mother that will ease her pain and suffering but I want her to know that my thoughts and prayers go out to her every day.

Corine, Kamloops, BC

Lara LaBelle said...

If anyone would like to leave to leave a message of condolense, they may sign the message book to Roberts' Mother online at the above link.

Lara LaBelle said...

The link above is the site to find information on helping Roberts' Mom

Thanks Canada and all those who posted positive on all forums for Robert who helped me believe again what Canadians really stand for.

Anonymous said...

I cried when I watched for the first time yesterday. I still can't believe how it all happened. How is it possible for someone to sit at the airport for 10 hours and not get any help? Why there was no interpretor called for? And why the police used such force? I can't believe that the police killed this innocent man. It's so sad and disturbing. I am Polish-Canadian and I demand justice! B

Anonymous said...

I became aware of this dreaful incident today. I live in the US. ALl my condoleances to the family. I want to say that in the US, filming in an airport alone would have landed you to jail for breach of security - easier that way I assume. Congratulations to Canada for allowing the use of video in airports and launching all these investigations. This hopefully will prevent more mishaps.

Anonymous said...

I became aware of this dreaful incident today. I live in the US. ALl my condoleances to the family. I want to say that in the US, filming in an airport alone would have landed you to jail for breach of security - easier that way I assume. Congratulations to Canada for allowing the use of video in airports and launching all these investigations. This hopefully will prevent more mishaps.

Anonymous said...

This incident reminds me of something that occurred while I was looking after my Grandmother in hospice care. She grew up speaking Polish in her childhood home, and as she neared the end of her life, she would occasionally slip back into her native tongue.

Unfortunately the first time this happened, an orderly perceived her speaking in a foreign tongue as a sign of delirium. And I had to intervene when they tried to administer sedatives, explaining that she was simply speaking in Polish, her native language.

Remembering that incident is what sent shivers down my spine when I read the placards of local Poles protesting the treatment of this poor misunderstood Robert Dziekanski. Their placards said things like: Speak English or Die.

My most heartfelt sympathies go out to Dziekanski's surviving family members. I'm so sorry for your tragic loss. Please try to take heart in the knowledge that the rest of the world understands what a grave injustice his death was.

Tom said...

Dziekanski lay dying after Taser hit as border agent scoured airport for him

OTTAWA — A border services officer who spoke a few words of Robert Dziekanski’s native tongue may have come within minutes of helping avert the Polish immigrant’s death, newly released documents show.

Anonymous said...

The RCMP murdered him and will face no punishment whatsoever. And that's what happens. The badge entitles you to beat up people, murder them, lie, steal, bully the general public for fun, and only occasionally face some form of valid punishment.

Great system, aint it? And we tell our kids to trust these animals.

90% of cops give the other 10% a bad name.