Canadian officer defends stun gun incident
By Jeremy Hainsworth
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A police officer who repeatedly zapped an unruly traveler with a stun gun before the man died on the floor of the Vancouver airport said he believed the man intended to attack officers with a stapler.
The death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski was widely seen around the world after a bystander filmed it.
Intense criticism of the death helped lead Canada's federal police to announce last month they will no longer use stun guns against suspects who are merely resisting arrest.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Const. Kwesi Millington told a public inquiry Monday that Dziekanski threw his hands in the air and walked away before turning toward the officers holding the stapler.
"He had the stapler open, his other first raised. He was in a combative stance as we call it, and was approaching the officers, I believe with the intent to attack, so I deployed the Taser," Millington testified. Taser is a brand name.
Dziekanski, who spoke only Polish, apparently had become upset after waiting 10 hours at the airport for his mother, who was supposed to pick him up. The officers responded to emergency calls about a man throwing furniture and breaking glass in the airport's international arrivals lounge.
Millington said he used the stun gun four times, although records from the weapon show it was used five times.
He said he never thought what the effects of multiple electric shocks might be on the 41-year-old.
All four police officers in the 2007 case were cleared of criminal charges in December, with a prosecutor saying their use of force was reasonable. None of the officers had spoken publicly about the death until the inquiry.
Two other officers have testified they felt threatened by Dziekanski.
The inquiry commissioner can make findings of misconduct against the officers and make recommendations to avoid similar deaths.
Dziekanski's autopsy showed signs of chronic alcoholism, and prosecutors said he may have been in the grip of withdrawal.