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Canada cops won't face charges in TASER death

The Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Four federal police officers will not face charges for using a Taser gun on an agitated Polish traveler in a confrontation that ended with the man dying at a Canadian airport, prosecutors said Friday.

Prosecutor Stan Lowe said Robert Dziekanski was jolted five times by the Taser, but they said the cause of death was determined to be "sudden death following restraint" not directly caused by the stun gun.

Police said they used the Taser after Dziekanski began acting erratically at Vancouver's airport in October 2007. 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 man was hit three times with the Taser while standing and twice while he lay on the ground, still struggling with officers. He died on the floor a short while later.

A video shot by a bystander of Dziekanski dying was released several weeks later and was widely seen around the world on the Internet and TV, prompting public scrutiny of the weapon.

Twenty people in Canada have died after being shot with a stun gun, which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have used more than 4,000 times since 2001. Canadian police forces consider stun guns a safer alternative to regular firearms.

The autopsy of Dziekanski found no drugs or alcohol in his system but showed signs of chronic alcoholism. Prosecutors said he may have been in the grips of alcohol withdrawal, dehydrated and hysterical. A pathologist speculated those factors caused delirium that may have contributed to his heart stopping, along with being hit by the Taser and being restrained.

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