Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dziekanski's death his own fault apparently

Robert Dziekanski's death was not only pretty much his own fault, but he probably would have dropped dead right there in the Vancouver airport even if the mounties and their TASERs™ had never shown up.

No really. It's all there in Stan Lowe's "Criminal Justice Branch Clear Statement" : the cause of death was
"a hysterical fear of flying, lack of sleep over a 30-hour period, and dehydration, which would have placed him at increased risk for Sudden Death Following Restraint."

"Three forensic pathologists concluded that Dziekanski did not die as direct result of a cardiac arrest brought on by the electric shock from the stun guns," no, instead the pathologists concluded "Dziekanski likely died as a result of cardiac arrest linked to Sudden Death Following Restraint." Capitalized.

Tell me more about this new capitalized medical condition, Mr. Lowe of the criminal Justice Branch.
"Sudden Death Following Restraint usually involves individuals who are restrained after exhibiting combative and bizarre behavior. As a result, said the report, cases often involve law enforcement personnel."
Gosh that's kind of like that other now completely disgraced medical condition - excited delirium - isn't it? In what way are law enforcement personnel "involved"?

Well, after stun gunning Dziekanski five times, and handcuffing his hands behind his back as he lay on the floor, "The force included Corporal Robinson pushing his knee/shin down in the shoulder/neck area of Mr Dziekanski." At which point "Mr. Dziekanski appeared to go limp and become unconscious", in which state he remained, while no one attempted to resuscitate him for 11 minutes, until the paramedics showed up and couldn't find a pulse.

Stan Lowe at Friday night's press conference (because bad or improbable government news is always released on a Friday night) : None of the four RCMP officers involved will face criminal charges because :
"the available evidence falls remarkably short of that standard."

Remarkably. And their actions, according to another RCMP expert :

"represented a reasonable escalation and de-escalation of force"

One thing the "Clear Statement" is very very very clear about though : none of this can be blamed on the TASERs™, even if there have been subsequent reports of them discharging at 30 times the stated rate.
Fine, let's take TASERs™ out of the equation then - I don't give a shit about the TASERs™ - which only serve to operate as a smokescreen for everything else that's wrong here.
An RCMP officer kneeling on some handcuffed guy's neck/shoulder until he passes out, standing around while he dies, and then the justice system helping him get away with it - that's what's at fault.

Bonus bullshit : In addition to the three un-named pathologists, "Two medical experts in the area of Addiction Psychiatry and Alcohol Related Disease also reviewed the case."
And they came up with .. wait for it ... possible alcohol withdrawal as an explanation.
Poor guy can't catch a break with this inquiry - when the autopsy shows no alcohol in his blood, even that is used against him.

And although the apparently hysterically afraid-of-flying Dziekanski spent 20 hours on planes that day, a year later RCMP investigators were unable to come up with any report regarding his behavior on the flights.
They did however go all the way to Poland to dig up dirt on him :
"RCMP officers who went to Poland to talk to people close to Robert Dziekanski seemed focused on finding negative things about him, says one of those interviewed.
"What kind of person was he, was he a drinker, drug user? Was he aggressive?" she said through a translator. "Most questions were to expose him as not a nice human being -- not to find out what kind of person he really was."
Kosowska said she was left with a poor opinion of the RCMP after two officers questioned her for more than three hours. "I'm appalled by everything .
. . including the fact the policeman was not able to look me straight in the eye."
So you won't be surprised to hear that a good portion of Stan Lowe's 19 minute press conference and CBC's subsequently crappy TV coverage carried considerable conjecture as to whether Dziekanski was crazy or a drunk.

It is also noted in the statement that Mr. Dziekanski picked up a stapler in an "open hand" manner, causing the officers to hit him the first three times with a TASER™ within 25 seconds of entering the room. As someone wrote in the 665 comments under the CBC story : if a stapler is such a lethal weapon, maybe we should be arming the RCMP with them instead.

Yesterday's post : No charges for RCMP who killed Dziekanski


skdadl said...

If no criminal charges, then a serious public inquiry.

It is simply not competent for Lowe to publish a report scattering about references to unnamed medical experts, three pathologists, and experts in "Addiction Psychiatry," which many of us consider exceedingly suspect as a discipline.

We must know the names of all these individuals, and we must hear them testify in public, their testimony tested by lawyers who are not as credulous as Mr Lowe.

Alison said...

The Braidwood Inquiry is that serious inquiry. It has been twice postponed because the RCMP refused to cough up their documents and evidence until the Crown decided about criminal charges. Well now it has.

thwap said...

Alcohol was a factor, but no alcohol in his system?

Can you go to jail for writing garbage like that?

We should make those fuckers pay, but we don't seem to have the power to stop very much of the evil shit that's been happening lately.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alison, for writing about the facts of this case, and putting these authorities to shame. The more I learn about this, the more it feels like a very bad dream we're all having. Thanks for not abandoning this issue: when Tasers are finally fully discredited, disallowed and thrown away, you will have some of the credit for that. And hopefully, it will serve to remind these goons that they are doing their jobs all wrong, and their brutality will show as a terrible and regrettable phase in Canadian police history.

the regina mom said...

I was impressed with AIH's coverage of the story. It seems the AIH folks are the only ones who can get to the truth of anything.

But now CBC's promising to f^ck around with their news department so who knows what we'll end up with...

Stephen Rees said...

If "Sudden Death Following Restraint" is such a well known medical condition, how come the RCMP are busy restraining people who are already obviously unwell? And if someone is kneeling on your neck how long are you supposed to be able to survive?

You missed one important point that was emphasized by the RCMP in an interview aired on CBC last night. He had a stapler in his hand. They did not specify what kind of stapler - probably the dreaded "swingline" which has featured in so many acts of Office Rage.

Lindsay Stewart said...

"a reasonable escalation and de-escalation of force"

because once the poor bugger is dead you don't need to apply much force, hence de-escalation. ta-da. i'm really not used to being ashamed of canada. i hope i don't have to get too good at it.

Purple library guy said...

He had a stapler in his hand at some point during his time stranded at the airport, but I saw the video and I'm pretty damn sure he didn't have a stapler in his hand *when they jumped him*.

Yet more misleading garbage. If the cops kill me, I'm sure it'll be my fault because I held a carving knife in my hand . . . at Thanksgiving.

Oemissions said...

This should be on the front page of every newspaper.

Alison said...

One thing's for sure - we're going to be needing a lot more of this sort of courage.

Anonymous said...

The Ian Bush murder was one thing, now this is a trend. I wonder if the killers actually feel something, because this will follow them here and beyond. This story will unfortunately disappear, it would not be the first time, and it'll probably be barely mentioned the next time.

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