OTTAWA (AFP) — The shocking death of a Polish traveler who was confronted by policemen with stun guns at the Vancouver airport last month has shamed Canada and its federal police, editorials said Friday.
A bystander's video released late Wednesday showed Robert Dziekanski dying after a bizarre series of events that culminated in police approaching him on October 14 and, in less than one minute, zapping him repeatedly with a Taser stun gun.
The 40-year-old immigrant had traveled to Canada to live with his mother.
His videotaped death "is a source of shame and disgrace for Canada and for its national police force," the daily Globe and Mail said in an editorial.
"The killing of Robert Dziekanski will be seen only one way: as a summary execution of an innocent man for the crime of being disoriented, for not understanding, for being a stranger."
"As this video makes its way around the world, Canada's reputation is deservedly tarnished. This is no way to run an airport or a police force," echoed the Montreal Gazette.
The video shows Dziekanski, appearing distraught and frightened, moving around furniture in the airport and at one point throwing a computer off a desk onto the ground.
He is watched by security guards who stand back and can be heard saying, "he's speaking Russian."
Then four officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada's national police force, enter the frame. They walk toward Dziekanski and surround him. He turns away from them, raising his hands with his back to them.
In one hand he holds what looks like a stapler.
The police close in on Dziekanski and stun him repeatedly with a Taser device. Dziekanski screams and writhes on the floor, and the policemen pile on top of him and pin him down. Within minutes he falls still.
His family's lawyer says he spoke only Polish, and had never before wandered far from his hometown Pieszyce, Poland.
Due to a mix-up at the airport, he had waited for his mother for almost 10 hours in a secure customs area, while she waited for him in the arrivals area on the other side of a wall.
After unsuccessfully asking airport and immigration staff for help finding out if her son had arrived, she left.
No one at the airport seemed to have noticed Dziekanski waiting for hours in the secure area.
Friday, headlines screamed: "A mother's grief, a nation's shame" and "Shocking our sensibilities."
The Winnipeg Sun opined: "We are Canadians after all and we like to think of ourselves as a welcoming nation for new immigrants. We forgot about that when Dziekanski arrived."
The video "makes the RCMP officers look like Taser-happy thugs," said the Ottawa Citizen.
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