February 12, 2009
Robert Dziekanski was waving a stapler and staples started coming out at police before he was stunned by an RCMP Taser, a witness told an inquiry Thursday.
Lance Rudek, a former security guard at the Vancouver airport, testified at the inquiry into Dziekanski’s death that he saw the Polish immigrant shooting staples at the RCMP officers who were approaching him.
Rudek said he was standing in front of the agitated Dziekanski and had a better view of what was happening than a bystander who recorded the incident through a glass wall.
“I remember seeing an object being waved around and directed at the constables,” Rudek told the inquiry.
“It was a stapler. He held it directly out in front of him and pressing it, and the staples started coming out.”
The video was then played back in slow motion, and while Dziekanski’s back is to the camera, it’s clear his arms are at his side.
Rudek was asked whether he remembers exactly what Dziekanski was doing before the Mounties shocked him with a Taser.
“My statement still stands – unchanged,” he said. “I still remember seeing the stapler being waved and [he] made an attempt to squeeze the staples out.”
Rudek initially testified Dziekanski was waving the stapler for five to 10 seconds, then changed that to one to four seconds.
He also told the inquiry he was 100 per cent certain the RCMP officers motioned to Dziekanski to put the stapler down, but he admitted people can’t see the command from police when they watch the video.
Dziekanski was emigrating to Canada from Poland and spoke little English. He died in the morning hours of Oct. 14, 2007, shortly after being stunned as many as five times by an RCMP Taser. He had been wandering the airport for hours and became agitated after a series of communications breakdowns kept him in a controlled area.
The four RCMP officers present at Dziekanski’s death, who weren’t charged, are expected to testify at the inquiry in the coming weeks. The inquiry is scheduled to run until the end of February, after which retired B.C. Appeal Court justice Thomas Braidwood will issue a report with his recommendations and any findings of misconduct.
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