My mother phoned me last night and we had a heated discussion about the death of Robert Dziekanski in the Vancouver airport at the hands of police. She thinks the police behaved heinously, I think that, while they over reacted, they did the right thing. For those of you who are gnashing their teeth and organising a mob to come for me, let me tell you WHY I feel this way.
Police deal with strung out drug addicts and mentally ill people all the time. They know that someone high on drugs has super human strength. A man high on drugs or in the grips of mental illness can easily overpower 4 policemen and injure them in the process. When I was 16 I had an insulin reaction and beat the tar out of 4 big (over 200 lbs each) men, one of whom was a former Olympic wrestler. If a 16 year old girl can do that a 40 year old man definitely can. The police didn't know why he was behaving irrationally (actually only he know that, saying he was frustrated from being detained is, although it looks painfully obvious, conjecture) they saw a man acting in an irrational manner and (maybe) assumed he was high on drugs. Looking at the video tape of his behaviour, he easily looked like someone either high or having some sort of mental moment. I believe they judged him to be potentially dangerous and so protected themselves and the surrounding civilians accordingly.
Another argument brought up by my mother was that he didn't speak English. Well, whose fault is that? If you're visiting Canada you are wise to learn at least a few phrases English (or French). Even if all you can say is "Where's the bathroom? I need a Polish interpreter. " etc. If you were going to visit Poland wouldn't you learn a few simple phrases? If you're planning on immigrating to a country (as he was) you should definitely have at LEAST a rudimentary grasp of the native tongue. When in Rome and all that. So, yes, he was frustrated and locked in the secure area of the airport (my husband was held for 4 hours when he came over to marry me and was not a happy camper). However, he chose to throw things around, and threaten people.
His choices led him to being restrained by the police. If he had learned a few important phrases in English (please contact my mother Mrs. so and so) and acted like an adult and remained calm he would be sitting at him mother's house right now bemoaning the fact that Canada wouldn't let him immigrate because of his criminal record (5 years for robbery in Poland).
I feel saddened by the fact that he died because of the taser blast and admit that the police could have been a bit more sympathetic to him but I would rather the police have tasered him and got him under control than for them to wrestle with him and have him kill or injure one of them. My fear now is that next time someone's acting up in public the police will be afraid to take him down and he'll wind up killing someone.