When the good guys act like bad guys

We like to think of the police as good guys and criminals as bad guys. When a bad guy does a good deed,Taser
we don’t know what to make of it. We’re suspicious and wary. But we’re even more stunned when a good guy does a bad deed. We expect the police to act with honor. We expect them to respect the rights of everyone. Unfortunately police brutality is far too common — and not just in developing countries. The term "police brutality" may seem a little strong for what happened to a Polish man in Vancouver International Airport, but after watching the video on TV, I can come to no other conclusion.

An eyewitness’s video recording of a man dying after being stunned with
a Taser by police on Oct. 14 at Vancouver International Airport has
been released to the public.

The 10-minute video recording clearly shows four RCMP officers
talking to Robert Dziekanski while he is standing with his back to a
counter and with his arms lowered by his sides, but his hands are not
visible.

About 25 seconds after police enter the secure area where he is,
there is a loud crack that sounds like a Taser shot, followed by
Dziekanski screaming and convulsing as he stumbles and falls to the
floor.

Another loud crack can be heard as an officer appears to fire one more Taser shot into Dziekanski.

As the officers kneel on top of Dziekanski and handcuff him, he continues to scream and convulse on the floor.

One officer is heard to say, "Hit him again. Hit him again," and there is another loud cracking sound. [Link]

They gave him 25 seconds! That’s barely enough time to say his name. I’m not sure what they expected him to do, stand upright and sing O Canada? He was pretty defenseless. Sure, he had been acting erratically, but I’d act erratically too if I had arrived in a strange country, couldn’t speak their language and was stuck at the airport for more than eight hours with no food to eat. I’d be walking in circles, saying, "I want my mommy!"

Fortunately, there is a hero in this case, the man who videotaped the crime.

Paul Pritchard shot the video with his digital camera, but afterward
he surrendered it to police for their investigation on a promise that
they would return it within 48 hours.

The next day, police told Pritchard they would not be returning the recording as promised.

Carr previously stated investigators kept the video longer than they
anticipated in order to protect the integrity of the police
investigation while they interviewed witnesses.

Saying he feared a coverup by police, Pritchard then engaged a
lawyer to start legal proceedings to reclaim the recording. Police
returned the recording to him on Wednesday. [Link]

Pritchard deserves some kind of award. He stood his ground and made sure the police returned his video. If the police had asked me for a video, I might have panicked and said, "Here it is, officers, take it. You can take my camera too, if you wish. Take anything you want: my watch, my wallet, my underwear. But please, I beg you, don’t Taser me."

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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