An unidentified man died after being tasered by police at the Vancouver International Airport in British Columbia, Canada, on Sunday, October 14:
Police say the incident involved a man in his 40s who had disembarked from an international flight and was waiting for his luggage at about 1:30 a.m.
He began screaming in an Eastern European language and throwing chairs around, said RCMP spokesman Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre. RCMP officers stationed in the terminal building were called to deal with the situation after airport security failed to calm the man down, Lemaitre said.
“He grabbed a computer off a desk, he was pounding on the desk, he was sweating profusely,” said Lemaitre in an interview.
Three policeman tried to speak to him, telling him to calm down, he said. When the man refused, officers used a Taser, which discharges 50,000 volts of electricity.
“The three officers tried to physically hold him down,” said Lemaitre of what occurred after the Taser was used.
More details are revealed in this video report.
The Globe and Mail makes note of the ongoing controversy of the use of tasering which has caused several deaths in Canada:
Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward, who has been following the issue closely for several years, said the gun, which generates a 50,000-volt electrical charge, was introduced in Canada without any independent safety testing. Sixteen people have died in Canada and almost 300 in North America in recent years after they were stunned by a taser, Mr. Ward said.
North American police and manufacturers would have the public believe that tasers are not responsible for any deaths, “but that is simply not true,” he said. “I’m not convinced these devices are safe. I feel their use should be discontinued until there has been independent testing done of them.”
Patti Gillman, whose brother, Robert Bagnell, died after being tasered by Vancouver police, said police often resort to using tasers without knowing what the outcome will be. “When a guy is going berserk, that seems to be when the taser is at its deadliest,” Ms. Gillman.
“Every time they use it, they are playing Russian roulette,” she added. “I do not know the answer in those cases. But it is definitely not a taser.”
Following so soon after Carol Anne Gotbaum’s tragic airport death on September 28 at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, this incident is all the more disturbing. Not only are there concerns about the use of tasers in specific, but about the means and methods by which security is implemented in airports in general; the public must not be endangered by such mishandled and excessive security.
For more on this issue,Privacy Maven recommends EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) website on air travel privacy. They quote from Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas’ decision in: Kent v. Dulles (1958).
The right to travel is a part of the “liberty” of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment … Freedom of movement across frontiers in either direction, and inside frontiers as well, was a part of our heritage. Travel abroad, like travel within the country, may be necessary for a livelihood. It may be as close to the heart of the individual as the choice of what he eats, or wears, or reads. Freedom of movement is basic in our scheme of values. “Our nation,” wrote Chafee, “has thrived on the principle that, outside areas of plainly harmful conduct, every American is left to shape his own life as he thinks best, do what he pleases, go where he pleases.”
These are very timely words.