In 2008, the Government of British Columbia appointed the Honourable Thomas R. Braidwood, QC, as the head of two inquiries into the death of Robert Dziekanski. In October 2007, at the Vancouver International Airport, an RCMP officer used a conducted energy weapon (CEW) against Robert Dziekanski, who, after being subdued and handcuffed, died within minutes. Phase I of the inquiry, released in June 2009, reported on the use of CEWs/Tasers in B.C., and made recommendations with regards to their appropriate use. Phase II of the inquiry was recently released, providing a complete record of the circumstances of Mr. Dziekanski’s death and making eight recommendations.
During Phase II of the inquiry, Justice Braidwood investigated three issues: the events at the Vancouver International Airport leading up to Mr. Dziekanski’s death, the medical cause of his death, and the manner in which arriving international passengers are dealt with by the Canada Border Services Agency and the Vancouver Airport Authority.
In a press release Justice Braidwood stated that the RCMP officers were not justified in using the CEW on Mr. Dziekanski, and that the five deployments of the CEW and the physical struggle with the four RCMP officers contributed substantially to Mr. Dziekanski’s death.
The Phase II report presents eight recommendations, including that B.C. develop a civilian-based criminal investigative body to investigate all police-related incidents occurring throughout the province, and that changes be made to the way in which the Canada Border Services Agency deals with arriving international passengers, including providing language interpretation services. The report also recommends improvements to the means of communication between arriving international passengers and people waiting to meet them at the Vancouver Airport Authority and that changes be made to the roles and training of contracted security personnel at the Vancouver Airport Authority.
See “Why?: The Robert Dziekanski Tragedy,” Braidwood Commission on the Death of Robert Dziekanski, May 2010, and “Restoring Public Confidence: Restricting the Use of Conducted Energy Weapons in British Columbia,” Braidwood Commission on Conducted Energy Weapon Use, June 2009, available at www.braidwoodinquiry.ca/report.
See the press release, “Use of Taser on Robert Dziekanski Not Justified Says Commissioner Thomas Braidwood,” June 18, 2010, available at www.braidwoodinquiry.ca.
See also, “B.C.’s Braidwood Commission Releases Phase One Report Calling for Province-Wide Restrictions on Taser Use,” Mental Health Notes, September 3, 2009.
CMHA Ontario’s policy position, “Conducted Energy Weapons (Tasers),” June 2008, is available at www.ontario.cmha.ca/policy.