Toronto Star : Tasered man dies in Vancouver airport scrap

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tasered man dies in Vancouver airport scrap

Elianna Lev | THE CANADIAN PRESS | October 15, 2007

VANCOUVER–A man who acted erratically after arriving at Vancouver International Airport early yesterday died after police used a Taser on him.

Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre said the man was out of control, sweating profusely and yelling in what was believed to be an Eastern European language.

"He was pounding on the glass windows that were there, he actually grabbed a computer at one of the work desks and threw that to the ground," he said.

Airport security called the RCMP, who were one level above, to help contain the man.

When they arrived, officers tried to motion to the man, who didn't appear to speak English, to calm down and put his hands on a desk. Police said the man didn't respond to their requests and reached to throw something.

It was at that point an officer used a Taser on the 40-year-old twice in an attempt to immobilize him. However, Lemaitre said the man continued to be combative.

"(The Taser) didn't seem to have any kind of effect on him," he said.

Police held the man down in an attempt to subdue him, and he was handcuffed.

The man, who was still flailing, then lapsed into unconsciousness.

He died shortly after paramedics arrived.

A coroner is investigating and a toxicology report will be done to determine whether there were drugs in the man's system.

"We don't know if it was intoxication," said Lemaitre. "It was certainly not normal behaviour. An autopsy from the coroner's office is going to be of great help to us to determine if it was alcohol or drugs or some other kind of medical condition."

Because the man died while at the hands of police, the Commission for Public Complaints will investigate.

Investigators will determine where the man came from and what he may have been doing prior to the incident.

Interpol will be contacted to verify the man's identity. He was travelling with identification.

Lemaitre said the man appeared to be alone. International arrivals had been rerouted, but there were no delays in flight schedules.