Mon, Nov 19, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Hundreds attend Vancouver funeral of Polish emigre

TASER FUROR Robert Dziekanski's death at the hands of the police has shocked the nation and prompted Poland to ask Ottawa for an explanation

AFP , VANCOUVER

Some 650 people attended the funeral on Saturday of a Polish emigre who died at Vancouver airport after police stunned him with a Taser, a disturbing incident that was videotaped by a bystander and shown around the world.

"We were quite surprised. People came from everywhere," said Kamloops Funeral Home owner Lawrence Schrader.

Zofia Cisowski, the mother of the 40-year-old victim, Robert Dziekanski, had planned for 100 mourners, he said.

"We also got e-mails from as far away as Hawaii from people expressing their condolences," Schrader said.

Another 1,000 Canadians attended vigils around the country for Dziekanski, including one at Vancouver airport, where he died on Oct. 14.

The Polish emigrant's death at the hands of four members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and especially its video first broadcast on Thursday, has shocked Canadians and prompted Poland to ask Ottawa for an explanation.

The RCMP has launched an investigation and in his first public comments since the incident RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said on Saturday that the four officers involved in Dziekanski's death had been assigned to other duties.

The video shows Dziekanski appearing distraught and frightened after waiting hours for his mother at the airport. At one point he takes a computer off a desk and throws it to the ground, as security guards look on remarking that he did not speak English.

Then four RCMP officers walk toward Dziekanski, surround him and, as he turns away raising his hands, close in on him stunning him repeatedly with a Taser device before piling on top of him pinning him to the floor. Within minutes he falls still.

His family's lawyer said Dziekanski spoke only Polish and had never before wandered far from his hometown of Pieszyce, Poland, where he was a construction worker.

The RCMP commissioner admitted the video images were "disturbing," but considered it inappropriate to draw any conclusions during an ongoing investigation into the incident.

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