Monday, December 15, 2008

Canada's Shame?

Well we have heard the conclusion on the RCMP's tasering of a foreign visitor at an airport in BC. This tasering activity happened moments before this individual's death, but we must not blame the RCMP officers for this death. Oh no, the conclusion offered is that this visitor was exhausted from being in the airport for about 12 or so hours without any form of understandable human contact (he didn't speak a word of english and was waiting for his mother who was prevented from speaking to him because the system never acknowledged his arrival and the fact that outsiders are not allowed into the official arrival zone). Add to the fact that the individual did not eat and was apparently a recovering alcoholic and we can understand that the taser or the RCMP wielding it were not held responsible for this death.

Imagine if a criminal had murdered someone with a taser and this was what his defence attorney brought forward to completely absolve him of any crime or wrongdoing..... well the prosecution and every law enforcement agency in the world would laugh at such a tactic.... but hey, this is different, law enforcement officials are at the wrong end this time around.... and the public is supposed to accept this as an acceptable conclusion.

Now I really don't blame the officers themselves.... they were following procedures set in bureaucratic manuals on how to deal with a situation such as this.... What I find sad is that none of them were allowed to use human judgment and make a common sense decision to deal with this instead of following proper procedure. Its simple, a person acts out, we give him command to stop or else we deploy the taser.... the individual refuses to comply, we use the taser and situation is normal as we handcuff the rowdy individual.... The training works for most offenders.... but the situation here was that this individual was OBVIOUSLY unaware of any english commands and ALL witnesses reported this to the RCMP upon arrival, but they chose to follow bureaucratic procedure than to use human judgment.

What we have here in the conclusion of the incident is an attempt at whitewashing the incident and putting blame upon the medical condition of the individual as the culprit for the unfortunate death..... Now I sympathise with the RCMP officers who arrived to deal with this unknown factor and I believe that they should not be punished.... they followed their training, to the letter.... BLINDINGLY obedient to the procedures..... the death of this victim will haunt these officers, and perhaps they will use their human judgment to assess a similar situation in the future and get some interpreter involved before using force against someone not understanding what situation he happens to be in.

What I would like to see happen is the acceptance that bureaucratic rules can not cover all situations and that we must allow senior officers to make on-the-fly judgment calls to ignore procedure when it is necessary and think outside the box. If I had been in the position of the RCMP officer on this very specific occasion, I would have determined if what the witnesses were saying was true on the comprehension of the language, I would have asked questions of how long this individual was there..... (I would have treated this as as "science-fiction-first-contact-scenario", found some food and use gestures to make him calm down until we could get someone to interpret my commands/instructions and understand this individuals needs/desires)..... Of course knowing how the security/law-enforcement mentality works, I would have been laughed at and pressured out of the force for being a "softie" for trying to understand someone who is obviously aggressive. Hey, if he made an aggressive move towards me or one of my partners or even towards some witness, I would have been the first to deploy the weapon..... but if you look at the video of what actually happened, the victim did not make any aggressive move when the 4 RCMP officers were surrounding him.... he had cowed down (perhaps he was waiting to spring.... but I would have waited for him to make the first move at that particular spot and then take him down).

As mentioned before in a previous blog.... Peaceful at first, then use of force without guilt if the person prefers the less peaceful approach. The video released to the public showed the opposite of what the RCMP tried to make us believe.... and months later, the investigation tells us that the victim's medical condition is more responsible than the tasering itself.....

So if you are ever forced to stay in some area for over 12 hours and you have not eaten during that time and no one understands what you are saying and you don't understand what they are telling you..... make sure you didn't have some alcohol to drink the night before and don't lose your temper..... you must remain calm and smiling when people in uniforms you do not recognize bark something incomprehensible to you..... if you do anything else, you will be responsible for your own death. Acceptable to you? Well that's what the conclusion of the investigation wants us to believe.

Shame on us. Sympathies to the mother who lost her child in such a way. Pity to the RCMP officers who were the unfortunate ones to be involved in this.... accident. Hate the procedures that prevent humans from using human judgment at appropriate times.