The mother of Robert Dziekanski, the Polish man who died after being Tasered by RCMP officers at Vancouver International Airport in 2007, has died.
Zofia Cisowski died on Nov. 18 in Gilwice, Poland, during her annual visit to her home country. She was 73.
Jurek Baltakis, a friend of Cisowski’s in Kamloops, said Cisowski maintained an apartment in the Polish city and would visit each year. Her brother, Zdzieslaw Dziekanski, lives in Poland with his family.
Baltakis said Cisowski had kept an apartment in Gilwice and would stay there during her visits.
“A neighbour saw the lights in her apartment were on all night and sent a son to check on her,” Baltakis said.
Baltakis said Cisowski had suffered a stroke and was found on the floor of her apartment, unconscious. She was taken to hospital, where she regained consciousness before suffering a fatal second stroke on Nov. 18.
Cisowski was thrust into the spotlight on Oct. 14, 2007, when she drove from Kamloops to Vancouver International Airport to pick up her son, Robert, who was moving to Canada to be with his mother.
The 40-year-old, who did not speak English spent 10 hours wandering the international arrivals area, unaware that his mom was in the public waiting area. He was frustrated following those 10 hours and the previous 14 hours of flights and could not find somebody to help him.
An agitated Dziekanski was holding a stapler when he was approached by four Mounties, with cellphone video shot by a passerby showing Dziekanski was immediately Tasered five times as officers took him to the ground. Dziekanski died within minutes of cardiac arrest.
The cellphone video contradicted much of what RCMP officials had said about the incident.
The Braidwood Inquiry in 2010 concluded the RCMP officers were not justified in using the Taser and that the officers later deliberately misrepresented their actions to investigators.
All four Mounties were charged with perjury as a result of the Braidwood Inquiry. Their cases were held separately.
Eventually, Const. Kwesi Millington was sentenced to 30 months in jail and Cpl. Benjamin Robinson was handed a two-year term behind bars. Constables Gerry Rundel and Bill Bentley were acquitted.
In 2012, an opera based on the death of Dziekanski premiered in Halifax and had its debut in the United States this past September when it opened the Thompson Street Opera Company’s season in Chicago.
In Kamloops, the Robert Dziekanski Memorial Scholarship was created at Thompson Rivers University.
Cisowski immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1999 and initially lived in Logan Lake, where she was married. She later moved to Kamloops, where she became involved in the city’s small Polish community, of which Baltakis is an active member.
“It’s so sad,” Baltakis said, referring to Cisowski’s death and the anguish she endured since her son’s death 12 years ago.
Cisowski’s funeral is scheduled to be held in Pieszyce, Poland, on Friday, Nov. 29.