Have Mental Illness? Don't fly on Airplanes
Here's a link to a webpage that shows a disturbing video and also a link to a newsstory that adds background information to the incident. In the video clip, a non-english speaking gentleman from Poland is tased by poice and dies.
What stands out about this incident (to me, at least) is the following:
1. According to the narrator, Robert Dziekanski was in a secure area for ten hours.
2. He did not speak english.
3. He was tased by police within 25 seconds of their arrival.
4. Despite the fact that the man had been kept in a secure area for 10 hours, did not speak english, and seemed to be exhibiting agitated behavior, possibly indicative of mental distress or psychosis, there was no attempt to find a polish translator and no attempt to bring in medical personnel.
5. The police who arrived at the scene were aware that Robert Dziekanski did not speak english, yet they continued to issue commands in english.
6. The police made no attempt to restrain Mr. Dziekanski other than tasing him.
This incident reminds me very much of another incident several years ago when a man with bipolar disorder apparently suffered a panic attack, exited a plane, and began to run from air marshals through a terminal. He was shot to death.
It also reminds of two other recent incidents which I've blogged about. One involved a 56 year old woman in a wheelchair who was waving a hammer at relatives. She was tased to death by police. The other involved an 82 year old woman, also swinging a hammer, who was tased (but did not die). Both individuals suffered from schizophrenia.
My advice? If you have mental illness, reconsider using the "friendly skies". And if you have a loved one with mental illness, have them reconsider it as well. Airports can be lethal to those who, through no fault of their own, have a mental impairment.
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