Taser victim sought to leave troubles behind in Poland
by Sarah Merchlewitz
GLIWICE, Poland -- Robert Dziekanski dreamed of coming to B.C. to escape a troubled life in this gritty industrial city that included a tumultuous common-law relationship and a five-year jail term for robbery when he was a teenager, say two of his closest friends.
But Dziekanski was also nervous, likely craving nicotine, and desperately anxious to see his beloved mother when he arrived last month at the Vancouver International Airport - all factors that likely contributed to his erratic behaviour during the final stages of the 10-hour wait before his death.
A shuddering, tearful Iwona Kossowscy said she could barely watch the video of her friend screaming, writhing and then dying before her eyes.
"(Even) if you didn't know him it would be a shock watching that video," said Kossowscy, who lives with her husband and daughter a floor above the decrepit, $77-a-month flat Dziekanski shared with his partner Elzbieta Dubon.
"But we were like a family," she said. "How could they do that to him?"
Her husband Bogdan vented for almost 20 minutes about his anger and exasperation over what happened to his friend and neighbour.
How is it possible? How could those people kill him? What for?"
Iwona said Dziekanski left for Canada largely to be with his mother, to try to start a new life in the construction industry, and to fulfil a lifelong and unmet passion for travelling. His suitcase held only travel books and atlases, no clothes.
But she said another huge reason was to escape a tumultuous 12-year relationship with Dubon, who refused to speak to CanWest Friday despite repeated requests.
"She is the source of what was wrong in his life," she said.
Aldona Minorczyk, a local journalist who has investigated Dziekanski's troubled life, concurred.
"His mother told us that he was trying to break free from a toxic relationship," Minorczyk, who tried twice to interview Dubon but failed because the woman was intoxicated, said.
Minorczyk said Dziekanski had his own drinking problems and a troubled past, which included a five-year jail sentence for robbery when he was a teenager.
But the journalist said she was touched by his struggle to break free from his misery.
"I was moved with this story, especially because this man was deprived of his chance, his dreams. He landed in his paradise (B.C.) but he wasn't able to cross the gate of this paradise," she said.
"He was far from being an angel, he made a lot of wrong decisions in his life. But he made up his mind to change his life. He was deprived of his chance to save his own life."
Iwona Kossowscy, who knew Dziekanski when they were both teenagers, confirmed that her friend was jailed in the mid-1980s for robbery.
"After jail he had no problems. He told me that was a place he never wanted to go back to."
The Kossowscys said Dziekanski's nerves were likely jarred at the airport after not seeing his mother, Zofia Cisowski, for 10 hours after the long flight landed.
"Robert felt he would see her as soon as he got out of the plane, she would be there waiting for him," Iwona said.