Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive July 24, 2008)

Damned if they do

By Bob Cooper



I am sure the Vancouver news media will be nominated for a collective Webster award this year for turning the Robert Dziekanski story into the longest-running mini-series since Jeff Berg.

Their latest effort is a story by Global TV’s Ted Chernecki revealing that the RCMP sent investigators to Dziekanski’s hometown in Poland and suggesting that they were on some sort of sinister mission to dig up dirt on Dziekanski.  His evidence of this?  Some woman who didn’t like the questions or the fact that the investigator repeated them.  Let’s see, that would be the same way reporters behave but I’m certain the investigator would have been a lot more polite.  The anchor then described the interview process as ‘Heavy handed’ because it was conducted in front of a camera.  Oh, the drama.  Far from being ‘heavy handed’ most police interviews are now conducted on camera in order to:

1.  Create a complete and accurate record of exactly what was said.

2.  Protect the subject from any abuse, threats or mistreatment.

3.  Protect the police officers from false allegations.

Unlike news stories, everything the police said or did in that interview was recorded in its entirety and will be microscopically  examined in any proceedings that flow from this incident.   The police don’t get to edit their tape like reporters do and use just the bits they like or those that support their story angle. 

Why, the RCMP even obtained Dziekanski’s medical records.  More drama.  God knows what they might do with those.  It’s rather like that bogus ‘Breaking News’ tone that CKWX uses to hype a story that’s been on the air for hours.  More like ‘Faking News’ but there you are.

Liberal Justice Critic (and former B.C. Attorney-General) Ujjal Dosanjh jumped in to score some cheap political points.  He implied it was some sort of wasteful junket.  If they’d all gone to Miami or Honolulu, well, ok, but Poland?  Give me a break

Walter Kosteckvj,  the lawyer who represents Dziekanski’s mother is also critical saying that the police should be judged solely on the 25 seconds captured on video at YVR.  Yes, the same video that media outlets used, along with commentary that was inflammatory and at times bordered on the hysterical, to spin the story  and convict the Mounties before the investigation had even commenced.  Well, alrighty then.  Case closed.  Fire these cops, take their pensions, and send them to prison.  What more do you need?  The press brought them in guilty so let’s get on with it.

Sorry Walter, it just doesn’t work that way and as both a lawyer and former policeman you know it.  Or ought to.  So do Dosanjh and Chernecki.

I thought the object of the exercise was to discover how and why Robert Dziekanski came to his death.  His background and any pre-existing medical condition may or may not be relevant.  You won’t know unless you ask, but I’d be willing to bet my next pension cheque (and believe me, they’re good ones) that had the RCMP not gone to Poland to obtain this information these same people would be screaming ‘Whitewash’, ‘Coverup’ and pointing to this as an example for the need to set up a civilian agency to investigate the police.  

Everyone involved in this tragic incident, including the members, are owed a thorough and complete investigation where all relevant factors are brought to the surface and examined.  If Dziekanski had a mental illness or a past propensity for violence then the members are entitled to the benefit of that.  As I’ve said before, liberals hate this but cops have the same rights as anyone else.

Global personalized the story by focusing their criticism on Supt. Wayne Rideout who led the investigative team in Poland.  I’ve known Wayne for a number of years and consider him to be one of the most capable, hard-working investigators I’ve ever met.  Nice guy as well.  Unlike the other parties referred to in this column Wayne’s only quest will be for the truth.  No matter what.  Not fees, ratings, or votes.

Things never change though.  Next week, Walter will be handing out business cards at RCMP Detachments, Dosanhj will be out gladhanding with cops for Liberal photo-ops, and Chernecki will be asking them for favors at crime scenes.  Hey, nothing personal, it’s just business.


Just to balance things out though, a Big Thumbs Up to Vancouver Sun reporter Kim Bolan for discovering that the 22 year old man arrested and charged with the shooting death of 20 year old university student Phil Truong and the wounding of two others in Victoria on the weekend was out of bail from Surrey Provincial Court.  For shoplifting?  Impaired Driving?   Mischief?  No.  He was out on bail for shooting 2 people outside a drug house in Surrey.  But that’s OK, because one of his bail conditions was not to possess a gun.

That kept the public safe.

Now there may be an explanation for this and I would dearly love to hear it.  I’ll bet it’s a dandy.  So too, I’m sure, would Mr. Truong’s family.  Somehow, I doubt that any of us will.  Little wonder they’re fighting hammer and tong to maintain the status quo in terms of Judicial and Crown immunity.

A Big Thumbs Down to Ms. Bolan’s editors for burying the story on B6 when it screams for the front page. 

Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2008