Much shame to go around in Dziekanski case but none of it on attending RCMP members


Last Friday, the BC Court of Appeal dismissed Crown’s appeal of the acquittal of RCMP Cst. Bill Bentley, the first of the four Mounties tried, who was involved in the 2007 incident at YVR which ended with the tragic death of Robert Dziekanski. All four had been charged by the Crown with perjury arising from their testimony at the subsequent 2009 Braidwood Inquiry.

The Crown tried to argue that the four members colluded in essentially ‘getting their stories straight.’ The Appeal Court Justices agreed with Mr. Justice McEwan, the trial judge, who had this to say on the subject at trial:

“I can only say that the evidence does not go that far (collusion). The Crown has not shown that in any particular way Mr. Bentley made a false statement knowing it to be false and with intent to mislead the Inquiry. The Crown has advanced a suspicion based largely on circumstantial evidence. As to each particular, however, and as to the indictment taken as a whole, there are other explanations, inconsistent with the guilt of the accused that remain open on the evidence.”

Yet, in the decision by Mr. Justice Bill Ehrcke who tried Cst. Kwesi Millington and found him guilty, said on the matter of collusion, “Indeed that it is the only rational inference available on all the evidence.” Well no actually. It could be because the officers were telling the truth. Inference is not evidence and in fact, the evidence showed there was little or no chance of collusion.

Without regurgitating all of the evidence, let’s consider some salient facts. Once Dziekanski was secured he went into medical distress. Cpl. Monty Robinson, who was also found guilty of perjury, stayed with Dziekanski and monitored his pulse and respiration while awaiting paramedics. He directed the other three officers to go and identify any witnesses from the group of people who were in the area.

It was during this effort that Cst. Gerry Rundel located and seized the video which became known as the Pritchard video which became central to the Braidwood Inquiry. At this point Robinson called for a supervisor from Richmond Detachment to take conduct of the scene and the file. Cpl. Joe Johal arrived shortly thereafter. In fact, Cst. Rundel turned over the Pritchard video to Johal..

Once pronounced dead, the file became officially an ‘in custody’ death. The Richmond supervisor then called in the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) to take conduct of the investigation.

Robinson ordered the other three members to go the the airport sub-detachment to compile their notes and reports. Robinson waited for IHIT at YVR. In fact, he accompanied IHIT investigator, Derek Brassington, from YVR to the sub-detachment. When he arrived, S/Sgt. Mike Ingles, the Staff Relations Representative, was already with the other three members.

So, where’s the opportunity for collusion that Ehrcke predicated his “inference” upon?

Well, it isn’t there. Ehrcke was wrong as was Mr. Justice Smith who found, in similar fashion, Robinson guilty of perjury.

So what we are left with is a mess, a big mess. Cst. Bill Bently was first acquitted of the same charges, based upon the same set of facts and that acquittal upheld by the Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgement. It should also be noted that the Crown, represented by Special Prosecutor Richard Peck, was not represented at the decision despite the fact Peck brought in high-priced Toronto lawyer Scott Fenton to conduct the trial and the appeal. Yeah, that was taxpayers’ money well spent.

Cst. Kwesi Millington was convicted in a very questionable decision by Ehrcke and will be sentenced on June 22nd. That will most certainly be appealed and given the Appeals Court decision in the Bentley case, seems highly likely to succeed.

Cpl. Robinson, also convicted in another great leap of logic by the trial judge, will be sentenced on Tuesday, June 16th. That decision too, will almost certainly be appealed and, in my opinion, the conviction will be overturned.

Cst. Gerry Rundel, who seized the Pritchard video, was acquitted and the appeal period for the Crown has expired.

Robert Dziekanski spent 12 hours on Canadian soil and has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars between all the investigations, the Braidwood Inquiry and the dubious prosecutions done via the Special Prosecutor process. And there are likely two more appeals to come. And for what?

Dziekanski didn’t deserve to die, but, and make no mistake about this, he was the author of his own misfortune and he cost BC millions of dollars in an attempt to find someone else responsible.
The four Mounties who responded to the call that night at YVR did nothing wrong. And what’s worse is that throughout, the RCMP brass has never once defended their members who responded and acted according to the way they were trained.

There’s a lot of shame to go around in all of this, but none of it is on the four RCMP members who have been through hell for doing nothing more than their jobs.

Leo Knight

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  1. Leo: I am disappointed that you would defend the 4 mounties to the point of blaming the victim here.

    Dziekanski certainly contributed to the end result of his death, but he is not wholly to blame here.

    It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed the video, however, I have watched it many, many times. There are two points that disturb me the most – 1- The mounties arrive and within SECONDS pull out the Taeser and fire it at Dziekanski. They shocked him multiple times. 2- Once Dziekanski went down, they did not offer medical assistance, nor did they allow others to aid him. Taking his pulse is not medical aid, it is just checking the condition of a hostile witness.

    The problem as I see it is the 4 mounties showed up, full of piss and vinegar, ready to use their new toy, the Taeser. They did not have full situational awareness – how could they? They did not talk to witnesses, they went straight for Dziekanski as he was irate and throwing objects around to vent his anger at being trapped in no-mans land for some 12 hours without food, water, or nicotine after getting off of an international flight. He was in a contained area away from the public.

    They outnumbered Dziekanski 4 to 1, and he had just gone through Customs and Immigration – no chance he had a weapon of any kind. He didn’t speak English, yet in the 12 hours he was there, no one thought to call for someone who could speak Polish.

    I’m all for supporting the police when they are right, but these 4 were totally in the wrong, and they lied to keep from being punished for their wrongs. I guess it worked.

    We, the public have to trust the police for them to be able to do their job. After incidents like this and the High River Gun Grab, it is getting harder and harder to believe and trust them. And that is the true casualty here.

  2. With all due respect Jim, you are totally wrong. The report by Grant Fredericks, a forensic video analyst in the US, clearly showed that Dziekanski grabbed the metal stapler, raised it above shoulder level and advanced 2 to 3 stepos toward police before the Taser was deployed. His report also showed one Taser dart fell out when Dziekanski hit the floor. Without two connections there is no current delivered hence the loud clacking you hear on the video.

    They had no ability to communicate with Dziekanski, a man who was already stressed to the max . He was a three pack a day guy and an alcoholic who swore off all his vices on leaving Poland. He wandered around YVR with no nicotine and no alchol for 12 hrs after a 15 hr flight sequence. None of which was known to the members.

    Kwesi Millington, the officer who carried the Taser had never used it since he was trained on the use of it several months earlier. Hardly someone who was ‘ready to use his new toy.’

    Whatever you think you know about the incident is not supported by actual evidence as opposed to mainstream media reporting.


    • I agree with Mr. Pook, and you telling him he is wrong is kind of ridiculous. As for the actual evidence, how is it that you have it or know it? If you got it through your ‘connections’ just how accurate is it? I am a staunch supporter of the police and my first response to media stories of wrong doing is one of doubt – this time when I saw the video I was almost sick to my stomach. The four members were never in any danger despite Mr. Dziekanski raising a stapler in his hand – really, you think that is life threatening…good thing you are not a cop. He was contained away from any public he could harm, he was obviously in some mental and physical distress, and he didn’t speak English. I would hope a more experienced and compassionate officer would step back, raising their hands in the universal “not going to hurt you calm down gesture” and keep that up until it started to get through to the suspect. As for the taser being the first resort – yeah it sounds like they were dyin’ to try it. Having hardly used it is not an indication of taking it more seriously than a new toy. More likely no better opportunity than a crazy non English speaking man at the airport had come up.
      Now, I have no way of knowing if I am right or not, but I kind of think you are definitely not. The truth may lie somewhere in between, but to say they were in no way to blame for the outcome? They were definitely responsible for his death in my opinion and for you to dare imply it is all on Mr. Dziekanski is beyond disgusting.

  3. As a retired police officer, I can see how things unfolded at the airport. Hindsight being 20/20 it’s easy to suggest other forms of action. I do have a problem with the likely collusion that seems to have occurred. I seem to recall an article which stated that a female relative (wife? sister?) of one of the officers involved said that the officers met in her kitchen and had a discussion prior to court proceedings. To think that those very officers meeting and NOT discussing the events is extremely unlikely, in my opinion. Finally, I believe that Cpl. Robinson’s actions following the Dziekanski incident (hit and run, impaired, lying to investigators) show that his character indicates collusion would not be beyond his moral boundaries.

  4. The phrase “Tasered to death” is the big red herring here. The fact is, at the time, Dziekanski was exhibiting behaviour that was absolutely consistent with deployment of the Taser. The threshold has been raised much higher since that incident, but at the time, they were operating absolutely within the bounds of existing policy.

    Dziekanski died in the ensuing dogpile which I’m quite sure would have resulted regardless of whether the taser was present or not. The video may well have looked much more brutal had the Taser not been deployed. The alternative is punches, strikes and tackling the person to the ground. Sorry, but there’s no finesse in a fight.

    In my opinion, the real crime here is the post-incident handling by the RCMP.

  5. Leo It thoroughly amazes me that commentators on this site have formed their opinions not entirely based on fact but rather on an emotion need and as such have a very biased view of what actually transpired that fateful day.

    The video is horrifying to the untrained eye thus the need for a forensic examination of same to piece together the events that unfolded. The Braidwood Enquiry was not all encompassing. Expert testimony clearly stated that Mr. DZIEKANSKI was in medical distress due to excited delirium and died as a result of same. Yes, the conducted energy weapon may have contributed to and possibly hastened his death; however, its use was not the sole contributing factor. Whether people believe it or not the Braidwood Enquiry was told that Cst. MILLINGTON deployed the conducted energy weapon as he had been trained to do following the policy of its use at the time. I can only imagine the uproar if the four members used physical force to effect Mr. DZIEKANSKI’s arrest and he died as a result of injuries sustained during that arrest. Calls for charges of man slaughter and murder are laughable at best. A first year law student would inform you that none of the elements of either offence had been committed by any officer. Yes, mistakes were made but not by the four members at the scene. The management of the RCMP should be ashamed of how this incident was managed after the fact.

    I have been a peace officer and regular member of the RCMP for over twenty-eight years. Mr. DZIEKNSKI did not deserve to die. He was not murdered, nor were the members’ involved criminally responsible for his death. The lust for blood brings the justice system into disrepute and we should all be ashamed of this. A thirty month sentence of imprisonment is unjust and will be overturned on appeal as cruel and unusual punishment based on sentencing criteria already before the Courts. I would hazard to guess that the original conviction will also be overturned on appeal.


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