The final chapter in an absolute travesty of justice played out yesterday at the Supreme Court of Canada. The appeals of RCMP officers Benjamin “Monty” Robinson and Kwesi Millington were dismissed without reasons and each must turn themselves in to begin serving their sentences in prison.
Both members were convicted of perjury resulting from testimony given at the so-called Braidwood Commission of Inquiry. Which, in itself, was a deeply flawed process.
The Commission, you’ll recall, was called by the provincial government following the death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski at YVR on October 14, 2007. The Commission issued it’s final report in June of 2010. It found, essentially, that the RCMP were not justified in using a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) or Taser as it is more colloquially known.
It also found that the four members who attended the disturbance call at YVR “misrepresented” their actions in their testimony to the Commission. In the report Mr. Justice Braidwood said, “I found all four officers’ claims that they wrestled Mr. Dziekanski to the ground were deliberate misrepresentations made for the purpose of justifying their actions.”
“I also disbelieved the four officers’ claims there was no discussion between or among them about the incident before being questioned by IHIT investigators, although I did not conclude that they colluded to fabricate a story.”
And out of this resulted in a Special Prosecutor being appointed and the four officers charged with perjury. Two were acquitted and Robinson and Millington were convicted in what can only be described as a travesty of justice. Yesterday, the SCC put an end to the appeals process and Robinson and Millington must begin to serve their sentences, two years less a day for Robinson and 30 months for Millington.
What it all came down to was whether they wrestled Dziekanski “to the ground” or they wrestled him “on the ground.”
To find that somehow they colluded to “get their story straight” is simply to ignore the evidence. In a nutshell, Robinson remained at YVR while the other three went to the Sub-Detachment to make their notes and await IHIT investigators. Robinson met with IHIT investigators at YVR and accompanied them to the Sub-Detachment where the interviews began. At no point were all four together and alone so that they could collude.
But that is not all the evidence Braidwood ignored.
Forensic Video Analyst Grant Fredericks did an analysis of the so-called Pritchard video, taken by a civilian witness which became critical to this whole mess.
Fredericks is an expert in his field. This from his report, “I am also a paid instructor of Forensic Video Analysis and Digital Multimedia Evidence Processing for the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA. I have been teaching at the FBI Academy since 1999.”
He has given expert evidence at trials in the US, Canada and the UK more than 60 times. Let’s just say he knows of what he speaks.
In his report Fredericks details how the video, shot in the European format PAL is not conducive to viewing in its entirety using the North American format, NTSC. But he does analyze it frame by frame.
At issue at Braidwood was testimony from the members that Dziekanski moved towards the members while brandishing a stapler over his head.
Fredericks conducted a Forward Motion Analysis and concluded that Dziekanski moved three steps forward towards the officers. In essence, he measured the number of pixels in the frame that Dziekanski occupied in successive frames. They decreased meaning he was moving away from the camera and towards the officers corroborating what the officers testified to, yet Braidwood ignored this.
He also shows Dziekanski holding the stapler over his head at the 00:3:41:23 point.
This also corroborates what the members testified to, yet Braidwood chose to ignore this evidence.
Fredericks also shows at 00:04:03:08 after Dziekanski was tasered, an object was noted on the floor beside Dziekanski “consistent with the size of a Taser probe.”
This is critical because it happened before Robinson calls for Millington to “hit him again” meaning release another charge with the Taser. Why is this critical? Because a Taser needs two probes touching the subject in order for the energy charge to have any effect. So, all the charges triggered by Millington had zero effect on Dziekanski. All of which was completely ignored by Braidwood and the baying media hounds trying to say the members “executed” or “murdered” Dziekanski.
Fredericks’ report shows that the Taser was deployed three times after the dart was dislodged. The report clearly demonstrates the struggle on the floor the members who were hands on had with the large man. Again, in the blur of the moment, does it really matter when they wrestled him to the floor or on the floor? From the time of the initial Taser deployment the members went hands on, Dziekanski went down and the struggle to get him handcuffed went on. Yet, ignoring this critical evidence is the reason Robinson and Millington are going to jail.
There’s so much more to this travesty, from the RCMP refusing to say publicly that the members acted appropriately, a fact admitted to me by then Commanding Officer Gary Bass after he retired. The absolute stupid decision by then O i/c of IHIT Wayne Rideout in not allowing Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre to correct the record after he realized the initial information he gave at the first media briefing following the incident was inaccurate. That decision alone resulted in everything that followed once the Pritchard video was released.
Lemaitre was haunted by his error on that first morning and not being allowed to correct the record. His credibility suffered because of it and he was transferred to the Integrated Road Safety Unit, a traffic section. Lemaitre committed suicide in 2013. Was this a contributing factor? I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet on it.
The RCMP were painted as liars and covering up when in fact there was no such thing. This was simply stupid handling of the media by the RCMP and not for the first time I might add.
The full Fredericks report can be found on Prime Time Crime here.
Why an experienced jurist would ignore this evidence and conclude as he did is beyond me. Since the perjury charges, convictions and the formation of the Independent Investigations Office resulted, this was critical. One might think that the only way an experienced jurist would ignore exculpatory evidence is because the whole thing was a charade orchestrated by the government to get to a pre-determined conclusion.
Now, I don’t know that to be true, but it’s hard to come to any other conclusion when I look at all of this.
I got a message from Robinson following the SCC dismissal saying he’d be “off the grid for the next 8 months” I admire his attitude. I don’t think I’d be so stoic given that those four Mounties were just doing their job yet were buried by the system and now two are going to jail.
It’s a travesty.
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