Up, Down, In This Thread.
So THIS is where the RCMP got their Taser training:
How to defend yourself against a man armed with a banana, and, a bonus video How to defend yourself against a man armed with a banana, AND raspberries, Monty Python, John Cleese, and a rousing chorous of I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK from Eric Idle.
Braidwood Inquiry - Thomas R. Braidwood, official site, transcripts.
Hummm ... seems to be a hitch in the transcript git-a-long - nothing came out last week a-tall except headings. This is the wotk of that Mountie lawyer David Butcher I bet.
"Based on the knowledge we had at the time, we wouldn't have done anything differently."
Constable Gerry Rundel, RCMP.
"If you didn't have video of this matter, would you be here today saying the subject grabbed a stapler and came at the [officers] screaming?"
Patrick McGowan to Bill Bentley. Bentley answers that he doesn't know. (McGowan is 'Associate Commission Counsel' meaning that he works directly for Braidwood)
Braidwood asked Millington how he could possibly insist the man was still standing "when he was on the ground howling with his legs in the air."
Reported by Suzanne Fournier, Vancouver Province.
“I was wrong about that.”
Kwesi Millington, reported by Gary Mason in the Globe.
"Hit him again! Hit him again!"
Benjamin Monty Robinson.
... and everyone knows the first rule of plumbing - shit flows downhill!
Editorial: Dangerously blank slates, Globe, February 24, 2009.
Poland ponders questioning officers, Taser inquiry told, Star, Petti Fong, February 25, 2009, Officer fears Poland could pursue charges, inquiry told, Star, Petti Fong, February 26, 2009.
Feds told RCMP to consider skipping Taser inquiry, Chad Skelton, February 25, 2009.
Editorial: A case for talk, not force, Globe, February 5, 2009.
Canada blocking Taser investigation: Poland, Peter O'Neil, February 26, 2009.
B.C. - YVR News Conference Statements, Al Macintyre & Wayne Rideout read prepared statements, December 12, 2008.
BRITISH COLUMBIA CRIMINAL JUSTICE BRANCH CLEAR STATEMENT, Friday, December 12, 2008 ... far from 'clear,' more like 'lying bastards!'.
RCMP officers will not be charged, Neal Hall, December 13, 2008.
Dziekanski video showed reality you won't hear from Mounties, Gary Mason, March 2, 2009, and the Comments are a good read as well - there's a surprise, the Globe thought police deleted all the comments(?).
YVR death proves cops bad at investigating cops, Allen Garr, March 6, 2009.
I have posted on this a number of times: Justice? Shame on the RCMP. Shame on Canada December 2008, more shit around the RCMP May 2008, Questions December 2007, Sunday Meditation November 2007, Robert Dziekanski November 2007, Pigs, Death ... & stuff October 2007. A-and before that was Maher Arar, Ian Bush ... numerous posts in the old blog (if you are interested you can find them with Ctrl-F in the index) on those cases and on Zacardelli the Lying Weasel.
One of the things that surprises me (beyond the nincompoops in the RCMP who could not even see the writing on the wall when Paul Pritchard's video got out) is the continued, to me exceptional, treatment that the RCMP have received. It was only a week or so ago that we finally got to know two of the perp's first names - I am only guessing but I think we have Thomas Braidwood to thank for that. There are precious few images of any of them - even now that they have to appear at the inquiry, which is supposedly somewhere in 'public,' precious few ... one suspects conspiracies :-)
There is much good that can be said of the Braidwood Inquiry, not the least of which is posting transcripts of the actual words that are spoken. They are supplied as pdf's of course, horrible technology, and the format of court records is cumbersome to begin with, numbered lines and such like.
The inquiry should have been done in a few weeks - but the phalanx (what do you call a group of lawyers? a 'trough' of lawyers? there must be a word ...) of lawyers with the right to cross examination has balooned it. But if you read every word you can see, beyond the craven ass-covering, and the greedy desire to put more hours on their 'chits', just pure outright obfuscation - obfuscation at its finest folks! Makes it difficult to read and understand.
Even so, you can bet that the honcho weasels at RCMP head-office don't like it very much - they have done everything in their power to avoid this information becoming public - up to and including outright lies.
And now David Butcher, the lawyer representing Constable Bill Bentley, is using interest by the Polish government as an excuse to try to turn the transcript tap off as well. Clever weasels eh? You can read about it in The Star article below.
I am wondering if Thomas Braidwood is up for it? What is his character? I can't say but we will all know in a few more weeks or months. Even though his inquiry doesn't have much muscle, if he says 'misconduct' then there will have to be something REAL done to show these Mounties that they are not permitted to treat people this way, NOT PERMITTED!
Anyway, I am an old fashioned kind of curmudgeon and I like to see the people I am thinking about. So here is all that I could find on the ones I am still in doubt about. (just click on the thumbnails for a larger view):
The last two show our Thomas hob-nobbing with the likes of Ujjal Dosanjh and Tom Smith (the president of Taser International), but that's to be expected.
David Butcher is an interesting fellow; acting for the RCMP / Bill Bentley in this case. He also acted for the RCMP / Paul Koester in the Ian Bush affair - and brags about his client list. ("It was a stupid mistake, wasn't it?" Butcher shouted at Slemko. Slemko admitted: "Yes, it was a stupid mistake." But the 'stupid mistake' may have had little to do with the evidence except to discredit it.) And now he is the one who seems to have come up with a plan to stifle the Braidwood Inquiry transcripts.
There are heroes in this story too, Paul Pritchard, Sima Ashrafinia, Kirby Graeme ... others no doubt ...
This blog is driven by rage, I know that. Certainly much of the reaction in the country is due to rage at the RCMP. It has been building up, Ian Bush, Maher Arar, the litany has been recited many many times to no effect. IF the Mounties had played it straight, had said, "yup, we fucked up and we are sorry," and then gone on to make that 'sorry' mean something ... would have been a different story.
Not sure if you will get the connection or appreciate it if you do, but here goes - Obama looks at the ditch that America is in and says, "Whoa there! Here's an opportunity!" The Mounties look at the ditch they are in and say, "Cover it up! Shut up!" RCMP Staff Sargeant Ward summed up the RCMP culture in a nutshell when he said (in reference to the Ian Bush case), "The public doesn't have a right to know anything."
Even now they could pull it off, they could 'fess up, take their medicine, change what they know has to be changed. Canadians would accept it. But this is not likely, see: Feds told RCMP to consider skipping Taser inquiry, Chad Skelton, February 25, 2009.
And the press is drawing them a map: An article by Ian Mulgrew, in the Calgary Herald no less, says, "Mountie shows ‘chip-on-the-shoulder attitude’ at Taser inquiry." Another one, Mountie refuses chance to apologize at Dziekanski Taser inquiry, from Vancouver - in this case talking about his refusal to apologize to the Polish government.
God sez, "Man! And I thought the Israelites were stiff-necked!"
Editorial: Dangerously blank slates, February 24, 2009.
He backed away, flipped his hands in the air, picked up a stapler. For these actions – as four Mounties advanced on him in the Vancouver International Airport – Robert Dziekanski was tasered, as was allowed under RCMP policy at the time, Constable Gerry Rundel testified at an inquiry this week. Mr. Dziekanski, a 40-year-old Polish immigrant who had been waiting 10 hours for his mother, died after being tasered five times.
If anyone still wonders why police forces across Canada need to toss their taser-use policies in the garbage and start again, Constable Rundel's testimony is instructive. Many of those policies say “combative” or “resistant” people can be tasered. But these words are merely a blank slate on which police may write almost any self-justification they wish. They give police a licence for the use of massive force, even where, as in this case, it is unjustifiable.
Mr. Dziekanski was deemed combative and “non-compliant” (a close cousin of “resistant”), Constable Rundel explained, because he stepped back and threw his hands in the air as if to say, “To hell with you.” He did not raise the stapler over his head, as Constable Rundel had said in a formal statement earlier; this was an ex post facto justification shown to be false on a bystander's videotape.
The Mounties announced two weeks ago that they had changed their taser policy to reflect a “risk of death” to agitated individuals. The weapon is to be used only “where it is necessary to do so in circumstances of threats to officer or public safety.” “Threats to safety” is, like “res-
istant” and “combative,” a term that means everything and nothing, although the word “necessary” suggests a high hurdle. But other police forces in Canada haven't followed suit.
Instead, they have demonstrated how deeply they can thrust their heads into the sand. Yesterday, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Canadian Police Association, representing chiefs and police officers across the country, offered a defence of the taser as rote and mindless as that offered by Constable Rundel himself. Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino even chastised the public for making “Monday morning quarterback decisions.” Mr. Fantino was egregiously insulting; criticisms of the taser, he said, were coming from people who “could never pass recruitment training.” Only police can judge the police, a view that would fit nicely into a dictatorship.
It should now be clear that those in charge of most police forces in Canada are incapable of examining the lessons of Mr. Dziekanski's death on Oct. 14, 2007. The taser is being used as a weapon of convenience; its risks, its power and its painfulness cry out for limiting its uses to situations of real danger. Civilian authorities need to follow the lead of the RCMP and write narrower rules for taser use.
Poland ponders questioning officers, Taser inquiry told, Petti Fong, February 25, 2009.
VANCOUVER–The lawyer for one of the RCMP officers scheduled to appear before the Taser inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski revealed this morning that the Polish government is considering questioning police for legal proceedings.
David Butcher, representing Const. Bill Bentley, filed a motion asking for restrictions on the official transcripts from the inquiry. Butcher did not go into details on whether the officers have received notice but hinted that there are proceedings under way.
Dziekanski, a Polish citizen, left his home in southern Poland in October 2007 to start a new life in Canada.
At the Vancouver International Airport, he was left wandering for hours when he could not make connect with his mother, Zofia Cisowski, who had travelled three hours from Kamloops to pick him up.
Dziekanski, 40, was shot five times with a Taser gun and died minutes later.
"There is a court order that will enable (the government of Poland) to interview witnesses," said Butcher.
Butcher said he's not trying to stop news of the proceedings from being transmitted internationally. It's unclear whether the Polish government is seeking to charge the officers involved in the incident. The matter of restricting the transcripts was adjourned until later. Poland's consul general in Vancouver is attending the inquiry as an observer.
For a third day, Const. Gerry Rundel, a two-year veteran of the force, was on the witness stand. Under aggressive questioning, Rundel said repeatedly that Dziekanski appeared to be acting aggressively when he picked up a stapler.
"In training, when anything is grabbed and somebody goes to a combative stance, that object — no matter what it is, whether it's a stapler or anything else — is considered a weapon," said Rundel.
"There's no doubt in my mind that he took up a combative stance and he intended to harm us officers and anyone else in the public was also a possibility. No doubt in my mind."
Officer fears Poland could pursue charges, inquiry told, Petti Fong, February 26, 2009.
Lawyer at Taser probe seeks to curb use of transcripts, evidence.
VANCOUVER: One of the RCMP officers on the scene when Polish citizen Robert Dziekanski died after being Tasered in 2007 is concerned evidence from a public inquiry could be used by the Polish government to charge the officers, the inquiry heard yesterday.
David Butcher, the lawyer representing Const. Bill Bentley, said Poland's legal system allows the government to pursue criminal charges or civil claims against individuals even though the incident occurred outside of the country.
Butcher made a motion yesterday at the public inquiry headed by former judge Thomas Braidwood to keep evidence and transcripts from being sent outside of the country. Butcher said Bentley is concerned materials from the inquiry could be used by the Polish government to charge the officers.
Dziekanski, a Polish citizen, died Oct. 14, 2007 after he was shot by an RCMP Taser. Dziekanski had been wandering the Vancouver airport for at least 10 hours following a flight from Poland. He had been sponsored to immigrate to Canada by his mother Zofia Cisowski.
"We have heard some suggestions that there is the potential for legal proceedings," Butcher said in an interview. "Some legal systems provide for the prosecution or civil actions against people who have caused damage or injury to nationals anywhere in the world."
Butcher's motion to restrict transcripts and evidence, which are available online, will be heard later by Braidwood.
Events surrounding the death of Dziekanski, 40, have been closely followed in Poland. Consul Przemyslaw Jenke, with the Polish consulate in Vancouver, has been at the inquiry, which began Jan. 19 and is hearing from the four RCMP officers involved in the incident.
Jenke said yesterday in an interview that he is not aware what paperwork has been filed.
"We are very interested in hearing what happened," said Jenke. The testimony, so far, from two of the Mounties has left him "very uncomfortable," he said.
Don Rosenbloom, lawyer for the Polish government, said outside the inquiry he could not comment on what legal remedies Poland may seek against the four officers.
Bentley, the second officer to testify, said yesterday he believed "in his gut" that he would be hit by Dziekanski, who he said was waving a stapler in his hand, and that the public was in danger. Bentley said after the Taser was used and the four officers subdued the unarmed man, he noticed Dziekanski was turning blue. He said he radioed a routine ambulance call, but quickly upgraded the urgency, telling a dispatcher Dziekanski was unconscious but breathing.
Feds told RCMP to consider skipping Taser inquiry, Chad Skelton, February 25, 2009.
VANCOUVER - Senior RCMP officers were advised to consider skipping the Taser inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski because B.C. has no authority to investigate a federal police force, according to internal e-mails obtained by the Vancouver Sun.
However, Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, the RCMP's top cop in B.C., dismissed the idea, saying the force should voluntarily participate, regardless of jurisdictional concerns.
According to internal e-mails obtained by the Vancouver Sun, senior RCMP officers were advised to consider skipping the Taser inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski.
"Frankly, I don't care what Ottawa's position on it is at this stage," Bass wrote in an e-mail on Feb. 19, 2008, the day after B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal announced the inquiry. "The provincial force will co-operate."
In an interview Wednesday, RCMP spokesman Sgt. Tim Shields said Bass's reference to Ottawa referred to the Department of Justice, which advised the Mounties they were not legally required to attend.
Two weeks before Bass's e-mail, on Feb. 1, 2008, B.C. RCMP Chief Supt. Dick Bent - deputy head of criminal operations - sent an e-mail to federal Deputy Commissioner Bill Sweeney, the RCMP's second-in-command in Ottawa. The e-mail, obtained by the Vancouver Sun through the Access to Information Act, outlined Bent's concerns about the RCMP participating in a provincial inquiry.
"The obvious question is with respect to the jurisdiction of the province to have an enquiry into any federal government agency/department," Bent wrote. The e-mail, which was copied to Bass, noted that Bent had recently had a meeting with RCMP Complaints Commissioner Paul Kennedy when the issue of jurisdiction came up.
"It was Paul Kennedy who said that there are a number of court cases which are clear that the provinces have no authority to investigate or hold enquiries into federal departments," the e-mail said. "He went on to say that it is his belief that even if we wished to co-operate, that the RCMP, or any other government entity, may not be able to waive that jurisdictional issue."
Bent closed his e-mail by writing: "Part of me feels that we need to be as transparent and co-operative as possible and hate to be seen as saying, ‘Sorry province, but you don't have jurisdiction.' " However, he added, "There are, as you well understand, larger issues here which potentially affect other federal government agencies, not just the RCMP."
Despite those concerns, Bass ordered the release of a statement the day after Oppal's announcement, confirming the RCMP would co-operate.
In an internal e-mail attached to that statement, Bass wrote: "I think we should avoid any legalistic jargon which leaves any room for suggestion that we may opt out at some point or under some circumstances."
Shields said Wednesday that Bass was always committed to participating in the inquiry, and Bent's e-mail was meant only to outline the legal issues involved. "There was never a question that we would not participate," he said. Shields added it is the B.C. RCMP's policy to participate in any provincial inquiry it is asked to attend. "Technically, as it's written under the law, because we're a federal agency, we (don't) have to participate," he said. "But we . . . have a moral duty to be transparent, open and accountable to the citizens of British Columbia."
Globe Editorial: A case for talk, not force, February 5, 2009.
Robert Dziekanski represented an utterly simple problem, as the translation of his last words shows so poignantly. He was a man who couldn't find his way out of Vancouver International Airport. And because he didn't speak English or French, he couldn't make himself understood.
"How long do I still have to wait? So, you will not let me go? You will not let me out of here?" He thought he wasn't free to leave. (His mother, who had waited six hours for him, had been assured he was not in the airport, and she had gone home.) And when four Mounties moved toward him, "Leave me alone, leave me alone. Are you out of your mind?" Feeling cornered, he apparently brandished a stapler at them.
Was this a problem that required a police show of force, including five 50,000-volt zaps from a taser, to resolve? Of course not. All it required was one person to take charge of him - to find out why he had become stranded in the airport for 10 hours, to find a Polish-speaker to translate (perhaps there are one or two in Vancouver), to promise him that he would be taken care of.
All the RCMP's explanations for their actions have been revealed as empty, at the Braidwood Inquiry into the tasering of Mr. Dziekanski. This was not about an aggressive man. Nor was this about a man suffering the effects of alcohol withdrawal, in the non sequitur offered by the RCMP. It was about someone feeling confused and scared, according to the very credible testimony of a translator, using technology that produced the first audible rendering of Mr. Dziekanski's words from a bystander's videotape.
No one nearby seems to have been afraid of him. A woman testified that she had been trying to talk to the hulking, sweating man. A man who was five feet tall testified he encountered him at close quarters. A six-foot limousine driver, who had become annoyed with Mr. Dziekanski, testified he had yelled and cursed right in his face.
This was a situation that called for that staple of all human societies: communication. Mr. Dziekanski did not speak English or French, and was acting in a way that looked strange, at least to those who knew nothing of his circumstances. And the national police force in this advanced society, sizing up the situation in mere seconds, decided communication was impossible, and chose force. Of all the colossal errors that day - Oct. 14, 2007 - that was the biggest, and the most devastating.
Canada blocking Taser investigation: Poland, Peter O'Neil, February 26, 2009.
PARIS - Poland wants to launch its own investigation into the 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski but is being blocked by the unilateral suspension by Canada of a co-operation treaty, the Polish embassy in Ottawa said Thursday.
The decision to suspend the agreement was made shortly after Canadian police, with the co-operation of Polish authorities, went to Poland last year as part of its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the immigrant's death at the Vancouver International Airport.
"As I am aware Canada decided to suspend this agreement, which is not a very encouraging step," Sylwia Domisiewicz, the Polish press and protocol officer, said in an interview Thursday. "And right now we are working on making the Canadian government change its mind and restart judicial cooperation." She noted that local authorities co-operated fully with Canadian police in Poland last year in accordance with the Canada-Poland treaty on "mutual legal assistance in criminal matters," which was signed and ratified in the mid-1990s. The two countries do not have an extradition treaty. The Canadian decision to suspend the treaty means "if we want to proceed here (with a Polish criminal investigation) that's not going to happen."
There was no immediate reaction from the Canadian government on the Polish stance on the issue.
Domisiewicz said in a subsequent e-mail that Polish law gives it the authority to lay charges against the Canadian policemen who Tasered and then wrestled Dziekanski to the ground shortly before he died of a heart attack.
"On the basis of the Polish Criminal Code we have a right to charge persons responsible for death of Polish citizen abroad. This is, I think, a general rule present in a majority of national legal systems." She said the treaty suspension means Poland is unable to access tapes, transcripts and other evidence being presented at the public inquiry now underway in Vancouver. Polish prosecutors have sought access to all the documents but "it is not possible until the treaty is reinstated."
At the inquiry on Wednesday lawyer David Butcher, representing one of the RCMP officers involved, filed a motion seeking to prevent transcripts, video, audiotapes and other evidence presented at the inquiry from being released without a court order. He said he didn't want the material released to the Polish government.
B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal has previously expressed concern about Poland's desire to investigate the case. "I understand their position, that they want to be part of the process," he said in 2007. "The more difficult question is whether they would have any legal authority here to involve themselves in an investigation."
Toronto lawyer Joseph Neuberger said countries can sometimes take over a prosecution of an alleged crime committed on foreign soil in situations such as war crimes and murder. But he said the Poles don't have a strong case because there is no evidence of criminal intent in the Dziekanski matter. The lack of an extradition treaty makes it even more difficult. "There would be very great resistance to any surrender of Canadian citizens to face charges in this case."
Dziekanski's death got huge media coverage in Poland after the video appeared showing his last horrific minutes before his heart stopped while being held down by the burly Mounties. The inquiry has been getting sporadic coverage.
Political analyst Andrzej Szeptycki said the public believes Dziekanski died for "no reason," but said the public chatter has dissipated. "We've talked about it a lot when he was killed. It was some time ago," he said in an e-mail. "Now Polish media regularly follows the discussion on changing the law on the use of these electric blasters in Canada and in other countries."
RCMP officers will not be charged, Neal Hall, December 13, 2008.
Dziekanski Tasered five times - RCMP officers will not be charged in death of Polish man killed at Vancouver airport.
New details emerged Friday as the Crown announced no charges will be laid against the four RCMP officers involved in the death of a Polish man who was Tasered on Oct. 14 last year at Vancouver International Airport.
Stan Lowe, speaking on behalf of the Criminal Justice Branch, which oversees charges and prosecutions in B.C., revealed for the first time that Robert Dziekanski had received five shocks from a Taser over 31 seconds, not two as initially announced by the RCMP.
RCMP Supt. Wayne Rideout, the team leader of an investigation conducted by members of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said Friday an RCMP spokesman had initially issued incorrect information that the Taser had been deployed only twice. The mistake was made in the rush to provide the media information immediately after the incident, he said. "The RCMP spokesman conveyed the information he had been provided from one of the officers present at the airport. That officer did not himself deploy the conducted energy weapon," Rideout told reporters at a news conference. Once it was realized incorrect information was released, police could not correct it because a criminal investigation was under way and police did not want influence the investigation, he said.
And while police initially called to the scene thought Dziekanski was intoxicated, the Crown revealed Friday that no drugs or alcohol were found in his system, and that he had an unopened bottle of Polish vodka with him.
Dziekanski's mother, Zofia Cisowski, was upset when told by officials on Thursday that no charges would be laid against the four officers, her lawyer, Walter Kosteckyj, said Friday. "Her initial reaction was, 'How can you tell me a Taser was deployed five times on my son and it isn't excessive?'" the lawyer recalled. She also questioned why officers "jumping" on her son to restrain and handcuff him wasn't considered excessive force, he said.
"They [the RCMP] said they don't have any legal responsibility," Kosteckyj said, but added that his client plans to file a civil lawsuit against police. "They just mishandled the entire situation," said the lawyer and former Mountie. He pointed out that Dziekanski, seconds before he was first jolted with the Taser, told police in Polish: "Have you lost your mind? What are you doing?" "They may have followed procedure," Kosteckyj said of the police actions. "If the procedure was flawed, that's not an issue for the criminal justice system, but it is an issue for the Braidwood commission."
The Braidwood commission of inquiry into the incident and the use of Tasers by police resumes Jan. 19 in Vancouver, presided over by retired judge Thomas Braidwood.
The Crown also revealed Friday that the Taser shocks did not cause the cardiac arrest that led to Dziekanski's death, but that the actions of police in restraining and handcuffing the man were found to be a contributing factor.
Lowe told the news conference that the available evidence from the police investigation "falls short" of the branch's charge-approval standard, which is a substantial likelihood of conviction. He said the decision was reviewed by three levels of prosecution administration, including Robert Gillen, the assistant deputy attorney-general of B.C.
The charges considered were assault, assault with a weapon and manslaughter, Lowe said.
"We were all horrified by what happened," Attorney-General Wally Oppal said Friday. But Oppal pointed out that the law entitles police to use reasonable force, and the conclusion reached by prosecutors was that the force used was justified under the circumstances. "The public should realize the process is not over yet," the attorney-general said, adding that the Braidwood commission will hold the officers and the RCMP accountable for their actions.
Dziekanski, 40, had arrived in Vancouver from Poland after 21 hours of travelling. He exhibited bizarre, aggressive behavior at the airport, including throwing furniture and a computer, before he was encountered by police, who responded after several people called 911. Witnesses told police the man was "freaking out, drunk and did not speak English," Lowe explained during a news conference Friday. "The officers attempted to talk to Mr. Dziekanski and communicate with him with hand signals for several seconds," he added. "He momentarily calmed down and dropped his arms to his side."
Then Dziekanski became annoyed and frustrated, threw up his arms, moved to his right, grabbed a stapler and held it out in his hand, Lowe said. The officers then backed away from Dziekanski and deployed Taser for the first time. Cause of death was listed as "sudden death following restraint," Lowe said. The officers involved were identified only by their rank and last names: Constables Millington, Bentley and Rundel, and Cpl. Robinson.
Millington was the officer with the Taser. It was revealed for the first time that the Taser was deployed three times in probe mode -- in which two electrical probes are fired at a person and conduct an electrical shock -- and twice in stun mode. Lowe said the evidence shows Millington initially deployed the Taser in probe mode but the device appeared to malfunction because it was making a "clacking" sound, indicating the probes were not making proper contact, resulting in an incomplete electrical circuit.
After Dziekanski was on the ground and continued to struggle, Millington deployed the Taser twice more in stun mode, he said.
It took about 30 seconds after the last Taser shock for officers to restrain and handcuff Dziekanski, Lowe said. A use-of-force expert from a police force outside the RCMP reviewed the police investigation and concluded the officers' actions were consistent with RCMP policy and training, he said.
The RCMP also disclosed Friday that two of the officers involved in the incident had been transferred to undisclosed locations after a number of "ugly" taunting incidents. Police wouldn't elaborate. One officer remained in B.C., working on "other functions" -- not front-line duties -- and another has been suspended for an unrelated incident, said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Al Macintyre, who is in charge of criminal operations in B.C.
He said the four Mounties will cooperate with the Braidwood inquiry, which has been delayed awaiting the charge-approval decision. The incident has been difficult for the RCMP and the officers involved, said Macintyre, who acknowledged the grief it has caused Dziekanski's mother.
"The RCMP is committed to learning as much as possible from this incident and making adjustments to its policies and practices where needed," Macintyre said. "Since this incident, the RCMP has made a number of changes to its conducted energy weapon [Taser] policies, training, practices and reporting requirements, and we are certainly open to making further improvements," he said. He said changes already made include: restricting the use of the weapons to incidents involving threats to officer or public safety; requiring RCMP officers to be re-certified annually on the use of conducted energy weapons; testing of the weapons themselves; enhanced use-of-force reporting; and analysis of reporting on conducted energy weapon usage. "There are some who believe the conducted energy weapon should no longer be used by police. There is obviously a lot of emotion around this issue," Macintyre said, adding that policy decisions should be based on facts and scientific data, not emotion.
The RCMP has initiated independent electronic testing of a sampling of Tasers, including voltage variance, Macintyre said. He said the airport death was still being investigated by the B.C. coroner service, which will hold an inquest, and the RCMP Public Complaints Commission.
MLA Mike Farnworth, the NDP public safety critic, said the Braidwood inquiry needs to answer many questions the public has about the incident and the reasoning behind the charge-assessment decision. "There are a lot of outstanding questions the public needs answers to," Farnworth said. "I think the public will want to know why [charges were not laid] -- the logic and reasoning behind it."
B.C. - YVR News Conference Statements, Al Macintyre & Wayne Rideout read prepared statements - video & transcripts, December 12, 2008.
A/Commissioner Al Macintyre - "E" Division CROPS Officer
On October 14, 2007, Mr. Robert Dziekanski died suddenly at Vancouver International Airport shortly after being arrested by RCMP members.
The RCMP recognizes the impact that this tragic event has had on the family and friends of Mr. Dziekanski. On November 23rd of last year we met privately with Mrs. Cisowski, who is Robert Dziekanski's mother, to express our condolences. This incident has left many unanswered questions for her, the public and all those directly or indirectly involved.
This tragic incident has also been difficult for the RCMP, most significantly on the four members directly involved. We send our men and women out to patrol the communities we serve, day after day and night after night. They routinely face situations most would run from. As police officers they never know what to expect when attending a call. They anticipate and prepare for the worse case scenario but hope that it does not happen. It is important for all of us to recognize and support our police officers, while at the same time holding them accountable for their actions. The RCMP has been working in support of these two objectives.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team's (IHIT's) thorough investigation was completed and submitted to Provincial Crown Counsel, who, having carefully considered the matter, has made the decision which you have heard today.
The events of October 14, 2007 and subsequent investigations have and will be subject to several layers of scrutiny and oversight, including an independent observer from the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP (or CPC), an investigation by the CPC itself into the matter - the results of which will also be made public - a review of the investigation by a senior member of the Ontario Provincial Police, an Independent Officer Review of the actions taken by police in connection with this incident, the Braidwood Hearing and Study Commission and the B.C. Coroner's public inquest. Further information will become public as the remaining processes unfold.
The RCMP is committed to learning as much as possible from this incident and making adjustments to its policies and practices where needed. Since this incident, the RCMP has made a number of changes to its conducted energy weapon policies, training, practices and reporting requirements, and we are certainly open to making further improvements.
Examples of changes already made include restricting the use of the weapons to incidents involving threats to officer or public safety; requiring RCMP officers to be re-certified annually on the use of conducted energy weapons; testing of the weapons themselves; enhanced use of force reporting; and ongoing analysis of reporting on conducted energy weapon usage.
One issue has been debated more than any other in relation to this incident in the past year, and that issue is the use of the conducted energy weapon. There are some who believe the conducted energy weapon should no longer be used by police. There is obviously a lot of emotion around this issue. We do not believe, however, that this is a sound basis for policy making; rather, decisions must be based on facts and scientific data.
The RCMP will continue to work with the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC), other police services, medical experts and others to further enhance our policies, training, practices and reporting requirements relating to use of force, including the conducted energy weapon.
The RCMP has initiated independent electronic testing of a sampling of CEWs from all Divisions. Testing of voltage and voltage variance, voltage under load and amperage are ongoing.
The RCMP also welcomes the announcement by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) Board of Directors that they will convene a summit of key national players in mid-January to develop a CACP policy on CEWs. The RCMP is looking forward to participating in the process.
We respect the independent decision of Provincial Crown Counsel and thank IHIT for the thoroughness of its investigation. We will now focus our attention on the Braidwood Hearing and Study Commission, and we look forward to Justice Braidwood's recommendations.
Superintendent Wayne Rideout, who is the Commander of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team for this incident, will now provide you with a brief chronology of the investigative process.
Supt. Wayne Rideout - IHIT
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, or IHIT, is responsible for homicide investigations, police involved shootings and in-custody deaths within the Lower Mainland.
I am the accredited team commander for this investigation. My investigators took charge of the scene at Vancouver International Airport immediately after the incident occurred and the scene was contained and secured accordingly. The British Columbia Coroner's service also attended.
As with all major crime investigations, the investigators gathered physical evidence from the scene at the airport. Numerous statements were taken from witnesses in the initial hours, days and weeks that followed. Each piece of information or evidence was evaluated to determine whether a criminal investigation was warranted. Initially the team was conducting a sudden death investigation on behalf of the Coroner's service under the authority of the B.C. Coroner's Act.
The role of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team was to gather evidence to the best of its abilities and to provide that evidence to those who are responsible for decisions and conduct of any subsequent processes, including a Coroner's inquest or criminal prosecutions. As in all investigations, police must protect the integrity of evidence. It is important that evidence be reliable and based on the true recollection of witnesses and not, for example, on what they have heard or seen in the media.
The team gathered evidence and disclosed all of it to Provincial Crown Counsel. Here is a brief chronology of the investigation process.
In the first stage of the investigation, between October 14 and November 30, 2007, the investigators conducted a full review of the Canada Border Services Agency logs and interviewed CBSA employees who were on shift on October 14. Investigators studied the video surveillance tapes, interviewed airport staff and reviewed the security operations that occurred that day.
The investigation team took statements from each of the four RCMP officers who responded to the incident as well as from eye witnesses. There were a number of follow-up interviews as well, with CBSA employees, airline and airport staff and emergency services employees. Analysis of the data from the conducted energy weapon used in the incident was conducted by the Delta Police Department.
In the second stage of the investigation, between December 1, 2007 and March 8, 2008, we sought the expertise of members in the Vancouver Police and Delta Police Departments who specialize in use of force issues. The Canadian Police Research Centre provided a functional analysis of the conducted energy weapon used in the incident and further testing of that CEW has also been carried out.
We received four expert reports on the cause of death from various medical authorities in Canada and the US.
Part of the incident that took place at Vancouver International on October 14, 2007 was filmed by Paul Pritchard on his personal camera. Mr. Pritchard came forward with that footage and voluntarily turned his video over to IHIT investigators. We held it for three and a half weeks.
There were two key reasons why the investigation team wanted to hold on to Mr. Pritchard's video.
The first was because it contained valuable evidence.
Our second reason for retaining the video was to protect the integrity of witness statements. It was important that their recollections be based on what they had actually observed and not what they might have seen on the video.
Three weeks after the video was obtained, the Coroner had declared that he had no further need for it. At this point in the investigation there was no statutory authority under the Criminal Code to keep the video and as such it was returned to Mr. Pritchard on November 7, 2007.
The Conducted Energy Weapon
The conducted energy weapon is equipped with a recording mechanism, and the data can be downloaded to analyze the activity of that weapon. An independent analysis by Delta Police Department determined that the conducted energy weapon was deployed a number of times. This multiple cycle usage was reported by the RCMP officer who deployed the device in the statement he provided to our investigators the day after the occurrence.
When a conducted energy weapon is deployed in probe mode, two wires are projected from the weapon and electrical current between the probes at the tips of the wires produces a short term debilitating effect. A person's movements or clothing that is thick or loose can disrupt the electrical current and affect the performance of the weapon. The other mode, called push stun mode, causes localized pain in the area where direct contact is made.
The manner of application of the conducted energy weapon was a central issue in this investigation.
Our investigation indicates that during the incident there were three cycles in probe mode and two in push stun mode, lasting for a total of 31 seconds. From the video and the statements by witnesses and police, it is not entirely clear how many of these deployments made actual contact.
The investigation team sought expert opinion from Vancouver Police and Delta Police Department's use of force experts. The conducted energy weapon itself was also analyzed by the Canadian Police Research Centre. As Assistant Commissioner MacIntyre has indicated, further tests of the CEW have also been carried out to determine whether or not the weapon was functioning as it was designed to function. The team has concluded that one of the probes made contact with Mr. Dziekanski's body and one with his jacket. This caused intermittent contact. We expect the inquiry will hear from experts about their opinions about what occurred.
The weapon is intended to assist in the arrest of persons who pose a threat to the public or police in a manner that is less likely to cause injury than other use of force options. The training on the use of that device and the officers' understanding of the purpose of its application, as well as their thoughts as to what they were attempting to accomplish are highly relevant to a criminal investigation. Senior Provincial Crown Counsel has concluded that the evidence in this case does not support criminal charges, and we accept that conclusion.
We received the Coroner's pathology report late in February 2008.
The pathologist's determination of cause of death is information that belongs to the Coroner's office. Only the Coroner's Service can make that information public.
We anticipate the medical experts' opinions will be submitted to the upcoming Braidwood Commission and Coroner's inquest. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on them now.
Visit to Poland
Another component of this investigation was the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team's trip to Poland.
The reason our investigators traveled to Poland was to obtain witness statements that would be used in any court proceedings, inquests or inquiries in Canada, and to determine Mr. Dziekanski's activities, health and state of mind in the days leading up to his departure for Canada. The team discovered a number of factors, which they passed on to the medical experts to help them render an opinion in relation to cause of death.
Negotiations with Poland began as early as November 2007 and it took several months to get country clearance and establish a protocol with local authorities.
The trip took place from April 14 to 17, 2008. The investigators were able to observe interviews conducted by the Polish authorities, based on questions that our investigators provided in advance and supplemented by follow up questions through an interpreter. The entire process took place in accordance with Polish law and with the cooperation of Polish prosecutors. A Polish prosecutor oversaw the interviews and heard the evidence, given under oath.
When the investigators returned to Canada, the statements they had obtained were translated and provided to medical experts and to the Provincial Crown as supplementary information to the initial report to Provincial Crown Counsel. Experts used this information in conjunction with all other information to provide their opinions with respect to Mr. Dziekanski's death.
Inconsistent RCMP statements
We recognize that some of the information provided today is inconsistent with what was said by the RCMP at the onset of the investigation.
In the early days following the incident, an RCMP spokesperson stated that the conducted energy weapon was deployed twice. It is now clear that there were three cycles in probe mode and two in push stun mode.
The RCMP spokesman conveyed the information he had been provided from one of the officers present at the airport. That officer did not himself deploy the conducted energy weapon.
The reason the RCMP could not publically correct the information when it was determined that a mis-statement had been made, is that, by that time a criminal investigation had been undertaken. Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, the provision of a report to Provincial Crown Counsel and a determination of whether criminal charges would be laid, it would not have been appropriate to disclose publically the evidence that had been gathered.
The IHIT investigation into the incident at Vancouver International Airport has been concluded. Throughout the process, we have adhered to the policies and principles that apply to all major investigations, and believe our conclusions are fact-based and reasonable.
We are anxious for all the facts to be made public and look forward to the upcoming Braidwood Hearing and Study Commission and the Coroner’s Inquest and recommendations. There may be some questions that cannot be answered except in the course of those proceedings, but I would be happy to try to respond to any questions.
Summary of the Question and Answer Session
Did the four officers violate RCMP policy during this incident? Supt. Wayne Rideout: There are a number of oversight processes that are currently underway with respect to this overall incident. They include the Commission for Public Complaints review, the OPP conducted its own investigation, and the RCMP has assigned an independent officer review. Those will make determinations around policy, but based on the IHIT investigation, I do not see a policy breach.
Will those officers now be available to the Braidwood Inquiry? A. Comm. Al Macintyre: The RCMP will participate with Commissioner Braidwood and his inquiries to the extent possible and that remains our position.
The officers from the YVR incident have a position that they can take, they have lawyers that will represent them. Our understanding today is that the officers will participate in the Braidwood Part 2 Inquiry.
We've heard that there are changes to the policy surrounding the use of TASERS, would the policy changes have changed the outcome if they had been in place at the time of the incident? Corporal Gillis, the Use of Force Expert for the RCMP Pacific Region: No, they would not have.
Why was it necessary to TASER with 4 officers against one guy in a very secure area? Supt. Wayne Rideout: Those issues were examined extensively by the IHIT investigation. It would be our expectation that the officers themselves will deliver those answers at the Braidwood Inquiry because all use of force application is the officers’ beliefs and analysis of the situation at the time. The IHIT investigation has shown at this time that through the use of external independent police use of force experts that their use of force was appropriate, lawful and within policy. The Crown Counsel has now come back and said the same thing.
Are you saying that the officers did not violate criminal policy from the moment they arrived until Mr. Dziekanski died? Supt. Wayne Rideout: There are a number of oversight inquiries going on. The Commissioner of Public Complaints has conducted a review. The Ontario Police has conducted an investigation. We have an independent officer review being taking place within the RCMP. Fom the IHIT investigation that has been completed at this time, there was no policy breach made.
What about the fact that when Mr. Dziekanski was on the ground and didn't appear to be breathing and nobody seemed to be helping him and the RCMP were right there. Supt. Wayne Rideout: Our expectation is that the officers who were there and involved are the best to comment on that, and they will at some point at hearings will do just that.
It is our understanding that the officers and a YVR security officer monitored the pulse and sounds of breath following the deployment of the CEW. When they realized Mr. Dziekanski was in medical distress they called for an ambulance. When they recognized that the stress was worsening, they called the ambulance again and asked that they respond in an emergency manner. They continued to monitor Mr. Dziekanski throughout that process, you'll note from the video he was put in a recovery position on his side.
It is my understanding through the investigation that that pulse and sounds of breath remained until the ambulance arrived. The ambulance arrived and they were not able to locate a pulse or signs of breath. It is also my understanding that you do not perform CPR on somebody who has breath or pulse.
Where are the officers now? A. Comm. Al Macintyre: There are 4 officers involved. Two of them are posted in Eastern Canada, and two are posted in British Columbia. One of them is currently suspended as a result of an incident unrelated to this matter.
Are they still able to carry TASERS? A. Comm. Al Macintyre: The duty they are involved in now do not require the use of TASER, its not a control function.
They were put into duties that are not front line and moved in to other functions within the RCMP which we have many of.
Why were they transferred to Eastern Canada? A. Comm. Al Macintyre: The circumstance at the time was that life became awkward around the airport.
It looked like that the officers backed up because they knew they were going to deploy the taser and not because of the stapler. What did the IHIT investigation reveal? Supt. Wayne Rideout: The IHIT investigation looked at the entire incident in context with every other component in this investigation, Mr. Dziekanski’s behaviour in the hours and minutes before the officers encountered him. The entire video showed that Mr. Dziekanski was disoriented, confused and appeared to be somewhat incoherent. While enroute to responding to the incident, the officers received update information about the situation through the radio. They were advised on the nature of the complaint that they were responding to. By policy, their duty necessitated them to take Mr. Dziekanski’s into custody. They would be making assessment as to how they would do that while they were enroute, based on all available information to them. We know that occurred.
The officers were making observations based on what they saw. It is extremely important that we recognized what they saw, what facial expressions and body movements led them to believe. The act of throwing up the hands can be interpreted as one of non-compliant and a resisting or combative posture. When that is followed by picking up a stapler and turning into the direction of the officers, we recognized that this behaviour was seen as extraordinary and combative. We interpreted that’s why the actions were followed as they did.
Why did the dispatcher warned the officers that Mr. Dziekanski was intoxicated? Supt. Wayne Rideout: Several non police officer witnesses that we interviewed thought Mr. Dziekanski was intoxicated. Others did not think he was or know what his condition was. Some of those that assumed that he was intoxicated based on his behaviour relayed the information to the 911 operator. The dispatcher communicated this information to the officers.
Were the tasers used faulty? Supt. Wayne Rideout: We sent three tasers for testing to independent centres and was told that the tasers involved were within the manufacturer’s specifications.
What has the RCMP learned from this? A. Comm. Al Macintyre: We have to be careful when coming out with the statement to satisfy the needs of the media and the public in the first few days of the event, making sure that we have the facts right. We will listen carefully through the Braidwood process to see if there is requirement to change policy, training, equipment. We will look that very carefully. We are doing that with all police forces in BC. We want to make sure that we get it right.
IHIT investigation put all the experts has said to look at to see if any change needs to be made. There are a substantial amount of information on the causal effect of Mr. Dziekanski's death.
Since the crown has ruled that the use of taser was a contributing factor to the stress that caused his cardiac arrest, was the use of TASER appropriate? Supt. Wayne Rideout: IHIT investigation put all the expert opinions together to look at what happened. We need to take all the various expert opinions including what the pathologists said, the coroner inquest, the various medical expert opinions, and use it all to look at what happened. There is a substantial amount of information regarding potential causal factors with respect to Mr. Dziekanski’s death, those will become an important part of the Braidwood Commision and the Coroner's Inquest. From the examination of all the information, perhaps some recommendation can be made.
Is it possible that the police used the TASER too quickly? Why didn’t they take him down by hand? Supt. Wayne Rideout: Mr. Dziekanski’s physical actions were seen by the officers as non-compliant which was immediately followed by the fact that he picked up a stapler and turned towards the officers. Their perception was highly relevant with respect to use of force. Under section 25 of the Criminal Code of Canada, the officers have the authority to use as much force as necessary. Any advancement of criminal prosecution has to consider that factor when we look at whether they breached the criminal offence. The cumulative effect of the investigation does not give that impression.
Was it appropriate for police officer to lean his knee on his neck after he has been TASER'ed? Supt. Wayne Rideout: Taking someone into custody who was combative is always a very dynamic situation. The actual cause of death will be determined at the coroner’s inquest. The appropriateness of leaning on Mr. Dziekanski will certainly be addressed in those inquiries and by the officers of independent review, the Commission of Public Complaints. It does not make it a criminal prosecution.
Is there a policy violation? There's been many studies showing that officers should not pin down a person that has been TASER'ed so they can breath. Supt. Wayne Rideout: That component will be subject to the inquiry, we look forward to the recommendations that will come out of that.
Why wasn't communication used as a tool for diffusing the situation? Supt. Wayne Rideout: Communication is a powerful tool but sometimes it does not work. Take a close look at the seconds before the CEW was used, there was an effort to affect the arrest by other means. When he throws up his hands and picks up a stapler, that changes the perception of the officers and results in the reaction we saw.
Is it possible that someone with who is not a police officer would come up with an entirely different conclusion when looking at this video? Supt. Wayne Rideout: It's critically important that the video is viewed in its entirety and in context with all the other information from the investigation. Mr. Dziekanski's medical condition, state of mind, hours before the incident, information available to officers leading up to incident, what witnesses saw and felt while Mr. Dziekanski was damaging property at YVR. When you look at the video in isolation and out of context, then certainly some might be shocked by it. The goal of the IHIT investigation has been to follow the law, to follow the process, to ensure all parties receive a thorough and comprehensive truthful investigation.
How did the situation escalate to the deployment of the taser soon after the officer arriving at the scene? Supt. Wayne Rideout: What has to be considered is the information that is being relayed to dispatchers by witnesses saying "call the police, somebody at the airport is breaking things, smashing glass". This information was relayed to the YVR operations centre who then relayed to 911 operators who dispatched police officers and relayed that information to them. They are beginning to make their assessment as to what they are responding to while they are en route. That happens in all cases and is a normal police response. As they are arriving, people are giving them information albeit quickly. They are making assessment as to how they would respond to it.
Are there less severe uses of force that could have been used before the use of TASERs? We always hear about the escalation of the use of force. Supt. Wayne Rideout: There is escalation and there de-escalation of use of force. But again it's completely contingent on the officers’ perspective at the moment and time they are trying to make the arrest. You cannot separate the abstract analysis on the issue without looking at the facts pertaining to this case. IHIT investigation has found that the he had already broken several items, was sweating, clearly in distress, yelling. Witnesses were asking “where are the police?”. When they respond and try to arrest him, he throws up his hands and turns and moves towards the counter and grabs a stapler and turns towards the officers. That in my view is a factor in their perception of their need of different use of force options. Keep in mind Conducted Energy Weapons are less lethal use of force. CEW is designed to take people in custody in a manner that does not harm them. That's its purpose.
You mention some of the officers were involved in ugly incidents after this. Did any of them go on stress leave? A. Comm. Al Macintyre: We do not have stress leave. They would be either off duty sick or working. None of the officers went on any form of leave, they were off a few days from work after incident and then they were re-assigned to other duties. The ugly incidents going on were small, they were little indicators, cat calling etc,. But through our ability to transfer people we are able to avoid that by accommodating 2 members who were from Eastern Canada and transferring them and transferring the other two not to far away from their home unit.
Did anybody clue in that this was actually a mental health call, an unstable person? Supt. Wayne Rideout: It is my hope that the officers would be able to provide that evidence directly. I cannot comment as it would be largely hearsay and might compromise the Braidwood investigation. The IHIT investigation, in hind sight, is clear that Mr. Dziekanski was in distress.
Given the change in policies after the Dziekanski incident, would the behaviour of the officers be any different? Corporal Gillis: If similar circumstances were to happen somewhere else in Canada, the officers would have to make an independent assessment based on what they are faced with. But it is very possible that the officers would choose to intervene in a similar manner.
Dziekanski video showed reality you won't hear from Mounties, Gary Mason, March 2, 2009.
VANCOUVER — It wasn't the first time the RCMP officer who tasered Robert Dziekanski had watched video of the incident. But this time, Constable Kwesi Millington had to watch it while reconciling the visual evidence with the statements he made immediately after the incident.
Constable Millington took the stand yesterday at the inquiry into Mr. Dziekanski's death at Vancouver International Airport in the early morning hours of Oct. 14, 2007. It was not pretty. Consistently, information he supplied to an RCMP investigating officer shortly after the incident was contradicted by the now-infamous video.
After nearly a week of testimony from three of the four Mounties involved in the confrontation that day, it is clear that if it were not for that video, the version of events supplied by the officers wouldn't have come close to what actually happened.
Draw your own conclusions why.
On the stand at the inquiry that former B.C. Supreme Court justice Thomas Braidwood is holding into Mr. Dziekanski's death, Constable Millington said the 40-year-old Polish immigrant was obviously agitated when the officers caught up with him. Yet the video of the encounter showed Mr. Dziekanski was anything but agitated and was standing there quite calmly but obviously confused. Why wouldn't he be, given he couldn't understand a word the officers were saying?
At one point, Mr. Dziekanski put his hands in the air and started walking away. He grabbed a stapler from a counter. According to Constable Millington's statement given at the local detachment a few hours later, and another statement given the following day, Mr. Dziekanski “raised [the stapler] in the air” and assumed a “combative stance” before stepping toward the officers in a “threatening manner.”
But that wasn't true at all. First, it's clear from the video that Mr. Dziekanski never raised the stapler above the level of his belt, or just slightly above, and if he stepped in the direction of the officers, it was a barely perceptible baby step. But this was enough to compel Constable Millington to take out his taser and pump Mr. Dziekanski with 50,000 volts.
I have seen the video of the tasering maybe a hundred times now and it never ceases to shock me. It did again yesterday. The worst part is right after Mr. Dziekanski is tasered for the first time, sending him reeling backward, holding his stomach, like someone who has just been shot. As he staggered backward, he fell on his backside and his legs shot up in the air.
The sight of him on the ground, screaming and writhing in pain, his arms holding his chest, is a terrible thing to watch. It is at this point, unbelievably, that Constable Millington gave the man a second blast from his taser.
So why, with Mr. Dziekanski on the ground, clearly in pain, did the officer taser him again? Just one second after the first hit?
In his original statement, Constable Millington said it was because Mr. Dziekanski hadn't gone down after the first discharge. But he clearly had.
“I was wrong about that,” Constable Millington said on the stand.
He also said in his statement that his fellow officers had to wrestle Mr. Dziekanski to the ground because he wouldn't fall.
“I was wrong,” the officer had to admit again.
Still, Constable Millington defended the second shot because he felt Mr. Dziekanski wasn't completely immobilized and was still “moving and struggling.” Yes, struggling for his life as it would turn out.
It got worse.
After Mr. Dziekanski was on the ground, with three officers on top of him, one with a knee in his back, Constable Millington fired the taser a third time. This time, because the “male was still resisting the officers.” That's right, three RCMP officers, all close to six feet and collectively weighing nearly 600 pounds, couldn't subdue someone the Mounties estimated to be 5'9” and weigh 180.
But Constable Millington wasn't finished.
He said he thought his taser wasn't working properly because it was making a “clacking sound” so he took out the cartridge and put the weapon in push-stun mode, which is when the taser is applied directly to a person's body, causing severe pain.
This, Constable Millington did two times even though he told the RCMP officer who took his statement that he had applied the taser in push-stun mode only once. Another fact refuted by the video evidence. By lunch break, I counted at least six statements that Constable Millington made immediately after the incident that ended up being contradicted by the video.
But Constable Millington did do one thing right.
When Mr. Dziekanski started turning blue, he suggested his fellow officers turn him over on his back, into what police call “recovery position.”
By then it was too late.
BRITISH COLUMBIA CRIMINAL JUSTICE BRANCH CLEAR STATEMENT, Friday, December 12, 2008.
Page 1 of 7
Robert Dziekanski was a 40 year old Polish man, who was the only child of Zophia Cisowski. Ms. Cisowski had immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1999 and settled in Kamloops. In 2007, arrangements were made for Mr. Dziekanski to immigrate to Canada and reside with his mother in Kamloops.
In the time preceding his departure, friends of Mr. Dziekanski confirmed that he was very apprehensive about leaving Poland to start a new life in Canada. He was also extremely anxious and fearful about the prospect of flying, as he had never been in an airplane before. An earlier flight had to be cancelled and rescheduled as a result of his fear of flying.
On the morning of his departure, October 13, 2007, Mr. Dziekanski was extremely anxious and afraid of the flight. He had not eaten or slept well in the days preceding his flight. When friends arrived at his home at approximately 3:00 a.m. to take him to the airport, he indicated that he was not going to fly. He spoke with his mother by telephone, using the speakerphone function, maintaining that he was not going to fly. He was described to be in a highly fearful and panicked state, bordering on hysterical. One friend described him sitting or laying on the floor physically shaking and becoming physically ill. Another friend also described him hanging onto a radiator on the verge of becoming hysterical. Mr. Dziekanski eventually calmed down approximately 20 minutes prior to his departure to the airport. All the witnesses were consistent in their description of Mr. Dziekanski’s emotional state and the fact that he took a small container with him as rode in the car to the airport, in case he became ill.
Page 2 of 7
At the airport Mr. Dziekanski continually stated that he was afraid of flying, however, he boarded the airplane and departed to Frankfurt at 6:20 a.m. He arrived in Frankfurt at approximately 7:55 a.m. and departed once again at 12:15 p.m. on a flight to Vancouver (YVR). He arrived at YVR at what would have been 12:25 a.m. Polish time the following day, or 3:25 p.m. Vancouver time. His travel time to this point would have been approximately 21 hours. There was no information available to investigators regarding Mr. Dziekanski’s emotional state during his flight to Vancouver from Frankfurt.
Video surveillance displayed Mr. Dziekanski passing through the primary checkpoint at 4:05 p.m. Vancouver time and into the baggage carousel area at 4:10 p.m. He had been instructed by his mother in their earlier conversation to wait for her at the baggage carousel, however she was not aware that this area was not accessible to members of the public.
Mr. Dziekanski was observed by video surveillance briefly at 9:25 p.m. and 9:31 p.m.; it is not known what he did in the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) area in the interim until he presented himself to the CBSA “Point” officer at 10:40 p.m. Mr. Dziekanski was directed to the secondary inspection area where he was processed by staff. Mr. Dziekanski did not speak or understand English, but they were able to ascertain through non-verbal communication that he had been sitting or sleeping on one of the chairs in the luggage carousel area for more than 6 hours. This may account for the time period between 4:10 p.m. and 9:31p.m. Staff located his luggage at one of the baggage counters and they were able to process his travel documents.
At 12:45 a.m. on October 14, 2007, CBSA Officers finished processing Mr. Dziekanski and escorted him to the hallway area which leads to the International Arrivals area. He exited through the glass doors at 12:53 a.m. and sat down on the chairs on the public side. It would have been over 30 hours since he began his journey to Canada.
To this point, the investigation revealed that Mr. Dziekanski had personal contact with YVR Customer Service Representatives and CBSA Officials. They described him as pale, nervous, confused, frustrated and sweating profusely. One Officer believed he was under the influence of alcohol.
Shortly after 1:00 a.m., Mr. Dziekanski began to display bizarre and threatening behaviour. Several civilians in the International Arrivals area called 911 and also spoke with YVR security. Mr. Dziekanski was observed to bang on the glass doors in an attempt to re-enter to the secured area. He managed to gain entry and placed his baggage and airport furniture in the exit way keeping the doors open. He then began to throw items around including furniture, a computer, and a wooden chair against a window in an attempt to break it. At times he would calm down for a brief period and then become agitated once again. One civilian began video recording portions of the incident after Mr. Dziekanski had been posturing with furniture and he recorded several, but not all aspects of the incident. There were 5 civilians, 3 airline staff, and 2 YVR security staff in the area observing these events.
Page 3 of 7
All the witnesses were consistent in describing Mr. Dziekanski’s emotional state and actions prior to the arrival of police. They used terms such as aggressive, crazy, totally enraged, heightened state of pure panic, really upset to the point of delusional, on drugs and intoxicated. He was observed to be sweating profusely throughout the incident.
At approximately 01:25 a.m., four uniformed Richmond R.C.M.P. members, Constable Millington, Constable Bentley, Constable Rundel and Corporal Robinson, responded to the call to the International arrivals area of YVR. They had been advised by dispatch that an intoxicated male was at the International Arrivals area of YVR “throwing luggage around”. Approximately 2 minutes after the initial call they were further advised by dispatch that the same male was now throwing chairs through glass windows in the same area. When the Officers arrived at the reception area witnesses advised them that Mr. Dziekanski was freaking out, drunk and did not speak English.
Constable Millington was asked by another Officer if he had his taser. He responded yes. When Millington entered the secured area his taser was still in its holster. This was corroborated by independent evidence.
At this juncture the evidence of independent civilian witnesses, Police Officers and digital video were materially consistent in relation to the events which followed.
The Officers attempted to talk to Mr. Dziekanski and communicate with him with hand signals for several seconds. He momentarily calmed down and dropped his arms to his side.
He then became annoyed or frustrated, threw his arms up and moved off to the right. While doing so, he grabbed a stapler from a counter and held it out in his hand. On the video Bentley, Rundel and Robinson suddenly and simultaneously moved backwards and away from Mr. Dziekanski when he grabbed the object from the counter. The video shows that he was holding a stapler in his right hand in the open position.
At this point, Mr. Dziekanski was ‘tasered’ in the probe mode by Constable Millington. Millington deployed the taser 2 more times in the probe mode as the taser appeared to be malfunctioning. Millington determined that the taser was not functioning properly because of a “clacking” sound indicating the probes were not making proper contact, resulting in an incomplete electrical circuit. This is referred to as “non-dynamic hits or deployments”.
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One taser probe was later located in the lower portion of Mr. Dziekanski’s shirt, which is indicative that only one of the two probes remained in contact with his body. At autopsy, an abrasion was located on Mr. Dziekanski’s central chest area consistent with having been caused by a taser probe, a second electrode mark was not apparent, although other abrasions were present on Mr. Dziekanski’s chest and abdomen, one of which may have been an electrode mark.
After Mr. Dziekanski went to the ground he continued to struggle and resist despite the efforts of three Officers to bring him under control and handcuff him. Constable Millington manoeuvred himself to the area around Mr. Dziekanski’s shoulders and deployed the taser 2 more times in ‘push stun mode’ as Mr. Dziekanski continued to struggle and resist.
It took approximately 30 seconds after the last taser deployment to restrain and handcuff Mr. Dziekanski. The Officers applied force to Mr. Dziekanski while he was on the ground in the prone position for at least 45 seconds. The force included Corporal Robinson pushing his knee/shin down in the shoulder/neck area of Mr. Dziekanski. Several independent witnesses commented in statements on how Mr.
Dziekanski was able to resist and struggle with police while on the ground.
Once handcuffed behind his back, Mr. Dziekanski appeared to go limp and become unconscious. Mr. Dziekanski’s pulse and breathing were periodically checked, and both were normal in the circumstances, however, upon the arrival of firefighters and paramedics, no pulse could be found. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Dziekanski went into cardiac arrest and died.
A “Use of Force” expert from a police department outside the R.C.M.P. reviewed the police investigation file in this case. In his report the expert concluded the actions of the Officers appeared to be consistent with the Incident Management and Intervention Model used by the R.C.M.P., as they represented a reasonable escalation and de-escalation of force based upon the actions of the subject. This R.C.M.P. model defines the appropriate parameters of use of force by police. He also concluded that the actions of the Officers were consistent with R.C.M.P. policy and training.
CAUSE OF DEATH
An autopsy was conducted on Mr. Dziekanski. The Forensic Pathologist observed the presence and signs of chronic alcohol abuse. However, toxicology tests showed that Mr. Dziekanski did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of his death. This raised the possibility that alcohol withdrawal may have played a role in his behaviour before and during his dealings with police.
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The Forensic Pathologist concluded that Mr. Dziekanski’s death was as a result of “Sudden Death Following Restraint”. He found no definite cause of death, which is typical of these types of incidents. Sudden Death Following Restraint cases usually involve individuals who exhibit combative and bizarre behaviour. As a result, these cases often involve law enforcement personnel, but some cases include medical personnel and occasionally ordinary citizens. Sudden Death Following Restraint has been associated with virtually all forms of physical restraint, most instances of which did not involve the use of a taser. Before the taser was in use in Canada, Sudden Deaths Following Restraint were not uncommon.
In the Pathologist’s opinion, the use of the taser did not directly cause the cardiac arrest. Two other Forensic Pathologists concurred with that view. The combined opinions of three Pathologists identified several factors which could have contributed to the cardiac arrest causing death, these include heart disease due to chronic alcohol abuse, an agitated state of delirium, the stress of the physical restraint worsened by the deployment of the taser, a decreased ability to breathe as a result of being restrained in the prone position for part of the struggle, and alcohol withdrawal.
Two medical experts in the area of Addiction Psychiatry and Alcohol Related Disease also reviewed this case. They identified a number of factors which could explain Mr. Dziekanski’s bizarre and aggressive behaviour at YVR. Both experts concluded that Mr. Dziekanski was exhibiting behaviour consistent with the medical syndrome of delirium prior to death. The onset of the delirium could be explained by a number of factors including: alcohol withdrawal; lack of sleep; dehydration; and a high degree of anxiety. These factors would have placed Mr. Dziekanski at increased risk for sudden death.
CHARGE ASSESSMENT POLICY
In conducting a charge assessment, Crown Counsel must fairly, independently and
objectively examine all the available evidence to determine
1. First, whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction; and, if so,
2. Whether a prosecution is required in the public interest.
A substantial likelihood of conviction exists where Crown Counsel is satisfied there is a strong, solid case of substance to present to the Court. In determining whether this standard is met Crown Counsel must determine:
1. What material evidence is likely to be admissible; and
2. The weight likely to be given to the admissible evidence; and the likelihood that viable, not speculative, defences will succeed.
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APPLICATION OF THE LAW
The possible offences under the Criminal Code that were reviewed for the purposes of a charge assessment in this case were Assault, Assault with a Weapon, and Manslaughter.
Furthermore, the Branch is of the view that the available evidence would support the finding of both factual and legal causation at law. Simply stated, the Officers efforts to restrain and take physical control of Mr. Dziekanski were a contributing cause of his death. What remains is the consideration of the available justifications or defences at law which may absolve the Officers from criminal responsibility.
The most relevant sections of the Criminal Code relating to lawful justifications, or defences considered in this assessment were Sections 25 and 26 of the Code, which permit a Peace Officer to use reasonable force in the proper execution of his or her duties. Secondary provisions that were considered were Sections 34 and 37, which set out the defences of self-defence and using force to prevent an assault.
According to decided cases, a Peace Officer is not expected to measure the use of force with exactitude, particularly in circumstances which may result in serious injury to Officers or members of the public.
The charge assessment in this case was undertaken and reviewed by three levels of Executive Management within the Criminal Justice Branch. The reviews were unanimous in their conclusion.
There is a substantial body of independent evidence which supports that the Officers in question were lawfully engaged in their duties when they encountered Mr. Dziekanski, and the force they used to subdue and restrain him was reasonable and necessary in all the circumstances.
In light of this independent evidence, there is not a substantial likelihood of conviction in this case for any of the offences considered, in fact, the available evidence falls markedly short of this standard.
Accordingly, the Criminal Justice Branch will not be approving any charges in relation to this very tragic event.
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CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA PROVISIONS
PROTECTION OF PERSONS ACTING UNDER AUTHORITY
25. (1) Every one who is required or authorized by law to do anything in the administration or enforcement of the law
(a) as a private person,
(b) as a peace officer or public officer,
(c) in aid of a peace officer or public officer, or
(d) by virtue of his office,
is, if he acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what he is required or authorized to do and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose.
(2) Where a person is required or authorized by law to execute a process or to carry out a sentence, that person or any person who assists him is, if that person acts in good faith, justified in executing the process or in carrying out the sentence notwithstanding that the process or sentence is defective or that it was issued or imposed without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction.
(3) Subject to subsection (4), a person is not justified for the purposes of subsection
(1) in using force that is intended or is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm unless he believes on reasonable grounds that it is necessary for the purpose of preserving himself or any one under his protection from death or grievous bodily harm.
(4) A peace officer who is proceeding lawfully to arrest, with or without warrant, any person for an offence for which that person may be arrested without warrant, and every one lawfully assisting the peace officer, is justified, if the person to be arrested takes flight to avoid arrest, in using as much force as is necessary to prevent the escape by flight, unless the escape can be prevented by reasonable means in a less violent manner. [R.S., c.C-34, s.25.]
26. Every one who is authorized by law to use force is criminally responsible for any excess thereof according to the nature and quality of the act that constitutes the excess. [R.S., c.C-34, s.26.]
YVR death proves cops bad at investigating cops, Allen Garr, March 6, 2009.
Now that we have the testimony by RCMP Const. Kwesi Millington at the Braidwood Commission of Inquiry in the events leading to the death of Robert Dziekanski Oct. 14, 2007, it's worth taking a step back.
Let's look at the report produced by the provincial Attorney General's criminal justice branch, which was issued more than a year later on Dec. 12, 2008. It explains why the Crown did not proceed with charges against any of the officers involved with Dziekanski.
There is enough in that report to once again raise serious questions about police investigating themselves. It also makes you wonder about the diligence of the folks working in the criminal justice branch.
Just in case you're tuning in late: Millington is one of four RCMP officers who dealt with Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). He's also the one who fired the Taser.
Under examination by a number of lawyers, including the commission's counsel Art Vertlieb, Millington agreed that in several critical areas, his original notes, reports and recollections were simply in error about what took place. He also agreed his original report was a "distortion" of what actually happened.
All of Millington's testimony was given against a backdrop of a video shot by Paul Pritchard; it captures the complete incident. It bears repeating that without that video this whole tragic affair would have been forgotten long ago.
In painful and often embarrassing detail this week, Millington was led through each of his statements made shortly after the incident and asked to compare his notes with the video.
Time after time he admitted he was wrong: how many times he fired his Taser; how Dziekanski reacted; what the other cops did. All wrong. He also admitted to failing to follow policy to warn Dziekanski before firing and to record his use of the Taser in a timely fashion.
In the hours and days following the tragedy, an investigation of the incident was conducted by RCMP members of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT). They interviewed Millington and the three other officers involved in the incident.
At the time, none of them had the benefit of the Pritchard video, although very soon after the incident the video was turned over to police. The material gathered by the investigators was passed on to their headquarters, which produced a report. That report was then sent, along with a copy of the video, to the province's criminal justice branch.
After assessing all the evidence given to them by police, the branch produced its own seven-page report: it recommended no charges be laid. The most disturbing conclusion comes three pages in. In a review of the events and at the point where Millington and the rest come upon a distraught Dziekanski, it states: "At this juncture the evidence of the independent civilian witnesses, police officers and digital video were materially consistent in relation to the events which followed."
What that means is that, in spite of having essentially the same material in front of them we have been hearing about at the Braidwood Inquiry, criminal justice branch found none of the significant discrepancies turned up this past week. What was on the video and the explanation coming from Millington and the rest were "materially consistent."
Even though, under oath Millington repeatedly admitted this week that he was in error and his report was a distortion of the truth, the criminal justice branch appears to have bought his original flawed statement from start to finish. They even hired another cop, who was a "use of force" expert, to conclude "the actions of the officers were consistent with RCMP policy and training."
And, oh yes, the decision not to charge the RCMP we are told was supported unanimously by "three levels of executive management within the criminal justice branch."
The Crown announced in December that none of the Mounties will face criminal charges. The Crown said that while the officers contributed to Dziekanski's death, their use of force was reasonable in the circumstances.
La Couronne a conclu en décembre que bien que les officiers aient contribué à la mort de M. Dziekanski, ils avaient fait un usage raisonnable de la force dans les circonstances.