Flashback: Mounties want to bar Taser inquiry from finding misconduct | RCMP spokesman told to hold off correcting false details of Dziekanski incident, inquiry hears | RCMP supervising officer contradicts earlier testimony in Dziekanski inquiry | RCMP to face no charges in case of TASERed Polish immigrant: Report | Mountie involved in fatal crash was supervisor at time of airport Taser death | Perjury: Is it different for cops? | Mounties censor Taser report
Ian Bailey, The Globe and Mail
June 15, 2009
|In March, officer Millington wowed the commission with his harrowing demonstration of Dziekanski’s deadly office stapler technique.
Poland’s lawyer at the Braidwood commission says a court ruling Monday has given him the go-ahead to press for misconduct rulings against four Mounties involved in the fatal confrontation with Robert Dziekanski.
“That is precisely where we were going with our cross-examination in the last five months, and we’re comforted the courts have given us the green light to consider our allegations,” said Don Rosenbloom.
“It was one of the primary focuses of our intervention.”
Justice Arnie Silverman on Monday rejected arguments by lawyers for the RCMP officers that Thomas Braidwood, as the leader of a provincial commission, did not have the authority to level findings of misconduct against members of the national police force.
The Mounties’ lawyers made their case during 11 hours of hearings on Friday. Justice Silverman came back with a ruling yesterday after considering their submissions and those of the attorney-general of B.C., who launched the commission, and the commission’s counsel.
“In my view, the petitioners are wrong,” Justice Silverman told the court.
“None of the allegations in these notices [of misconduct], if they are substantiated, come close to a finding of criminal liability.”
Had Justice Silverman ruled for the officers, there could have been a delay in the Braidwood commission, which has involved 58 days of hearings between January and this month and heard the testimony of 86 witnesses.
Final submissions are to begin later this week.
Mr. Braidwood has said he may level misconduct rulings against the officers over their actions on Oct. 14, 2007, as well as their conduct before the inquiry.
On Oct. 14, 2007, the officers confronted Mr. Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who began acting in an erratic manner after being lost for hours at the arrivals terminal of Vancouver International Airport.
He was planning to begin a new life in Canada with his Kamloops-based mother, who was waiting to pick him up.
The officers have said they felt threatened when the 40-year-old Mr. Dziekanski brandished a stapler. One of the officers used a taser on Mr. Dziekanski, and the others sought to restrain him. Mr. Dziekanski died of cardiac arrest.
His death prompted an ongoing debate about the police use of stun guns.
Mr. Rosenbloom said the government in Warsaw and officials at the Polish embassy in Ottawa have been intently interested over the past week in the debate over possible misconduct rulings.
Art Vertlieb, the commission counsel, said the ruling means the commission can continue to do its work in looking into issues surrounding the death of Mr. Dziekanski.
David Butcher, a lawyer for one of the officers, said the lawyers are considering an appeal, but declined to comment further.
Ravi Hira, representing another officer, said he was grateful for Justice Silverman’s “gracious hearing and the quick decision,” and that he was now focused on preparing his final submission to the commission.
Asked about the possibility of an appeal, he said, “We are carefully looking at the reasons. We will take it from there.”
The Crown has previously ruled out criminal charges against the officers.
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