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Saturday, January 17, 2009

RCMP turn Dziekanski tasering files over to probe

January 17, 2009
IAN BAILEY, Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER -- The Braidwood inquiry on the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski resumes Monday, bolstered by the fact that the Mounties have turned over considerable files of information they gathered for an investigation into the case.

The files were part of the foundation of the Crown's decision not to lay charges against four officers involved in a fatal confrontation with Mr. Dziekanski in October of 2007.

"Their information is of assistance," said Art Vertlieb, counsel for the inquiry. "There's reports that they had that we hadn't seen. There was nothing that was earthshaking in terms of witnesses that we hadn't heard about that changed everything."

Mr. Vertlieb, who declined to be more specific, said the probe has also received helpful material from the coroner's office.

The inquiry was ordered by the B.C. government after Mr. Dziekanski died after being tasered by police during a confrontation when he began acting erratically at the international arrivals area of the Vancouver airport.

The inquiry began last year, but its continuation was postponed pending a decision on charges that would clarify whether the RCMP officers would testify. Mr. Vertlieb said he now expects the officers will co-operate.

"Every indication we have had is that they will be testifying voluntarily and, of course, if they choose not to volunteer, we can compel them," he said.

On Monday, the inquiry heard testimony from a passenger on the flight that brought Mr. Dziekanski to Vancouver as well as airline staff and an official from Vancouver Airport Authority.

"This is part [of the inquiry] that will really deal in detail with what happened to Mr. Dziekanski from when he landed in Vancouver up until his death and the events following his death, and this will lead to a finding of the truth as to what happened and any recommendations that need to be made as a result of this tragic death," he said.

The inquiry is under way before Thomas Braidwood, a former judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the B.C. Court of Appeal, who was appointed in February.

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