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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Losing Confidence In The RCMP

March 12, 2009
See Magazine
by Maurice Tougas

A very disturbing and perhaps epochal thing happened in a Vancouver courtroom last week.

While a member of our iconic Royal Canadian Mounted Police described his harrowing experience facing an armed and dangerous man ­— an incident during which he says he feared for his safety — an audience of good Canadians snickered, snorted, and laughed.

I never thought I would see the day when Canadians, some of the most law-abiding people in the world, imbued with the uniquely Canadian deference to authority, born in a country founded on the incredibly boring ideal of “peace, order, and good government,” would laugh openly at a Mountie’s testimony. The national police force has been on a downward spiral for some time now, but I fear the Force is now truly circling the drain.

It is in Vancouver that an inquiry is being held into the national disgrace that is the death of Robert Dziekanski.

The luckless Pole’s story is well known in Canada, in Poland, and probably all around the world. Upon arriving in Vancouver in Oct. 2007 after a 24-hour flight to start a new life, Dziekanski wandered Vancouver Airport for a shocking 10 hours without getting help. (How this could have happened in an airport accustomed to foreign visitors is another national disgrace.) Disoriented and angry, Dziekanski finally got some attention when he started making a ruckus. The RCMP officers assigned to the airport arrived on the scene, and a little while later, Robert Dziekanski, would-be Canadian citizen, was dead on the airport floor.

According to the four Mounties called to the scene, Dziekanski was uncooperative and acting in a threatening manner. The crucial moment for these four Mounties came when the agitated Dziekanski threatened them with an improvised weapon: a stapler. The report on the incident is unclear whether the stapler in question was a Bostich or a Swingline.

After a few seconds (not minutes, but seconds) of trying to reason with Dziekanski, and with Dziekanski now brandishing the fearsome stapler, the Mounties did the only reasonable thing in such a life-and-death situation: Const. Kwesi Millington jolted him with a Taser. When Dziekanski went down, writhing in agony, Millington hit him with another jolt. Then, with three other Mounties pinning Dziekanski to the ground by sitting on him, Millington hit him again. Dziekanski became much more docile once his life ended.

Welcome to Canada, Mr. Dziekanski. Hope you enjoyed your stay.

It was during the inquiry into Dziekanski’s death that the public turned on the Mountie, and by extension the Force itself. Millington admitted to being scared of Dziekanski that he was worried about the safety of his fellow officers, claiming that the deadly stapler being in an “open” position made it more of a threat. The snickering became so loud, the head of the inquiry was forced to tell the audience to can it.

Bear in mind that all of the Mounties were outfitted with bulletproof vests, handguns, batons, and pepper spray. They were all big men, physically fit, and trained in handling angry men in difficult situations. And yet, their first response in this situation was to deploy a Taser.


But there’s more, and it’s all bad. Millington’s notes on the incident were contradicted almost across the board by an amateur video taken at the time. If we had to depend on the testimony of the Mounties, Dziekanski would have been painted as an enraged madman brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner. But the video does not lie.

So many questions come to mind. Does RCMP training advocate immediate use of potentially lethal force? (A B.C. Crown report concluded their actions were “consistent with RCMP policy and training.”) Were Const. Millington and the others just lousy police, or representative of what the Force produces these days? (This is a real concern to me. Consider the actions of the Mounties who were called to the nightmarish Greyhound bus where Vince Li stabbed and beheaded Tim McLean. Police watched for four hours while Li did unspeakable things to his victim.) Can we trust our police to accurately reflect events? Will they be punished for their actions (firing sounds right to me), or be allowed to proceed with their careers? The B.C. attorney general’s office declared their conducts to be “reasonable and necessary in all circumstances”; is Tasering and sitting upon an unarmed and outnumbered man who doesn’t speak English considered reasonable and necessary in Canada today?

I’m not some anti-police crank. It pains me to criticize the Mounties because I admire what they stand for. The RCMP is an institution revered around the world, a true symbol of Canada, and to see them brought so low by the actions of their own members pains me deeply.

Sad to say that we may have reached a tipping point moment here, people. Future historians may look at the events in a Vancouver court room on March 2, 2009, as the moment Canadians officially lost confidence in the RCMP.


Anonymous said...

wow two lives saved
you asked for prrof a while ago
here it is

one in Canada too

one in the USA


Excited-Delirium.com said...

The occasional successes are not the issue.

The issue is that innocent (to varying degrees) people are inexplicably dying after being tasered.

And if you're so uneducated about basic ethics that you're going to start a tally of lives saved to compare to the lives lost, then you need to find 398 more.

And even then you'll be left with 'The Karma Issue' - which is a moral quandary that you'll never be able to overcome.

Furthermore, even ignoring the slippery ethics, it's hard to make an intelligent trade-off when one side is denying any connection to the taser-associated deaths.

By the way, police deaths in Canada are WAY UP, more than 4:1, since tasers became more common in 2003. The raw data suggests that tasers are killing Canadian police (huh?).

If you've got actual arguments to present, then start a blog and let us know the URL.

You'll need new arguments because all the existing pro-taser arguments have been shredded already.

Anonymous said...

Question for Excited-Delirium.com
Are you a lawyer??

You are posting like one

"people are inexplicably dying after being tasered"

Well most have been explained

In fact many are drug overdoses like the recent guy in Ontario who died hours after he was Tasered. No seconds, but hours later.

Easily explained like so many others

'A cocaine overdose killed Jeffrey Mark Marreel -- not a police Taser, Ontario's Special Investigations Unit said yesterday.

Marreel, 36, died in hospital in Simcoe June 23 a little more than an hour after a violent daytime confrontation with three OPP officers at a rural crossroads.'

And the italian in Montreal had nothing to do with Taser

I'm not sure how people count up there, but it's not addin up


Excited-Delirium.com said...

I hate 'comment wars' because they waste my time. The basic problem is dealing with the massively ill-informed, such as yourself, one by one. It's painful.

One of the many taser issues is that The System has been corrupted. If you don't understand what I'm referring to, then you've just proved my first point (that you're massively ill-informed). Even the judicial inquires agree with this basic point.

The 'List of the Dead' is an overall list of all taser-associated deaths. Many of them have been explained away by The Taser Machine. Some (no way "most") of those explanations are, without a doubt, fully justifiable. But others have been explained away with lies and deception, or truth-stretching taken to extreme.

Recent studies have found that about one-third (27%, 37%) of all the taser-associated deaths were actually linked (in some way) to the taser deployment on the autopsy reports. 'Contributing factor', etc.

That's not a bad start considering The Dark Forces at work. Don't understand what I'm referring to? LOL. Please try to keep up.

Given the circumstances, it seems very likely that the roughly one-third that are clearly linked are just what has slipped through Taser's net.

Many of the explanations, what you call "most", are crap. Example, excited delirium is, most often, a crap excuse propagated by Taser. Yes - I have connected those dots right back to Taser.

By the time you review The List with a skeptical eye, which is fully justifiable given the sleezy history, most of The List would remain on the list.

You can certainly cherry pick a few examples if you wish, but that misses the point.

Even ONE taser-caused death makes a lie of Taser's so-called science.

And we're past one.

Even Taser's latest claim has been carefully crafted to step around all the dead bodies. They had to write-out unlawful uses of the taser because too many people were being murdered by multiple taser hits. The had to add in the word "directly" to take advantage of the taser Proof Issue (it leaves no physical evidence - what to look for?).

All you have to do is pay attention and it all snaps into clear focus.

Now - what EXACTLY is your relationship to tasers? Related to a cop?

A recent massive (and unbiased) study has clearly shown that tasers DO NOT reduce serious injuries for police. "No change" to officer injuries. Read that again and put away your wishful thinking.

In Canada, officer deaths are UP by 4-to-1 in 2004-2008 as compared to 1999-2003. That's a fact.

Saving lives? You have some remediable reading to do. Add tasers to police and sudden In Custody Deaths shoot up by 6.4x. Even shooting go up 2.3x. After the police calm down and shake the propaganda out of their head, things calm down again.

I'm not going to waste any more time on you. In Canada the public opinion is running massively against tasers, Taser, and the foolish police support for them.

You can believe whatever you wish. But the tide has turned. 2009 is going to be 'a very interesting' year for Taser International.

RCMP: The use of tasers includes the risk of death.

Please go create your own pro-taser blog. It's not difficult.

My blog at Excited-Delirium.com has more than 800 posts. Your pathetic arguments were all shredded months ago.

If you had ever presented a new thought, then I'd be forced to quote you on my blog and then shred your new argument in 200 words. I don't see anything new that you're bringing to the debate.

Except a fresh-face naivety. Which gets old fast.