March 22, 2009
The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER, B.C. — Robert Dziekanski had already been stunned twice when one of the four RCMP officers who confronted him at Vancouver's airport called for another jolt of the Taser.
"Hit him again! Hit him again!" Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson can be heard shouting on a bystander's video of the fatal confrontation.
Robinson, the officer in charge in the early morning hours of Oct. 14, 2007, is scheduled to testify Monday at the inquiry into Dziekanski's death.
He is the last of the four officers to appear at the inquiry to explain why the would-be Polish immigrant was stunned multiple times with a Taser.
In particular, Robinson will be asked to recall what orders, if any, he gave the three other officers; why he asked for another Taser shock even though Dziekanski was already on the floor; and what he was doing to ensure Dziekanski was still alive before firefighters arrived.
As well, Robinson will likely be asked about inconsistencies between the other officers' testimony, what they initially told police and what was captured on the video.
The officers' dinner break at the RCMP's airport detachment was interrupted by a radio dispatch about a man throwing furniture in the international terminal.
Three of the officers have already testified they never said a word to each other and were given no orders from Robinson in the several minutes it took them to drive to the airport and walk to Dziekanski, who had been at the airport for nearly 10 hours and didn't speak English.
The other officers have said that, after a brief interaction, Dziekanski became difficult when he tossed his hands in the air and took a few steps away.
When he turned back toward the officers, Dziekanski was holding a stapler, which the officers have said made them feel threatened.
That's when Const. Kwesi Millington delivered the first Taser shock.
The weapon was used five times in all, although it's not clear how many of those connected with the man.
As Dziekanski lay unconscious on the floor, his hands cuffed behind his back, the other officers have testified that none of them were performing proper pulse and breathing checks.
An airport security guard said he checked Dziekanski's pulse only after he saw Robinson trying to find a heartbeat while wearing leather gloves.
When firefighters arrived, the fire captain on duty that night has said it didn't appear as if anyone had been monitoring Dziekanski, who by then had no pulse, wasn't breathing and, according to fire Capt. Kirby Graeme, was likely already dead.
And Graeme said the officers initially refused to remove Dziekanski's handcuffs.
The inquiry has also focused on inconsistencies in what the officers initially told police, and the accuracy of Robinson's initial statements is sure to be scrutinized.
The other officers admitted making several mistakes in their police notebooks, statements to homicide investigators and internal reports about what happened.
For example, the officers have said it took several Taser shocks before Dziekanski fell to the ground, even though he collapsed seconds after the first deployment.
They also incorrectly said Dziekanski had to be wrestled to the ground. One even claimed Dziekanski kept walking toward the officers with a stapler raised above his head after he was stunned.
The officers have insisted their early accounts represented their best recollections of a stressful, fast-paced event.
Millington was accused by the lawyer for the Polish government of lying about what happened to justify his actions - an accusation the officer flatly denied.
Crown prosecutors decided last December that Robinson, Millington, Const. Bill Bentley and Const. Gerry Rundel wouldn't face criminal charges, although the inquiry's final report could include findings of misconduct.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Sunday, March 22, 2009
March 22, 2009