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Friday, March 06, 2009

YVR death proves cops bad at investigating cops

March 6, 2009
Allen Garr, Vancouver Courier

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."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you Imagine how different this Braidwood Inquiry would be If the Cop who did the Tasering was white and the victim was not ?
Can you imagine the riots and protests and the "racism card" would have been played before he hit the ground.