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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mountie can't recall discussions in meeting, Taser inquiry hears

April 15, 2009
CBC News

An officer who convened a counselling session for the four Mounties involved in the death of Robert Dziekanski cannot remember details of the meeting, a public inquiry heard Wednesday.

At the Braidwood inquiry into Dziekanski's death, which is being held in Vancouver, RCMP Cpl. Nycki Basra testified she volunteered with the RCMP's employee assistance program and organized the critical incident debriefing session for Cpl. Monty Robinson, Const. Bill Bentley, Const. Kwesi Millington and Const. Gerry Rundel.

The session took place on Oct. 27, 2007, two weeks after Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, died in Vancouver's airport shortly after the RCMP stunned him with a Taser up to five times.

Basra was trained to listen — she had been a peer counsellor since high school — but her job at the session was to monitor the officers' emotions, provide tissues, water and moral support, the inquiry heard.

A psychologist led the meeting, which lasted about 2½ hours, with another RCMP corporal also taking a monitoring role, the inquiry heard.

When asked whether she recalled any of the discussion of the events that took place at the airport the night Dzieskansi died, Basra said she could not remember.

"My focus is really on their emotions, their speed of speech and physiological symptoms. Having said that, I don't recall the exact specifics of what was said," she testified.

"What I do want to stress is that I am a police officer first. And although [I was] there as a support person, if I had any inclination that … there was anything being discussed that would suggest any wrongdoing, any criminal elements … I would have dealt with that," she said.

The B.C. Criminal Justice Branch announced last December that Robinson, Bentley, Millington and Rundel acted with reasonable force and would not be charged in Dziekanski's death.

Robert Dziekanski died in October 2007 after he was jolted several times with a Taser. (Paul Pritchard) But Thomas Braidwood, the inquiry commissioner, could make findings of misconduct against the officers or anyone else involved.

Dziekanski's mother, Zofia Cisowski, has been calling for a thorough review of the decision by Crown prosecutors' not to lay charges in her son's death.

A frequent spectator at the inquiry, Cisowski did not hear Basra's testimony about the meeting to deal with the officers' emotions.

Cisowski was at Vancouver International Airport Wednesday morning, laying flowers to mark what would have been her son's 42nd birthday.

"I just feel I have to [be here today]," she said.

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