June 9, 2009
Raphael Alexander, National Post
The four RCMP officers who gained national, and even international, attention when they tasered and restrained Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, events which preceded his death, are now asking a British Columbia Supreme Court judge to stop the inquiry from finding fault in their actions.
The Braidwood public inquiry, so known after the Commissioner, Tom Braidwood, began on January 19, 2009, and has interviewed scores of witnesses and heard a lot of testimony, including the contradictory statements of the RCMP officers themselves. The inquiry is set to make closing submissions on June 19, 23, and 24. The officers at the centre of the inquiry are fearful that Mr. Braidwood will make any findings of misconduct against them:
“We say he (Braidwood) doesn’t have jurisdiction to make findings of misconduct because it’s a provincial inquiry and these are federal officers,” said David Butcher, the lawyer for Const. Bill Bentley, the first officer to face Dziekanski at the airport on Oct. 14, 2007.
I find it reprehensible to think that the officers, who have already been exposed publicly for making very serious and severe errors in the Dziekanski case, would try to escape the possibility that they could be blamed for their actions. Public and support for the RCMP has already suffered greatly due to this inquiry, whether it be the dubious reasons given for the level of force used against the victim; the alleged “weapon” he was holding; the failure to administer CPR; the multiple taser blasts; the extensive use of that force; the list truly goes on and on and on. And now, to think that the police will try to escape blame by asking the B.C. Supreme Court to block any finding of misconduct before there has even been a ruling, is really a new low for the entire proceedings. To argue the validity of the Braidwood jurisdiction at the last possible moment is tantamount to a person walking out on a game when he faces checkmate on his next move.
It’s a rather nasty little game to play now, arguing that RCMP officers are not subject to provincial jurisdiction because they are a federal police force. When the officers responded to the call, they obviously did so under the jurisdiction of the province they serve in. If it were otherwise, provincial courts would never be able to hold matters of justice pertaining to federal officers. Unfortunately, such a move has typified what one has come to expect from the federal police force in this case.
The reason the RCMP are suddenly concerned about jurisdiuction is based on the fact that on April 30, the lawyer for Constable Kewsi Millington found it is possible under a Public Inquiry to make a finding of misconduct against a person. All four officers were cleared of criminal wrong-doing by British Columbia’s Criminal Justice Branch, but findings of misconduct could lead to further actions against the RCMP and the officers in court. It seems certain they are doing everything to avoid ever having to admit any wrong-doing.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
June 9, 2009