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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

RCMP officers lied to B.C. Taser inquiry: Lawyer

VANCOUVER — The lawyer for the Polish government told the inquiry probing the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport that the RCMP officers involved lied to the inquiry as "an intentional act to subvert justice."

At the inquiry Tuesday, Don Rosenbloom urged commissioner Thomas Braidwood to find misconduct against the four officers in the October 2007 Tasering incident, as well as their boss RCMP Supt. Wayne Rideout.

After Dziekanski died on the airport floor, the four officers collaborated to fabricate their testimony in police statements, he said.

Rosenbloom said it was troubling that each of the officers had almost identical accounts of what happened, which proved to be untrue.

The officers' initial statements said Dziekanski was yelling after police arrived, he was agitated, resisted police commands and grabbed a stapler and began swinging it wildly at the officers.

"All these statements are untrue," Rosenbloom told the inquiry.

He said the RCMP then released incorrect information immediately after the incident, telling the public that Dziekanski was Tasered only twice by three officers, instead of five times by four officers.

"The RCMP deliberately and negligently disseminated this misinformation and chose not to correct the record for more than a year," Rosenbloom said.

The four Mounties showed a "callous disregard" for Dziekanski's life, he said.

The 40-year-old Polish immigrant "was a victim of incompetence, misconduct and a reckless disregard of his life."

Rosenbloom told the inquiry that the RCMP officers had no justification for Tasering Dziekanski five times.

It was also inexcusable that the lead Mountie, Cpl. Monty Robinson, put his knee on the back of Dziekanski's neck for 24 seconds, the lawyer said.

This caused him to lose consciousness, said Rosenbloom.

The four officers failed to provide proper medical care and adequate monitoring of his vital signs, he added.

"Every second counted," Rosenbloom told the inquiry.

Police were called to the airport after a report of a man throwing around luggage.

Dziekanski, who spoke no English, spent 10 hours at the airport looking for his mother, but the two never connected.

His mother returned home to Kamloops when officials told her that her son couldn't be found.

"Everything that could go wrong in the 11 hours at the airport, did go wrong," Rosenbloom said.

"If not for all the indifference, he would still be alive today," he added.

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