December 8, 2009
By 250 News
Vancouver, B.C.- Saying the versions of events given by the RCMP members involved in the Dziekanski case, were not credible, the Commissioner for Complaints against the RCMP has released his final report on the death of Robert Dziekanski. Here are the key findings and recommendations:
"Overall, I found that the conduct of the responding members fell short of that expected of members of the RCMP. The members demonstrated no meaningful attempt to de-escalate the situation, nor did they approach the situation with a measured, coordinated and appropriate response. The failure of the senior member to take control of the scene, communicate with and direct the more junior and inexperienced members negatively manifested itself throughout the interaction with Mr. Dziekanski.
I do not accept the version of events as presented by the four responding RCMP members. The statements provided by the members are sparse in terms of detail of the events and the thought processes of the members as events unfolded. When tracked against the witness video, the recollections of the members fall short of a credible statement of the events as they actually unfolded. The fact that the members met together prior to providing statements causes me to further question their versions of events.
An issue inextricably linked to the incident is the use of a conducted energy weapon (CEW), also known as a TASER®, by an RCMP member during the arrest of Mr. Dziekanski. The CEW is a prohibited firearm pursuant to the regulations under the Criminal Code of Canada.1 Debate pertaining to the overall appropriateness of the use of CEWs by police had been ongoing for some time prior to the YVR incident (and has been previously commented on by the Commission as indicated below), but this particular use of a CEW focused considerable attention and scrutiny on appropriate CEW usage and the nature of the CEW as a weapon.
Overall, while I found that the IHIT investigation was unbiased, I did find a number of issues involved in the IHIT investigative processes. I also found issues with the RCMP's media releases related to this incident. It is essential that the RCMP develop a media and communications strategy specifically for in-custody death investigations that recognizes the need for regular, meaningful and timely updates to the media and to the public. In addition, the media and communications strategy should include a publicly available general investigative outline of the steps to be taken and the anticipated timeline for each step. "
The Commission's Findings and Recommendations:
As a result of my investigation, I made a number of findings and recommendations that I believe will assist the RCMP in enacting/reviewing policies and shape training to ensure that a tragic situation such as this is not repeated.
CPC Final Report Findings:
The RCMP members involved in the arrest of Mr. Dziekanski were in the lawful execution of their respective duties and were acting under appropriate legal authority.
In light of the information possessed by the RCMP members responding, the decision to approach Mr. Dziekanski to deal with the complaints was not unreasonable. At any point a member of the travelling public or an employee at YVR could have happened upon Mr. Dziekanski. As evidenced by the multiple calls to 911, it was incumbent upon the RCMP members to ensure a safe environment for the public and employees using the airport facility and to halt the disturbance being caused by Mr. Dziekanski.
To ensure a coordinated approach to Mr. Dziekanski, Corporal Robinson should have taken control and directed the other responding members to ensure that each was aware of the intended response and to ensure that each communicated with the others as the events unfolded.
Prior to deploying the CEW, Constable Millington should have issued the required warning/challenge to Mr. Dziekanski as required by RCMP policy, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Dziekanski appeared not to understand the English language.
Because no significant attempts were made by the RCMP members present to communicate with Mr. Dziekanski, to obtain clarification of information pertaining to Mr. Dziekanski's situation, or to communicate among themselves, deployment of the CEW by Constable Millington was premature and was not appropriate in the circumstances.
Constable Millington cycled the CEW multiple times against Mr. Dziekanski when those subsequent cycles were not known by him to be necessary for the control of Mr. Dziekanski.
The multiple cycles of the CEW against Mr. Dziekanski when no significant effort was made to determine the effect of the CEW on Mr. Dziekanski was an inappropriate use of the CEW.
Corporal Robinson did not adequately monitor Mr. Dziekanski's breathing and heart rate.
Because Corporal Robinson did not know the qualifications of Mr. Enchelmaier, he should not have allowed him to provide first aid or actively monitor Mr. Dziekanski's condition. That task should have been performed by the RCMP members themselves. Corporal Robinson, therefore, failed to provide adequate medical care to Mr. Dziekanski.
The handcuffs should have been removed from Mr. Dziekanski when the members recognized that he was unconscious and in distress and no immediate threat to the members was perceived. At a minimum, they should have been removed immediately upon the initial request of medical personnel.
The failure of Corporal Robinson to take control of the scene, communicate with and direct the more junior and inexperienced members negatively manifested itself throughout the interaction with Mr. Dziekanski.
I do not accept as accurate any of the versions of events as presented by the involved members because I find considerable and significant discrepancies in the detail and accuracy of the recollections of the members when compared against the otherwise uncontroverted video evidence. In their statements, the members indicated in responses to numerous questions that they could not recall the detail of the events as they unfolded. The fact that the members met together and with the SRR prior to providing statements causes me to question further their versions of events.
The conduct of the responding members fell short of that expected of members of the RCMP by the Canadian public and by RCMP policies. The members demonstrated no meaningful attempt to de-escalate the situation, nor did they approach the situation with a measured, coordinated and appropriate response.
The members failed to adequately comply with their training in CAPRA and IM/IM to assess the behaviour of Mr. Dziekanski, and therefore the risk posed by him. As a result, the level of intervention went beyond what was necessary and acceptable, contrary to the RCMP's IM/IM and CAPRA model.
Because the RCMP positions the CEW as an intermediate weapon and trains its members that it is appropriate to use the CEW in response to low levels of threat because it is a relatively less harmful means of controlling a subject, the responding members did not fully appreciate the nature of the CEW as a weapon and it was resorted to too early.
Although IHIT did engage the services of a use of force expert, that expert was not provided with adequate direction in terms of the questions to be considered, the scope of his work or the terms of reference he was to consider.
Corporal Robinson, as an involved member, should not have been allowed to attend the IHIT briefing held at the Richmond Detachment on October 14, 2007. Sergeant Attew failed to ensure that only appropriate RCMP members were present during the briefing.
The responding RCMP members meeting alone at the YVR sub-detachment office following the death of Mr. Dziekanski was inappropriate.
An SRR should not have been permitted to meet alone with Constable Millington prior to the IHIT investigator.
If for no other reason than to be fair to the responding members and give them an opportunity to address the significant and readily apparent discrepancies between their versions of events and the video, it would have been appropriate to provide the responding members with an opportunity to view the Pritchard video prior to taking further statements from them.
The responding members did not keep adequate notes of the incident involving Mr. Dziekanski.
No bias or partiality toward the involved RCMP members was present in the IHIT investigation of the death of Mr. Dziekanski.
The RCMP should have released certain information to the media which would have served to clarify information pertaining to the death of Mr. Dziekanski and correct erroneous information previously provided without compromising the IHIT investigation.
CPC Final Report Recommendations:
The RCMP should review the CEW quality assessment program as currently in effect and consider whether it should be enhanced to ensure that a high degree of confidence may be placed in the performance of in-service CEWs.
The RCMP should continue to be involved in and stay abreast of current independent research on the use and effects of the CEW.
Notwithstanding the fact that the RCMP has (as of January 2009) amended its policy such that the use of the CEW is to be used in response to a threat to officer or public safety as determined by a member's assessment of the totality of the circumstances being encountered, the RCMP should clarify for its members and the public what the appropriate circumstances for using the CEW are and what threat threshold will be utilized to assess the appropriateness of such use.
The RCMP should consider a review of its training to ensure that its members are well versed in the potentially dangerous nature of the weapon and to ensure that training provided to members assists them in appropriately assessing the circumstances in which deployment of the CEW is justified, bearing in mind the degree of pain inflicted on the subject during the CEW deployment and the potential outcome of such deployment.
The RCMP should consider designing and implementing training for its members in techniques to communicate with persons who cannot meaningfully communicate with them.
The RCMP should:
1.Amend its Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) Usage Reporting Form (Form 3996), to require that information concerning a spark test be captured as part of the CEW usage reporting process (or include such requirement in the forthcoming Subject Behaviour/Officer Response data base); and
2.Edit its Operational policy to emphasize the importance of the spark test and clearly indicate that the spark test is mandatory to confirm proper functioning of the CEW.
RCMP detachment familiarization procedures should include a detailed review of available medical facilities and equipment.
The RCMP should review its processes and criteria with respect to the initiation of an internal investigation into the conduct of its members to ensure consistency of application across the country.
I reiterate my recommendation from my report on the Police Investigating Police (August 2009) that all RCMP member investigations involving death, serious injury or sexual assault should be referred to an external police force or provincial criminal investigation body for investigation. There should be no RCMP involvement in the investigation. If, however, the RCMP continues to investigate such matters, then I recommend that the RCMP implement clear policy directives that all investigations in which death or serious bodily injury are involved and which involve RCMP members investigating other police officers will be considered criminal in nature until demonstrated not to be.
If the protocol of SRR attendance is to continue, the RCMP should formalize the role of the SRR to provide clear policy and guidance to ensure that the SRR knows the bounds of his or her involvement and the required protocols with respect to such attendance, and that in all such cases the SRR not meet alone with a subject member in advance of being interviewed by an investigator.
I reiterate my recommendation in the Ian Bush decision (November 2007) that [t]he RCMP develop a policy that dictates the requirement, timeliness and use of the duty to account that members are obliged to provide.
The RCMP should review its operational policies and procedures to ensure that, particularly in serious cases in which members investigate the actions of other members, processes are available to enable investigator awareness of the nature and depth of detail required during interviews.
The RCMP should take steps to ensure that members are aware of the importance of note taking, and that supervisors should be encouraged to regularly review the notes taken by their subordinates to ensure the quality of such documentation.
Given the proliferation of recording devices, it is anticipated that incidents in which RCMP members will seek to obtain private video or audio recordings will potentially occur more frequently in the future. Whether the police seize a video or audio recording of an event or obtain it on consent from a member of the public, the police must know and advise the public of the authority under which the video or audio recording is obtained. I recommend that the RCMP provide clarification for members with respect to obtaining video or audio recordings of an event.
I reiterate my recommendation in the Ian Bush decision that [t]he RCMP develop a media and communications strategy specifically for police-involved shooting investigations that recognizes the need for regular, meaningful and timely updates to the media and to the public. In addition, the media and communications strategy should include a publicly available general investigative outline of the steps to be taken and the anticipated timeline for each step. I also expand my recommendation to cover all in-custody death investigations.
The RCMP should immediately conduct a review of its policies and training regimen to ensure that members are adequately trained with respect to recognizing the risks inherent in, and signs of, positional asphyxia and in taking steps to mitigate those risks.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
December 8, 2009