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Friday, April 02, 2010

RCMP tarnished by Dziekanski case: expert

April 2, 2010

It's going to take more than money and an apology to redeem the RCMP's image following the Robert Dziekanski case, some critics say.

The announcement of a financial settlement and a formal apology from the RCMP was welcomed Thursday by Sofia Cisowski, the mother of Dziekanski, the Polish immigrant who died at Vancouver airport in 2007 after being confronted by four officers and stunned several times with a Taser.

"I really seriously doubt the majority … are convinced that this in any way compensates for what happened in the Dziekanski matter," Rob Gordon, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University, told CBC News.

The officers repeatedly used a Taser to subdue 40-year-old Dziekanski and then pinned him down for several minutes just before he died. A months-long judicial inquiry headed by Justice Robert Braidwood focused on questions of excessive use of force in dealing with Dziekanski. Braidwood's findings have not yet been made public.

"If they had [apologized] within weeks of the event — and I think there was ample opportunity for them to do that — it would have carried much more weight," said Gordon.

"Instead, they've dragged the Dziekanski family and indeed the province through 2½ years of investigation and inquiry before they finally fess up."

Potential for taxpayer resentment
The financial cost for the settlement to Dziekanski's mother, the Braidwood Inquiry, which looked into the officers' conduct, and lawyers' fees for all parties involved is enormous, said civil rights advocate David Eby. But the public relations cost to the RCMP and all policing agencies is also a real public concern.

"There's no way really for police officers to be back in the same position they were … before this story broke," said Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

"I think the RCMP has learned some lessons following … the death of Mr. Dziekanski, but unfortunately they're very expensive lessons, especially in terms of public confidence."

A spokeswoman for another watchdog group said there's also lingering resentment when the justice system leaves the public at large on the financial hook.

"We, as taxpayers, need to know eventually how much we're paying for essentially what's a police coverup," said Maureen Bader of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. "Otherwise, what incentive is there for this not to happen again?"

1 comment:

Excited-Delirium blog said...

Tasers are now revealed to be the most expensive possible option. Remember that Taser International makes the claim that their products "save money". Obviously untrue. They also claim that tasers are "...safe and effective..." - more false claims. It's worth keeping this history of false claims in mind when the stungun salesmen rise onto their hind limbs and open thier mouths to speak.