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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Charges against cops in Taser death to be revisited

June 29, 2010
By: ctvbc.ca

A B.C. special prosecutor says that the decision not to charge the Mounties involved in Robert Dziekanski's death should be revisited.

Richard Peck made his recommendation after reviewing the Braidwood Commission's final report. The public inquiry found that four RCMP officers used too much force when they stunned the Polish national with a Taser at Vancouver International Airport in 2007.

Peck, who was appointed special prosecutor on June 18, will now review all materials used by the Criminal Justice Branch when it decided not to recommend charges against the officers.

If he decides that charges against any of the officers are warranted, Peck will act as prosecutor in the case.

The province appointed Peck in response to the blunt assessment of inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood that the four Mounties deliberately misled investigators about what happened during their confrontation with Dziekanski.

Braidwood said Dziekanski's death, which was captured on a now-infamous amateur video, "shocked and repulsed people around the world" and the four officers acted improperly at nearly every step of the brief and tragic encounter.

When Dziekanski picked up a stapler, one of them fired a Taser five times even though, Braidwood said, they could not have believed he posed a threat to them or anyone else.

And after his death, they offered inaccurate rationalizations to justify their actions, he said.

"This tragic case is, at its heart, a story of shameful conduct by a few officers," Braidwood, a retired B.C. Court of Appeal judge, said as he outlined his findings.

Braidwood made eight recommendations to the B.C. government, including setting up an independent civilian body to investigate police officers in serious cases and urging the federal government to make further changes to how passengers are processed at Vancouver's airport.

The B.C. government immediately said it would act on all the recommendations, and promised to set up the new civilian agency within the next 12 months.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said RCMP would hand over future investigations of its officers to B.C.'s new oversight body, as it has done in other provinces with similar agencies such as Alberta.

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