RCMP must fire officers involved in YVR death - How can Canadians' trust in the force be restored if these four Mounties are still on the job?
June 19, 2010
By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun
The bottom line is you and I still are paying the salaries of the four RCMP officers whose shameful conduct led to the death of Robert Dziekanski.
It's an outrage.
In his damning 470-page report, former justice Thomas Braidwood swept aside nearly three years of official Mountie obfuscation and outright lies by these individuals.
Braidwood said the Mounties had no justification for Tasering Dziekanski at Vancouver airport on Oct. 14, 2007.
The 40-year-old Polish immigrant was compliant and did not resist -- the officers completely over-reacted to the situation and were the authors of this tragedy.
Yet RCMP Commissioner William Elliott still refuses to do the right thing and axe them.
"Mr. Dziekanski in no way brought this on himself," Braidwood emphasized at his media conference, his voice rising with emotion. "He did not advance on any of the officers."
That's why they got together afterwards, discussed events and tried to deliberately mislead Braidwood during his public hearings. No wonder he called for a special prosecutor to be immediately appointed to consider laying criminal charges against the four men.
Braidwood couldn't talk about why provincial prosecutors swallowed an RCMP investigation that was obviously flawed or why their spokesman at the time, now police complaints commissioner Stan Lowe, all but blamed Dziekanski for causing his own death.
"My mandate didn't allow me to do that -- I couldn't do that," Braidwood said.
For the same reason, he also couldn't say what should happen to the officers.
When he spoke with reporters a few hours later, the RCMP commissioner couldn't say either.
Elliott said the force would review Braidwood's findings with the four disgraced officers but they may not face any discipline.
"We will certainly need to look at that," was the best he offered.
The mantra throughout Friday's many media conferences was that public confidence must be restored in the RCMP and the process for handling police-involved incidents.
Attorney-General Mike de Jong responded perfectly by immediately announcing the province would have an Ontario-style civilian investigation agency and follow up on all Braidwood's recommendations.
(Former solicitor-general Kash Heed must be kicking himself -- the ex-cop could have brought in this long-needed reform and reaped the kudos that go deservedly to de Jong.)
In response to concerns over the Crown's December 2008 decision not to prosecute, the AG said that was based on the best information available but the inquiry had brought much new information to light.
"There was misconduct here ... and that reflects badly, and that's why Mr. Braidwood used the language that he did," said de Jong, who has named Vancouver lawyer Richard Peck as special prosecutor.
Elliott's initial response, too, was hopeful -- "we've long acknowledged ... the RCMP messed up."
The iconic force, he explained, has substantially reformed its training and promotional policies and dramatically altered its rules for the use of conducted energy weapons. It has made many changes since this regrettable event that are laudable.
Elliott welcomed the new provincial investigative agency.
But when it came to discipline and dealing with the four ...
"We will review the report and determine and take appropriate action," was the best Elliott offered.
What a ridiculous response! Was he unaware of their performance at the inquiry?
Until Braidwood unveiled his conclusions, I could understand if not support the force standing behind the men even if they were spinning a "patently unbelievable" tale. But in the wake of these staggering findings and their deceit, they should be thrown under the bus.
How can Canadians restore their trust in the force if these four are still on the job, still carrying firearms and still able to exercise the powers of a police officer after being branded no better than lying thugs?
Braidwood said it loud and clear -- these officers committed such outrageous misconduct it must be weighed against a criminal standard by a special prosecutor.
Dziekanski's mum Zofia Cisowski shook her head after hearing the Mounties continued to be employed: "They still have no consequences."
That these four officers are still drawing public pay is an absolute disgrace.
The question Braidwood used as the title of his report remains -- why?