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Friday, May 06, 2011

Mounties in Dziekanski death face perjury charges

With files from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger

The four Mounties involved in the Taser death of Robert Dziekanski in October 2007 will face criminal charges.

B.C. special prosecutor Richard Peck is recommending laying perjury charges against all of the officers related to misinformation given during the independent inquiry into Dziekanski's death, the provincial Criminal Justice Branch confirmed Friday.

Peck's recommendations will now be forwarded to the provincial attorney general's office for review.

The veteran lawyer ruled out proceeding with any criminal charges linked to the officer's conduct at the airport the night Dziekanski died.

"Mr. Peck has concluded that there is no substantial likelihood of conviction in relation to any potential charges arising from the circumstances of the physical altercation with Mr. Dziekanski or the subsequent investigation into his death," the CJB wrote in a statement issued late Friday in response to inquiries by CTV News.

Dziekanski's mother, Zofia Cisowski, said the special prosecutor's report will be released within two weeks.

She said charges are something she's been waiting for since the death of her son.

"It is very important to me, Robert's case. It is my life now," she said.

The province appointed Peck last year 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 at the Vancouver International Airport.

The public inquiry also stated that the officers were not justified in their use of force against the Polish immigrant, who did not speak any English.

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.

Cisowski filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2009 against the RCMP and others, but settled the case after receiving a public apology from the force and an undisclosed financial settlement.

Her lawyer said the officers could face charges in Dziekanski's home country of Poland if they are not charged in Canada.

"Justice Braidwood said that this was shameful conduct on the part of the police and that people were shocked and repulsed around the world. We're hoping that our institutions work," Bill Sundhu said.

The Braidwood Inquiry cost B.C. taxpayers almost $4.5 million.

One of the officers involved, Cpl. Benjamin (Monty) Robinson, is currently suspended from the RCMP and will soon stand trial for obstruction of justice following an unrelated fatal car crash in October 2008.

Robinson failed two separate police breathalyzer tests after hitting motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson with his Jeep.

Const. Gerry Rundel, the first officer to take the stand at the official inquiry into Dziekanski's death, is currently on desk duty in Nanaimo.

Const. Bill Bentley, who had been working at the Vancouver airport for just one month when Dziekanski died, is working for an RCMP security detail in Toronto.

The constable who fired the Taser, Zwesi Millington, is working for a commercial crime section in Milton, Ontario.

Millington's lawyer, Ravi Hira, said that his client will fight the charges.

"Naturally my client is disappointed that the special prosecutor is proceeding with charges," Hira told CTV News on Friday. "He will be pleading not guilty and plans a vigorous defence."

RCMP refused to comment on the case Friday.

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