Monday, March 02, 2009

The Braidwood Chronicles: video vs. Kwesi Millington

The man with the stun-gun muddied the waters further today. Constable Kwesi Millington, who fired his Taser at Robert Dziekanski without warning, contrary to RCMP procedure, testified that he fired another blast at the man because the first one had had no effect.

Confronted, however, with video evidence that showed Dziekanski falling to the ground screaming after the first shot--he changed his story, admitting that the video showed what it showed. He could only remember using the Taser four times, though: twice more as Dziekanski lay writhing on the ground because he was allegedly struggling with other officers. And he claimed that the third shot hadn't worked, so he changed the setting to push-stun mode and zapped the man in the shoulder to create "localized pain."

Previous evidence showed that the Taser did in fact deliver 5 jolts, of six, five, five, nine and six seconds.

Millington claimed that he had used the words "passport" and "identification" to indicate to Dziekanski that he should produce them. But, as we know, his passport was in his luggage, and he had just been ordered away from his bags by Corporal Benjamin Robinson as soon as the officers arrived on the scene.

So now we have Dziekanski, in an exhausted state, understanding no English, given two conflicting orders by two RCMP officers. That he threw his hands up and turned away should come as no surprise. Millington agreed under questioning that Dziekanski might have turned his back to officers and moved away to locate his passport.

Millington claimed that Dziekanski "was approaching the other officers with the intent, I believe, to attack." Yet the video shows no such advance (@3:51). He was backed up against a counter when he was first jolted.

Now, if you check @3:42, you will see that Millington appears to have already deployed his Taser and is pointing it at Dziekanski. Given that obvious threat of harm, is it any surprise that Dziekanski instinctively grabbed something near to hand and defensively held it to his chest? Officers have testified that he had his other hand in a fist in a "combative" stance. Try throwing your hands up against your chest--you will make fists naturally.

"We feared for our safety, and we felt he was going to escape," said Millington.

Escape? Good grief. More tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the diplomatic waters have gone a little turbid as well. Poland claims that Canada has unilaterally suspended a mutual cooperation treaty and is withholding information. But a spokeswoman for the Justice Department claims that no such suspension has occurred.

UPDATE: (March 3) Kelly McPartland searingly sums up the RCMP testimony so far.

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