Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Paul Kennedy on Robert Dziekanski

The RCMP watchdog who heads up the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has issued his report on the killing of Robert Dziekanski.

Paul Kennedy didn't mince words:

"While they were in lawful execution of their duties as police officers, the four officers failed to adopt a measured, co-ordinated and appropriate response to Mr. Dziekanski's reported behaviour.

"No meaningful attempt was made to de-escalate the situation. No warning, visual or otherwise, was given to Mr. Dziekanski prior to him being Tasered by the conducted energy weapon. Use of the conducted energy weapon against Mr. Dziekanski was premature and inappropriate."

His findings, summarized:
  • The senior RCMP officer on the scene failed to take charge of the situation
  • Officers failed to determine whether it was necessary to Taser Dziekanski multiple times in order to subdue him
  • The officers should have done more to provide first aid to Dziekanski and monitor his condition
  • The officers inappropriately met alone to discuss the incident before giving their official statements about the event

"The versions of events given to investigators by the four RCMP officers involved in the Vancouver International Airport in-custody death of Robert Dziekanski are not deemed credible by my commission," Kennedy said. [Emphasis added.]

Full report here. RCMP Commissioner William "Bubbles" Elliott is unhappy with Kennedy (he's apparently been sulking about the report for six weeks). So, it seems, is the Harper government, which is showing him the door, without explanation.

Is the latter just a coincidence? Maybe. The announcement of Kennedy's departure did come a few days before the public release of his report. So let's see what if any action is taken--which will have to wait, according to Elliott, until the report of the Braidwood inquiry is issued early next year.

The officers involved cannot be disciplined because time limits have passed. The Crown laid no charges at the time, deeming the killing to be a lawful use of force. And the BC Attorney-General's office, it seems, is still cutting breaks. It's a charmed life, as usual, for the boys in red serge.

Meanwhile Zofia Cisowski, the mother of Robert Dziekanski, remains deeply traumatized. She will never work again, said her lawyer, Walter Kosteckyj, and is currently living in poverty on a small disability pension.
She has sued the RCMP for the wrongful death of her son, and they are busy assembling a phalanx of lawyers. This ugly story has a few more chapters to go before it concludes.

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