Court rules Taser inquiry can find Mounties at fault
The B.C. Supreme Court has dismissed a constitutional challenge questioning whether a provincial inquiry can find fault against the four RCMP officers involved in Robert Dziekanski's death.
Justice Arnie Silverman ruled Monday morning in Vancouver that the inquiry properly warned the officers that it might accuse them of using the Taser on Dziekanski when it was "not justified," of giving "misleading" testimony and of misrepresenting the facts.
The judge said the inquiry's commissioner, retired judge Thomas Braidwood, is entitled to make such findings in his final report into the October 2007 death and is not prevented by any lack of jurisdiction.
Lawyers representing the four officers, who brought the challenge, argued in court last Friday that Braidwood's findings were effectively allegations of criminal misconduct, and therefore outside his jurisdiction.
But Silverman ruled that argument was invalid, and also dismissed the officers' claims that the commission should provide additional details of what they did wrong.
Constables Gerry Rundel, Bill Bentley and Kwesi Millington as well as Cpl. Monty Robinson were all present when Dziekanski died after being stunned several times with a Taser at Vancouver International Airport.
The lawyer for the Braidwood commission was pleased with the decision.
"It's an important decision for the commissioner and everybody — to get this work on and to a conclusion," Art Vertlieb said.
The lawyer for the government of Poland, Don Rosenbloom, said the Braidwood commission has been scrupulously fair to all concerned — including the four Mounties — and the recent court challenge is further proof of that.
"I challenge anybody to walk away from this process and feel their position was not heard," he said.
The officers could still appeal the decision, but for now it means the Braidwood inquiry would likely begin hearing closing submissions on Friday.