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Curt Petrovich on the Dziekanski inquiry

Curt Petrovich is a National Reporter with CBC Vancouver

Curt Petrovich has been covering the inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport.

He's been attending the inquiry from the beginning and following the testimony. Like many of you he's searching for the answers to what happened that night at YVR.

This is your chance to ask CBC National Reporter Curt Petrovich about the inquiry and the process.

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What's your question? | (373) questions answered


Comments: (373)

Sonja Billard (Nanaimo_house_sitting_til_May) wrote:

Q:| I have followed this tragic story since the beginning. One question has peristed. Why did no one at the airport help Robert D. to get to his mother? Were there no questions asked of him or his mother re how they could help? A little consideration on staffs' part could have prevented what happend. Has the airport staff been held accountable? They come across as very uncaring as a port of entry for so many individuals.

A:| All of your questions were addressed in the early days of the Braidwood Inquiry. I won't detail the responses here, because some of them can be found elsewhere in this column. In short, CBSA staff say they treated Mr. Dziekanski with more attention and care than most travellers receive. That is, once he presented himself at their offices some six or seven hours after landing. They felt a translator was unnecessary because the questions they had for him were simple. There is the issue of why little was done to search for him, when his mother's travelling companion was told by an immigration officer to go home to Kamloops, because Dziekanski wasn't there. Of course he was, he was just out of sight somewhere. Had a search been conducted at that point, his death may very well have been avoided. It will be interesting to see Thomas Braidwood's interpretation of these facts. Those who testified from the airport and the CBSA would disagree with your characterization of their attitude as uncaring. Clearly his death moved some. One officer shed tears in the witness chair as she considered the tragedy of a newcomer to Canada losing his life in this way.

Posted April 12, 2010 09:22 AM

Jamie (North_Vancouver) wrote:

Q: Kurt, CBC learned about the RCMP news conference and settlement — and that Mr. Dziekanski's mother will be dropping the lawsuit — hours before the news conference was even announced by the RCMP. Presumably, you would have known this even the day-before for the story to go be on radio, TV and online at 3 a.m. Vancouver time.

How did you know about it so far in advance? Of course, journalists have their sources — but as the public, I want to know if you're getting "too close" to the victim. I know you've written that "of course the CBC isn't taking sides" (i.e. being too anti-RCMP), but I hope you understand my legitimate concerns about how you knew what you know, by whom, and how that implicates your future reporting.

A: Thanks for your question. It's a good one. I understand your curiosity about how I came to be aware of the RCMP settlement with Ms. Cisowski before it was made public. I can't tell you. I'm not being coy. Sources and the protection of sources are critical to a journalist's integrity and ability to serve the public. So, while you have framed your question as a concern that I might be getting "too close" to the victim (as you put it), you've made a number of assumptions. One, is that the sources can be characterized as sympathetic to Ms. Cisowski. Another is that the sources are "anti-RCMP", as you put it. Yet another - and this is the big one for me - that somehow my reporting of the details was biased. Regardless of where the information came from, it was a fair and accurate reporting of the details, and context. And it was in the public interest to relay it as soon as it could be confirmed.

I said at the outset, that I thought your question was a good one. That's because it allows me to underscore the work and consideration that goes into reporting facts from sources. Listeners only hear the result, not the preparation. But it is considerable. It involves a number of senior journalists. It means that my reputation rests on what you hear.

I'm not sure what you mean by your reference to my "future reporting."

It's my belief that the public deserves journalists dedicated enough to stick with a story that is evolving and to provide details as quickly as they can be accurately and responsibly reported. That's what we do.

Posted April 10, 2010 10:37 PM

Michael (Vancouver) wrote:

Q:| When somebody agrees to become police officer, he or she takes a risk involved in performing the duty. It doesn't mean they can kill anybody who poses a danger to them. That's why RCMP should make a strict selection of the candidates who apply for the job. But it looks like it isn't the case. After Mr. Dziekanski fell to the floor, the taser's trigger was pushed again and again until he died. The officers didn't just use an excessive force, but it looked rather like killing in an execution style. Anybody is concerned about it? Is police force trained how to deal with distressed, or mentally ill people? Or it is automatic death sentence to them, if they behave erratically. Do they know that their duty is to immediately perform CPR to save human life? Why they didn't?

A:| You pose a number of questions that were all explored and answered to varying degrees by the inquiry. But let me correct a few incorrect assumptions. There is absolutely no evidence of suggestion that the officers involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death intended to cause Mr. Dziekanski's death. It is certainly a question as to whether they ought to have known that their actions had the potential to cause harm. But the inquiry heard a lot of testimony about the use of force, and whether there was an expectation that the Taser was less injurious than other means such as an asp or even open or closed handed controls. It is unknowable whether Mr. Dziekanski could have become unconscious or died, if four officers had tackled him, and held him down had he continued to stuggle. It is not an insignificant point that the crown didn't believe excessive force had been used. That of course, doesn't mean a case can't be made that it was. Just that a likliehood of criminal conviction is low. Thomas Braidwood will ultimately decided whether the repeated stuns, with almost instantaneous application and little time for reassessment was infact either inappropriate or warrants a charge of misconduct. The inquiry also dealt at great length with the issue of whether alternate means of dealing with Mr. Dziekanski could have been considered. It all came down to the testimony of the four police officers who individually and collectively agreed that once Mr. Dziekanski picked up a stapler and took what they called a "combative stance", he became a threat. Whether as one constable insisted Mr. Dziekanski could have "escaped" and hurt many members of the public, is a theory the Inquiry commissioner will have to consider. And CPR? It wasn't performed according to the officers because Mr. Dziekanski was breathing and had a pulse. It was unnecessary. Of course, within two minutes of their observation that he was breathing, first responders found him lifeless and cyanotic, indicating he had been without oxygen for a considerable period of time. Again, it will be up to Thomas Braidwood to decide whether the testimony of the officers is credible. The former chair of the commission for public complaints against the RCMP found it incredible.

Posted April 1, 2010 02:15 PM

Kathy Simpson (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q:| Did "MAMA" ever admit that it was "Her" fault for her son's misfortune? As a mom myself,I would think that she should not have left the airport until she found him. She misled him by saying she would meet him at the baggage carousel, which was off limits to her, she did not know that, but nonetheless it was HER responsibility to FIND HIM..... MAMA,I'm sorry to say this, but the BLAME should START with YOU! An apology to the RCMP is in order. Forgive them and then forgive yourself. Let Your beloved son rest in Peace. The Truth Will Set Everyone Free!!

A:| What you are apparently ignorant of are the details of the lengths to which Ms. Cisowski went, to locate her son. They are described elsewhere in this Q&A section, but I will repeat them to save you the effort. As heard by the Inquiry, Ms. Cisowski remained in the airport for about seven hours, attempting numerous times to determine whether her son had landed, and whether he was detained for some reason in the secure customs hall. Records show, and a CBSA officer testified that she infact told Ms. Cisowski toward the end of her vigil, that she might aswell go home to Kamloops because her son simply wasn't there. What Ms. Cisowski didn't know was that there was no real search undertaken beyond a cursory inspection of the office where he might have been. To somehow blame this woman for her son's death because she told him to wait by the baggage carousel is, frankly, ridiculous. If you're looking for reasons why Mr. Dziekanski died, I invite you to visit the Braidwood Inquiry website, to read the testimony in detail. Or wait until Thomas Braidwood's report and findings are released to the public sometime after it's turned over to BC's attorney general in May.

Posted March 24, 2010 10:05 AM

Nesta (Castlegar) wrote:

Q:| Has anyone ever questioned the actions of the immigration officers or the airport authority as to why this person was left for hours not knowing what was happening, without an interpreter brought in? Was there any attempt to page someone who might be meeting him at that specific arrivals area? It seems to me that if appropriate action had been taken, he would not have become so frustrated, and thereby his life would have been saved. A little more thought and effort would have meant that police were not needed. While the actions of RCMP officers are rightly under scrutiny, I think the airport procedures in such cases needs to be looked at also, to prevent future occurrences.

A:| You raise very good questions. All of them were addressed in the inquiry. If you have a look at some of the early questions posed in this column, you may find some evidence of that. There were many Of note, the border services officer who suggested to Mr. Dziekanski's mother that she could go home to Kamloops because her son wasn't there, broke down in tears when recounting her discovery of Mr. Dziekanski's death. But she did not suggest there was anything she could have done differently. The Airport Response Coordinator also defended his decision to withold emergency medical help because he didn't want to leave the airport vulnerable incase of another problem like a plane crash. There were other BSO's who testified aswell, along with Airport security people. No one believed they could have done anything to prevent what happened. Infact the view of the immigration witnesses was that they went beyond what they would normally do for the average traveller, when dealing with Mr. Dziekanski. The lawyer for Dziekanski's mother frequently posed the question about how this incident might have been different if Mr. Dziekanski had simply been afforded an interpretor instead of being processed and lead out to an empty terminal to wander aimlessly, in search of his only relative, who'd been sent home.

Posted March 2, 2010 09:15 PM

Robert (Kamloops) wrote:

Q:| Any idea when Commissioner Thomas Braidwood is going to release his findings and conclusions. It was to be early in 2010. Do you think he is waiting untill after the Olympics? , To avoid bad press while the world is watching.

A:| It was indeed the Olympics that caused a delay....in my response to your question, not the commissioner's report, as best as I can determine. By now you may know that the Inquiry commissioner has promised to turn over his report to BC's attorney General by the end of May. The expectation is that it wouldn't be long after that before it was released to the public. Personally, given my observations of Mr. Braidwood during the course of the inquiry, I don't think he would have been concerned about "bad press" in the slightest. It was always my impression that he was above all concerned with getting it right, being fair and being timely.

Posted February 1, 2010 06:37 PM

Steve E (Coquitlam) wrote:

Q| What will ever come of this enquiry anyway?
If found guilty could these keystone cops be held accountable for this atrocity?

A| The report of Thomas Braidwood, the inquiry's commissioner, is due to be completed soon. But before it's released to the public, it has to pass an arduous process of proof reading, fact checking and publishing. Look for it late Spring. But to be clear, this inquiry is not about finding any criminal liability. That is a completely separate issue, that must be handled by the Criminal Justice Branch. If crown prosecutors are revisiting their decision not to lay charges, you may never know, unless they change it.

Posted January 1, 2010 10:30 PM

J O'Brien (WestlockAB) wrote:

""Dziekanski died after he was stunned multiple times with an RCMP Taser at the Vancouver airport in 2007. The Polish immigrant had been acting erratically, throwing furniture and waving a stapler around, after being stranded at the airport for hours.""

This statement implies that Dziekanski was acting erratically, throwing furniture and waving a stapler around after the rcmp arrived and therefore had to be subdued. This is not true. In fact as you must know,RD was compliant with the rcmp at all times and RD never did "wave" a stapler around.

This brings me to ask four questions

1. is cbc begining to take sides?

2. is this a direct attempt to mislead the public?

3. is cbc's ability to report unbiased information deteriorating rapidly?

4. or could it be just an untrained reporter?

A| I had to dig a bit to find the passage you're quoting and sure enough it appeared as the last paragraph in a story done the day the BC court of appeal ruled the inquiry can reach findings of misconduct against the officers involved.

First of all, I didn't write it. Secondly, you're right. Some people could infer that Mr. Dziekanski was stunned following his erratic behaviour. That is what happened.

But as has been made clear in countless stories I and others have done, Mr. Dziekanski was calm and cooperative when the police arrived. He did pick up a stapler, in the instant before he was stunned the first of five times. He was not "waving it around" while he had bene behaving erratically or tossing items against the glass wall.

Of course the CBC isn't taking sides, nor attempting to mislead the public. I'm surprised I have to say that. Infact I've gone to great lengths to make sure evidence from the Inquiry was reflected in my stories, and here, fairly.

Could it have been written more clearly? Sure. But it doesn't change what happened.


Posted December 30, 2009 10:30 AM

William (Nova_Scotia) wrote:

Q:| Why would anyone put on a uniform to protect and serve the puiblic? Every time they try to get home to their families you have people who have months and years to Monday morning quarterback their judgement ,tear them apart. They have seconds to decide whether or not their actions will protect them . They deal with people on various form of drugs or weapons and have seconds to decide if they can defend themselves?

Inquiries are excellent for suggesting new principle for conduct but lets remember. The RCMP is out there trying to protect people in places angels would fear to tread.

A| Your points were all raised to the fullest degree by the officers involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death and their lawyers. I think the question of hindsight and whether it's appropriate to look back, is central to the Inquiry. If not, why hold an inquiry and why hold open the possibility of findings of misconduct? But having sat through every day of testimony, I can say with certainty, that this inquiry was about the specific actions of four officers - and others I should add - under the specific circomstances. Yes, the officers to a man, said they acted to stop the threat posed by Mr. Dziekanski. At least one officer said he feared for his safety. But not even the RCMP is suggesting that their actions can't, or shouldn't be held up to scrutiny. The past chairman of the commission for public complaints against the RCMP has already concluded the officers reacted too quickly and didn't need to use a Taser. I would be stunned to hear Thomas Braidwood conclude anything different when his report is released to the public later this year.

Posted December 29, 2009 03:09 PM

Andrew Cheng (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Curt, is it true that Cst. Millington, the mountie who actually pulled the trigger on the taser, is suing the CBC for defamation? How is this possible? I'd think the media was protected by the freedom of the press? Has the CBC defended itself? What is his lawyers's strategy?

A| A writ of summons was filed in November by Constable Kwesi Millingtoni in BC Supreme Court naming the CBC, alleging he has sufferred ridicule and embarassment through CBC's publications and broadcasts over a two year period beginning November 2007. My understanding as I write this, is that no further details as to the allegations have been forthcoming from his lawyers. I have also been told the CBC is prepared to make an appearance (provide a notice of intention to defend) when the time arises. This is now a legal issue for lawyers to deal with. As I'm sure you can appreciate, your questions are legal ones, and I am not a lawyer. I also happen to be an employee of the organization being sued. If ever there was a time to refrain from speculation, this is it. That being said, it's anyone's right to pursue a remedy through the courts to address these kinds of allegations.

When there is a development worthy of further coverage I will report honestly, fairly and accurately, as I always have.

Posted December 10, 2009 06:05 AM

Art Snow (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Was the stapler loaded?

A| I'm going to assume the question is intended as sarcasm. But incase it's important to you, yes, the stapler did have staples in it. At least one witness described Mr. Dziekanski squeezing the open stapler, and seeing staples fall to the floor, where they were later found by investigators.

Posted November 22, 2009 10:23 PM

Glenn SAUER (Victoria_BC) wrote:

Q| All these Officers have lied during the inquiry so how can anyone believe anything they say is what happened? They say they where following procedure, has anyone in the inquiry suggested that maybe common sense should have been used..Is there any other option going to happen in regards to these members to allow them maybe to tell the truth, or is this the end of it.

A| Your opinion that the officers "lied during the inquiry" is just that - an opinion. There is no evidence they lied. Infact, their lawyers did a remarkable job providing evidence to explain why the Mounties' accounts differ in so many ways from what is depicted in the amateur video. As I write this, the head fo the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP has just released his report into the incident. Paul Kennedy simply says the officers' accounts are not credible, he does not find that they intentionally mislead anyone with their statements, nor did Kennedy find evidence they colluded. Inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood may find differently, or he may not. Braidwood is also looking at misconduct allegations, where Kennedy has not. But these are two processes (the CPC and the Inquiry) where the officers' conduct has been tested, challenged and analyzed. But Braidwood's report will not be released until 2010. If by "other options" you mean criminal charges, the possibility always exists that proesecutors can receive new evidence on which to re-examine the facts and make another decision.

Posted November 12, 2009 07:49 AM

Rosemary Hood DVM (Winnipeg_MB) wrote:

Q| What other restraint was placed on Mr. Dziekanski - was a knee placed on his chest or neck ? - as this would exacerbate cardiac problems adding to the physiological distress in addition to the electrical effects on the heart from the tazer. A tazer should not be placed near the heart or chest for this reason. Also - what other possible approaches could have been considered? Why is there no computer that can simultaneously translate at the airport ie - the Polish man writes his problem in his language and it is translated into english - has anyone suggested making these stations available at our airports? Thank you for this opportunity to submit these questions.

A| There is contradictory evidence about whether Corporal Monty Robinson placed his knee on Mr. Dziekanski's neck. The officer insists he didn't despite the temptation to make the conclusion after viewing the video. His lawyer in closing arguments suggested that even if he had done so, it was brief and accidental and was removed once the handcuffs were on. As to your other questions the alternatives to dealing with Mr. Dziekanski were thoroughly canvassed during the inquiry, and the officers maintained they had no choice, that Mr. Dziekanski provoked the situation by grabbing a stapler. As for interpretation...via a computer or otherwise it wouldn't have made any difference because the police did not take the time to worry about translation.

Posted November 8, 2009 07:50 PM

Glenn SAUER (Victoria) wrote:

Q| I'm tired of hearing that the Taser killed this man. I'm a retired Police officer after 29 years service, and one of the first in Canada to be trained on the use of the Taser, I have deployed it many times on people and never killed anyone. What have they determined his cause of death was? Is there any indication that these members could be charged criminally.

A| I've never said the Taser killed Mr. Dziekanski. Other's have. That's their opinion. The pathologist who conducted the autopsy did find the Taser played a role in as much as it was used to help restrain him and it was the restraint that contributed to his death, according to Dr. Charles Lee. Others have gone further to suggest there could have been a more direct effect on Mr. Dziekanski's heart. I think the fact that you've never seen anyone die from the weapon's use is in keeping with the statistics. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Infact, the RCMP's commissioner has admitted that it can have deadly effects. The first phase of this commission also concluded the Taser can kill. As for charges, it was almost a year ago that the criminal justice branch determined there wasn't enough evidence to charge the officers with either Manslaughter or assault. Reviews of that decision, however, can happen any time with new evidence.

Posted November 5, 2009 07:54 AM

Ken Lawson (Burnaby_BC) wrote:

Q| So what is next? Is this turning out to be another Gomery Commission where nothing was done?

Having covered the Gomery commission I can say that alot was learned from the inquiry. But to your question. Thomas Braidwood has promised his report by early in the new year.

Posted October 27, 2009 06:39 PM

Rob C. (Calgary) wrote:

Q| When is the final report from the inquiry expected? Has Justice Braidwood left enough hints to anticipate some of his recommendations? If so what do you think they will be? Has the BC Attorney General's office commented on reviewing its decision not to pursue criminal charges against the officers?

A| The Commissioner said he would have his report ready for the government early in the new year. He left it to everyone to guess what was meant by that. Presumably before the end of March. I think it's a safe bet that the recommendations will in part, deal with the allegations levelled against the officers, as revealed by the notices of misconduct. How they will deal with them, I can't say. But remember there are others involved in this inquiry: The airport authority, the security staff, and the CBSA. There will be aspects of the report that deal with everyone's role, aswell as potential recommendations to the RCMP and the CBSA directly as insititutions. The Criminal Justice Branch never comments directly about whether it's reconsidering a charge approval decision. But bear in mind it's not uncommon for that kind of review to go on multiple times in the background and always reach the same conclusion. That's exactly what happened in the case of Frank Paul, when he died after being left in an alley by a Vancouver Police officer.

Posted October 26, 2009 08:31 AM

Sean Murphy (Powell_River) wrote:

Q| You have commented a couple of times about the lack of communication among the four members while en route, and lack of radio communcations beforehand. Was any evidence given concerning communications via the PRIME computer system which (I believe) would have been in each of the police cars? It would have been possible (before and after the incident) for the four to have communicated with each other via their in-car computers. Has this also been ruled out by the evidence taken?

A| There was no evidence revealed that suggested the in-car systems were examined as possible sources of communication between the four. Frankly, I think it's more likely that if the officers were going to talk they would have done so while moving to their cars. The trip took less than two minutes. If you're suggesting that while driving they were typing with one hand about their plans - all four of them - I think that's a bit difficult to imagine. The lawyer for the officer who fired the Taser suggested the only possibility: that they all got on a cell phone and had a four-way conference call. His point was that was equally unfathomable.

Posted October 24, 2009 01:24 PM

gpoz (Edmonton) wrote:

Q| How is recanting versions of an event, in direct light of video evidence, not considered purgery?

A| I'm assuming you are referring to the discrepancies between what the officers said in their statements and what the video shows, and indeed, what they admitted in the witness chair. Perjury is lying under oath. There is no evidence the officers lied under oath. If anything, they made ADMISSIONS under oath, that their statements were inaccurate.

Posted October 16, 2009 04:56 AM

margwuli (BC) wrote:

Q| Curt,

Your answers and wording seemed to have softened over time as you GAIN UNDERSTANDING FOR THE ENTIRE SITUATION! Good for you in at least becoming more objective in your responses rather than infusing your inferences influenced by your own perception of what transpired.

A| Thanks for the back handed compliment. However, I've always been objective. My answers to the hundreds of questions here have always reflected the evidence. Not my preceptions, nor those of the writers.

Posted October 15, 2009 09:35 PM

Gary (vernon) wrote:

Q| Everytime time I see the attack on Mr. Dziekanski I have to ask myself, why could four large strong looking police officers in combat gear not handle a single defenceless looking man. All they would of had to do is basic police training by simply detaining him until they can determine the next course of action. I am really appalled by the thoughtless inapropriate action that was taken and now to make it worse they have been lying trying to cover up the obvious screw ups throughout the whole incident.

A| You haven't asked a question but I think your comment begs a response. And it's one that involves not just the law as it applies to the force a police officer is authorized to use, but also the conditions under which they can apply it. Unfortunately for the police involved, I think the multiple mistakes they made in describing what happened to investigators, are easily interpreted by many as deliberate. Their lawyers would have the inquiry believe otherwise, arguing that their recollections were collectively affected by the stress of the situation. And that the situation was provoked by Mr. Dzieakanski when he picked up a stapler. Undeniably the officers were legally authorized to use a Taser in that situation. Whether they needed to, and needed to deploy it five times are questions the Inquiry will have to resolve. You aren't the first to interpret the the misstatements and errors made by the Police as lying. As tempting as it is for some to reach that conclusion, there is no evidence to indicate perjury. In the end, the Inquiry's commissioner may opt not to accept certain testimony. That's not the same thing as saying they lied.

Posted October 14, 2009 07:43 PM

Tom (Kentville_NS) wrote:

Q| I understand that all Police radio transmissions are recorded by the Police Telecommunications Unit. Why has the recording of any radio conversations made by the four policemen prior to their arrival at the airport not been disclosed?

A| The simple answer is because there were none. This is what the inquiry was told. A lawyer for one of the officers sarcastically suggested the only way they could have hatched a plan was to have had a four-way cell phone call enroute, because they didn't use their radios.

Posted September 25, 2009 11:41 AM

Melanie Pereira (Victoria) wrote:

Q| Is it just me or did the Supervisor (S/Sgt. Wright) play fast and loose with the notes he took after that early morning call? Did his notes NOT say (and I am paraphrasing a little) " Members arrived...subject standing at a counter and when approached began throwing things at glass (ie chair)" It seems that the account was when the members approached Mr. Dziekanski he began throwing things - but NOW he says that it's not so- that he was just inserting there that it happened before they got there. He might have (more properly written "Members were advised (when they were dispatched) that subject was throwing things." But that is NOT what he wrote. Seems HIS notes were also woefully inaccurate...

A| It's not as clear cut as you suggest. The way the note was written does allow for a different interpretation, and in testimony Staff Sgt. Wright said his intent was to write what Corp. Robinson told him on the phone at 2am. Wright testified that he believed the reference to Dziekanski throwing things occured as "people" approached him earlier, not the police. I agree it's remarkable that an officer who ordered Robinson to take "excellent notes" would write one himself that was open to interpretation. But that's Wright insists is the case. But frankly I wouldn't have been surprised if Wright remembered Robinson telling him Dziekanski threw things at them. That would certainly be consistent with the other errors in Robinson's statement to investigators. What I found more remarkable was Wright's candid admission that some officers are deliberately cryptic when making notes, even when ordered to make "excellent" ones, in order to avoid having to answer for them in a court.

Posted September 24, 2009 12:24 PM

CaribooRose (Cariboo_region_BC) wrote:

Q| No question, it'll be good to get back to Curt's Q&A portion of this inquiry. Because I'm not at a computer during the day, I can't see/hear the proceedings.

I'm wondering if any of the proceedings are "saved" somehow on the CBC website? I've looked but can't find archived files.

A| No, unfortunately the live streaming from proceedings isn't saved. Your best bet is to read the transcripts as soon as they're posted on the commission website.

Posted September 23, 2009 06:37 PM

Gerry (Edmonton) wrote:

Q I am wondering if the statements obtained from the four members were taped interviews? After serving 32 yearts in the Force, I know that sometimes the interviewer will ask a question of a member. If the answer is not to the liking of the interviewer, sometimes the tape is stopped and then re-wound. The investigator speaks to the member and then turns the tape on again and obtains the desired answer. Maybe this could answer why the email from C/Supt. BENT to A/COMM. MacINTYRE stated that the members had discussed the use of the CEW prior to arriving at YVR, yet this is not mentioned in the statement(s) of the memmbers?

A| The statements given by the four officers were tape recorded, and transcribed. There were a couple of statements of witnesses that indicated the tape had been turned off, but there has been no evidence to suggest that these interviews were either coached or concocted as you describe. I think if that were found to be the case in any of them, it would destroy any credibility the RCMP has and completely undermine the inquiry. There has been no evidence in any of the 18 thousand new documents suggesting the officers discussed using the Taser ahead of time, regardless of how remarkable it is that the four said absolutely nothing to eachother as they travelled to the scene. And Superintendent Wayne Rideout has explained the email as a mistake by Chief Superintendent Dick Bent.

Posted September 23, 2009 06:43 AM

W. Martel (Winnipeg) wrote:

Q In the months since the Inquiry has been idle, has no one but the RCMP witnesses appearing on Sept. 22 searched for e-mails by themselves? Surely an outside expert with expertise in searching hard drives was given access to the files? This reminds me of Nixon' missing tapes.

A| It wasn't just email documents that made up the 18 thousand new pieces of information turned over by the RCMP, and in some cases RCMP experts were consulted to retrieve messages. But I think what you're suggesting is that the RCMP should have opened up it's email system and filing cabinets to an outside agency. That was never requested. The retrieval of the material was shepherded by the Department of Justice. But speaking of Nixon, there was also a gap discoverd as part of this process. Assistant Commissioner Al McIntyre's email archive had an eight day gap from November 1 2007 to November 8th...right around the time he received the controversial email that halted this inquiry over the summer.

Posted September 22, 2009 12:46 PM

Glen (Richmond) wrote:

Q> Just an add on to the question 345 ( Bonnie From Kamloops).

And "the controversy over the position Mr. Dziekanski was placed in order to recover, and the thoroughness and regularity of the checks that were performed to monitor his condidtion, will play large roles in the commissioner's findings about the appropriateness of what the Mounties did."

Lets not forget that the Mounties were only the 1st of 3 groups that were looking after Robert post tasering. 2nd. were the Richmond Fire Department and then 3rd. the BC Ambulance Service.

My question to you Curt is ; Do you think Commissioner Braidwood will make any recommendation's not only to how the RCMP could have done things better but how the Fire Department and The Ambulance Service could do things better ?

I know there was some criticism from RFR of the RCMP for what they did or did not do prior to them arriving, and also criticism from BC Ambulance for what RFR did or did not do.

I have enjoyed your coverage of the inquiry Curt, Thanks'

A| You've obviously followed the inquiry for some time. I can't say what recommendations commissioner Braidwood will make. But he clearly has to deal with the evidence you've touched on. That's why witnesses from both the RFR crew and the BC Ambulance team gave testimony. I'm certain he'll address, at least indirectly, whether there was anything else either could have done. But remember the RCMP officers were first on the scene and had the initial duty to care for Mr. Dziekanski. And Braidwood will have to find meaning in the testimony from the BC ambulance members that when they got there Dziekanski was lifeless and could have been for some time, but the RCMP officers say he was breathing as little as two minutes earlier.

Posted September 21, 2009 07:13 PM

broadpowers (Victoria_British_Columbia) wrote:

Q Let's say the police did not taser Robert Dziekanski. Were there any suggestions that the police would have detained/arrested Dziekanski under the B.C. Mental Health Act Section 28 in order to take him against his will to E.R., for a mental health evaluation?

A| There was no evidence that I'm aware of what the RCMP officers might have done if Mr. Dziekanski had not been stunned with a Taser. There was some difference of opinion among the officer about whether Mr. Dziekanski was even arrestable when they arrived on the scene. They'd been called to the airport because of reports of a man throwing luggage around. That's pretty much all they knew. And they learned very little else before firing the Taser.

Posted September 7, 2009 09:49 AM

Bonnie (Kamloops_BC) wrote:

Q| Almost every news story and forum seems to be more concerned about the taser than the subsequent actions of the RCMP officers. Don't get me wrong. With how the taser has been used not only in Robert's death but the death and injury of others where it's use seemed so unnecessary, I think the taser should be banned completely. But what does concern me is that the importance placed on it during the inquiry has overshadowed the tactics of the officers once Robert was down. Is it not part of the police policy to sit a victim of taser up in order to help them breath? Isn't it also policy to monitor the person closely and administer medical assistance? If these procedures had been followed, don't you think Robert had a better chance to live? Why is no one questioning the officers actions and whether they cut off any chance of him getting required oxygen to live? Why is there no follow up on whether he died of suffocation combined with taser use? It would seem to me that these are just as important or even more important in Robert's death.

A| In fact the inquiry's second phase - when it dealt with Mr. Dziekanski's interaction with police - focussed almost exclusively on what the RCMP officers did or didn't do. The very questions you've posed about positioning someone who's been stunned, monitoring and medical assistance were thoroughly and repeatedly asked. You suggest the officers may have played a role in Mr. Dziekanski's lack of oxygen. First, there is no certainty that he was deprived of oxygen, although there was a great deal of testimony suggesting he was having trouble breathing. Secondly, there is no medical evidence that a lack of oxygen or any respiratory problem lead to his cardiac arrhythmia and ultimately to his heart stopping. The autopsy, for which a link was posted here several months ago, shows no sign that suffocation played a role.

Doubtless the controversy over the position Mr. Dziekanski was placed in order to recover, and the thoroughness and regularity of the checks that were performed to monitor his condidtion, will play large roles in the commissioner's findings about the appropriateness of what the Mounties did.

Posted August 25, 2009 11:36 PM

dave (vancouver) wrote:

Q| Perhaps this has already been asked, but have you ever seen a credible analysis of what Robert Dziekanski would have been charged with had he lived. I guess there's two parts to that. The "mischief" he may have committed before the officers arrived. And then what happened during his brief, but deadly, encounter with the police. Also, I saw a comment recently, that he was making fun of the situation when he picked up the stapler and started clicking staples out of it, was that said during the inquiry or is it just somebody's speculation.

A| There was never any evidence that definitively explained why Mr. Dziekanski may have discharged some staples from the stapler. While some may speculate, there was no testimony that he was "making fun of the situation". Infact, he was panicked. A translation of what he said in Polish just before being stunned was to the effect of "Have you lost your minds?"

The four officers who testified differed in their opinions about whether Mr. Dziekanski was arrestable at the time they encountered him. Certainly police didn't see him do anything. I suppose you could speculate that video might have proven a property crime of some kind. But that would depend on a number of things. First of all, the only video that clearly shows Mr. Dziekanski doing anything was only produced by the person who shot it, because Mr. Dziekanski died and the RCMP seized it. It also doesn't clearly show him breaking anything. It shows what looks like an attempt. But would they have had the video if they'd decided to arrest and charge him? I'm not sure. But the police testified they didn't use a Taser on Mr. Dziekanski because he had attempted to break anything. They said he was a clear and present danger to them and the public when he picked up the stapler. Again, this is speculation, but we can only imagine what he would have been charged with had he lived. I think had he lived to defend himself , a court might have heard a very different explanation for what happened, than what the RCMP officers have told the inquiry.

Posted August 15, 2009 11:14 AM

Rob Vanderkam (Ottawa) wrote:

Q| I am curious to know if, during the inquiry, anyone asked how a person is supposed to become "compliant" while being tasered. It seems an endless cycle: "Hit him - he starts flailing and thrashing around, so - hit him again..." Repeat ad nauseum....? Were the officers or anyone asked how they know when they can stop hitting him with more electricity? I think many assume they stop when he is "compliant", but doesn't that mean the victim is very injured? It seems best to me to tackle the guy when he is hit just once and is "distracted" by the pain, not hit him until he is ..... unconcious.

A| You raise an important issue that Commissioner Braidwood has to examine in order to determine whether the RCMP officers involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death are guilty of misconduct. According to Constable Kwesi Millington, he didn't Mr. Dziekanski felt the full effect of the first Taser stun, because he heard a "clacking" sound which can be an indication the current is arcing from one probe to another and not passing through a body. And Millington wasn't alone in describing Mr. Dziekanski "fighting through" the stun. However, he was also not alone in falsely believing that Mr. Dziekanski was still on his feet when he delivered the second stun. The other officers also told homicide investigators Mr. Dziekanski was still standing and had to be "wrestled to the ground." We know that's not true. As to stuns three, four and five: the officers on the ground attempting to handcuff Mr. Dziekanski claim that he was fighting them, holding his hands up against his chest and refusing to put them behind his back where they could secure them. Generally, testimony from the police and police experts has been that under repeated probe stuns, one is supposed to lose motor control. Being able to resist the officers would therefore indicate the stuns weren't working and Mr. Dziekanski wasn't being "compliant." When the final two push-stuns were deployed, directed right to his shoulder, the pain is supposed to be an excruciating convincer, according to police. By this time, after between twenty and thirty seconds of combined stuns, Mr. Dziekanski was physically exhausted. I should point out the testimony from one officer is that during this struggle on the ground Mr. Dziekanski attempted to grab the hand cuffs. The mounties have told the inquiry that this was no ordinary man. He was extraordinarily strong, they insist. The amateur video of the incident does not convey the effort the officers needed to make Mr. Dziekanski "comply". Commissioner Braidwood will have to decide whether any of it was needed.

Posted July 28, 2009 07:21 AM

Paul (Princeton_BC) wrote:

Q| Curt my question regards Robert Dziekanski,what was his weight and height when he died? The reason I ask , so many times Ive read from commenter's that he was a "big hulking guy of 210-220 lbs) Im sure as I listened to the Braidwood inquiry hearings that it was mentioned, he was 5'10' 170 lbs.Im I correct?Ive tried finding out, but to no avail, Can you help me out with my question.

A| Months ago, in this Q&A section, I posted a link to the autopsy report which should answer your questions. I don't blame you for not finding it. It's quite buried, although still here if you search. But to answer your questions, he was 177 cm and 86 kg, or about 5' 9 1/2 inches and about 190 lbs. He was not a "big hulking guy". Hope this helps.

Posted July 26, 2009 02:59 PM

Josh (victoria_bc) wrote:

Q| Why are the officers not getting charged with perjury? they were caught lying about what happened on more then one account in their offical police reports. when will the officers in question be fired or get a dishonourable discharge?

A| No one's been caught lying. The officers have all had explanations for the inaccuracies, and discrepancies - and remarkably, the similarities - in their statements to investigators. You may not like what you hear, and you're entitled to your opinions about the credibility of the officers, and their claims there was no discussion about either how to handle Mr. Dziekanski, or how to deal with the result. But that's different from proof of perjury. As to when, if ever, the officers are subjected to any disciplinary process for what happened, that will likely depend on what Commissioner Braidwood says, when he makes his report on the second phase of his inquiry.

Posted July 26, 2009 01:36 PM

diane pyrke (kamloops) wrote:

Q| Why can't the officers involved simply sincerely apologize to mrs cisowski for her loss of her only son and then why can't they be dismissed or financially penalized with the monies going to her and charged for murder as any other canadian for assault/murder? what makes them untouchable?

A| Two things. One of the officers (Bentley) expressed sorrow for Ms. Cisowski's "loss", without apologizing for any role he may have played. Two officers (Rundel and Robinson) testified that in essence, they'd thought many times about what happened that night, but there's nothing they'd do differently given the same set of circomstances. Corporal Robinson suggested the experience had been difficult on him. Perhaps given how previous expressions were received by Ms. Cisowski and the public, Constable Kwesi Millington didn't tread into that territory when he testified.

However, the ongoing inquiry seemed to nudge senior RCMP into making statements of "apology". Deputy Commissioner Bill Sweeney told a parliamentary committee that the force was "very sorry for Mr. Dziekanski's death".

But no one has made an apology that actually takes responsibility for the death. This is not surprising.

As for your other suggestion about some kind of enforced financial penalty and summary conviction for murder, I think it's obvious why that doesn't happen. It's called due process. The same system that some - including yourself - are unhappy with which has dismissed criminal charges against the officers, is also the system that has authorized the inquiry. Untouchable? It's not a word I'd use to describe what's happened since. I think the officers, and indeed the RCMP have been touched a great deal by the details that have emerged under oath.

Posted July 13, 2009 11:51 AM

Lyla Mahon (MassetBC) wrote:

Q| Has there been a Civil Action started against the four RCMP officers? What can I as an ashamed Canadian do in this regard? Also what can I do regarding the RCMP delay in providing the Email regarding the use of the taser by the four officers on their way to the incident. The use of taser was bad enough but to perjure themselves and cover up by their superiors is absolutely disgraceful. WHAT HAPPENED TO "MAINTAIN THE RIGHT" ? It appears to have been changed to " WE CAN DO WHATEVER WE LIKE".

A| No, there's been no civil action against the four officers involved. And I wouldn't presume to offer any advice about any legal action. But Ms. Cisowski's lawyer has made no secret of the fact that a civil suit, involving not just the RCMP but airport and CBSA officials could be commenced at some point. As to the issue over the last minute revelation of a controversial e-mail, while it is embarassing and optically suspicious, there is no evidence that e-mail was with held deliberately. And there is no evidence - we are told by the RCMP's lawyer - that the contents of the email was anything more than a misunderstanding.

Posted July 3, 2009 09:51 PM

Wayne Pittman (St_Johns_Newfoundland_and_Labrador) wrote:

Q| Exactly where was Mr. Dziekanski's luggage cart located at the time of the incident?

A| It's an interesting question. I'm not sure how it's significant, but in the amateur video of the incident, you can see a luggage cart on the public side of the railing, near the automatic doors leading to the secure side if the IRL. This appears to be the cart from which Mr. Dziekanski picked up his luggage, and placed it back over the railing as described by at least one witness. And some of his luggage appears piled by the end of the information desk on the other side of the glass. However, in the photos taken by the RCMP of the scene, Mr. Dziekanski's luggage has all been placed on a cart, near his body. Presumably this cart is the one seen on the public side fo the IRL in the video. That cart has disappeared from the area, in the RCMP photos. This means that at some point, someone grabbed the cart, and placed Mr. Dziekanski's luggage on it, and wheeled it next to his body.

Posted July 1, 2009 07:46 AM

Paddy K (Maple_Ridge) wrote:

Q| Hypothetically, if I was planning to approach an individual and went with my pals, having agreed that, if this person does not comply with our instructions we would beat him then I am fairly certain that we would all be found guilty of a conspiracy to commit an assault. If the person we were wanting to follow instructions subsequently dies, we would all be guilty of murder/manslaughter (depending) as the 'assault' was premeditated, without regard for potential consequences.

Under normal circumstances, police officers, military personnel and others in an official capacity pre-plan every day, which is totally appropriate and use of tazers would not be considered an assault IF used in accordance with proper policy and procedures for the lawful and safe performance of duty. If, however, the RCMP officers involved in the Braidwood inquiry could be proved to have planned the tazering in a non-professional manner and subsequently caused the death of a person (I actually do not believe the tazer itself to be the cause of death but the actions (or inactions) of individuals afterwards). Would the police officers then be guilty of assault or murder?

Similarly, I suspect that a police officer would be guilty if he/she randomly selected a person and for no reason used a tazer.

A| You've answered your own question in part. Pre-planning the use of the Taser is part of RCMP training for the weapon. That would arguably be in compliance with training. As for your comparison with using the Taser in a pre-planned fashion with the notion of intending to "beat" someone, there's a problem. The Taser, like it or not, is a weapon that at the time was considered by the RCMP as less injurious and preferable in some circomstances to using an ASP or even strong-arm tactics. And deciding to use a legitimate weapon in certain circomstances prescribed by training, isn't the same as deciding ahead of time to "beat" someone. And again, like it or not, you and your "pals" aren't law enforcement officers acting in the course of your duty. While both you and the police have to defend the use of force under the same criminal code provisions, police have been given the authority to use it.

The rest of your questions are hypothetical. It goes without saying that an indiscriminate use of a weapon such as a Taser by a police officer would not be justifiable. I'm certain it would result in a charge of some kind. As for planning the event in Mr. Dziekanski's case, in a "non-professional manner", I'm not sure how you could distill that down to it's identifiable elements in order for a criminal charge to stick. Sure, if you could establish beyond any reasonable doubt that there was a plan to assault Mr. Dziekanski, that's one thing. But that's not what the evidence has shown. So far.

Posted June 26, 2009 10:52 PM

Pat Desjardins (Victoria_BC) wrote:

Q| There are a lot of question here. In case this question has not been asked, in the past before the RCMP had tasers how would they have handled with Robert Dziekanski?

A| This issue was raised by the inquiry through cross examination largely, from Walter Kosteckyj the lawyer for Mr. Dziekanski's mother. Mr. Kosteckyj - a former RCMP officer - used the RCMP's own training manual to extract from a number of witnesses what the procedure is before considering the use of a Taser, and what might have occurred in a time before the weapon was used. Depending on who you ask, and what the situation is, and who's interpreting it, the response pre-Taser, might have been everything from negotiation and discussion, to physical force to the use of a baton or pepper spray. All uses of force carry with them risk to both the officer and the subject, as well as by-standers. The Taser, the inquiry has been told, has been employed as a means of bringing about a quick, and relatively injury-free end to situation in which the subject is combative and resistant to arrest.

Posted June 23, 2009 11:16 AM

Wendi Galczik (Ladysmith_BC) wrote:

Q| Does this Inquiry's findings bode well for visiting Olympic attendees: will they be afraid of shoot-from-the-hip cops who ask questions later?

A| You raise a significant point. As a result of the delay in the proceedings caused by the last-minute disclosure of a controversial RCMP email, it's likely this inquiry will either still be in progress (without a report) when the Olympics are held in February 2010. Even if a report is produced by then, it may come very close to the time of an event that I think the BC government - and indeed the RCMP - would rather not have associated with that sad, tragic incident at Vancouver airport.

Posted June 23, 2009 09:47 AM

Tea Mccormick (Prince_George) wrote:

Q| Why did this man NOT know he was to tranfser planes? Why did not his Mom call Vancouver airport and ask about him? Was this man EMONTIONlly ill?

How do the police respond to a big man throwing equipment and very furstrated? How would you? I believe the police are getting brutalized when it was a dangerous situation for them. Why did this man or his family not prepare this man for what he was to do when he flies. All the repondsibility cannot be on the Canadaian taxpayers because someone does not have the ability to use an airport. Poland acts like Canada is at war with them and wants Canada taxpayers to pay the Country of Poland millions of dollars. Shame on all this pay and pity let this man and his family and Poland take some repondsibility for their wrong actions.

A| The premise of some of your questions is precisely why I volunteered to answer queries on the subject. And because you're not alone in wondering what Mr. Dziekanski's responsibility is for his own death, I'll endeavour to answer them.

First of all, I'm not sure what you mean by Mr. Dziekanski's knowledge of transferring planes. He made his connections. But he disappeared - without concern to anyone at the airport - for six or seven hours - in the secure customs hall. Ms. Cisowski spent about as long trying to get someone at the airport to find out what happened to her son. She tried. Desperately by all accounts. A border services officers told her to go home because her son wasn't there. She was wrong.

When Police arrived, Mr. Dziekanski was not throwing "equipment" around. He was, by their own accounts, cooperative, until after receiving conflicting orders in a language he didn't understand, he picked up a stapler. Those are the facts everyone agrees on. Police say he "advanced" toward them. Mr. Dziekanski was stunned not once - which knocked him to the ground - but at least three and perhaps five times. We may never know. But we do know all but one of those stuns was delivered while Mr. Dziekanski was on the ground, and surrounded by four officers. How exactly did Mr. Dziekanski "brutalize" the officers in this situation?

I'm unfamailiar with any claim for miliions of dollars on the the part of Poland or anyone else, for that matter. Poland, like every other participant at the inquiry, is seeking the truth about what happened, an explanation of the officers actions, and reasons why Mr. Dziekanski died.

While it may appear obvious, neither Poland, nor Mr. Dziekanski or his mother, pulled the trigger on a weapon that was used five times before he died. I think most reasonable people would conclude an investigation was not only warranted, but necessary. Indeed, the government of BC did, when it called the inquiry.

Posted June 23, 2009 09:39 AM

John Birk (Kamloops_BC) wrote:

Q| Why do these tasers have to be 50k volts? Anyone who ever has danced with household electricity by mistake knows that even that small amount of electricity gets your attention quickly. So why must it be 50K volts?

A| First of all, it isn't fifty thousand volts that is discharged at skin level. It's more like 1500 volts. Taser says the high charge of 50 thousand volts is needed to ensure conductivity through clothing and air, neither of which are good conductors.

But it isn't the voltage that causes the effect, it is the current - the amperage. A Taser delivers a current of as much as 0.03 amps. By comparison, a toaster draws five amps, or almost 200 times more current.

Posted June 23, 2009 08:36 AM

Warren Wiley (Powell_River_BC) wrote:

Q| During the inquiry did no one ask to listen to the radio dispatch tapes? Surely this would at least clear up what information the the four shock jocks were given, and whether there was any radio discussion between them.

A| Indeed all radio transmissions were turned over to the inquiry. They do not indicate any over-the-air discussion between the officers at all, let alone about a plan. Ravi Hira, the lawyer for the constable who fired the weapon volunteered an alternate means by which the officers could have had this discussion: by cell phone. But Mr. Hira discounted as preposterous the notion of four officers in four separate cars, having a four way cell phone conversation during the two minute drive to the terminal. It is for this reason ( among others) that the lawyers for the officers say the email is as described by the author and the source: a mistake and a misunderstanding. But again, its not the contents that are now significant. It's the fact that it was not disclosed. That is what has caused the problem requiring more time for more disclosure and possibly more evidence.

Posted June 22, 2009 04:42 PM

Robert DeNeef (Kamloops_BC) wrote:

Q| My questions are this. Did the lawyer acting on behalf of the crown know from the onset or shortly there after, the e-mail she so tearfully brought to the attention of the commision could indeed make a termendous difference to the out come of the commisioners findings on what really took place? Also is there any chance the lawyer could be disbarred for holding back such information to the commissioner?. We know from past commissions its a government smoke and mirrors show and I wasnt surprised in anyway, this very important information came to light as the inquiry was winding down. Will this commission be any different?

A| There is no evidence, nor is there any accusation or allegation that I know of, from either the inquiry or lawyers at the inquiry, that the last minute revelation of the email was related to any deliberate attempt on the part of Government counsel Helen Roberts, to frustrate the inquiry. At worst, it appears from Ms. Roberts reaction that it was an embarassing oversight. But I speculate because I have not spoken to Ms. Roberts about it. It has, however now prompted the inquiry to dig deeper. So in some ways, its served a purpose. It would, however, have been equally useful had it been turned over much earlier.

Posted June 22, 2009 03:32 PM

Paddy K (BC) wrote:

Q| Having been a police officer, I have a couple of observations:

1. If working with a collegue, even on a 'simple' traffic stop, after the call, when writing up the details, we would always compare notes - so that the sequence of events was clear and chronological, with similar times on the documents. A significant event of this type would certainly have been discussed post event, knowing the whole episode would be under scrutiny.

2. Basic common sense, whether crossing the road, arranging to meet someone, planning a military battle, a family conference or planning an arrest all require pre-planning so that the minimum disruption and the minimum negative effects occur. When I was a police officer, we would discuss who was doing what; who would talk, who would move and to where, how a person was to be subdued with minimum force. Any group of police officers going to a situation would make similar plans - "you two go via customs hall and approach from the rear, you will come with me and we will approach from the front. If we need to restrain him, there are four of us, the two from behind will take an arm each and use a restraint hold. If that does not work, we will use escalate to pepper spray, then ASP (collapsible batons) then CEW (Tazer) and last resort." When I was working as a police officer (initially in the US and then in the UK - unarmed), we would use physical restraint - by means of modified martial arts holds, to restain the person. Any police officer who says they were part of a group responding and they never at any stage dicussed the response plan is at best a liar, at worst a danger to collegues (no co-ordinated back up) or the public.

If the 4 Members of the RCMP did lie, would they get charged with perjury or manslaughter or both?

Please note that I have the highest regards for police officers if all types, we usually do not hear of the heroic things that happen, only the bad apples which bring disgrace on their professional collegues.

A| You've got alot of comments, and only one question, which I can't answer, except to say any criminal charge laid in BC, would have to meet a two prong test of being not only in the public interest, but also with a substantial liklihood of a conviction. So to charge someone for manslaughter, simply discovering someone lied about a detail isn't enough, I would suggest. But I'm not a lawyer.

As to your description of pre-planning and afterwards, comparing notes, I agree with you. The people I've spoken to suggest there is nothing wrong with pre-planning or comparing notes afterwards. And that is infact, what is so remarkable about the statements and testimony of the officers: their complete lack of communication, except for what is accounted for on video, and recorded radio calls.

Posted June 22, 2009 03:10 PM

Mary Martin (Trail_BC) wrote:

Q| I feel so disappointed in the RCMP, I have always had incredible pride they are our police force. Also, feel the airport severly failed this poor man. My question is, why doesn't everyone come completely clean, admit all the lies, cover-ups and mistakes, apologize to Mr. Dziekanski's mother, the public and the people of Poland honestly and with a firm committment to never allow this type of situation again. Everyone, with any responsibility in this, must and shoud come forward and bare their sous. Why is this not happening?

A| I suppose the simplest answer to your question, is that no one's about to admit a lie, a cover-up or a mistake, if they don't believe they've committed any such thing. I know that may sound facetious, but it's the reality. You may hear admission or acknowledgement of actual mistakes once Mr. Braidwood reports, if infact he finds fault somewhere. But I think you'll have to wait for it.

Posted June 22, 2009 11:37 AM

Tricia Green (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| Why won't any officer who has lied be charged with perjury?

A| There are two assumptions in your question. One, that officers have lied. This is simply not proven, and - their lawyers would argue - not even demonstrated. Second, that any such potential has been decided. It hasn't. Certainly if perjury on the part of any witness could be proven, a charge could result. The inquiry isn't over. Far from it.

Posted June 22, 2009 07:50 AM

dean essex (bc) wrote:

Q| will you have the same powers to look at email that the rcmp and other police agencies are asking for so that this would help you find answers you are looking for, including the rcmp's head commissioner?

A| If I understand your question correctly, you're comparing the powers sought by the RCMP to tap into electronic communications with the request by the Inquiry to examine all documents relating to Mr. Dziekanski's death. In short, police seeking such authority will still have to prove to a judge that such an invasion is necessary. And I can only assume that should the inquiry seek a document the RCMP refuses to divulge, a similar court action would be necessary.

Posted June 21, 2009 09:27 PM

Shields (Kamloops_BC) wrote:

Q| I do not condone the use of tasers, but the public must realize that RCMP or any other police force do not know whether the actions are as result of drugs etc. I work with the public and see various stages of violent behavior in these people every day. Do you not think that that is the reason for the quick use of the taser in this case? And they were dealing with someone who did not know our system and that our police are usually ones to take a look at the situation before action taken? I think that the email is just that - email - that has been taken out of context.

A| You may be correct about the email that brought the inquiry to a halt. The author and indeed the source have told counsel that it's not so much out of context, but simply a mistake and a misunderstanding. As to why the RCMP officers resorted to a Taser...well, that is infact at the very heart of the Inquiry. You don't really want my opinion. I may be wrong. Let's wait and see what Commissioner Braidwood eventually decides.

Posted June 21, 2009 03:38 PM

Norman Farrell (North_Vancouver) wrote:

Q| You say the contentious detail in the email is hearsay and unproven. True, but the important issue is that high commissioned officers knew two versions of the event, the one written about in the email and what was told in testimony to Braidwood.

Both versions could not be correct but the Chief Superintendent and the Assistant Commissioner said nothing, did nothing, called nobody. These top cops failed to recognize the significance?

Clearly, that document had impact well beyond media relations and should have been turned over early in the lifetime of the Commission. It was not idle comment about an insignificant subject. However, since the RCMP failed to honestly or thoroughly investigate itself, who does Braidwood use now to make further examination? Art Vertlieb has worked admirably but does he have sufficient resources now?

A| I'd be careful about calling what you see in this email a "version of the event". If infact it was a misunderstanding and a mistake that is seen in only one email, it would be hard to call it a version of events. And remember, using a Taser IS A PLANNED EVENT. The RCMP trains it's officers to PLAN TO USE IT, if necessary. Honestly, the fact that they discussed using the Taser if Mr. Dziekanski didn't comply, is wholly unremarkable. What IS remarkable, is that if it's true, they lied about it. But that's the significance.

Now to your second point, which is a good one. Why didn't anyone in the RCMP raise this apparent discrepancy between what the officers were saying in their statements and later in their inquiry testimony, in light of this email that sat in someone's files for over a year? Well, its quite possible that someone familiar with the email asked that very question of Government lawyer Helen Roberts. But if infact the email was a misunderstanding, and a one-off mistaken characterization of the airport question about having a Taser, as a plan, then it's also plausable no one thought it was significant. But of course, this is all speculation.

I think the email has served a purpose. It's not prompted the inquiry and indeed at least one lawyer for an officer to be unsatisfied with Ms. Roberts vetting of documents that are disclosed. I dare say neither Mr. Vertlieb, nor lawyer David Butcher (who represents constable Bentley) will be satisifed until they see everything.

Posted June 21, 2009 01:13 PM

CaribooRose (Cariboo_region_BC) wrote:

Q| It sounds like an audit of RCMP documents might be necessary to uncover the possibility of more non-submitted bits of information. Do you think this audit could entail pulling the actual hard drives of computers to uncover "deleted" documents?? I've heard nothing is ever completely deleted from a computer.

A| An audit of sorts, is pretty much what the inquiry and at least one RCMP lawyer has demanded, in so far as asking for all documents relating to this incident. RCMP lawyer Helen Roberts explained that they had only made documents available that were asked for, or which, in her opinion, weren't irrelevant due to being connected to the IHIT investigation, which the inquiry isn't looking into. As I've said previously, I'd be surprised if this incident sparked the kind of demand for hard drives you've mentioned. I don't think it would reveal anything the inquiry can't get by other means, and the legal challenge to such a request would ensure that the inquiry never finishes its work.

Posted June 21, 2009 09:25 AM

Melanie Pereira (Victoria_BC) wrote:

During Friday's proceedings (if memory serves me accurately) one of the lawyers stated something along the lines of "...that if they believed Mr. Dziekanski was exhibiting signs of 'excited delirium' then they were resonable/correct to follow r.c.m.p. protocol to get the subject under control quicky USING THE TASER and then get immediate medical help"...

It seems to me that more often-than-not, after an individual dies in Police custody from tasering they cite "excited delirium" (which I know is a hotly contested "diagnosis") as the cause; implying, in MY mind, that if there had NOT been excited delirium the death wouldn't have occured (as though the taser had little to do with it).

My question is: IF those who are suffering "excited delirium" OFTEN die after a tasering then is is REASONABLE to use the taser AT ALL on those subjects? Wouldn't it make MORE sense for the protocol to be "Do NOT employ the taser IF Excited delirium is suspected"????? What am I missing here?

A| RCMP Taser use policy was indeed permissive of using the weapon when someone exhibited the signs of so-called excited delirium - at the time Mr. Dziekanski died. RCMP taser use policy has changed, and the RCMP has dropped the reference to excited delirium. But the argument was that if someone needed medical help and was resistant, the best solution was to get them under control as quickly as possible. The argument was that increased exertion - as with, say, four officers struggling with someone to get them handcuffed - might make the situation worse. The weapon now is to be used only when an officer believes he or she, or the public, or the subject themself is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. For the record, that's the reason all four officers said the Taser was necessary in Mr. Dziekanski's case. They did not fire the weapon because of any belief Mr. Dziekanski was suffering from any medical condition requiring immediate attention.

Posted June 21, 2009 09:19 AM

JC (winnipeg) wrote:

Q One of the last things mentioned in the email, was that a "synopsis" was being submitted to a senior office by noon; has that documented been submitted to counsel? Have the staff computers used by all of the officers as well as the senior officers been seized by counsel? It is obvious that not all relevant has been submitted, and if the RCMP is unable to do so accurately, then are those devices now not considered evidence?

Secondly, you refer in multiple responses as to "the testimony provided" but if the content of the email proves to be true, then doesn't that put in question to the validity of all of the testimony provided by all of the officers? Is it realistic that perjury charges and/or obstruction of justice charges will also be added to both the four officers and their superiors involved.

And doesn't the obvious tone of "cover-up" violate any oath that RCMP officers take as a part of being registered to serve; should the obvious violation of that oath result in expulsion if not further criminal charges?

A| The documents, particularly the emails that came before and after the controversial one, chronologically speaking, are now subject to the inquiry's interest. I would expect that in light of the inquiry's interest for more disclosure which has been echoed by at least one lawyer for one of the officers, these documents will be demanded. But to the best of my knowledge, the actual terminals and computers used by anyone at the RCMP have not been requested. Frankly I can't imagine how they'd be useful anyway given the nature of email storage and distribution, and I can't imagine how you'd be able to convince a judge to compel the RCMP to turn them over to a provincial inquiry. It's over reaching to say the least. Especially when there's an explanation for the email.

You wonder whether perjury charges could be considered if the email "proves to be true." Well, anything is possible. But how would you prove the contents of the email to be true when all concerned - the writer and the source - say it's a mistake and a misunderstanding? The issue here isn't so much the content of the email, but what it's last minute production does to the process.

You also talk about the "tone" of a coverup. I think we can all be thankful that people's reputations, let alone guilt or innocence, don't rely on "tone". You need not only evidence, but proof. And while the testimony of the officers doesn't ring true for many people, that's a far cry from establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime of any kind was committed.

Posted June 20, 2009 07:01 AM

valleyboy (invermere_bc) wrote:

Q| in the video the government lawyer commented there are parts of the ihit investigation that are out side the commissions mandate and therefor not open for discovery. would the new e mail now bring those documents into the mandate of the inquiry? to me it would seem there relevant to getting at the heart of the matter at this point.

A| I'm not sure what "video" you're referring to. But while the discovery of this email has now prompted the inquiry, and indeed at least one lawyerfor one of the officers, to call for every piece of paper or electronic record connected to this incident, the inquiry is still not conducting a review of the investigation. I would assume that any documents relating to the investigation, while potentially viewed by inquiry counsel, would be eliminated from consideration. Commissioner Braidwood has made it clear he's not interested in looking into the investigation. If he did, one could make the argument that he'd gone beyond his mandate and authority to inquire into the actions of the officers involved, and was dipping into the realm of federal jurisdiction.

Posted June 20, 2009 05:59 AM

dan jones (vancouver) wrote:

Q| This "may I taser" seems to be taking on lots of significance. I listened again a few times and am wondering if the question was "ready with taser?" and the reply, "yes." One story I read suggests something to that effect was being asked, rather than if, anybody had a taser, which just doesn't seem to fit with what can be heard on the video.

A| Unfortunately no one can agree on an independent assessment of the audio heard on the video. But remember at least one other witness other than the officer who uttered the phrase, testified it was something like "do you have a Taser", not "ready with the Taser" or "May I taser".

Posted June 19, 2009 11:53 PM

Shawn Norman (White_Rock) wrote:

Q| Curt, a few questions that I am getting conflicting answers on:
1...Were the RCMP required to participate in this inquiry?
2...Did the RCMP save the controversial email and turn it over to for examination at Inquiry or was it obtained thru an ATIP request? If this was such a heinous email, why didn't they just hit "delete" instead of turning it over?
3...When was this email made available (thru whatever means) to counsel for Gov of Canada? On the weekend or months ago?

4...Isnt it true, (i am aware of the four officers' evidence), that the four officers were aware, prior to providing their statements that a bystanders video existed of the entire event? (Cst Rundel seized PRITCHARD's video camera within minutes of the event occurring). If this is so, (and I know it is), why would they "lie" in their statements to IHIT, (as many have suggested), knowing a video account existed of what went on?

A| You've asked alot of questions. I'll try to be concise with the answers. According to internal email obtained through access to information there was a debate inside the RCMP about whether they were compelled to participate in a provincial inquiry. The decision made by Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass was to forgo any legal challenge, in favour of simply participating in part, because fo the optics. I have, however, pointed out in the past that on many occasions the RCMP's lawyer has put it on the record that the Government of Canada is participating "voluntarily". The point being, that there appears to be an opinion in the DOJ that they are not there because they are compelled. However, before the inquiry began, Inquiry counsel Art Vertlieb was prepared to issue subpoenas, and had a different decision been taken by senior management at the RCMP, perhaps the issue would have gone to court.

What the inquiry was told was that the controversial email was on a CD that was not examined until a few days before it was turned over to the inquiry, yet it had been turned over to the RCMP to Helen Roberts in April, some months earlier. Exactly what prompted Ms. Robert's last minute search of the CD isn't clear. Just hit delete? That would be illegal, and had that action been discovered, it would have been a lot harder to explain than what we are told was a simple oversight.

Yes, it's true of course that the officers were aware that a video existed of the incident, but there was no evidence to suggest that any of them either watched it, or understood what it had captured. I take it from your question that you are suggesting the knowledge of the video might tend to support the veracity of their statements, because if they had concocted portions, as Poland's lawyer Don Rosenbloom has alleged, they had to know the video would eventually expose them. That's all entirely speculation however. And given the video doens't show the scene from the officers' perspective anyway, it doesn't necessarily follow.

Posted June 19, 2009 09:43 PM

Jim O'Brien (Murillo_ON) wrote:

Q| Today's disclosure that the officers discussed enroute the use of a taser seems to clear up the mystery of what was said as they approached Robert. They already knew one of them carried a taser. So the question must have been "Can I taser him?"

A| I'm not sure it clears that up at all. Infact according to David Butcher, the lawyer for Constable Bill Bentley who uttered the question, it suggests that there was no plan. If the phrase is still something like "do you have a Taser?" as has been stated in testimony from more than one witness, it would be an odd question from an officer who'd already discussed a plan to use a Taser. But if the question was "Can I use the Taser?" then it does tend to support an idea there was indeed a plan. The evidence doesn't suppor that, however. It's also important to remember that in the RCMP's (and indeed other police force guidelines) the use of a Taser is a pre-planned event. Anticipating the use of a Taser isn't in itself the issue here. The issue is whether the email - if accurate and true - demonstrates the officers weren't truthful when they testified there was no plan, and had no discussion prior to getting to the airport. Secondarily, the email raises a legitimate question about why this document was not turned over to the inquiry last year, and whether there are other such controversial documents.

Posted June 19, 2009 02:47 PM

Don Armitage (Mill_Bay_BC) wrote:

Q| In light, today, of "unexpected disclosure of a key email between senior RCMP officers", is it conceivable that Mrs. Dziekanski can pursue civil or criminal charges against the officers involved, RCMP in general and/or Federal government lawyer Helen Roberts, at this time? Does this event open any further avenues for justice for the victim and his family?

A| The revelation of the email, which caused Inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood to adjourn hearings and suspend the process until September changes nothing regarding any rights Ms. Cisowski has to pursue civil action, nor does it directly impact on any review the Criminal Justice Branch may conduct of its initial decision not to lay charges. If anything, the delay in the inquiry proceedings delays any of those other potential processes. It's an embarassment to Helen Roberts professionally, as her emotion today demonstrated, but it is, at this point, not proof of any deliberate attempt to coverup evidence that might be difficult for the RCMP to explain. While the inquiry counsel argued the email and other others like it should have been produced as early as last year, it is the fact that it was undisclosed (inadvertantly we're told) unti lthis week that has caused the problem. Thomas Braidwood agreed with his counsel that the inquiry can't continue without a thorough examination of the truth of the email, and discovery of any other documents that might similarly be undisclosed.

Posted June 19, 2009 02:39 PM

onwiththeshow (Dawson_Creek) wrote:

Q| How are officer's trained in the use of CEW's? What is the certification process, and requirements for follow up? Mostly though--How could the officers refuse the attendending Paramedics request to release the Victim?

A| RCMP Officers are given a two day training course on how to use the CEW and it includes a variety of issues. The training is scenario-based, and includes medical information. The training iincludes the use of actors to give officers "real world" scenarios. They are put through two scenarios and must past both. Officers must also attain a mark of 80 percent on a written exam in order to be certified. Currently re-certification is done yearly, although at the time of Mr. Dziekanski's death it was every three years. That recertification is a one day course.

Your question about the incident involving the paramedics is more complicated. Corporal Robinson says he only initially refused to remove the handcuffs when asked by firefighters because he believed Mr. Dziekanski to be a potential threat, should he rouse suddenly. The officers say they removed the cuffs after being asked a second time by paramedics who arrived 90 seconds later.

Posted June 19, 2009 01:23 PM

Warren Dow (Winnipeg) wrote:

Q|I just heard the officers' lawyers say in an interview w. Newsworld's Andrew Nichols that the 4 officers arrived at the airport in 4 separate cars, & had no opp. to allegedly plan to use tasers until they converged at the lounge. Is that true? I see from another story that they were all having supper at the airport detachment when the call came in; is that a car ride away, & why would they take 4 cars, & couldn't they have walked in together?

A| The evidence is infact that the officers all took separate cars to the airport and had no discussion about the call to which they were dispatched. They explained in testimony that they didn't need to talk about what in some ways was a routine call about a reportedly intoxicated individual causing a disturbance. They were on a meal break at the subdetatchment, about a two minute drive away from the terminal. There's nothing unusual about the fact they each took a vehicle. Each had one. What has always seemed remarkable is that according to their testimony the officers said not a word to eachother. Not a single word. Not even something understably human or predictable like "Let's go." At least, no one can remember anyone saying anything to eachother.

Posted June 19, 2009 12:48 PM

Beryl Wilson (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| My apoligies if you answered this question months ago. Who is paying for Walter Kosteckyj's services for Zofia Cisowski? Out of one pocket or another Canadian taxpayers are paying for every other living soul involved in this inquiry. Can I trust that for once our governments are not vindictively requiring Ms. Cisowski to 'pass the hat' to pay for Walter K.?

A| I have answered this question. Mr. Kosteckyj's fees are being paid by the Attorney General's office. Although, it is not at the rate that is not comensurate with the work involved.

Posted June 19, 2009 12:03 PM

JT Richardson (Ottawa) wrote:

Q| I've heard it said too many times now that the officers were doing as they were trained to do. Perhaps if they were dobermans responding to an attack order, but not humans who are first of all supposed to be trained to diffuse a situation. It's clear in the video that they immediately sprang into aggressive action and did not give Robert a chance to become calm. I am very ashamed of our RCMP. Maybe it's time the 9-month training be expanded to four years to add some brain to the brawn. After all, all other professions require more in-depth knowlwedge and savvy.

Please address this point: Does RCMP training not include "Assess the situation first of all" which I'm sure any competency exam would include? Because if not, then their training should be examined under a microscope. And what about "try to diffuse the situation calmly without the use of force." Had they sent me in alone for instance, I am damned sure I would have done a heck of a better job of getting to the bottom of the problem, and it's for darn sure I would have called for a translator. Just plain common sense.

A| Infact RCMP training, which was thoroughly discussed and canvassed during the inquiry, does indeed place some emphasis on trying to avoid the use of force, assessing a situation, attempting to use negotiation over force, and using force only when justifiable. RCMP training also instructs officers that when they or members of the public are threatened - in their perception - their use of force is permitted, subject to being justified under the criminal code. The officers in this case, insist they were threatened by Mr. Dziekanski when he picked up a stapler.

Posted June 19, 2009 11:42 AM

john (Brandon_Manitoba) wrote:

Q| We're now hearing that the RCMP withheld a crucial email indicating that the officers did indeed discuss tasering Mr. Dziekanski prior to arriving on the scene. How much worse can it get for the RCMP?

A| I won't attempt to answer your rhetorical question. I will say that the contentious details in the email about a plan to use the Taser, even by the admission of the Inquiry's counsel, is hearsay and unproven. But that's the problem now. It has to be examined to discover whether it's true. It also opens up a whole new area of discovery. Not only will the officers involved in the email and the incident likely have to testify about it, the inquiry is now seeking to obtain every document within the RCMP's possession in order to satisfy the question of whether there are other relevant materials that have not been disclosed, true or not.

Posted June 19, 2009 10:30 AM

J Timmins (CourtenayBC) wrote:

Q| What is the status of these four officers today? ie: working or not? In what city and Province? The status of Monty Robinson with regard to his DUI and leaving the scene? Thank you!

A| This question has been answered previously, some time ago. Please search for it. In brief all are working. Constable Kwesi Millington who fired the Taser was transferred to Ontario. As I write this, the crown has not decided whether to lay charges against Monty Robinson in connection with the death of a motorcyclist last fall. The Delta police force which investigated, has recommended charges.

Posted June 19, 2009 08:19 AM

Bob Toso (Saskatoon) wrote:

Q| There has been some discussion about the version of the Pritchard video that was shown an the inquiry, particulary the enhancements that were done to it. I believe it was a little over 8 minutes long but the original video was a little over 10 minutes. What was taken out?

Some people are saying that the words "May I taser him?" and the reply "Yes" were taken out of the version seen at the inquiry. Has it been established to a certainty that this did or did not happen?

A| The inquiry has had access to the entire contents captured by Mr. Prtichard's camera the night Mr. Dziekanski died. The enhancements that were done were primarily to clean up the audio. There was also a video produced by the RCMP that overlayed the taser deployment data showing exactly when, and for how long, the RCMP believes the Taser was fired.

There was some time spent at the inquiry investigating the exact words spoken that you say sound like "May I Taser him?". I've dealt with this issue several times in the past six months, but briefly, Constable Bill Bentley testified he asked his partners whether anyone had a Taser. This is the question you hear. And the response, presumably from Constable Millington who had the weapon, was "Yes."

Bentley and at least one other witness described this as a legitimate "equipment check" as they entered the scene. And given the use of a Taser is a planned event in any case, it seems to make sense. Although it does clearly give rise to the suggestion and indeed the allegation raised in cross examination, that the officers were anxious to use the weapon. That will be a matter for the commissioner to decide.

I've said before that the phrase I hear sounds much more like "May I use Tasers?" than "Do you have (a or the) Taser?" But if infact it was Constable Bentley who uttered the question, it wouldn't make sense that he would be asking anyone if he could Taser anyone. He didn't have the weapon. Millington did. So the only way it seems to make sense is if Millington asked the question "May I use a Taser?" He did not, according to testimony. I suppose there is a scenario you could imagine where Constable Bentley, who was infact the lead officer entering the scene, might have asked for permission to "use a Taser", but it's likely he would have been asking the Corporal. And by all accounts Corporal Monty Robisnon had not yet crossed the threshold of the terminal when the question was asked. Combine this with the testimony of at least one other eye witness who also said she heard a question like "Do you have a Taser", and we are left with what the officers have testified as the only evidence of what was actually said. But, I've listened to that tape a hundred times. And I hear something different from what I heard in testimony.

Posted June 17, 2009 11:56 AM

Norman James (3758_Sheppard_Ave_East_Scarborough_Ontario) wrote:

|Q In all the reports I have read so far, I have not read how Robert Dziekanski, after arriving at Vancouver Airport from a 21 hour flight from Poland, went through Customs and then Immigration without being able to speak English. Was not a Polish speaking Interpreter available at the time.Could not the RCMP make themselves available to procure an Interpreter. Based on what I have read, I am for dismissing all four Mounties before they do further damage to a fine Police Corp. Thank you.

A| CBSA witnesses testified that an interpreter was not necessary to process Mr. Dziekanski, because it is a largely paper-based process. There were some basic questions he had to answer before getting the final stamp of admission (such as do you have a criminal record, are you married) in order to compare what had been laid out by immigration officers prior to coming and his arrival some months later. But a border service officer testified that he spoke or at least understood a little bit of Polish and he was able to communicate with him. A number of Border Service officers testified that using an interpreter was a rare event, and Mr. Dziekanski's case was pretty straightforward. The RCMP's reasons for not obtaining an interpreter are a little more complex. The officers involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death testified they arrived on the scene and attempted to gain control of what they believed was a situation involving a potentially aggressive and intoxicated man. I say potentially, because until Mr. Dziekanski picked up a stapler, even the officers described him as calm, and cooperative. They maintain they never had time, nor did they see a need to find out what language he spoke immediately. And within 30 seconds of meeting him the need for an interpreter was moot. They used a Taser because they felt their safety was at risk, and were concerned Mr. Dziekanski could escape into the public area and injure someone.

Posted June 16, 2009 06:54 AM

Melanie Pereira (Victoria_BC) wrote:

Q| Will the final submissions, which are scheduled to begin this Friday (19 June) be live-streamed by CBC?

A| I say this without first checking with the appropriate folks who handle it, but I can't for the life of me imagine why they wouldn't be.

Posted June 15, 2009 11:21 AM

Clayton Burns (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Curt, I would like to know whether the CBC website report on the Friday Supreme Court hearing on Dziekanski was based on your work at all. It seems to follow the TV report instead.

Both the TV and website reports are garbled. There is no draft report, as you are well aware. I am sure you realize this terminology is a misrepresentation of the notices.

The TV report is wrong about Hira's position on what Braidwood can find. As you know, there was a reasonably full discussion of what kind of rulings the Commissioner could make in relation to failures of the officers.

An important point that did not emerge Friday is that the jurisdiction issue has to be seen in the context of practices in Alberta, where the provincial serious incident response team does have the ability to look into RCMP matters. So the position of the lawyers for the officers on jurisdiction seems inherently unsustainable. It would have been better if they had disclosed the Alberta precedent. Some might see that omission as being misleading, but I am not sure that it is.

Ruling that Braidwood could not express findings of misconduct against the RCMP officers if there were civil or criminal implications would seem to be flawed in principle, but it would be reasonable to have the Commission provide transcript references and other detail in such a way as to fill out the notices without interrupting the inquiry schedule.

A| Your questions, are well taken, but now moot. And no, I don't believe what you read on-line was based on the stories I wrote late Friday night for broadcast Saturday morning. However, there was much room for interpretation and explanation of the various arguments and case law put forward by the petitioners (Hira and Butcher).

But as I'm sure you are aware by now, Judge Arne Silverman dismissed their arguments, ruling that Mr. Braidwood was well within his authority to make findings of misconduct, agreeing that such findings would not be the same as allegations of criminal offences. Silverman also ruled that the officers and their lawyers participated inquiry, and knew just as much about the evidence that might give rise to allegations as the Commissioner, and therefore had ample detail on which to make appropriate responses to allegations of potential misconduct.

Posted June 14, 2009 02:52 PM

Anne (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Do you have copies of the petitions and affidavits filed by Hira et al. in the BCSC registry? If so maybe you could scan them and post pdfs at the CBC web site. There is lots of interest in these legal documents, around the world. The same goes for the appeal that will inevitably be filed of Justice Silverman's decision.

A| The documents are quite lengthy, and repititious, but I will endeavour to have them put up as soon as possible.

Posted June 13, 2009 11:37 AM

Stuart (Waterloo) wrote:

Q|I understand that one of the officers involved in this affair was involved not too long after in traffic accident that caused a young man's death. I also understand that alcohol might have been involved, and that the officer left the scene? Have charges been made? If not, why? or are charges likely?

A| Indeed the Delta police have recommended charges against RCMP Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson, regarding the death of a man driving a motor cycle. The details of Corporal Robinson's attempts to have his driving suspension lifted following that incident are part of the public record. As I write this, charges have been recommended, but the Crown has made no decision yet. I would not comment on the strength of the case, given the evidence, much like the file handed over to the Crown in the case of Robert Dziekanski, is confidential.

Posted June 1, 2009 08:51 AM

frenchy (Burnaby) wrote:

Q| I have been following the inquiry and I am so angry and disappointed with RCMP. I can not believe that RCMP is not charged with all the wrong information they provided. I want to know if in your opinion at the end of the inquiry RCMP officers will be charged or at least admit the BIG mistakes they made. I am so angry with this case that I can no longer watch it as my blood pressure goes up ! I can not tolerate cover ups ...

A| As I write this (on June 15th) we have the decision by the BC supreme court in hand that says Thomas Braidwood can infact level findings of misconduct against any of the officers if he sees fit. Keep in mind however, the Inquiry's legal counsel insists Braidwood has NOT made up his mind. There are still final submissions during which lawyers for the officers - and others I mght add - will be able to refute and challenge any allegations of misconduct. And Mr. Braidwood may yet be persuaded.

Posted May 31, 2009 10:10 PM

blaine miller (PoCo) wrote:

Q| What reasons did the B.C. justice system give to deny the Polish govt., "access to the Dziekanski file" ? Is there any way the public can pressurethe B.C. justice dept., to comply with the Poles?

A| I'm not aware of any specific reasons for failing to turn over all materials related to the Dziekanski file, although in my conversation with former Attorney General Wally Oppal, he suggested that while the inquiry is ongoing, it was unlikely the RCMP's file would be shared in it's entirety with the Polish prosecutors. There is already a bilateral agreement with Poland that does allow for this sort of exchange of legal information, but it also allows for materials to be held back. It is, however, still in force, and has not been unilaterally suspended.

It's a bit of a slow link from my computer, but feel free to read it yourself:


Posted May 31, 2009 10:58 AM

exponent (Burnaby) wrote:

Q| A follow up question. We do drug/substance abuse test pilots, bus drivers, security personnel, casino workers and many others. Does the RCMP drug/substance screen personnel and not just cadets? The officer in charge showed his judgment skills in driving while most likely impaired. Chronic alcohol abuse affects people's judgment outside of the short time the alcohol is in their body. I saw a previous superior of the officer in charge on CBC news attest that the officer was a loose cannon and further he had opposed promotion. Do the RCMP test members for substance abuse?

A| The short answer is no. There are no regular or routine drug tests of members.

Posted May 28, 2009 09:56 PM

exponent (Burnaby) wrote:

Q| I see that the RCMP went to Poland to check if the victim was using drugs or alcohol. I also see during the autopsy that the victim was checked for the presence of alcohol or drugs. one of the officers involved was subsequently involved in a fatal car accident that most likely involved alcohol and or drugs. I'm much more concerned about whether the officers involved had "impaired" judgment. Were the officers involved ever tested for drug or alcohol abuse?

A| Not as far as I know. It wasn't part of any evidence provided to the inquiry. But, given the circomstances at the time IHIT investigators were called in, there was no immediate concern that the officers had been doing anything other than responding to a call of an intoxicated man who was acting erratically. Short of someone providing evidence to investigators that any of the officers had been intoxicated (as was the case with Mr. Dziekanski) what would have been the reason to test them? And had such suspicion come to light in the days afterwards, any test would have been moot. And of course, the incident you refer to involving Corporal Monty Robinson occured a year after Mr. Dziekanski's death.

Posted May 27, 2009 07:18 AM

Bob (Nanaimo) wrote:

Q| This enquiry has revealed many so called inaccuracies in the RCMP’s reporting of the events. These inaccuracies appear to run all the way up the ranks in this organization.

I guess my question is in two parts: Firstly, will the Braidwood enquiry be able to list the RCMP’s actions, if so found, bluntly as what they are? Lies and cover-ups. Secondly if it is established that the RCMP lied and participated in cover ups could those responsible for same be held financially responsible for the costs of the enquiry? The public has disdain for having liars on the payroll who are lying to their employer (the public). Yet the same public who itself has done nothing wrong is now forced to pay for the cost of exposing these liars, while they the liars bear no financial responsibility for their actions.

A| Sounds like you've made up your mind. The Inquiry Commissioner can use the "L" word to describe what he's heard. The commisioner for an inquiry in Manitoba that was called after an investigation I did into the 1995 provincial election, wrote in his report that in all his years on the Bench, he'd never encountered so many liars.

But I suspect Commissioner Thomas Braidwood won't do that. There's been direct evidence anyone has lied. There have been inaccuracies and inconsistencies and mistakes, etc And each of them have been explained in one way or another. Human frailty has been employed as a reason in some cases. I would expect that you will see a much more diplomatic description in the Commissioner's findings, such that he describes evidence that he chooses to accept or evidence that he chooses not to accept, in orde to form an opinion as to what the truth is. While the commissoner could recommend financial compensation for Mr. Dziekanski's mother, I don't believe there is any precedent for ordering any party to pay the cost of the inquiry. It's society's cost for exploring the truth.

Posted May 26, 2009 02:30 PM

j. o'brien (edmonton_ab) wrote:

Q| Apparently they had the background noise removed from the Prichard video that they are using in the Braidwood enquiry. My question is how much did they remove? To the best of my recollection while reading the transcripts the airport4 claim that when they were entering the area they said "do you have the taser" and the reply "yes". What we hear clearly in the video is "may I taser him" and "yes". If you listen to the unretouched video these words are unmistakable and "do you have the taser" does not sound one bit like "may I taser him".
I am sure that Mr. Kostecki and Mr. Rosenbloom would have questioned that "may I taser him" if they heard it. So I question the video and I ask did I miss something in the transcripts?

A| I have dealt with this exchange as the officers entered the airport many times in the past four months. Rather than repeat it all here, please search for it in previous answers. I can't account for what you believe you hear. We have the evidence of the officer who asked the question, and one other witness who agreed she heard what was described. I don't hear it, and frankly I can't find anyone who can agree on what they hear exactly. It's a bit moot at this point, given two police use of force experts testified that using a Taser is a planned event. I think it's clear from the testimony they went into the airport prepared to use it - as Constable Bentley testified becuase Dziekanski looked like he wanted to fight. An observation he made from some eighty feet away.

Posted May 26, 2009 01:02 PM

Norman Farrell (North_Vancouver) wrote:

Q| May I suggest you provide a bit more detail about lawyers Walter Walter Kosteckyj and Don Rosenbloom. As I understand it, Kosteckyj began this long exercise without assurance of payment. In effect, they are the two people directly representing interests of the victim while government is the public is paying about 15 to represent the police and airport interests.

The public may owe a debt of gratitude to those people. Look at how effectively Rosenbloom destroyed the Fredericks testimony.

A| Mr. Kosteckyj's compensation is being paid by the inquiry, albeit at a rate that does not necessarily recognize all the hours he works on the case, according to Mr. Kostekckj. As for Mr. Rosenbloom, I am not privvy to the financial arrangment he has with his client. Yes, the public is either directly or indirectly paying for the legal representation of the RCMP as an institution, the four individual officers, and the CBSA. It's also my understanding the legal representation for YVR is paid out of YVR's revenues. This question comes up frequently and it's a reasonable one. However, I would add that while it may seem incongruous to some that the public pays for the representation of participants like the four officers, while at the same time it's paying for the inquiry into their actions, consider this: If it were your actions, performed while on duty in your job that were the subject of a public inquiry, and those actions had been determined to have been reasonable by a competant authority like the Criminal Justice Branch, would you expect your employer to help you prepare and present your evidence at the inquiry?

Posted May 26, 2009 11:49 AM

Arlene (Oliver_BC) wrote:

Q| Why is all the blame being put on the RCMP. Mr. D. knew for SEVEN years he was coming to Canada ---Why did he learn NO English. At least enough to say where he was going and what his mother's name was. I am getting very tired of only the RCMP being blamed.

A| You aren't the first person to express this opinion. Let me say three things. Relating Mr. Dziekanski's inability to speak English to his death, is misguided, I would respectfully suggest. He didn't die because he couldn't speak English. He did inform Border Services officers he had a mother in Kamloops. The language barrier may have prevented a full understanding of what he meant. But I think you're frustration comes from a incomplete understanding of the facts. There were many points in the seven to ten hours Mr. Dziekanski spent at the airport, where the actions of one person might have resulted in a different outcome. Why are the RCMP taking the brunt fo the criticism? Read their testimony. Watch the video of what happened. They have had alot to account for. And if not for the encounter with the RCMP, I'm not aware of a single witness out of more than eighty who would disagree that Mr. Dziekanski would not have died. That's not to say that once the RCMP got involved the outcome was avoidable. That's a judgement the inquirys' commissioner must make. But that's why the RCMP are carrying most of the weight.

Posted May 25, 2009 11:08 AM

Gabriel Gat (Victoria_BC) wrote:

Q| So, how much money is being spent for this ridiculously long review? Are there any estimates of spending to date as well as total costs? We suspect that this information is and will be hidden from the media and the public.

A| I take issue with your characterization of the Inquiry has a "ridiculously long review". I'm not sure how we'd get the answers this inquiry has been asked to retrieve without the time it's taken to ask the questions. I honestly don't know what the total cost is to date. I'm sure it would make most people gasp. I have every confidence the number will be known. But how you put a price on understanding what happened in this case, and determining whether it was a bargain or too expensive, I don't know.

Posted May 25, 2009 11:02 AM

David Kellett (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| Dear Mr. Petrovich:

In the enquiry, has any focus been put on the process of calling the RCMP., and what they were told? What information were they given before they arrived on the scene? What I am getting at, is...was calling the RCMP the only option available? Who made the call?

What I am getting at, is this. Obviously, and with hindsight, we can see that a careful, calm assessment of the situation, and the threats and dangers in it, was not made. And, the four officiers, when they arrived, ought to have taken some time to assess. But also, it seems, amongst the various airport staff, there was no one who was in authority and who could assess. Thus,
while the RCMP deserve a majority of the blame for poorly assessing the situation, does the airport staff bear any responsibility?

Secondily, I would guess, that will all the publicily and reflection, the airport staff have already made changes and become aware of their responsibilities towards a passenger who might end up waiting long hours like Robert Dziekanski. Would you agree this is so? Has the Vancouver Airport has developed better procedures?

A| The inquiry did spend time determining how the RCMP became involved. It's rather central to determining why Robert Dziekanski died. Airport Operations called for the RCMP after receiving a complaint from a woman nearby on an airport phone about a man "throwing luggage around". Unfortunately, her complaint did not accurately describe what was happening, and her suggestion that Mr. Dziekanski was drunk was clearly in error. That being said, I don't think anyone believes that by that time, calling the RCMP was the wrong idea. Airport security personnel were instructed in cases like this to "observe and report". The commissioner will have to assess what role the airport staff played in Mr. Dziekanski's death. As for the changes at the airport since, there have been many, and I think it's a given that had they been in place at the time Mr. Dziekanski arrived in Canada, he might not have died.

Posted May 24, 2009 10:37 PM

A. MacGregor (Vernon_BC) wrote:

Q| Any possiblity or discussion of having the RCMP officers involved a lie detector test?

A| If such an examination was conducted by investigators, they have neglected to inform the commission. My sense is that had they been asked, they would have declined. It's simply not required in a criminal investigation in Canada. As for their testimony at the Inquiry, it was given under oath, and discepancies were dealt with in cross examination. I hazard a guess that the inquiry's commissioner doesn't need a polygraph exam to make his own findings about whether to accept the evidence of one witness or another.

Posted May 24, 2009 07:45 PM

paul foulkeks (vernon) wrote:

Q| Why on earth is this inquiry taking so long? Is this going to be another Air India investigation?

A| As I write this, the last witness has given testimony and the inquiry is now adjourned until June 19th when oral arguments given by lawyers for each of the particpants begins. Has four months and change been a long time? For the most part, I learned something from every single of the more than eighty witnesses. Some were obviously more important than others. But each needed to be heard. It took time. But in my opinion, the matters considerd by the Commissioner - including determining why a man died - are weighty and complex. Now we just have to wait for Thomas Braidwood's report, due I expect, by the fall.

Posted May 23, 2009 07:52 PM

TIm (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Why aren't the RCMP accountable? Everyone knows they should be prosecuted.

A| Not to put too fine a point on it, but this inquiry has provided a great deal of accountability. More than I've personally seen in any case of incustody death I've covered. There has been a great deal of scrutiny into the actions of the officers the night Robert Dziekanski died. So much so that it has arguably lead to an embarassing wave of what has been largely public criticism. That being said, the process isn't over. The inquiry's commissioner has not yet determined the role and responsibility the RCMP has for Mr. Dziekanski's death. As for criminal prosecution, that's another matter entirely, and has nothing to do with the inquiry. It may very well come to pass that BC's criminal justice branch revisits the decision it made not to charge the officers. But that hasn't happened yet, and certainly there are many who believe the officers acted according to their training and they cannot be charged with any crime for what was essentially doing their job as they were taught,.

Posted May 23, 2009 08:01 AM

Gordon Kosmenko (Cranberry_Portage_Mb) wrote:

Q| What has the YVR done at the airport to ensure that other non-english speaking passengers do not run into the same situation? I believe the airport should look after passengers better than they do. It would be interesting to set up a similar senario to see if it would take 8 plus hours, again, to get help?

A| YVR has made more than 30 changes as a result of what happened to Mr. Dziekanski. Many of those changes relate specifically to offering language services, interpretation, and identification of arriving passengers to waiting loved ones in the public side of the airport. There are also patrols now to ensure that anyone "lost" in the customs hall is found and dealt with. Feel free to visit the YVR website for further explanation of what it has done since Mr. Dziekanski's death. I've also discussed it previously here too.

Posted May 22, 2009 08:30 AM

myna lee johnstone () wrote:

Q| Initially Robert appeared relieved to see the police. When he turned with his hands and arms raised, it was a gesture to show harmlessness.
Why do the police not admit to this body lanquage as being non combative and surrendered?

A| In short, they testified that the tipping point at which they either though Mr. Dziekanski was "resisting" was when he turned his back on them and threw his hands in the air. The officers have such sparse collective memories of the moment when Mr. Dziekanski acknowledged them (my memory is that none of them were aware he was shouting "police, police" in Polish) that it didn't really factor into their justification for using the Taser. And while they did describe Mr. Dziekanski as initially calm, cooperative and obedient, they say that changed when he picked up a stapler and faced them. Their entire justification for using the Taser rests on that moment. Nothing before.

Posted May 22, 2009 04:44 AM

Howard (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| Why is that all eletricial devices require testing and certification by CSA and Tasers do not?

A| A good question. And one for which I've had some difficulty getting a precise answer. Niether Taser International, nor the RCMP answered my question about this subject. Perhaps they don't know. But then, why not say so?

It would appear that the because the Taser is a prohibited weapon and not a toaster, CSA and for that matter UL in the United States wouldn't examine it. They don't examine fire arms either. They test devices to ensure they do what they're supposed to do, and don't catch fire, etc.

Now, I understand there's an argument that a weapon billed as less-than-lethal is sometimes involved in a death.

But even those researchers who've conducted studies on the weapons will tell you how difficult it would be to do human experiments on the potential lethality of the Taser. It's substantially more complicated than studying whether an extension cord on an electricl kettle is prone to over heating.

Posted May 15, 2009 08:36 AM

Lenny (BC) wrote:

Q When is this going to end? So I know when I can turn my radio back on.

A| The latest schedule has the last few witnesses being heard May 22 and 23d, with a forensic video expert expected to testify May 29th, if it's ruled admissable. Then all the participants will give closing arguments orally the week of June 22nd. I'd keep your radio on now, though.

Posted May 13, 2009 12:51 PM

myna lee johnstone () wrote:

Q Was he actually "THROWING" furniture?

A| If you watch the amateur video shot by Paul Pritchard, you'll see Mr. Dziekanski threw a variety of items, including a small folding stool.

Posted May 13, 2009 07:59 AM

Norman Farrell (North_Van) wrote:

Q| Curt. Thanks to you and CBC for unmatched coverage of this Inquiry. I think it is important and I hope that it will ultimately lead to real change in policing. The death of Dziekanski has been matched by other outrageous deaths involving police - that of Frank Paul, for example - but the evasion and indifference of police, especially management, has been fully revealed in the Braidwood Inquiry. Do you sense there might be a meaningful outcome in this examination that goes beyond establishing regret over one man's death?

A| Thanks. I don't think it's possible to over estimate the value of the inquiry even before the Commissioner has made his findings. When I think back over the revelations of the past four months of testimony, that otherwise would have remained hidden, or at best only partially understood by the public, it reinforces my faith in the power and purpose of a process like this. I think it's already moved past regret, which the RCMP offered very soon after Mr. Dziekanski's death. There have already been changes, not just at the airport, and within CBSA, but to some extent with the RCMP. My sense is that you won't hear any admissions of "mistakes" by any party involved until after Commissioner submits his final report. But - at the risk of sounding naive - I will be stunned if at that time, admissions aren't made, and there isn't some acceptance of fault. Speaking specifically about the RCMP, I have sensed in the past four months a subtle shift from pure denial that anything was mishandled, to a realization that at the very least, the officers were part of a "dance" as psychologist Mike Webster put it. Deputy Commissioner Bill Sweeney - while not speaking directly about the case - went out of his way at the recent senate committee hearing on RCMP reforms, to highlight the need for strengthening RCMP training in de-escalation. Whether this comment was the result of unceasing public criticism and scrutiny (deserved or otherwise), I'm not sure. It came, however on the same day an RCMP use of force expert maintained the officers did nothing wrong. Again, speaking about the RCMP's role in all this, I'm not sure how the force is going to be able to reconcile months of public denials with any kind of admission, should one occur.

Posted May 13, 2009 12:55 AM

Melanie Pereira (Victoria) wrote:

Q| After witnessing Cpl. Gillis' "performance" yesterday (the term "spin" AGAIN comes to mind) I too, was looking forward to hearing Mr. Kostecki question Cpl. Gillis and hopefully solicit (finally) some candid + believable(finally!). However as was pointed out it was not streamed (for reasons beyond anyone's control). So, Curt, if you attended the inquiry today; would you be so kind as to give us a brief synopsis (or just the high/low lights)? Also, how is Robert's Mom holding up?

A| I won't try to give a complete synopsis of the Corporal's testimony. I strongly urge anyone seeking a complete understanding of everything he said, to look at the transcript when it is posted on the Commission website. Rarely did Cpl. Gillis answer a yes or no question with a yes or no. Of note however, Cpl Gillis testified that the situation could have been handled differently but in his opinion, the officers did nothing wrong.

When asked about Deputy Commissioner Bill Sweeney's statement to the senate that the force wanted to learn from what happened (a statement that is infact indistinguishable from what the RCMP said a year ago), Cpl Gillis, the RCMP's use of force trainer in BC offerred little insight. He said the videotape has had an impact, but it's not a complete perspective on what happened, and he's learned there is a good process in this country for dealing with concerns over incidents like this. I'm not sure that's what the Deputy Commissioner had in mind.

Cpl. Gillis' assessment that eveything was done according to training, was challenged by Walter Kostecky, on a number of fronts. Gillis admitted that the officers didn't take advantage of moving into secure Mr. Dziekanski when they had a chance after the first and second stuns. As to the Mounties' concerns about removing Mr. Dziekanski's handcuffs lest he come to, swinging, Gillis admiited that he's never heard of someone being unconcsious for 8 minutes doing such a thing.

Posted May 12, 2009 08:43 PM

Herb (Coquitlam) wrote:

Q| Dear Mr. Petrovich in your response to Fear and Loathing's question posted May 8th, 2009, you said that media releases were - "spin". Isnt it true that journalist/reporters also act as gate keepers in that reporters receive information then craft a story around the angle you want to depict ? Isnt it true that reporters interview lots of people research lots of sources of information then edit the story so that it meets the goals you want to achieve within the time or space that is allotted the reporter ? Isnt then this a form of "spin" if we use your definition of it because not all the information is relayed to the canadian public ? Isnt true that not all the information you have makes it to the public so they can judge for themselves ? Isnt this spin ? However there is no one to test your stories ? Thanks.

A| You seem to be asking me if what I write for broadcast (or here for that matter) is "spin". Frankly no. While I can't possibly include every detail in a story, for reasons I've already outlined, my job isn't to provide you with a point of view. In reporting on the inquiry for example, I have encouraged people to read the transcripts for themselves. Not to test my judgement, but to inform themselves. But there are fundemental and qualitative differences between what I do what someone does who generates a media release. I don't set out with a "strategy", to use the other term. I'm not trying to get you to buy something, or believe something for my benefit. The purpose of journalism - good journalism - is to tell you about something that has happened, or is happening, or will happen and shed light on why and how it's signficant.

I would argue that eye witness testimony that contradicts that of a Police officer is a fact in an investigation that was deliberately left out of a "media release". And while we're on the topic, feel free to read the stories I generated last year with an Access to information request that demonstrated an institutional aversion at the RCMP to dealing frankly with the public on this issue. In particular I draw your attention to the RCMP Commissioner's use of the term "dirty questions" to describe queries from the media.


In my career I've had lots of people - including a former provincial Premier - suggest I am biased, have an agenda, should be investigated...etc

Most of the time, I take it as a sign I'm doing a good job

Posted May 12, 2009 01:57 PM

Barb (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Thank you so much for your coverage, Curt.

I try to isten to the hearings every day. However, from time to time they are not available to the public. It happened on the number of occasions (the link wasn't available on the CBC website or it simply didn't work, there was no sound, etc. etc.) Today, for example Cpl. Gillis was supposed to be questioned by Mr. Kostecki. I was looking forward to his answers, especially given his responses yesterday. Sadly, I was unable to do it.

A| Unfortunately there are occasional technical problems with maintaining the streaming video. The election, particularly today has kept a number of key people occupied who might otherwise be able to recognize the problem and deal with it. Our apologies for the problems, but I assure you there is nothing nefarious as some have suggested. Whenever I hear of a problem I raise it with my colleagues in our on-line service, as I will this note.

Posted May 12, 2009 12:17 PM

Ken Campbell (Winfield_BC) wrote:

Q| Thank you for answering my previous post except for the last part of my question. As a civilian,if say, hypotheticaly,I was a first responder that was perceived to have been negligent in the performance of my duties in this case, would I have the same privileges (at the public enquiry) to have my legal fees paid for out of public funds or would I have to foot the bill myself?

A| In this hypothetical example, I would imagine your employer would have an interest in your legal representation, in a case stemming from some action you committed while in the lawful course of your duties. That is why the RCMP officers involved have their legal expenses covered.

Posted May 11, 2009 10:08 PM

Ken Campbe (Winfield_BC) wrote:

Q| While watching online coverage of the enquiry the past few days, in my opinion, the lawyers for Canada and the RCMP questioning witnesses are not acting in the public interest but obviously doing their best to exonerate their clients from criminal responsibility for their OVER reaction or lack of appropriate actions ,lack of application of common sense, or outright negligence.

Isn't this enquiry for the purposes of determining what were the circumstances that lead to Mr. Dziekanski's death rather than a more reasonable and appropriate outcome, whereby it could have been prevented, instead of approaching it like a criminal court case and using it for another opportunity to obfusticate, misrepresent and try to excuse the lack of judgement shown not only by the RCMP, but by other officials involved, and attempt to lay the blame on the victim ?

Who is paying the legal costs(lawyers fees,expert opinions etc.) for the RCMP officers, for what I see as their defense to avoid criminal charges, or is this considered cost to the enquiry and thus to the taxpayer? As a civilian would I have the same privileges if say, hypothetically, I was a first responder and was perceived as negligent in performance of my duties ?

A| Yes, the purpose of the inquiry is to form a complete record of the circomstances surrounding Mr. Dziekanski's death. But given the commissioner can make a finding of misconduct against the officers, it's no surprise their lawyers and indeed the lawyer for the RCMP have endeavoured to present evidence and cross examine witnesses with the intent of finding those facts which justify and support the officers' actions. The same goes for the other participants - be they from the airport authority or CBSA. And one argument is that by defending the interests of the RCMP, the government is protecting the public interest. Afterall, the RCMP is a public institution in which everyone has a stake. But your point is one that has been noted by some, including most recently, liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh. After watching one morning's worth of testimony, he emerged to declare a line had been crossed, and what he saw and heard was not in the public interest.

The federal government (CBSA and RCMP) are represented by two department of Justice lawyers, on the payroll, so to speak. Each of the officers has their own lawyer, also paid by the RCMP. So, the legal costs are being paid out of public money. The inquiry itself is also publicly bankrolled, as is the fee paid to Walter Kostecky for representing Mr. Dziekanski's mother.

Posted May 11, 2009 04:21 PM

fresh air (london) wrote:

Q Robinson was not qualified to use a taser at the time, yet he deployed it. He wanted instantaneous control. Is this legal?

What about his other illegal behaviour- DUI, hitting Orion Hutchinson causing death, leaving the scene of the accident, endangering his children????

Do you think that the Crown Attorney is giving him special treatment by not laying charges for his obscenely illegal and negligent behaviour? Why is this story being buried?

I'm very angry that his credibility is not being questioned publically. I'm concerned that media is cowering to RCMP pressures.

A| Although Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson's own certification for using the Taser had lapsed, there apparently was nothing wrong with him giving orders to another officer to use it, according to the RCMP use of force trainer who certified the officer who fired the weapon.

Robinson's other legal matters are still the subject of an investigation by Delta Police, and while that force said it was recommending charges, none have been laid yet, and nothing has been proven in court. I can't tell you why the crown hasn't made a decision. I can tell you the story hasn't been buried. It's been covered pretty extensively. But you have to remember, this inquiry is one in which the events surrounding Mr. Dziekanski's death took place. Not the events of any individual a year later. While you may have drawn a link between Mr. Dziekanski's death and the events you describe, the commissioner can't.

Posted May 11, 2009 03:34 PM

fresh air (london_ontario) wrote:

Q|Would the officers have treated Dziekanski differently if he were American (ESL)? British? German? Pakistani? Would they be under more international scrutiny? Would "risk" of a tarnished international reputation be considered?

A| If I understand the question, you want to know whether Mr. Dziekanski's ability to speak English or his nationality played a role in what happened? Not from the point of view of the police. They weren't concerned about his inability to understand English, and they didn't initially care about finding out who he was or where he was from right away. That's why the Corporal in charge ordered him away from his bags after one officer had already asked him for his passport. They have consistently testified they need to get him "under control" before they could do anyting like seek the service of an interpretor or ask anyone in Customs whether they knew who he was. Seeing as they approached this incident "by the book" I can only assume it wouldn't have mattered who Mr. Dziekanski was. We are told it would all have unfolded exactly the same way given the same set of circomstances. Presumably a Pakistani man or woman picking up a stapler at the same moment would also have been judged equally to be a threat, and therefore stunned.

Posted May 11, 2009 03:25 PM

Eileen Schuh (StPaul_Alberta) wrote:

Q What is stressing me out perhaps more than the actions of the four officers in the airport that night, is the testimony from the superior RCMP that those officers acted according to their training and in an acceptable manner--leaving me to assume that as long as an officer can vouch for the fact that he felt I was endangering him/her, he/she is entitled, under the laws of this country, to use force on me. WIth no top brass willing to say otherwise it is no wonder the prosecutors office didn't feel there was the likelihood of getting convictions against the officers involved. I was always under the opinion that since law enforcement needs reasonable grounds for obtaining something as non-lethal as a search warrant or wiretap, they'd need at least something comparable before using physical force on a person. If they only have to be scared of me, for whatever reason, I'm left feeling we are close to becoming a police state and will certainly change my behaviour accordingly. In that vein, I'm wondering what if any training our officers get in understanding how innocent people, and people to whom violence is a foreign way of life, may react to police commands. Up until now, if a police officer aimed a gun at me and shouted an order, I'd have likely either ducked or quickly turned to see at whom he was shouting. Staring at him/her blankly doesn't seem like a very safe response, either, especially if I happen to have a stapler in my hand--that, apparently, would be non-compliance, and very scarey to the officer. And I certainly wouldn't want to risk throwing my arms up in surrender--he/she might think I'm telling him/her to go to hell.

A| It does seem that the only justification a peace officer would need for lethal use of force is the reasonable belief they or someone else was in danger of serious bodily injury or death. But it has to be "reasonable", meaning, would another police officer in the same situation act the same way. Does it seems subjecitve? Yes, of course it is. Many times the refrain during testimony from some witnesses has been "you can't judge this in hindsight". It will be up to the commissioner to judge whether this is one of those cases were you can't use hindsight to judge what happened, or whether it was sloppy police work, or worse.

Posted May 10, 2009 10:35 PM

Norman Farrell (NorthVancouver) wrote:

Q My impression from these hearings is that YVR authorities recognize procedures were inadequate and they tried to make changes to improve future performance, particularly with medical emergencies. However, it seems that the RCMP's procedures have not been changed because they believe that no changes are needed. Are these conclusions fair?

A| Some things have changed at the RCMP since Robert Dziekanski died. In 2008, following recommendations from the Commission for public complaints against the RCMP, the force's taser use policy was altered so that it could only be used in cases of "active resistance" instead of "passive resistance". But they still have been reluctant to adopt a change that would limit it's use to situations in which a subject is "combative".

Numbers from the commission also suggested that in 2008, RCMP officers used the weapons 30 percent less often than the year before.

That being said, the RCMP still used the weapons in cases were they stunned people multiple times - as many as five.

A CBC investigation found that a warning to officers to avoid multiple stuns was deleted from the revised Taser use policy in February. But that warning was traded for another that said it could cause death in some individuals.

As I write this, I just finished listening to Deputy Commissioner Bill Sweeney tell a senate committee that the RCMP has to focus more training on de-escalation techniques.

My sense from talking casually to some in the RCMP, is that many believe the public just doesn't get it. Clearly there is a force within the RCMP that denies anything went wrong the night Robert Dziekanski died. If Thomas Braidwood finds otherwise, it will be very difficult to maintain that position.

Posted May 10, 2009 10:03 PM

M. Horne (Kingston) wrote:

Q| Mr. Petrovich,

I've had trouble trying to understand just how many times Mr. Dziekanski was actually tasered. I know that it appears that in at least one attempt, the taser failed. Could you please explain to me what the inquiry has established about how many times the taser was attempted, and how many times it actually went off?

A| Without a doubt the Taser was fired five times. The device download proves this. Three times in probe mode, twice in drive-stun or push-stun mode. There is conflicting evidence about how many of those stuns, and what duration of each actually made contact. But what is clear is that Mr. Dziekanski felt their effects. It dropped him to the ground and caused him to spin around on the floor in pain. His back and chest bore the marks of at least one Taser probe and the electrodes when the device was held directly against his skin. But the precise number of seconds of energy jolted into his body may never be known.

Posted May 9, 2009 09:31 AM

dan jones (vancouver) wrote:

Q| I know it's not part of the inquiry, but is there any credible speculation you've heard about why Cpl Monty Robinson hasn't been charged in that accident last fall that killed a motorcyclist. Could an investigation last this long in what should be a relatively simple case?

A| You're right. This incident is not part of the inquiry. I don't need to speculate. The incident is under investigation by the Delta Police force, which publicly stated it was recommending charges. But that decision is up to the Criminal Justice Branch. Criminal investigations - even simple ones - do take longer than what you might imagine. But why the Crown hasn't made a decision is something only the prosecutors can reveal.

Posted May 8, 2009 10:39 PM

fearand loathing (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| In light of Supt. Rideout's position in news releases should not the news media from now on quote said releases with a disclaimer? I realize the medias role is to report what is being said and let the consumer decide [or beware]. But when the issuer of those releases virtually admits it is spin doctoring isn't there a moral obligation to acknowledge that? We expect it in the political arena but not in the civil service.
Your comments about the quality of those news releases couldn't be more on point. Who determines what you know controls you.
I am deeply troubled by the situation with Tim shields and the "hostility". Would you say the media was hostile? And what does his refusal to interview say about the free flow of information?

A| I'd be disingenuous if I didn't admit that anytime I see a "media" release, I don't already realize it's not the whole story. It can't be, any more than when I write a story for broadcast that is a minute and a half long, it tells the whole story.

And it's understood that in a police investigation, the police aren't going to put down on paper everything they know about a case, when they release details that are in the public interest. But, respectfully, that's not what happened in this case.

Superintendant Wayne Rideout revealed he made a judgement call about releasing some critical facts in the middle of an investigation, but not others that might tend to cast doubt on those facts. His explanation that media releases aren't "sworn affadavits" speaks for itself.

A disclaimer to use that information? No, of course not. But good journalism doesn't rely simply on lines fed by any agency or individual. There is a testing that goes on, relative to the importance of the facts. It's why we try to question people who write news releases, because those releases seldom tell the whole story, and yes - news releases are "spin". The RCMP and other agencies might prefer the word "strategy" because it's cleaner. But we're talking about the same thing.

This isn't the first time I've encountered a "media spokesperson" who's unilaterally decided not to respond to questions because they don't like them. That usually happens with people who work for politicians, particularly those in government.

Having been part of a number of scrums during these hearings, I can say some have been animated. If by hostile, what is meant is that journalists don't stop asking questions when they don't get an answer or the answer doesn't make sense, I'd question the term. I've dealt with some very sincere, friendly and helpful people over the years within the RCMP. I've also been a journalist long enough to know my questions don't fit with the "strategy", when the reaction is to decline an answer.

Posted May 8, 2009 06:43 PM

Eileen Schuh (St_Paul_AB) wrote:

Q| What information was in the 'new' papers/notes which delayed Rideout's testimony?

A| Quite a bit. The emails that were finally cleared for public consumption on Friday May 8th, which were referred to in testimony two days earlier, reveal a great deal. They provide a documentary trail of how senior RCMP officers, including Superintendant Wayne Rideout, decided to handle both the investigation and the media strategy.

They take the guess work and uncertainty out of establishing when people knew certain things, such as when the RCMP discovered the crew report from the Richmond Firefighters was going to be released, prompting Supt. Rideout to abandon his rationale of silence to preserve the integrity of the investigation.

As with any internal documents of this nature, it's refreshing to see how people in a closed loop speak to eachother. For instance one email mentions how the investigation was conducted in a "search for the truth" posture. The quotes aren't mine, theyr'e in the email. I have to wonder first of all why the quotes were necessary around those words. Secondly, isn't every investigation a search for the truth? And why is it a "posture"?

As I write this late on Friday, we've just been handed the emails after a thorough vetting by the RCMP's lawyer. We will post them as soon as possible.

Posted May 7, 2009 09:59 PM

Tom (Ottawa_ON) wrote:

Q| I agree with Laurie that the inquiry's (and the public's) focus has been very much on the RCMP's actions, with little attention paid to the responsibilities of the YVR authority. A specific question I have is, at any time during the inquiry, was there a suggestion that YVR security staff could (should?) have resolved the situation without calling in any outside assistance? According to the preliminary report on the incident issued by the YVR Authority on Dec 6 2007, eighteen minutes elapsed from the time Dziekanski began to cause a disturbance at the doorway to the public area (0107 hrs) to the arrival on the scene of an airport security guard (0125). This is an extraordinarily long response time, especially considering it was a quiet time at YVR. What are security guards for if not to maintain security? If a similar situation were to arise today, would the RCMP be immediately summoned?
Thank you for taking my questions.

A| Yes, the issues about what YVR staff, including contract security guards did or didn't do, was extensively examined and cross examined. In short, they were instructed to "observe and report" in these kinds of situations. Since then, we've been told there is always someone on duty who has been trained in so-called "de-escalation" techniques. There has also been a fair amount of scrutiny on the decisions made by senior airport people like Airport Response Coordinator Bob GInter, who ordered the airport response service not to be alerted to the ongoing medical emergency. I take your point about the focus on the RCMP, but I would say three things. First, that's just where the inquiry has been lately in terms of hearing evidence. Second, the evidence from RCMP witnesses has been extraoridnary and remarkable. Third, it was after Mr. Dziekanski's encounter with the RCMP that he died. That makes the RCMP's role, and their accountability for what happened, not only significant, but pivotal to this inquiry.

Posted May 7, 2009 07:07 PM

Laurie (Courtenay_BC) wrote:

Q| So much attention is on hte RCMP's dealing with Mr,Dziekanski's death. I'm very curious about what's being said about the airport's mis-handling of this sad event, and their repsonsiblities. I would sincerely hope if I were lost and confused in an airport of a foreign country there would be some efforts made to help and communicate with me before going to "code red" type of response

A| A great deal of the inquiry testimony has dealt with the actions and inactions of both YVR staff and those of CBSA. I won't recount it all here. But even today as I write this (May 7) we've just heard from airport operations VP Don Ehrenholz, who says the airport is accountable for the decision made the night Robert Dziekanski died, not to call in the airport's own Emergency response service. The inquiry has also heard about more than 30 changes made at the airport in the wake of what happened. I've talked about some that evidence here. Feel free to scan for earlier posts about it. You might also consult the Braidwood Inquiry website, and peruse testimony from YVR and CBSA officials for a greater understanding of the questions they've been asked.

Posted May 7, 2009 05:41 PM

Dave Hamel (Toronto) wrote:

Q| Hi Curt,

I have been following this story since it was first reported and my question is why is there no other video of the incident? I have been to the airport and there are video cameras and security cameras everywhere post 9-11. but, if it wasn't for the Pritchard video none of this would be public, why haven't any of the lawyers asked for video from the YVR?

A| Thanks for your question. It's one I've answered before. There are more cameras now than there were in October 2007. However, there was other video of the general area where the incident took place and the customs hall that tracked Mr. Dziekanski's movements. But there was no video recorded from the angle that the RCMP officers saw. All the other video that was available from YVR has been played repeatedly at the inquiry. Feel free to search for "video" in this Question column, for more specific mentions.

Posted May 7, 2009 11:54 AM

Don Armitage (Mill_Bay_BC) wrote:

Q|Thank you Mr. Petrovich for taking the time to field public questions in this matter. I am wondering if you could try and explain what Supt. Wayne Rideout's recent testimony reveals specifically about RCMP procedures and the tone within the room as he was cross examined? The news reports yesterday seemed to have shocked many people. Was there a similar reaction in the courtroom?

A| I'm not sure what you mean by people being "shocked" or for that matter, the "tone". But here's what I can tell you from my observations.

There was an attempt by the government of Canada, first to keep Supt. Wayne Rideout out of the witness chair, and then secondly to restrict the line of questioning. The Superintendant is an officer of great experience, so I don't think he was unprepared for any question that was put to him.

He provided answers to the main questions he was brought to answer, namely what was the rationale for witholding the amateur video from it's lawful owner and ultimatlely the public, and what was the reasoning he applied for deciding to go public with some information that reflected postively on RCMP members, while ordering all other facts, including those that would have cleared up the false information issued by the RCMP, to be held back. He answered the questions.

I'm not sure his answers were satisfying to all the participants. For instance, Supt. Rideout never explained why it was necessary to pre-empt a release of information from fire fighters who said RCMP officers had done nothing to care for Mr. Dziekanski. Certainly the superintendant explained that he wanted to put some facts on the record. But he never explained why that was necessary. Unfortunately I don't believe anyone specifically asked him what the harm would have been if he'd just stuck to his rationale and kept quiet about everything.

He testified he didn't believe it was self-serving. But he didn't explain why it wouldn't at least appear that way to some people.

I also thought his admission that RCMP news releases are not "sworn affadavits", to be remarkable. My sense as the superintendant struggled to explain what he meant, was that he was trying not to use the word "spin". But that's just one of the inherent contradictions I could not resolve as I heard the testimony. If news releases are not comprehensive, nor are they something to which you'd swear, does that not indicate that they are therefore a selective collection of details? And who's doing the selecting? Who decides what is in the public interest to release and what isn't? In this case it was Superintendant Wayne Rideout.

He denied he was in a conflict of interest. He preferred the term "difficult position". I'm not sure what people in the hearing room, thought as they heard the evidence. I thought I heard the inquiry come very near the issues that are central to the debate over whether the RCMP (or any police force for that matter) should be involved in investigating their own members.

I had some questions that day. But I was told the RCMP's media spokesman who was there, Sgt. Tim Shields, wouldn't scrum with reporters because of our "hostility" towards the RCMP.

Posted May 7, 2009 07:03 AM

John Archer (Kaleden) wrote:

Q|Where can the public view the mandate of this inquiry and is Justice Braidwood limited to responding only to such mandate or is it open to him to exceed the boundaries of this mandate?

A| I suggest you go to the inquiry website:


The commissioner has no authority to inquire into things his terms of reference do not ask him to examine. However, the terms of reference are written in such a way as to allow for fairly broad examination of matters related to the central issue, which is the death of Mr. Dziekanski. In other words, the iqnuiry isn't strictly limited to determining why Mr. Dziekanski died. If it were, we wouldn't be hearing evidence about the media strategy adopted by the RCMP afterwards.

Posted May 6, 2009 05:11 PM

Ken Hollas (South_Surrey) wrote:

Q| How come the CBC has not published the latest testimony from the inquiry, The Canadian Press has? Seems that the Canada Border Sevices don't have to ask a person who has been wandering around a secure area for hours if that person needs any help. Instead they call the RCMP when he starts to act up. The sad affair with Dziekanski would never have happened had some one simply tried to find out why! I hate to think what kind of dogs breakfast will be faced with all the international traffic that passes through customs 2010.

A| I'm not sure what you mean by "published latest testimony". If you mean actual testimony, you'll only get that by going to the inquiry website. If you mean evidence from CBSA officials on why they acted they way they did when Mr. Dziekanski died, the iqnuiry dealt with much of that evidence, and I reported it, months ago. You'll also see here I've referred more than once to the fact that little has changed that would automatically detect someone who failed to progress through screening, as Mr. Dziekanski did.

Posted May 5, 2009 03:34 PM

lemonhart (victoriabc) wrote:

Q| Someone told me that following Mr. Dziekanski's death our Premier, Mr. Campbell, commiserated with some senior officers of the R.C.M.P.with respect to the death. Please tell me whether there is any truth to that allegation.

A| What you're referring to stems from stories I did following an access to information request I made, that resulted in a series of RCMP internal email exchanges. I advise you to check the link below. I think "commiserated" isn't quite right. But it's clear the Premier offered personal support to the highest RCMP officer in the province.


Posted May 5, 2009 02:37 PM

Mark Sheridan (Osoyoos) wrote:

Q| Once judge Braidwood finds no fault and no lying how will their political masters convince the public that this was all fair?

A| I'd wait for Commissioner Braidwood's report and findings before considering a reaction. Having sat during the inquiry since it began, I can honestly say that with a few rare exceptions, every question I have about this case has been asked. One of those exceptions being Justice Braidwood's ruling that questions about the police investigation are off limits at this point.

Posted May 5, 2009 12:11 PM

Ken Neave (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| Mr. Petrovich,

I am concerned that there has been very little discussion of Mr. Dziekanski's condition prior to the incident with the RCMP. I'm not sure if this has been overlooked or just underreported. If one looks over the published timeline, it is clear to me that Mr. Dziekanski was displaying classic symptoms of medical shock.

1. Has this been investigated at any point? If so, why hasn't it been reported in the news media?

2. What are the requirements for airport and customs employees to be trained in basic first aid? Isn’t it important that the first person a visitor encounters be able to recognize some of these obvious signs of distress?

3. What are the RCMP officers required to know about such conditions? Again, it would seem to me that this is indispensable training for police officers.

A| Thanks for your questions. I've taken the liberty of editing down a rather long preamble to what you see here. In short there has been plenty of discussion of Mr. Dziekanski's "condition" as he progressed from Customs and Immigration until his final encounter with the Police. Many medical experts have either testified or provided affadvits or reports to describe it. The most recent was Dr. Lu Shaohua, a psychiatrist with VGH. His opinion is that there were underlying physical problems - including dehydration, alcohol withdrawl, sleep deprviation, etc - that made Mr. Dziekanski more at risk for delirium. The lawyer for Mr. Dziekanski's mother doesn't accept the diagnosis. I can't comment on other media, but I can tell you I've reported these facts over the past three months. I should point out however, that Dr. Lu testified that this condition alone would not have caused Mr. Dziekanski's death.

The airport staff who came into contact with Mr. Dziekanski did indeed have first aid training, but as Trevor Enchelmaier, the head of security told the inquiry, he felt no need to perform CPR on someone he believed was breathing and had a pulse.

The RCMP officers are also trained in first aid, although the certificate for the Corporal who lead the unit had lapsed years earlier. What they are taught, however, is that someone who displays the signs of something called "EXCITED DELIRIUM" needs to be subdued immediately for their own good. The problem is, there is no officially recognized definitiion of this syndrome, and it is quite different from plain old "delirium" which is accepted by psychiatry as a real condition.

Posted May 4, 2009 10:32 PM

catspajamas (Winnipeg_Manitoba) wrote:

Q| Curt, I hope I'm allowed a second question. Was Supt. Wayne Rideout served a Subpoena to testify at the inquiry, and did that Subpoena specify that he produce any documentation? I'm troubled by this revelation of previously-unseen notes and e-mail correspondence. It can't seriously have been a surprise to Supt. Rideout that he could be called to testify, given his involvement in the investigation (if we can dignify it with that term) of Mr. Dziekanski's death, and his previous experience as an investigator. Thank you.

A| Supt. Rideout has been subpeonaed since November last year. Bear in mind that until last week, however, the Government of Canada sought to keep him out of the witness chair. And certainly they sought to limit the kinds of questions he would have to answer. I don't think the inquiry has assigned any blame to the last minute revelation of relevant notes and email. But it certainly raises the question of why they were not provided earlier.

Posted May 4, 2009 08:31 PM

Mark Basran (BC) wrote:

Q| It seems to me as though the RCMP are hiding materials that are relevant to this inquiry as they have in other cases. Why are the courts and in this case the inquiry, not addressing the inadequate disclosure of the RCMP?

A| I'm not sure what material you're referring to. I'm not aware of any material the Inquiry has sought that it has been denied. There have been cases in which information was discovered and determined to be relevant that wasn't initially disclosed. For instance, the service records of the officers involved. Eventually they struck a deal to reveal only those substantiated complaints, which as it turned out were nil. The RCMP also certainly withheld information from the public at the onset of the investigation, allowing misinformation to sit on the public record for more than a year before it was correct. They also didn't inform the pathologist of the number of Taser deployments. And there were unknown notes and email revealed at the last minute by Superintendant Wayne Rideout which caused a delay in his testimony. But they were discovered. On some points I think it's reasonable that because there would be so much potentially relevant information not all of it is going to be simply handed over. I'm not sure it's reasonable to look for a nefarious reason for that. However, it's clear there were many points at which the RCMP had an opportunity to pass along relevant information and didn't.

Posted May 4, 2009 06:46 PM

Clayton Burns (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| To your knowledge, Curt, has the excellent 2009 book by Chloe Hooper, "Tall Man," on an in-custody case in Australia, the death of Cameron Doomadgee, been discussed in relation to Mr. Dziekanski?

There are some remarkable similarities, including the question of the knee and the ambiguity that despite the statement on page 34 of Hooper's book about how the Queensland Police Service's Operational Procedures Manual says such a death in custody "must be investigated as a potential homicide," confusion about such an investigation contaminated it.

Doesn't it seem to you that the focus of the Braidwood Inquiry is somewhat narrow? If I were Mr. Braidwood, I would want to discuss the implications of "Tall Man" for this inquiry. Wouldn't you?

Thanks for your consistently valuable responses to the questions.

A| While I am familar with the book title, I can't comment on a book I haven't read. As to your question, I think alot of people were under the impression Mr. Dziekanski's death was a homicide investigation, with the suspects involved being Police officers. It turns out according to what Corporal Peter Thiessen told us a few weeks ago, that this was never a homicide investigation. It was restricted to an "incustody death" investigation. The officers were never read their charter warning, which would have been an indication they were being investigated for a crime.

As to the focus of the Inquiry, it seems to me that Commissioner Braidwood is attempting to walk the fine line between finding out what happened to Mr. Dziekanski, and discovering any institutional factors in the RCMP that may have been involved. Witness his ruling that questions about the RCMP's investigation are out of bounds. They can't be asked. I think the commissioner, as he said, doesn't want to get into an area for which there are no limits to the questions that might be asked. I think he's also mindful of the risk that if the inquiry strays into an area that the Government can later say was out of his jurisdiction, it could result in a court challenge of his conclusions and recommendations. As fascinating and relevant the questions may be about the RCMP's handling of the case, I'm not sure the commissioner wants to put two years of work in jeopardy if the Government and the RCMP doesn't like what he has to say. For what it's worth.

Posted May 3, 2009 03:29 PM

Morgan (CoquitlamBC) wrote:

Q| These snoring sounds that were being heard -- are these a partial blockage of the airway(tongue), or an agonal gasp? Does anyone have any idea? Also, was he positioned on his side, or prone I have heard both suggested as being the position he was in while he was handcuffed on the ground.

A| The subject of the snoring sounds was put to a variety of medical experts includng the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy. Dr. Charles Lee indicated he thought it was likely Mr. Dziekanski was having trouble breathing and that around this time is when he stopped breating. There has been contradictory evidence about whether it was agonal breathing (final breaths that may or may not have been occuring after Mr. Dziekanski's heart actually stopped). As to the position he was in, this too has been the subject of some contradictory evidence. First responders say they found him flat on his stomach, head turned to the side, hands cuffed behind his back. The RCMP says they had him turned on his side. It's a matter of who you believe, and whether both can be right.

Posted May 2, 2009 09:33 PM

Johnam (Alberta) wrote:

Q| Is it always an appointed individual who heads an inquiry? Does this individual make their report alone or in concert with the opinions of others? Is there a timeline that must be followed? Must the report be submitted within a certain time period after all evidence has been gathered? Who decides the format, witnesses and evidence that will be allowed?

As an aside, if the RCMP officers here are exonerated this will give police a green light to taser at will without any justification whatsoever.

A| A public inquiry is called by the Government - in this case the Provincial government. And it is the government that decides who the commissioner will be. In the several inquiries I've covered, the commissioners have all been retired judges of one sort or another, although they need not be as far as I know. The terms of reference, which outline what the commissioner must inquire into, are set by the government. How they get there is left largely to the Commissioner him or herself. Calling witnesses, scheduling witnesses, and deciding who is a participant is determined by the Commissioner and his staff. For all the details on what Thomas Braidwood is required to do, I suggest you go to:


But as in all inquiries, participants have the right to ask for certain witnesses to be called, aswell as those deemed by the inquiry as relevant. That has happened in these hearings.

As to your question about whether a finding of no fault on the part of the RCMP would result in Taser use without justification, the answer is clearly no. The RCMP has it's own rules for using the weapon, as well as general use of force guidelines, and ultimately must justify any use of force under the law. One of the questions this inquiry is considering, is whether there was justification based on the evidence.

Posted May 2, 2009 10:31 AM

Peatmoss (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Hi Curt

Thanks for your coverage and for the chance to submit questions on this matter. I've listened closely to the Braidwood proceedings and watched the video and formulated my own impression of what happened. My opinion is that if the RCMP had been doing its job properly, they would have spent more than ~30 sec before resorting to violence. Imagine how Mr. Dziekanski and his mother might have reacted if the opposite outcome had taken place: the Mounties - in true Paul Gross/red serge/Dudley Do-Right to the rescue - fashion save the day by actually talking to Mr. D, figuring out that he's lost and subsequently reuniting him with his greatly-relieved mother. This would have been a great thing, though not nearly as newsworthy as the present outcome, perhaps.

It really bothers me that even with the video evidence, these four mounties thought they could lie their way to convicing us all that Mr. Dziekanski was a dangerous villian who was dealt with in an appropriate way. It also bugs me that it took someone dying and the sensationalism caused by the existence of the video to even get the RCMP to come under scrutiny. The RCMP *does not* represent me as a Canadian and I no longer respect that institution.

After all my ranting, my question is relatively simple. Can you advise what official channels are available for us to make our opinions known to the government and the RCMP?

A| All I can suggest is probably what's already occurred to you. If you have an opinion, you have political representatives sitting in Victoria and Ottawa. You might also consider sending your thoughts directly to the RCMP.

Generally speaking, the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP is one body that might be appropriate. But it has already commenced an investigation into the death of Robert Dziekanski. And a letter would be redundant at this point. The commission does act on requests for investigation, when it hasn't already begun one.

I hope this helps

Posted April 30, 2009 03:51 PM

WRLO (Ottawa) wrote:

Q| You said "what remains unanswered, is why the officer who witnessed the burn marks from the Taser first hand at the scene, and again in the autopsy, failed to tell Dr. Lee about them, or advise him on how many times the Taser had been fired"

Wasn't Dr. Lee expected to base his report on what he observed during the autopsy and not rely on input from the RCMP or other outside sources? It seems to me that any attempt by the RCMP present would likely have been interpreted as an attempt to influence the doctor's findings, and so is not mysterious at all. Am I missing something?

A| Dr. Lee is supposed to base his report on all relevant information about the circomstances of death, and what he observes externally and internally. He would have expected the attending officers to provide any information that would have been relevant and he testified he asked them if they had any. Lee testified he doesn't remember them saying anyting of use. Clearly, in Dr. Lee's opinion, knowing how many times Mr. Dziekanski had been stunned "would have been nice to know". And given there were marks observed at the scene that may have faded in the two days before the autopsy, it remains unclear why the RCMP officer who saw them didn't mention it. The RCMP also failed to bring those marks and the number of Taser deployments to Dr. Lee's attention after he submitted his report. It's not interference to give Dr. Lee factual information. It's assistance. It's up to Dr. Lee to determine the significance of the marks. He testified he never saw them.

Posted April 30, 2009 10:13 AM

Hermie House (Woodstock_Ontario) wrote:

Q| Was Dziekanski detained at the airport for 10 hours or was he free to leave at any time? Had he cleared customs? Thanks for any info.

A| Mr. Dziekanski wasn't detained, per se for ten hours in the secure customs hall. But he wasn't able to leave until he had cleared customs and immigration. He did not clear customs and immigration for close to ten hours after landing, for reasons that are not understood. While it's clear he was in the customs hall, he only became known to Border Services officers when he attempted to leave the hall without the proper clearances, some seven or eight hours after landing. He was then escorted to the appropriate offices. There has been no explanation for how it was a passenger who landed was able to roam the hall for so long with no one raising any question about why he didn't show up for clearance into the public side of the airport. Once he'd cleared customs and immigration he was escorted to the exit, which leads the public side of the terminal.

Posted April 30, 2009 10:03 AM

Robert Livingston (RichmondBC) wrote:

Q| Thank you for posting my question.
This is a follow-up question. If it is current and not voltage that causes death, then we should be looking for alternate current conduction loops. In normal operation, the contact points are close spaced and the conduction path for current would not bridge across vital organs. But in this case, there is the possibility of only one side of the twin contact dart wire probe making contact with the body, with a second point of the unit held in direct contact at another physical position. If the dart wire was not removed, then we have a complete circuit across the body. Is there an interlock on the Taser to prevent it being used in a direct contact mode vs. the dart mode with the dart still implanted in the subject? Surely the voltage potential must be reduced when the protective skin resistance has been breached!

Also, the integrity of insulation on the wire is in question. If it breaks down, then there is a possibility that another current path could exist across a damp floor. Had it been compromised under foot traffic? Was the wire checked for insulation integrity after use?

A| Let me just say a great deal of time has been spent, both in testimony and in very technical reports, analyzing the effect of the Taser on the the skin, with either one or both probes making contact. But your question about analyzing the Taser filament is a good one. They weren't analyzed. And one probe was somehow lost at the scene.

Posted April 29, 2009 03:36 PM

Dave (Campbell_River_BC) wrote:

Q| If Taser's medical expert is now claiming that repeated use of the Taser did not cause Dziekanski's death, are we to assume it was the stapler that killed him?

A| I'm sure you mean this as a bit of black humour. But in one sense, the answer is yes. The justification for the use of force according to the officers was Mr. Dziekanski's "decision" to pick up a stapler and threaten them with it. Both Dr. Lee, who did the autopsy, and Dr. John Butt, who reviewed it, concluded that Mr. Dziekansk would be alive today if not for the Taser use and struggle with Police. You could conclude that if Mr. Dziekanski did not have a stapler in his hand, that night, he'd be alive. However, I'm certain your not suggesting that Mr. Dziekanski brought his death upon himself by picking up a stapler. And while the officers involved say they never intended Mr. Dziekanski to die, they do say Mr. Dziekanski gave them no choice.

Posted April 29, 2009 09:47 AM

Melanie Pereira (Victoria_BC) wrote:

Q| Am I missing something? Dr. Swerdlow stated (as did the person who did the actual checking of it) that Mr. Dziekanski's pulse was checked 3 times (though actual rate not counted). Each of the 3 times it was checked- it was noted to be slower and less strong than the time before....So doesn't that mean he was dying (and it began fairly immediately after the jolts from the taser)? His heart must have been in some distress- even if just fueled by adrenalin and exertion..There seems to be some question as to whether his heart stopped first or his breathing- is it not possible that the officer/s on top of him; COUPLED with his arms being pinned back by handcuffs (thereby FURTHER restricting his chest from expanding) caused him to be unable to fully inflate then deflate his lungs?

I also cannot imagine where the "affinity for glass" comment came from- what were they trying to say? Although Mr. Dziekanski's liver was fatty- which can be caused by a number of things - did not the pathologist say it would not have caused his death? And how can they keep repeating he was an alcoholic- when they can find no evidence (from friends in Poland OR in his medical records- are they just hoping if they say it enough it will be accepted?

(Just as an aside- when the Taser-training officer was on the stand- I SO wanted Mr. Dziekanski's Mother's lawyer (and the lawyer for the Polish gov't.) to ask: "So- how'd they do? Did they follow YOUR training as you taught them- or; in your EXPERT OPINION - do they need a refresher?")

Thanks, Curt- and please keep up the good work- this is vitally IMPORTANT!

A| You've asked alot of questions that to answer fully would require revisiting alot of testimony. But here's my best effort in short form.

The care and monitoring of Mr. Dziekanski fell to Corporal Monty Robinson, who was being assisted, we are told, by Trevor Enchelmaier, the head of airport security. It was Enchelmaier who did the monitoring you mention. And the testimony was that if he was still breathing and had a pulse, CPR wasn't required. Dr. Lee who did the autopsy suggested that infact Mr. Dziekanski was dying, given the observation he was turning blue and was making "snoring sounds" as he breathed. But the inquiry heard that while Corporal Robinson's first aid certification had lapsed years earlier, Mr. Enchelmaier was a former lifeguard, ambulance driver and experienced in CPR. The inquiry heard he would not have hesitated to give Mr. Dziekanski life-saving measures if he thought they were needed.

There is conflicting evidence about the position Mr. Dziekanski was in - on his side or on his stomach.

It's not clear whether Mr. Dziekanski's heart stopped first or his breathing did. There are confilcting opinions on that. But it's believed it was a heart arrhythmia that was the mechanism of death.

The affinity for glass is symptom of so-called "excited deliriium" that's been advanced by the lawyer for Taser international. It's been cited in some cases of this controversial condition, and given Mr. Dziekanski hovered near glass, and appeared to attempt to break glass at one point, Taser obviously believes it's relevant.

As to whole issue of alleged alcohol abuse...even Dr. John Butt, the forensic pathologist who disagrees it had anything to do with weakening Mr. Dziekanski's heart, is also of the opinion that a fatty liver, in combination with atrophied cerebellum, points to chronic alcohol abuse.

Corporal Greg Gillis, the RCMP's use of force and taser expert, did not answer any questions about the specifics of the event because, according to the lawyer for the government of Canada, he wasn't prepared. Gillis apparently hasn't even seen the video of what happened. It may seem unbelievable and more than a bit odd, but in the procedure of this inquiry, you can't ask a question if the witness hasn't been told and prepared to familiarize themself with evidence already given. Another use of force expert however, for the VPD, said as much.

Posted April 29, 2009 08:16 AM

Heidi (New_Brunswick) wrote:

I am wondering why the only news agency that seems to be giving much priority coverage to this investigation is the CBC? Even the local newspapers do not seem to be covering it, or if they are it's well burried. TV news programs don't seem to be giving it much coverage either. Why?

Keep up the good work CBC.

A| Thanks. Of course I can't comment on other media and their editorial decisions. I do know that for most of the inquiry I have been joined by some regular colleagues from a couple of different outlets and they are keen to tell the stories that emerge in testimony aswell.

But I can tell you that at the CBC - at least among my assignment editors and other journalists responsible for programming at both a network and regional level, there is a great understanding that the issues being raised and scrutinze at this inquiry are not only vital, but good radio. I've never had to argue to attend the Braidwood Inquiry. It's understood in my organization that it's important.

Posted April 29, 2009 08:08 AM

Abby (Campbell_River_BC) wrote:

Q| Why were some rather large mounties not able to overpower Dziekanski by physical means rather than that crazy taser?
Now a statement,it actually makes people scared of the RCMP and is that really the image that they want people to have of them?

A| Your question is what the inqury has spent a great deal of time trying to answer. And the response can be complicated and detailed. Essentially the RCMP witnesses have testified that Dziekanski, armed with a stapler, had the ability, intent, and means to seriously injure them or someone in the public if he'd somehow been able to escape. They also argue that using a Taser does less harm than physically trying to subdue someone. But the question of whether their response was appropriate in these circomstances is precisely what we expect the inquiry to pronounce on. As to your statement, which is another question, I suggest it's rhetorical.

Posted April 29, 2009 08:03 AM

Jeff Websters (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| There seems to be a lot of covering up in this case. Did anybody check whether any of the four officers is related to any high ranking RCMP currently in office or retired?

A| Without making comment on your allegation of covering things up, I would suggest the officers' testimony speaks for itself, and there's no need to go looking for personal or familial relationships between them and any other members of the force. While the issue of friendships have been raised, I think it's fair to say no one has checked anyone's family tree.

Posted April 28, 2009 10:57 PM

David (Toronto) wrote:

Dear Mr Petrovich,

Thank you for your superb coverage of this story and for keeping this event in the public spotlight.

In light of the events surrounding Charles Smith, the Ontario pathologist that was discredited due to a lack of proper training, I was wondering if Dr. Lee’s training in forensic medicine was discussed. As fatty liver (steatosis) can arise from other conditions (such as obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance) besides chronic alcohol consumption, were Dr. Lee’s findings that Mr. Dziekanski was a chronic alcoholic challenged? From reading the autopsy report it appears there was no additional testing conducted to conclude that Mr. Dziekanski was a chronic alcoholic. Also, was the policy of the RCMP being present at the autopsy examined? What is the roll of the RCMP in attending an autopsy seeing as they are not trained in forensic medicine and have nothing to contribute to the process?

A| I appreciate the compliment.

As to Dr. Lee, he has conducted up to 2500 autopsies and I don't believe his training is in question. His expertise and abilities were examined and accepted by the Inquiry in testimony.

As to his findings, Dr. Lee acknowledged that a fatty liver on it's own could be an indication of a number of things, and not simply chronic alcohol abuse. But taken in concert with the atrophied cerebellum, and in Dr. Lee's view, a dilated heart, the presence of all three point to alcohol abuse. It would be exceedingly rare to have three separate reasons for each finding, according to Dr. Lee. And Dr. John Butt, the pathologist who reviewed Lee's report agreed that the liver and brain results pointed to alcohol abuse.

However, Dr. Butt found no evidence of cardiomyopathy or alcohol related disease in Mr. Dziekanski's heart, after viewing the same microscopic slides used by Dr. Lee. Granted Butt said, he didn't have the actual heart to examine, but it wasn't preserved. And Butt said you'd expect to see alcohol-related heart changes, cited by Dr. Lee, under the microscope. And yes, Dr. Lee's findings were challenged, and continue to be through experts like Dr. Butt.

As to the presence of the RCMP at the autopsy, the inquiry heard it's normal procedure, in part for investigators to maintain an unbroken chain of evidence, should any be gathered during the autopsy. However, what remains unanswered, is why the officer who witnessed the burn marks from the Taser first hand at the scene, and again in the autopsy, failed to tell Dr. Lee about them, or advise him on how many times the Taser had been fired...a piece of information Dr. Lee said would have been nice to know, even if it didn't change his conclusions.

Posted April 28, 2009 07:39 PM

Robert Livingston (Richmond_BC) wrote:

Q| If you look at the database of Tasor deaths in Canada and discount those after many hours, the majority of incidents occured with the subjects hands held together with handcuffs etc.. Were both his hands together or both gripping the metalic stapler? And while we are at it, was the first dart removed before firing the other? Did they strike on opposite sides of the body? Is there any chance that both were fired concurrently at the same time?

A| I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at, but Mr. Dziekanski was stunned while one of his hands (the right one) held a stapler. He wasn't handcuffed until well after the fourth or fifth stun was delivered, and by that time he was down on the ground and the last two stuns were in drive-stun mode, meaning the weapon was held directly against his body. In the preceeding stuns, they were delivered in probe mode, meaning two darts were fired from the taser cartridge on the first trigger pull, and connected with Mr. Dziekanski. That's how a Taser works. And subsequent stuns are delivered down the same set of wires connected to the darts. There is some dispute about whether both or only one of the darts completely pierced the skin, and formed complete contact, but clearly from the video the weapon had an effect as soon as he was struck. You can see Mr. Dziekanski reacting. Although lawyers for the RCMP and some witnesses suggest that the fact that he didn't drop immediately (it took five seconds or so) is an indication of incomplete or intermittent current.

Posted April 28, 2009 11:40 AM

catspajamas (Winnipeg_Manitoba) wrote:

Q| I missed Dr. Lee's testimony today, and I have a two-part question:

I understand that Cst. Millington may have attempted to deploy the taser as many as five times, but it appears that the device may not have actually fired every time and its not clear whether both probes connected with Mr. Dziekanski's body every time Cst. Millington fired. Did Dr. Lee indicate at any time how many (if any) taser marks he found during his examination and where they were located? Also, in Manitoba the police are required to file a preliminary report of death with the Medical Examiner as soon as practicable, and generally before the autopsy. Is this the case in BC and was such a report filed?

A| Constable Kwesi Millington fired the Taser five times. Of that there is no doubt. The Taser recorded the times and duration of each discharge. The question is how many of those stuns, and what portion of them, actually made contact. Dr. Lee had assumed Mr. Dziekanski had been stunned once, based soley on his viewing of the video. The RCMP never corrected his assumption with what it knew at the time of the autopsy. Neither of the officers present during the autopsy, nor the RCMP after it received Dr. Lee's report, bothered to inform the forensic pathologist of a detail that in Lee's words, "would have been nice to know." As a result Dr. Lee found what he identified as one possible mark from a Taser probe on Mr. Dziekanski's chest, but he couldn't be sure if he found the location where the second probe hit (A Taser conducts current through the body by using two probes). But while an RCMP officer present during the autopsy had already seen and photographed a series of burn marks on Mr. Dziekanski's back associated with the Taser when it was used in drive-stun mode, he did not mention it to Dr. Lee when he saw them again during the autopsy. And Dr. Lee says he didn't see them himself. As a result, they weren't part of Dr. Lee's report. What does it mean? In Dr. Lee's opinion it wouldn't likey have changed his mind about the cause of death, and he still believes that the Taser, while it contributed to Mr. Dziekanski's death, didn't cause it. As to your other question, Dr. Lee was given what's called a "form B" from the Coroner outlining the basic details of death, which authorized him to do the autopsy. However, there has not been a coroner's inquest yet. In BC, everytime someone dies in police custody, it automatically triggers an inquest. But that's been put on hold pending the outcome of the Inquiry.

Posted April 27, 2009 08:56 PM

GREG (Campbell_River) wrote:

Q| It would seem there is an ongoing technical issue regarding audio with CBC and this broadcast. Becomes most frustrating. Can it be rectified or not??

A| It's not always our fault. The Inquiry has been having some techniical difficulties with it's audio system that feeds not only the CBC and all media, but the gallery aswell. It has been a problem at times, and it's been noted. It's frustrating for me aswell, because I live on making a note of what people say.

Posted April 27, 2009 02:49 PM

Ivan Smith (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| How is is possible that the pschychologist who did the incident debreefing with the officers "does not recall" anything. It is the very essence of the job she was supposed to do. Is there a way in the legal system to address such convenient "do not recall" statements and can one be classified as professionally unfit and incompentent under as result of such incidents?

A| First of all Corporal Nycki Basra is not a psychologist. She was acting as a volunteer employee representative to essentially hold the officer's hands - provide tissue and monitor their emotions - while they spoke with a psychologist who lead the debriefing session. While Corp. Basra could not recall anything about what the officers said with regard to the incident, she testified she was absolutely certain that nothing that was said was in anyway illegal, obstructing justice, or otherwise intended to help the officer's "get their story straight". But she can't remember what was said. As to Corporal Basra's insistence that she can't recall, she pointed out it was 18 months ago, and memories fade. But whenever a witness can't recall a detail, especially if it's repeatedly over key issues, it can go to the weight of what they have to say. That is about all that can come from it.

Posted April 27, 2009 09:42 AM

H E (vancouver) wrote:

Q| Is it true Mr.Dziekanski served time in prison for armed robbery, if so, why would he be allowed to immigrate to Canada? If so, was this information disclosed on his immigration application?

A| I've dealt with this a few times in the past few months. Please have a look back on my answers about Mr. Dziekanski's so-called "criminal record". The short answer is, he didn't have a criminal record. The event for which allegedly served time in a communist-era reformatory as a minor was related to a robbery of some kind. That was more than 20 years before he emmigrated to Canada and a complete background check was done by Canadian Immigration officials. He was deemed admissable and found NOT to have a criminal record.

Posted April 26, 2009 04:17 PM

Christopher Krzywiecki (Sarnia_Ontario) wrote:

Q| Please provide clarification of the primary purpose of the inquiry into Mr. Dzienkanski's death. Is it 1)to determine what were the preceeding events 2)to determine who is responsible for his unnecessary death or 3) is this inquiry carried out to allow the RCMP to identify the deficiencies in their practises, procedures, training, etc. ? My concern is that Mr. Dziekanski's horrific death is being subtly replaced and overshadowed with a media opportunity for the RCMP to advance their own tarnished image.

A| I should direct you to the Inquiry's own mandate, which is to inquire into the circomstances relating to Mr. Dziekanski's death (which is not just those events that preceeded his death). The commissioner is not limited to just commenting on the actual cause of death, but can, among other things, recommend a ban on the use of Tasers, if he sees fit, and make other findings including that of misconduct against someone involved. But it's important to remember neither the Province nor the RCMP are bound to act on whatever the Commissioner recommends, except through the moral and ethical obligation to follow through on what has been an expensive and exhaustive investigation ordered by the Attorney General of BC.

Posted April 26, 2009 05:41 AM

Johnnie (Vancouver_Island) wrote:

Q| Has anyone broached the subject of postural asphyxia? Were these oficers not trained to understand the risk associated with leaving a suspect face down after being tazed and handcuffed?

A| According to the forensic pathologist who has just testified, the belief that somehow sudden death from restraint was related to the postion a person has been left in while restrained, is largely refuted by whatever medical opinion has been formed around the problem. And while it is a contradiction that has yet to be clearly explained, the police and the Airport's head of security say that Mr. Dziekanski was breathing and had a pulse until at least two minutes before medical help arrived. This despite the description of him turning blue and testimony from the pathologist that the snoring sound that was heard moments after he was handcuffed was likely an indication that his breathing was about to fail and Mr. Dziekanski was likely in the process of dying.

Posted April 25, 2009 04:25 PM

CaribooRose (Cariboo_region_of_BC) wrote:

Q| Not a question ... just want to thank you for your clear, concise way of guiding us through a complicated, heartbreaking legal process.

A| The best kind of questions. Thanks.

Posted April 25, 2009 09:55 AM

dan jones (vancouver) wrote:

Q| Has anybody said anything about the weight of that stapler. I picked one up at work the other day and was surprised at how light it was. Nowhere near as heavy as they used to be, I suppose because they're made out of lighter metals and plastic these days. It highlights even more how ridiculous this "fear of the stapler" is.

A| The actual stapler involved in the incident has been introduced and used in the hearing on several occasions. Most recently when David Butcher, the lawyer for Constable Bill Bentley put it in the hand of witness Sgt. Brad Fawcett, a use of force expert with the VPD. Butcher then asked Fawcett to step out of the box and demonstrate how quickly he could approach using the stapler as a weapon. Frankly, the demonstration was bizarre. For one thing, Sgt. Fawcett is trained in martial arts. For another the two were standing four feet apart. For another Mr. Butcher is not a police officer, equipped as they are, with three other colleagues all standing by him. But it was all to make a point about how dangerous a stapler can be in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. It's debatable whether that was Mr. Dziekanski's intent. But from Fawcett's view, and that of the police, the stapler in Mr. Dziekanski's hand constituted his means to attack the officers. You may well ask yourself wether that is a reasonable assessment. I'm sure the Commissioner will ask himself that very question.

Posted April 25, 2009 01:31 AM

alain (ontario) wrote:

Q| hi, i read at one point that one of the officers heard something like snoring. i am wondering about a condition when the heart has stopped and the brain in a desperate attempt to get oxygen will force the thorax to move , making breathing noises . i am sure this possibility has been looked at. do you know at what point the officer heard the snoring? thank you

A| You're right, the issue was canvassed when the officers were witnesses. Constable Gerry Rundel was the first to identify what he called snoring. Constable Bill Bentley described what he heard as heavy breathing. Constable Kwesi Millington testified he heard nothing at all. And Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson, who says he was up close and monitoring Mr. Dziekanski, testified that the snoring sound he heard is what made him realize Mr. Dziekanski was unconscious. It's not clear at all that the pathologist who conducted the autopsy was aware of this detail before making his finding. I would imagine it's an issue Dr. Charles Lee will be asked about when he testifies.

Posted April 23, 2009 11:23 PM

Dr. Wayne Dwernychuk (Parksville_BC) wrote:

Q| If electric shock is used to stimulate a heart that has failed, why would not the developers, the RCMP, or anyone associated with the taser not think that substantial electric shock could do 'damage' to a heart or cause it to cease beating? Has anyone posed this question to the RCMP? This is unbelievable.

A| The question you pose is one that is central to the debate over the safety of Tasers. Taser international has produced stacks of results and opinions from experts to support it's position that the weapon causes no interference with cardiac function. But there are other studies - some of which have been featured in our journalism - that contradict Taser's claims. What I can tell you is that according to the RCMP, the current emitted from a Taser is .36 (point three-six) of a joule, but actually .07 (point seven) that is delivered to the body. In comparison a defibrilator puts out between 150 and 400 joules.

What many people have called for is large scale independent testing of the device. While Taser and the RCMP claim it is the most tested weapon in their arsenal, it may be that such an impartial study could be the only way to resolve concerns once and for all.

Posted April 23, 2009 07:48 PM

louis (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Has the inquiry had independent martial arts masters' opinions on the way the mounties held Robert Dziekanski down and how that may have affected his breathing? I have heard personally from martial art practitioners that a knee pushed high in the back and the arms and shoulders held back can be deadly.

A| When Limo driver Nick Le testified he said he was trained in Kung Fu and believed that what he saw was enough to kill Mr. Dziekanski. However, the inquiry has also heard testimony from use of force experts that what Corporal Robinson described, and what is visible in the amateur video, is not only safe, but necessary when trying to restrain someone who is struggling. I imagine the pathologist, when he testifies, will be asked his opinion about whether this technique might have contributed to Mr. Dziekanski's death.

Posted April 23, 2009 06:02 PM

TomR (North_Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Cpl Robinson has stated that he didn't have any meetings with other officers after the killing. Cpl Carr noted a couple days ago that Cpl Robinson was in a meeting not long after the killing, with Cpl Robinson leading the discussion and spinning the story right from the start. There are several other inconsistencies that seem deliberate, or "lies" as we call them. Is Cpl Robinson, or anybody else that testifies at the inquiry liable to perjury prosecution?

A| First of all, Corporal Dale Carr did not say Corporal Robinson was leading any discussion. Carr specifically said that he can't recall what, if anything Robinson was doing in the IHIT briefing, or whether he said anything to the group. But it is an interesting point none the less. While Robinson was asked exaxtly what he did after Mr. Dziekanski died, he failed to mention his trip to the Richmond detatchment. Unfortunately as these things go, the fault may lie with the lawyers asking the questions. I've gone back over the testimony and can't find a specific question about what Robinson did AFTER he finished giving his statement to investigators at the subdetatchment, at 5:45 in the morning. The briefing Robinson has now been identified as attending, took place at 7:23am. So, to answer your question about perjury, it might be difficult to suggest Robinson was lying, when he was never asked the question.

That being said, Robinson's purpose and actions at this briefing are something I hope the inquiry deals with, now that it's apparent it happened.

Posted April 23, 2009 04:15 PM

Mike (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Whenever these Mounties get hit with a "tough" question during this inquiry, their standard response appears to be: "I don't remember"... ...and yet, these same Mounties have been called upon to testify in countless previous trials - and don't appear to have any memory issues at all.

Are these "avoidance tactics" acceptable by this inquiry? Or should the public now be concerned about any and all previous testimony given by these Mounties in their earlier cases, given their now well-disclosed memory issues? Sorry, but this very much appears like a double standard.

A| The inability of the officers to recall certain details, and their remarkable ability to jointly recall details that didn't happen, has been addressed in cross examination. Lawyers for the RCMP and individual officers have extracted testimony from some experts on use of force, to the effect that there are psychological and neurological reasons for this. But, while eye witness testimony is notoriously unreliable, these officers are professionally trained to observe and report. And in some cases, moments after the incident their recollections were faulty. Constable Kwesi Millington wrote in his notebook for example, that he used the Taser three times, when infact he pulled the trigger five times. What does it all mean? It could go to weight of their testimony. Inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood will have to decide whether mistakes, inaccuracies and false information however unintentional, has any bearing on the rest of what they had to tell the inquiry.

Posted April 23, 2009 02:07 PM

Hellis (Yukon) wrote:

Q|How are we supposed to believe anything we are told by these guys now. And why havent we heard from Mr. Law and Order Harper about this crap, are they afraid?

A| If by "these guys" you mean the recent witnesses from the RCMP, then all I can say is their testimony speaks for itself. I would suggest you read it all, however, and not just the snippets you get in the media. Speaking for myself, I do my best to highlight the most significant revelation and provide context. But not even print allows for a complete picture. I would argue, however, you don't always need a complete picture to understand the meaning. But as for hearing from the Prime Minister, I'm not sure there is anything he could, or should say at this point. Once the inquiry has concluded and it's recommendations are clear, then I think it's a reasonable expectation.

Posted April 23, 2009 11:58 AM

Bob Lee (Alberta) wrote:

Q|Does it appear as if there is a chance that any of the RCMP will be charged with obstruction of justice or perjury? How can I listen to the initial press conference or interviews that the RCMP did after the event occurred?

A| How many angels can fit on the head of a pin? I just don't know. This issue of the possibility of charges has come up time and time again, and in short, the Crown can reconsider it's decision at any time, but likely would require new evidence to do it. Feel free to scan previous answers I've given on the subject.

In the meantime, I would suggest you go here for the RCMP's response to the BC Crown's decision not to lay charges:


You can read the Crown's statement here:


Posted April 23, 2009 11:26 AM

Ron Campbell (Calgary) wrote:

Q| Has anyone looked into the behavior of the nice folks at the airport who ignored this poor man, who was in obvious distress? I can't beleive that people could be so callous

A| The first part of this phase of the inquiry dealt extensively with witnesses from YVR, aswell as Canada Border Services Agency.

Posted April 23, 2009 08:47 AM

H. Mac Donald (Caledonia_Ont) wrote:

Q| Much focus has been put on the tasering but what about the behaviour of the officer repeatedly driving the tip of his nightstick into the only part of Dziekanski's body not covered by RCMP officers - his head. Should anyone with that much violence in them be a police officer? Were all of these guys trained in Iraq?

A| Answering your questions in reverse order : No they weren't trained in Iraq. They were trained in Regina. But what you describe didn't happen. Constable Bill Bentley is collapsing his baton BESIDE Mr. Dziekanski's head, not on it. He was asked about the appropriateness of that action, however, given it would have been an intimidating sound. Bentley testified he was in a hurry to restore the weapon so he could help his partners. And he suggested it was much farther away than it appears on the video.

Posted April 23, 2009 08:33 AM

Jon Arts (Vancouve_BC) wrote:

Q| Why is the following not brought up? Taser Corp employees and police officers are always tasered to the back to get the experience of a Taser. Why not to the chest the way most victims are tasered? Most likely because it is too dangerous for the heart. Note that EKG electrodes to sense the heart are placed on the chest, not the back. The chest obviously has a closer path to the heart than the back where there are multiple layers of heavy muscles to diffuse the Taser charge.

A| Infact, Delta police who are trained to use the Taser aren't even subjected to a stun, according to use of force expert Cst. Craig Baltzer. That's because it's against BC Worksafe rules. And the inquiry heard evidence that RCMP officers aren't shot with the probes, either. A stun is administered using clips attatched to the skin. And there is no requirement that officers undergo real-world application themselves, meaning experiencing either repeated stuns, or being directly stunned with the weapon in drive-stun mode.

Posted April 23, 2009 08:32 AM

Dale Robins (Kitsilano) wrote:

Q| The decision to not charge these officers was based on evidence then, mostly from them. Now that it has emerged that the actions of these men are very much different from the inituial reports, will that situation change?
Is it true that the lawyers who exonerated these men are the same people who exonerated the officers involved in the Frank Paul and Robert Bush cases? Will they be called to justify their decision?

Will they be asked to justify their statement that the officer's orginal testimony was completely in accord with the taped evidence, when now, the officcers have, rather begrudgingly, admitted those orriginal statements were eronious?

And, finally, clearly the quality of the evidence presented by these men is highly questionable. Is this a standard for the RCMP? Since the force completely supports these men, one can only assume it is. Thus, can our courts continue to regard RCMP officers as "Professionals", giving more weight to their testimony than the average citizen?

A| The revelations of the mistakes made by the mounties in their statements, could very well have an impact on whether the decision not to charge them is reconsidered by the Criminal Justice Branch. But reconsidering the decision isn't the same as reversing it. There is still a test of whether there is a substantial liklihood of a conviction that has to be met. And if the officers are trained to use force based on their own perception of threat, you'd have to be able to establish that other Police officers in the same situation wouldn't find what they did was reasonable. So that's one thing. The second is, what would be the charge that is considered? The Crown already looked at manslaughter and assault with a weapon and concluded based not just on the officers statements but also expert witnesses, that their use of force was reasonable. Those witnesses haven't changed their evidence at the inquiry. However, there has been alot of focus about what the officers did or didn't do AFTER Mr. Dziekanski was down on the ground. That could be the focus of some re-examination.

As to who made the decision, it was done by three levels of management in the department including the Assistant Deputy Attorney General. In all liklihood some or all of the officials involved were also involved in one or more of the decisions not to bring charges in the Frank Paul case. I'm not sure because prosecutors are immune from having the process of their decisions scrutinized. That's why the Commissioner in the Paul Inquiry sought to have those prosecutors involved give testimony. That's a legal battle still unresolved by the courts.

What does how the officer's testimony say about the reliability of Police evidence? If nothing else, I think the inquiry has demonstrated that some Police officers, despite being trained as professional observers, are as unreliable and prone to mistakes as any eye witness.

Posted April 23, 2009 08:16 AM

Dale Robins (Kitsilano) wrote:

Q| I'm particularly interested in the RCMP's trip to Poland, investigating the background with a focus on his drinking habits of the victim seems a highly unsual, extreme and costly tactic. Is this standard operating RCMP procededure? If not why was it done in this case?
In light of the fact the lead officer has been charged with impaired driving should not the background of those responsible for the death be investigated?
In light of charges of impaired driving causing death and leaving the scene against the lead officer, is his background being investigated as agressively by the RCMP?

Also, there has been rumor, now substantiated by a CBC news report that the lead officer has had a problematic career, finally being posted at YVR where couold do the least dmaage. Are we going to hear this background?

A| I think it was a surprise to many people to hear the RCMP had sent several investigators to Poland to find out why four of its own officers used force that resulted in death. Perhaps Superintendent Wayne Rideout who made that trip, and who lead the investigation can answer the question. The inquiry has called him as a witness.

As to the other subject, I'm not aware that any charges of impaired driving have been laid against Corporal Monty Robinson. Yet. The Delta Police have recommended it. But the incident occurred long after Robert Dziekanski died, and is well beyond the scope of this inquiry. No, you won't hear any of the personal background of any of the officers at this inquiry. You may very well wonder why it isn't a case of tit-for-tat, but Commissioner Braidwood I think understands that the RCMP would not only balk at such an examination and potentially hold up the inquiry, but also that it would serve little use when the facts he is considering are largely before him, namely what happened that night. Put another way, does it matter whether any of the officers had personal problems at the time, if the issue is whether their use of force was appropriate? Either it is or it isn't.

Posted April 23, 2009 07:47 AM

Janet (Victoria) wrote:

Q| I have seen quite different versions of what Mr. Dziekanski was saying on the video. Is there an official or authoritative translation? Thank you.

A| Yes, the version the inquiry accepted is one prepared by Kris Barski on January 31/09. We should have posted this document, and I will see that we do.

And here it is:


Posted April 23, 2009 07:07 AM

Chuck Davison (Kelowna) wrote:

Q| I understand one of the four officers that took on the polish person at the airport(think of the odds) was not current on the tazer at the time .My question is , what is the required training and why wasn't he current , we fire people in our work if they are " not current ".

A| Corporal Monty Robinson was about a year and a half out of certification for his use of the Taser. There was no prohibition from him continuing to function as a member just because he wasn't authorized to use a weapon. It's not clear however, how he was able to give orders on the use of a weapon he wasn't fit to operate himself. The training course in BC for RCMP members is two days of classroom and practical instruction.

Posted April 23, 2009 05:11 AM

len webster (deltabc) wrote:

Q| Great work Curt.
Can we conclude that Sgt. Pierre LeMaître's career as media/RCMP liaison is in the can?
Care to comment on any extrapolative damage to credibility of RCMP testimony in any trials where officer's recollections are required. Seems that any defense lawyer would be jumping all over this.

A Thanks. I'm not privy to the RCMP's career plans for Sgt. Lemaitre. But I'll point you to two things for what they're worth. In his defence, his replacement Sgt. Tim Shields said that a media relations officer is only as good as the information they are given. And Corporal Dale Carr was so certain that Sgt. Lemaitre wasn't taken off the file because of any mistakes he made, that Carr pounded on the witness box for emphasis. But as I pointed out in a couple of stories and on-air discussions, what is clear from the testimony of both officers is that there is a practice within RCMP strategic communications that if a reporter doesn't ask a specific question to trigger the release of specific information, that information is not volunteered by the media relations officer, even if it's relevant. Case in point: the failure to acknowledge the existence of amateur video of the incident. Both Corporal Carr and Sgt. Lemaitre had seen it the morning Mr. Dziekanski died. Yet neither admitted it, even when Lemaitre was directly asked about airport video of what happened. Lemaitre took the position that the questions were about AIRPORT security cameras. I'm not sure how these kinds of answers can be reconciled with edict in the RCMP handbook for spokespeople which stipulates they are to act honestly, ethically and mindful that their reputations and that of the RCMP are on the line when they speak. As to whether what these two men saw in what they described as a brief clip of the incident should have raised questions in their own minds about what they were being told to say by investigators, I can only leave that to the Inquiry commissioner to decide.

Posted April 23, 2009 04:53 AM

MAXYMILIAN (Krakow) wrote:

Q| Hi there. I/m Polish & i grow up in communist Poland.I & my fellow citizens we have had common enemy POLICE.One of the reason was their uncontrolled and abusive use of power.We revolted & stand up for our citizen rights.Novaday NO police officer would dare to act , approach & try to resolved DZIEKANSKI like situation the way Canadian police did.As a mother of facts i can recollect if police in Poland kill someone in last decade.The way the Canadian people are treated by their police is shocking for me & many of my friends.Dziekanski case is BIG news in Poland. Image of Canada & acceptance Canadian public & justice system for such a police brutality toward powerless immigrants are reminding us what's POLICE STATE is about.Does Canadian Government & Canadian public are sincerely concern and aware How damaging for Canada & Canadian people Dziekanski case become for ordinary Polish citizens?Do they really care? or we Polish still are for them "polacks" ?? as you Canadian call ours grandfathers!Please forgive me my emotions but as other Polish people we can't understand how you, once upon "free society" give-up your freedom & liberties & let POLICE STATE take over?

A| Far be it for me to question your emotions. But consider this. You're asking for public concern for what happened. Not to put to fine a point on it, but you are asking a question on a public broadcasting website, from a reporter who has been filing stories to a national audience, sometimes two and three times a day every day the inquiry has sat. And I wouldn't be doing this, if there wasn't an inquiry. And while some people may scoff at the power of an inquiry to provoke change, given that it's recommendations are subject to the will of whatever government is in power, we wouldn't be hearing the details of what happened if we didn't have an inquiry. I have a great deal more faith in this system and its ability to shed light and produce results than you, I admit. I would also be cautious about throwing around terms like "police state". No one is suggesting - not even the RCMP - that what happened isn't worthy of investigation. Many believe that the highest form of public scrutiny - an inquiry - is required. I agree. The issues raised by the death of Mr. Dziekanski are just too great to be left to either a coroner's inquest or even a criminal trial. Those, if necessary and warranted, can come later.

Posted April 23, 2009 03:58 AM

Anne (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| I notice you are now streaming the Inquiry as long as it is on, not stopping at 11:50 any more. Thanks very much; you are providing an important public service and I appreciate it.

A| You're welcome.

Posted April 22, 2009 10:42 PM

Reg H (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Actually 2 - 1) Given the culture of the RCMP and its premium upon agreement with the accepted internal "wisdom" has the enquiry spent any time addressing the likleyhood that the "critical incidednt debriefing" had the effect of coloring the officers perceptions of the incident even without "intent" to deceive? It strikes me that the procedure followed here would taint evidence in a criminal case and probably wind up with its exclusion as unreliable. We remember what we believe to have happened. Memory does not run like a tape recorder.

2) Has the enquiry delved into the psychology of the use of the tazer as a "compliance device" rather than as a device to prevent bodily harm. Having used electronic collars in training animals I am aware of the ease with which a shock device can morph into an instrument of retribution. I am also aware of the line of studies initiated by Stanley Milgram which dealt with the ease with which individuals may be induced by the belief that authority supports escalating use of electric shock and as a result caused to escalate its use to the point where the victim might be killed. i.e. has the Taser policy itself been challenged? Or has the enquiry simply been whether the policy as it stands has been followed? Look at the poilcy and ask yourself whether it prescribes any limit or do the officers perceptions rule. By the by - has anyone asked whether the evidence of "use of force" experts is accepted within RCMP internal hearings as determinative of whether the policy has been followed? Ask that and watch them skate.

A| Interesting theory about the Criticial Incident debriefing session. But the officers had all given their statements about what happened before then. The meeting may have been an opportunity for them to compare notes - although Nycki Basra - the RCMP officer who volunteered to monitor their emotions in the meeting - categorically denied any such discussion took place. But she also can't remember what was said. So take that for what it's worth.

As for the use of the Taser as a compliance weapon, I've pointed out previously that officers are taught that the use of the Taser is to be a PLANNED event, and that it is the most efficient and safest weapon in that range allowed by the RCMP's use of force model. I imagine that has some significant impact on an officer's decision to use it. The RCMP's use of force trainer in BC, Corporal Greg Gillis was asked about how the weapon is viewed and what instruction is given. He testified that no limit is set on the number of times it can be fired in a given situation, because the officers are always held accountable and must justify their use of force in every instance.

Posted April 22, 2009 10:08 PM

Ella bell (Chilliwack) wrote:

Q| Mine is a comment rather than a question. I believe Mr. Dziekjanski was 42 years old - old enough to remember well the police tactics under Communists in Poland. I cannot help but think that that this man's blood ran cold when he saw these four heavily armed police enter in swat team fashion,approach him and surround him. His anxiety must have increased exponentially. I have heard no comment on this psychological aspect. What do you think?

A| He was 40. And I can't tell you what was in his mind when the police arrived. I do know that it sounds to me as he's shouting "Policja! Policja!" that he is anxious to have them on the scene, not fearful.

Posted April 22, 2009 06:41 PM

dan jones (vancouver) wrote:

Q| Sgt Pierre Lemaitre who testified April 21 said all of his info in the immediate hours after the death of Robert Dziekanski came from Cpl Dale Carr and he was unequivocal. Carr was equally firm that he did not tell Lemaitre that Dziekanski was tasered twice (as opposed to the actual 5 times, or 4 that Millington acknowledges). Since both were so certain, it appears that one was lying, but I didn't notice this being put directly to Carr. Was this because this kind of contradiction was outside of what Braidwood considers relevant to his inquiry?

A| Good question. You've left out that Corporal Carr said he couldn't be certain he did or didn't give that other information to Sgt. Lemaitre, that wasn't in his notes. All he could be certain about was what was in his notes. And the two were at a briefing where presumably other information was being discussed. However, neither can remember anyone else, including Corporal Monty Robinson who was curiously present, saying anything specific. I'm also puzzled why two highly trained media spokesmen had such meagre notes from what was clearly a significant incident briefing. Sgt. Lemaitre said he took NO notes at all. When my spouse asks me to pick something up at the store, I take a note. When I have to go infront of the public to talk about something I know about, I make alot of notes. But, perhaps they didn't teach the necessity for such things in the one week course officers are given in order to be qualified to become RCMP spokespeople. So there is plenty of room in their testimony for uncertainty, without resorting to any suggestion of lying about what they knew or were told.

Posted April 22, 2009 04:56 PM

Ann Bell (Chilliwack) wrote:

Q|Many comments have been made as to what people perceive the RCMP members did wrong, but has any information come to light as to why this man was unable to navigate his way through an airport, something which is done around the world on a daily basis by people who cannot speak the language? Our signs were changed years ago from written to international symbols so that travellers would be able to understand them. Apparantly he had numerous books and maps of Canada, did he not have a Polish/English dictionary?

A| There is no explanation for how it was a man who entered through the primary customs inspection line, was allowed to wander or otherwise remain at large in a secure customs hall for seven hours. Other than the fact that the system isn't set up to check for this kind of thing. One Border Services Officer testified that they'd never heard of such a thing happening before. No one has been able to explain where Mr. Dziekanski was or what he was doing But I think that misses the point. Yes, he had a Polish-English dictionary. For all the good it did him. When the Police arrived he was told to stay away from his luggage before being ordered to a counter where he picked up a stapler and according to an interpreter uttered a phrase like "Have you lost your minds?" and was stunned. I think your suggesting this case can or should be judged as if it was one of the millions of routine passenger arrivals every year at YVR. But it was anything but routine. Clearly the reaction of agencies like YVR and CBSA are an indication they had something to do with what happened. The RCMP has yet to acknowledge it did anything wrong.

Posted April 22, 2009 08:05 AM

Peter Anderson (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Curt,

My understanding is that the first apology from the RCMP was delivered yesterday for what they say are 'inaccuracies.' This is obviously more evidence of the cover up of this corrupt institution and changes need to be made immediately. Accordingly, it has been stated by judges, lawyers and more importantly, retired RCMP officers that the RCMP should not investigate themselves and the 'Force' is broken.

My question is, why is the BC or Federal Government not taking action on this as they have received so much input by respected officials, ex-RCMP, and not to mention the general public?

Thanks in advance for your answer.

A| Actually the apology about "inaccuracies" in the media relations officers' statements, is not the first one made by the RCMP. There have been several. But, not to put to fine a point on it, they are expressions of regret for having made the mistake, not in anyway admissions that there was any 'wrong-doing' or deliberate attempt by anyone to cause damage or subvert the truth.

I suggest that no government is weighing in on this until the Commissioner has finished his examination of the facts and makes his recommendations. Despite some people's frustration with the work of Inquiries in general, having sat through every single day of testimony I for one am anxious to see what Commissioner Braidwood has to say about it all, and I'd hate to see the work of inquiry short-circuited for any political purposes. That may not be a popular position with some who want swift and severe judgement based on what they've heard. But why go through this if not to fully consider what happened?

Posted April 22, 2009 07:47 AM

R McClelland (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| After completion of the testimony by the RCMP officers, will the commission call to testify the other major players in this tragic affair? ie: the YVR administration; the YVR security; the airline; the Canadian Border Services? To some extent, the RCMP are being made to carry the can for these other players.

A|Many of the other participants in what happened have already testified, including YVR security and operations staff and managers, and the Candian Border Services officers involved. I agree the RCMP is only one participant in this examination, and that tends to be lost in the spectacular nature of their members evidence. But arguably, if not for the Police arriving on scene, Mr. Dziekanski would be alive. There is no evidence to suggest he was in any imminent danger of dying. That's a pretty significant reason to focus on the actions of the Police.

Posted April 21, 2009 10:26 PM

Glen Fisher (Ottawa) wrote:

Q| Does the RCMP include first aid training in its qualification to work as a police constable of any level or title?

Did any of the RCMP officers present at Mr. Dziekanski's death carry out the standard St. John's Ambulance ot Canadian Red Cross first aid recommendation for an electric shock victim?
If neo, could these officers, by thus letting him die, be guilty of 2nd Degree Murder?
What crimes are the managers responsible in ihe RCMP guilty of for failing to instruct its constables on first aid for a Taser shock victim when that victim has died because of their negligsnce?

A| Yes, RCMP officers are trained in first aid, both with a written and practical exam. But apparently there is no prohibition from continuing to work when that certification lapses. Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson who testified he made sure Mr. Dziekanski was breathing and had a pulse, had allowed his certification to lapse some years earlier.

The Taser training does include "aftercare" as the RCMP calls it, but it does not deal with injury from electric shock. That would kind of defeat the purpose of teaching Mounties that the weapon doesn't cause any heart problems.

Your question on other charges that might apply provokes speculation, but if it could be proven (and it hasn't been) that somehow the officers were negligent in failing to deliver proper medical care, I suppose that could be criminal negligence. Again, that is speculation for the purposes of addressing your question.

As for the culpability of officers who weren't on the scene but who bear some responsibility for training, I would think that could only be addressed by a civil suit.

Posted April 21, 2009 09:39 PM

Peter O'Flaherty (St_Johns_NL) wrote:

Q| I believe it was reported that the RCMP sent an investigator or investigators to Poland. When was this? What reason was given for sending RCMP personnel to Poland? Was this for the purpose of a criminal investigation or for the purpose of the Braidwood inquiry? If the latter, who authorized this to be done and on what basis?

A| Yes. The RCMP sent several investigators to Poland including the officer in charge of the investigation. Superintendent Wayne Rideout. This was not for the Braidwood Inquiry. It was to examine the officers use of force. I think if Supt. Rideout does infact appear as a witness we can expect the question of why it was necessary to dig into Mr. Dziekanski's past to investigate his officers use of force.

Posted April 21, 2009 07:16 PM

Keith Paton (Nanaimo) wrote:

Q| Curt;
This incident should never have happened. If an interpreter had been assigned to question Robert after he had been alone in the terminal with no one to speak to for all those hours I'm sure he would'nt have been so agitated.
Those Mounties acted like a bunch of goons. Shame on them and shame on a system that failed Mr.Dziekanski. It's the same old cover up,they should face criminal charges.
What a terrible example those men set for the RCMP.

A| Thanks for your opinion.

Posted April 21, 2009 05:56 PM

Mrs. Michelle Bentt (EDMONTON_Alberta) wrote:

Q| Was any effort made at Customs/Immigration to locate a staff member who may have spoken Polish or Ukrainian? It seems that Mr. Dziekanski was frustrated because there was no way to communicate. Surely this would have deflated a situation which ended tragically. By the way, I speak Ukrainian, & I do understand Polish. The reverse is the case with my Polish speaking friends. We do communicate.

A| In short, no effort was made to find an interpreter because those officers who dealt with Mr. Dziekanski saw no reason to get one. They testified they were able to communicate in whatever limited fashion they could, largely because his dealings with them were done by way of forms that had already been filled out. One Border Services officer, Adam Chapin, did speak a bit of Polish and exchanged a few words, including asking him if he was married or had ever been arrested. Chapin also escorted Mr. Dziekanski out fo the secure customs hall and sent him on his way.

Posted April 21, 2009 02:42 PM

Kirk (Calgary) wrote:

Q| Having read all the transcripts, I am struck by the similarities in language and phraseology of the individual officers, ostensibly without any consultation between them. You mentioned Justice Braidwood limiting cross-examination with regard to these remarkable similarities. Having been present at that time, is your impression that he had already decided whether there was collusion or was he simply acknowledging the futility of attempting to prove it. Also, in the same vein, does there exist any moral/ethical/legal constraints preventing Butcher/Hira et al from consulting with one another regarding their clients' versions before prepping their clients to testify?

Finally, you having viewed the Pritchard video more often than any of us here, has it ever crossed your mind that the acquisition of the stapler might have been as the result of an attempt to comply with Cpl. Robinson's "counter" directive?

Good stuff here (even with the repeat questions), by the way.

A|I think it's more likely a case that Commissioner Braidwood doesn't see the point to repeatedly asking or suggesting to the officers that they are lying. Don Rosenbloom, the lawyer for the government of Poland did a thorough job of putting that to them. And you heard their answers. You can't keep asking the same question expecting a different answer. And there is no reason why counsel representing clients with joint interests in the procedure can't confer. I recall when Constable Rundel, when he was in the witness box, interrupted the proceeding to complain to the commissioner that the lawyer for Dziekanski's mother and Mr. Rosenbloom were conferring. I'm not sure what he was concerned about given the extensive tag-team approach between Canada and the individual lawyers for the Mounties.

As for the theory that Mr. Dziekanski approached the counter and grabbed the stapler because that's what he thought Corporal Robinson was telling him to do...it's an intriguing theory. But it appears to be just that. Frankly, I think there are far more pointed questions about how a man "armed" with a stapler can be a threat to four fully armoured police officers. Yes, I've heard their testimony. I've heard how they were concerned he might escape and hurt other people in the airport. That's my point.

Posted April 21, 2009 09:13 AM

ES Frank (Richmond_BC) wrote:

Q| From all indications, Mr. Dziekanski had been planning on coming to emigrate to Canada for some seven years. He had studied out history and geography and, indications are, knew every province and its capital. He appears to have kept careful and meticulous notes on his newly to be adopted country. Yet for all of this information gathering, why did he not learn a handful of basic English words or carry a phrasebook of some nature?

My parents did when they immigrated in 1953 from Europe.

A| Mr. Dziekanski had a Polish-English dictionary in his luggage. No one who dealt with him prior the arrival of the Police seemed to think any interpretation was necessary. And the language barrier - regardless of who's fault it was - doesn't explain how a man is able to roam a secure customs hall for seven hour unaccounted for. As for his brief interaction with the Police, the officers never thought they had time to seek an interpreter, believing Mr. Dziekanski to be a threat who needed to be immobilzed. And they have testified that he clearly understood their "hand signals". But that is a question, isn't it? What if someone had been able to translate Mr. Dziekanski's frustration and confusion? What if Police had taken the time before ordering Mr. Dziekanski to a counter, where for whatever reason, he decided to pick up a stapler? What if his mother had been told he had arrived and hadn't been told to go home? For these reasons, the airport has now made a number of changes to ensure these circomstances aren't repeated.

Posted April 21, 2009 07:10 AM

dennis green (trenton_ontario) wrote:

Q| During police training, what is studied concerning threat levels? I know that often , when frustrated, my response may be to kick something or just bang a wall. To me, this expression of frustration is far removed from attacking another person. You've been there too I would suspect, even if it's just throwing a golf club during a golf game. Do training courses differentiate between such agitated states?

A| From what the inquiry has been told there is a fair amount of time spent instructing officers at RCMP depot, on the use of force. They use a model called the IMIM, and if you care to read about it, try here:


But police are only supposed to use as much force as needed to deal with a situation. It goes without saying they are not supposed to use excessive force driven by personal aggravation. Subjects, even violent ones, are supposed to be treated like "clients", and officers are taught that whatever force they use, they will have to deal with in what they euphemistically call "aftercare". Which means dealing with the injuries they inflict on a subject.

Posted April 20, 2009 09:59 AM

Simon Robinson (Coombs_BC) wrote:

Q| Further to John Fraser's question on an officer being heard to say "Can I taser him?" I remember this clearly and am surprised that more has not been made of it. Before entering the airport or seeing Mr.Dziekanski I recall an officer clearly saying "Can I taser him?" and the reply was: "sure". Why has this recording disappeared? This evidence clearly demonstrates that the RCMP arrived with the intention of having a bit of target practice.

A| First of all, according to evidence and even my own ears, there is no suggestion the question asked was "Can I Taser him?". Constable Bill Bentley who uttered the phrase, recalled in testimony he said something like "do you have a Taser?" to which Cst. Millington responded "yes." His response is clear enough to hear it. The recording has not disappeared. It was brought up in the inquiry. But there are two notable things about it. Even taken on faith that this was the exchange, then why did Bentley ask this? It's not unreasonable that an officer would do an "equipment check" as they enter a potentially dangerous situation. But the inquiry has also heard from two use of force experts that the use of a Taser is a PLANNED EVENT. Frankly, when I heard this, I was surprised. Essentially the RCMP acknowledges that even before this weapon is needed, officers are taught to anticipate the use of this specific device, unlike a baton, or pepper spray. What does this mean in terms of the officer's frame of mind when entering a scene, having already anticipated using a Taser? I hope the Inquiry deals with this issue.

Posted April 17, 2009 12:33 PM

Mary (powell_river) wrote:

Q| Hi Curt, one question: The Canadian government suspended the treaty with Poland so that they can not have access to evidence... JUST HOW HIGH UP IN OUR "TRUSTED" GOVERNMENT IS THIS?

A| The treaty between Poland and Canada regarding mutual cooperation in these matters has not been suspended. That is simply false, according to the federal justice department. You may have heard some, including the lawyer for the government of Poland at the inquiry claim the opposite, but if anything it is based on the belief it has been "effectively" suspended because of Polish prosecutors are finding no joy in getting access to the complete file on the case. The treaty does not stipulate the material must be handed over upon demand, and given there is an on-going inquiry and potential reconsideration of charges, I think there could be an argument for with holding it temporarily.

Posted April 17, 2009 10:02 AM

R.J. Collinson (Victoria_BC) wrote:

Q| Throughout all of the hype everyone has seemed to forget that his mother went away and left him at the airport. Why would she not contact the security office to try to find him? If she did do so, why would they not tell the police a non-english speaker was lost and needed help?

After his mother blew it, why would all the terminal workers ignore a man wandering the airport for hours on end?

And last, why did he police come on like Storm Troopers instead of simply asking what the problem was? The answer would have been in Polish and should have given them another avenue to persue.

A| I would strongly advise that you look no further than this very section dealing with questions about the inquiry, for an answer to why Mr. Dziekanski's mother not only waited in vain for her son, but was told to go home by an Immigration officer because he wasn't there. Your suggestion that somehow she "blew it" is remarkably judgemental for someone who admits they don't know the facts.

As for the actions of the Police officers in this case, that is precisely what the inquiry is concerning itself with. I will also suggest you examine some of the previous answers for more detail on their explanation for why they did what they did.

Posted April 16, 2009 05:01 PM

Frank R. Stariha (Kelowna_BC) wrote:

Q| Any chance of ever getting a straight and honest answer out of any of the RCMP involved in this case, or their taxpayer-funded lawyers?

A| Ah, a rhetorical question. To be clear, you may not like what you hear from some witnesses, but there is no evidence that any of them have given deliberately false testimony under oath.

Posted April 16, 2009 09:44 AM

kim sheppard (penticton) wrote:

Q| Two things, one; was the taser used checked for appropiate amp dispursement, not volts, not only over one tag, but how it varies over sever bursts? Secondly, was the cornors inspection of the body done completely, or just ignored because of the means of his demise, i.e. was he carring something in his body that let go, drugs; whatever, his excessive sweating and unclear mannerisms don't seem to relect the person he was in poland?

A| The Taser involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death was analyzed in a blind test with two other units chosen at random, and from what we are told, was found to be operating properly. As for the autopsy, feel free to examine the Forensic pathologist's report yourself.


Dr. Lee will, I'm sure, be asked some fof the questions you pose, when appears as a witness April 27.

Posted April 15, 2009 12:38 PM

Ken Lawson (Metro_Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Did you think Wall Oppal is making this statement now, just so he can get re-elected? I think a few prosecutors in whatever section of the government they are in, should be looking for new careers after the Election!

A| If by "statement" you mean Mr. Oppal suggesting the Crown could re-consider the decision not to lay charges against the officers? Infact, what Mr. Oppal said was not new or remarkable. The Crown reconsiders charge approval decisions all the time. It did so in the Frank Paul case five times. Mr. Oppal told me the same thing in February. I think he was asked what he thought, and he said what the fact is. I wouldn't put to much weight in a statement that is based on common practice, unless and until an actual decision is rendered.

Posted April 15, 2009 12:00 PM

Mansell (Gitwinksihlkw) wrote:

Q|I just read the pathology report - It seems the pathologist wasnt aware of the number of times the taser was used as the report identifies one location of taser marks and seems to guess at possible locations of the "other one"

Though not explicitly dismissed the pathologist doesnt seem to consider the effects of the taser at all either. Why?

The death seems to be attributed to being restrained while excited but does not even consider that the "delirium" or the hindered ability to breathe can have anything to do with the forced application of electric shock. Has the pathologist been questioned or added anything to this report?

A| You're right, Dr. Charles Lee's report does not appear to recognize the number of times Mr. Dziekanski was stunned. I'm not sure why that is, given two RCMP officers involved in the investigation were there with him at the time. When I spoke to Dr. Lee the day the Crown decided not to lay charges, he told me he didn't think the Taser killed Mr. Dziekanski because sudden death occurs when other forms of restraint are used. Here's what he said:

"and that's one of the reasons why it kind of pisses me off that everyone's making a hullaballo about the Taser - the taser's no different than any other form."

Dr. Lee testifies at the inquiry on Monday, April 27.

Posted April 15, 2009 11:53 AM

Pat (PEI) wrote:

Q| hi Curt - this was going to be a long question - follow-up to my earlier one about a seemingly corrupted process where homicide investigators and police officers are 'corrupting evidence' by colluding in not 'reading rights'. Thanks for your response. Here's the next question: is there any reason that you can see - on the face of it - why the RCMP homicide investigators and officers COULD NOT be charged with 'obstruction of justice' for using this seemingly typical (as in: they all did it - not one of them did it differently) process of protecting officers by contaminating evidence through wittingly neglecting the 'rights' process. Or, in other words - given that this failure of proper conduct seems to be unbiquitous in the RCMP and = contaminated evidence, couldn't they all be charged with 'obstruction of justice'? thanks

A| I sense your frustration. Look, I'm not a lawyer. But bear in mind, that no charge is going to be laid in any case, if there's no chance of obtaining a conviction. The explanation I was given as to why the RCMP officers were not given their charter rights prior to making their statements, is that at that point it wasn't a criminal investigation. As odd as that sounds, I was told by Corporal Peter Thiessen that it was an "incustody death" investigation. Had the RCMP been conducting a criminal investigation those officers would have had to have their charter warning. But I think your alluding to another issue that is at least partly responsible for public suspicion. And that is having police investigate themselves. Even without suggesting that there is collusion, willful or otherwise, to obstruct justice, there is a PERCEPTION that it happens. Many have argued that is reason enough to remove the investigation of police-involved deaths and serious injuries, completely from the police.

Posted April 14, 2009 06:18 PM

N. Baker (BC) wrote:

Q| I'm curious as to whether there will be any expert testimony as to the latent consequences of an ever increasing cache of less-lethal weaponry to the average officer's everyday utility belt. Is there any concern among the force, as there is in the public, that increasing reliance on these weapons reduces training and usage of less violent means of coercion, such as mediation, discussion, empathy, or a good old fashioned fist fight? The stories of bedridden or otherwise incapacitated citizens attacked or subdued, as it were, for the crime of inconveniencing officers seem to be far too many for comfort.

I have respect for the law and those who enforce it, but there needs to be checks and balances for the use and misuse of violence in the hands of those entrusted to serve the community and its people.

A| You've managed to zero in on a major theme of the inquiry. Time and time again, the issue of why these officers resorted to a Taser has been raised in examination and cross-examination. And it appears to come down to training. The inquiry has heard they are taught it is a less-injurious weapon (I will avoid the RCMP's preferred term of 'tool') than either a baton or even their bare hands. They are taught it is completely safe, likely to produce injury only as a side-effect of somone falling to the ground after being stunned. They are taugh it is an efficient means of immobilizing someone in a hurry. And while they are also taught they don't HAVE to use it, it is clear from listening to the RCMP's own use of force instructor in BC, that the weapon has been embraced as a powerful and effective method of quickly resolving a situation.

The kind of witness you describe would be a use of force expert, and for the most part these are all not uncoincidentally, also police officers. While there have been some retired police on the sidelines who've suggested the Taser was uncalled for in this situation, none have been called as witnesses.

Posted April 14, 2009 01:47 PM

Sue (vancouver) wrote:

Q| What is the name of the pathologist in this case?
Is the pathology report released to the media?
Is the pathology report allowed to be released to the public?
How many pages in length is this report?
Is there anyone that scrutinizes the work of the pathologist

A| The forensic pathologist who did the autopsy is Dr. Charles Lee.

His report was released as an exhibit last week and has been posted on our site. It's six pages long. You can find it here:


Dr. Lee’s conclusions were also considered by two other pathologists who concurred. Dr. Lee is scheduled to appear as a witness and will no doubt have his findings cross-examined.

Posted April 10, 2009 08:49 AM

Dot (South_Western_Ontario) wrote:

Q| Could you please tell us why there has been no further LIVE stream-lining of the inquiry lately? And could you also please keep us abreast of how Ms. Cisowski is holding up under her "Inquiry Situation" so as, some of us can keep Ms. Cisowski in our thoughts and prayers as Ms. Cisowski, continues to go through the difficult time that she is in trying to get the closure that she needs around her son's death?
Thank you.

A| I believe the Live stream problem has been resolved. All I can relay about Ms. Ciswoski is what I see when she attends. She is a grieving mother, always anxious about the answers this inquiry is intending to obtain, frequently distraught and upset at what she hears.

Posted April 9, 2009 06:13 PM

wayne boylan (Aldergrove_BC) wrote:

Q| Immediately after the sad events at YVR, a witness was heard to say that he actually heard one of the RCMP officers ask his superior officer if he could use the taser, "Can I taser him? Can I taser him?" was the quote given. This was apparently asked before the officers even reached the glass barrier. I am curious to know why this issue was not brought out in the Braidwood hearings. Has the witness disappeared?

A| The issue of this muddy statement heard on the amateur video has been dealt with quite a bit. According to Constable Bill Bentley, he asked his colleagues if anyone "had a Taser". Bentley testified he wasn't sure who had one, and it was a routine equipment check. Sgt. Brad Fawcett of the VPD who served as an expert for the RCMP in delivering an opinion on the use of force in this case, observed that it appeared the officers entered the scene anticipating they'd use a Taser, given what they'd heard in the dispatches that brought them to the terminal. The police appear not to believe there is anything unusual about preparing to use a Taser before they even know it will be needed.

Posted April 8, 2009 08:45 AM

George Orr (North_Vancouver) wrote:

Q| This may have been asked before but...
When the RCMP took the Pritchard tape and refused to give it back, they asserted that public viewing would compromise their ability to properly investigate all of the circumstances...
Has this proven to be true? Seen from today's perspective, did this public viewing hamper their policing abilities?
If so, in what ways? If not, have they apologized for making such mis-leading statements?

A| Well, the video was returned, albeit after threat of a civil suit, and with the RCMP saying they had by then taken statements from relevant witnesses. In the inquiry, as the video has been played countless times, a number of witnesses have suggested or agreed that at least some of their recollection of events may be mixed up with what they saw in the video. I don't believe the IHIT investigators have ever commented on whether the release of the video a month after Mr. Dziekanski died, made their job more or less difficult. It can't possibly have affected the evidence of the four officers involved. They all testified that they rigorously avoided watching it. And by the time it had been released to the public they had already given their statements.

I'm not sure that withholding the video for a period of time to preserve independent memory, is misleading. Although I'm not sure why initially it was thought it was needed to be kept for a period of up to two and half years.

Posted April 7, 2009 10:36 AM

David Kipling (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Only once, briefly, have I heard on the radio news that when police used the taser, it was applied for periods of (roughly) 5 seconds, then 8 seconds, then 6 seconds, and so on ---- is this true?
People imagine a taser as a single momentary "shock". If what I heard is true, the taser is clearly being used as a torture device --- truly horrible. Please correct me if I heard it wrong.

A| The inquiry heard that the Taser used in Mr. Dziekanski's case was fired five times, for a total of thirty-one seconds. That broke down as six seconds, five seconds, five seconds, nine seconds, and six seconds.

The weapon has an automatic discharge of five seconds when the trigger is pulled and can only be cycled longer if the person firing the stun gun holds the trigger down. It can also be cycled for less than five seconds if the officer chooses.

The inquiry heard testimony from Constable Kwesi Millington who used the Taser, that he didn't believe all of those stuns actually made contact because of the audible "clacking" noise he heard on several of the stuns. And the last two deployments were after Millington ejected the probe cartridge and directed the weapon directly at Mr. Dziekanski's skin, like a cattle prod.

Millington's lawyer later told the inquiry that according to Taser International, when the firing data is downloaded from the weapon, the duration of each deployment is rounded up to the next second, and so likely the first stun was closer to five seconds, not six.

But it's agreed that all but one of the stuns directed at Mr. Dziekanski, were fired while he was on the ground.

Posted April 7, 2009 07:30 AM

TimA (Victoria) wrote:

Q| Were the police officers asked what they had for dinner? Specifically, what they drank? Their explanations written at the time sound like something a bunch of drunks would cook up. One of them, the senior officer, is facing charges for killing someone when he was impaired. So little regard behind the wheel, same lack of regard behind a taser? It's obviously a cover up, but what precisely are they hiding?

A| The only question I can address directly is the one you ask about what the officers ate or drank before responding to the airport call. There were no questions asked about the moments before the call came in, other than to establish that they were on a meal break at the sub detachment and that no one said anything to anybody. I'm not the only one puzzled by the complete lack of communication between all four officers as they - apparently - silently and without discussion went to individual cars and drove to the airport terminal. I'm not sure what asking them about what they ate or drank would have produced. But those questions weren't asked.

Posted April 5, 2009 06:02 PM

Peter Rilstone (Calgary) wrote:

Q| Curt, thank you for your admirable coverage of the Braidwood Inquiry. How much have we taxpayers paid for the RCMP’s fishing trip to Poland for the purpose of publicly smearing the reputation of the dead man whom they killed? Why did the inquiry allow the RCMP lawyers to bring forth malicious gossip about the RCMP’s victim, irrelevant to the tragic circumstances at the airport, that their client had dredged up in Poland? Will the inquiry unmask those in the RCMP who instigated and authorized this Polish expedition, and have them render account for their actions that have enraged millions in Canada and abroad?

A| I'm not sure how much the RCMP spent on travel or accommodation for several investigators to interview subjects in Poland. I do think it's reasonable to expect that if someone has died in police custody, investigators must pursue every means to find out why. I think it's also reasonable for investigators to dig into someone's physical and mental health if it will assist in determining cause of death.

But we now know this was never a homicide investigation. It was an in custody death investigation. There's a difference. There is an appearance at least, that police were gathering evidence in order to buttress what the officers said about their need to use the force they did. One expects lawyers to act on behalf of their clients. And they have a duty and obligation to pursue details contained in the statements obtained from Polish witnesses.

That being said, it quickly became apparent in cross examination that lawyers for the officers and the government of Canada were only interested in finding facts that would cast Mr. Dziekanski as the author of his own fate. I'm not sure how relevant it is to understand whether Mr. Dziekanski was a social drinker or not, whether he rode a bike, or how much he smoked or sweated, in order to conclude whether Police acted appropriately or not.

I think it's clear to most people who saw and heard the questions and testimony why it was done. It'll be up to the commissioner to determine how much relevance, if any, to give the evidence. But unmask those in the RCMP who lead the investigation? We're told the man in charge was RCMP superintendent Wayne Rideout.

Posted April 4, 2009 07:41 AM

eric brufatto (calgary) wrote:

Q| The way things are going, it seems that it's already been determined that the officers, who actually lied, then changed their stories, are not going to be expelled from the RCMP, am I right?

A| No you're not right. At least not yet. There's been no disciplinary action taken against any of the officers involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death. If any occurs, that would almost certainly be done after the inquiry commissioner makes his final report and recommendations.

But I would be careful about interpreting the inaccuracies, mistakes, and requests to change details in their statements as "lies". As Corporal Benjamni Monty Robinson testified "I was mistaken but I told the truth." It's not been established that any of the officers deliberately misled investigators, or this inquiry. That doesn't mean, however, that Commissioner Braidwood has to believe them.

Posted April 4, 2009 07:04 AM

Bruce Bainbridge` (Qualicum_Beach) wrote:

Q| As stated here in this forum, prosecutors only lay charges if they think there is a likelihood of a conviction. Do you feel this principal is being applied equally here? I see on the news when a criminal is arrested he is charged with everything under the sun, with the end result being that only a few of the original charges resulting in a conviction. Now I can understand that this is probably done as to make it harder to get bail, so how is it that the police officers were not charged due to the low probability of conviction, were as if I get into trouble I will be charged with ten offenses, and likely only convicted on three. Is it me, or are the prosecutors playing favorites?

A| In one sense, the principal to which you refer, isn't applied equally. Police are authorized to use deadly force in the execution of their duties. Civilians don't have that authority. That's a major difference when determining whether there's a substantial likelihood of a conviction. Is that playing favourites? I think you'd need to examine the facts of each specific case you're talking about.

Posted April 4, 2009 05:45 AM

J. Edwards (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| The question of criminal charges keeps coming up, and you keep mentioning the consistency of the statements and video, etc. But isn't that all missing the point? To be charged and convicted of murder or manslaughter, wouldn't crown have to show that the four Mounties intended to cause death or acted recklessly in a manner that was likely to cause death? Has there been any evidence to show that the Mounties were homicidal or set out to wound the deceased? This talk of criminal charges seems odd without that evidence.

A| The charge of murder was not considered by the crown, so the intent you speak about wasn't part of the equation. There was no evidence Mr. Dziekansi's death was intentional or deliberate. The charges considered were manslaughter, assault and assault with a weapon. So was this a case of negligence causing death? That could be manslaughter. Mr. Dziekanski died, but what from? Was it the police action and was that action negligent? The Crown said while the police contributed to Mr. Dziekanski's death, they weren't negligent. That seems to be the issue now, in light of the officers testimony and initial statements that contradict many elements of the video.

Posted April 3, 2009 06:42 PM

Edward Wedler (Greenwood_Nova_Scotia) wrote:

Q| About the tasers ... is there an existing mechanism whereby the number of times, the "dosage" and duration of each applied charge is recorded; much like one counts and types bullets used from a gun? I'd like more accountability here and get nervous with the "used up to five times" statement.

A|The weapon records how many times it was fired and for how long. It does not, as far as I know, have any ability to accurately measure whether the current delivered actually made contact or had an effect. What the device showed as it was fired five times. That's a fact.

The inquiry has also been told precisely when each taser deployment occurred, courtesy of the RCMP which married the Taser data with the amateur video of the incident. What's at issue is how many of the stuns made contact. Constable Kwesi Millington who fired the weapon believes three of them didn't fully connect, because you can hear a "clacking" noise, suggesting the device was delivering current into the air, and not to Mr. Dziekanski's body. It is fair and accurate to say that the device was fired five times. That's not in question.

Posted April 3, 2009 04:42 AM

Pearce (Smithers) wrote:

Q| Has anyone questioned the officer in charge as to why they did not just wait him out. Why was it necessary to to cut off his air supply by kneeling on his neck?

A|Two questions. First one, yes. Repeatedly. Each officer was asked why they didn't take more time. Back off. Negotiate. Each said they feared for their safety and had to act to "stop the threat". Second question: Corporal Robinson insisted he never placed his knee on Mr. Dziekanski's neck. He couldn't explain why it appears that way on the video, but insisted repeatedly he knows what he did and he didn't have his knee, leg or shin on Mr. Dziekanski's neck.

Posted April 3, 2009 01:53 AM

Derek (PortCoquitlamBC) wrote:

Q| I want to find out if RCMP officers in their training academy includes of "subjects" -RCMP term for people who misbehave in public who are of foreign background? What i am getting at is RCMP were responding to a place which is airport full of people coming from all over parts of the world to Vancouver and some may not have a basics language skills necessary to communicate, so I want to find out if RCMP have training in situations like that? Thank You.

A|I don't have the course work that encompasses some 375 hours of training recruits receive, in order to tell you whether the specific scenario you describe is taught.

However each officer acknowledged in testimony that they spend a fair amount of time learning a system with the acronym CAPRA. The first C stands for Client, and each and every subject is to be treated like a "client". The first "A" stands for Assess, which refers to assessing a situation. They are also taught to try and make time and "avoid running to a fight".

The officers involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death testified they didn't have time in this situation.

Posted April 2, 2009 09:07 PM

Don Herman (site_9_comp_21_rr_1_naramata_bc) wrote:

Q| Why didn't Mr. Dziekanski's mother stay at the airport to locate her son, knowing he was on that flight arriving at Vancouver???

A| She was there for about seven hours and eventually told to go home by an immigration officer who said her son wasn't there. It's not clear whether she knew for a fact that he had made the flight. He had to transfer planes in Germany. And while she tried to locate her son, the inquiry has heard she had no luck in finding him, or getting anyone to look for him.

Posted April 2, 2009 03:14 PM

colleen atkinson (vancouver) wrote:

Q|How would have the officers handled the situation if they did not have tasers?

A| I don't think they were asked this, but one can imagine their batons - two of which were drawn - might have been used.

Posted April 2, 2009 12:15 PM

Susan (Ottawa) wrote:

Q| What relevance does the current line of questioning have? (e.g.: "who was in the car when you drove Robert D. to the airport and what were their names" ).

Have you any idea how this relates to the actions of the RCMP at the Vancouver airport and why the lawyer for the RCMP is permitted to ask such questions? It does seem a waste of time and money.

A| How relevant Mr. Dziekanski's emotional, mental and physical state was prior to leaving Poland, will be up to the commissioner to decide. But given these people made statements to RCMP investigators, lawyers for the Government of Canada, the airport, and the officers have the right to cross examine the witnesses on them.

It may explain why the inquiry's own counsel didn't bother to lead any evidence from Robert Dylski about Mr. Dziekanski's nervousness and panic before leaving. Clearly the people who testified from Poland don't think it's relevant. While they appeared voluntarily, Iwona Kosowska told one officer's lawyer "you can kill a bad man but you can't kill a good man", and on Dziekanski's drinking habits, Dylski said "in Poland there's no tradition that you walk with a glass of whiskey in your hand."

Posted April 2, 2009 11:00 AM

Denis Price (Three_Hills_Alberta) wrote:

Q| How is it that these cops aren't charged with a criminal offense given they have changed their stories when they found out their was a video account of what took place on the night in question.

A| First, the officers all knew there was a video, before they even made their first statements to investigators. We're told none had seen it before making the statements they've now acknowledged contain errors. But while it may be a surprise to some, you're allowed to change a statement given to police, or acknowledge it doesn't accurately record what really happened, without facing criminal charges. And remember, none of these officers was apparently under investigation for homicide. None of them had their charter warning read before giving their statements, making them virtually useless in court anyway.

Posted April 1, 2009 07:44 PM

Jack DesJardins (Ladysmith_BC) wrote:

Q| In reply to a recent independent test which showed several TASERS discharging higher than normal electrical charges, Taser International has replied that higher than usual charges may occur unless each device is tested by the operator with a discharge at the beginning of the the operators daily shift.

Was the Taser used on Mr.Dziekanski test fired as recommended by Taser International before being used at YVR ? Was the matter raised at the Braidwood Inquiry?

A| Constable Kwesi Millington was asked if he "spark tested" the Taser that night, and he said he did.

The scenario you describe of a confused but obedient Robert Dziekanski picking up a stapler because he thought that's what he was being told to do, was raised briefly by the lawyer for the Government of Poland. It wasn't pursued.

Posted April 1, 2009 03:54 PM

John Baglow (Ottawa) wrote:

Q| Why is Mr. Thomas Braidwood permitting an exhaustive and distasteful exploration of the victim's background, going right back to his teens, while last week he warned a government lawyer away from bringing up a fact in Constable Millington's past? This seems far from even-handed.

Every thing about the four officers--their annual performance reviews, medical records, possible drug and alcohol issues, relations with spouses and neighbours, etc.--should be fair game as well. Fair's fair.

A| As you know now, Thomas Braidwood ruled against delving into police records of Robert Dziekanski, as irrelevant unless it could be shown there was some recent incident that had a bearing on Mr. Dziekanski's behaviour. The government of Canada did provide a summary of all substantiated complaints against the four officers leading up to the night in question, including complaints involving mistreatment of a prisoner. The summary was "there are none". That's not what the lawyer for Robert Dziekanski's mother initially asked for. Walter Kostecky wanted the entire service record for each of the officers but settled on what the RCMP was willing to provide. Mr. Kostecky did say that had the inquiry approved the search of Police records in Poland, he would have been compelled to dig deeper into the backgrounds of the officers too.

Posted April 1, 2009 08:39 AM

terry youngman (saskatoon) wrote:

Q| Have any of these police officers used the Taser in previous situations? If so, how often?

Have they personally experienced the effects of being Tasered? Some people say that may have been part of the training.

Did or did they not share their incident reports with one another before submitting the reports? Are these questions being asked, and if not, why not?

A| The only officer to have used the Taser previous to Mr. Dziekanski's death, was ironically, the only officer who couldn't use it that night - Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson. His taser certification had lapsed about a year and a half earlier. He did, however, testify he'd been stunned "accidentally" by another officer during an incident. And the Inquiry heard that while the officers in their training are given a taste of the Taser's effects, it doesn't involve being shot with the weapon. Instead, probes are hooked up to their skin and then the electricity is delivered for about a second.

They all testified that none of them talked to each other or in anyway communicated their version of events other than in a critical incident debriefing session some weeks afterward.

Posted March 31, 2009 09:23 PM

andre shepkowski (lemon_creek) wrote:

Q| Why can all these questions about Mr. Deizenski's personal life be asked? Can the personal lives of the RCMP that were at the scene go into the record?

A| Anything is possible, but it's a matter of what the commissioner believes is relevant. You have to have some reason to believe it's relevant for it to have probative value. You can't just go on a fishing trip looking for something to buttress a theory. In Robert Dziekanski's case, a number of witnesses gave statements about his mental and physical health. You may disagree with the excursion made by investigators to Poland last year to get those statements. But there it is. The lawyers have the right to cross examine any testimony arising from them. And it is Mr. Dziekanski who died. Had their not been in inquiry, an inquest would have dug into Mr. Dziekanski's health record to help determine a cause of death. The RCMP did provide a summary of the substantiated complaints and disciplinary action against the officers up to the time of the incident. That summary was that there were no complaints.

Posted March 31, 2009 11:15 AM

shirl (NS) wrote:

Q| Without a lot of education and a job waiting for him in Canada, would Mr. Dziekanski have managed to meet the qualifications to immigrate without English of french?

A| He was sponsored by his mother. Clearly he met the qualifications to come to Canada. He had all the paper work - including a background check done by Canadian officials.

Posted March 31, 2009 08:51 AM

dalton leroux (montreal) wrote:

Q| The fourth tasering was in the probe-stun mode. Since the video seems to be the be-all and the end-all( rather then what officers recall)of this very strange inquiry (where hearsay is the order of the day). What evidence on the video or elsewhere is there that the fifth deployment of the taser(in the probe mode) actually contacted Mr Dziekanski?

A| Constable Kwesi Millngton, who fired the Taser testified that he doesn't remember the fifth deployment at all, and likely it would not have connected. The video does not, nor can it conclusively show whether contact was made or for how long.

Posted March 31, 2009 07:20 AM

Renee (Vancouver_Island_BC) wrote:

Q| Is there a possibility Robert Dziekanski threw the chair and keyboard to draw attention to himself after being ignored by all airport staff for so long.
And is it possible that with these actions he tried to summon the police so they could help him since no one else did?

A| The more likely theory put forward by the lawyer for Mr. Dziekanksi's mother is that Robert Dziekanski became irate after being confronted by a limo driver who got into a shouting match with him in order to get him to move away from the door. I don't think it's possible to know what caused Mr. Dziekanski to go from the calm, tired and obedient person described by so many people until then, to the man seen throwing a chair and a computer keyboard. Doubtless his exhaustion, and confusion about finding his mother had something to do with it.

Posted March 30, 2009 10:52 PM

Ted Domachowski (Burnaby_BC_Canada) wrote:

Q| Why did you answer to Jeff. L.? quote:
"First at all, there is no evidence any of the officers lied under oath. None whatsoever".

Is this, how it was presented at the Inquiry?. Is this only your point of view?. Is this how you visualized in your mind?,. Why nobody come with idea to re-in-stage whole event, right from beginning when policemen approached Mr. Dziekanski and compare that with video?. Do you think we should just let this go, with out new trial?. In my opinion you are wrong. You are at the Inquiry every time and that what they want you to believe and to sell to the public. In many cases jury is misled, because all the information is not presented to them. Good Luck.

A|It's a simple fact. There is no evidence the police lied under oath. None. You are entitled to believe whatever you want. My job isn't to give you my opinion. I do offer analysis based on fact, but not on speculation, suspicion or emotion.

There is no jury. I am not there to sell anyting to the public. I suppose this isn't the first time I've been accused of being part of a conspiracy, but I would suggest before you accuse me of some sort of bias, you examine what I've written and broadcast, and take into account my job is to be a journalist, asking questions, not to give you my opinions. There are plenty of people who can do that.

I debated whether to answer this question, because it seems to come from emotion and not fact. But I thought you deserved an answer.

Posted March 29, 2009 07:56 PM

carl wolf (comox) wrote:

Q| whats the bottom line in this inquiry curt? thank you.

A| In one sense it's to form a record that's as complete and accurate as possible into what happened the night Mr. Dziekanski died. Given everything that's been revealed so far in testimony, I suspect the ripples of the commissioner's final report have the potential to wash over the RCMP, the provincial government, the airport, and the Canada Border Services agency.

Posted March 29, 2009 04:23 PM

george clarke (victoria) wrote:

Q| Is this not a training iss

A|I think to some extent the issue of why Mr. Dziekanski was stunned, and why the officers weren't charged, comes down to the explanation from the four officers that they were following their training. But as the inquiry has heard, RCMP recruits aren't trained to follow a linear path when dealing with someone like Mr. Dziekanski. Just because they have the authority to use a Taser, doesn't mean they must or should. The inquiry's commissioner will have determine whether the officers acted reasonably given their training, whether they are guilty of misconduct, or something in between.

Posted March 29, 2009 04:12 PM

Hubert Hicks (St_Johns_NL) wrote:

Q| It was mentioned earlier by a questioner that "I recently talked with an RCMP officer who just graduated from the RCMP training depot in Regina. He described for me the hours of time that the RCMP trainees still spend during training getting the shine and colour of their boots "just right"."

Well, this might be correct to a certain degree. The boot waxing etc is done on one's own time, not on time spent in the classroom. It is about pride in the uniform, something that our "friend" Cpl Robinson seems to have little of, pride in his uniform, pride in himself and especially pride in his family. Where do you see this inquiry leading?

A| That is a great, great, open ended question. The kind I might ask. And I think it's obvious where the inquiry is leading. It's already established a record of details of what happened the night Mr. Dziekanski died, that I suggest would never seen the light of day in a more routine inquest.

It is exposing elements of RCMP training, and investigation that are largely hidden from public view. It has exposed the inner workings, and potential flaws of how both the airport and Canada border services agency ran in October 2007.

As to whether it results in meaningful change, I - like you - will have to wait for not only the commissioner's report and recommendations, but also the government's reaction to them.

Posted March 27, 2009 04:46 AM

Kevin Brooks (Sault_Ste_Marie) wrote:

Q| Has anyone asked the Crown why it was decided so quickly that the officers would not be charged even after they seized the tape and could clearly see that the video did not match the officers statements? I would think that those discrepancies alone should have prompted and investigation into possible charges?

And why is it that the officer who's First Aid expired 5 years earlier was still able to continue working as an RCMP officer? Don't they require this certification as a part of their job?

A| To answer your first question - and it's a popular one - the decision wasn't made "quickly." It took months and I invite you to read the "clear statement" issued by the Criminal Justice Branch on it's reasons.

As I've said before many times, while the Crown did conclude the officers contributed to Mr. Dziekanski's death, that doesn't make what they did a criminal act. They were performing their duties under the law.

You may, as many people do, disagree with that analysis. It is not mine, it is that of three levels of management among BC's Crown prosecutors. I have also highlighted the phrase in the clear statement about the video and the officers' statements being "materially consistent".

Again, what is meant by "materially"? If it's that the trigger for the use of force was Mr. Dziekanski holding a stapler and being perceived by the officers as a threat, then there is nothing that is materially inconsistent between the video and the accounts of the officers.

But what many people can't reconcile - judging by questions here - is why the numerous discrepancies and mistakes made by the police in their recollection of events didn't call their decisions that night, into question. I have no way of knowing whether prosecutors did infact consider that. For all I know they did. They had the video and the statements and any reasonably observant person can see there are discrepancies.

But, like it or not - and I've said this many times too - the crown has set a test for laying charges in ANY case. It includes believing that there is a SUBSTANTIAL LIKELIHOOD of a conviction. The Crown didn't believe they could convince a trier of fact that what the police did was criminal.

Good question about the first aid certification for Corporal Robinson. He testified he'd done the written portions required to re-certify, but hadn't done the practical part. He said with his transfers and duties it wasn't possible to schedule it.

I'm not certain, but I'm pretty sure there is no prohibition against a Mountie continuing to work with a lapsed first aid certificate. They are not medical first responders. They're police officers who call medical help when they're needed.

Posted March 27, 2009 04:43 AM

Rita Fischer (Trail_BC) wrote:

Q| When this inquiry wraps up, how do we citizens compel the governing body to enhance police training and screening to filter out unsuitable candidates? I have personally experienced injustice on a much smaller scale. Where did common sense go?

Why are police officers not screened on a regular basis for changes in their moral beliefs? How can this group mentality make this inquiry necessary? Who are THEIR advisers?

My sympathy goes to Dziekanski's family.

A| I think some of what you're asking about, could be addressed by the Inquiry commissioner's recommendations, if he so chooses to deal with issues of RCMP training and recruitment, for example.

But I'm not entirely sure what you mean by screening officers for changes to their moral beliefs.

Posted March 27, 2009 12:44 AM

David McGillivray (Edmonton) wrote:

Q| Has any of this lead to calls for more independent civilian oversight of the RCMP? It seems to me that the process of having the organization investigate itself may be leading to a culture of impunity, shouldn't government tighten the reins on those who have the ability to use lethal force on behalf of the state? The fact that the four RCMP officers seem to have collaborated on their story to me suggests that they don't get that they act on behalf of the public.

A| There have been many calls for civilian oversight of the RCMP, both before and after Mr. Dziekanski's death. I've talked to many of the leading proponents in BC of such a system.

Of course, the inquiry is concerned with evidence of what happened in this case and has not yet directly scrutinized the investigation of what happened. Only when the commissioner makes his final report and recommendations might there be any reference to what you're asking about.

Posted March 26, 2009 09:28 PM

Elisabeth (vancouver) wrote:

Q|To put you in the picture - I am a forensic psychiatrist.

I am wondering why no-one seems to have considered the concept of unreliability of eyewitness accounts when looking at the difference between the RCMP officer's accounts of the events and the videotape evidence.

There is a robust body of research showing that individuals or groups of individuals will remember events based on pre-assumed ideas and based on what they thought they might encounter during an event (not to mention the research on false or induced memories). If we assume the officers are not lying and not talking about a story that they 'constructed' after the fact - then we see that these officers are describing perceptions and memories based on a pre-conceived mindset.

I think this is an interesting avenue of inquiry and is instructive to researchers into the pliability and unreliability of memory.

Dr. Elisabeth Zoffmann

A| I think given the breadth of court room experience represented by the bank of lawyers at this inquiry, the concept of witness reliability is well understood here.

If you're suggesting the officers are all similarly mistaken about the same event, the way many witnesses are often mistaken about details, there's another issue. These are trained observers - four of them.

Presumably they have skills in observation and perception the average witness does not. But while some of the officers have admitted they were mistaken about certain details, they are certain about others. It will be up to the commissioner to decide whether the mistakes were simply the product of four fallible minds or something else.

Posted March 26, 2009 07:48 PM

Sharon (Langley) wrote:

Q| Curt,
I missed the entirety of the four officers' testimony but I did not hear if any one of them was asked if Mr. Dziekanski picked up the stapler because Corporal Robinson was pointing at it. That might explain not only why he had the stapler in hand but also why he said what the Polish translator mentioned i.e. to the effect of what do you want from me?

Also, why is there no live feed each day?

A| The theory you're proposing was suggested by the lawyer for the Government of Poland. It went nowhere. Corporal Robinson didn't agree he was pointing at the stapler when he commanded Mr. Dziekanski to the counter.

As for the live feed, please see the response earlier here.

Posted March 26, 2009 02:45 PM

Melanie Pereira (Victoria_BC) wrote:

Q| Why has the live stream for the Inquiry into the death of Robert Dziesankski been pulled?

I heard on the early morning news that "Witnesses from Poland" were lasted to take the stand. Do you know why- and what they may add to this inquiry?

Will the question EVER be asked of the 'investigators': "Why did you NOT ask the 4 officers to explain the glaring discrepancies between their (earliest) notes outlining the appalling events in question and what the Pritchard video showed?


A| I believe the question of the live stream of inquiry proceedings has been answered. It's a technical issue that isn't really part of my responsibility. I realize it's not the same as watching it live, but my colleagues and I like to think we do a pretty good job focusing on the most important elements of testimony in our reports on radio and TV.

As I write this response, all of the scheduled witnesses from Poland have finished testifying. I think it's a reasonable question to ask what light they can shed on what happened to Mr. Dziekanski.

Certainly the RCMP felt they were significant enough to send several investigators to Poland to interview them last year. They are telling the inquiry details about Mr. Dziekanski's personal life, and under cross examination being asked to describe his physical health, drinking and smoking habits, whether he spoke English, had ever traveled, whether he'd ever been involved with the Police.

Clearly lawyers for the airport, the RCMP and individual officers believe those details are significant in establishing reasons to support RCMP testimony that Mr. Dziekanski was aggressive and combative when he was stunned, and perhaps what health issues he had that may have contributed to his death.

What have they said? In general, Mr. Dziekanski was a helpful handy-man trained at a technical school in type setting, who didn't generally exercise or ride a bike, but who smoked and occasionally drank.

He was so nervous and panicky about leaving Poland and afraid of flying that he clung to the radiator in his apartment on the morning of his departure and vomited. But once convinced it was time to go, he was calm. He had passion for geography and ordered books from Reader's Digest. He lived with a woman who one witness described as an alcoholic, and was a father figure to her son.

Does this help the commissioner understand what happened at Vancouver? I'm not sure. I know the inquiry counsel wasn't interested in leading any evidence from the last witness who described Mr. Dziekanski as panicky on the morning of his flight.

As for why the investigators never seemed to re-interview the officers in light of the video, the question as to why, was asked of Corporal Peter Thiessen. To the best of my knowledge, he put it to IHIT, but no answer was provided.

Posted March 26, 2009 02:29 PM

Margaret (oakville) wrote:

Q| The accused in this case were acquitted before the Inquiry began. On what grounds did Wally Oppal decide that the prosecution of these cops was unwarranted? The whole world has been watching these proceedings.

The streaming of yesterday testimony appeared to be technically disturbed. The last part of it was not even available online. Was the testimony too embarrassing that it was not fit to be viewed? Why the testimony of the cops involved is not available on the Braidwood Inquiry website?

Can the officers be charged following the Inquiry? You said earlier that they cannot. Why is then the Inquiry taking place? To prove something we assume. It is obvious that the stories they had told following the incident were fabricated. Even now on the witness stand they are denying the obvious which is backed with the video shown frame by frame.

A| Wally Oppal, the Attorney General, did not make the decision not to charge the officers. It was done by Prosecutors in the Criminal Justice Branch. I invite you to read the department's "clear statement" on it's reasons. There has been a link posted here previously.

I'm not sure why there was a technical issue related to the streaming of the testimony, but I can assure you it wasn't as a result of any concern over it's content. The transcripts for all the officers' testimony is indeed on-line. It had been held back due to a witness exclusion order, I talked about some weeks ago. I've never said the officers can't be charged. I invite you to read the many responses I've given about how that might happen.

Posted March 26, 2009 08:28 AM

Zanie Mollica (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| The loss of life is regrettable and I am sure the Police feel exactly the same way.

The attack on the Police and their tactics are unfounded. Everything in the trail is based on a video of the incident from behind the victim. Nobody has any idea what the incident looked like facing the victim. Nobody has any idea how the victim presented after an extended period of frustration. All we know is that before the police got there (and the reason they were called) was that the gentleman was out of control and throwing large items at plate glass windows. We saw that on the same video but we saw his face not his back.

To judge these brave men by an amateur video shot from behind the scene is unacceptable. Nobody knows how the victim presented himself except those four men. Nobody knows how they would react unless they were in the same position and seeing the incident face on not from behind. These men are trained to diffuse dangerous situations, not kill people. Talk to the people who do the training and ask them if the police officers followed proper procedure.

In all of the drama do not forget that this took place at our airport inside a security zone. The police officers did not know who he was or why he was trying to break out of the secure area. They are charged with protecting public safety and they did what was necessary.

Somebody stand up for our police officers instead of always hanging them out to dry. They put their lives on the line every day and deserve our utmost respect and support.

They did their job - they protected the public from a man who was out of control and trying to break through plate glass windows out of a secure zone in to Canada.
What should they have done?

A| You make some excellent points. Many have been made repeatedly by lawyers for the RCMP, and the officers themselves. Those same officers have also gone on to admit that Mr. Dziekanski appeared cooperative and calm when they first encountered him, and not the wild man described in the false information relayed in the dispatches.

You point out the men are trained to diffuse dangerous situations. That was a big part of the cross examination of these officers. A lot of time was spent examining what they did to diffuse the situation. Despite references in Corporal Robinson's statement that there were attempts by police to "talk" to Mr. Dziekanski after he picked up a stapler, Corporal Robinson told the inquiry in fact, that's not what he meant. There was no discussion once Mr. Dziekanski picked up a stapler. There wasn't even a warning issued, such as "drop it" or "stop" or "no." I think establishing what the officers did to diffuse the situation is exactly what the inquiry is attempting to discover.

I don't think anyone has suggested the officers intended to kill Mr. Dziekanski. That's not the issue.

You've suggested as well that the Police did not know who he was or why he was "trying to break out of the secure area". Two things. Why the police didn't take the time to find out who Mr. Dziekanski was, was the subject of some cross examination. It's not an insignificant point. But Mr. Dziekanski wasn't trying to break out of anywhere. He could have left at any time, if he had some place to go.

It's also important to remember that police are trained to assess a situation when they arrive at a scene. Mr. Dziekanski wasn't breaking glass. There was no broken glass as the dispatch indicated. And in testimony they were unable to articulate what, if any threat Mr. Dziekanski posed when they arrived. It is only when he picked up a stapler after proceeding to a counter where he'd been ordered to stand by the Corporal in charge, and appeared to take a step forward, that the police all say a Taser was necessary.

I can appreciate that a lot of media, in editorial cartoons, opinion pages and other commentary, give the impression that there is an anti-police sentiment that has grown up around Mr. Dziekanski's death. But this inquiry is about the actions of four officers even though there are implications for the RCMP in the way it has defended the investigated them, and trained them. Asking questions about what they did, and scrutinizing their actions shouldn't be equated with "hanging" all police "out to dry."

Posted March 26, 2009 06:50 AM

Bill (Thunder_Bay) wrote:

Q| Would citizens who took action like that taken by the RCMP in the Robert Dziekanski case in a similar situation be charged with use of excessive force and/or manslaughter?
I think that the B.C. attorney general or other authority should review the decision not to press charges against the officers involved. Both the credibility of the RCMP and the Canadian justice system are at stake.

A| To answer your questions succinctly, I think it's fair to assume that four civilians ganging up on another civilian using a restricted weapon, would face some criminal charge.

But civilians are not authorized to use force in the same way as a police officer, and while both have to justify their use of deadly force or force likely to seriously injure someone, police carrying out their lawful duties are not required to measure their use of force with exactitude according to decided cases.

Posted March 26, 2009 06:40 AM

David Bruce (Nanaimo) wrote:

Q| The Crown said that they will not charge any of the officers based on the reports given at that time. Now that we find out that most of the RCMP statements given at that time were lies, could the Crown now decide to charge these officers due to the false (Lies) report given the Crown at that time?
David Bruce

A| To quote Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson "I was mistaken but I was telling the truth." There is no evidence any of the officers deliberately tried to deceive anyone when they gave their statements, or in their testimony. They have explanations for the inconsistencies, inaccuracies, contradictions, and false descriptions. I'll leave it to you to decide whether you accept those explanations, in whole or in part. Yes, the Crown can decide to charge the officers, but again, it would have to meet the same test that there is a substantial likelihood of a conviction. But I think your asking whether the Crown could move to charge the officers with some offence related to what you describe as a false report given to the Crown. As Corporal Robinson testified, if investigators had trouble with his statements they could have re-interviewed him. They didn't. And if you're going to charge someone with an offence related to giving a false report, you'd need to demonstrate the mistakes were deliberate. I would suggest that simply advancing that these mistakes were of such a gross nature, they couldn't possibly have been made by four professionally trained observers, wouldn't be enough to sustain a conviction.

Posted March 26, 2009 12:04 AM

Wanda Mitchell (Dryden) wrote:

Q| Four strong healthy policemen killed one man who was lying on the floor in severe pain. These policemen have sworn they are telling the truth but does anyone believe them? Then let them prove their honesty to the world watching this case. How about using a lie detector? (It's such an innocent little tool compared to the deadly taser they used to kill Robert Dziekanski... & it shouldn't hurt a bit.)

A| Your not the first to ask about a polygraph. But I ask you, how could any such test, no matter what it concluded, be interpreted as holding anyone accountable? Forgetting for the moment the reliability of the technology, would it help anyone to understand what happened? And if the officers you suggest aren't credible, would passing such a test remove doubt in your mind?

Posted March 25, 2009 10:04 PM

Al Fedoriak (Whitehorse_Yukon) wrote:

Q| Was Dziekanski ever told that he was under arrest?
Was there any evidence of an arrestable offence other than the actions of the police?
Did the police witness a criminal act prior to tazering the victim?
Was he asked to do anything that he understood and refused?
Is it RCMP policy to interpret backing away a threat?
I have spent 16 years in law enforcement and my training was that only after all diplomacy failed, and only the subject was was arrested and resisted arrest was force to be used and omly sufficient force to achieve arrest.

A| Officers never informed Mr. Dziekanski he was under arrest. And they disagreed as to whether he was initially "arrestable". One officer - Constable Gerry Rundel - told the inquiry he thought Mr. Dziekanski would have been arrestable for the reported property damage and disturbance he was making.

I'm not sure what charge they would have recommended against him had he survived, so I can't specifically answer your question about what crime he allegedly committed that warranted the Taser being fired. But the officers testified he picked up a stapler and appeared to begin to advance. They all claimed, and the Crown confirmed, they had legal authority to use the Taser to, as Constable Kwesi Millington put it, "stop the threat."

There was a lot of testimony to the effect that in fact until Mr. Dziekanski faced the officers with a stapler in his hand he had been entirely cooperative and obedient, in spite of the language barrier and being told different things by different officers in the space of twenty seconds. He appeared to attempt to fish his passport and id out of his bags as instructed by Constable Millington, until Corporal Robinson told him "NO!". He then backed away from his bags, and when Robinson directed him to a counter, Mr. Dziekanski obediently went there. Robinson told the inquiry he wasn't satisfied because Mr. Dziekanski didn't put his hands on the counter where he instructed him to. Robinson never quite explained how Mr. Dziekanski was supposed to know exactly where on the counter he was to do this.

Constable Rundel told the inquiry he interpreted Mr. Dziekanski's shrug and surrender gesture as Mr. Dziekanski telling the officers "to hell with you guys." But not even that is cause for using a Taser in the RCMP's books.

And in case it's not clear... no, backing away is not a threat, according to RCMP policy. But holding a weapon and suggesting your going to use it to hurt someone is. That's what the RCMP say Mr. Dziekanski did.

Posted March 25, 2009 10:02 PM

Philip Fotheringham (Toronto) wrote:

Q| Why was it necessary for the RCMP to investigate the victim by flying to Poland-do they always research the background of in custody deaths? If so what difference can it possibly make? Now that the CBC has reported the officers will likely be tried for murder in Poland, and their comment that our government was withholding information,(not even returning calls),similar to the tactics used by the KGB, how are Canadians expected to respect the RCMP? Why is no one in the media wondering if the police can get away with murder and/or assault, why is everyone surprised that others won't try the same? The real question is why didn't the RCMP Intelligence/Public Relations Chief understand the fallout from this inquiry? He could have watched the video, interviewed the officers, and dealt with them directly. Instead we have our entire country embarrassed around the world to protect one or two officers. Why do the RCMP have so much power, and so little respect for our country?

A| I'm not aware of any charges laid by Poland against anyone in connection with Mr. Dziekanski's case. And while I understand Polish law allows for prosecutors to charge and try people in absentia, I think it's more than a bit premature to suggest anyone's being tried for anything.

You've asked a lot of rhetorical questions and made a lot of assumptions that I would suggest are emotional, as well as unfounded. But I think you're not alone in your sense of frustration. I would suggest that what is happening is exactly what you are asking for. An inquiry is holding everyone who came into contact with Mr. Dziekanski, accountable for their actions. Everyone is having to not only explain what they did, but explain what they did after the fact. That includes the officers having to expose the mistakes, inaccuracies, inconsistencies and contradictions in their statements when compared against the video record of the event. You have suggested that there should have been some immediate move to try (and convict?) someone for what happened to Mr. Dziekanski. I am not an apologist for the RCMP, but we have a system of due process. Part of it includes the authority to compel police officers to testify at public inquiries.

I understand your curiosity about the reasons why the RCMP felt it necessary to travel to Poland to discover whether the actions of it's officers were reasonable. Those officers have testified they acted based on a single moment in which Mr. Dziekanski picked up a stapler, and appeared to take a step toward them. I'm not sure how talking to people who knew Mr. Dziekanski in Poland would shed light on that split second decision by the officers either.

Posted March 25, 2009 03:47 PM

Steve Sydor (Guelph_Ontario) wrote:

Q| The lawyer complains that he is tag-teamed. One lawyer is for the RCMP, is the other for the commission? Thanks

A| The lawyer who made the remark to which I think you're referring, is Don Rosenbloom who represents the government of Poland. It was an aside he made when lawyers for two of the RCMP officers objected to questions he was putting to Corporal Robinson, about the Richmond Fire Captain's evidence that the police were all standing metres away from Mr. Dziekanski's body when the first responders arrived.

Posted March 25, 2009 03:14 PM

Paul Makosz (Penticton) wrote:

Q| Why are the transcripts of testimony at the Braidwood inquiry no longer being provided? There have been no transcripts published on the official website since the start of the RCMP officers' testimony.

A| There up now. They were delayed due to a witness exclusion order.

Posted March 25, 2009 01:58 PM

Alfredo DaSilva (clearwater_bc) wrote:

Q| If they tesered robert 5 times in a matter of a few seconds.would that not put 250,000 volts into the mans system? And it seems to me they dont want to get their hands dirty anymore like the old time flat foot. Our whole body worhs on a electic impulse from the brain I would think 250,000 volts would disrupt that system. The RCMP for too long have been trained as a miltia and they have been released on society too do as they please.
thank you Alfredo Da silva

A| First of all, the voltage delivered by the Taser is not cumulative in the way you describe. And it's not clear that each strike actually delivers fifty thousand volts. However, as the first phase of this inquiry heard, it's not the voltage that is of prime concern, but the amperage, and the type of electrical wave on which the charge is delivered. I won't go into technical detail here. But your point about the repeated stuns has merit. The RCMP, until it revised it's Taser use policy just two months ago, specifically warned against multiple or prolonged Taser strikes unless necessary, because they are considered hazardous.

Posted March 25, 2009 12:39 PM

Donna Campbell (West_Kelowna) wrote:

Q| Thanks you for providing this opportunity to present our questions.
In your response to question # 134, you state "The officers would have been required to testify at an inquest as all police are in cases of in custody death in BC", but in a colume by Gordon Gibson in the Vancouver Sun March 10th, he states "We are only learning about the tragedy of the Polish visitor to the Vancouver airport as a result of a special provincially appointed commission and - note - the RCMP had no obligation to submit to this examination."
Can you clarify which opinion is correct?
It is my understanding that the RCMP are not subject to our laws of oversight and that is why many of us are urging the BC government to develop a provincial police force that is professional, transparent (by our definition, not theirs) with civilian checks and balances. With a provincial election coming up this would be an appropriate time to press this issue and clarification of the above question would be most helpful.

A| An inquest was called, as one always is in BC in a case of an incustody death. It had not been scheduled. The officers would be bound to appear at it and give evidence. There is no question of that, they have powers of subpoena. However, given the nature of the case, a public inquiry was called and it took precedence. Without going into all the details, an inquiry is a much broader examination of events than an inquest. The RCMP could have opposed having it's members testify at a provincial inquiry and I understand there was some thought about doing just that. But the Inquiry has powers of subpoena as well. And those officers would have been subpoenaed. Clearly someone in the RCMP took at look optics of challenging the jurisdiction of a provincial inquiry to investigate the actions of members of a federal police force all the way to the Supreme Court, while trying to convince the Canadian Public they were interested in transparent accountability.

Posted March 25, 2009 12:05 PM

r buist (vancouver) wrote:

Q| Can you please tell me how Robinson could check Dziekanski vital signs wearing gloves as shown in the video.
Thank You

A| Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson testified he removed his gloves and put them back on again every time he checked Mr. Dziekanski's pulse. That explains why, in the amateur video, there is only a fleeting blurry image of one of Robinson's bare hands, and other witnesses cannot recall seeing the Corporal without his gloves off. Robinson could not give any specifics about how many times he checked Mr. Dziekanski's pulse, and how frequently he took off his gloves. He testified he put them back on again repeatedly, because they are a form of protection in the event Mr. Dziekanski woke up swinging from his unconsciousness.

Posted March 25, 2009 11:22 AM

Gene Pelly (North_Vancouver) wrote:

Q| The 4 RCMP all have the same kind of attitude while being questioned. How much work time did they take to be coached/rehearsed as to the kind of questions they would be asked. I feel they were grilled even harder (by their own lawyers) in preparation for the hearings.

A| The details of what discussions and preparations each officer had with their lawyer are likely the subject of solicitor-client privilege. Some have referred in passing to sitting down with their lawyers to view the video, and discuss their statements. Corporal Benjamin Robinson also wrote a letter to the Inquiry just days ahead of his scheduled appearance, wanting to change six key areas what he told homicide investigators. It's not clear exactly what prompted him to make that request, other than it occurred to him, he said, after having seen his statement and viewing the video.

Posted March 25, 2009 11:16 AM

Cleary (Port_Alberni) wrote:

Q| Have the Officers been asked if they would have used their guns if they had not had the tazer? The makers and many police spokespersons have referred to tazers as a last alternative before using a gun, but many media reports of their use leads one to believe that they are used in far less serious circumstances.

A| I don't think the officers were specifically asked if they would have used firearms in this case, without a Taser. But they had other weapons, or "tools" as they call them, in their "tool kit", that would have been the next practical alternative, including their steel batons. I'm not sure who says the Taser is an alternative to a firearm. While I understand that idea was prevalent at the time they were approved for use in BC by former Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh, RCMP policy and training explicitly places Tasers in the realm of an intermediate weapon. It's considered less injurious than a steel baton. And my understanding is, when an officer draws his or her firearm with the intent of pulling the trigger, the target is a subject's centre of mass. It is deadly force.

Posted March 25, 2009 10:03 AM

Joe O'Byrne (Nova_Scotia) wrote:

Q| You claim that no baton was used on Dziekanski. I quote:
"A| There is no evidence the batons were used. Certainly the video doesn't show them being used, and while one officer actually extended his, there's no evidence that he actually used it. Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson also testified he drew his baton but did not extend it. And according to Crown, there was no detail in the pathologist's report that would suggest an injury from a baton. In fact all of the officers have testified that they believed the Taser was preferable to the baton, because they've been trained it's less injurious to a subject"
Towards the end of the video one of them draws his baton and with two hands pounds it down end wise on Dziekanski 3 times like he was stabbing him. Can you explain what I was seeing.

A| I've answered this before. The baton takes a great deal of force to collapse and it's common that it's struck on the ground to close it. Officer Bill Bentley was attempting to collapse his baton. It's a legitimate question as to why he chose to do it right beside Mr. Dziekanski's head. Because if Mr. Dziekanski was conscious, it might have been a very intimidating action and "disrespectful" according to lawyer Walter Kostecky. Constable Bentley was asked about it, and he testified to the effect that he didn't think much about it because he was trying to collapse it as quickly as possible so he could assess Mr. Dziekanski. He also denied he did it because he knew Mr. Dziekanski was unconscious. But he also admitted Mr. Dziekanski never flinched. And while the video appears to show Bentley pounding the baton into the floor very close to Mr. Dziekanski's head, Bentley testified it was three to four feet away.

Posted March 25, 2009 07:34 AM

WTZ (Sault_Ste_Marie) wrote:

Q| Is this true that Canadian side violates the respective international agreement with Poland and prevents Polish lawyers from obatining requested information (documents) regarding Dziekanski case?

A| When I last asked the Department of Justice about the mutual legal assistance treaty, I was informed it is has not been suspended. That doesn't mean, however, that BC's criminal justice branch can't reasonably withhold some documents from Polish prosecutors, particularly while they are central to an ongoing inquiry.

Posted March 25, 2009 06:56 AM

Lin (Paris_Ontario) wrote:

Q| I still can't quite get the connection between Mr. Dziekanski's photo-perfect compliance with police instructions to reach for his passport, stop reaching, turn, go to the counter with his hands up. And then his suddenly turning back around to face the police wildly brandishing a staple gun, with a face on him that sounds contorted with emotion, and a stance similarly full of allegedly threatening emotion, enough to scare four trained officers with a Taser in hand and presumably other weapons at their disposal. I say I don't get it, and by that I mean, What changed? This allegedly is the part where the security videos all switch and can't us tell the story. The police are surrounding Mr. Dziekanski to the point where nothing is captured on the bystander's video. My question then is this: is it possible that the fifth Taser shot was fired first, before Mr. Dziekanski turned around with his sudden surge in emotion? Silly as it sounds, could there have been an unreported or inexplicable Taser release that either missed or nearly missed Mr. Dziekanski to cause his surprise and painfully different response?

A| There was no video recorded from any airport camera that might have been able to capture the view from what the officers saw. The inquiry was also told those cameras weren't monitored either. The security videos never "switched", pe se. The views available are those that were recorded at the time. As to your question about the timing of the Taser shots, the data on when, and for how long each deployment was delivered is electronically stored on the weapon, and downloaded by the police. The data shows there were five deployments, for a total of 31 seconds, and the first stun is clearly evident - by testimony and by looking at the amateur video - just before Mr. Dziekanski begins to teeter towards the floor while screaming. The sudden surge in emotion to which I think you're referring, DID occurred AFTER the first Taser deployment. If you mean Mr. Dziekanski grabbed the stapler and stood in a combative stance as described by the officers IN RESPONSE to a Taser firing, there is absolutely no evidence that occurred. And you simply can't hear what is the very audible sound of the weapon being fired, before what's accepted as the first shot.

Posted March 25, 2009 06:07 AM

Leo MacNeil (Halifax) wrote:

Q| Have the text messgae records of these four RCMP officers been provided to the Inquiry for the day in question and the following month? What is the policy of the RCMP regarding text messages while on duty? These officers likely communicated with each other or their superiors using this method. Some municipal forces have a policy against texting during their shifts for the purposes of not having to officially produce the records.

A| These officers have all testified that they did not, in any way, talk to each other about what happened, save for a critical incident debriefing session at which one officer says they "shared their versions" without discussing them. You raise an interesting point. I'm not sure the officers were carrying any mobile devices as you describe. The coroner found it was necessary to demand the email of several airport authority employees. I'm not sure whether a similar request was made of the RCMP. But it sounds like a reasonable one to me. Certainly I've discovered from reading internal RCMP email that there are things about this case that weren't shared with the public.

Posted March 25, 2009 04:01 AM

P.D. (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| I know that the RCMP have done their own investigation and the men have been found innocnet. my question is will the Braidwood Inquiry have any legal ground for perhaps a retrial, if so what would the crime be and if not what will the rest of these officers careers look like? thank you for your time.

A| If I understand you correctly, it's possible the Braidwood Inquiry could make recommendations that would compel the Crown to reconsider it's decision not to lay charges. But the Crown could do that today, if it so chose. It has already considered what was believed to be applicable charges of manslaughter, and assault and assault with a weapon, and found the evidence needed for a conviction lacking. I would not like to speculate on what else might be considered in this case.

Posted March 24, 2009 07:23 PM

Jay Carborundum (Vancouver_Island) wrote:

Q| With all that is going on, relating to alleged expired First Aid Certificates and Taser training, why is the lawyer, Mr. Kostecky, being treated as though he has "knowledge" of the RCMP process? He was a police officer with the force for 4 (very short) years, and this was a number of decades ago. I have not heard from Mr. Kostecky, or the media, what he would have done to control the suspect in this case. If he was telling the truth, Mr. Kostecky would indicate that the suspect would have been placed into a carotid control. These controls were taught to the likes of Cst. Kostecky and were used very effectively. They were since outlawed, in due part due to people dying. No doubt you, the media remember this hue and cry....

So, why the double standard? He's a credible source/lawyer, while the police officers, who are a month or two expired in taser re-certification are being held to task. My question is: Why has Mr. Kostecky been able to remain his credibility, as a police officer, in the eyes of the media? He's so increddibly out of touch with the demands and tasks relating to today's policing. Not to forget that he has not retaken his carotid control training for quite some time now.

A| First of all there's nothing "alleged" about the expired first aid certification and Taser training pertaining to Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson. It's a fact. And to be specific - it wasn't a month or two out of date. Robinson's first aid certification lapsed five years earlier. His Taser certification was stale dated by a year and a half.

Second, Walter Kostecky isn't being "treated" in any way. He's a lawyer representing one of the participants. He has a right to cross examine and represent his client just as four lawyers for the officers, and the two lawyers for the RCMP do.

I'm not going to speak for Walter Kostecky. I can tell you what he has suggested and has been reported in the hearings that SHOULD have happened: One or more of the officers should have attempted to do a scene assessment that involved talking to witnesses, exploring whether anyone in Customs knew who Mr. Dziekanski was, avoid crowding around what the officers acknowledge was an apparently calm and cooperative subject, and give themselves time to deal with the situation. The testimony is, that one officer after another injected themselves into the situation, instead of one officer taking the lead in dealing with Mr. Dziekanski. If this inquiry finds that Mr. Dziekanski was confused and frustrated by several different officers attempting to communicate with him in the space of 20 seconds or so, I won't be surprised. I don't believe any lawyer has suggested that the alternative to the Taser was to choke out Mr. Dziekanski using the method you describe. I think the question is not only whether what kind of force was necessary, but whether any would have been necessary if events had unfolded differently.

If anything, the fact that Mr. Kostecky was a police officer, gives him credibility. But It's not Mr. Kostecky's credibility that is at issue in this inquiry. It's the actions of all those who came in contact with Mr. Dziekanski, particularly those involved in his death.

Posted March 24, 2009 05:07 PM

Daly de Gagne (Winnipeg) wrote:

Q| Many thanks for answering my previous comment with re to whether the four mounties could have been impaired by some substance. One comment you made left me wondering if I was understanding you correctly, and that was: "But the issue isn't about whether the officers were impaired. In fact they acted entirely according to their training if you accept their testimony as true and believe that it reflects a sound interpretation of all of their training."
I'd agree the main issue isn't whether they are impaired. But if it could be shown that they were, it would certainly become a relevant issue, would it not?
And that is why the question ought to have been addressed, if only to clear the officers; had I been an officer in this circumstance, I would have wanted a full drug screen done so no one could speculate there might be a link between what happened, and anything I had ingested.
You make the argument that there is an internal logic to the testimony of the officers that suggests they acted within the parameters of their training as they understand it to have been. However, as has become apparent to many people both within Canadian police ranks and among civilians, that training looked at more objectively is sorely wanting.
Will the commission address the training issues?
My earlier comment on how a counsellor or chaplain might have dealt with the circumstances facing the officers at YVR-AP is based both on information available in the literature, and my own experience dealing with similar situations. Anyone going into such a situation needs to clear their mind of any fear, and very calmly learn from the situation. Too often, these days, young police officers experience fear, and a need to resolve the situation in short order.
In my work I have been privileged to work and associate with police officers and security officers who who embody the approach I'm, talking about.

A| I suppose going back in time to draw blood from each of the officers after they were involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death might satisfy your curiosity. We obviously can't do that, and it's not relevant given that their actions have been scrutinized and found to be not only legal, but reasonable. That conclusion by the Crown wasn't based on whether they officers were sober. It was based on their criteria for establishing whether they were justified. To be clear, I'm not taking that position myself, I'm just telling you what the fact is.

I can understand why you might think it's reasonable to have done a drug test when officers are involved in an incustody death. But then you'd have to do that in every case, and I can well imagine how that idea would meet some constitutional challenges. Without reasonable grounds to believe an officer was intoxicated or impaired, how exactly would you force them to submit to a test?

There is an internal logic to the testimony of the officers. The Crown agreed with them that they acted legally and reasonably to deal with someone they thought was a threat. To be clear, I'm not saying it. I'm just telling you how we got here.

A number of lawyers at the inquiry have indeed focussed on the training, and whether what the officers did was infact true to that training, beyond the simple conclusion drawn by the Crown that Police had a reasonable right to use a Taser in this situation. As Walter Kostecky, the lawyer for Mr. Dzieakanski's mother put it, just because they had the legal authority to use the weapon, doesn't mean they should have. And that doesn't even begin to address everything that happened after the first taser stun was fired.

Your point about taking an alternative approach to dealing with Mr. Dziekanski is well placed. That has been at the heart of issue at this inquiry. It will be up to the commissioner to decide whether the police ran to a fight, as Mr. Kostecky put it, or did everything they could have to avoid what happened. Certainly the testimony of the officers is they did nothing wrong.

Posted March 24, 2009 01:02 PM

Jeff Stuart (Langley_BC) wrote:

Part of the RCMP recruiting process requires the individual to provide a polygraph test. The RCMP are also asking certain individuals involved on the raid at BC legislature to provide polygraph tests and are commenting weather or not they will comply.
Given the high regard and the confidence the RCMP have in these tests why has the RCMP or the lawers cross examing these "Police Officers" not requested they take a polygraph and then report weather they complied or not?

A| No one has asked for anyone to take a polygraph test, to the best of my knowledge. I'm not sure why the RCMP would have done so, given IHIT were never sufficiently
moved by multiple inconsistencies in the officers' statements to re-interview them, let along strap electrodes on them. What would have been the trigger then, for a polygraph test? And I can't comment on the reason why the RCMP believes they're useful for their purposes. But I'm certain they don't subject recruits to three days of questions in a public forum as a means of discovering inconsistencies in their answers to certain questions.

As for the inquiry, I've never heard of any witness to any public inquiry being asked to submit to a polygraph test. But how would you do it? Have them attached for three days while they're in the witness box? Or just ask a few questions while hooked up first? Then what? If they pass does that tell you anything about the rest of their testimony? Or if they fail? And of course, this is all assuming you have faith in the reliability of the technology. You can see how this is not only impractical, but questionable at best.

I think it makes a lot more sense to examine what they did as fact, not what they say they did. The video makes that possible.

Posted March 24, 2009 11:09 AM

Jeff L (Toronto) wrote:

Q| It has been clear throughout these hearings that all of the officers involved, gave false statements not only about the incident, but their individual role in it. It's insulting to Canadians that the RCMP Commissioner tells us that we should be "understanding" of the difficult position the officers were in??
Nonsense. This was a clear abuse of power and undue force. As we watch, today, the officer in charge deliver what will surely be another complete fabrication of events, I ask you this sir;
This inquiry, would appear to indicate that all officers involved have lied under oath about their role and the events. Why would the Crown dismiss charges before this inquiry, and why would there not be re-consideration of charges against these officers since we are now witnessing a "kangaroo" proceeding that effectively is going to allow these disgraced individuals, to get away with murder? Can this case be re-opened and the officers charged in someway?
(yes sir i do mean murder. i have had a emergency responder review the tape many times and the conclusion is that the officers, by kneeling on and subduing the victim, with excessive force while still being tazered, would have caused respiratory arrest followed by certain heart failure. "He never had a chance was the professional opinion". these officers do not deserve to walk away Curt)

A| First of all, there is no evidence any of the officers lied under oath. None whatsoever. You may not believe what they are telling the inquiry, and you are entitled to interpret their claims, the inconsistencies, inaccuracies and inability to remember details as suggestions that they are not being truthful. But it is up to the Inquiry commissioner to draw any conclusions about whether their testimony is credible.

The Crown had full access to the officers statements and the video which the inquiry has scrutinized. Regardless of the extraordinary seven page statement for its reasons not to lay charges, the examination an deliberations the prosecutors went through before reaching their decision are secret. How is it possible the video and the statements are materially consistent, as the Crown insists they are? I'm not sure. Perhaps, as I've answered previously, it turns on the definition of the word "materially."

Regardless, I would use extreme caution in describing what occurred as the deliberate taking of a life. There is absolutely no evidence or even suggestion by anyone that's what occurred. The RCMP didn't even believe there was a homicide, according to Corporal Peter Thiessen. That might explain why Homicide investigators didn't tell the officers under investigation that they were infact being investigated for any crime. And the Crown concluded, as I said, it was more than a little unlikely that a conviction of manslaughter or even assault could be obtained. And as been said many times here, the Crown is always free to reconsider its decision. But that would almost certainly involve asking the RCMP to reinvestigate. There is nothing to stop the Crown from laying charges, other than its own standard that it must be both in the public interest, and have the substantial likelihood of a conviction. As to your suggestion about cause of death, the pathologist concluded the restraint used by the Police was a contributing factor in Mr. Dziekanski's death. So did the Crown. But that doesn't make what they did criminal. They were performing their duties as law enforcement officers, and believed they were being threatened. When you consider the situation as I've described it, I think you can appreciate why it might be difficult for the Crown to come to a different decision than it did.

Posted March 24, 2009 10:11 AM

amber (ottawa) wrote:

Q|What are the RCMP laws/guidelines when it comes to firing a weapon? A gun, taser or mase? What doesn't make sense with this inquiry is I thought you only use the weapon if the suspect makes an attempt to attack the officer or another person.

A| The RCMP has extensive protocols, not only for using weapons, but for the use of force in general. In short, while the use of force, and choice of weapon or action is up to the officer's discretion based on the perceived threat, any use of force that is likely or intended to cause death or serious injury has to be justified and must be based on reasonable and probable grounds that without it, serious injury or death is likely to occur.

In this case, the Taser is classified as an intermediate weapon by the RCMP. It is not considered deadly force. The threshold for using it is less than would exist for the use of a baton or a fire arm. But you're right, use of the weapon is reserved for cases in which a suspect is a threat to themselves, the officer or someone else. That's what the RCMP officers involved in Mr. Dziekanski have claimed. He faced them with a stapler clenched in one hand, and according to the officers had begun to take a step toward them.

Posted March 24, 2009 08:11 AM

Craig (Central_Ontario) wrote:

Q| Hi Curt, do you think the RCMP has realized this is turning into a watershed event where Canadians and indeed the world is deciding if they can be trusted with the authority they've been given; or is this in their minds still all about covering their assets and proving to everyone they can do no harm?

I've heard that their leadership's "official" position is becoming that the average Canadian has no idea the trials they face in doing their jobs. Kind of selling us short or treating us like children who couldn't possibly understand. We may not know intimately what's involved - but we do know an untruth when we hear it against video; a coverup when it happens; a farce of an investigation when we see it, and we do know that four large well-armed and trained officers against a frustrated traveler with a stapler(?) is really no threat at all.
Do you think the RCMP is grasping the larger implications for them as a police force, or are they still just playing high-and-mighty games? Do you think they realize that in this case winning the battle may have serious negative side-effects for them? Even ex-cops are standing up and saying this is wrong.

A| My sense is there are conflicting messages coming from the RCMP. While answering questions about the testimony of his officers, Commissioner Bill Elliott recently said that most Canadians are supportive of the RCMP. Perhaps he based that opinion on polls taken by the force, but I wouldn't find it surprising that most Canadians do support the RCMP. That's not the issue here. Ravi Hira, the lawyer for Const. Kwesi Millington similarly tried to link "support" for Police who have an unquestionably difficult job, with the exercise of examining the actions of those officers involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death.

But a day after Mr. Elliott's comments, RCMP spokesman Cpl. Peter Thiessen said public support for the RCMP is at a level they rather not see it at, and the force has to work to get it back up again.

Clearly there are some in the RCMP who believe that what's happened has caused the RCMP a problem. There has been a suggestion from at least one of the officers that the reason he didn't look at any coverage of what happened was because he wanted to avoid "media spin".

The official line from the RCMP has changed, from "wait until the officers testify about what happened" to "wait until the Inquiry concludes and a report and recommendations are final." I can only imagine that whatever the inquiry concludes, it will be impossible to describe it's findings as "inquiry spin."

Posted March 24, 2009 04:24 AM

Russell Charlton (Vancouver_Island) wrote:

Q| Can you direct me to the source that would have the legal brief written by crown counsel/ possibly the RCMP that described [Robert] Dziekanski's last 48 hours. It was published just prior to [B.C. Attorney General Wally] Oppal's decision to not lay charges. It was quite defaming of him with little proof to back the innuendo up. Included some coroner conclusions. Tx.

A| I think this is what you're looking for:


Posted March 23, 2009 09:03 PM

Charlie (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Isn't an international airport an established high security area where it's widely understood that even just saying the word 'bomb' could get you into trouble? Doesn't the heightened concern for security create an expectation that folks won't decide to trash the airport if they're in their right mind?

As we know from the autopsy the Taser didn't kill him - from the testimony isn't it true that NO ONE knows for sure how many times the Taser connected as the device emits a different tone when it misses and this was heard at least twice. Isn't it fair to say we'll never know exactly how many times he was actually hit with a full jolt from the Taser? So how could the police be expected to also know for sure?

Considering the fact that this was in an airport and that he was able to resist after going down, isn't it fair to say that the police would assume that he was on some type of drugs? His conduct didn't appear to be normal from what I think any of us would expect from normal air traveller. In the video I thought I heard our brave videographer exclaim "How is he still resisting??" did this quote get explored in the inquiry yet? Is it accurate?

Finally, you said that his past record didn't seem relevant to you in how the police interacted with him. I would say that it's pretty widely understood that criminals react differently to police than Joe average - the police know this, experience this, learn it and look for body language whenever they deal with individuals. Wouldn't you agree that they have to use this type of experience and knowledge to guide them when things happen in a split second? So to me his past record is relevant and important - his conduct determined this outcome. He could have always just chosen to 'smile, extend his hand and say 'Poland/Canada' - if he had done that simple thing wouldn't it be fair to say things would have ended better?

A| I think your first question is largely rhetorical. One might expect that someone causing a disturbance the way Mr. Dziekanski did, had some underlying level of being either distraught or violent. The inquiry has heard a lot of evidence about this. And certainly in hindsight there is reason to believe that Mr. Dziekanski's experience travelling and lingering in an airport unable to communicate with anyone directly had something to do with his condition. It may not be the whole story however.

You're right about the Taser strikes. While it's clear how many times the device was fired, other than Mr. Dziekanski's reaction, and the marks that may have been left by the barbs of the probes, it's not possible to conclusively determine how many times and at what level the current pumped to Mr. Dziekanski was actually delivered. It's Const. Kwesi Millington's opinion that two of his five deployments didn't have full effect. But none of the other officers, including Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson were aware of how many times the Taser was being fired, and Robinson testified he ordered the weapon fired three times, with no knowledge of whether it had missed its mark.

To borrow a caution repeated often by the lawyers for RCMP officers, I would be careful of making assumptions about what you see, and hear in the video. That should include any conclusion that Mr. Dziekanski was "resisting." There has also been the suggestion that he was reacting to being stunned while on the ground. Certainly while he was writhing while officers wrestled with him, he was being jolted. Was it resistance or reaction to pain and constriction of his muscles? As for what the officers knew about Mr. Dziekanski's level of intoxication, while they were told in a dispatch he was intoxicated, they had no other reason to believe he was, didn't smell alcohol, and described him as calm and co-operative until he picked up a stapler. Mr. Dziekanski wasn't stunned because police thought he was drunk or high, it was because he threatened the officers according to their testimony. And Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson says the turning point was when Mr. Dziekanski failed to put his hands on the exact spot of the counter he told him to, despite the fact Mr. Robinson couldn't speak Polish, and Mr. Dziekanski didn't speak English. As for Mr. Paul Pritchard's comment, while he seemed to believe then, what the officers say now, we also have the benefit of a Polish translation, and it's clear from that Mr. Dziekanski was confused about what was happening.

I said any record Mr. Dziekanski might have had - and there is no evidence he had one - is irrelevant because the police had no knowledge of it. They didn't even consider he'd just arrived from a foreign country even though he had luggage, didn't speak English and was standing in the secure area of an international airport. So, I'm not sure how a non-existent record could possibly be relevant at the time. That doesn't make sense. You're suggesting Mr. Dziekanski was a criminal. What evidence do you have? You have echoed the same position as the police have at this inquiry by saying Mr. Dziekanski's actions determined the outcome. I'm not sure that's been proven. If holding a stapler in your hand while facing the police - the only thing not disputed - is cause for being stunned with a Taser, then I don't quarrel with the idea. But there has been ample evidence about police training that, if it had been followed by the officers, might also have resulted in a different outcome.

Extend a hand and smile? Even the officers who confronted Mr. Dziekanski said he was co-operative and compliant, until he picked up a stapler. Without warning, the Taser was fired and a chain of events was set in motion. Whose actions were responsible for what happened? The Inquiry commissioner will determine that.

Posted March 23, 2009 05:20 PM

chuck (vancouver) wrote:

Q|I have [been] following this since the beginning, have seen much of the testimony in this inquiry and read a lot of feedback like the Q/A herein. As a totally subjective observer my conclusion is this: the officers present didn't really know what to do to avoid a confrontation and used the Taser by default. Whether that caused his death is of course a whole other question which perhaps more medical evidence (forthcoming?) will reveal. At any point in the inquiry, has it been suggested that any or all of the officers simply did not know how to handle the situation and used the Taser as a result? It seems to me that if that is the case then there is a serious lack of training around the use of these devices.

A| Much of the examination and cross examination of the officers has indeed focused on their training, and whether they not only followed it, but followed the intention of their training, in dealing with Mr. Dziekanski. What I mean is, all the officers have said they followed their training by using the Taser when Mr. Dziekanski became a threat by picking up a stapler. They are taught the Taser is less injurious to a subject than a punch or baton. They are taught to use the weapon when they are threatened.

But they are also taught many other things, including making time in a situation, using negotiation instead of force when possible, assessing a situation before leaping into it. It will be up to Thomas Braidwood to decide whether the four officers, most of them junior with less than two years experience, followed their training, or as the lawyer for Mr. Dziekanski's mother put it, behaved like a swat team, and made a cowboy entrance to deal with a situation they knew little about.

The pathologist did find the Taser contributed to Mr. Dziekanski's death. To what extent, will likely be the subject of some examination when he appears as a witness later in the inquiry.

Posted March 23, 2009 04:51 PM

Lost All Faith In Liars (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| Thanks Curt for your perseverance in getting this information to the public. My questions: the camera that wasn't working, if it had, would it have shown the area in which this sorry act happened and what is YVR's protocol in keeping these cameras working? I believe that all security at YVR should be given a thorough twice through to make sure that video footage is not contaminated. There should be streaming of this video to a public committee of police oversight that cannot be tainted by criminals posing as police officers.

A| I did answer this question recently. There were cameras in the area where the police confronted Mr. Dziekanski. They were not recorded however, nor were they monitored. The airport has now added more cameras and changed its protocols about recording and monitoring, we're told. But I'm quite certain it is not streamed to any outside agency. It is stored on the Airport's computers, and kept for a limited period of time before it's erased.

Posted March 23, 2009 02:37 PM

stephen wallace (P_E_I) wrote:

Q| If it had been a civilian using the Taser (instrument of death)would he be charged with a crime?

A| Simply put, yes. The Taser is a restricted weapon. Civilians are not allowed to own Tasers in Canada.

Posted March 23, 2009 02:17 PM

John Fraser (Highland_County_Florida) wrote:

Q| I recollect hearing (on that video) an officer asking something to the effect, "Can I Taser him?". I di not hear the reply. Has that been mentioned? Am I wrong about that?

A| This has been covered fairly extensively - primarily when the officer who said the words you're referring to, testified. Const. Bill Bentley says he said something to the effect of "do you have a Taser?" and not "Can I Taser him?". This would make sense given that Bentley wasn't carrying the Taser and he wasn't in charge. The response was "yes," which came from Const. Kwesi Millington, the officer who fired the Taser.

Posted March 23, 2009 02:00 PM

Gary James (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| If the government pays all expenses for the police including their lawyers, who pays for Ms. Cisowski's expenses and lawyer? Has this ever been brought up?

A| The compensation for the lawyers hasn't been brought up, per se. But Walter Kosteckyj, the lawyer for Zofia Cisowski, is compensated by the Attorney General of B.C. for his services - at a rate far less than he would otherwise receive for the work he is putting in. I'm not sure how it compares to the fees paid to lawyers for the officers who are being paid by their employer: The RCMP.

Posted March 23, 2009 01:09 PM

Don Chapman (Mission_BC) wrote:

Q| My question is about the inquiry process itself. I have developed a habit of watching such events over the past years. It strikes me that this inquiry has pretty relaxed scheduling. Is it my perception only, are these folks engaged less than four hours a day, when sitting. As I have 'tuned in' since the streaming video has been made available, compared to other inquiries I have viewed, there seems to be a very limited time each day engaged in the actual questioning.

A| As someone who has been sitting and paying attention to the cascade of information and detail this Inquiry has unleashed, I'm thankful it doesn't sit longer hours than it does. As it is, it sits between four and a half and five hours. There is a lunch break, thankfully, so people like me can file stories without having to divert attention away from the testimony. While it may appear relaxed watching it online, for the finder of fact - Thomas Braidwood - and all the other lawyers, there is a lot of material to examine and cross-examine and that can't be done much faster. I, too, have been at a number of inquiries. This is pretty typical. And I would say there have been fewer breaks to discuss matters outside of testimony, than at others I've covered. And although the inquiry ends every day at about 4 p.m., for people like me, that's when I start my "second shift" writing stories for the morning, and answering questions like this one.

Posted March 23, 2009 12:32 PM

Ed Wynn (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| How would this incident have been handled if there was not a video clip available to see what actually happened on that evening. Would the officers individual reports have been considered as an accurate reporting of this incident. We now see that officers to protect their butts tend to have reports read as if their observations and actions are accurate. In other words what will be done in the future to insure accurate and honest reports are completed by RCMP police officers.

A| If you accept RCMP commissioner Bill Elliott's view that analyzing the video is a debatable exercise because officers don't have the luxury of watching video to make split second decisions, then perhaps it doesn't matter what would have happened if the video didn't exist. The officers would have been required to testify at an inquest as all police are in cases of in custody death in BC. Their notes and statements would have been virtually identical and would have faced cross examination at an inquest, but not to the extent it's happening now. One officer has already testified that he's not sure whether he would have admitted the mistakes he made without the video to challenge his recollection.

But if you accept that there is a point in exposing the decisions RCMP officers made that night, holding them up to the light of their own assessment, training and beliefs, so that the public can understand what happened, then you might think the video is very valuable, and there is something to be gained by breaking down the event frame by frame.

It's clearly an important endeavour to Commissioner Thomas Braidwood, and a number of parties at the Inquiry, not the least of which is Robert Dziekanski's mother, who is trying to understand why her son died.

Posted March 23, 2009 10:31 AM

Kaz (Ottawa) wrote:

Q| Why was there a two week break in the Dziekanski inquiry? Was this break pre-determined before the inquiry started or was it requested by the RCMP lawyers or the Dziekanski lawyers? My feeling is that the last RCMP officer involved in the case had more time to review what has been said so far in the inquiry and has time to concoct a story based on the lies that has been told so far.

A| The break was pre-determined before the inquiry and I'm told was not strategic in any way. It was done in recognition that some lawyers have families and it was the period for Spring break. I'm not aware any of the parties objected to the pause. The plan was always to have all the officers testify before the break, but it didn't work out. As to your theory, I can't comment except to say that no amount of time can change what any of the officers did the night Robert Dziekanski died, what they said to homicide investigators that's recorded in their statements, or what the amateur video shows.

Posted March 23, 2009 10:08 AM

Sue (vancouver) wrote:

Q| Was there any careful examination of the officers batons to determine if any of them had been used to strike Mr. Dziekanski? Were there any injuries to Mr. Dziekanski that suggested he had been hit with a baton?

A| There is no evidence the batons were used. Certainly the video doesn't show them being used, and while one officer actually extended his, there's no evidence that he actually used it. Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson also testified he drew his baton but did not extend it. And according to Crown, there was no detail in the pathologist's report that would suggest an injury from a baton. In fact all of the officers have testified that they believed the Taser was preferable to the baton, because they've been trained it's less injurious to a subject.

Posted March 22, 2009 09:31 PM

Joe Blow (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| Hello Curt, wonderful job with this. You are doing a great service for the citizens of Canada and Poland. I would like to know, since the police were not able to get any other corroborating film evidence, even though there were cameras around, what location was the one camera that at that didn't work that day and, would that camera have produced evidence of the altercation. I would also like to know what the protocol is for checking to see if all cameras are working at YVR. It seems that security surveillance is sorely lacking at YVR. Or there is a cover-up.

A| This is going back a ways into the testimony, but to the best of my recollection, there does not appear to have been a camera capable of recording the view as seen by the RCMP officers. While there were cameras installed that might have been able to see what the Police saw (the opposite view from Mr. Pritchard's video) the evidence is they were not recorded. They weren't monitored either, according to the airport.

The Airport's manager of Terminal operations described how any video that existed for the area was saved, whether it showed anything of interest or not. What was made available does provide reference to who entered the terminal when, and which people move from one part of the terminal to another. But it's from such a long way off, or from the wrong angle to show anything remotely like the video Mr. Pritchard shot.

Part of the airport's response was to install additional cameras, record them and make sure they're monitored.

Posted March 20, 2009 10:41 PM

Ryan (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| I will not comment on the events leading up to the tazering, my problem lies with the response post tazering when Robert simply "passed out" this is where I feel the RCMP officers truly loose any credibility. At the point when someone looses consciousness there must be better first aid procedures in place than what was done here? Can you shed some light on why there hasn't been more focus on the actual demise of Robert which I'm sure given proper first aid would have been prevented.

A| The inquiry has actually spent a great deal of time with a number of witnesses, including RCMP officers, on what was done to monitor Mr. Robert Dziekanski's vital signs. All of the RCMP officers say they believed Mr. Dziekanski was breathing and had a pulse. The officer closest to him, Cpl. Benjamin Robinson, has testified that he checked Mr. Dziekanski's vitals, although he can't remember how many times. Cpl. Robinson has also testified that while others can't remember him removing his black leather police gloves to check Mr. Dziekanski's pulse, he did in fact remove them, and he pointed to a blurry image in the amateur video, of what he says is his bare hand, as proof. And while another officer believed Mr. Dziekanski's ears turning blue was a sign of a serious medical emergency, Cpl. Robinson testified he thought it was only a sign that Mr. Dziekanski's ears were "bruised" from the fall to the ground. The officers and the airport's head of security have testified they did everything they needed and were required to do given their assessment that Mr. Dziekanski was breathing and had a pulse. They have been unable to account for how it is that Mr. Dziekanski was neither breathing nor had a heart beat when fire fighters arrived. We may hear more relevant information when medical witnesses, such as the pathologist, testify.

Posted March 20, 2009 04:26 PM

Richard Galibois (Agassiz_BC) wrote:

Q| Why are we having an inquiry, it seems obvious that the police used excessive force but the victim was also being a bit more aggressive than most people are no matter what (minor) situation they are faced with, so again Why the inquiry?

A| Even contained within your question there is an element of uncertainty. While it's clear to the Crown that the force used by police was reasonable and justified, that decision was arrived at by weighing whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction. That doesn't mean the situation was unavoidable. Clearly the Attorney General recognized, as did many who saw the amateur video, that what happened needed an explanation and a public examination. It is also not clear, even at this stage, whether Mr. Robert Dziekanski's behaviour at the time he was stunned, was in fact "aggressive." Certainly the police have testified that it was. In their opinion. But some have also acknowledged that the video shows Mr. Dziekanski being compliant and obedient, at least until the moment he was stunned. But given what the Inquiry has already laid bare: the discrepancies in the officers statements, the interactions with Mr. Dziekanski by so many people who might have been able to change the outcome of that night, I think the testimony the Inquiry has educed so far offers plenty of reasons why the inquiry is necessary.

Posted March 19, 2009 05:41 PM

Phyllis O'Neill (Richmond_BC) wrote:

Q| Why is the Vancouver airport authority not being held responsible for allowing a person to roam around for 10 hours without doing anything. The whole thing would have been avoided if they had done their job properly.

A| If by "held responsible" you mean "held accountable," then I would say the airport authority has been held accountable. Many employees have testified and had their actions under the microscope at the inquiry. But it isn't just the airport that was involved. Canada Border Services Agency operates and controls the secure customs hall where Mr. Robert Dziekanski spent most of his time in limbo. And those border officers who had something to do with him, have also testified as to why they didn't do more than they did.

And unless there is an admission of wrong doing, an apology and some compensation for Mr. Dziekanski's mother, I expect that there will be civil litigation that will test whether a trier of fact considers those other parties "responsible" for what happened, and how much they should pay.

Posted March 19, 2009 08:13 AM

Anne (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| I know that in his report, the Commissioner might make findings of misconduct against any of the four RCMP officers present for the tasering. But is the Commissioner also allowed to report on actions by other RCMP officers in the aftermath of Mr. Dziekanski's death? For example, an RCMP public relations officer released inaccurate information about the incident to the press in the days following the incident. Also the RCMP told Paul Pritchard they would return his recording to him within a day or two, but then kept the recording for a month. Are these matters within the scope of the Braidwood Inquiry with the possibility of findings of misconduct?

A| The issues you mention are entirely within the commissioner's purvue. The terms of reference for the inquiry call for a "complete report of the events and circumstances of, and RELATING TO (my emphasis) Mr. Dziekanski's death. And Thomas Braidwood has the authority to make recommendations he considers necessary and appropriate.

That seems to be a pretty big slate on which to record what happened. And given the commissioner felt it was relevant to probe into the allegation that office politics may have played a role in whether airport first responders weren't called, I'd be surprised if he didn't also consider what happened after Mr. Dziekanski died, to be worth examination.

Posted March 18, 2009 07:04 PM

P. Gardner (B_C) wrote:

Q| I recently talked with an RCMP officer who just graduated from the RCMP training depot in Regina. He described for me the hours of time that the RCMP trainees still spend during training getting the shine and colour of their boots "just right".
As the length of the RCMP training is really quite short in time, I have to ask, "What amount of time and what training in particular do these RCMP trainees do to prepare them to deal with all the different kinds of people in the public that RCMP officers encounter each day in their work?
How much and what kind of training in Non Violent Technigues for calming persons who are agitated do these new RCMP recruits receive at the Regina Training Depot so that violent measures
(Tazers and guns) may not have to be used?

A| A good point, and one addressed by Walter Kostecky, the lawyer for Robert Dziekanski's mother. Mr. Kostecky, a former RCMP officer himself, questioned the officers on their training. In particular the three hundred and seventy hours or so, of academic training in police sciences. That training focuses on a model in which subjects, even violent ones are "clients", and police are supposed to be empathetic. Recruits are also given about seventy-five hours of self-defense training, particularly in methods to disarm subjects, even when they themselves have no weapon. In the opinion of the officers who've testified, Mr. Dziekanski determined their actions that night. The officers have consistently testified that their training has taught them that using a Taser is less injurious than a baton or even closed handed methods for controlling someone, like a punch. I recall that shortly after the incident happened, Corporal Dale Carr, the spokesman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team suggested that even if police can control someone without resorting to weapons like the Taser, why should they if it means they risk getting hit.

Posted March 16, 2009 10:15 PM

Pam (Delta_) wrote:

Q| Why cant the police department use some thing like a tranquilizer, like they use it for animals. Why cant they use something else?
Should tazers be banned-if innocent people are being killed.

A| I don't want to argue the case against tranquilizer darts for the RCMP. But, I can think of a number of reasons why it's an impractical and potentially lethal alternative. Aside from the problem of aiming, there's a question of the effects of whatever drug you're using, and whether injecting a drug into someone might actually kill them. But in any event, unless the subject was a hundred metres away, no tranquilizer is going to work fast enough to drop or disarm someone before they can harm themselves, an officer or someone else.

Your second question assumes that Tasers kill people. Full stop. There is no evidence that's the case. I say that knowing that Tasers have been involved in hundreds of in-custody deaths in North America. There have been a handful of coroners who've linked the weapon to cause of death. Even the pathologist in Mr. Dziekanski's case declared that the Taser could have played a role in his death. Guns kill people too. We know this is the case and yet we authorize police to use deadly force under certain circumstances. Now, Tasers aren't used as a substitute for firearms and some people, including the chairman of the commission for public complaints against the RCMP believe the RCMP should reclassify the weapon so it's much closer to a firearm. The RCMP currently considers the weapon less injurious than pepper spray and batons.

It's important to note that even the RCMP's "revised" policy on Taser use adopted last year, if applied to the case of Robert Dziekanski, would have made no difference. The weapon would still have been drawn.

Will this inquiry lead to a ban on the weapons? It's within Commissioner Thomas Braidwood's power to recommend such an action. But it would be up to the government to enforce it.

Posted March 13, 2009 03:15 AM

Steve Miller (Cobble_Hill_BC) wrote:

Q| Commenting on the "witness exclusion order" that is preventing release of the hearing transcripts of the RCMP testimony you say "the inquiry doesn't want Corporal Robinson reading what his fellow officers have been asked, and what they answered."
Was there argument for and against this order before the commissioner? When and where did the idea of this order come from? Is it true that Corporal Robinson now truly has no access to the testimony that came before? Wasn't it streamed on CBC?

A| I wonder myself, because presumably if Corporal Robinson paid attention to any media coverage, including the live steamed video on CBC's website, he would know exactly what his colleagues have said. I don't believe there was any argument per se about the order before it was issued. It's a standard practice in criminal trials to exclude witnesses until after they've given their testimony. But I'm not aware that there is any legal prohibition against Corporal Robinson making himself familiar with what his former partners have said, nor is there any absolute bar against his lawyer preparing him based on the evidence. One would expect that under oath, he'd answer truthfully when asked if he'd reviewed the testimony. And if he had, that might influence how the commissioner interprets his answers.

Posted March 12, 2009 10:28 PM

Mike Puttonen (New_Westminster) wrote:

Q| Was the hysterical woman who made the telephone call to the dispatcher the same same woman who approached the officers as they crossed the airport lobby?
If she is, then what did she say to the cops?
This one anonymous civilian seems to be the person who provided the "context" that these trained professionals have used to guide their (fatal) actions and their subsequent testimony.

A| The "hysterical woman" was Lois Steckley. She was called as a witness to the inquiry but released because she didn't want to appear, and none of the parties felt she could add anything that wasn't already contained in her phone calls to airport operations that were recorded and entered as evidence. She doesn't appear to be the person who spoke to the officers. That woman would seem to have been an airline employee who has testified. But on the subject of Ms. Steckley's phone calls, I do think what she said and how her descriptions were relayed, are relevant. The officers who've testified, say they relied in part on the dispatches they received, and those dispatches were based on Ms. Steckely's observations of an intoxicated man throwing luggage around. The evidence is that Mr. Dziekanski was neither drunk nor throwing luggage around. And the officers have been asked why, when what they heard in the radio dispatches didn't match what they observed, they didn't reassess the situation. Essentially each has said that based on their own observations they determined Mr. Dziekanski was either about to fight them, appeared agitated and uncooperative and was otherwise arrestable. I appear to be the only person other than the inquiry counsel to speak with Ms. Steckley about her role in all this. Those stories were broadcast some weeks ago. But she told me that while she was upset at the time she made the calls, she never expected the police would act solely on her description of the scene. Clearly police are trained to make their own assessment, because often complaints are misleading or inaccurate. Your point is an important one and it will be up to Commissioner Thomas Braidwood to determine whether the officers rushed their response based on an incomplete and inaccurate eye witness report.

Posted March 12, 2009 01:21 PM

Adam (Cranbrook) wrote:

Q| If Mr. Dziekanski had no criminal record, how did he do a five year term in a Polish prison for robbery?
Peter O'Neil, CanWest Europe Correspondent, CanWest News Service
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2007
GLIWICE, Poland - Robert Dziekanski dreamed of coming to B.C. to escape a troubled life in this gritty industrial city, including a tumultuous common-law relationship and a five-year jail term for robbery when he was a teenager, say two of his closest friends.
Is Peter O'Neil credible?

A| All I can tell you is that there is nothing in the RCMP's dossier to the effect that Robert Dziekanski spent any time in custody for any crime as you describe. Considering investigators went to Poland I would be surprised if a detail like a criminal record escaped their scrutiny in this matter. As I've said before Canadian immigration officials also verified Mr. Dziekanski's admissibility. While I am told anecdotally that he was involved in some event as a juvenile I have to wonder what difference that would make anyway. If what you read is true it happened 20 years before his death. The officers who approached him had zero information about who Mr. Dziekanski was let alone any background. And it wasn't until after some 30 hours of rather uneventful dealings with Mr Dziekanski that anyone reported a problem.

Posted March 11, 2009 12:15 PM

P. Nicholson (Ontario) wrote:

Q| Hi Curt,
Thanks for your excellent coverage.
Why has the Braidwood Inquiry stopped posting transcripts of witness testimony since the RCMP officers took the stand? For all other witnesses, the transcripts were posted within a few days of their testimony, but since the officers began taking the stand, there have been no further postings.

A| *Moderator: This questions has been answered, check down the list of posts for Curt's response!

Posted March 11, 2009 12:03 PM

Ryan (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| Hello Curt,
One of the most popular questions seems to be whether the four officers can still be charged. You answered this or similar questions several times, to quote you: "There is nothing to stop the Crown from revisiting or reconsidering it's decision, particularly if it receives new evidence." However in one of your more recent answers you clarify that such evidence would have to be obtained OUTSIDE the inquiry. I'm curious as to why you didn't mention this before - is it a recent development that such evidence MUST be from outside the inquiry? It seems that basically equates to "nothing new discovered during the inquiry would have any effect on the Crown's decision not to lay charges". And if indeed something new was discovered who would initiate the process of reevaluating the Crown's decision - would it be up to Thomas Braidwood?
Second question. In a recent column in Vancouver Courier newspaper by Allan Garr he makes a good point: the 7-page report produced by the province's criminal justice branch on why they decided not to lay charges states "At this juncture the evidence of the independent civilian witnesses, police officers and digital video were materially consistent in relation to the events which followed." However we know now that there were numerous inconsistencies between officers reports, notes and the video (with ALL the officers that testified so far admitting their initial reports were significantly incorrect). What do you think of that, and were there any comments from the justice branch in regards to that particular conclusion since it was discovered during the inquiry that witness reports, officers reports and the video were all BUT "materially consistent"?

A| To answer your first question, I've said from the beginning that because of the laws around giving evidence at a public inquiry, nothing said by a witness can be held against them at another proceeding. That's what I meant when I answered the question again for the benefit of a reader, and I used the word "outside". The Crown can independently decide that it wants to reconsider it's decision. Given that it has already said the evidence it had - including the officer's statements - fell far short of the standard for a substantial likelihood of a conviction for assault, assault with a weapon or manslaughter, it stands to reason there would need to be new evidence. The crown is not an investigative body. It would ask the RCMP to reinvestigate to see if there was new evidence to lay a charge. It wouldn't have to be one of the charges already considered. But that's the process.

But it's a little too simplistic to say that nothing new discovered in the inquiry could influence that decision. Just because someone's statement in the inquiry can't be used as an admission of guilt in a criminal case, doesn't mean the testimony can't be used to spark a new investigation. And as I've said before, the evidence given at the inquiry CAN be used to establish credibility. The example being that if in a criminal or civil proceeding a witness was asked the same question and gave a different answer than they gave at the inquiry, their testimony at the inquiry could be held up to them, to establish at which hearing they were telling the truth.

Allan Garr isn't the first journalist to have picked up on that statement. I did a story as well about that. First of all, despite the extraordinary statement from the Crown giving broad reasons for the decision, the actual deliberations and weight of one piece of evidence or another and the precise thoughts that went into the charge approval process, are immune from public scrutiny. The Criminal Justice Branch is fighting the Frank Paul Inquiry right now over that inquiry's demand that prosecutors testify about why they decided five times not to lay charges in that case.

But there is a question, about the phrase "materially consistent." What is material? Ravi Hira, the lawyer for Constable Kwesi Millington doesn't believe anything other than police descriptions of Mr. Dziekanski turning his back on police, picking up a stapler and facing police in a combative stance, is material. That formed the basis of Millington's decision to use force and fire the Taser, and it's what he and his fellow officers have described as required under Section 25 of the Criminal Code, in order to justify their use of force. And given much of what you see on the video tape, is not what the police say they saw because they were in front of Mr. Dziekanski, it is conceivable that "materially consistent" could be applied to a very few details, not all of those that came before. But that would be speculation on my part. Having spoken myself to Peter Ritchie, a lawyer of some renown who has been a prosecutor himself, he suggested to me that in all likelihood, the Crown was well aware of the discrepancies between the police statements and the video. Clearly the Crown felt those discrepancies, weren't material to the issue: were the police justified in using the force they did the night Robert Dziekanski died?

Posted March 11, 2009 11:30 AM

Ray Larocque (Ottawa) wrote:

Q| I'm wondering if the inquiry is done? If not, when it resumes streamlined?

A| *Moderator: The inquiry will resume on March 23, as will our live feed. The morning session is scheduled to begin at 10am, but proceedings can start as early as 9. Is so, we'll be there.

Posted March 10, 2009 10:41 PM

Dorothy Leatherbarrow (Kitchener) wrote:

Q| Would like to know how Mr. Dziekanski's mother is doing since the loss of her son. Please tell her I am very sorry about her ordeal. As I never imagined this was the kind of Canada I would ever come to know in my lifetime as a Canadain.

A| From my observations and from talking to Ms. Cisowski occasionally, I have the sense that her mood swings between anger and deep sorrow, depending on what she hears. Occasionally she smiles through the tears, as she did when she held the stapler in her hand that was the last thing her son touched. When I spoke to her long before this inquiry began, Zophia Cisowski told me that she was looking forward to being able to see the faces of the RCMP Officers involved in her son's death. As difficult as it was, she said that it had brought her some satisfaction to do that.

Posted March 10, 2009 11:36 AM

Daly de Gagne (Winnipeg) wrote:

Q| Have there been any questions asked, or any evidence presented, with regard to whether the mounties involved were to any extent impaired as a result of alcohol or drugs (OTC, prescription, street)?

Some of the supplements used by weight lifters, body builders, etc. could under certain conditions give rise to impaired judgment, irritability, agitation, impulse control, and anger control.

When I look at the video and read the inquiry reports there is less and less reason to believe that the response of the mounties was that of reasonable and rational individuals - all the more so given the fact they are professionally trained. To wit, the comment about the stapler. It is clear that these men had no idea how to assess or deal with an individual who was very upset; in fact, a single airport chaplain or counsellor could have probably dealt with the situation more effectively, by taking her/his time, and taking a calming stance. The mounties seemed to only add to the agitation of the victim.

Also, is the inquiry likely to take a stand on the apparent story-fixing by the mounties, which created a low point in public perception of the once-proud force's integrity?

I appreciate any information you might offer. Thank you.

Daly de Gagne

A| To the best of my knowledge there was no urinalysis or blood work done on the Mounties involved in the death of Robert Dziekanski. But the issue isn't about whether the officers were impaired. In fact they acted entirely according to their training if you accept their testimony as true and believe that it reflects a sound interpretation of all of their training. That will be up to Thomas Braidwood to decide it will also be up to him to determine whether its plausible that the statements and testimony of the officers have the ring of truth.

I am confident the commissioner will address your concerns.

Posted March 9, 2009 11:15 AM

Willmax (Manitoba) wrote:

Q| As the video gives one view of what happened is there a series of diagrams/time-line that show where all were standing/moving during the incident?
Is there a time-line of when statements were taken overlapped with when the video was seized?
When Millington was asked whether he had ever been tasered I think he said he had been to the chest. I have never seen anyone tasered except to the back while being supported. Was he wrong?

A| Answering in reverse, Constable Millington did indeed testify he was stunned in the chest in training. There's no reason to doubt his testimony. The time-line of when the statements were taken, when the video was seized has all been documented and discussed at some length at the inquiry. Many witnesses have been asked to mark on exhibits of the scene where they were and where they saw others. At some point, there may be a generally accepted diagram of this, but it was an event that lasted some time, and people moved around. Some witnesses, can't recall exactly where they were, and when.

Posted March 7, 2009 05:24 AM

lloyd Josli (fredericton) wrote:

Q| I think this is a relevant question. Can the police stop you from video taping them at scene as in Vancouver Airport?

A| That's probably a question the courts need to decide and it depends on the purpose of the video, I would imagine. I've seen plenty of people at the International arrivals area with cameras and recorders videotaping loved ones arriving or departing. To the best of my knowledge, there is no law in Canada preventing a bystander from video taping anything in a public place. I know in Britain there was a recent uproar about photographers needing the police to consent before an officer's image is captured. I would also expect that if the police wanted to, they could confiscate your camera - as they did in Paul Pritchard's case.

Posted March 6, 2009 10:54 AM

Becky (Canada) wrote:

Q| Why do mounties get inquiries and civilians get put on trial? And why, when we have video evidence of this horrific event, does CBC continue to say "tasered" when the victim was actually "tasered to death"? If it was a civilian who tasered another civilian until he was dead do you think CBC would use the term "tasered to death" or "tasered"? Or would CBC just call it murder?

A| First of all, I never say "tasered". The word doesn't exist. It's like saying when you blew your nose, you Kleenex-ed. But to be clear, the autopsy and three pathologists agreed the Taser isn't what killed Mr. Dziekanski. While it may have contributed to his cardiac arrest, that's not the cause. The Crown decided there was no crime that could be prosecuted in a court with a substantial likelihood of a conviction. While Mr. Dziekanski's death was a homicide, there is no evidence to suggest it was murder. The crown didn't even think a charge of assault was appropriate given the evidence. It's worth pointing out, for those who don't know, that while police have to justify their use of force, they are entitled to use it in certain circumstances. That's the authority the state gives those who protect us. So, (and this is speculation, hypothetical speculation) if you or I claimed self-defense if we used a weapon that contributed to someone's death, the crown would go through the same exercise of deciding whether a trier of fact would likely find we acted reasonably. Police, however, don't have to be expected to accurately measure the possible effect their use of reasonable force might have in the exercise of their lawful duty.

Posted March 5, 2009 06:32 PM

Mansell (northwest_bc) wrote:

Q| Are each of the officers aware of previous testimony?
I ask because it seems odd for officer Millington to say he hasn't spoken to any of the other officers since the incident in light of previous testimony that they all had an incident debriefing together...

A| I agree it's remarkable that Constable Kwesi Millington didn't speak a word of what happened that night during the five weeks the four officers continued to work and eat together afterwards. But they are not supposed be aware of eachother's testimony. For that reason there is an order preventing the transcripts from being made public until after all have testified. As to the debriefing, Constable Millington says his former partner Constable Bill Bentley is wrong when he testified that the four shared their versions of the event.

Posted March 5, 2009 02:45 PM

dan jones (vancouver) wrote:

Q| I understand the officers statements cannot be used against them in any criminal proceedings. Some media commentators have been saying their wildly inaccurate notes, however, could be used in obstruction of justice charges. Have you heard any talk about this?

A| The law is clear that what the officers say in testimony cannot be used directly in evidence against them at any other proceeding, especially a criminal trial. That doesn't mean the Crown or the Attorney General can't seek to have the RCMP re-investigate to determine whether there's new evidence to suggest the officers could be convicted of a crime. I would not like to speculate on that happening, let alone what a possible charge might be.

Posted March 5, 2009 01:22 PM

jeff (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| I've just read that the stapler in question is a total of 33 centimetres long when opened. Is that an accurate description?

A| That might be, I didn't measure it, but it sounds about right. According to the police (because this is not visible on the amateur video) Mr. Dziekanski held it in his right hand.

Posted March 5, 2009 01:04 PM

Craig (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Frequent reference is made to the fact that Dziekanski was "destroying property" prior to the arrival of police, but the video just shows him throwing things around, but not really damaging anything. Has there been a dollar value assessment of the actual damage he caused? The reason I ask is because I am trying to understand why the police acted so quickly to subdue him in this case, whereas Vancouver residents familiar with the Downtown Eastside frequently see the police patiently waiting out behaviour that looks far more disruptive or dangerous. Was Dziekanski really acting dangerously and/or damaging property, or was his behaviour more of a "frustrated tantrum" for lack of a better word. Thanks for this forum.

A| If there was a dollar amount assigned to the damage Mr. Dziekanski caused, it hasn't been revealed. There was a computer keyboard that was unplugged and broken on the ground, a cheap wooden folding stool, and what may have been a telephone that was smashed on the ground. But those things aren't what motivated the police to fire the Taser. While one officer testified he could see the "debris" from 80 or 90 feet away as he approached, the debris was quite well hidden from view by a barrier. And while one officer suggested that even before they got there he believed Mr. Dziekanski was "arrestable" on a mischief charge, the other two who've testified so far haven't indicated there was anything they would have cuffed Mr. Dziekanski for. While in their statements to investigators they generally described Mr. Dziekanski as "yelling" or "agitated", in their testimony we heard that Mr. Dziekanski was calm when they first arrived. And up until he was seen with a stapler in his hand, even the police who've testified have admitted that it appeared he was following orders to keep away from his luggage and proceed to the counter where he was stunned a moment later.

Posted March 5, 2009 12:50 PM

Judith Lisinska (Canada) wrote:

Q| Please may I point out that the mother of Mr. Dziekanski has the letter "a" at the end of her name, not an "i" like her son. Women who retain the traditional gender ending of a Polish name have the endless frustration of it being viewed as a spelling error. I can understand if you viewed it as such, but I am personally so weary of explaining the one-letter difference between my name and my husband's that I try to get the word out when I can. I am sure this poor lady will appreciate hearing her name said correctly.
Thank you very much.

A| A long time ago, I confirmed with both Ms. Cisowski, and other Polish speakers as to the correct pronunciation of her name. Phonetically I've been instructed to say chee-SAWFF-skee. If they're in error, then I am too. But until Ms. Cisowski tells me otherwise, that's the pronunciation I'll use.

Posted March 5, 2009 08:51 AM

Adam (Ottawa_ON) wrote:

Q| Police issued tasers have always been presented to the public as "the last resort before drawing your gun". It seems that most of the news surrounding them these days is that they are being used before all other options have been exhausted. I believe that the video of Rick Mercer at RCPM boot camp shows very well the kind of training these officers recieved (including disarming a suspect without the use of a taser.) So I suppose my question is, has anyone asked these officers what they would have done had they not been carrying tasers? I have a hard time believing they would have shot him as the "last resort" arguement would suggest.

A| I think there is a misunderstanding in the public generally, that the Taser is a last resort before a firearm. In fact, the Taser is classified by the RCMP as LESS injurious than pepper spray or a baton, and therefore, is available as an option BEFORE those other weapons are used. That's how they're trained. A firearm, once drawn, is intended to be used with deadly aim. While some people may feel the weapon causes more concern than a steel baton, or even punches or choke holds, the RCMP doesn't.

Posted March 5, 2009 04:46 AM

A.P (Ontario) wrote:

Q| This is more directed at Julian Fantino
Fantino said police are "authorized to use lawful force" when officer or public safety is threatened. Well, what happens when they use their "authorized force" when they, and/or the public, are not in any danger? What laws are there to protect people from the miss-use, abuse of "authorized force"? Will they be held accountable, at the least, to the same laws that are imposed upon the rest of us or will they continue to be let off easy?

A| I can't vouch for the authenticity of the quote you attribute to Julian Fantino. But regardless section 25 of the Criminal code sets out the authority peace officers have for using force, even deadly force, if they have reasonable grounds to believe they, or someone else's life is at risk, or there is risk of serious injury. Police have special authority, and must account for their use of force. You might argue that the perception of risk is subjective, and is based solely on the police officer's point of view. The BC Criminal Justice Branch considered this defence of the use of force and decided the officers were reasonably justified given the evidence and as a result, there was not enough evidence to sustain conviction for either assault, assault with a weapon or manslaughter. This inquiry, however, is exploring the officers' thinking and judgment in a way that is exposing their rationale publicly.

Posted March 5, 2009 02:01 AM

Dave Colford (StJohns_NL) wrote:

Q| Hi Curt, you are doing a great service to us all by allowing us to ask questions.. thanks
After watching this roll-out on the media, it reinforces my thoughts that Canadian inquiries are meant to protect criminals and that the victims of crime do not get any justice. In the united states, this would have been a grand jury instead of an inquiry. The grand jury would have determined if criminal charges would have been laid.
It is obvious from the tape versus the RCMP reports and testimony that the RCMP's story is a conspiracy, a blind man can see that.
My questions are:
1. Canada does not have a grand jury, but who decided not to charge the RCMP and why not. Can this be overturned in light of this inquiry?
2. Is are there any federal officials looking at this trial as an example of why inquiries don't work?? How do we get this changed to help the victims of future crimes??

A| The decision not to charge the RCMP officers was made by the Criminal Justice Branch of BC. The broad reasons for the decision were issued in a rather extraordinary seven page statement last December. You can find it on-line at the government's website. And if you do a quick search of some of my previous answers on "charges" here, you'll see that, yes, the decision can be revisited, and even reversed, if there is new evidence. Revisiting the decision wouldn't be unusual. It was done in the case of Frank Paul four times. But those reconsiderations resulted in five decisions that were all the same: not to lay charges. But it would be up to the Crown to ask the RCMP to do further investigation, and they could not use what the officers said directly as evidence against them.

I'm not sure what you mean about this inquiry not working. What's not working? The people who came into contact with Robert Dziekanski are being held accountable for their actions. All of them. Not just the police. Had there not been an inquiry, and instead just an inquest, much of what we're hearing would never have been revealed. I dare say the multiple mistakes made by the Officers in their statements to investigators would not have been revealed without the amateur video shot by Paul Pritchard. I think that video is what provoked the inquiry.

I'm not an expert in the US Grand Jury system, but I am familiar with the often-said phrase that "even a ham sandwhich could be indicted by a grand jury." I'm not sure if that's true. But the evidence used at a grand jury to indict is secret. In this case, the Crown has gone into some detail about the evidence it consulted to decide it wasn't enough for a conviction. And this inquiry has revealed far more than anyone would otherwise have known about the actions of everyone the night Robert Dziekanski died.

Posted March 5, 2009 01:25 AM

Lynn Northwood (Calgary) wrote:

Q| Could you please tell me why the CBC television news has NO coverage of this inquiry?? I think this is SO important for Canadians to see. The issue is important. Tasers are NOT being treated like guns with the police forces, yet they kill like guns.
I am a strong believer that some day tasers will no longer be used. I'm curious if there are any statistics on how many deaths there have been and in these instances, without a taser, would the police have fired a gun.

A| I'm not aware of exactly how much coverage there has been on television. I know my colleagues from National news have been at the inquiry frequently, particularly during the testimony of the officers, and I know that there have been a number of stories filed regionally, if not nationally. The precise statistics you'd like to see aren't really available. A number of groups, including parliament's public safety committee, have called for the kind of study you're talking about. But the Taser - or conducted energy weapon (CEW) - is not a substitute for a fire arm. The RCMP places it much further down in its IMIM, the Incident Management Intervention Model. It is a weapon to be used before even batons or pepper spray are considered.

Posted March 4, 2009 09:14 PM

PK (Windsor) wrote:

Q| I'm positive that when I watched the video I heard one of the officers asking: "Can I use a taser?". Isn't this enough evidence that RCMP officer was planning on using a taser even before he was on the scene and how come the media is not picking up on that?

A| It sounds to me like "may I use Tasers". But the testimony from the officer who said it, Constable Bill Bentley, is that it was something like "do you have a Taser". He can't remember exactly. The answer, from Constable Kwesi Millington, is "yes". As to why the "media isn't picking up on that", I'm not sure what you mean. From the day the video became public, this exchange was noted. And now we've had the people who uttered those words testify as to what they were. The fact that an officer did an "equipment check" as Bentley described, isn't unusual. It doesn't mean that they had planned to use it, only that it was one option. And given what we've heard about how the RCMP train their officers that the Taser is a less injurious weapon than a baton or pepper spray, it's not surprising that they went into this situation knowing they had one available. Constable Bentley was cross examined on this question. The focus being that it could have been an odd question to ask at that moment, considering he knew that the Taser had been signed out by someone else on his unit. But Constable Bentley testified that he didn't know who had it, and while he always checked to see if it was available so he could sign it out himself for the shift, he said he had no curiosity earlier in the shift to see who had beaten him to it. So from his testimony it appears that he was wanting to know whether someone among the four had the weapon. Why was that important? Constable Bentley testified that the moment he glimpsed Robert Dziekanski from eighty or ninety feet way, something in his "gut" told him they might be in for a fight.

Posted March 4, 2009 09:01 PM

SkookumPete (Bellevue_WA) wrote:

Q| Did the pathologists really state that "sudden death following restraint" was the CAUSE of death? Because that seems to me to be a description rather than a cause. Is this a known syndrome or medical effect, or just government doubletalk?

A| The pathologist found Mr. Dziekanski died as a result of "Sudden Death Following Restraint". But there was no definite cause. I know that sounds confusing. But his heart stopped, and the pathologist can't say exactly why. In the pathologist's opinion the Taser did not directly cause the cardiac arrest. It was a factor however.

Posted March 4, 2009 08:54 PM

Kurt Guenther (Morden) wrote:

Q| I am surprised the lawyers have not dealt more in detail about the debriefing the 4 officers had. It cannot be true that none of them learned anything new [as this witness claimed]. I have been trained ]basic and advanced] in the Jeffrey Mitchell CISM model adopted by emergency services and police, and have been the mental health person involved in defusings, and debriefings [not the same thing]. They include a peer support and a mental health facilitator, and are designed as mental health first aid for the responders. Notes are not recorded, but believe me powerful things would have been said and shared by the participants when a call results in such a tragic end. The process includes reconstructing in detail who saw what and who did what so that the big picture can be seen by all of the players. Each player's understanding is broadened as they learn from the contributions the others made at and during the incident. It just seems so foreign to me that the lawyers do not appear to be aware of the process enough to engage the witnesses about their debriefing experience. Surely if nothing else, an associate would have Googled and learned much more about the process than the brief snippet I am sharing?
The news commented on some surprise about the revelation, but I have not heard of any follow up interest from the lawyers - and now is their opportunity isn't it?

A| There was surprise at the revelation by Constable Bill Bentley because in the months leading up to the inquiry, the Critical Incident Debriefing was never disclosed by lawyers for the RCMP and while some details on the time and place and duration were eventually provided, there were apparently no notes. The lawyers have to tread somewhat carefully because they cannot inquire into anything that might be considered communication between a psychologist and patient. But it only came up after Constable Gerry Rundel left the witness chair. Bentley only said they "shared their versions" of what happened and didn't discuss it and he didn't learn anything new, and Constable Kwesi Millington testified he has no recollection of that happening at all. Once the question has been asked and answered, particularly when there's no evidence to contradict what they're saying, that's the end of the road. We're told this meeting took place after the officers made their statements to homicide investigators, so if you're suggesting the meeting was a means for their stories to be "contaminated", the statements are actually the earlier evidence of what happened. What I find more intriguing is the testimony that not once - either at the scene, at the detachment or in the five weeks that followed while all four continued to work and eat together - did the subject of what happened ever come up. Not in passing. Not accidentally. Not innocently. It just didn't happen. That sounds unusual. But once you ask someone whether it came up and they say no, you can't keep asking the question hoping for a different answer.

Posted March 4, 2009 08:12 PM

Rory (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Hello Curt,
I've am wondering what is the worst possible penalty that the four RCMP members could face as punishment. I see that you've already said that there is no evidence that they will be terminated, but in each CBC posting it always says that Tom Braidwood could recommend misconduct charges be laid. What exactly does that entail?
Also didn't the CBC do there own investigation into tasers and found them not to meet the manufacturer's specifications? If so were these the same type of tasers used?
Thank you for your coverage in this case,

A| Not having been directly involved in the Taser study you mention, I would direct you to our resources on the web for further information about the findings. And yes, they are the same kind of Tasers in use by the RCMP. But I think that's all you can say about the connection. The Taser involved in this case, was tested - not by the CBC but by the RCMP - and found to be performing normally and as expected. At least this is what we're told. The actual documentation on this hasn't been made public, but the RCMP and Taser International wanted it released, so that should tell you something.

But as to the officers, if - and this is speculative - Thomas Braidwood found one or more of the officers, in his opinion, guilty of misconduct, it would be up the RCMP to decide whether to do anything with that. The inquiry has no power to compel the RCMP to hold disciplinary proceedings against its members and given how steadfastly the RCMP has defended the actions of its members, I would be surprised to see such hearings take place. But should such hearings occur, the result could be anything from a verbal reprimand to dismissal.

Posted March 4, 2009 07:58 PM

james duern (Toronto) wrote:

Q| It seems possible, or more than likely that these Officers could walk away untouched, even despite the video evidence disputing many discrepancies in the Officers' original versions?
If so, what can the Canadian Public do who wish that they eventually face justice?

A| I think it's early in the day to second-guess the outcome of the inquiry. And, if I may offer an observation, Thomas Braidwood has, at times openly expressed what sounds to me like incredulity at some of what he's heard. But if you're talking about criminal charges, that train has left the station. Yes, the crown's decision can be revisted. But I wouldn't count on that happening until after the inquiry, and only then if there is some new evidence obtained OUTSIDE the inquiry.

All this is hypothetical, but if the Inquiry were to come to some finding requiring censure or discipline of the officers or anyone else involved, it would be up the RCMP or other relevant agency to act on it.

The officers are facing accountability for their actions. While no ne was told they were being investigated for a crime, they are now having every moment of their activities that day picked apart by some very skeptical lawyers. That may not be the kind of justice you are speaking of, but it's how the system works.

As I think I pointed out many many questions ago, there's nothing to stop a citizen from laying a private prosecution. But as I've said before, it would almost certainly be quashed by the Attorney General.

Posted March 4, 2009 07:06 PM

Clayton Burns (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| It is hard to get over the shock of seeing the stapler, how insubstantial it is. It was even harder watching the absurd performance of Ravi Hira late today, when he spoke to the Polish media and told his odd made-up narrative, shaking his hands vigorously and menacingly as if to simulate an angry man about to attack with a weapon. The picture that Hira tried so desperately to paint did not have a warrant in how his own client held the stapler, nor in evidence given by Rundel, nor in objective reality. Did Rundel register fear of a man as dangerous as Hira tried to simulate? On the famous video? At the close of the interview, I asked Hira if Rundel had registered fear in his face, his posture, his movements. I said that I did not see that Rundel had. Hira disagreed, but would not explain specifically how and where on the video Rundel registered fright that he would be assaulted before the Tasering. In fact, in his testimony, Rundel could not substantiate his initial statements, as subjected to cross-examination.
Over-reaching and tacitly making up stories is a bad idea. A lawyer appearing for an RCMP officer has a duty not to take short cuts and engage in distortion of facts to advance a narrative as an excuse. I found it disappointing that some lawyers today had not built a better foundation for allegations that three of the RCMP officers had conspired in fabricating testimony. Nonetheless, the far greater error was the recklessness of Ravi Hira. If that is the standard at the highest levels of the legal profession in BC, then no wonder the Crown made such a manifest blunder in not charging at least two of the officers.

A| Some things to remember. Mr. Hira, and all the other lawyers at this inquiry are paid to represent the interests of their clients. Although I think some are being paid more than others. But it's their job to find the best possible interpretation of the evidence for their client. I think Mr. Hira suggested that the details his client Constable Kwesi Millington got wrong, were immaterial. The material fact is that Mr. Dziekanski had a stapler and the officers reacted to it. I think it'll be up to Thomas Braidwood to decide what's material and what isn't. But this isn't an inquiry into whether Robert Dziekanski held a stapler. It's about everything that lead up to his collapse and death. If those facts aren't material, I don't know which ones are. As to whether you believe what you heard and saw outside the inquiry by one or the other lawyer is a mis-characterization of the evidence, I would only say that the only thing that matters is what Thomas Braidwood sees and hears.

Posted March 4, 2009 06:53 PM

Doug Stern (Cambridge_bay_Nunavut) wrote:

Q| Hi Curt,
Used to listen to you from CBC Iqaluit. So, when this 1st happened, I went to the CBC blog and 1/2 of all the comments were from Poland, deriding this country with "What kind of a country is this?" Now there are NO polish comments on this CBC question format. My question is what is the Polish take on all this? [For what it's worth, mine is complete disgust for the RCMP actions and non-accountability. Nobody has any guts to say they *{allegedly} screwed up and *{were involved in the death of} an innocent person].

*Moderator's changes.

A| Qanuipit? I'm not sure why you're seeing fewer comments from people in Poland. I spoke to a Polish journalist the other day who told me that interest in the story subsided somewhat but was reinvigorated when prosecutors in Mr. Dziekanski's home of Gliwice complained they were being ignored by BC's Crown Prosecutors, in their request for information.

The government of the republic of Poland is a participant in this inquiry. It has a lawyer representing it at the hearings. And Don Rosenbloom has gone farther than any counsel at this inquiry to question the veracity and credibility of the RCMP officers. Most recently he suggested in the hearing that they have been lying under oath, and they cooked up their story. Those suggestions, put to Constable Kwesi Millington, were denied.

I can point to the Polish embassy's strongly worded statement last December when the BC Criminal Justice Branch absolved the officers. Poland apparently felt that Mr. Dziekanski was made out to be, at least partly, the author of his own fate, and that "baseless insinuations" of alcohol abuse were disconcerting. But the ambassador said Poland cannot accept that charges have been dropped without seeing consequences or lessons drawn for the future.

Posted March 4, 2009 06:39 PM

Deb Dolbec (Halifax_Nova_Scotia) wrote:

Q| Despite the role the RCMP had in this tragic case my question is what role and responsibility did Border Services play? There has been very little mentioned about their role and share of the responsibility. I read in an initial report that Mr.Dziekanski had been instructed by his Mother to wait for him by the luggage carousel. If in fact this was the case, Mr. Dziekanski never left the international area and his Mother would not have had access to this restricted area as all persons waiting for international travellers must wait in a different area for them to arrive. Did Border Services not notice this man with his luggage waiting for hours, surely they must have. Who alerted the airport RCMP to this situation if not Border Services? Where were they when Mr. Dziekanski, tired and stressed and unable to communicate in English and obviously did not know enough about international travel to realize his Mother was waiting on the other side of the doors for him because (again) she would NOT have been allowed to wait by the luggage carousel for him. Before it became a situation, why at this point did Border Services or even the airline employees try to assist him. I have no questions regarding the RCMP`s action, nor am I surprised that the video differed from the RCMP statement. However, there needs to be accountability for what happened from the moment Mr. Dziekanski stepped off that plane and not just the last 10 minutes of this man`s life. The RCMP did not cause the situation, they responded to it.

A| While the RCMP officers involved in Robert Dziekanski's death have taken centre stage at the inquiry and for good reason, most of the testimony so far has come from other witnesses, including those from the Canada Border Services Agency and YVR. It was some weeks ago, but nonetheless we heard and I reported on, the actions of a number of customs and immigration officers (now Border Services Officers). You're right. Mr. Dziekanski never left the secure Customs Hall until he was eventually escorted out just before 1am. By then he'd been in the area for over nine hours. For most of that time, he appears to have vanished from the view of either security cameras or the eyes of anyone who worked there. There was no system - and still isn't - to alert Border Services Officers that someone has passed through the Primary Inspection Line but hasn't shown up for required customs or immigration screening. In Mr. Dziekanski's case, they only twigged to him when he attempted to leave the hall without having been screened. Some testified that while they knew this was extremely unusual to see someone who had simply failed to show up for hours, they decided the best thing was to process him as quickly as possible rather than launch an investigation into where he'd been. Some have testified that Mr. Dziekanski received better treatment than most in his situation. He was given water, escorted from customs to immigration, and even to the door. One officer helped retrieve his luggage. By the time Mr. Dziekanski presented himself to the officers, his mother had already been told hours earlier to go home because there was no record of her son being processed. She was called when it occurred to someone that her son had later shown up. But it was a voice-mail message, and Zophia Cisowski didn't get it until after arriving home in Kamloops, which is about three or four hours from the airport, by car. By then, her son was dead. She didn't know, however, until she came back to the airport the next day to find him. No one from the RCMP it seems, notified her of what happened.

Posted March 4, 2009 06:09 PM

ted (sunderland_ontario) wrote:

Q| Hello, so glad to see the CBC coverage, always like the media, particular when they sought the truth, i was an officer some 33 yrs, now retired, and glad, officers notes, we were taught to talk about what happened before we made notes, not to "make up a story" but to ensure we had the "facts" straight, but far to often when things went wrong what I saw, was lets get our story to match, honestly one time, actually often, however this time it involved the death of two older people caused by an officers actions, not that he was wrong, but the decision was to remove him from the report, I said I would not be a part, and would go to the press, result truth was reported, their family deserved the truth I was a supervisor, I did the right thing. My question is: where was the supervisor, and his superior? If they knew of the tape, why was the truth not reported, the officers made mistakes, yes it happens, so sad this time with a horrible ending but where was the sober second opinion, why was a false report approved and forwarded. Knowing it was false, where were the questions? This is our national police service, we are on the world stage? Please tell me they could NOT have thought a cover up would have worked, let alone be morally right?

A| The officers who've testified have all insisted that they did not talk to eachother about what happened, to the extreme that Constable Kwesi Millington said the subject of what happened didn't come up at all in five weeks afterward that the officers all worked and ate together. So, according to the evidence they've given, not only did the officers not try to "get their story straight", they didn't even say anything to eachother as human as "gee, that was a shame." Not a word. Never. Ever. Constable Bentley testified there was a critical incident debrief some weeks after the incident during which they all shared their "versions" without discussing them. But Constable Millington denies that.

What we know is that each officer was interviewed multiple times by homicide investigators. Their statements, unwarned, were not "cross-examined" in anyway by comparing it to the video as far I know. But I haven't seen the RCMP file. It isn't public. Those statements and the video were handed over to the Crown for prosecutors to decide whether the officer's versions of what happened, were sufficiently contradicted by the video as to lead someone to conclude a crime took place.

But where the video and the officer's statements converge is at one single point, and I would argue only this point. Mr. Dziekanski had stapler in his hand before he was stunned. You can see it flying out of his hand as he falls to the ground. However, nothing else from the officers' point of view is captured on the tape. The video does, however highlight a number of significant errors in the Mounties' statements. Do those errors constitute criminality? Clearly the Crown thought not.

By "supervisor" I'm not sure who you mean exactly. But the senior officer in the unit who was involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death is one of the mounties under investigation. Once Mr. Dziekanski died, Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson became part of the investigation. He is scheduled to testify March 23rd.

Posted March 4, 2009 05:45 PM

Rob George (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Police witnesses at Braidwood have all produced testimony that contradicts statements they made before they knew of the Pritchard video. Some suggest a cover-up, calculated to escape justice. A prosecutor once told me that he was under an obligation to register a charge, wherever there is a controversy of fact concerning possible criminal culpability. Do you believe that the Criminal Justice Branch acted within the law by deciding that the cops involved in the YVR incident acted in a "reasonable" manner?

A| Surely you're not suggesting anything I might think about this, would trump the carefully considered analysis of the Criminal Justice Branch? Of course the Branch acted within the law. That's what they do. But that's different from having a different opinion about it. But as I've pointed out before, the Crown has set a bar for approving charges at a level far beyond whether there's simply controversy over any facts. A prosecution not only has to be in the public interest, but there has to be a SUBSTANTIAL likelihood of a conviction. Not just a possibility of a conviction, or even a decent chance at it. It must be SUBSTANTIAL. What does that mean, exactly? I think at the end of the day it's still a subjective decision, albeit based on legal experience.

Posted March 4, 2009 10:00 AM

John Jacobson (Brandon) wrote:

Q| Why isn't the mother of the man tasered being called to give her testimony... or will the Polish Lawyer do this?

A| Zophia Cisowski is expected to testify later in the iqnuiry.

Posted March 3, 2009 10:27 PM

John (Michigan_United_States) wrote:

Q| The four RCMP officers are not facing criminal charges there in Canada but can they still face charges from Poland?

A| Polish prosecutors could charge them in absentia, but when I spoke to Poland's ambassador to Canada recently, he said that the investigation prosecutors in Mr. Dziekanski's home of Gliwice were involved in, wasn't directed at any individuals, but instead to determine what happened to a citizen. It's my understanding that Poland doesn't have the kind of public inquiry process we do in Canada. The ambassador also told me that Poland has the utmost respect for Canada's and BC's legal system. There is no extradition treaty between the two countries. So even if charges were laid in Poland, I can't see how they'd come to much.

Posted March 3, 2009 10:02 PM

To Tell The Truth (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| The crown has agreed not to press any charges against the officers. This was probably somewhat of a plea bargain so we could get more information through this inquiry. Here's the problem. We have learned that the four RCMP officers felt threaten by a man holding a stapler while they have bullet proof vests, batons, guns and a tasers. We also learned they felt threatened when the man put up his hands, which is standard protocol for a police officer when making an arrest, ("put your hands up where I can see them."). The officers claim the actions taken were part of "standard training practices." By not pressing charges they are acknowledging that these acts can continue and probably will because it is part of their training and that their training is okay, which it obviously isn't. If the RCMP change their training as a result of this, they are acknowledging that their training did in fact contribute to the officers acting in this manner which scares the heck out of me. So, how will this play out and who will be responsible? Either the police training was improper making the RCMP responsible/negligent or the officers acted improperly in which case they should be charged (which can't happen) or dismissed.

A| To be clear, I'm not aware of any such "agreement" between the RCMP and the Crown on whether charges would be laid. Infact, the RCMP passed its investigative file over the Crown with no recommendation one way or the other. And I would suggest that any "agreement" between the Crown and the RCMP in this matter would constitute a total subversion of the process and undermine the very definition of justice. It would be a scandal. It's pretty much a certainty that if the officers HAD faced charges, they would not be testifying at an inquiry. But once they were absolved, and even before the decision had been made, the inquiry's lead counsel made it clear that they would be subpoenaed.

You've made a number of important observations about how training plays into the officer's actions. Yes, the officers did not follow all of their own protocols for dealing with this type of situation, but they are relying on their own training for their justification. An officer makes a decision on what force if any to apply, according to the IMIM - the Incident Management Intervention Model. But it is based entirely on the officer's subjective perception of the threat. There is, afterwards, a legal obligation to justify the use of force according to section 25 of the Criminal code. Force that is likely to cause death or serious injury is not justifiable unless the officer believes it's necessary to protect himself or anyone else from the same. And while these officers are trained to give a warning before using a Taser, trained not to use multiple stuns, trained to use communication before physical force, trained to investigate and assess before acting... and on and on... their training also permits the suspension of these measures, if necessary according to the situation. And the officers have frequently testified that this situation was one of those that required quick action, without the time for everything else they're are trained to do. It will be up to Thomas Braidwood to decide whether it was Mr. Dziekanski who forced the hand of the police, or whether the Police either misread the situation or acted inappropriately. But it's hard to imagine how RCMP training might change as a result of what we've heard. The Police had all the tools and instruction they needed to act differently. But that same instruction gave them permission to act the way they did.

Posted March 3, 2009 09:46 PM

Klaus Kaufmann, D.Sc. (Burnaby_BC) wrote:

Q| From all I've seen, read, and heard up to today, there seems ample evidence to proscecute the officers involved who seemed trigger-happy to say the least. A criminal investigation was apparently denied? Is this a whitewash inquiry?

A| First of all, an investigation was conducted by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. It now seems, however, that none of the officers were given their charter warning before making statements, meaning none of them were told bluntly that they were being investigated for any particular crime, that they had a right to lawyer, that they didn't have to say anything and that anything they did say could be held in evidence against them. That clearly suggests that none of the officers was being investigated for any crime. So was this a criminal investigation? The end result of the investigation was passed on to the Criminal Justice Branch without any recommendation about charges. It was the BC Crown prosecutors who decided not to lay charges of either assault, assault with a weapon or manslaughter. I've detailed the reasons here many times.

This inquiry is not to determine whether there is any criminal liability. it's to determine what happened, and while the commissioner could determine the police officers are guilty of misconduct, he cannot tread into areas of criminality. But I would hardly call this a whitewash inquiry. Every day it sits, it produces remarkable revelations about what happened, including the mistakes made by police officers in their notes, and their statements to homicide investigators.

Posted March 3, 2009 07:46 PM

m claudette sandecki (Terrace_BC) wrote:

Q| Was the stapler Dziekanski picked up loaded or empty of staples?

A| None of the officers who've testified seemed concerned about the contents of the stapler. Constable Gerry Rundel testified that it could have been used to increase the damage caused by a punch, had Mr. Dziekanski thrown one. But Lance Rudek, who was an airport security guard at the time, testified he saw Mr. Dziekanski squeezing the stapler and staples came out.

Posted March 3, 2009 07:08 PM

guy coolin (kitchener_on) wrote:

Q| Why is,nt there more direct t.v. coverage of this inquiry, or is c.b.c. part o the buffer zone too....just following orders?

A| Er...ah...this is the probably the first time I've heard that the CBC is down-playing the inquiry, or, as you suggest taking orders to cover it in a particular way. I'm not sure about what you're seeing on TV. I assume you mean why isn't the inquiry available unedited on a TV channel? I think it's unrealistic to expect an entire network to turn over five or six hours of programming, four days a week for several months to an inquiry at which there are several experienced journalists who are already producing stories. Speaking personally, I have routinely filed three or four stories a day to our National network in radio. That's been the case for the first seven weeks this phase of the inquiry has been running. And every story has been different, focusing on a new aspect of testimony. That being said, the CBC has also taken the extraordinary step of streaming the inquiry onto our website, so people with access to the internet can watch it while its sitting, unfiltered. I've covered a number of inquiries in my career and I think this one is getting as much, if not more interest from our organization's senior journalists as any of them. I think the fact that as a national reporter I'm spending twelve or more hours a day focused on one story, should give you an idea of how seriously we're taking this.

Posted March 3, 2009 07:07 PM

james balkwill (Leamington_Ontario) wrote:

Q| Clearly this tragic situation is yet another example of members of our policing community abusing the power and trust that we have given them .It seems to me that when it comes to police conduct a double standard exist because in far to many situations it is the police that escalate the level of violence when there is no need to do so.I believe this continues to occur because the provisions that are in place to hold police to account are ineffective and self serving.My question is :Will the inquiry address issues reguarding accountablity or the lack thereof as a means to gain understanding as to why police officers could behave in such an irresponsible manner. james balkwill

A| This inquiry is all about accountability. Not just for the police involved. But as you asked about police, I can say that their actions, and whether they were in compliance with their own training and operations manual, is very much at issue. We heard from a couple of the officers that they suspended many of the things their training has taught them to do "unless situational factors dictate otherwise." That included taking time to talk to bystanders, treating Mr. Dziekanski like a "client", talking to someone at the airport or in the Customs Hall, and making time to deal with a situation. They said Mr. Dziekanski was the one who dictated what their actions were that night, although when they all approached him, they reported him as calm with his hands at his sides. And the dispatches they'd received to the effect that there was an intoxicated man throwing luggage, and tossing chairs through glass, weren't accurate. It will be up to Thomas Braidwood to decide whether the police acted appropriately, or whether they are culpable of misconduct.

Posted March 3, 2009 06:59 PM

SolitaryMan (North_Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Hi Curt,
my question is, whether there is a chance, that after this inquiry, the Crown will change his previous decision, and would recommend to charge these officers?Thanks.

A| There is always a chance. But remember, there is a two-pronged test for recommending charges. The first tine of this prosecutorial pitch fork, is whether it's in the public interest. The second, is whether there is SUBSTANTIAL likelihood of a conviction. This is a popular question. Clearly there is a fair amount of public interest in this case. That's an unscientific evaluation on my part. But whether you could convince a judge that any of these officers acted criminally, is another story.

Posted March 3, 2009 06:52 PM

A Thompson (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Is there any significance to the fact that the Mounties are testifying in civies not uniform?

A| No. It's been some years since it was common to see RCMP officers in their dress uniform in a witness box. Today the only time you might see it is in a supreme court hearing. And even then, the courts and lawyers will advise against it because of the perception that the uniform can have an effect on how the testimony is perceived. There is no RCMP Policy of which I'm aware, that speaks to this. But you would never see it at an inquiry, as vital as this one is to the credibility of the RCMP.

Posted March 3, 2009 06:24 PM

Pat (PEI) wrote:

Q| Odd how specialist homicide investigators with RCMP conveniently failed to read their 'rights' to each of the RCMP officers involved in this terrible situation - leading to an outcome of which they all would have been very well aware: that, because of the failure to read these rights, all of the evidence given becomes 'contaminated' for the courts and none of that evidence could be used to prosecute charges against those men.

I would like to know how often does this handy failure of RCMP experts to obey the law in investigation happen. It seems a very convenient tactic for protecting your 'own' from prosecution. Might CBC (Fifth Estate?) investigate? And what is your opinion?

A| The RCMP says they weren't about to take sworn statements from the officers until they believed they were under investigation for a criminal matter. But I think the public was under the impression they were. Isn't that why homicide investigators were investigating? Sorry...rhetorical question. I was surprised to learn this detail as well. One officer testified that had he been read his charter warning that anything he said could be held in evidence against him, he would have sought legal counsel before saying anything. Constable Kwesi Millington testified that a voluntary statement can be used in court regardless of the warning. However, these statements, by the officers' own admissions contain errors. And in any event their statements describe their legal justification for using force. I asked IHIT's spokesman for a response to why they weren't warned right off the bat. He hasn't responded.

Posted March 3, 2009 06:10 PM

J. Edwards (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| Has there been any examination of how many normally restrained people die during or near arrest in a year?

This incident has gotten a lot of press, and perhaps the police needed to behave differently, but people die in police custody during arrests. Any violence, and an arrest that isn't compliant is always at least minimally violent, carries a danger of death.

Also, how big was Mr. Dziekanski? There has been a lot of talk about the stapler, but depending on his size, I'm not certain I would want to be punched in the face with or without a short metal rod (which a stapler can be, in the end) by anyone, much less a large upset person.

A| You're right. People do die of "sudden death following restraint", when a Taser is not used. According to BC's Coroners service, fourteen people died between 2004 and 2007, of restraint associated death, or excited delerium.

Mr. Dziekanski was about 177 centimeters, about 5' 9". Other than Corporal Robinson, all of the officers were as big if not bigger than Mr. Dziekanski. Constable Kwesi Millington was a personal trainer. All of them describe themselves as fit. I don't think anyone wants to get punched in the face. Mr. Dziekanski was at best 10 to 15 feet from any of the officers when he was stunned without warning. Two of the three officers have testified that he was moving or advancing towards them, although you can't see that on the video. But it's worth noting that the room they were in, had plenty of space for the officers to back up if they felt threatened.

Posted March 3, 2009 05:53 PM

Lisa Kerry (Nanaimo) wrote:

Q| I have read many times over and over that the taser was not the cause of Mr. Dziekanski's death. You are doing fantastic at responding so please enlighten me as I cannot wrap my mind around the logic. If the taser did not cause his death are we to assume he would have died anyways that night if he had not been tasered. The taser was certainly a contributing factor so isn't that cause to consider charges of some nature.

A| You are right when you say the Taser was a contributor to Mr. Dziekanski's death. The pathologist who did the autopsy said so. But he did not find a definite cause of death. Instead he concluded Mr. Dziekanski died as a result of "sudden death following restraint". And prior to the introduction of the Taser, these types of deaths did occur. In essence Mr. Dziekanski's heart stopped and his pre-existing health problems if any, his inability to breathe as a result of being restrained, combined with the stress of what took place, all played a role. These findings will be thoroughly scrutinized later in the inquiry when medical evidence is examined.

Posted March 3, 2009 05:44 PM

Eileen Schuh (St_Paul_Alberta) wrote:

Q| Why are the transcripts of the Mounties' testimony not being put on the inquiry's web page?

A| In fact, you won't see the transcripts of any of the officers until all of them have testified. That might not have been an issue had Corporal Robinson testified this week. But seeing as he's been put off until March 23rd, there is a witness exclusion order for these transcripts.

In other words, the inquiry doesn't want Corporal Robinson reading what his fellow officers have been asked, and what they answered.

Posted March 3, 2009 05:09 PM

Dale S (Victoria_BC) wrote:

Q| It is my understanding that in general, police reports/notebooks are accepted as what actually happened... accepted in court testimony even, and might possibly be given greater weight by judge and jury than other witness testimony simply because it IS a police officer's notebook.
That being said, do you find it surprising that the numbers and degree of INACCURACIES of these police witnesses' notebooks are so blatant?
Do you think courts in general, might be a little more willing to treat police notebook/testimony with a little more skepticism?

A| I do find it remarkable that moments after an incident has happened, in which a carefully considered decision about using force was made, that such key events such as when did the person approach, what were they doing at the time, etc, could be so poorly recorded. Some lawyers have suggested that given how much time is spent at depot training mounties in the importance of note-taking, it's astonishing how some reflected the incident so inaccurately. And you raise an important question that has not been lost on this inquiry. Without video evidence for comparison, we would be left with these notes, and empty challenges about their accuracy. As Constable Bill Bentley wrote in his book, Dziekanski was screaming at Police before the taser was fired. Not true. But when asked if he'd have stuck to that note without video evidence to contradict him, he said "I don't know."

However, I think it would be a mistake to suggest that because the three officers who've testified so far have flawed notes, statements and memories, that every police officer is just as inaccurate.

Posted March 3, 2009 04:55 PM

Andrew (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Curt, in some people's minds at least it is becoming increasingly apparent that these officers have failed in their basic duties and "shot too soon". Should the inquiry discover evidence to suggest that these guys are criminally negligent can the prosecutors reverse their decision not to prosecute? Please note this is a different question/issue to evidence obtained during the enquiry being inadmissible versus saying hey we need to open this up. Should the prosecutors decide still that no action should be taken how do we hold the prosecutors to account and have them sacked? They said that the evidence did not meet the "test" but many others would see it otherwise.

A| BC's Crown prosecutors reconsider their decision at any time. Even if that's in the cards, I wouldn't expect that until after Thomas Braidwood has made his official findings. But I'd be careful about suggesting the inquiry could discover evidence of anything criminal. There's a huge difference between finding facts consistent with misconduct and even negligence, and pronouncing it criminal. I would think that if prosecutors were so inclined, they would need to come to a conclusion that a crime had taken place, independent of what is said in the inquiry. There would need to be some other re-examination of the evidence upon which they based their decision. I would also assume, as one officer testified, that the moment the mounties are approached and warned that they are under investigation for a particular crime, they would seek legal counsel. And I don't mean to sound flip, but the last time I checked, we don't elect prosecutors. I'll leave it to you to determine whether there are other methods of expressing your opinions about the performance or judgement of people in public service... a group to which I too, belong.

Posted March 3, 2009 12:56 PM

Tom Podsiadlo (port_elgin_ontario) wrote:

Q| The crown has tried to assess the character and emotional state of Mr. Dziekanski (in order to explain Mr. Dziekanski’s actions and it appears absolve the 4 officers from theirs).
The RCMP even went as far as traveling to Poland, under the Canada-Poland co-operation treaty to learn more about the man. Why has the Canadian government now suspended the treaty and is blocking a similar investigation to be done by the Polish authorities?

Why has no such investigation of the characters of the involved police officers taken place?
More to the point, the crown and the media have taken it upon themselves to point out Mr. Dziekanski had an alcohol problem. It now becomes evident that at least one of the 4 officers in the case did too. Astonishingly, RCMP officer Benjamin Robinson has been caught driving drunk & was involved in the road death of a 21-year-old. In a tragic repeat, he again failed to render life saving first aid, that time fleeing the scene. Aside from this, the public knows nothing about the character and emotional state of the officers involved in Mr. Dziekanski’s death. No similar investigation, likened to the one conducted on Mr. Dziekanski has been conducted by the Crown, defense, media. Psychology is a double-edged sword. Why isn’t the defense wielding it?

A| Despite what you may have read or heard, the mutual legal assistance treaty that you speak of has not been suspended according the federal Justice department. The issue of blocking, according to my discussions with BC's Attorney General and Poland's ambassador to Canada, appears to be around the failure of BC's Crown to release information sought by Prosecutors in Mr. Dziekanski's home of Gliwice, possibly in violation of that treaty. As I reported a week ago, BC Attorney General Wally Oppal said that it's possible some material, such as the RCMP's investigative file on the matter won't be released until after the inquiry is concluded. Mr. Oppal cited privacy concerns as one possible reason. But he said that this dispute was news to him. But according to Polish Ambassador Piotr Ogrodzinski, the response from BC's Prosecutors to any questions from Poland has been silence. And you're right, there is some puzzlement to say the least on the part of Poland, seeing as they cooperated with the RCMP when investigators travelled there to look into Mr. Dziekanski's background.

As to Mr. Dziekanski's alleged alcohol abuse, regardless of what you've read, the Crown has only suggested that pathologists have opined that what they saw in the autopsy may be consistent with chronic use of alcohol. I agree that the perception that's likely to be generated by that statement is either going to be one of disgust that the Crown has stooped to character assassination or acceptance that perhaps Mr. Dziekanski was at least partly the author of his own fate. In either case, it doesn't address why Mr. Dziekanski died after the police became involved, unless you assume Mr. Dziekanski was about to die anyway. And that is patently ridiculous.

But when I spoke to the Pathologist involved, he underscored the fact that he can't conclusively say Mr. Dziekanski was an alcoholic. But that description was contained in an extraordinary seven page statement from the Crown to explain the reasons for not laying charges. It's not surprising that level of detail was revealed to the public. I'll make no comment on your assumption that one of the officers has an alcohol problem. The case that you refer to, will not be part of this inquiry. I will only say that as of this writing there are no charges laid, and therefore it's not possible to say he's guilty of anything.

As to the mental make-up of the officers involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death, I would expect that if any medical records were sought by the participants of this inquiry the push-back from the Federal government and the RCMP would grind this inquiry to a halt. Rather, what was sought was any service record showing substantiated complaints of mistreatment of a prisoner, discipline or violations of the RCMP's code of conduct PRIOR to this incident. Helen Roberts, the lawyer for the Government of Canada reported to the commission that there are no such documents, meaning until this incident, there were no such complaints against the officers.

But if you're asking me - and I think you are - whether an examination of the officer's psychological background would shed light on what happened, I'd say unless there was something significant that resulted in some reportable behaviour, my answer would be no. I think what they're saying in the witness chair about what they did, speaks for itself.

Posted March 3, 2009 09:22 AM

Derek Wilson (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| I scrolled through the questions and your answers about the Braidwood Inquiry posted on the CBC Radio Vancouver web site.

I have a question that hasn’t been addressed. It seems timely as the RCMP constable who used the Taser is on the witness stand today.

A month or so ago a CBC investigative report was released that disclosed that a significant percentage of Taser weapons, sampled and tested in the United States, administered more than the specified amount of voltage and/or current.

I am wondering about the calibration of the Taser weapon that was used on Robert Dziekanski.

Was this weapon impounded after the incident?

Has this Taser been tested for its voltage and current output by an independent testing laboratory? If so, what are the results of the tests?

Was Dziekanski electrocuted by five over-charged shots from this specific Taser weapon? I’d like to know.

A| First, it's important to use the right terms. Robert Dziekanski wasn't electrocuted. While the pathologist found that Taser may have contributed to his death, it was not responsible. He'll be called to testify later on at the inquiry.

As to the Taser involved, we are lead to believe that it was indeed tested and checked out by the RCMP soon after the incident. And reportedly, it was found to have been performing to specified standards. I say reportedly because that evidence hasn't been dealt with fully at the inquiry. Although I believe both Taser International and the Government of Canada wanted the documents tendered as exhibits. So that should tell you they find them supportive of the argument that the Taser wasn't malfunctioning.

But as to the whereabouts of the actual weapon, I'm not sure. It's an interesting question.

Posted March 3, 2009 09:05 AM

Carol (Victoria) wrote:

Q| Have any of these 3 officers who have testified given reasons why they didn't check Mr. Dziekanski's vital signs or render first aid when he stopped breathing. Or why they kept the paramedics from doing their jobs to aid him? Has anyone asked them this?

A| They have been asked and they have answered. Briefly, Constable Bentley noted Mr. Dziekanski was turning blue, and twelve seconds after he called for an ambublance, he called again to have the call upgraded to code three, meaning lights and sirens. Bentley did not, however, indicate in that call that Mr. Dziekanski was turning blue. In fact when the operator asked what the code three was for, Bentley simply said he's unconscious and it looks like he's breathing. As for the breathing, Bentley said he saw no officer check Dziekanski's pulse or breathing directly. He testified he saw YVR's head of security check Dziekanski's pulse, once.

Constable Gerry Rundel testified he thought Dziekanski was snoring as he lay handcuffed on the floor, unconscious, about two minutes prior to Richmond fire fighters arriving. And he said he observed Corporal Robinson "monitoring" Mr. Dziekanski.

Constable Millington Kwesi, the officer who fired the Taser, says he assumed Corporal Robinson was monitoring Mr. Dziekanski, although he can't say the actually saw his senior officer checking a pulse or conducting an airway check. Millington did testify that he was "periodically" asking how Dziekanski was doing.

So as to why no one administered CPR, the officers have all testified that they didn't believe CPR was necessary because they believed Mr. Dziekanski was breathing and had a pulse.

But while all the officers had a duty to care for a prisoner, Millington had an additional responsibility as the officer who fired the Taser. Not only did he stand aside and abdicate any role in monitoring what he testified was a serious medical condition, he failed to inform medical first responders of the use of a Taser and how many times he'd fired it. Millington assumed that information would have been relayed by his Corporal.

As to the handcuffs, Millington testified he could see no reason why they couldn't have been removed when first responders asked to take them off.

Bentley said he would have felt comfortable taking them off.

Rundel said he heard the question asked of Corporal Robinson.

And it appears to have been Corporal Monty Robinson decision to refuse the request to remove the cuffs at first, then acquiesce when ambulance attendants asked a couple of minutes later.

Posted March 3, 2009 08:49 AM

Evan Doyle (Medicine_Hat_Alberta) wrote:

Q| Is there a link to a feed of the inquiry other than the one on cbc's website that doesn't get cut off in the middle of questioning? I have been following this for the past couple of weeks and I have noticed that even if questioning continues the feed gets cut off at a certain point. This is very annoying and I feel like I am missing cruical pieces of evidence and testimony that I would like to see. Also is there anywhere that I can see this inquiry repeated? If so can you send me these links? If not can you make a suggestion to whomever is opperating the feed to not cut it off until questioning is finished? That includes the lunch breaks.
Evan Doyle

A| *Moderator: If you scroll through some of the earlier posts, you'll see your question has been addressed. The reason for the cut-off is a technical one on our part - as far as I know CBC is the only network broadcasting a live stream of the Inquiry. As such, I'm not sure if there is somewhere you can look for the 'missing' hours of proceedings.

Posted March 3, 2009 08:23 AM

Kevin Brooks (SSM) wrote:

Q| Has anyone questioned if it is RCMP policy to continue to deploy a tazer, in this case 5 times, until a suspect stops moving? Regardless of the officer's testimony and statements (which have changed since first being written), it is clear that Dziekanski's went downa fter the first jolt. What is the RCMP's position on this?

A| Officially, according to the RCMP's Taser training manual, multiple stuns are to be avoided unless "situational factors" dictate otherwise. In this case, Constable Kwesi Millington said they did. While he admits he fired stun number two at Mr. Dziekanski when he was already on the ground, he testified he doesn't believe stun number three made full contact, and neither did stun number four. He testified he doesn't remember pulling the trigger for stun number five, and suggested it simply discharged into the air. The last two stuns were delivered in "push-stun" mode, meaning the device is held directly against the body, as opposed to delivering current down two thin filaments attached to probes in the body.

Constable Millington's answer to why he continued to fire the Taser even though Mr. Dziekanski was on the ground and three officers were on top of him, was that he thought Mr. Dziekanski might get up again. He was trying to help his fellow officers get control of Mr. Dziekanski.

What is the RCMP's position on this? So far it's been to support it's officers. So far it's been to urge the public not to jump to conclusions until the officers describe in their own words what they did and why. I'm not sure what the RCMP's position on this is now. There's still one more officer to testify.

Posted March 3, 2009 05:43 AM

George415 (New_Westminster) wrote:

Q| You have said that Cpl. Robinson, the supervising officer at the YVR Tasering incident, has not been formally charged with anything concerning the Delta traffic collision.

When the collision happened, the news reports said that Robinson was "suspended with pay until his January 15 court appearance." If that appearance was cancelled, does that mean Robinson is on active duty? I am concerned about the mental state of an RCMP supervisor who has had so much to cope with (the two deaths were exactly one year apart).

If he is not on active duty, is he merely taking a long vacation? I understand there were many witnesses in Delta who saw him hit the motorcyclist and that Robinson failed a breath test. Safe to say that his RCMP career is in jeopardy? Will he be participating in the Braidwood Inquiry? Also, is it true that two of those other cops have since been transferred to the Maritimes?

A| You've asked many questions that indeed will never be asked at the inquiry when Corporal Robinson takes the witness chair on March 23rd. I'm not certain of the Corporal's duty status as I write this response.

But all four officers involved in Robert Dziekanski's death were transferred after the release of the amateur video. Constable Gerry Rundel was sent to Vancouver Island. Corporal Robinson and Constable Bentley were moved to 2010 security, and Constable Kwesi Millington was moved to Ontario.

Posted March 3, 2009 12:25 AM

Jo (armstrong) wrote:

Q| During Constable Millington's testimony today he said he requested Robert Dziekanski's passport both verbally and with hand signals. I found it strange that this was not followed up by cross examination as Dziekanski obviously bent down to his luggage to retrieve the item and was stopped by Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson ordering him "no".

How on earth can not only Constable Millington but also both the previous two officers continue to claim he was NON COMPLIANT. Not only did Dziekanski go to obtain this document out of his luggage but also stopped immediately when ordered to do so by Corporal Robinson. Also Dziekanski followed Robinson's pointed finger to go over to the desk. Surely this is critical to the RCMP's continual assertion that Dziekanski was defiant and non compliant thus requiring tasering? This is the CORE of the RCMP's case.

A| You may have received an answer to your question if you followed the testimony afterwards. In fact Cosntable Millington was brought to admit that it does indeed appear that Corporal Robinson was giving Mr. Dziekanski an order to move to the counter, where he was stunned.

As for Constable Millington's testimony that he tried to communicate using hand signals, it's important to note that none of that is captured on the amateur video. It all apparently happened during the five to ten seconds when the camera shifts and the view of what's going on is obstructed.

While one officer has testified (Constable Gerry Rundel) that Mr. Dziekanski became resistant, and therefore subject to being hit with the Taser when he threw up his hands and stepped away, the other two officers have either said he was non-compliant, or uncooperative. Even Constable Kwesi Millington who fired the Taser, and admitted it appears Mr. Dziekanski is following Corporal Robinson's order, clung to his description of Mr. Dziekanski as "defiant." I'm as puzzled as you are at how compliance and defiance can co-exist in the same situation.

But, what all three officers who've testified have focused on, is the moment Mr. Dziekanski stood facing them with a stapler in his hand. All agree that Mr. Dziekanski was in a combative or aggressive stance, clenching the stapler in one hand, while making a fist with the other. They also say he was moving toward the officers. You can't see any of this in the video. But this is the moment the officers are pinpointing as the justification for the use of force. I think that is the core of the RCMP's case.

Posted March 2, 2009 09:58 PM

Ron (Regina) wrote:

Q| I have noticed there are a lot of references on CBC to the "Taser Enqiry". I also notice several headlines that will include the tag line "Taser" if there is any way the writer can make an association in any way to the device. Often when you read these stories, they have a vague reference to the Taser, or if it was involved the current story is not really about the device, rather some other issue. I truly believe the word "Taser" has become a hot button for the media, and CBC is a leader in this.

1. Don't you think calling an enquiry a "Taser Enquiry" lacks objectivity? By using that tag, haven't we then pre-determined the outcome?

2. Do you agree that some reporters have been milking the public interest in this issue way beyond objective reporting?

I do acknowledge your headline above, and that is part of the reason I have more respect for your reporting style Kurt. I get the feeling deep down you don't agree with much of what you have heard, but your objectivity and professionalism shines through. As much as I dislike CBC, I have trouble disliking your work.

A| I have personally never called this a "taser inquiry". I have constantly referred to it as an inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski. Perhaps on occasion, editors and others have shortened it to the phrase you describe. You're right. While questions about the Taser, and the RCMP's training and use of the weapon are a big part of the inquiry, it is about much more. It's really about the underlying reasons this particular weapon was used in Mr. Dziekanski's case. While the officers have predictably testified that they've all been taught the Taser is less injurious weapon than batons or pepper spray, it isn't just their use of the stun gun that's under scrutiny. It's their reaction to this situation, what they did before, during and after it happened. In fact, as testimony has demonstrated, their own training for using the Taser recommends against multiple stuns, and requires a warning before firing, if the situation permits. Constable Kwesi Millington was asked to account for his lack of warning, and repeated stuns.

I think it also bears repeating that it isn't just the RCMP's involvement in Mr. Dziekanski's death that is being examined by the inquiry. It may seem like a long time ago now, but we heard weeks of testimony from everyone who came into contact with Mr. Dziekanski. Some, who are being held accountable for why they didn't do more to help him.

But I don't think calling this a "Taser inquiry" necessarily predetermines the outcome. Remember, the first phase dealt exclusively with the weapon, how it works, and its medical effects. And Commissioner Thomas Braidwood has it in his power to recommend the weapons be pulled from officers' "tool belts."

On your second point, I agree. My objectivity and professionalism shines through. Next question? Seriously though, it is hard to sit at the inquiry with my colleagues in the media and not come to conclusions about what we're hearing. We're human. We're also journalists. And for many of us with some experience, when we hear something that doesn't make sense, that's a contradiction, or something that sounds like evasion or a prepared or rehearsed answer, or just plain wrong, we instinctively react, sometimes with skepticism and even cynicism. Privately. But I don't have the luxury of being a columnist who is paid for expressing my opinions. I'm not suggesting I don't apply my own judgement to what I'm hearing to determine what's new, what's relevant, what doesn't make sense, etc. Of course I do. But while Constable Kwesi Millington's lawyer Ravi Hira suggests that what he sees in the media about the inquiry is only a sensational sliver of what happened on a given day, in my case it's the most important slivers that I try to extract from cacophony of evidence. It may not be flattering to the witnesses. But unlike their lawyers, my job isn't to represent their interests. It's to represent the public's.

Posted March 2, 2009 09:35 PM

Terry VanderSchaaf (Trail_BC) wrote:

Q| Do you know if there is a place where I can watch todays hearings?

A| *Moderator: Yes, you can watch the hearings streaming live, everyday at cbc.ca/bc
Proceedings typically begin at 10, although some days they start at 9, break around 11:50 and resume at 2PM.

Posted March 2, 2009 08:59 PM

Gordon How (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| 1. I suppose I should not speculate on this until after the full hearings and report are completed, but since the (tragic, regretable and inexcusable) event took place and we saw the video of the actions of the RCMP, I have wondered what the Officers were doing immediately before arriving at the scene. Seems to me that they must have been disturbed from a coffee-break and we not pleased that had to leave that down time and go back to "defending the public". The way they approached the arrivals hall - sauntering in pairs, with no one of them leading and all four of them intent "packaging up this distraught troublesome" person so that they could promptly return to their coffee break, or whatever. My question is, therefore, has there been any investigation in the hearings so far that has an eye on what the officers were doing before they were called to the scene and any evidence that one of the four was providing leadership to the team?

2.How are we to trust any future RCMP report when the bold-faced inaccuracy in Millington's report are so completely shown to be false by the video? Surely, this is the lingering damage to the RCMP that will only be corrected after several years of a new system that gives the responsibiltity of police complain investigation to an impartial (i.e. non-police) authority.

A| I have also been extremely curious about what the officers were doing just before and at the time of, the first dispatch. They have testified they were all sitting together "eating lunch", meaning they were on a meal break. And to a man, the three officers who've testified have told the inquiry that without so much as a single word, they got up from the table, and headed to separate police cars. Not even so much as an "ok, let's go", or anything was apparently spoken. We are left to believe that once the call was heard on the radio and it was responded to, the officers silently got up without even the slightest acknowledgment to eachother about what they were doing. The same goes for their trip to the airport, and their short walk to Mr. Dzieakanski. Three officers have each testified that there was absolutely no discussion en-route, or at the airport about what they were doing. No one discussed who would be the lead officer. And that seemed to be pretty fluid given that although Constable Bill Bentley made first contact by asking "how are you sir?" and "how's it goin' bud?", Constable Kwesi Millington got in front of Bentley and immediately took over any communication, such as it was. While some lawyers have drawn attention to the fact there was no discussion at the sub-detachment, I've felt unsatisfied that more questions about this silent meal haven't been asked. Perhaps when Corporal Robinson testifies, the issue will be alive again.

As for the inaccuracies, omissions and mistakes in Constable Millington's notes and statements to investigators, his lawyer Ravi Hira doesn't think they're significant. As Mr. Hira said after Millington finished testifying, his client has admitted he made mistakes. I'd add that some of those admissions didn't come without a fair amount of cross examination. However Mr. Hira contends that when it comes to what he considers the relevant issue - that Mr. Dziekanski was a threat because he held a stapler in his hand - the video supports what his client says.

I think it's fair to say that no one can see what the officers all claim they saw: Dziekansnki in a combative stance, holding the stapler, moving towards the officers.

Frankly I'm at a loss to understand why homicide investigators wouldn't have asked themselves similar questions about the discrepancies between what the officers were telling them and what the video shows. Investigators had the video. And some of the differences are obvious to even a casual observer. If they did have doubts about what the officers were telling them, that hasn't emerged in any of the evidence.

Does that, in and of itself suggest there should be an independent civilian investigation agency for deaths and injuries in police custody? I'm not sure. But I can think of plenty of reasons why such a system would make sense. Even if the bias some people perceive occurred, never existed.

Posted March 2, 2009 08:52 PM

Grizzly1 (Ontario) wrote:

Q| Do you get the feeling the RCMP P.R. people are tracking how Canadians are responding to this? Do you think they are aware that it is not just these officers under scrutiny before all of us, but our entire National Police Force? While the events leading to Mr. Dziekanski's death are paramount, of secondary importance is the public's faith in our Mounties. They may find the job of exercising authority over a Nation that has lost their trust, much more difficult.

A| I would not be at all surprised if the RCMP was, is, or plans on conducting an opinion poll about how this is all playing out. They are certainly monitoring the testimony of their officers. According to public statements made by senior officers including the RCMP's commissioner, the events that resulted in Mr. Dziekanski's death, and the faith the public has in the National police force are of supreme importance. This, however, from a commissioner who referred internally to questions from the media on these kinds of incidents as "dirty questions". Draw your own conclusions. Recently an RCMP spokesman restated the encouragement that the public should withhold judgment until after hearing the officers themselves testify. We've been told that until then, we don't know the whole story. After three of the four officers completed testimony, the lawyer for Robert Dziekanski's mother summed it up by saying it hasn't helped the RCMP, and he expects that thousands of officers across the country are embarrassed by what they've heard.

Posted March 2, 2009 08:06 PM

Tom Majcher () wrote:

Q| Has there been a psychiatric or psychological evaluation of the four officers? If not, is one planned or possible? The reason I'm asking this is that to my eyes, it appears that Dziekanski may have been tazered not for appearing to be getting ready to lunge at the officers but rather for "dissing" them (that is, "disrespecting" them, or failing to show them deference that they thought was their due). Teenagers - male probably much more than female - often have difficulty making correct interpretation of a stranger's facial expressions, and may read hostility and aggression when there is none. If the four officers had been in civilian clothes, the incident would have looked like a gang of armed teenagers swarming a by-stander who refuses to believe they are tough enough. My suggestion is that maybe some or all of the four officers are emotionally or socially too immature (even though no longer teenagers), and as yet unsuitable for missions that require common sense, civility, level-headedness, and restraint that only come with age.

A| To the best of my knowledge, there has been no formal evaluation of the officers done in the wake of this incident. There was obviously a critical incident debriefing at which a police psychologist was present. But if there was a report or a medical opinion made, it hasn't been produced. If it is contained in the RCMP investigative file, I wouldn't know because that voluminous collection of documents isn't public.

It's worth noting that three of the four officers each had been out of depot for two years or less. One might argue that their extensive training would have been more fresh in their minds than in someone who'd been out of training for many years. However, none of them had ever been to an incident at which a Taser had been used. Don Rosenbloom, the lawyer for the government of Poland suggested to Constable Kwesi Millington, the officer who pulled the Taser trigger, that the weapon was in fact a toy to him, and that he was anxious to use it. Millington denied it. Walter Kostecky, the lawyer for Mr. Dziekanski's mother pointed to the number of taser stuns, and the second or two between each to suggest Millington panicked. He denied it. But your comparison to an incident involving a gang swarming breaks down when you remember these were Police officers, not thugs, and according to the Crown, they acted well within their legal authority to use the force they did. You can draw your own conclusions about the testimony each has given in the face of video evidence of the incident.

Posted March 2, 2009 06:51 PM

Norman Farrell (North_Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Is the Braidwood Inquiry examining the management actions and process within the RCMP after the incident? Specifically, it resulted in public misinformation, managed testimony and disclosure failures.
A| The issue of what RCMP media statements included at the time, and the erroneous description of events has been put to RCMP witnesses. The RCMP's operations manual and Taser Training program have also been scrutinized. I'm not sure what you mean by managed testimony. The officers are answering questions being put to them, and Inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood has been allowing some very pointed suggestions about such things as cover-ups, panicking, and perception. I think their answers speak for themselves.

The only thing that wasn't disclosed that I'm aware of - and there's no indication this was deliberate - was information about a critical incident debriefing the officers took part in some weeks after the event. My sense is that when the inquiry has asked for material from the RCMP, it has been delivered.

Posted March 2, 2009 06:48 PM

j gordon (kelowna) wrote:

Q |Did Dziekanski have a criminal record in Poland - specifically for anything violent like robbery? Did the investigating members have any knowledge of that record or get briefed in any way about Dziekanski before or as they approached him?

A| No. Mr. Dziekanski had no criminal record. He was apparently involved in some juvenile incident decades ago. But his admissibility to Canada was confirmed by immigration officials. And in any event, the officers who attended the call to the airport, had no knowledge of anything other than the two priority three dispatches that described inaccurately that an intoxicated man was throwing luggage around and tossing chairs through glass windows.

Posted March 2, 2009 06:26 PM

Cheryle Sosnowski (Lantzville_BC_V0R_2H0) wrote:

Q| I would like to know why Dziekanski's mother is not on the stand. If she had taken the time to find out the proceedure for the Vancouver airport she would not have told her son to wait for her in the baggage department. Why didn't she write her son in Poland and give him direct instructions in polish so that he could get through customs and through the exit door? I am sure that because of 9-11 and the so-called terrorist threats, anyone who comes to the airport, can't speak english, and starts throwing things around would be treated in the same way. His mother shares the blame instead of blaming everyone else.

A| Ms. Cisowski, is scheduled to testify. You're not the first person to wonder what might have happened if Mr. Dziekanski had connected with his mother instead of apparently being allowed to linger in a secure customs hall for about seven hours with no one noticing. Might I suggest that if indeed there was a concern about terrorist threats or suspicious activity, a man who got off an international flight but never left the customs hall might also raise concerns? He didn't.

But in all fairness, Mr. Dziekanski's mother tried repeatedly for hours to determine the fate of her son and as other witnesses have testified, she got nowhere, and was eventually told to go home because he wasn't at the airport.

It's easy to criticize someone's lack of preparedness, but I haven't heard anyone suggest that what happened to him was as a result of less than thorough planning on either his part or that of his mother.

There is some question as to what sparked Mr. Dziekanski's behaviour when he began tossing things. It's been suggested that several confrontations initiated by a limo driver might have escalated the anxiety of an inexperienced traveller who couldn't speak English and had been on his feet for more than a day, likely with little to eat.

I'm not sure what you mean by anyone in this situation "would be treated in the same way."

None of the police officers who've testified have suggested they used a Taser and tackled Mr. Dziekanski because of reports he'd been throwing things. In fact they've described him as initially calm when they met him. The issue is whether infact Mr. Dziekanski was threatening the officers with a stapler, giving the officers the right to use force that contributed to his death.

But seeing as you mention it, one does wonder what might have happened if the officers were aware of just how poorly Mr. Dziekanski's travels had gone. But none of the four Mounties felt they had time to talk to anyone - including bystanders or border service officers, before they surrounded him as a group.

Posted March 2, 2009 06:06 PM

Anne (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| I appreciate CBC making available the live stream of the Inquiry proceedings, but why does the Internet broadcast cut out while the proceedings are still going? For example, today the streaming stopped at 11:50am and was replaced by a message saying it will resume at 2pm even though Constable Millington was right in the middle of a sentence and the Commission had not yet broken for lunch.

A| *Moderator: As this isn't directly related to the proceedings of the Inquiry Curt isn't the one to ask! But the reason the stream stops at 11:50, regardless of what's being said is our resources, i.e. the crew and gear are needed to get the noon newscast to air & as such, have to make the Braidwood feed a secondary priority until the cast is over, which is usually during Commission lunch break. Typically the feed, and proceedings resume at 2PM.
Thanks for the question!
11:50 - resume's around 2PM

Posted March 2, 2009 01:03 PM

Sandra Anderson (Slocan_BC) wrote:

Q| Hello Curt,
Thank you for the incredible amount of attention you have given to this important issue.

How usual or unusual is it for there to be this much public response to a story? I am fishing for hope that somehow Justice will be served and the interests of the people of Canada will be protected.

I personally find it terrifying that an ordinary, innocent person can be killed by Law Enforcment Officers with impunity for turning around while holding a stapler. Would it help if we held rallies in the streets? It sounds like this government supports a police state
mentality where RCMP's actions are above the law.

A| First, in all sincerity, I consider it a privilege to be a daily witness to the testimony and fact finding of the inquiry. The attention I give flows from my recognition that there is a deeply significant scrutiny being placed on not just the RCMP but other agencies as well. But the inquiry is really about getting to the bottom of why a man died. I'm told that this is the most popular Reporter Q&A run so far on the web. The number of questions I receive, as well as the comments posted on the site, is constantly climbing.

That being said, I want to make it clear that it's thankfully not my job to decide what actually happened the night Robert Dziekanski died. It's the Inquiry Commissioner who must do that, and the evidence is still a ways from being all in. My job is to highlight the most significant developments in this tragic story, as they are revealed on a daily basis. And some of the most recent evidence includes testimony from RCMP officers who insist that in spite of the mistakes they made in their notes or statements about the event, they acted - for the most part - in accordance with their training.

The Crown decided that the officers acted within the law, not with impunity. The RCMP says part of the members' accountability is to face questions at this inquiry. And I think the public is getting an unprecedented look at the rationale on which these officers based their use of force that contributed to Mr. Dziekanski's death.

Posted March 2, 2009 11:24 AM

Alex Larson (Grand_Forks) wrote:

Q| It is apparent that the statements taken by the RCMP the night of the "tasering" differ dramatically from what is indisputably the truth as shown by the video. Are we now to assume that these are typical of all RCMP members? Will this now serve to open past cases that may have been covered up? Remember - had it not have been for this video - this case would have long been "closed"? I cannot understand how these RCMP are still employed by Canadians!

A| You make a number of assumptions, perhaps the most inflammatory being that there is a coverup in this case. The testimony from the officers has been that there is no coverup. They have explained the discrepancies between their statements to homicide investigators and the video ( and there are many of them) as being attributable to the speed with which the incident unfolded. One officer - Constable Kwesi Millington who fired the taser - used the term "auditory exclusion" to explain why he didn't hear some of the things that are clearly audible on the video. One officer - Constable Bentley - when confronted with his notes that Mr. Dziekanski had come screaming at police before the taser was fired - was asked whether that would be his evidence if a video showing that never happened, didn't exist. His answer was "I don't know."

But even faced with video evidence the officers involved have challenged what some might consider obvious interpretations of Mr. Dziekanski's demeanour before he was stunned. I draw your attention to the clear image of Mr. Dziekanski throwing up his hands and moving away from officers after apparently being told to stop moving towards his own luggage. While it may look like compliance, or even a type of surrender, the officers have all testified that it looked like defiance and resistance to them. And of course, when Mr. Dziekanski picked up a stapler, resistance became combat.

So, if this is how difficult it is to get officers to agree on an interpretation of events when it's on video, I can't imagine how this inquiry would provoke past cases without the benefit of video evidence, being revisited.

As to whether there would have been an inquiry without the video, that's hard to say. There certainly would have been an inquest, because this was a death in police custody. But given many of the questions the officers are facing are based on the video, without it we wouldn't be hearing much of the testimony and challenge to RCMP training and use of Tasers that we have.

Posted March 2, 2009 10:50 AM

Tony MacCaull (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Has the cause of death been determined for Mr. Dziekanski? I'm sure it has but I have never heard anyone state it.

A| The cause of death was determined to be "Sudden death following restraint". However according to the Crown Prosecutor's disclosure of the pathologist's findings, the autopsy did not point to any one factor as the tipping point that caused Mr. Dziekanski's heart to stop. The police restriction of his breathing, the struggle, the Taser, and alleged alcohol abuse were all found to have been contributing factors.

Posted March 2, 2009 10:17 AM

Howard Jackson (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Curt: Do we know if it is standard procedure for officers to sit together as they write their reports on an incident? If it is not standard procedure is there any accountability to the officers for deviating from those procedures? (My understanding is if they were not police officers such behaviour would be considered collusion and is illegal) Will this be addressed by the inquiry? If in fact they did collude and senior officers were aware of this activity is that question going to be addressed? And finally in any of your conversations with other police officers at the inquiry, do they have any idea of how their credibility and respect is dropping with the general public as they actively support four officers by allowing them to say that every action they did was by the book? I have had many conversations young kids who are now talking openly about being frightened by police officers who can kill people and not be held accountable.

A| The inquiry has repeatedly asked each officer who's testified so far, whether they've spoken to one another about what happened, either at the airport, at the detachment afterwards or at recently discovered critical incident debriefing that occurred a couple of weeks after Mr. Dziekanski died. They have all answered "no." That being said, Constable Kwesi Millington was asked his opinion as to why he thought all the officers told investigators that they "wrestled Mr. Dziekanski" to the ground, when in fact, that never happened. But the question as to why there was a remarkable consistency about something that didn't occur, was cut short by Inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood.

Honestly, if there are many police officers attending this inquiry, I haven't seen them, and I certainly haven't had time to talk to them. However, I think the RCMP takes the issue of public image very seriously. It's the reason why various officers, from the Commissioner on down, have for more than a year been urging people to postpone judgement until the officers tell their side of the story. We had an RCMP spokesman say something similar just before the first officer to testify swore his oath as a witness. But since then, all those to testify have admitted to making a number of significant errors and mistakes in their statements and notes at the time, while simultaneously suggesting there is nothing they'd do differently under the same circumstances. I'm not sure whether the RCMP's strategic communications people would consider the past two weeks have improved the public's perception of what happened. Yes, the officers have had an opportunity to say in their own words why they thought Mr. Dziekanski was a threat and why their training taught them the Taser was a reasonable response. But the RCMP now has the image of those same physically fit, armed and armoured officers testifying they were scared of Robert Dziekanski because he was holding a stapler in a combative stance that cannot be seen in the amateur video.

Posted February 28, 2009 10:34 AM

Linda (White_Rock) wrote:

Q| I had heard (read?) that a young woman who works at the airport and uses translators often in her work in dealing with travellers, spoke to airport officials during the incident with Dziekanski before the police arrived, and asked if she should call in one of the translators to help with the situation. She was told not to bother because the police had been called. Is this true?

A| I'm not sure who you're referring to. No witness fits that description precisely. No one working for Canada Border Services Agency thought a translator was needed. The only time someone in YVR operations inquired about a translator was when Airport Response Coordinator Bob Ginter asked the airport operations officer if someone in maintenance spoke Polish. The response that came back was "no." One of the backup firefighters who worked at the airport firehall, testified that he offered to help because he spoke Polish, Russian and some other languages. But the people Karol Vbra said he made the offer to, can't recall it.

Posted February 28, 2009 10:18 AM

Graham Smith (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Noticed in your answer to i think Comment #52 "I don't believe the public can directly access the exhibits" wonder why evidence appears to have not been posted on the inquiry website, the transcripts often refers to video or other evidence docs, which i would think as an open and fully transparent inquiry would be useful to access.

A| That's a good question. There are many exhibits that only the lawyers involved can view, and not even media can obtain copies. The commission has, however, been very quick to respond to media requests for copies of those documents which are available for public viewing, which is the bulk of them.

There may be a practical problem with posting hours of video and audio, as well as hundreds of pages of statements, given the speed with which the inquiry is progressing and the limited personnel they have for doing such things.

Posted February 28, 2009 12:35 AM

alvin (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| In you opinion, what do you think are the mood of the Canadian public, Canadian police agencies across Canada, Canadian politicians and lastly the mood of the international community on the inquiry?

A| In other words, you want me to tell you what everyone is thinking? I think there are probably only three or four different opinions on the matter, spread out over as many people as you'd care to include. Either the Police acted impeccably and Mr. Dziekanski's death was inevitable given his own health, and actions as the officers have described them. Or the police made some errors in judgement but were essentially put into a no-win situation given the roles other agencies and Mr. Dziekanski played that night. Or, you might conclude the Police use of force and the speed with which it was applied played a bigger role than BC Crown Prosecutors decided when they ruled no charges would be laid against the officers. I appreciate there are some people who believe exercising hindsight in this case is futile, because it doesn't reflect the reality of sometimes split-second decisions police have to make on a daily basis. But there's a reason why the RCMP has a thick operations manual and spends most of its time training recruits in how to treat people they deal with like "clients". It's because the decisions they make sometimes have life and death consequences, and not just for their clients. I've yet to hear a good argument about why this case shouldn't be examined in detail in an inquiry, no matter what opinion you hold about what happened that night to Mr. Dziekanski.

Posted February 27, 2009 01:23 PM

Brian (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| How closely are you actually watching this inquiry? In one of your answers you stated that the officer testified that he was tasered because he flipped up his hands and walked away. You forgot to mention that he grabbed a stapler, turned around with his fists clenched and took a combative stance. That is when and why he was tasered. How the officers walked up to the scene, what was said, all of the other stuff that went on before he was tasered really has nothing to with the reason he was tasered. It all comes down to grabbing a stapler and swinging it in front of the police and having a look on his face that obviously was out of control as observed when he freaked out before the police arrived. He did not deserve to die and nobody (including the police) wanted and this is the important part - expected him to die! They themselves have all had to "ride for 5" and lived to tell about it. I won't defend the "possibility" of five trigger pulls - it will come out and I have no idea about that yet but if your going to make comments about the testimony then you should really try to be a little less bias towards the "popular" opinion the the media spews out at us everyday. Some of us are smart enough to know that if it bleeds it leads and you will more often than not show the clip that is most controversial. I have yet to see a clip of an officer answering a question from one of thier lawyers.....fun about that! Get it right Curt!

A| If you're going to encourage me to "get it right" then allow me to correct the error in your description of one of my answers. Constable Gerry Rundel did indeed testify that Mr. Dziekanski became "resistant" the moment he flipped up his hands and walked away from police. He did indeed testify that at that very moment, the Taser could have be fired. I have repeated ad nauseum the fact that Mr. Dziekanski picked up a stapler. Although, truth be told, all of the officers who've testified so far, have shown they got it wrong in their statements to homicide investigators in terms of timing, and erroneous descriptions of Mr. Dziekanski moving or advancing towards them before the Taser was fired. You have an interesting take on the subject to suggest that "all the other stuff that went on before he was Tasered" has nothing to do with why it happened. I think Thomas Braidwood and indeed the Attorney General would disagree. It's the reason there's an inquiry.

As for the choice of which tape to use, the officers are taken through their testimony by a number of lawyers, including the Inquiry counsel. I've tended to focus on their examination in chief, unless they are brought to an admission that is either new, offers some insight into what they did, that we haven't heard before. That's called news. Simply putting a lawyer on the air because they are the lawyer for an officer, doesn't necessarily help anyone understand what happened at the inquiry that's new. And on that point, I encourage anyone who's interested in this inquiry to read the transcripts. They are all on-line.

Posted February 27, 2009 01:21 PM

Joanne Eriksson (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Has no mention been made of the finding last year by a California court that Taser Int'l was guilty of not informing police that tasers cause acidosis which can cause death? ("A federal jury has held Taser International responsible for the death of a Salinas man in U.S. District Court in San Jose on Friday, and awarded his family more than $6 million in punitive and compensatory damages."-Saturday, June 7, 2008 by The Herald [Monterey County, CA]) As you say, "The pathologist concluded that the Taser did not directly cause Mr. Dziekanski's cardiac arrest. The actual cause of death was listed as "Sudden Death Following Restraint", and a number of things could have contributed. Those include heart disease due to chronic alcohol abuse, as well as an inability to breathe as a result of being restrained." I would think though that this would not preclude acidosis from repeated tasering.

A| You may be right. I'm not a doctor. I am familiar with the theories you've read about, regarding electric stuns and acidosis (an excess of acid in the blood) and how that may contribute to cardiac arrest. Five years ago when the office of the police complaints commissioner in BC issued its review of Tasers and the concerns and studies about Acidosis were cited frequently. I expect that when witnesses appear who can offer medical testimony, such as the pathologist who conducted the autopsy of Mr. Dziekanski, the issue will be scrutinized.

Posted February 27, 2009 12:25 PM

Donna Campbell (West_Kelowna) wrote:

Q| Would you know if the we, the public, can access the information used by the Crown to determine that no charges are warranted against any or all of the officers involved in the Dziekanski death? And if so, would you have a site for this?

A| No, you can't access the information used by the Crown. It's an RCMP file that is, I'm told in the neighbourhood of two thousand pages long. The only people authorized to have it are lawyers for the parties at the inquiry. However, as the inquiry progresses, much of the important information it contains is entered as an exhibit and used in examining the witnesses. While I don't believe the public can directly access the exhibits, you can read transcripts of the testimony, which contain references and quotes from such things as the statements the officers made to homicide investigators.

Posted February 26, 2009 01:45 PM

Dawn Sandberg (Langley) wrote:

Q| Given that the Crown decided not to lay charges against the four police officers, can that decision be revisited if, during testimony at the inquiry, culpability emerges? Were the four officers granted immunity for their testimony at the inquiry?

A| As far as I know, there has been no immunity granted to the officers. They are compelled to testify at this inquiry by law, and through their own duty to account for their actions. But the question of whether charges can still be laid, is a popular one. The answer is technically, yes. There is nothing to stop the Crown from revisiting or reconsidering its decision, particularly if it receives new evidence.

Posted February 26, 2009 12:30 PM

Charles Groos (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Was the decision to not prosecute any of the officers taken by an independent prosecutor or by a civil servant within the Crown Counsel Service? If it was not taken by an independent prosecutor it seems to me tainted by the close working relationship which the Crown Counsel Service has with the police. Five administrations of an electrical shock of which one has been described as excruciatingly painful seems like a sadistic assault to me.

A| Normally, reasons for decisions by the Crown on charge approval are kept largely secret. This case was different, and accordingly the Crown took the extraordinary step of setting out in seven pages of detail, its rationale. We were told the decision was reviewed by three levels of executive management of the Criminal Justice Branch and all unanimously agreed. We are, however, discovering at this inquiry that some of the details in statements given by the officers, and used by the Crown to assist in determining whether charges should be laid, are either wrong, inaccurate, or have been recanted. For instance, the two officers who've testified so far, have agreed that what they initially described as Mr. Dziekanski moving towards them screaming with the stapler, is something that occurred AFTER he was stunned, not before. There is indeed a question of why police thought five stuns were necessary since all but one of them were delivered while Mr. Dziekanski was on the ground. I expect Constable Kwesi Millington will have an answer. He was firing the Taser that night.

Posted February 26, 2009 08:35 AM

P. Gough (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| I'm wondering what the procedure is for subduing an individual without employing a Taser. What was the RCMP procedure before the adoption of this weapon? It seems that rather than draw on training the standard procedure amongst the police is to use the Taser automatically.

A| We heard repeatedly from the officers who testified so far that they've been trained the Taser is considered to be less traumatic than a punch or a whack from a baton. While the commission for public complaints against the RCMP has recommended the RCMP elevate the Taser to the realm of an impact weapon, the RCMP continues to insist it is an "intermediate tool", meaning it can be used before a baton. But as we heard in testimony, most of an officer's training at depot - 370 hours - is spent on practical policing, where as about 75 hours is spent on self-defense techniques. Those practical methods, dictated by the RCMP operations manual suggest use of force should be a last resort, and all means of communication should be exhausted first. The RCMP amended its Taser use policy last year to restrict the weapon to situations where there is a danger to the officer, the public or a suspect. But the change would not have made any difference in Mr. Dziekanski's case. The officers have testified that Mr. Dziekanski was indeed a threat and a danger.

Posted February 26, 2009 08:03 AM

Darryl Scirroco (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| In an International airport with high security, is there no other video evidence of this incidence? and if not, why?

A| All of the video captured from several camera angles was provided to the inquiry, and it has been played frequently in the Inquiry to establish timing and people's movements. At least one camera was inoperative that night. But what is available are wide-shot views that don't actually cover the area where Mr. Dziekanski died. As a result there isn't much to see in the video. And they don't show the event the way Paul Pritchard's amateur video does.

Posted February 26, 2009 03:58 AM

Ron (West_Van) wrote:

Q| The sheer improbability of the stapler as a weapon bothers me, and so I wonder what he hoped it would do for him. He didn't have it in his hand when he gestured over his bags. Has anyone testified on how it got into his hand? (Did he pick it up from the desk? Pull it from his pocket?) Is it certain that the object that falls from his hand is indeed the stapler?

A| I don't think there's any question that what flies from Mr. Dziekanski's hand as he reels to the ground, is indeed a stapler. There is some question as to how he got it. The video doesn't show him picking it up, and if he does, that is obscured. But the assumption is he picked it up from the desk just before he was stunned. But it's not clear why he did. Constable Bill Bentley told homicide investigators that he thought as Mr. Dziekanski went over to the desk where he was stunned, he was sweeping his head back and forth "looking for something to use against us". He never explained why he thought Mr. Dziekanski did that, or what was motivating him to look for a weapon. Constable Gerry Rundel was more certain that even before Mr. Dziekanski had the stapler, he was telling the officers "to hell with you guys" when he put his hands in the air. Rundel said Dziekanski was "combative" as he stood with the stapler. Bentley testified Dziekanski swung it close to his head. Unfortunately, you can't see either of these things on the video.

A number of weeks ago I suggested to Constable Bentley's lawyer David Butcher that perhaps Mr. Dziekanski simply picked it up because he was fidgety, for the past while he'd been picking things up and putting them down, he was clearly acting impulsively and apparently without any real purpose. Mr. Butcher told me that the officers had no way of knowing Mr. Dziekanski's previous behaviour so they couldn't have drawn that conclusion. But as the lawyer for Mr. Dziekanski's mother pointed out in cross examination, the officers never took any time to talk to anyone who'd been watching Mr. Dzieakanski, before moving in around him, and stunning him less than thirty seconds later.

Posted February 25, 2009 10:29 PM

Raine (niagara_falls) wrote:

Q| Since it seems as if a criminal charge cannot be laid against the RCMP officers, could Mrs. Dziekanski launch a civil suit against them for wrongful death? Secondly if there are no criminal charges laid against the officers responsible for his death, isn't that supporting them as untouchable? (Through this all I continue to have faith in the RCMP for the great work that they do do.)

A| Walter Kostecky, the lawyer for Mr. Dziekanski's mother has indicated that a civil suit is in the future. I would imagine that it wouldn't just involve the RCMP, but also the airport, and Canada Border Services Agency. But based on Canadian court precedent, and considering this case, I can't imagine a finding of a wrongful death, would award very much money to Zophia Cisowki.

As to criminal charges, we were told by the Crown that the decision not lay any against the officers was done after lengthy and serious consideration. I don't imagine that while the investigation was going on, any of the officers involved believed they were "untouchable" as you suggest. However, from the moment Mr. Dziekanski died, it would always come down to whether the police exercised reasonable force in the lawful execution of their duties. While there is an amateur video of what happened, the critical moments that triggered the police use of force can't really be seen. We have the police statements about what Mr. Dziekanski was doing with a stapler that caused him to be a threat requiring the use of force.

Posted February 25, 2009 08:01 PM

pierre demaere (vancouver) wrote:

Q| After looking at the victim raising his hands and turning around, I feel one has to analyze more carefully this behavour. We cannot simply interpret this by using our North-American mindset: the surround hand gesture. As a European born man, it looks like he is gesturing compliance: "Ok! Ok! I will comply!" Then, he turns and walks away to show that he is not going to be trouble. This explains the notion that he is not standing still after that. His stance and gesture do not indicate (in my opinion) a "I-surround" gesture. Could you please ask a Polish expert to analyze his behaviour, aided hopefully with some words uttered by this poor man? I feel this is critical. I like this format BTW. Thanks.

A| Surrender. Compliance. Acceptance. I think those interpretations of throwing ones hands up when told not to do something, might all apply to in this case. However, both police to testify suggest that to them, it meant Mr. Dziekanski wasn't being cooperative, with Constable Gerry Rundel going so far as to say that to him, it meant "to Hell with you guys".

Frankly, I don't think a Polish expert is necessary or would be helpful. Either you believe Mr. Dziekanski's actions speak for themselves, or you believe what the Police say they saw in them.

Posted February 25, 2009 07:08 PM

Ken McEwan (Duncan_BC) wrote:

Q| When the video tape was first aired on the CBC, it caught all the police officers approaching the door. I thought I heard one officer say, before entering the door, "Can we taser him?". I couldn't hear a reply and that scene is not played over and over again and if it is, there's no sound.
Did I miss hear that question? I seems important to this hearing.

A| You can't hear exactly what's said by Constable Bill Bentley on the video. I thought it sounded something like "May I use Tasers". Well, Constable Bentley can't remember exactly what he said either, but it was something along the lines of "do you have a Taser..." He testified he was asking his fellow officers for a "tool check", to see if someone actually had a Taser with them. He testified he didn't know if anyone had one when the four left the detachment and drove to the airport. And Bentley testified he immediately thought Mr. Dziekanski might start a fight, and his gut told him that the Taser might be necessary.

The issue is, of course, that Constable Bentley asks about that particular tool as he's walking in the door, about 80 to 90 feet from Mr. Dziekanski, before he's had much time to assess the scene. But Bentley testified at that distance he could see the few sticks of wood and smashed computer equipment at Dziekanski's feet, that were behind a concrete barrier.

Posted February 25, 2009 04:41 PM

Michael W (Kootenays_BC) wrote:

Q| The police claim tasers prevent deaths and injury. Has there been a study in Canada to prove this? For example looking at the rate of in-custody deaths/injuries before and after the use of tasers. This information should be published, certainly death statistics should be available from the coroners office.

A| I think the study you're asking for hasn't been done in Canada. We have anecdotal evidence from police that the Taser saves lives. However, it has been done in the US. A University of California study done by researchers who've actually given evidence at the Braidwood inquiry, looked at data from fifty law enforcement agencies in the US. When comparing death rates before and after the Taser was introduced, they found an increase in the first year after the weapon was deployed. You can find the results on-line.

Posted February 25, 2009 02:40 PM

Derek Wilson (portmoody) wrote:

Q| Hi, Curt Petrovich

I heard your lengthy report during “The Early Edition” program on February 23, 2009 on the latest developments at the Braidwood Inquiry.

The assumption is the Robert Dziekanski died from being Tazered five times.

I am waiting to hear the Coroner’s report.

From viewing the videotape, I suspect that Dziekanski died from asphyxiation or a broken neck as an RCMP constable pressed Dziekanski’s neck with his knee and Dziekanski’s lower body flailed violently from the repeated electrical shocks.

In other words, the violent method of restraining Dziekanski led to his death (rather than the electrical shocks).

I am revolted by this tragic incident and have lost a lot of respect for the RCMP.

A| You're right that the Taser didn't directly cause Mr. Dziekanski's death. Not according to the pathologist. He conducted an autopsy and the opinions of two other pathologists were also sought. Those opinions were forwarded to the Crown, and while they haven't been fully disclosed, the Crown did draw heavily on them in its public statement about why no charges would be laid against the officers.


"Officers efforts to restrain and take physical control of Mr. Dziekanski were a contributing cause of his death."

The pathologist concluded that the Taser did not directly cause Mr. Dziekanski's cardiac arrest. The actual cause of death was listed as "Sudden Death Following Restraint", and a number of things could have contributed. Those include heart disease due to chronic alcohol abuse, as well as an inability to breathe as a result of being restrained.

The inquiry won't hear the medical testimony until after the police officers have testified.

Posted February 25, 2009 09:04 AM

emily (bc) wrote:

Q|Why did they Taser him 5 times?

A| This is one of the central questions of the Inquiry that has so far been unanswered. There has been testimony, from Constable Gerry Rundel, that he believed the second Taser pulse was fired because Robert Dziekanski didn't "go down" after the first strike. And you can clearly hear in the amateur video that once Mr. Dziekanski is on the ground, another officer commands "hit him again, hit him again." But why five pulses - three by probes, and two from the weapon used as a cattle prod, can only be answered by the officer who fired them, Constable Kwesi Millington. We do expect there will be video introduced as evidence that marries the amateur video with the data from the officer's Taser, to show exactly when, and for how long each stun was administered. But to answer your question in brief, clearly the officers didn't think there was a problem in stunning Dziekanski five times, and the suggestion has been that the first stuns were having limited effect. Of course, the lawyer for Dziekanski's mother has suggested that the "fighting" officers say they witnessed was actually something more like convulsions from the electrical current.

Posted February 25, 2009 08:43 AM

Bill (West_Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Yet again, I was watching the video being played on the news last night when I suddenly realized that what Robert Dziekanski is reacting to when he throws up his hands is in Tuesday's testimony by Constable Gerry Rundel. Rundel said Dziekanski reached for his luggage, prompting the supervising officer, Corporal Monty Robinson, to shout “No” and motion for Dziekanski to stop. If you watch the video in slow motion, you can clearly see Dziekanski motion towards the luggage at which point I can imagine Robinson shouting "No!" at Dziekanski. Dziekanski throws up his hands in a gesture of frustration and moves away from the luggage. In other words he is complying with the officers instructions. He does not turn his back on the officers, he moves sideways away from the luggage. The officers corner him against the glass wall and then fire the taser. At no time is Dziekanski's body language threatening. In fact his body language is decidedly friendly when he first meets the officers. I would like to see the video replayed on the news with this interpretation.

A| As you note, and as Constable Gerry Rundel has testified, Robert Dziekanski did indeed follow the command not to go to his luggage. But Constable Rundel's explanation for how that became "resistant" behaviour is that Mr. Dziekanski flipped his hands up as if to say "the hell with you guys" and he did indeed turn his back on the officers and walk away, instead of standing still to wait for the next command. That's what he said. And that's what he said entitled the RCMP to use a Taser. Of course as the lawyer for MR. Dziekanski's mother suggested, what Dziekanski seems to be doing is showing the international sign of surrender. I can assure you that at the inquiry the video is being played repeatedly with a variety of interpretations depending on who's testiiying and which lawyer is cross examining.

Posted February 25, 2009 08:07 AM

Bob (Burnaby) wrote:

Q| Can the officer that pulled the trigger 5 times be charged with manslaughter?

A| The Crown examined a voluminous RCMP investigation on what happened the night Robert Dziekanski died, and concluded that the officers used a reasonable amount of force to deal with Mr. Dziekanski, and while they were involved in his death, the officers would not likely be found guilty of assault, assault with a weapon, or manslaughter. Of course, the crown can always reconsider its decision in light of any new evidence, and a citizen could lay a private prosecution... which the Attorney General would almost certainly quash. That being said, we learned just this week that none of the officers involved were read their charter warning by homicide investigators who took their statements. That means that none of what they said to these experienced investigators could ever be used in court against them. And so the Crown made its decision not to lay charges, in part based on statements that could not be used in court anyway. For his part, Constable Gerry Rundel said that had he been read such a warning, he would have spoken to a lawyer before saying anything about what happened the night Mr. Dziekanski died.

Posted February 24, 2009 10:12 PM

CaribooRose (Cariboo_region_of_BC) wrote:

Q| I am curious if Mr Dziekanski's blood-sugar levels were noted during autopsy. His behaviours suggest he may have been hypoglycemic. When blood levels drop to dangerously low levels, the person often gives off a sickeningly sweet smell -- akin to alcohol smells actually. And they may become combative, argumentative. Given that he was in transit for almost 3 whole days, it is possible he'd not eaten properly.

So my question is: Are police officers trained to look for this type of problem; and, if suspected, do they have a protocol to follow?

A| The full details of the autopsy have not been released. I'm not sure if police are trained to specifically identify potential problems as you describe. However, in this case, the point is moot. The officers took less than thirty seconds from greeting Mr. Dziekianski to firing the Taser. As Constable Gerry Rundel has testified - there was no time to consider anything because Mr. Dziekanski flipped his hands in the air and then took up a "combative" posture. While to some, it appears as if Mr. Dziekanski was capitulating when Rundel says he became resistant, Rundel testified it was Mr. Dziekanski's behaviour that didn't allow the kind of analysis you're asking about. In essence, it was Mr. Dziekanski's fault.

Posted February 24, 2009 05:12 PM

Larry Smith (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| I believe RCMP officers learn in Taser training that after the deployment of a taser the subject should be put in a sitting position to enable a clear airway so his/her breathing can return to normal as soon as possible.
It appears Mr. Dziekanski was not given that luxury.
Is it not in fact protocol to do so?

If so, the Officers did not follow their own procedures.

A| There has been alot of conflicting evidence about whether the RCMP placed Robert Dziekanski in what's known as the "recovery position." It seems clear that it was impossible to put Dziekanski into this position while he was handcuffed. Some witnesses have described something approximating the position, and some witnesses have suggested that in any event, Mr. Dziekanski's vital signs were being checked, and he was breathing and had a pulse up to the time fire fighters arrived and couldn't find any signs of life.

But even after fire fighters arrived and demanded the cuffs be removed so they could deal with Mr. Dziekanski, the officer in charge refused, saying Dziekanski still posed a potential threat.

Posted February 24, 2009 12:15 AM

Dean (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| An ambulance was requested by the RCMP, but it was requested on a routine Code 2, no light or siren basis. That type of call does not automatically go to the local fire departments. It is used when time is not important and the ambulance can travel to the scene, obeying all traffic rules.

Has it been explained why the request for ambulance paramedics was not requested on an emergency basis?

A| We've heard in taped police radio calls, that just 12 seconds after the RCMP called for a routine ambulance, the officer noticed Robert Dziekanski was unconscious, and asked for the call to be upgraded to code three. I expect we'll hear more about the timing of both of those calls - including why it took as long as it did for the ambulance to be notified in the first place.

Posted February 23, 2009 11:49 AM

R. Williams (BC) wrote:

Q| I'd like to know why four trained police officers could not physically restrain a single stressed-out traveller. I have to believe that officers are trained by the RCMP to subdue individuals, and I would think that four officers could use this training to overcome one man. The unfortunate outcome of this event suggests to me that these officers were under the impression that the taser is harmless. Is it possible that they were provided with false information by the manufacturer and/or training staff?

A| As we've started to hear in testimony from the officers involved in Dziekanski's death, the training they're given is that the Taser was an acceptable weapon to be used once someone becomes resistant. In officer Gerry Rundel's opinion, Mr. Dziekanskis became resistant when he flipped up his hands and "fled"...meaning he stepped away from the officers.

The RCMP has never trained its officers that the Taser is harmless. They've always referred to it as less than lethal. And they are starting to come around to the idea that risks of death in situations involving the Taser are significant. RCMP commissioner Bill Elliot was perhaps the first to put that opinion so plainly on the record when he spoke to a parliamentary committee.

But the question you ask about what else the four kevlar-clad officers might have done in this situation is infact central to this inquiry. It has not been answered yet.

Posted February 23, 2009 08:28 AM

Richard Johnson (Toronto) wrote:

Q| Since Robert Dziekanski was in custody (Laying prone and handcuffed) is it not a Police officers duty to give first aid to that person if he or she is in distress?
It has been reported that the RCMP did not even attempt to give assistance (Only calling for medical assistance) to Robert after realizing he had stopped breathing. As far as I understand it every officer in Canada that including the RCMP is required to take CPR.

A| The evidence so far, has been that Robert Dziekanski was breathing and had a pulse until just before fire fighters arrived and couldn't find any vital signs. You don't provide CPR to someone who is breathing and has a pulse, so it's been suggested the reason RCMP made no such attempts is because they believed he didn't need it.

We've also heard that within 12 seconds of calling for an ambulance, the RCMP changed the call to a code three, because Mr. Dziekanski was seen to be unconscious, suggesting they were closely watching his condition.

But there has been conflicting evidence about what exactly the officers did to monitor Mr. Dziekanski, and some witnesses have testified that they saw him appear to turn blue, some time before medical aid arrived.

It certainly would have been difficult if not impossible for RCMP officers wearing gloves to check to see if Mr. Dziekanski had a pulse. Again, it's a major question the inquiry has to resolve, given that one minute, according to police, Mr. Dziekanski was alive and the next, he had no signs of life, at precisely the moment help arrived.

Posted February 23, 2009 08:08 AM

Jone McCartney (Vancouver_BC) wrote:

Q| I have a question regarding one of the 4 RCMP officers responsible for the death of the polish immigrant, Benjamin Monty Robinson who incredibly, following his involvement in the airport incident, allegedly hit and killed a motorcyclist while driving drunk. His trial was set for Jan15, and we haven't had any followup from the media on this trial since?

Why hasn't there been more coverage of this officers alleged second murder of an innocent civilian?

A| First of all, Constable Robinson has not been charged with anything. It's not proven he hit or killed anyone. What you've read, seen or heard are allegations.

Further, neither the Delta police nor the Crown have confirmed Corporal Benjamin Monty Robinson is the individual to who you're referring. That being said, there is no doubt he is the individual involved in the investigation.

His court date of January 15th wasn't a trial, it was a promise to appear. That promise was cancelled by the Delta police because it hadn't finished its criminal investigation. They are, however, expecting to hand it over to the Crown early next month. It'll then be up to the Crown to decide what to do. Delta police say they will be recommending charges of impaired driving and impaired driving causing death.

I would not expect the matter to be raised at the inquiry given it has nothing to do with what happened the night Robert Dziekanski died. If it is, I can guarantee Corporal Robinson's lawyer would be on his feet to object before a single question could be asked. I also don't think Inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood would see any relevance to events involving these officers - alleged or otherwise - that occurred after Robert Dziekanski died.

Posted February 22, 2009 11:01 PM

Ken Byrne (Burnaby) wrote:

Q| Dear Mr. Petrovich:

Do you plan to do any stories on how YVR officials handle common enforcement and security issues which should not require the results of the current inquiry to resolve?

As a native to Vancouver, a recent trip to YVR in which I asked for assistance left me feeling truely on my own. I can only imagine how Mr. Dziekanski felt if he received the same kind of response to his pleas for help. Granted his is an unusually complicated case. However, given my experience perhaps we should ask more questions about how they handle the simple cases. Your thoughts?


A| YVR has gone to some lengths in the past year and half since Robert Dziekanski died and particularly during this inquiry to highlight the changes it has made at the airport in the wake of what happened. One of those changes is having someone posted twenty-four hours a day in the area where Mr. Dzieaknski died, which was unattended at the time. But it's not clear some of what happened to Mr. Dziekanski wouldn't be repeated. The airport response coordinator at the time, Bob Ginter, made a decision not to call in the airport's own emergency responders because he was worried about leaving the airport unprepared in case of another emergency like a plane crash. And in testimony he suggested that under the same circumstances, he couldn't say he wouldn't make exactly the same call.

As someone with a fair bit of international flying experience, even I get confused in a strange airport, so no doubt it happens on the scale you describe. I'd certainly be interesting in hearing about the simple cases to which you're referring.

Posted February 22, 2009 08:11 PM

Ken Lawson (MetroVancouver) wrote:

Q| Can these RCMP officers still be charged?

A| Certainly. But the questions are, with what and with what evidence? I don't mean to sound obtuse, but consider that the Crown has already decided based on a police investigation that there is insufficient evidence - a large defecit of evidence infact - to charge the officers with assault, assault with a weapon or manslaughter. I would not want to speculate on what other charges might apply, but as I've outlined previously, it's within the realm of possibility that the Crown could reconsider that decision. It's also possible for a citizen to commence a private prosecution. But without some remarkable new piece of evidence that somehow escaped homicide investigators, I can't see how BC's Attorney General would allow such a prosecution to proceed.

Posted February 18, 2009 10:41 PM

Jason (Victoria) wrote:

Q| When Mr. Dziekanski's death was first reported, prior to the video being released to the public, the RCMP insisted that only 3 RCMP officers had been at the scene, this despite witnesses saying that there were in fact 4 RCMP officers. Once the video was released the RCMP changed there story and admitted that there were 4 officers involved. Has there been any information in the inquiry as to why the RCMP lied until the video was released?

A| There were a number of inconsistencies between what the RCMP media relations officer told the public, and what the amateur video of the incident actually shows. The number of officers present was only one detail out of whack with reality. The RCMP's initial description of a man who was combattive and resisted arrest is also a debatable point. The inquiry hasn't specifically dealt with the issue of mistatements or mistakes in information made by the RCMP at the time. It has come up in a few questions. But there was an admission of sorts at the time by the RCMP's media relations officer that he was only relaying information he was given by investigators, and that information was being provided quickly to meet the media's demand. That doesn't necessarily explain why certain details were incorrect, and in some people's view a mischaracterization of events. I wouldn't be surprised if the issue of those mistakes is raised when RCMP officers are in the witness box. But I should point out that some of the lawyers for the officers have worked diligently to have some witnesses put their own interpretation on the video, beyond what is visible. For some, even the video doesn't clearly tell the whole story of what happened.

Posted February 18, 2009 03:54 PM

Diana (Kamloops) wrote:

Q| It is my opinion that the RCMP are turning out young and poorly trained people.

In the USA, SWAT teams take pride in having NO LOSS of LIFE in a year, so it surprises me that we are either having greater incidences of death by taser or gun or... is the question that we hear about it more.

Isn't there a procedure for RCMP when approaching a person who appears to be agitated or experiencing a mental health episode.

If there is...what is it? What responsibility does the RCMP have in bringing medical care to their 'downed' person. Remember, these people who are put down, are not GUILTY of anything yet.

A| The RCMP does indeed have protocols for approaching and dealing with someone who's agitated, and it involves getting them under control as quickly as possible. The Taser is a tool they have embraced to help them do that. Unlike some police forces - such as the Calgary police, there is no requirement to simultaneously alert medical responders when the RCMP anticipates using a Taser. The evidence so far, is that RCMP alerted the BC ambulance service sometime after Robert Dziekanski appeared to be unconscious. The evidence about whether officers themselves did anything to monitor his vital signs is contradictory. Some eye witnesses have testified they stood away from his body. Some say at least one officer was periodically checking Mr. Dziekanski's breathing. But they never removed their gloves, and therefore couldn't properly take his pulse. They also don't appear to have communicated with the airport's response coordinator, according to his testimony, that Mr. Dziekanski was unconscious. It was Bob Ginter's job and duty to call in the airport's own medical responders. He testified he didn't at first , because he didn't think Dziekanski was unconscious, and in any event, it was a "police incident". Whatever mistake Mr. Ginter may have made in violating a standing order to call his own responders, he testified he believed the RCMP had care and control of the situation. When the officers testifiy, I'm sure they will be asked the very questions you've posed.

Posted February 18, 2009 02:25 AM

Gerry (Delta_BC) wrote:

Q| Do the RCMP realize that this incident has completely destroyed their reputation with Canadians and people around the world?

Why can't they fire these four officers?

A| Not being privvy to what RCMP senior management think, I can make no comment or offer any insight into your rhetorical question about what they think about their reputation in the wake of Mr. Dziekanski's death. However, from email I obtained through access to information, it appears that in the months after the airport incident, there was a great deal of sympathy for the officers involved, with the Commisssioner himself making personal calls to them, and BC's own premier pledging support in a private meeting he had with the RCMP's top officer in the province. There was also ample examples of the RCMP's own internal email system being used to promote "postive" media pieces about what had happened.

The officers involved could be subjected to disciplinary hearings on the matter, but that hasn't occurred. And from everything the RCMP has said publicly, particularly through their lawyers at the inquiry, there is no belief that the officers did anything wrong, let alone something that would warrant termination.

Posted February 17, 2009 11:47 PM

Glenn (Gold_River) wrote:

Q| I can't help wanting to scream out about the presence of the officer's knee in the cell phone video. It appears to be centered more on the side of the victims chest. First Aid training warns of unnecessary chest compressions for fear of stopping the heart of the person you're trying to save. I feel there hasn't been enough attention focused on the amount of weight pressing down on his rib cage, and whether this became lethal. Any thoughts?

A| A limo driver who testified he had been trained in Kung Fu since he was four, gave tearful testimony that he thought what he saw the police do, is what killed Mr. Dziekanski. But others, including the airport's head of security, have testified that Mr. Dziekanski had a pulse and was breathing after the officer's knee was removed. However, several pathologists, incuding the one who did the autopsy agreed that the police restraint of Mr. Dziekanski played a role in his death. I expect we will hear testimony from the officers, and medical experts, about the placement and effect of a knee on Mr. Dziekanski's neck and shoulders.

Posted February 17, 2009 02:05 AM

Julia (vancouver) wrote:

Q| In one of the most broadcast videos showing the incident, after the policemen have grabbed Dziekanski and wrestled him to the floor, one cop on the right side of the screen grabs some sort of long stick with his right hand. He can be seen hitting downward sharply, striking something on the floor with this stick three or four times, though we can't see the lower part of the screen because of the wall. Is he hitting Dziekanski? Why? Is he hitting the floor beside Dziekanski--if so, what for?

I've not heard or seen anything about this point, though it may have been discussed somewhere. Thanks for any comments. This is a most interesting site.

A| What you're seeing is the officer retracting his asp, which is an extendable baton. It's designed not to close accidentally, and requires a great deal of force to collapse. The officer appears to be ramming the baton into the floor, right next to Mr. Dziekanski's head, in an attempt to close it. He is not striking Mr. Dziekanski.

Posted February 12, 2009 09:43 PM

Peter J Allman (Chatham_Ontario) wrote:

Q|Assuming the police did use more force than warranted in this instance, and that the taser may be a bit more dangerous than first thought, is that really enough to push for less use, when considering that the amount of time police may have to make a decision is normally not more than 15 seconds? Also, is it really fair to use hindsight to make judgments, when the police don't have all the answers in any situation and no way to know beyond guessing how violent a suspect may become? Don't you think this may cause police to start second guessing themselves, causing even longer delays, when seconds could mean the end of an innocent persons life, or the police's, and even the suspects? Wouldn't the public then start complaining that police took too long to act?

A| Your first question is a bit tough to answer because even police will tell you that, while they have a guideline on escalating their use of force and choosing weapons, every situation is different. Your question about judging what happened in "hindsight" is one that has been asked by police and others, from the moment the amateur video tape became public. But let me turn your question on it's head. Is it fair to expect four police officers to use violent, extremely painful and potentially lethal means to deal with a man, with whom they've spent less than thirty seconds trying to communicate with, all because he has a stapler in his hand? The fact that an inquiry into what happened is underway, is evidence that sometimes hindsight is not only useful, but necessary to understand what actually took place. I haven't heard any reasonable arguments for making Police who are responding to an emergency, go through some sort of linear checklist before deciding whether to use lethal force, for example. And I think if Mr. Dziekanski had a gun, or a knife, or a broken bottle, or was an immediate and obvious threat to himself, or to a police officer, the RCMP would be a minor player in any inquiry into what happened, instead of the central agency.

Posted February 12, 2009 07:37 PM

Cecile Batchelor (Victoria_BC) wrote:

Q|Hello, and Thank you for taking my question.
Vancouver Airport is NOT Paris, Rome, London, or New York.
But these airports don't have the police swarming a passenger and tasering him IMMEDIATELY!! Is this civilized?? Of course not.

Or pouncing on him when he already is handcuffed and blocking his airway by placing a knee right in the middle of his back?

Will the police be found criminally responsible for this man's life, do you think?

A| I won't address your rhetorical questions, except to say that the RCMP will argue they didn't use a Taser immediately in this situation. It was only deployed, they say, when Mr. Dziekanski, armed with a stapler, posed a threat, and after they spent some time trying to get him to cooperate. You may question, as some do, how it's possible their efforts at communication and the development of that threat occurred in the space of less than thirty seconds. The officers will be asked to explain that highly compressed escalation, when they testify at the inquiry.

Corporal Monty Robinson, the senior member of the four, is the one who applied his knee to Mr. Dziekanski. The Crown says it was to Mr. Dziekanski's neck and shoulders, not his back. Again, these details will be closely examined and cross examined when the officers testify. I imagine the pathologist may also have something to say, considering he and two others found that death came about in part, due to the physical restraint, and Mr. Dziekanski's decreased ability to breathe.

But some of the officer's lawyers have suggested that those drawing conclusions about how they handled Mr. Dziekanski after he was down, simply aren't familiar with Police restraint procedures.

The decision on whether to hold the officer's criminally responsible has been made by the Crown. It's not impossible for that decision to be reconsidered. But there would have to be some remarkably new facts for that to happen, considering the Crown noted the evidence it was shown, fell far short of the standard for a substantial likelihood of a conviction.

Posted February 12, 2009 03:25 PM

Gordon W. Stewart (Victoria_BC) wrote:

Q|Do you have a rough estimate of the true cost to the public per hour for this Public Inquiry?

The final outcome may just state; (police need more training in diffusing situations)! How much are we going to pay to here those words, when the Inquiry can't even lay blame?

A| I think it's a bit premature to judge what the inquiry will conclude. I'd be surprised if it's findings weren't more substantial than what you describe. And while "blame" per se can't be laid at any party's feet, Commissioner Thomas Braidwood can level findings of misconduct against the police. He can also describe where, if at all, any other parties such as the Airport failed.

But the cost per hour? I have no idea. I have a sense of how much the lawyers are earning. But speaking as someone who has sat through every minute of testimony, I'm not sure how you put a price on finding out the details we've learned in the last few weeks. I suspect that without the power of subpoena and a provincial order to inquire into what happened, most of what we've heard would have remained locked away in police reports, and lawyers briefs.

Posted February 11, 2009 10:48 AM

kris (Moose_Jaw) wrote:

Q|I am just curious if there are any representatives from Poland at the Inquiry? I suspect that if this happened to a Canadian in a foreign country, Foreign Affairs would have a team of people observing. And if there are Polish officials present, have you spoken to them? What is their take on the proceedings to this point?

A| The Government of Poland was successful in convincing the inquiry that it had a legitimate interest in what happened to Mr. Dziekanski, and as a result, was granted participant status. There is a lawyer who's been hired to represent Poland. But I have not seen him at the inquiry. So far he has not cross examined any witnesses. There is no indication when, if at all, Poland will actively participate in the process.

Certainly at the time the Crown absolved the officers, Poland expressed profound dissatisfaction with what sounded to Polish officials like blaming Dziekanski for his own death. A statement from the Embassy at the time spoke of anticipation that the Braidwood Inquiry would ask questions that the Crown's statement did not answer. But I have not personally spoken with Polish officials since, either about the daily revelations at the inquiry, or to ask why their lawyer has not been present.

Posted February 11, 2009 06:24 AM

Julie (Toronto) wrote:

Q| What would happen if at the end of this inquiry, the facts collected do not match up with the information collected by the IHIT? Could the IHIT or the RCMP face any repercussions for not providing acurate information? Already there seems to be evidence contrary to what was previously mentioned by the Crown about the medical attention Robert received from the RCMP officers while he was unconscious.

A| In all probability, the facts collected by this inquiry WON'T match the information put forward by IHIT, for the simple reason that they are two very different investigations with different purposes. None of the details gathered by IHIT were subjected to cross examination, as they are at the inquiry. The process of having a number of lawyers test and re-test what comes forward is not only producing refined versions of people's evidence, but it's revealing new details that may not have been discovered by the police investigators. The IHIT investigation was also focused on the actions of the RCMP officers, and the inquiry is taking a much broader look at what a number of people did that night.

Posted February 10, 2009 10:49 PM

Bonnie (BC) wrote:

Q| Why is it the coroner's report says there was no alcohol or drugs in Robert's system from the autopsy report and yet Crown says there was evidence of alcohol abuse from the pathology report? Even if Robert was a drinker in the past, that should not impact this case in any way. He was not drinking at the time. I find it interesting that the crown held its case before the inquiry so as to clear the officers of any chance of criminal negligence. I also found the crown didn't necessarily excuse the officers but rather gave the go ahead for taser use. It makes one wonder about the relationship between the RCMP and crown and whether justice will ever be granted in a case involving the police.

A| Let me take your points one by one. According to the Crown, the pathologist found evidence of "chronic alcohol abuse". What evidence exactly? Well, when the pathologist testifies I expect we'll hear the details. I interviewed the pathologist the day the Crown made it's decision and he made it clear to me, that he cannot definitively say that Mr. Dziekanski was an alcoholic. That can only come from people who knew and observed his habits. But he would not go into detail about the physical evidence he found that would lead him to think Mr. Dziekanski had consumed large amounts of alcohol over time. But it appears that in looking for a cause for Mr. Dziekanski's death, several pathologists agreed that chronic alcohol abuse could have - could have - contributed to conditions that caused Mr. Dziekanski's heart to stop. The alcohol abuse also fits conveniently with an explanation for Mr. Dziekanski's behaviour, that is supported by the RCMP. Namely that he was suffering from alcohol withdrawl.

It's important to remember the Police investigation had one purpose: to provide details to the Crown so prosecutors could determine whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction. It was not, as this inquiry is, a complete record of what happened from every possible source involved in what happened.

The Inquiry was postponed while the RCMP investigation and the deliberation by the Crown was underway, to allow for a situation in which the officers might be free to openly testify. And the Crown's statement also made it clear, that while the RCMP didn't directly cause Mr. Dziekanski's death - the officers played a role.

Posted February 10, 2009 09:29 PM

Jeff (Shuswap) wrote:

Q| One of the RCMP lawyers has continually stated that the RCMP reacted as they have been trained to do. I disagree. The RCMP "Force Continuum" clearly identifies the course of action an officer should take in confronting a suspect. There were 4 officers confronting an individual who was not a serious threat. Nobody, police or public, were under immediate threat of death. The officers basically jumped to the top of the continuum and ignored procedures which clearly delineate the process they should have taken. Is anybody going to confront the police regarding this process. (You can find the force continuum matrix on the internet)

A| The continuum, is exactly that - a continuum. It's not a linear progression of how the police are supposed to respond. So, in that sense, police can, and do "jump" from one level to another, depending on the threat they perceive. And it's about what the officer perceives at the moment, not in hindsight. Imagine a scenario where a man appears calm but draws a gun. You can't expect a police officer to work his or her way through various options to deal with the threat.

But your point that Mr. Dziekanski didn't pose a serious threat is one that has become central to this inquiry. He had a stapler. It's clear now that whatever he was doing with it in his hand, Mr. Dziekanski was not rushing towards an officer, or raising it in a threatening manner. And what's indisputable is the length of time the officers took to progress from "how are you sir" to tackling him...less than thirty seconds. The police response, and whether it was "by the book" or otherwise, will be a major issue the officers will be asked to address when they are in the witness box.

Posted February 10, 2009 08:08 PM

Moira McColl (Sherwood_Park_Alberta) wrote:

Q|How long will this inquiry last? It seems to have disappeared from the pages of our newspaper.

A| The initial estimate by the Inquiry was that hearings would last until the end of February. They appear to be track in terms of the witness list, but with the officers involved not scheduled until the week of February 23rd, and the inquiry already blocking off two weeks in March for a break, it's likely the hearings will go well into April.

As to why it may have disappeared from your newspaper, I can only say that editorially, the CBC has decided the story is an important one, and there is a news reporter from our organization assigned to the inquiry every day. I would expect that once the officers involved begin their testimony, you will see the story surface in the papers and other media.

Posted February 10, 2009 08:56 AM

Ian McGugan (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Are the transcripts online?

A| Yes they are, albeit a few days after the witness testifies. Go to Braidwoodinquiry.ca

Posted February 10, 2009 01:31 AM

Cliff Falk (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| In the video shot by the onlooker with the cell phone, RCMP officers are shown approaching Robert Dziekanski--with one officer asking another, "can I taser him?" or something to the effect, with the other officer then answering in the affirmative.

I have not seen this opening portion of the video since it was first shown on TV some months ago. Is this portion of the video in evidence, and has it been shown in TV news reports recently?

A| The video in its entirety was entered as evidence, and the specific portion you describe will be of some interest when the RCMP officers testify. The audio is very muddy, due in part to the echo of Mr. Dziekanski's own voice shouting that he recognizes the Police. I have listened to this brief exchanged repeatedly, and to my ear, I do not hear anything like what you describe. It does sound like "may I use Tasers", but it could also be what the Crown believes, which is "do you have your Taser". The inquiry will attempt to determine what was actually said, based on evidence and analysis of the audio. But in the end I'm not sure it will matter much. The RCMP clearly have the authority to use a Taser, and it's not unreasonable to think that as the officers entered the terminal, there was a check to make sure the weapon was ready for use. Some might say the exchange suggests using the Taser was top of mind for the police, even before they knew first hand what they'd be dealing with. Some might suggest that's a clue to why it was produced so quickly. I'm certain the police will testify to the contrary.

Posted February 9, 2009 09:11 PM

Donna Campbell (Kelowna) wrote:

Q| Has information come forward at this point in the inquiry as to whether there was more than one Taser unit used that fateful night? I'm fearful that if the question is not very specifically asked, we will never know.

As I watch the video I can distinctly hear one shot from a taser, then two, almost simultaneous shots. If indeed more than one unit was employed simultaneously, or almost simultaneously, that would mean Mr. Dziekanski received double the voltage and I would guess that would be of great significance here. Do you know if this question has been asked and what the answer was if it had?

A| There is no evidence whatsoever that more than one Taser was used the night Robert Dziekanski died. The fact that one Taser was involved was repeated by the Crown in its statement on why no charges would be laid against the officers. A couple of witnesses have described "two" tasers. But I have canvassed some of the lawyers who are privy to the 1800-page RCMP file on the matter, and no one has suggested there were two weapons involved.

Posted February 7, 2009 06:58 PM

garyvw (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| You said before that testimony cannot be used to charge the RCMP criminally, but can testimony from this inquiry be used in a civil court?

Also what are the chances the RCMP will settle out of court?

A| It's my understanding that testimony at this inquiry cannot be used directly against anyone in a civil proceeding, because of the prohibition in the public inquiries act. However, should a civil case proceed, the same questions can be asked of those involved, and if they produce different answers than were given in the inquiry, the previous testimony can be used to establish credibility.

As for what the RCMP might do in the future, you have to remember two things: There is no civil case for the RCMP to settle hypothetically, and I've yet to hear an unequivocal statement from the RCMP that its members did anything wrong. In fact, the lawyers for the officers involved have insisted their clients did everything by the book. It's possible to imagine some harsh or damning criticism from this inquiry might change the RCMP's position. But I've seen no evidence that the force is prepared to concede any liability for Mr. Dziekanski's death.

Posted February 7, 2009 01:35 AM

Phil Davies. (Victoria) wrote:

Q| This case is tragic, and we are all in a hurry to lay some blame and make somebody pay. When will somebody acknowledge that the person responsible for instigating this whole incident was Dziekanski. Clearly there were mistakes made in the way that Dziekanski was dealt with, but we are losing sight of the fact that he did not behave in a reasonable manner, and he was aggressive. WHEN WILL SOMEBODY ADMIT THAT DZIEKANSKI PLAYED A HUGE ROLE IN THIS SAD CASE.... JUST BECAUSE HE SADLY DIED DOES NOT ABSOLVE HIM OF RESPONSIBILITY.

A| I imagine that when he makes his final report, Inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood will assess the role Robert Dziekanski played in his own death. Certainly the evidence is that his mother tried repeatedly and in vain to find her son before he died.

The Crown's statement about why no charges were laid, highlights some details from the pathologist's report, suggesting that chronic alcohol abuse may have contributed to an increased risk of sudden death. But even the Crown said the actions of Police contributed to Mr. Dziekanski's death.

But let's look at the facts. A first time air traveller who speaks no English, is so confused about where he should go that he is allowed to linger in a secure customs hall for seven hours before anyone notices him. He is tired, confused but otherwise calm and cooperative. He's no real threat to anyone until he gets into a shouting match with a limo driver, according to the evidence. He's blocking a door way. His erratic behaviour escalates when he throws a folding stool and a computer keyboard. It's clear to anyone who sees and hears Mr. Dziekanski in the amateur video that this is not "reasonable" behaviour.

We know from translation and eye witness accounts that Mr. Dziekanski was apparently relieved to see the Police. He'd been asking for them in Polish. But if not for his encounter with Police, there is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Dziekanski would have died. I don't think anyone has suggested that the Police knew he was going to die before they acted. But that's not necessary for them to be responsible.

I think some would take issue with you that Mr. Dziekanski instigated this whole incident. There were many moments along the journey this man took after he landed in Vancouver, that might have changed the outcome, if someone had done something a little differently. The inquiry has already revealed that sad reality.

Posted February 6, 2009 10:18 AM

Cathy (Victoria) wrote:

Q| Do you think, as the world watches this case, that anybody believes the lives of any one of these 4 police officers were at risk in this case? Is the airport in any way responsible for not trying to diffuse the situation?

A| Honestly, I'm not sure what people believe. I know that after having seen the disturbing amateur video countless times, frame by frame, slow motion and backward that it doesn't appear that Robert Dziekanski had raised any hand, with or without a stapler, toward any police officer. But we are also told we didn't see what the Police saw because Mr. Dziekanski's back is to the camera.

Clearly, he had a stapler in his hand. You can see it fly away as he tumbles to the ground. Were the police at risk before the Taser was used? I recall IHIT spokesman Corporal Dale Carr responding to that question more than a year ago by saying it wasn't in the job description of Police to get injured, if they could end a situation otherwise.

To be fair, I think it's reasonable to assume that none of the officers involved knew Mr. Dziekanski would die. We will hear evidence that they are trained to deal with a situation like this as quickly as possible, and when an officer perceives a threat, spending even a millisecond to think about it, could result in an officer injury, or worse.

Critics of this inquiry will point to the futility of hindsight when it comes to events in which an officer is at risk. But were four alert police officers wearing bullet-proof vests really at risk from a disoriented man who had a stapler in his hand?

As one witness, Sima Ashrafinia put it, "if you're afraid of this situation, maybe this is not a good profession for you. Go find a job in a bank or something."

The question you ask is one the Inquiry has to answer. Airport security is also being scrutinized for what they did or didn't do that night.

Posted February 6, 2009 10:08 AM

Dave (Telkwa) wrote:

Q|We were sitting just behind you and the rest of the media at the coroner’s inquest into the death of Ian Bush in Houston a couple of years back. We watched RCMP lawyer David Butcher attack Constable Joe Slemko personally and professionally in an effort to discredit his testimony that brought into question the official version of the events that led to the death in custody. On the CBC radio coverage of the Braidwood Inquiry last week, we heard a sound clip of Mr. Butcher questioning the fire fighter and first aid responder who questioned the RCMP’s version. We also heard a line from the judge’s response to him. It suggested to us that Mr. Butcher’s style and tactics of relentless personal attacks on the witness’ character and credibility haven’t changed since the coroner’s inquest in Houston.

Three related questions:
Is the above description is a fair assessment of Mr. Butcher’s approach to cross examining witnesses?
Is it fair to say that the judge and others are growing tired of Mr. Butcher’s approach?
Is Mr. Butcher cross examining all witnesses, and if not, which ones?

A| I noticed early on that when some lawyers aggressively pursued discrepancies in what some witnesses said and did at the time of the incident, with their inquiry testimony, Commissioner Thomas Braidwood did indeed interrupt to question the relevance. At one point the commissioner said "we all know what you're trying to do". I asked both Ravi Hira and David Butcher - lawyers for two of the four officers - whether they thought the commissioner was taking them to task or singling them out. They didn't think so. While it is sometimes difficult to hear questions designed to impugn someone's credibility, second guess their motives, or compel them to admit mistakes, it is what lawyers are paid to do. The careers and reputations of four RCMP officers, and indeed an entire force, are being challenged every day this inquiry hears evidence. Personally, I would want a lawyer representing me to find any weakness in any evidence that didn't reflect well on me. But it's important to remember that cross-examination, as aggressive as it may sound, is a vital part of establishing whether something that is said, is true. Unlike the Police investigation which ultimately lead to the officers being absolved of any criminal wrong-doing, an inquiry allows all the parties to hold the evidence up to scrutiny. Cross-examination is key.

Posted February 6, 2009 05:28 AM

Dana McComber (Nanoose_Bay_BC) wrote:

Q|As a health care professional, I am extremely concerned that one of the restraint tactics used by one of the officers was to apparently put his knee across the throat and windpipe of the VICTIM. Did the autopsy have any evidence of petechia, which can result from "strangulation" when the carotid arteries are blocked and blood flow to the brain is restricted?

I am also concerned that they did nothing when they realized the VICTIM was not breathing. Have the officers been asked if they would respond by doing nothing had the roles been reversed and the VICTIM had been able to kneel on an officer's windpipe?

A| You're asking a lot of questions that have only begun to be asked at this inquiry. The pathologist who examined Mr. Dziekanski's body, will be called to testify. All we know about his findings are the details released by Dziekanski's mother's lawyer and the Crown. Mr. Dziekanski had no drugs or alcohol in his body, and there were signs of "chronic alcohol abuse", which lead to the assumption that he may have succumbed to something called "alcohol withdrawal." However, the pathologist concluded Mr. Dziekanski's death was as a result of "sudden death following restraint." Three pathologists agreed that the restraint applied to Mr. Dziekanski could have contributed to his heart stopping. But while it appears in the amateur video, that one officer applied his knee to Mr. Dziekanski's neck, the evidence of exactly where that pressure was applied hasn't been heard. Nor have the Police testified yet, about the very significant question you raise about what the officers did in the aftermath of the struggle.

Posted February 5, 2009 02:46 PM

Robert T. (Saanich_BC) wrote:

Q| If, as and when recommendations come down from this inquiry, do you think that ramifications will only relate to this incident, or just to the RCMP, or to police forces throughout the country?

The press conference given initially by Sgt. Pierre LeMaître is very questionable. How much easier for everyone, including the RCMP, things would have been if they had been up-front and honest in the beginning. Remember, Sgt. LeMaître's first statement was, "Three members attended ...". From the video we saw four. Was this a cover-up?

Did the people who gave the information to Sgt. LeMaître not know how many members attended (that would show total incompetence)? Was it not important enough to check the details before speaking to the public? Does the RCMP think that they are not accountable to the public? Did they think that they may have made errors and did not have the courage to face the public?

LeMaître's entire press release is worthless.
Indeed, should the police be accountable to the public, or to their members and their organization?

A| Technically, because this is a provincial inquiry, the recommendations - even those that relate to the RCMP - only have direct bearing what happens in British Columbia. Of course, it will be up to the Provincial government to decide how any or all of the recommendations are acted upon. But depending on what Commissioner Thomas Braidwood concludes about Tasers, for instance, it's possible other jurisdictions might adopt his findings.

As for how the RCMP has handled this incident, I think Sgt. Lemaitre said in an email that was released through an access to information request that he should have said nothing about what happened to avoid the crush of criticism when it became clear his descriptions didn't match what people saw in the amateur video. You're not the first to ask about that. I believe the explanation for the differences, was that Sgt. Lemaitre was relying on information he was given by investigators, and he'd tried to give media answers to questions as quickly as possible.

Posted February 5, 2009 02:17 PM

Jason (Northern_BC) wrote:

Q|Much has been made about the '4 huge RCMP officers' vs. Dziekanski. Can we skip past the stereotypes and get some facts? Just how tall and heavy were each of the RCMP, and how tall and heavy was Dziekanski?

A| Personally I've never described the RCMP officers physically, nor have I described Mr. Dziekanski. For the record I don't think he was particularly tall - less than six feet, I think about 5 foot, seven inches - or about 170 centimeters. I have made mention of the fact that it was four officers wearing bullet-proof vests and one man who had a stapler.

Posted February 5, 2009 02:02 PM

Barry (SurreyBC) wrote:

Q|Why did the four cops stand around doing nothing rather than make a serious attempt at resuscitating their victim? Why did they not call the airports emergency response paramedics which were just a few hundred meters away. The fact they did not is beyond belief!

A| We have not heard from the Police directly about what they did to provide assistance to Mr. Dziekanski after they stunned him five times with a Taser. I should point out that when Richmond Fire fighters first alleged more than a year ago, that Mr. Dziekanski was dead when they got there, an RCMP spokesman insisted Mr. Dziekanski was alive.

There has been evidence that at least one of the four officers involved, was ordered to track down possible witnesses in the airport, to take names and numbers, and some details from people. But questions from some of the RCMP lawyers suggest that what we will most likely hear, is that no one performed anything like CPR because you don't give CPR to a man who's got a heart beat and breathing. We will also hear from an airport security guard that he was checking Mr. Dziekanski's vital signs.

The question of why the airport's emergency response service was not called, is an important one. But a decision was made, according to the recording of a call released by the airport, to call an ambulance and NOT the ERS, or airport emergency responders. We will hear evidence about this in the coming week I expect. For the record, YVR has said that the response time of their own ERS would have been in the neighbourhood of how long it took the fire fighters to get there: four to five minutes.

Posted February 5, 2009 12:52 PM

Joan (Sechelt_BC) wrote:

Q| Will this inquiry ever result in charges against the RCMP members involved being revisited? How come there has been no mention of the fact that the initial report by the RCMP of what happened at YVR was entirely different and it was not until the video of the incident was bought out did their story change.

A| The Crown was pretty clear that it considered the evidence for charges of assault, assault with a weapon and manslaughter to be far below the standard it would need for a conviction. It is possible for the Crown to reconsider evidence that comes into its possession afterward. But it's important to note that under the public inquiries act, what a witness says at an inquiry cannot be used at any other trial or proceeding unless it's to prosecute them for perjury. The evidence for a new charge would have to come by some other means.

I do understand as well that if the Crown doesn't lay a charge, any citizen can swear an information in front of a Justice of the Peace and initiate a private prosecution. But in all likelihood BC's attorney general would stay any charge it had already considered and rejected.

As to the RCMP's initial description of what happened, I think the contradictions between their characterization of the events and what really happened, have been well and truly covered by the media. The RCMP's spokesman at the time, Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre said he was just relaying what homicide investigators were telling him, and he was just trying to answer the media's questions. Unfortunately his answers weren't entirely accurate. For instance many have taken issue with his description of efforts police made to communicate with Mr. Dzieikanski and get him to calm down, using hand gestures, to no avail. However, they spent less than thirty seconds between saying "how are you sir" and using a Taser. To be sure, the RCMP say they have reasons for that, and we'll hear them when the officers testify. I expect questions will be asked about how much calming and gesturing they were able to do, before deciding that Mr. Dziekanski wasn't responding quickly enough.

Posted February 4, 2009 11:41 AM

Greg Wool (Edmonton) wrote:

Q| I'm a law student and in my former career had reason to be involved in violent encounters like the one shown in the tape. I can understand the situation and certainly think that there are numerous questionable actions on the part of the police, but I'm concerned that the inquiry has become overly focused on the taser itself.

At the end of the day, the taser is simply a tool, imbued with no independent intention of its own beyond the intent and actions of the user. Where the RCMP sent out an officer so poorly trained that he needed to ask a co-worker as they arrived if he could taser Dziekanski, it becomes evident that the taser is not the problem, it's an organization that is lurching from scandal to scandal. Shouldn't the taser operator been trained well enough to know when it was legally permissible to use that tool without having to consult his co-workers?

In the moments after the taser was deployed, I saw several things on the tape that were of a concern, along with the recent testimony that indicated a degree of obstruction on the part of the RCMP in rendering medical aid to Dziekanski.

My question, in summary, is why has the inquiry become so focused on the taser as a device, rather than remaining focused on the shoddy training and poor judgment shown by the RCMP in the incident?

A| You've asked a couple of questions. It doesn't seem clear exactly what the was said by Police about the Taser as they enter the airport. The Crown, based on what the Police told them, described it as a question to Constable Millington by another officer about whether he HAD his Taser. Millington's answer, we're told, was "Yes." I've listened to that section of the video many, many times, and I've never heard that question. What I hear is an officer say "MAY I USE TASERS", and the answer is "Yes." No one has been able to explain what appears to be an obvious mistake in the Crown's statement. I'm expecting that will be dealt with by the Inquiry when the officers testify.

That being said, I think it's reasonable that as Police enter a scene, that they verbally agree with each other about what POSSIBLE actions are permissible. I think it shows they're communicating with each other.

Your main question however is an important one. While the officers haven't testified yet, and haven't given their evidence, some of their lawyers have repeatedly offered that when they do appear, it will be clear that the RCMP members were following procedure. I think the Inquiry has to deal with the use of the Taser because police felt a need to fire it five times. That is significant. But, just as my ears clearly hear an officer asking if he can use a Taser, my eyes also clearly see the Taser being fired before Mr. Dziekanski raises his arm with the stapler that police say was a threatening weapon. Even today when that section of the unfortunate video was played repeatedly for the inquiry, some lawyers weren't ready to concede the shot came first. They say we can't see what Police saw because Mr. Dziekanski's back is to the camera. Presumably the police will testify about what they saw. And that's the point at which I think you'll start to see a closer focus on what we're told was a by-the-book response.

In the meantime, a number of witnesses have offered their opinions that they thought the police acted too quickly. Those opinions have been vigorously challenged by lawyers for the RCMP.

Posted February 4, 2009 10:40 AM

Katherine (Kelowna) wrote:

Q| If the RCMP officers are found to be negligent of their duties can they still be charged even though the RCMP made a deal for them in trade for their testimonies at this inquiry? Why are there lawyers for the officers when they haven't given their testimony?

A| I'm not sure what deal you're referring to. The RCMP officers were always going to testify, either voluntarily, or by subpoena. This inquiry is not a court, and while it can find the officers guilty of misconduct, it cannot result in criminal charges. And it would be up the RCMP to act on any findings of misconduct. There is nothing I'm aware of that would compel the RCMP to do that, other than a moral and ethical imperative.

As you point out, the officers haven't even testified yet. But they are participants. Their lawyers, and one for the RCMP itself have the right to cross-examine witnesses who bring evidence to the inquiry, and make allegations against them, just as lawyers for Robert Dziekanski's mother, the Airport, and the manufacturer of the weapon do.

Posted February 4, 2009 07:34 AM

John (Michigan_United_States) wrote:

Q| The Braidwood Inquiry must be very hard on Zofia Cisowski. Pending the outcome, will or has Cisowski file any legal representation i.e. "wrongful death" against anyone involved?

A| From what I can see at the hearing, and from speaking with her, the evidence is indeed very difficult for Ms. Cisowski to hear. The last video images of her son have been particularly hard for her to watch. Her lawyer, Walter Kosetckyj, has made it clear that a civil suit is the next step after this inquiry.

Posted February 3, 2009 11:07 PM

Momo (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| In your opinion, how much public outrage does there have to be in order to promote any kind of change? Change to the system, to the way police investigations are conducted, etc? Or would there be any way for the public to choose to use their tax dollars in support of the victim instead of in support of the RCMP officers who made a very bad judgment call?

A| Let me answer the question by saying that ideally, a public inquiry is all about investigating whether there's a need for change. That being said, the Braidwood Inquiry is not a re-examination of the police investigation that ultimately lead the Crown to conclude no criminal charges would be laid. That investigation was very narrow in so far as it was intended to give prosecutors the information they needed to decide whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction against anyone involved. The inquiry is a much broader look at everything that happened. As to your question about the way Police investigations are conducted, you would not be the first person to suggest that this case is an example of why an independent agency should take over when Police are involved in civilian death or injury. Some jurisdictions, like Ontario, already have one. Even advocates of such a change admit those agencies aren't without their flaws. But they also say it's more transparent than the current practice of police investigating police. As to your comment about the RCMP's judgment in this case, I should point out that while none of the officers has testified yet, some of the lawyers representing them have frequently maintained that in fact they did exactly what they were trained to do. Doubtless that will be an issue when the officers are in the witness chair.

Posted February 3, 2009 11:02 PM

Clayton Burns (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| This story is in no way complete because Meltzer contradicted himself repeatedly today, calling into question his accounts and raising the question of how he may have threatened Dziekanski with gestures that he failed to reveal to the police or the Inquiry.

Meltzer today at first said baldly and repeatedly that Dziekanski was not a threat, but then right at the end of the day he agreed that he had constructed a scale that placed Dziekanski at 9 out of 10, that is, just barely below the level of being ready to attack and pound someone.

Meltzer also today agreed with his statements in a CBC interview about the sequence of Dziekanski supposedly first raising a stapler and then being Tasered, when he had already spoken today in detail about how he was unsure of the sequence.

A| You've raised an important point about the sometimes contradictory testimony that is given by the same witnesses during their examination and cross examination. Sometimes it depends on who's asking the question of a witness, and how the question is asked. Sometimes these seemingly contradictory statements, are really concessions offered by a witness after repeated suggestions by a lawyer that the witness would agree or not disagree with a particular point. It does result sometimes in apparent contradiction.

You also have to remember that people are being asked to testify about things they said at different times to different people. In some cases people gave statements to the police, to the coroner, and to the inquiry. It seems in some cases, the versions are not identical, and lawyers who are paid to look for discrepancies, do their best.

But it will be up to the commissioner to find a path through these differences to come to conclusions about what happened, and he believes is most likely to have been the truth.

Posted February 3, 2009 05:31 PM

Andrew Collins (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| Why does the CBC (and all Canadian media) insist on showing his tazering and subsequent death so frequently on television? We all know what happened so is there really a need to show his death over and over again? As a journalist myself I can't see any editorial benefit of showing this as frequently as you do.

A| This is a really important question that received a great deal of thought at CBC when we first obtained this very disturbing video. And in short, I think we all understood that unless there was a journalistically sound reason for referring to the video in some way, we should avoid it.

I can't speak for other media outlets, but it's well understood within CBC that there needs to be justification. That being said, I've seen and heard it quite a bit in the last few days at the inquiry. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the video, captured by Paul Pritchard, a bystander, was recently introduced as evidence at the Inquiry, as were images and audio from Airport telephones, radio calls and security cameras. Speaking primarily as a radio journalist, the Pritchard video isn't as helpful to putting that other material in context as it is for a TV journalist attempting to tell a story. But for instance, when a Polish Interpreter was asked to analyze what Mr. Dziekanski is saying on that video, it's difficult to tell a story about that analysis without referring to and hearing or seeing the source.

Secondly, the inquiry itself is painstakingly analyzing what can be seen in these different views, and comparing that with the memory of witnesses. Occasionally it's necessary to refer to the material using audio and video.

I can tell you, having been at the Inquiry during the repeated playing of these disturbing images and sounds, it doesn't get any easier to sit through. I cringe every time I hear Mr. Dziekanski scream. And I don't think any of my colleagues relish the thought of replaying any more than is necessary to tell a story.

Posted February 3, 2009 01:46 PM

Sean (Vancouver) wrote:

Q| I am wondering what exactly the Braidwood inquiry is planning to accomplish at this point. Does the inquiry have the power to issue and enforce changes regarding the use of tasers, or is this merely all for the sake of looking good, like the politicians are taking action?

A| The Braidwood Inquiry, first and foremost, is being held to compose a complete and accurate record of what happened the night Robert Dziekanski died. To that end, anyone who had direct contact with Mr. Dziekanski, or those who were able to observe him, are being questioned under oath, and cross examined. The cross examination is actually a key difference between what this inquiry is revealing, and what resulted from the Police investigation. Their evidence is being heard publicly, and being challenged and scrutinized in a way that wasn't done in the police investigation which ultimately lead to the Crown deciding not to lay criminal charges.

I can tell you, from having spoken with Commissioner Thomas Braidwood myself, that when this Inquiry began, he had not ruled out that one of his findings could be that the Taser should be pulled from use. The inquiry's lead counsel has also said that perhaps one of the most severe results could be a finding of misconduct against the police involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death.

Findings and conclusions of this sort would carry some political weight. It would be difficult, for instance, for BC's solicitor General to ignore a recommendation to remove the Taser from the hands of RCMP officers in the province, given it was the province that asked for this inquiry. However, it would likely be in the hands of the RCMP's commissioner as to how to deal with any recommendations applying to the officers or police procedures or training. While the officers have yet to testify, several of the lawyers representing them have repeatedly insisted that they acted according to police procedure, protocol and training. That training will become a focus of the inquiry when they appear, as will the question of whether their actions were in accordance with it.

Posted February 3, 2009 01:07 PM

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