RCMP officer Kwesi Millington recalls little of Robert Dziekanski encounter
Perjury prosecutor in Vancouver attacks honesty of constable's recollections
RCMP Const. Kwesi Millington testified during his perjury trial that he recalls very little of the fatal encounter more than seven years ago with Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport.
"My memory is based on the video at this point," Millington said during his second day of testimony.
The Crown contends Millington lied 10 times when he appeared at a public inquiry in 2009.
In cross-examination on Tuesday, special prosecutor Scott Fenton openly doubted Millington's claims of a fractured memory, suggesting the officer lied in order to reconcile what he initially told investigators with what amateur video of the incident showed.
"You were trying to exaggerate the threat of Mr. Dziekanski," Fenton said.
Several of the allegations against Millington deal with his claim at the inquiry that he believed Dziekanski was still standing — and therefore still a threat — when he was stunned a second time with a Taser.
Fenton led Millington through the initial statements he made to investigators, just hours after the incident, that appear to contradict that fact.
"I was trying to recollect as good as I can, but I guess I made a mistake," Millington answered.
I'm going to suggest to you that as you sit here today, you realize that this answer is very problematic for you,” Fenton said.
“It suggests your testimony at the Braidwood inquiry is therefore false.”
"It's only after scrutiny of the statements [that] I realized I said the wrong things in some of the statements,” Millington explained.
"I'm going to suggest you weren't confused at the time, and I'm going to suggest you're not confused right now and I'll spend all afternoon on this if necessary," the special prosecutor responded.
Fenton also challenged Millington over the officer's claim at the inquiry that shortly after the incident, he genuinely, but mistakenly, believed all four officers had to wrestle Dziekanski to the ground.
"You agree with me your description made him sound like Mr. Dziekanski had this super human strength to resist a Taser?" Fenton said.
"I don't agree with that," Millington replied.
"I would suggest you would have had your eyes glued to him as he fell. So what was your actual memory?"
"I don't recall the exact specificity of it," Millington replied, "but that was my recollection".
"But it never happened?" Fenton asked.
"No," Millington responded.
The indictment against the Mountie also alleges he lied about the meaning of the word "high".
Millngton told investigators Dziekanski held a stapler "high" and that was part of the provocation for using the Taser.
At the inquiry, Millington insisted he only meant Dziekanski had the stapler above his waist and below his shoulders.
"I suggest that is absurd," Fenton challenged.
Millington countered that "high" could mean "chest high," a term even the prosecutor used.
"I've arrested people with hands at that height," Millington said. "Low to me would be down by your legs. As soon as you start to raise it up and you're above your waist, you're getting high."
Throughout the prosecutor's aggressive questioning, Millington appeared relaxed and unflappable.
He testified he never intended to mislead the Braidwood inquiry and his mistakes were the product of a "fast-moving situation."
Officers allegedly colluded
Fenton suggested they were the result of collaboration with his fellow officers.
However, one of the Crown's key allegations that the officers colluded appears to be on life support.
The special prosecutor contends all four Mounties involved met secretly in 2009, just prior to appearing at the inquiry to give their testimony.
Millington's lawyer produced banking information indicating the officer was making purchases in Toronto when the meeting was supposed to have occurred in Vancouver.
The same records also appear to confirm the officers' claim that they did meet, months later, when they had all finished testifying.
- A previous version of this story incorrectly said the Crown contends Millington lied 19 times when he appeared at a public inquiry in 2009. In fact, the Crown contends Millington lied ten times at the inquiry in 2009.Jan 14, 2015 11:36 AM PT