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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What part of "tell the truth" doesn't the RCMP understand?

With the long-overdue inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski under way, it's hard to go a day without seeing another Mountie from the incident shown on the evening news changing his official story to better reflect, you know, reality.

It's painfully obvious at this point that almost nothing the Mounties responsible for Mr. Dziekanski's death put on the record about that day has escaped creative editing to make them look as though they were in the right. What really boggles the mind is that none of them seem to have even been willing to deal with the reality that the whole sordid affair was caught on tape. The only thing they don't seem to be denying is that they took none of the actions they could have to help him once they realized he had stopped breathing.

Richmond Fire Capt. Kirby Graeme has testified that as the first paramedic on the scene, he was shocked to see Mounties "standing around" not monitoring Mr. Dziekanski, who was lying motionless and blue, "not in anything remotely resembling a recovery position."


Kelly McParland has an excellent editorial on the inquiry at the National Post's Full Comment blog. Here are a few excerpts:

"The 40-year-old Mr. Dziekanski did not grab a killer stapler and wave it threateningly over his head, as the police claimed. He did not advance on four officers with threatening gestures. He did not stay on his feet after the first jolt of the Taser they fired at him. He did not have to be wrestled to the ground. He did not, it appears from the testimony of the officers who were there that day, represent any kind of threat at all. [...]"

"[...] How many times have Canadians heard police testify that they were forced to take aggressive action because of threatening action by a suspect, backing up the claim by reading from the notes they made at the scene? How many court cases have turned on judges accepting the validity of contemporaneous notes made by police, backed up by the corroboration of their colleagues at the scene? The Dziekanski hearing suggests such “evidence” is no more valid than the claims of a shoplifter, caught with a toaster oven in his back seat, that “someone must have put it there.”

Without the video evidence in this case we'd still think Robert Dziekanski was some kind of violent and unstable brute, throwing around furniture and smashing windows, who had to be subdued by four RCMP officers at risk to their own safety. His death would be written off as the tragic result of his own unfathomable actions, just as was obviously intended by the Mounties' tale. It's not even remotely true, and the next time a police officer takes the stand backed solely by his notes and his own testimony, it will have to be called sharply into question. Thanks to the RCMP and their role in the death of Robert Dziekanski."

Read the rest here.

It's impossible to stop police who are going to manipulate their reporting of events to wash their hands of any wrongdoing from doing so. Hopefully, though, the uncovering in such a high profile case that that's exactly what these officers attempted to do will help to make judges and juries in the future take into account that they need to be wary of this possibility.

h/t for the McParland article: Ker.

Posted by Janet Neilson on March 3, 2009 | Permalink

Comments

Ever watch COPS? This sort of thing happens all the time. Remember all suspects are guilty until proven innocent in a court of law, ahhhh I mean innocent until proven guilty.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-03-03 12:58:21 PM


After a year of the BC Crown Attorney's office sitting on the case, b/c assurances to the RCMP by Premier Gordon Campbell and RCMP head William Elliott, and folks who watched the video and wouldn't believe their lying eyes, it turns out that the cops themselves have blown the case wide-open. What lying sacks, what utterly stupid, cruel, incompetent bastards.

And I note that the collective outrage no longer rests on one side of the political aisle. Left and right alike are outraged. The RCMP has no credibility left--it can't even figure out what "SOS" means. But worse, it has no honour.

Time to disband the force and rebuild it from the ground up. Keep the good officers, weed out the bad. Break up the cliques. Set up third-party civilian oversight with teeth.

McPartland is right on the money. But we need to ask ourselves about the corporate culture that spawned and nurtured these brutes. If we aren't willing to do that, there will be more Dziekanskis. And the horrible thought occurs: how many Dziekanskis have we already had?

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2009-03-03 1:15:28 PM


It is my opinion the officer who pulled the trigger should be charged and found guilty of manslaughter and all other officers present accessories to the crime for doing nothing to assist the man.

I know however they will either be absolved or transferred.

The RCMP, like most federal law enforcement is corrupt, self serving and more or less invincible.

I'm not advocating it at all, but it's often feelings of powerlessness in due process that drive people to extremism.

Posted by: Pete | 2009-03-03 1:18:54 PM


I was raised and did believe that the R.C.M.P. was the greatest and most honourable police force in the world. Yet what the world saw in the Vancouver airport was conduct unbecoming officers anywhere and anytime. Mr. Dziekanski was simply hoping for a new life with his mother when he arrived in Vancouver. He died at the hands of four policemen who decided to shoot first and ask questions later.

Posted by: Jane Durr | 2009-03-03 1:53:02 PM


"I feared for my life because he had a stapler" ???
You have GOT to be kidding!
Last night here in Calgary police "subdued" a knife weilding man without firing..."anything".
Now that's good police work!
These Mounties in Vancouver represent the worst of police hooliganism. Shame on them all.

Posted by: JC | 2009-03-03 2:42:58 PM


I find myself in complete agreement with Dr.Dawg for perhaps the first time ever. It is wonderful to see the discussion is finally gravitating to where it should have been from the start - not on the issue of the safety of Tasers, but on the cowardly and out-of-control actions of the officers and their cowardly and evil attempt to cover their misconduct up.

I was immediately skeptical of the RCMP version of events, based on the first few days of news reports, and long before the video evidence came out. If four officers cannot take down one unarmed man in an enclosed setting - that's one officer per limb - without the use of weapons, there is a serious problem with basic police training.

The police like to remind the public that they "put their lives on the line every day," and I don't mean to dinimish the risks they take. But it is difficult to get all choked up when four officers aren't even prepared to risk being stapled. (I attribute a significant part of the wimpification of the police force to politically correct hiring practices in the past generation. Feminizing combat entails putting risk-reduction to officers first and foremost in training.) Five - count em - FIVE Taser shots!! It's absurd on its face.

But let there be no mistake: It's not just the RCMP, and its not just police-conduct cover-ups we have to be concerned about. Anyone who has practiced criminal law for any length of time knows that there is a problem with police officers embellishing their evidence in order to secure a conviction. (It is perfectly consistent and even reasonable to suppose that O.J. Simpson was guilty, AND that the police planted the bloody glove at his residence.)

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2009-03-03 3:02:27 PM


I find myself in complete agreement with Dr.Dawg for perhaps the first time ever. It is wonderful to see the discussion is finally gravitating to where it should have been from the start - not on the issue of the safety of Tasers, but on the cowardly and out-of-control actions of the officers and their cowardly and evil attempt to cover their misconduct up.

I was immediately skeptical of the RCMP version of events, based on the first few days of news reports, and long before the video evidence came out. If four officers cannot take down one unarmed man in an enclosed setting - that's one officer per limb - without the use of weapons, there is a serious problem with basic police training.

The police like to remind the public that they "put their lives on the line every day," and I don't mean to dinimish the risks they take. But it is difficult to get all choked up when four officers aren't even prepared to risk being stapled. (I attribute a significant part of the wimpification of the police force to politically correct hiring practices in the past generation. Feminizing combat entails putting risk-reduction to officers first and foremost in training.) Five - count em - FIVE Taser shots!! It's absurd on its face.

But let there be no mistake: It's not just the RCMP, and its not just police-conduct cover-ups we have to be concerned about. Anyone who has practiced criminal law for any length of time knows that there is a problem with police officers embellishing their evidence in order to secure a conviction. (It is perfectly consistent and even reasonable to suppose that O.J. Simpson was guilty, AND that the police planted the bloody glove at his residence.)

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2009-03-03 3:03:10 PM


I find myself in complete agreement with Dr.Dawg for perhaps the first time ever. It is wonderful to see the discussion is finally gravitating to where it should have been from the start - not on the issue of the safety of Tasers, but on the cowardly and out-of-control actions of the officers and their cowardly and evil attempt to cover their misconduct up.

I was immediately skeptical of the RCMP version of events, based on the first few days of news reports, and long before the video evidence came out. If four officers cannot take down one unarmed man in an enclosed setting - that's one officer per limb - without the use of weapons, there is a serious problem with basic police training.

The police like to remind the public that they "put their lives on the line every day," and I don't mean to dinimish the risks they take. But it is difficult to get all choked up when four officers aren't even prepared to risk being stapled. (I attribute a significant part of the wimpification of the police force to politically correct hiring practices in the past generation. Feminizing combat entails putting risk-reduction to officers first and foremost in training.) Five - count em - FIVE Taser shots!! It's absurd on its face.

But let there be no mistake: It's not just the RCMP, and its not just police-conduct cover-ups we have to be concerned about. Anyone who has practiced criminal law for any length of time knows that there is a problem with police officers embellishing their evidence in order to secure a conviction. (It is perfectly consistent and even reasonable to suppose that O.J. Simpson was guilty, AND that the police planted the bloody glove at his residence.)

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2009-03-03 3:06:02 PM


It appears that this is more of a witch hunt than an inquiry to obtain the truth and to learn from it. Yes, it is indeed sad that the man died, but please do not make him into a totally innocent victim. His behaviour was what caused the situation to escalate in the first place.

Furthermore both Immigration and the airport authorities are even more suspect and the inquiry should focus on their role along with the conduct of the RCMP.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-03-03 3:12:28 PM


Who said anything about Dziekanski being innocent? He was, but that's beside the issue.

It could have been Bin Laden in the Vancouver Airport, and I would feel just as horrified and outraged if four RCMP officers had Tasered him five times before talking to him, killed him, then falsified their reports to exculpate themselves from serious misconduct.

The RCMP sent "investigators" on a million-dollar junket to Poland to learn that Dziekanski was a drunk, releasing all the dirt they could find out about him to the media in an attempt to whitewash their actions before the public could discover the whole truth. Sorry, the whole story stinks to high heaven. Everything about it confirms what a cowardly, lying, gang are at work on this file.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2009-03-03 3:29:57 PM


It's a sad situation to witness,that four officers couldn't put a set of handcuffs on this poor individual.We like to think that no one is above the law.Whats the bet that this too will go unpunished as the lies are what their all about,to save their own skin.How often have we seen this in our courts that their word is taken as Gospel? Wake up Canada, the Police State is on its way.

Posted by: Doug Volek | 2009-03-03 4:35:57 PM


"Why the Mounties can't get their men
National Post Editorial

Monday, June 27, 2005

The RCMP complained this week that it had too few qualified recruits last year to replace the number of officers who retired. Applications were off by 28% and only 232 new officers joined, rather than the 300 hoped for.

The force attributes the dearth of prospective recruits to competition: There are too many other attractive career choices for young men and women. Its solution? Buy a brightly coloured van and cruise Ontario and Quebec campuses looking for warm bodies; maybe conduct some focus groups to see why young people aren't attracted to RCMP careers.

We can save them the trouble (and taxpayers the expense).

If too few well-qualified applicants are seeking admission to the RCMP's academy in Regina, it is likely because the Mounties have done all they could in the last decade to scare off young white males.

While brass deny it, for a time in the mid-1990s the RCMP had a "no white males" policy. Some recruiters admitted to applicants that the force had a five-year backlog of Caucasian men and wouldn't consider any more until it had reached its gender and racial hiring goals. Just to get an interview, white males needed a score of 115 on the police aptitude test, women needed a 96 and visible minority candidates an 86."

Posted by: DJ | 2009-03-03 4:50:35 PM


I'm surprised they didn't try and plant drugs on his body. Some cops are as bad as the criminals they chase. The cops in BC that day were sucking big-time.

I agree with DJ's observation from the Post on the RCMP's lack of depth in hiring and the fiasco of the 1990s. They've shot themselves in both feet. Why have steak when you can have burgers?

Posted by: Buddha Chan | 2009-03-03 5:44:19 PM


My nephew is in Regina, doing basic training, right now. He's a mature, white, man. He's 40 years old, with a long military career behind him. I was surprised to find out how much the standards have changed over the years. They're taking 50 year olds now. Maybe I should give it a try. I even have my own gun.

I saw the mountie who tased the bro on the news last night. He's young, black, and has an African sounding name. So much for any kind of consequences for killing a white Europian.

Posted by: dp | 2009-03-03 6:15:14 PM


I saw the mountie who tased the bro on the news last night. He's young, black, and has an African sounding name. So much for any kind of consequences for killing a white Europian.

Posted by: dp | 2009-03-03 6:15:14 PM


dp
With the way morals and ethics are being washed down the drain in this country...you may have just hit on the exact reason I'd predict a white wash.

Posted by: JC | 2009-03-03 7:04:58 PM


Oh, come on. It's irresponsible to bring race into this.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2009-03-03 7:37:28 PM


Grant, I am a firm believer that people are accountable for their actions and that is why I maintain that the Polish immigrant's behaviour was unacceptable and was the cause of the escalation. Did he deserve to die? Of course not. However a proper inquiry should take into account everyone's actions and contribution. I do not say this to excuse the RMCP.

DJ also makes a valid point with which I agree, although probably for different reasons. The fact is that due to affirmative action, now called employment equity, the RCMP like other federal agencies have been forced to water down their requirements in order to meet their "targets" for women, visible minorities and natives. I witnessed the same insane policy in Correctional Services Canada where they hired 5'2" females to work as guards in an all male maximum security prison. No one could expect them to be able to deal with aggressive inmates, so the larger male guards did everything possible to avoid being paired up with them. Such policies are asking for trouble and again I witness the same with the RCMP.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-03-03 7:41:32 PM


Oh, come on. It's irresponsible to bring race into this.
Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2009-03-03 7:37:28 PM

Why? If the cop had been white and the victim black you'd being hearing an outcry from the likes of you.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-03-03 7:44:10 PM


...while what the 4 RCMP's did was wrong, I also have to lay blame on the Rent-a-Cops YVR security who are also seen in the video footage.

I cannot however tell what actions they tried in calming the man down, but I do remember seeing one of those yellow jackets take a linebacker offensive stand in the doorway. Foot down, foot down wide stance per se.

Who knows what they told the cops - they have a wild and crazy guy in the room threating them with tables and chairs.

So in one sense I can imagine the RC's were spiked with adrenaline to stop a mad man in response.

I had posted earlier somewhere about what's the chances of seeing 4 RCMP's arriving at the same time.

Either it was a quiet night or the YVR Security made it sound like a overblown psycho with a chain saw was running rampage through a crowded airport.

To me, I think it was the latter. The RCMP were responding to a trumped up call-in.

BUT, but, at the same time when they arrived, they (and this isn't hind-sight) didn't do any action to calm the man down. You know, like a simple finger to the mouth "Shhh" or a downward motion of the hand to 'sit down', if anything on the video you can overhear one asking the other as they walked into the room if they should tazer him.

Premeditated murder comes to mind. Manslaughter is another.

And the YVR Security is an accomplice to this.

Whitewash will harm the RCMP for years to come unfortunately and I feel for the men in Scarlet who serve with their whole heart how this affects them, as well knowing their superiors are a bunch of lying ......

Sad day for Canada. As one poster said, Rodney King North.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-03-03 7:47:07 PM


Oh, come on. It's irresponsible to bring race into this.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2009-03-03 7:37:28 PM


Agreed. I guess maybe I'm over reacting a little to having everyone else culture shoved down my throat. Still its not relevant point.

Posted by: JC | 2009-03-03 8:18:39 PM


JC- Stig's comment can't be dismissed. If the cop were white, and the victim black, we'd be into a heated argument over racism, not tasers.

Posted by: dp | 2009-03-03 9:35:03 PM


Good post and it's great that at least the debate rages on. This incident struck a nerve because Mr. Dziekanski was an innocent victim in need of help. There are many more victims like him including one person who was tased while sleeping. Somehow, justice is never served when the offender is a police officer. This must change. Just a couple of weeks ago, in Toronto, the media announced that the cops would be cracking down on drivers lined up at the Tim Horton's drive-thru on their way to work. Sure enough, a week later I was behind an unmarked police car at the drive-thru. The driver of the said car was swerving in and out of the line, blocking it sideways, waiting for a reaction, obviously attempting to provoke the other drivers. I looked closely at the driver and he looked back at me - he was in full uniform - a Toronto police officer. This is unrelated to the tragic incident but it got me thinking about the gang ridden city I live in and how this bozo saw it fit to spend his time trying to provoke working people so he could bust them for aggressive behaviour in a Doughnut Shop line-up. That smells

Posted by: Realist | 2009-03-03 9:35:23 PM


JC- Stig's comment can't be dismissed. If the cop were white, and the victim black, we'd be into a heated argument over racism, not tasers.

Posted by: dp | 2009-03-03 9:35:03 PM


You're absolutely right dp. I guess I felt like taking the high road on that one. But there is no doubt in my mind that Vancouver would have seen rioting had the victim been black. We've seen it before...

Posted by: JC | 2009-03-04 6:44:20 AM


40 year olds? Taking 50 year olds? Did I ask "Why have steak when you can have burgers?"? Why have steak when you can have no-name hotdogs?

@ Realist - Do you think the cop paid for his doubledouble and donut? Maybe he could spend time at Horny Tim's because Ontario is safer now that handguns are banned. ha ha

Posted by: Buddha Chan | 2009-03-04 6:47:24 AM


Interesting, we focus on this case but ignore Vincent Li. The guy murders a young man on a bus and is repeatedly tasered(and allowed to run around on the bus for over an hour). The murdering psycho asks to be killed but our supposedly out of control police don't shoot him. Now, they will use the mental insanity argument to give him a light sentence. Personally, I feel that they should have shot that lowlife right between the eyes. This case is a shining example of how we have both tied the hands of police and created a justice system that is criminal sympathetic. This sucker should have died and saved me the court cost. Instead, he lives. Now, I have heard that my tax money will go to aiding a Canadian double murderer who is on Montana's death row. I say enough! Li and other murderers deserve death. That guy in Montana also deserves death and not our government making an issue of it. If we don't have the nerve to bring back capital punishment, then lets stop trying to undermine those countries that aren't so lily livered.

Posted by: Jim | 2009-03-04 10:20:30 PM


"the next time a police officer takes the stand backed solely by his notes and his own testimony, it will have to be called sharply into question. Thanks to the RCMP and their role in the death of Robert Dziekanski"

Called into question for good cause - "testilying" by the police is a common practice. Corruption and criminal activity is rampant and pervasive in these organizations. But what do you expect when they are above the law - absolute power corrupt.

Posted by: Ted | 2009-03-05 12:56:37 AM


It is not just the police that are corrupt - this habit of lying under oath is encouraged by the crowns. They are partners in crime.

The only way to prevent this is to nail these guys to a cross when the are caught. These officers should have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law for each crime committed, including perjury, filing a false affidavit, obstructing an investigation. It would be harder to get thier superiors and the crowns, so they shold just be fired without cause.

That would send a message.

Posted by: Ted | 2009-03-05 1:01:24 AM



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