RCMP officer involved in death of Robert Dziekanski in 2007
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
Another trial over the death of Robert Dziekanski via taser in 2007 came to a verdict on February 20, with Constable Kwesi Millington having been found “guilty of perjury.”
Three other RCMP officers, Constable Gerry Rundel, Constable Bill Bentley, and Corporal Monty Robinson, were also charged with perjury regarding the case.
Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, was killed at the age of 40 on October 14, 2007 via use of taser by Millington. Dziekanski was confronted by the officers after waiting at the Vancouver International Airport for roughly 10 hours for his mother, Zofia Cisowski. Dziekanski reportedly began tossing furniture, as caught on video by one Paul Pritchard, which resulted in the use of taser to incapacitate Dziekanski; Dziekanski died shortly after.
Changes to airport and RCMP regulations were made in an attempt to prevent a similar incident from happening again. The use of tasers was restricted to being used on those “displaying combative behaviours or actively resisting officers,” according to the Globe and Mail.
An inquiry by BC Attorney-General Wally Oppal and Thomas Braidwood was launched as a result of Dziekanski’s death, with concerns that poor judgment and excessive force were contributing factors to the incident.
In December 2008, the four RCMP officers involved were found not guilty of Dziekanski’s death, and instead recognized the taser as only one of several contributing factors, reportedly including “heart disease and alcohol withdrawal.”
However, despite the verdict, the inquiry was reopened and eventually lead to the charges of perjury against the four officers, with Oppal and Braidwood believing the group lied during their testimonies in the earlier inquiry.
Amongst other statements, Millington argued Dziekanski was standing when tasered a second time, despite video footage showing Dziekanski lying on the ground.
“The Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Constable Millington gave oral evidence under oath which he knew at the time to be false, and he did so with the intention to mislead the inquiry,” ruled Judge William Ehrcke.
Bentley was acquitted of his perjury charge in 2013, but according to the CBC, the Crown has decided upon appealing the previous verdict.
When reports of Dziekanski’s death were first made in 2007, the Globe and Mail published an article stating that his “death was the 16th taser-related fatality in Canada … in four and 1/2 years.” The number of taser-related deaths contributed to the ensuing debates over use of the weapons in Canada.
Trials will still be occurring regarding the other officers’ charges of perjury.