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.

Cross-posted to The Shotgun.


Mark said...

The part in quotes :)

Anonymous said...

it is pretty well evident to anyone with an IQ above that of an earthworm that this man was killed for no reason. These cops should be charged with manslaughter.
This disgusting incident sure raises questions about the guilt of the guy who shot the two mounties in Manitoba. He claims that he was never given a chance to surrender but was shot at before a word was uttered. I, for one, believe him.
This quartet of vigilanties have cast doubt on anything the mounties say. I don't believe they will be in the service very long because the RCMP will ship them off to nowhereville in the Arctic to keep them out of the public eye.

Bernier's bad bet

Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press Maxime Bernier is taking a gamble. He believes that there is a large, disenfranchised voting bloc in Canada...