Thursday, September 24, 2009

Braidwood Inquiry resumes bickering

after being derailed just prior to final summation in June by the sudden appearance of an email written on Nov. 5, 2007 in which Chief Supt. Dick Bent alluded to the four officers' having a plan to TASER™ Robert Dziekanski prior to arriving on the scene, in direct contradiction to their sworn testimony that they did not have such a plan.

There's lots of media on this so I'm not going over all of it, but a couple of the more obvious Cover Your Ass points are being under-reported here.

Constables Bill Bentley, Kwesi Millington, Gerry Rundel and Cpl. Monty Robinson, who all gave startling similar but - according to the video we've seen -clearly wrong accounts of the events, were permitted to work together for several weeks after the incident.

The email from Chief Supt. Dent to Assistant Commissioner Al Macintyre regarding his conversation with Supt. Wayne Rideout on the eve of the release of bystander Paul Pritchard's video, which showed Dziekanski being Tasered five times, being restrained and dying face down in handcuffs on the airport floor :

Media Strategy — Release of YVR video.
Al, spoke with Wayne Rideout today about our strategy for the release of the video. He had a couple of concerns. First, he didn't think we should be providing any explanation for what was transpiring but instead just say the Inquest will take evidence under oath etc. I went through the rationale and said we need to have an explanation otherwise our detractors will put their own spin.
...then a paragraph on who would be the best media point man to "do the narrative" in order that they not "lose the perception of independence", then :

Finally, spoke to Wayne and he indicated that the members did not articulate that they saw symptoms of excited delirium, but instead had discussed the response en route and decided that if he did not comply that they would go to CEW. He has asked investigators for a synopsis and should have it by noon tomorrow.

Rideout testified on Tuesday that Dent's interpretation of their conversation is "wrong" and his superior Dent, who is due to retire in two weeks, reluctantly admitted that might be possible.
Al Macintyre has said he never even received this email but as a week of his blackberried emails from Nov 1 to 8th has gone missing, this is impossible to verify.

The RCMP has belatedly released another 18,000 relevant documents since June but the inquiry is wrapping up with closing arguments scheduled to begin on Oct. 5 regardless.

Meanwhile, the break in proceedings caused by the sudden appearance of the not-terribly-explosive-after-all email gave the four RCMP officers time to file in Appeals Court seeking a "permanent injunction to prevent the commission from continuing any proceedings against them", while Taser Int is asking the B.C. Supreme Court to quash all 19 of Justice Braidwood's recommendations.

And suddenly, B.C.'s police chiefs and top RCMP officers, including Rideout who calls the current in house investigation system an "unwinnable image problem", are all over the media recommending a new independent office to investigate police, but most balk at the suggestion that such a body be comprised entirely of civilian investigators.

Too much CYA still going on here all round.

My confidence in the Braidwood Inquiry took a beating in June when Justice Braidwood held a presser in which he displayed a childlike thrill at learning all about tasers immediately followed by blaming the media for much of the public lack of trust in the RCMP.
We'll see.
Braidwood Inquiry posts to date.

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