Wednesday, March 25, 2009

RCMP : Getting away with murder

Exhibit A
In June 2008, in response to public outrage over Robert Dziekanski's death at YVR in 2007, the House of Commons public safety and national security committee threatened the RCMP with a complete ban on TASER™ use if "clear restrictions" were not put on officers discharging stun guns multiple times by December.
Eight months later, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott told the committee that the force had already introduced a revised Taser policy back in June 2008 to address that very concern : "We have taken steps to restrict its use."

At the time, many wondered why Elliott had waited a whole eight months to signal compliance with a policy already implemented.

Tonight CBC reports that instead, Elliott had actually relaxed the 2005 restrictions on multiple zappings, removing the following rule from the RCMP operational manual on conducted energy weapons :

3. 1. 3. Multiple deployment or continuous cycling of the CEW may be hazardous to a subject.
Unless situational factors dictate otherwise (see IM/IM), do not cycle the CEW repeatedly, nor more than 15-20 seconds at a time against a subject.

Cpl. Gregg Gillis, the RCMP's national use-of-force co-ordinator, cited two studies to explain the new position - one was funded by Taser Int., while the other did not address the effect of multiple TASER™ use on the heart at all.
Three of the officers involved in Dziekanski's death were trained by Gillis three months before but were unable to recall the policy. When questioned, Millington, who deployed the TASER™ on Dziekanski five times for a total of 31 seconds over one minute, said he would have to check the manual first to answer why there was a policy on multiple use.

Obviously if even their own manual does not prohibit it, individual RCMP officers cannot be held responsible - or charged or sued - for deaths by multiple TASER™.
Further, if another confused and frustrated immigrant walks through the Canadian Border Services Agency administered area of YVR tonight where the observation cameras apparently don't work and even when they do the tapes get erased, there is no reason to expect a different response and outcome than the one Dziekanski received.

In response to CBC's request for an interview, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott wrote: "Unfortunately I am not available to be interviewed."

Exhibit B
It is very unlikely that the Criminal Justice Branch of BC will change its decision to prosecute the RCMP officers who killed Robert Dziekanski - even following their appalling performance at the Braidwood Inquiry - because of the following criteria :
1) It must be determined that their prosecution would be in the public's interest
2) There must be a substantial likelihood of conviction

That the Crown had already seen Pritchard's video and apparently did not consider it to substantially contradicted the officers' statements tells us a good deal about their criteria.

Exhibit C

When the investigating officers from the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) interviewed the four officers about Dziekanski's death, they failed to warn them first of their rights under the Charter that anything they said could be held in evidence against them or that they had a right to have their lawyers present. Consequently all of that now utterly debunked original testimony - Dziekanski running at them screaming and brandishing a stapler and needing to be wrestled to the ground following multiple TASER™ use or the CBSA room being too crowded - is now considered contaminated for use in the courts.

And even if the IHIT team had warned the officers, what they say in testimony at a public inquiry cannot be used directly in evidence against them at any other proceeding. Plus the Braidwood Inquiry does not have any jurisdiction over the RCMP and cannot compel them to hold hearings or investigations.

The RCMP is a paramilitary organisation that from Elliott on down through the ranks ceased being accountable to the public quite some time ago. What can you do? Here's one facebook petition nearing 10,000 members.


thwap said...

So in other words, after this public embarrassment, it's business as usual?

There's nothing we can do but petition the same fuckers who've presided over dismantling our civil rights for years to bring these guys under control?

Anonymous said...

That is pretty horrible...I can not believe that! These people need to be stopped!

Cathie from Canada said...

Excellent summary -- we're now seeing "up-is-down"ism in Canada.

Paul said...

Maybe, just maybe, these people will get charged in Poland. Though, a conviction will certainly be too much to ask for, given the state of the RCMP's information "sharing".

Alison said...

Thwap : We're waiting to see what Justice Braidwood recommends and whether his recommendations are followed. Cold comfort, I know.
But consider that the federal Justice Ministry's position was that these guys needn't testify at all, till the BC SolGen said they had to.

Cathie : Classic, isn't it?

Paul : I'm actually more concerned that some kind of few bad apples crap doesn't smokescreen what is obviously required - a thorough overhaul top to bottom.

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