The RCMP officers who confronted Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver’s airport the night the Polish man died are scheduled to stand trial on perjury charges late next year and 2013.
Mr. Dziekanski died after he was stunned multiple times with a taser in October of 2007, prompting a high-profile public inquiry in which the officers took the stand to defend their actions.
The Mounties weren’t charged for the fatal confrontation, but a special prosecutor announced perjury charges earlier this year in connection with the officers’ testimony at the inquiry.
Constables Bill Bentley, Kwesi Millington and Gerry Rundell and Corporal Benjamin Robinson were each charged with perjury, although they were charged under separate indictments and aren’t expected to stand trial together.
Court records indicate jury selection for Constable Bentley’s case is set for Oct. 4, 2012, with a trial scheduled to begin four days later. Cpl. Robinson’s trial is scheduled for April of 2013, while Constable Millington’s trial is set for October of 2013.
A date for Constable Rundell’s trial hasn’t been set, but that could happen at a court appearance next week.
Lawyers for the officers have said they will vigorously defend themselves against the perjury accusations.
The four officers were called to Vancouver airport after several 911 calls about a man throwing furniture in the international terminal. Mr. Dziekanski, who didn’t speak English, had been at the airport for about 10 hours, lost and unable to find his mother.
Amateur video showed the officers surround Mr. Dziekanski, who by then had stopped throwing furniture. Within seconds of arriving, Millington stunned Dziekanski with a Taser several times.
The officers each testified that Dziekanski became a threat when he picked up a stapler, and they insisted they feared for their safety and the safety of other passengers at the airport.
Crown prosecutors initially cleared the officers of wrongdoing, concluding they acted reasonably in the circumstances, but the Braidwood report prompted the provincial government to appoint a special prosecutor to review the file again.
Special prosecutor Richard Peck declined to lay charges related to the physical confrontation, but he recommended charges of perjury. Those charges are proceeding through direct indictment, which means they won’t require preliminary inquiries before trial.
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