New indictments have been filed against two Mounties accused of perjury at a public inquiry into Robert Dziekanski’s death, adding an allegation the officers lied when they testified that they hadn’t talked about what happened after his death.
Mr. Dziekanski, who was immigrating to Canada from Poland, died on the floor of the Vancouver airport after he was repeatedly stunned with an RCMP taser in October, 2007.
All four RCMP officers involved in the fatal confrontation were charged with one count of perjury. One of them, Constable Bill Bentley, has already been tried and acquitted.
Constable Kwesi Millington, former corporal Benjamin (Monty) Robinson, and Constable Gerry Rundel have trials in front of judges scheduled later this year, with Constable Millington’s scheduled first in March.
The Crown filed amended indictments last week against Constable Millington and Mr. Robinson. The documents, which contain unproven allegations that haven’t been tested in court, outline the specific instances in which the Crown alleges the men lied when they testified at the public inquiry in 2009.
The documents are largely similar to the earlier indictments. They allege the officers lied several times when they testified about what happened, and when they attempted to explain apparent discrepancies between an eyewitness video of the incident and what they wrote in their police notes and told investigators.
The documents also allege they lied when they said they didn’t discuss what happened before speaking with homicide investigators in the hours following Mr. Dziekanski’s death in the early morning of Oct. 14, 2007.
But the amended indictments also contain one new allegation: that Constable Millington and Mr. Robinson lied when they told the inquiry they hadn’t discussed the details of what happened after that day.
The added material on Constable Millington’s indictment alleges he lied “when he testified that he had no communications with Cpl. Benjamin Robinson, Const. Bill Bentley or Const. Gerry Rundel since Oct. 14, 2007, regarding the events related to the incident involving Robert Dziekanski.”
On Mr. Robinson’s indictment, the amended section alleges he lied “when he testified that he never had any conversations with constables Bill Bentley, Gerry Rundel or Kwesi Millington regarding the incident involving Robert Dziekanski after Oct. 14, 2007, other than to speak about their feelings with respect to the event.”
A Crown lawyer confirmed that new indictments had been filed, but otherwise declined to discuss the case.
Constable Millington’s lawyer declined to comment on the new court documents, while Mr. Robinson’s lawyer could not be reached.
The four RCMP officers were called to Vancouver’s airport after a report about a man throwing furniture in the international terminal. Within seconds of arriving, Constable Millington stunned Mr. Dziekanski several times with a taser. Mr. Dziekanski, who spoke no English, died on the floor of the international arrivals terminal.
The case sparked a national debate about the use of tasers and how the officers responded, particularly after a video emerged a month later that appeared to contradict the RCMP’s official version of events.
Mr. Dziekanski’s death led to widespread changes to how police across Canada user tasers and also prompted the public inquiry, which heard from dozens of witnesses throughout 2009, including the four RCMP officers. Each told the inquiry that Mr. Dziekanski was stunned because he posed a threat.
Commissioner Thomas Braidwood released a report in 2010 that said the officers used excessive force and then displayed a “willingness to repeatedly misrepresent what happened,” first to homicide investigators and then at the inquiry. He also concluded “the four officers did discuss the incident among themselves before they were interviewed by the [homicide] investigators.”
Mr. Braidwood did not have the power to make legal findings of wrongdoing, and his conclusions can’t be used against the officers. A special prosecutor was appointed following the release of Mr. Braidwood’s report and the officers were each charged with perjury in 2011.
Constable Bentley stood trial last year, with the Crown alleging similarities between the four officers’ statements and their own notes proved they worked together to fake a story and then lied to cover up their deceit.
But the judge acquitted Constable Bentley after concluding the Crown failed to prove he lied at any point at the inquiry and that there were other reasonable explanations for what the officer told police and wrote in his notes. The judge noted several civilian witnesses told similar stories when recounting what happened.
Constable Bentley’s defence lawyer argued any inaccuracies were honest mistakes that were the product of a fast-moving, stressful situation.
The Crown has filed an appeal of Constable Bentley’s acquittal, though it’s not clear when the B.C. Appeal Court will hear the case.
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