A former Mountie involved in the death of a man jolted by a taser at Vancouver’s airport is suing the federal and provincial governments for damages, claiming he acted in accordance with RCMP training.
Kwesi Millington was in charge of the taser when he and three other Mounties approached a troubled Robert Dziekanski in 2007.
A public inquiry heard that Mr. Dziekanski was jolted five times with the taser just seconds after the officers approached him. He died on the floor of the arrivals terminal.
A lawsuit filed in the B.C. Supreme Court this week alleges that Mr. Millington’s actions were in line with RCMP policy and standards, and he was a victim of negligence and defamation, including a failure by the RCMP to correct “misinformation” it disclosed to media about what happened immediately following the event.
“The defendants’ conduct is reprehensible, calculated and exacted to cause harm to the plaintiff. As a result of the defendants’ extreme conduct, the plaintiff has suffered pecuniary loss, mental and physical injury,” the civil claim says.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
The RCMP, on behalf of the federal government, and the provincial government declined to comment because the case was before the courts.
Mr. Millington and his senior officer, Benjamin (Monty) Robinson, were later found guilty in B.C. Supreme Court of colluding to make up testimony at the public inquiry into Mr. Dziekanski’s death. Mr. Millington was sentenced to 30 months for perjury.
The lawsuit filed Monday says that the Integrated Homicide Investigations Team found Mr. Millington and other RCMP officers acted in accordance with the RCMP’s training. An RCMP use-of-force instructor who trained Mr. Millington also testified during the inquiry into Mr. Dziekanski’s death that the four officers’ actions were consistent with their training, it says.
It alleges that public comments made by the RCMP following the death failed to state that its own internal investigation concluded the taser deployment at the airport was “entirely consistent” with their training.
The document says RCMP Commissioner William Elliott issued several statements after the death that had a damaging effect on Mr. Millington, including saying in 2009 that tasers can kill agitated subjects.
“The effect of this isolated statement without the inclusion of context that the members had acted in accordance with their training provided an opportunity for the public to reach unfounded conclusions about the RCMP members’ use of the Taser, specifically that it was excessive in the circumstances,” it says.
The public inquiry’s commissioner, Thomas Braidwood, said in his 470-page report that the officers approached the scene as if they were responding to a “barroom brawl.” He said they failed to reassess the situation when it became clear they were dealing with a distraught traveller who didn’t speak English, rather than the drunk, violent man they’d anticipated.
On Dec. 15, 2010, Commissioner Elliott publicly agreed with the findings of the inquiry report.
“I agree with the findings of the conduct of the three officers as well as Cpl. Robinson, fell short of that expected of members of the RCMP and that they did not adequately attempt to de-escalate the situation, nor did they approach a situation with a co-ordinated and measured response,” his statement said.
The civil claim says Mr. Millington has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, nervous shock, loss of career-advancement opportunities and other injuries.
“As a result of the defendants’ publication of the defamatory words, the plaintiff has been subjected to public ridicule, hatred, contempt and irreversible injury in his personal, professional and employment pursuits and has suffered damages to his reputation personally and in the way of his office, profession and calling,” the claim says.
“The malicious, high-handed, callous and arrogant conduct of the defendants” displayed a flagrant disregard for the plaintiff’s rights, the court document says.