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British Columbia RCMP officer linked to Dziekanski airport death acquitted in perjury case

RCMP Constable Gerry Rundel, above in 2009, said the Crown laid charges on a theory that “not only defies common sense, it defies logic.”

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Another RCMP officer who was involved in Robert Dziekanski's death at Vancouver airport has been acquitted of perjury for his testimony at a public inquiry – the last of four verdicts that saw another Mountie acquitted while two others were found guilty.

Constable Gerry Rundel was acquitted Thursday in B.C. Supreme Court. The Crown had alleged the four officers who responded to the call involving Mr. Dziekanski colluded on a story to tell homicide investigators and later lied at the public inquiry.

Constable Rundel, in a written statement, thanked the judge for "seeing the truth."

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"In Oct of 2007 four officers answered a 911 call at the airport. We responded as we were trained to. Sadly Robert Dziekanski lost his life," the statement read.

Glen Orris, Constable Rundel's lawyer, said the judge found the Crown's theory lacking.

"[The judge] basically said, 'on the evidence as I interpret it, the Crown's failed to prove their case,'" he said in an interview.

Mr. Orris said the judge also found Constable Rundel's statements at the inquiry to have been credible.

Constable Bill Bentley was the first of the officers to stand trial for perjury. All of the cases were heard by a different judge. Constable Bentley was acquitted in July, 2013, with the judge in his case ruling the Crown had "not shown that in any particular [instance] Mr. Bentley made a false statement knowing it to be false and with intent to mislead the inquiry."

Constable Kwesi Millington, the officer who repeatedly stunned Mr. Dziekanski with a taser, was convicted of perjury in February. The judge in that case said Constable Millington's explanations were "simply preposterous" and the officer had strong incentive to lie. For instance, the officer had said Mr. Dziekanski remained standing after the first jolt of the taser and had to be wrestled to the ground. A video showed that was not true.

Former corporal Benjamin (Monty) Robinson, who was the senior officer, was convicted in March. The judge noted the officers made similar mistakes in their testimony – such as Mr. Dziekanski needing to be wrestled to the ground – and the only explanation was that they colluded.

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Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie has said judges can come to different conclusions in cases that offer somewhat different evidence.

Mr. Orris said the inconsistent verdicts were "troubling" and the trials should not have been conducted separately. "The public looks at this and says, 'One judge says they colluded, and one judge says they didn't, what's going on here?'"

Mr. Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who did not speak English, had come to Canada to live with his mother but became lost and wandered the airport for 10 hours. He eventually began throwing furniture in the arrivals area and was stunned with the taser seconds after the officers arrived on the scene. He died on the airport floor.

Constable Rundel, in his statement, thanked his family for its support and said it had "been deeply affected by this tragedy." He also lashed out at the Crown, the public inquiry and the RCMP.

He said the Crown laid charges on a theory that "not only defies common sense, it defies logic." He said there was not enough time after the incident for the officers to have conspired. He said the two judges who rendered guilty verdicts did so only on the Crown's flawed theory.

Constable Rundel said the public inquiry commissioner's findings were also flawed. Justice Thomas Braidwood found the officers repeatedly misrepresented what happened at the airport for self-serving purposes.

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Of the RCMP, Constable Rundel said the force needs to "publicly back their officers when they act according to training, policy and procedure, in order to prevent falsehoods from spinning out of control, and influencing the processes."

An RCMP spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment on a decision of the court.

With a report from James Keller.

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