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British Columbia Third perjury trial linked to Dziekanski’s taser death begins

Const. Kwesi Millington leaves court in Vancouver, on March 10, 2014. The RCMP officer who stunned Robert Dziekanski with a Taser at Vancouver's airport was in court Monday to face a charge of perjury.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The RCMP officer who stunned Robert Dziekanski with a taser at Vancouver's airport was in court Monday to face a charge of perjury, as the Crown again alleged the four Mounties involved in Mr. Dziekanski's death lied to a public inquiry.

Constable Kwesi Millington shocked Mr. Dziekanski multiple times with a taser during a confrontation in October, 2007. He was among four officers called to the airport.

The officers were forced to explain their actions at a public inquiry that was held two years later, and all four were later charged with perjury for their testimony.

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Constable Millington is the third officer to face trial. Constable Bill Bentley was acquitted of the same charge last year, while former corporal Benjamin (Monty) Robinson's trial began last week and continued Monday in another courtroom.

In each case, the Crown has advanced the same theory: that the officers lied to investigators immediately after Mr. Dziekanski's death and then again at the public inquiry as they attempted to square their earlier lies with an amateur video of the incident.

"In their testimony, each sought to explain the factual discrepancies between their statements [to homicide investigators] and the [amateur] video's depiction of actual events," Crown counsel Eric Gottardi said Monday during his opening statement.

"We argue that Constable Millington, in giving his testimony under oath, gave false testimony with intent to mislead the inquiry."

As in the other trials, the Crown intends to argue each of the officers' statements contained similar errors. For example, the officers initially said Mr. Dziekanski was wrestled to the ground, when the video clearly shows he fell after the first jolt from the taser.

The Crown argues the officers must have colluded before speaking with investigators, though prosecutors have never said when they believe that collusion took place.

But Mr. Robinson's and Constable Millington's trials also include a new allegation, not heard during Constable Bentley's trial, that the officers got together shortly before the inquiry to discuss their testimony.

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A witness named Janice Norgard, who is the former spouse of Constable Bentley's cousin, testified last week at Mr. Robinson's trial that the four officers gathered at her house in Richmond, B.C., in early 2009, though she said she didn't hear what they talked about.

Ms. Norgard came forward after Constable Bentley's acquittal.

The timing of the meeting has been a moving target. Ms. Norgard said it happened in late January or early February, 2009. During the opening statement at Mr. Robinson's trial, the Crown put the meeting in early February. And on Monday, the Crown told Constable Millington's trial it was late February.

Mr. Robinson's defence lawyer suggested Ms. Norgard's memory is faulty and the meeting actually happened in May. Constable Millington's lawyer has yet to address the alleged meeting.

Constable Gerry Rundel, whose perjury trial is scheduled for the new year, began his testimony on Feb. 23, 2009. Mr. Robinson was the final officer to testify, wrapping up in late March of that year.

Constable Millington pleaded not guilty in March this year, when his trial began and was abruptly adjourned to deal with a defence application.

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The officers were called to the airport after Mr. Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who spoke no English, started throwing furniture in the international terminal.

Shortly after arriving, Constable Millington deployed his taser, causing Mr. Dziekanski to scream and fall to the ground. The court heard Monday that the taser was deployed five times.

Mr. Dziekanski was handcuffed and died on the airport floor.

A video, shot by another traveller, was released a month later and appeared to contradict what the RCMP had said publicly about Mr. Dziekanski's death.

The B.C. government responded by calling a public inquiry to examine the policies around Taser use and the specific circumstances of Mr. Dziekanski's death.

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