January 13, 2015
By James Keller
VANCOUVER – A Mountie who stunned Robert Dziekanski with a Taser the night the Polish immigrant died denied allegations Tuesday that he and his fellow officers colluded to fabricate a story to justify their actions.
Const. Kwesi Millington, one of four officers who confronted Dziekanski at Vancouver’s airport in October 2007, told his perjury trial that he never discussed the incident with his colleagues.
Millington is accused of lying at a public inquiry in 2009, particularly when he attempted to explain discrepancies between an amateur video of the confrontation and what he wrote in his notes and told homicide investigators.
The Crown alleges the four officers concocted a story to tell investigators and then lied at the public inquiry to cover up their initial deception.
Crown counsel Scott Fenton pointed to several details in Millington’s initial notes and statements that were contradicted by the video. For example, Millington said Dziekanski remained standing after the first jolt of the Taser and that the officers wrestled the man to the ground, when in fact Dziekanski fell on his own as soon as he was stunned.
“I’m going to suggest that … you all agreed you had to wrestle him to the ground, that he was such a force of nature that would justify the use of force that was deployed on him,” Fenton said during Millington’s second day testifying in his own defence.
“That didn’t happen,” Millington replied.
The officers were called to the airport after Dziekanski, who arrived from Poland about 10 hours earlier and did not speak English, started throwing furniture in the international terminal.
A bystander’s video shows the four officers approach Dziekanski, who at that point was calm with his hands by his sides.
Soon after, Dziekanski walks to a desk, picks up a stapler and turns to face the officers. That prompts Millington to fire the Taser for the first time, sending Dziekanski screaming and writhing on the floor.
In the days that followed, Millington claimed Dziekanski had the stapler “held high” before he was stunned.
Millington told the inquiry he only meant Dziekanski was holding the stapler at chest level — an assertion he repeated on Tuesday.
“It makes no sense to suggest ‘high’ means simply above the waist,” said Fenton. “I’m going to suggest it’s absurd.”
“I don’t think it’s absurd,” replied Millington.
The Crown says the four officers’ notes and statements contained similar errors, all of which painted Dziekanski as more aggressive and dangerous than he was. The only explanation, the Crown alleges, is that the officers conspired to lie.
The Crown also alleges the officers met before the public inquiry to discuss their testimony. The trial heard from Janice Norgard, whose former spouse is one of the officer’s cousins, who claimed the officers gathered at her house near Vancouver shortly before appearing at the inquiry.
Millington’s lawyer has cast doubt on the woman’s testimony, suggesting the officers were either not in Vancouver or were busy meeting separately with their lawyers on the days the alleged meeting could have occurred.
Const. Bill Bentley was acquitted of the same charge last year, though the Crown is appealing.
Former corporal Benjamin (Monty) Robinson stood trial late last year and is awaiting a verdict.
Const. Gerry Rundel is scheduled to start his trial on Wednesday.
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Commentary by the Ottawa Mens CentreCanada fails to have a Zero Tolerance with Criminal Offences committed by Police Officers.