VANCOUVER – The RCMP officer who stunned Robert Dziekanski with a Taser at Vancouver’s airport lied at a public inquiry into the Polish immigrant’s death, a judge ruled Friday.
Const. Kwesi Millington fired his Taser multiple times after he and three other officers were summoned to Vancouver’s airport in October 2007. Dziekanski, who spoke no English, had been throwing furniture in the international terminal.
Each of the officers were compelled to explain their actions at a subsequent public inquiry, and all four were later charged with perjury.
The Crown alleged they lied when they attempted to reconcile their initial accounts of what happened and what was recorded on an amateur video that was released later.
Millington’s verdict marks the first time a judge has concluded that one of the officers lied. Another Mountie, Const. Bill Bentley, was acquitted in 2013, while two other cases have not yet concluded.
Millington initially told homicide investigators that Dziekanski remained standing after the first jolt of the Taser and that he was still standing when Millington pulled the trigger a second time. The video, however, clearly shows Dziekanski fell to the ground after the first deployment.
Millington testified at the inquiry that he honestly believed at the time that Dziekanski was standing, even though he acknowledged on the stand that he was mistaken.
B.C. Supreme Court Judge William Ehrcke said Millington’s explanation was “patently false.”
“The Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Const. Millington gave oral evidence under oath which he knew at the time to be false and he did so with the intention to mislead the inquiry,” Ehrcke said Friday, as Millington listened from the prisoner’s dock.
Dziekanski’s mother, Zofia Cisowski, sat quietly in the public gallery as the judge read the verdict.
The Crown alleged the officers colluded on a story to tell homicide investigators and write in their police notes in an attempt to heighten the threat that Dziekianski posed. Prosecutors argued the officers’ statements and notes all contained similar errors, proving they worked together.
The Crown further alleged the officers met in the Vancouver area in the days or weeks before testifying at the inquiry in early 2009 to plan their testimony. A witness, whose ex-husband is Bentley’s cousin, told the court the officers met at her home, but the defence presented telephone records, credit card receipts and other evidence to cast doubt on her testimony.
Millington testified in his own defence.
He told the court he had no reason to lie because he was walking away from the Dziekanski incident confident that he had done nothing wrong. He denied colluding with the other officers, either on the night of Dziekanski’s death or before the inquiry.
The judge, however, said Millington had a motive to lie about what happened, and he noted that the officer’s errors all exaggerated the threat Dziekanski posed.
Midway through the trial, Millington’s lawyer applied to have the case thrown out because of a lack of evidence. The judge denied the request, concluding there was at least some evidence that, if believed, could result in a conviction.
Former corporal Benjamin (Monty) Robinson is awaiting a verdict and Const. Gerry Rundel’s trial, which proceeded in another courtroom on Friday, is almost finished.
The Crown has filed an appeal of Bentley’s acquittal.
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