Sunday, May 08, 2011

Canadian Police involved in Pole's taser death face charges

Four Royal Canadian Mounted police officers who used a Taser on a Polish immigrant who died at Vancouver's airport are facing perjury charges for their testimony at a public inquiry. But Richard Peck, a special prosecutor appointed to look into the case, declined to recommend charges against the officers relating to Robert Dziekanski's death itself.

Dziekanski died at Vancouver International Airport after being shocked five times with a Taser stun gun by police in 2007 in an incident that was widely seen around the world after the release of a witness' amateur video.

The British Columbia attorney general's criminal justice branch said in a statement Friday that Peck has concluded that there is no substantial likelihood of a conviction relating to the death itself. Instead, Peck has recommended the perjury charges.

The officers each testified that Dziekanski was stunned because he was violent and was threatening them with a stapler. But inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood, a retired appeal court judge, rejected their testimony, saying it was not credible and there was no reason to stun Dziekanski.

Dziekanski, who spoke only Polish, apparently had become upset after waiting 10 hours at the airport for his mother. The four officers who responded to emergency calls about a man throwing furniture, used a stun gun to knock Dziekanski to the ground about 30 seconds after arriving on the scene. By the time medical help arrived, Dziekanski was dead.

Peck was appointed to look at the case again last year to determine whether, in light of the evidence heard at the inquiry, the decision not to charge the officers should stand. Peck was also asked to review other conduct of the officers, including their testimony at the Braidwood inquiry.

The criminal justice branch released the decision to charge the officers Friday only after a news outlet gained advance knowledge of it. The branch said in a news release a more detailed statement on Peck's conclusions would be released after the deputy attorney general had a chance to complete his review of Peck's report.

However, the release cautioned that the statement won't include details about why charges weren't recommended relating to Dziekanski's death. That's to protect the integrity of the perjury prosecutions, the branch said. The details will be released after those cases have wrapped up.

Dziekanski's mother Sofia Cisowski filed a wrongful death lawsuit last year against the RCMP and others, but settled the case after receiving a public apology from the force and an undisclosed financial settlement.

Her lawyer, Walter Kostecki, said Cisowski was hoping for criminal charges relating to the death but was pleased with the perjury charges. "She's happy the officers are facing criminal charges as a result of their actions," he said.

Kostecki said Cisowski still finds it incredible the officers would stand by their stories despite what was seen on the amateur video. [Indeed!]

Original report here

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