Re: Man dies after Taser shock by police at Vancouver airportMar 2nd, 2009
canada withholding information on dziekanski case, poland says
march 2, 2009 at 4:46
vancouver — the mounties involved in the fatal airport confrontation with polish immigrant robert dziekanski don't have to fear criminal polish prosecutors pursuing charges against them, says a spokeswoman for the country's embassy in canada.
Although polish prosecutors have launched an investigation into the case, the effort was sparked because of mr. Dziekanski's polish citizenry and is not aimed at making a case against the officers, sylwia domisiewicz, the embassy's press and protocol officer, said in an interview.
"i think it's important to realize we are not going to charge those officers. This is not the intention of the polish side," ms. Domisiewicz said.
Prosecutors in british columbia have ruled out criminal charges against the four officers.
from the archives
- rcmp spoiling for fight with dziekanski, probe hears
- training taught officer any object can be a weapon, probe hears
- mounties regarded stapler as a weapon
- officers didn't discuss game plan, mountie says
mr. Dziekanski died on oct. 14, 2007, after his erratic behaviour at the international arrivals area of vancouver international airport prompted a call to police. The four mounties who responded tasered and tackled him. Captured on a bystander's video that was seen around the world, the incident has fuelled debate on the police use of stun guns.
Ms. Domisiewicz said poland wants to be "involved and informed" about the braidwood inquiry into mr. Dziekanski's death. Under the terms of the bilateral treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, which dates from the mid-1990s, that is supposed to happen. However, there is some confusion about the state of the agreement.
Ms. Domisiewicz said canada has suspended co-operation under the treaty, denying poland access to material from the inquiry. Ms. Domisiewicz suggested b.c's ministry of the attorney general has not been co-operating in providing information of interest to poland, but a ministry spokesman said he was not aware of those concerns.
Carole saindon, senior media relations adviser with the federal justice department, said in an e-mail that "canada has not rescinded, or suspended the treaty." poland has a lawyer with standing at the braidwood inquiry, and its consul-general in vancouver has been attending the hearings.
Last week, a lawyer for one of the mounties filed a motion preventing the release of transcripts and other evidence from the inquiry without a court order. No decision has been made on the motion.
The inquiry enters a crucial phase today with the first testimony from the officer who tasered mr. Dziekanski five times over a period of 30 seconds.
Constable kwesi millington, the third mountie to appear at the inquiry since testimony from the officers involved began last week, was the only member of the group armed with a taser. There have been suggestions that mr. Dziekanski was on the ground during all but the first of the five times he was tasered.
The cause of mr. Dziekanski's death was listed as "sudden death following restraint."
constable millington's lawyer says his client is ready to explain himself.
"[mr. Dziekanski's death] was a tragic outcome. Nobody intended it. My client regrets it," ravi hira said in an interview.
"the media storm and public interest in the matter is not something my client sought or wanted to be part of in any way. This is a very, very difficult process for my client and all the other officers.
"having said that, he recognizes there is a public duty to account and he will."
mr. Hira said his client has "worked hard" to review material relevant to the case in order to prepare for questions from lawyers at the hearing, which include the commission counsel as well as lawyers representing poland, mr. Dziekanski's mother, and taser international inc., which produced the device.
Constable millington "is going to do the best he can," mr. Hira said, "but it's difficult and one really asks how many human beings are truly prepared to be in front of an inquiry seating 24 or 25 lawyers, depending how you count, and prepared to be cross-examined by 12 while being broadcast live and scrutinized with every word being parsed."
walter kosteckyj, lawyer for mr. Dziekanski's mother, zofia cisowski, said he is especially interested in asking why constable millington deployed the taser when he did, and why he did so five times, especially because mr. Dziekanski went down after the first blast.
Lawyer don rosenbloom, representing poland, also has many questions.
"this tragic event is made up of a number of components that all contributed to mr. Dziekanski's death - the tasering is obviously material and critical," he said.
There are also questions about the medical care mr. Dziekanski received after he was tasered, mr. Rosenbloom said.