Braidwood Inquiry finds Dziekanski tasering in British Columbia unjustified

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Five deployments of the taser and the physical struggle with the four Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers contributed substantially to the death of Robert Dziekanski is the chief finding of the inquiry led by retired British Columbia Appeal Court Justice Thomas R. Braidwood.

Speaking at a June 18 media conference following the release of the report on the second phase of the inquiry into the events at Vancouver International Airport on October 14, 2007 Mr. Braidwood concluded "that the constable was not justified in deploying the weapon, and that neither that constable nor the corporal honestly perceived that Mr. Dziekanski was intending to attack any of the officers. I also concluded that the two other constables, during their testimony before me, offered patently unbelievable after-the-fact rationalizations of their police notes and their statements to the [RCMP Integrated Homicide Investigation Team] investigators.”

RCMP Commissioner William J.S. Elliott responded to Mr.Braidwood's report in a press release saying "The RCMP acknowledges that its handling of this incident failed at many levels and we agree that events that took place at the Vancouver International Airport on October 14, 2007, should have unfolded differently. It is clear that our policies and training in place at the time were deficient. We acknowledge that the actions of our members who dealt with Mr. Dziekanski also fell short, including the fact that our officers did not take enough time to try to de-escalate the situation and did not provide an appropriate level of care to Mr. Dziekanski."

30% This tragic case is, at its heart, the story of shameful conduct by a few officers. It ought not to reflect unfairly on the many thousands of RCMP and other police officers who have, through years of public service, protected our communities and earned a well-deserved reputation in doing so. 30%

—The Honourable Thomas Braidwood, QC

The mandate of the Braidwood commissions of inquiry, launched by the government of British Columbia (BC) in February 2008, included reporting on and making recommendations about the appropriate use of conducted energy weapons. Sworn evidence was received from 91 witnesses over 61 days. The second phase was "to provide the Dziekanski family and the public with a complete record of the circumstances of Mr. Robert Dziekanski’s death and to make recommendations the Commissioner considers necessary and appropriate" as per the commission's web site.

The government of BC has already moved to "severely [restrict] the use of Tasers by all police, sheriff’s and corrections officers, and developing standardized police training for Taser use, crisis intervention, and responding to emotionally disturbed people" according to a June 18, 2010 press release. The province also plans to create "a new civilian-led unit to investigate all independent municipal police- and RCMP-related deaths and serious incidents" within the next 12 months.

Mr. Braidwood criticised the Canada Border Services Agency whose changes in response to the incident were "minor and few" but had high praise for Vancouver International Airport's "exceptional steps in the aftermath of Mr. Dziekanski’s death to identify inadequacies in its policies, practices, and procedures, and to remedy them."


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