‘Perception’ justifies lethal force,
according to VPD ‘expert’

The inquiry into Robert Dziekanski’s death
provides disturbing insight into police culture


The Braidwood Inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski shows how strongly cops stick up for each other, no matter how serious the police misconduct or how obvious their lies. Of the several examples revealed so far, Vancouver police Sgt. Brad Fawcett’s April 16 testimony stands out with the most blatant.

Fawcett’s rationale for the RCMP’s use of lethal force, and for the Mounties’ obvious lies, is so simplistic and subjective that it’s a disgrace to the organizations that employ him: The Vancouver police department and the oddly named Justice Institute of B.C.

“What really matters is the officers’ perception,” Fawcett told the inquiry. Therefore, he said, RCMP officers were entirely justified in tasering Dziekanski five times within a minute of meeting him, despite Dziekanski’s non-threatening behaviour, and then piling on top of Dziekanski as he lay face-down with his arms pinned behind his back.

The Mounties’ lies were also justified by “perception,” Fawcett claimed. After Dziekanski’s death the four RCMP officers claimed he was combative, he raised a stapler (!) at them in a threatening gesture and they had to wrestle him to the ground. A video taken of the incident showed all those claims to be false. But according to Fawcett, the huge chasm between the account given by four RCMP officers and the video footage amounted to just “minor discrepancies.”

Fawcett represents a particularly dangerous aspect of police culture. He uses the most simplistic, subjective rationale imaginable to justify blatant dishonesty and lethal force.

Fawcett testified as a Vancouver police expert and a Justice Institute of B.C. instructor on the use of force. Both his employers should publicly repudiate Fawcett’s rationale for dishonesty and lethal force. The fact that they don’t shows how well Fawcett reflects police culture.

Am I surprised? No. Fawcett works for the same police force that employs Rollie Woods (badge number 1356), Ian Upton (1590), John Doduk (2371), Anna Grigoletto (2069) and Jeffrey Dy (2308).

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