Attorney-General owes public
explanation in Dziekanski case

Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun, May 9, 2011


Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski is seen in the arrivals area
of the Vancouver airport in this video footage on Oct. 14, 2007.
Photo: Paul Pritchard, Reuters Files.


B.C. Attorney-General Barry Penner must explain why four Mounties will not face charges for their involvement in the death of Robert Dziekanski or for misleading the subsequent police investigation.

He must release special prosecutor Richard Peck’s report. And he must tell us why the startling decision to only proceed with perjury counts related to a public inquiry was released moments before five o’clock on a Friday when reaction would be most muted.

It smells of damage control and an attempt to limit scrutiny of a bad call.

There are legitimate questions about Peck’s objectivity and the government’s sincerity in responding to this October 2007 RCMP scandal that triggered a $4.5-million, two-year public inquiry.

Peck looked like he was in a conflict of interest from the start.

He was reviewing and indirectly passing judgment on the conduct of the criminal justice branch in the Dziekanski case at the same time he was employed by the same branch to represent it at the contemporaneous inquiry into the 1998 death of Frank Paul. Paul was dumped unconscious by Vancouver police in an alley, where he froze.

How could Peck make a disinterested decision under these circumstances?

He was appearing in one forum arguing prosecutors and the branch were a sterling group of first-rate legal minds; simultaneously, wearing another hat, he was supposedly reviewing their work to decide if it was up to scratch.

Come on! He constructed a Chinese Wall within his own mind? What does the B.C. Law Society think about these optics?

At the very least, this violates the spirit of the special prosecutor legislation to have a lawyer outside the branch’s direct influence handle a sensitive case.

Nevertheless, Peck’s conclusions are suspect given the body of evidence heard by former justice Thomas Braidwood.

This veteran respected jurist concluded in his final report last June 18 that the use of force on Dziekanski was unjustified and the conduct of Cpl. Benjamin (Monty) Robinson and constables Kwesi Millington, Bill Bentley and Gerry Rundel was shameful.

Yet, after a far-too-long 11 months of mulling the same evidence, Peck decided there was no “substantial likelihood of conviction” of anything but perjury?

What exactly did he need -ironclad confessions?

How could anyone watch the video of the 40-year-old Polish immigrant being Tasered five times, collapsing in pain and dying on the floor of Vancouver airport floor and conclude there was no substantial likelihood of conviction on even an assault charge? The only crime Peck thinks he can prove is lying to a public inquiry?

The video that Braidwood said “shocked and repulsed people around the world” mocks Peck’s decision.

These officers deliberately misled their colleagues, Braidwood said -how about an obstruction-of-justice charge given those lies and the BS in their notebooks?

Penner should immediately release Peck’s report so we can see how and why he came to this incredible conclusion.

Dziekanski’s mother, Zofia Cisowski, who was waiting for her son to arrive that night to begin a new life in Canada, was disappointed, her lawyer admitted.

“But she’s thankful to the prosecutor for all his hard work and glad to know these officers are facing charges,” added Walter Kosteckyj. “She will obviously be a very interested observer of the criminal proceedings.”

Polite even in the face of another insult.

The three constables remain on duty in Toronto, Nanaimo, and Milton, Ont.

Cpl. Robinson is suspended because he is charged with obstruction of justice in connection with an unrelated fatal car crash in October 2008 that killed a motorcyclist.

That these four remain on the public payroll is as staggering as Peck’s finding.

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