Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

The final chapter in a travesty of justice

with 8 comments

The final chapter in an absolute travesty of justice played out yesterday at the Supreme Court of Canada. The appeals of RCMP officers Benjamin “Monty” Robinson and Kwesi Millington were dismissed without reasons and each must turn themselves in to begin serving their sentences in prison.

Both members were convicted of perjury resulting from testimony given at the so-called Braidwood Commission of Inquiry. Which, in itself, was a deeply flawed process.

The Commission, you’ll recall, was called by the provincial government following the death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski at YVR on October 14, 2007. The Commission issued it’s final report in June of 2010. It found, essentially, that the RCMP were not justified in using a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) or Taser as it is more colloquially known.

It also found that the four members who attended the disturbance call at YVR “misrepresented” their actions in their testimony to the Commission. In the report Mr. Justice Braidwood said, “I found all four officers’ claims that they wrestled Mr. Dziekanski to the ground were deliberate misrepresentations made for the purpose of justifying their actions.”

“I also disbelieved the four officers’ claims there was no discussion between or among them about the incident before being questioned by IHIT investigators, although I did not conclude that they colluded to fabricate a story.”

And out of this resulted in a Special Prosecutor being appointed and the four officers charged with perjury. Two were acquitted and Robinson and Millington were convicted in what can only be described as a travesty of justice. Yesterday, the SCC put an end to the appeals process and Robinson and Millington must begin to serve their sentences, two years less a day for Robinson and 30 months for Millington.

What it all came down to was whether they wrestled Dziekanski “to the ground” or they wrestled him “on the ground.”

To find that somehow they colluded to “get their story straight” is simply to ignore the evidence. In a nutshell, Robinson remained at YVR while the other three went to the Sub-Detachment to make their notes and await IHIT investigators. Robinson met with IHIT investigators at YVR and accompanied them to the Sub-Detachment where the interviews began. At no point were all four together and alone so that they could collude.

But that is not all the evidence Braidwood ignored.

Forensic Video Analyst Grant Fredericks did an analysis of the so-called Pritchard video, taken by a civilian witness which became critical to this whole mess.

Fredericks is an expert in his field. This from his report, “I am also a paid instructor of Forensic Video Analysis and Digital Multimedia Evidence Processing for the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA. I have been teaching at the FBI Academy since 1999.”

He has given expert evidence at trials in the US, Canada and the UK more than 60 times. Let’s just say he knows of what he speaks.

In his report Fredericks details how the video, shot in the European format PAL is not conducive to viewing in its entirety using the North American format, NTSC. But he does analyze it frame by frame.

At issue at Braidwood was testimony from the members that Dziekanski moved towards the members while brandishing a stapler over his head.

Fredericks conducted a Forward Motion Analysis and concluded that Dziekanski moved three steps forward towards the officers. In essence, he measured the number of pixels in the frame that Dziekanski occupied in successive frames. They decreased meaning he was moving away from the camera and towards the officers corroborating what the officers testified to, yet Braidwood ignored this.

He also shows Dziekanski holding the stapler over his head at the 00:3:41:23 point.

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This also corroborates what the members testified to, yet Braidwood chose to ignore this evidence.

Fredericks also shows at 00:04:03:08 after Dziekanski was tasered, an object was noted on the floor beside Dziekanski “consistent with the size of a Taser probe.”

This is critical because it happened before Robinson calls for Millington to “hit him again” meaning release another charge with the Taser. Why is this critical? Because a Taser needs two probes touching the subject in order for the energy charge to have any effect. So, all the charges triggered by Millington had zero effect on Dziekanski. All of which was completely ignored by Braidwood and the baying media hounds trying to say the members “executed” or “murdered” Dziekanski.

Fredericks’ report shows that the Taser was deployed three times after the dart was dislodged. The report clearly demonstrates the struggle on the floor the members who were hands on had with the large man. Again, in the blur of the moment, does it really matter when they wrestled him to the floor or on the floor? From the time of the initial Taser deployment the members went hands on, Dziekanski went down and the struggle to get him handcuffed went on. Yet, ignoring this critical evidence is the reason Robinson and Millington are going to jail.

There’s so much more to this travesty, from the RCMP refusing to say publicly that the members acted appropriately, a fact admitted to me by then Commanding Officer Gary Bass after he retired. The absolute stupid decision by then O i/c of IHIT Wayne Rideout in not allowing Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre to correct the record after he realized the initial information he gave at the first media briefing following the incident was inaccurate. That decision alone resulted in everything that followed once the Pritchard video was released.

Lemaitre was haunted by his error on that first morning and not being allowed to correct the record. His credibility suffered because of it and he was transferred to the Integrated Road Safety Unit, a traffic section. Lemaitre committed suicide in 2013. Was this a contributing factor? I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet on it.

The RCMP were painted as liars and covering up when in fact there was no such thing.  This was simply stupid handling of the media by the RCMP and not for the first time I might add.

The full Fredericks report can be found on Prime Time Crime here.

Why an experienced jurist would ignore this evidence and conclude as he did is beyond me. Since the perjury charges, convictions and the formation of the Independent Investigations Office resulted, this was critical.  One might think that the only way an experienced jurist would ignore exculpatory evidence is because the whole thing was a charade orchestrated by the government to get to a pre-determined conclusion.

Now, I don’t know that to be true, but it’s hard to come to any other conclusion when I look at all of this.

I got a message from Robinson following the SCC dismissal saying he’d be “off the grid for the next 8 months” I admire his attitude. I don’t think I’d be so stoic given that those four Mounties were just doing their job yet were buried by the system and now two are going to jail.

It’s a travesty.

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

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Written by Leo Knight

October 31, 2017 at 6:31 pm

8 Responses

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  1. So many elements of the Jordan MacWilliams case here. Obsessive witch-hunting, critical evidence ignored, and the tunnel vision found in almost all wrongful conviction cases. Truly shameful.

    Bob Cooper

    October 31, 2017 at 7:00 pm

  2. A good example of why anyone should fear trial by judge alone. At least with a jury you just have to convince one of 12, who is exercising common sense and does not have blinders on.

    Rob H.

    October 31, 2017 at 7:05 pm

  3. Well written LEO yet again a realist perspective of facts. Sad, how the mishandling of a critical incident could cause such harm. I wonder often if they even think about how their actions affected those involved and now many others who also lost everything because of the RCMP inability to face things with integrity. Policing is a very dynamic profession you have seconds to act and years to rip apart. Now four members are forever broken and one is deceased. I can only speak from personal experience the inability to clear ones name is what kills us. I would rather die in the line of duty than go to my grave knowing the truth. I understand the burden of silence and labelling. It’s a hard cross to carry. Maybe it’s time we just do the right thing! I couldn’t live with this on my conscience. Pierre was a good honest and kind man. This should never have happened he desearved to have his truth told. He really did. It can’t be undone but we most definitely can do better and never repeat it.

    Alice Foc

    October 31, 2017 at 7:07 pm

  4. It’s a sidebar issue but I was always surprised by the fact the officers never administered CPR.

    Is there an operational reason for this?

    Is there a duty of care that on-duty officers must or should provide first aid in circumstances like these, consistent with their level of certification?

    Peter

    October 31, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    • He was still breathing so they turned him on his side in the recovery position and called EHS. Robinson stayed with him monitoring him until EHS arrived. It was after that he died. The actions of the RCMP members post-taser are also analyzed in the Fredericks report.

      Leo Knight

      October 31, 2017 at 8:27 pm

  5. excellent commentary Leo. Wish more people could see the article you wrote.

    Anon

    November 2, 2017 at 4:45 am

  6. Most important thing you forgot to clarify. All four cops were refused to view the video before their statements. The video is no more different than their notes used to refresh their memory. In the end don’t we just want the truth. Well the RCMP refueled to show them the video and set them up for failure. Absolutely disgusting. Every cop should refuse any statement until they can view the video used to refresh their memory.

    David Smith

    November 5, 2017 at 12:27 am

  7. Leo, is it just me or are the convictions against the two visible minority members and the acquittals for the two white members. Were they not being tried with essentially the same evidence? Hmmmmmm I would be interested in the track records of the convicting judges.

    Joe

    November 6, 2017 at 1:24 am


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