Top court agrees to hear Dziekan­ski case ap­peal

Two RCMP of­fi­cers had been found guilty of per­jury over tes­ti­mony at in­quiry into death

The Province - - NEWS -

Two men con­victed of per­jury in con­nec­tion with a no­to­ri­ous stun­gun en­counter at Van­cou­ver’s air­port will have their ap­peals heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The court an­nounced Thurs­day in Ot­tawa that it would hear ap­peals from Const. Kwesi Millington and for­mer cor­po­ral Ben­jamin (Monty) Robinson.

As is cus­tom­ary, the court gave no rea­sons for its de­ci­sion to hear the cases.

Millington was sen­tenced to 30 months in prison for tes­ti­mony he gave to an in­quiry ex­am­in­ing the Oc­to­ber 2007 death of Robert Dziekan­ski, who was jolted sev­eral times with a Taser at in the ar­rivals area of the air­port.

Robinson was sen­tenced to two years less a day, one year of pro­ba­tion and 240 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice.

They were found guilty of col­lud­ing to make up tes­ti­mony, but the two other of­fi­cers with them that night were ac­quit­ted of the same al­le­ga­tions in sep­a­rate tri­als.

Glen Or­ris, the lawyer for Millington, said Thurs­day that the de­ci­sion from the Supreme Court is his client’s first break in the decade-old case.

“They ob­vi­ously wanted to hear the ar­gu­ment that we are ad­vanc­ing, that the ver­dict ba­si­cally was un­fair and not based on the ev­i­dence,” he said in an in­ter­view from Van­cou­ver.

Or­ris said the high court has set a ten­ta­tive date of Oct. 30 for the ap­peal.

Dziekan­ski’s mother said in a tele­phone in­ter­view from her home in Kam­loops, that the de­ci­sion wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

“I just want this to be over and done with, then I could cher­ish the mem­o­ries still,” she said. “I don’t think I could ever let go ... but I try my best, I keep my­self busy.”

She said the news was espe­cially dif­fi­cult just days af­ter Mother’s Day. She said in the six years she and her son were sep­a­rated while she was liv­ing in Canada and he was in Poland, he would al­ways call her on Mother’s Day.

“It is very hard for me,” she said, cry­ing.

“Even af­ter 10 years al­most, he’s gone and there is no jus­tice for my son.”

A by­stander’s video played at the pub­lic in­quiry and viewed mil­lions of times on so­cial media showed four RCMP of­fi­cers ap­proach­ing a trou­bled Dziekan­ski at the air­port and within min­utes he was jolted and lay dead on the floor.

The of­fi­cers told the in­quiry they per­ceived Dziekan­ski as a threat when he picked up a sta­pler.

The in­quiry’s com­mis­sioner, Thomas Braid­wood, said in his 470-page re­port that the of­fi­cers ap­proached the scene as if they were re­spond­ing to a “bar­room brawl.”

He said they failed to re­assess the sit­u­a­tion when it be­came clear they were deal­ing with a dis­traught trav­eller who didn’t speak English, rather than the drunk, vi­o­lent man they’d an­tic­i­pated.

Millington, who fired the Taser, and Robinson, who was the se­nior of­fi­cer at the scene, were found guilty of col­lud­ing to make up tes­ti­mony pre­sented at the in­quiry.

The Bri­tish Columbia Court of Ap­peal up­held the per­jury con­vic­tions of both men.

Robert Dziekan­ski is shown on a video shot by Paul Pritchard shortly be­fore the Pol­ish man was Tasered at Van­cou­ver’s air­port.

— CP FILES

BETH LEIGHTON AND TERRI THEODORE KWESI MILLINGTON

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