Supreme Court rejects appeals in Dziekanski police-perjury convictions

By The Canadian Press
October 30, 2017 - 4:07pm

VANCOUVER — Every year, on the anniversary of Robert Dziekanski’s death, Zofia Cisowski lays red and white roses and prays at the spot where her son died in Vancouver’s airport in 2007.

She was just there on Oct. 14, marking 10 years since he died tragically after being jolted by a police Taser.

On Monday, after Canada’s top court dismissed the appeals of two men convicted of perjury in connection with the incident, Cisowski said her annual visits will feel different.

“My son was so good to me. He loved me so much. He was my life, and it has been a very long, hard journey for me,” she said through tears.

“I was waiting for this news (for) 10 years. I had no life,” she said in an interview from her home in Kamloops, B.C. “Until now, there wasn’t justice for Robert. But today, I think differently. I am so, so happy. …  I feel like I’m alive again.”

The Supreme Court of Canada rejected the appeals immediately after hearing them. Because the justices ruled from the bench, formal reasons for their decision were not immediately available.

Kwesi Millington and Benjamin (Monty) Robinson were among four Mounties charged with perjury following a public inquiry into the death of Dziekanski, who was in the process of emigrating from Poland to live with his mother in Kamloops.

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. Within minutes, he was jolted several times with a Taser 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 in B.C. Supreme Court of colluding to make up testimony presented at the inquiry.

The Crown’s case, based on circumstantial evidence, alleged the officers first concocted a story to tell investigators and then lied at the public inquiry to cover it up.

Millington and Robinson were convicted, while Bill Bentley and Gerry Rundell were both acquitted of the charge.

Millington was sentenced to 30 months in prison and Robinson was handed a jail term of two years less a day, one year of probation and 240 hours of community service.

Both men separately appealed their convictions, arguing that the trial judge made a mistake in assessing the evidence against them.

B.C.’s Court of Appeal upheld their convictions.

In Millington’s appeal, Justice David Harris said that the constable was simply asking the court to reinterpret the evidence and draw different inferences from it.

Millington’s lawyer, Glen Orris, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cisowski, 70, recalled how excited she had been for her son to arrive in Canada 10 years ago. She had lined up a job and English classes for him, and the two were to have a “perfect life” together, she said.

“I was friend, mother, father, everything for him,” she sobbed.

Cisowski said she would have liked to see the officers face more serious charges, and for all four to be convicted, but she still felt happy to have some form of justice for her son.

“Anything is good for me,” she said. “It is time to go to jail for them. I know now the justice system works for victims.”

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