Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Painting Testimonial Pictures, Oh, Uh-Uh-Oh

Things aren't looking good at the hearing into Robert Dziekanski's death after being Tasered at the Vancouver airport. More specifically, the testimony of the police officers involved seems to be unravelling more and more each day. I can only think of a few reasons why people would lie so blatantly, and most of them revolve around them being completely and utterly busted for having done something wrong.

This story claims that there are at least six definite discrepancies between the story told by the police officers and what can plainly be seen on the tape. Please note that I'm not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with that claim, having neither listened to all the testimony nor (full disclosure time) given the video more than a cursory glance. I'm not a fan of snuff films. However, it seems like the kind of thing that would be pretty easy to fact-check before printing in a major newspaper.

One of the officers, Constable Kwesi Millington, has apparently at least developed the backbone to admit that he lied about several things:

Millington's testimony varied from what he told homicide investigators investigating Dziekanski's death. He told investigators in October 2007 that Dziekanski was yelling with the stapler held high before he was stunned. The officer also said Dziekanski was standing for the first three jolts, and that officers had to wrestle him to the ground.

After watching a bystander's video, Millington agreed Dziekanski might not have been yelling, but he insisted the man raised the stapler out of view of the camera. He conceded that Dziekanski was only standing for the first stun, and fell to the ground on his own.

A form that Millington was required to fill out because he deployed a Taser also included numerous errors, the inquiry heard. Millington wrote that Dziekanski was swinging the stapler "wildly" at the officers, but conceded in his testimony that didn't happen.
At the rate that these guys are backpedalling, we're probably going to find out that Dziekanski wasn't even in the airport. He was walking down the street in Krakow, minding his own business, when some RCMP officers came out of nowhere, Tasers aglow.

This, however, may have been the low point in Millington's testimony:
The officer also said he was trained that multiple stuns could be "hazardous" and should be avoided unless necessary, although he couldn't remember why more than one stun might be a bad idea.
If you can't remember why repeatedly running 50,000 volts through a human being is a bad idea without checking your notes, then a career in law enforcement may not be for you.

I really hate second-guessing police officers. I watched the entire Rodney King video several years ago, and have thought ever since that those guys got a bad rap. King was completely out of control, and kept getting back up and coming at them. The admittedly severe beating he was given, which was the only part of the tape most people saw or wanted to see, only came after several previous attempts to restrain him using more moderate force failed.

So far, my main concern about the Dziekanski case is that no one seems to have been interested in checking on him after he stopped moving. It seems to me that once somebody has been subdued to the point of unconsciousness, it falls upon the personnel present to, you know, make sure they're still breathing.

That may not be my main concern for much longer if the hearings keep going the way they have been. I'm just glad there was a camera around to keep these police officers from selling their fabricated story.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of giraffes sticking their heads out of the Ark at the Holy Land Experience. Sigh. And after they did so well on the scale model.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I did security for six years, five years of what is called "high-profile security." I've never used a gun or a Taser in my life, but I have been involved in a lot of take-downs and arrests. Surprisingly, they are no fun at all. The mechanics of the human body make it very easy for someone to resist being handcuffed, or even directed to walk in a certain direction. In fact, I have been injured most of the times I had to deal with some drunk/crazy/angry arrestee. I understand why the police may get Taser-happy. Believe me- used properly, Tasers are much less dangerous than even batons or a rubber boot to the head.

Don't expect police to be social workers. I don't want cuddly cops. I want big mean bear-men (yes, MEN) to respond to 911 calls with rage and steel-toe boots. Of course, if those cops go bad (as these ones may have in covering their tracks), let them pay a harsh price. Let them sit in a Polish airport for 12 hours and give them a stapler.