This is a good bit of muckraking journalism. Some of the RCMP officers involved in the incident certainly have a less than spotless record. When this type of event happens and everything seems to be done to clear the police it is no wonder that the public begins to lose confidence in the police.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Just who are these men?
Brian Hutchinson, National Post
Benjamin Robinson Andy Clark, Reuters Files
Before slamming his Jeep into a young motorcyclist, the off-duty RCMP corporal had been drinking. Only two beers, consumed at a late-afternoon party, insisted Benjamin (Monty) Robinson, to a Delta, B. C., police officer who attended the fatality.
But his eyes were bloodshot, according to the officer's written report. His speech was slurred. A "strong" smell of liquor emanated from his breath and from his person.
This was in October, 2008, one year after Cpl. Robinson and three other Mounties had confronted an agitated Polish traveller at Vancouver International Airport. Robert Dziekanski died after receiving five jolts from an RCMP-deployed Taser and being man-handled on the ground.
Cpl. Robinson was the senior officer in charge and the most experienced of the four. He came under special scrutiny this week at the inquiry now underway into Mr. Dziekanski's death. His three subordinates testified before inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood earlier. All four officers admitted to making erroneous statements about the Taser incident to investigating officers,making Mr. Dziekanskiouttobe an attacking, stapler-swinging adversary. The officers blamed their flawed statements on fatigue, confusion, and an inability to "articulate."
None of the officers have been formally accused of any wrongdoing in connection to the Dziekanski death. The B. C. Crown announced late last year that no charges are forthcoming, much to the dismay of many observers. Public anger rises with every new revelation made at the inquiry.
Just who are these men? They are still Mounties, although none of the four work at the RCMP's Vancouver airport sub-detachment any more. All four have been reassigned, at least three of them to indoor duty.
Still in his twenties, Constable Bill Bentley is the youngest of the four. A former Canadian Border Services officer from Windsor, he arrived at the RCMP's Regina training depot in 2005. After the Dziekanski incident, he was removed to a desk job and works with the RCMP's 2010 Olympic Games detail. Constable Gerry Rundell, 48, is the oldest of the four. A former fish farmer from Vancouver Island, he had only two years of RCMP service the night that Mr. Dziekanski died. He has been reassigned to Vancouver Island.
Constable Kwesi Millington, 32, is physically the largest of the four officers. Holder of a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Ryerson University in Toronto, he attended depot training from 2004 to 2005, and began working at the YVR sub-detachment in July 2006. Const. Millington is the officer who deployed a Taser five times at Mr. Dziekanski. He has been reassigned to desk duty. Of aboriginal ancestry, Cpl. Robinson is a graduate of Trinity West-ern University in Abbotsford, B. C., and is a 13-year RCMP veteran. He's been in at least one legal tussle before.
In August, 2005, a B. C. man named Greg Garley launched a civil lawsuit naming eight defendants, including Cpl. Robinson. The lawsuit was briefly mentioned during a lawyer's cross-examination of Cpl. Robinson at the Braidwood inquiry on Tuesday.
Mr. Garley is a former pizza parlour operator who claims to have had many unsatisfactory encounters with RCMP officers. In fact, in 2004 he was unlawfully struck with a Taser while detained in an RCMP jail cell, in Princeton, B. C. The Taser was ordered deployed by a Mountie who later pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon. The officer received a conditional discharge in court and was reassigned to a neighbouring detachment. Mr. Garley is suing him.
In an unrelated, 2005 lawsuit, Mr. Garley alleged he was assaulted by other defendants, and that Cpl. Robinson and another officer failed to respond to his medical needs. Mr. Garley later checked himself into a hostpital for treatment. Mr. Garley's lawyer, Robert Levin, says the allegation against Cpl. Robinson was essentially one of "neglect." The matter has been settled. Terms cannot be disclosed, says Mr. Levin: "It was not really a big deal in the grand scale of things."
The death in October of 21-year-old motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson [no relation to this reporter] certainly is. Cpl. Robinson still faces a possible charge of impaired driving causing death.
Allegations and findings of fact contained in a Supreme Court of British Columbia file paint an ugly picture. According to the police report made the night of the accident, Cpl. Robinson claimed that he'd left the fatality immediately, before investigators arrived, and walked home, where he downed two shots of vodka and then walked back. All in 10 minutes.
The attending officer was skeptical. "Police opinion [is] that symptoms far more set than two shots in that time period should indicate," she noted.
Cpl. Robinson was administered two breath tests. He blew well over the legal limit for alcohol both times, according to the police report. His blue, 2002 Jeep was impounded.
One month later, in November, 2008, Cpl. Robinson applied to have his 90-day driving prohibition reviewed. His lawyer argued that the Delta police evidence was unreliable.
An adjudicator from the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles disagreed. He found Cpl. Robinson's story about consuming alcohol after the fatal crash incredible. "I note that there is nothing in the [police] report that the witnesses [at the scene] indicated you left the scene," wrote the adjudicator. "I find it unlikely that after witnessing you having a collision that the witnesses would then allow you to leave the scene."
But Cpl. Robinson didn't accept the decision. Last month, he petitioned the Supreme Court of British Columbia to overturn it. Mr. Justice Mark McEwan refused. The petition was dismissed three weeks ago.
This week, Cpl. Robinson came before the Braidwood inquiry, where he acknowledged his having made statements to police that bore little semblance to the truth. Pending any new development, he will return to his assignment with the RCMP's Vancouver 2010 Olympics detail.
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