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At the Precipice of Credibility 5

On the inquiry investigating the death of Robert Dziekanski, an unsettling trend is apparent: as testimony grows, the RCMP’s credibility contracts.
In a pattern that has become unsettlingly routine, each officer involved in Dziekanski’s death has seen his credibility diminish as his statements, provided to investigators shortly after the event, are read against the video clips that capture the event. Each officer has had to admit the inaccuracy of his own account and acknowledge the authenticity of the events captured in the video.

The chasm between the officers’ accounts and what the video shows is significant on key events, including that Mr. Dziekanski was wildly wielding a stapler above his head, aggressively approached the officers, had to be wrestled to the ground, and was tasered only three times. The video contradicts these accounts. It shows that Mr. Dziekanski held a stapler at waist height, did not approach the officers aggressively, and fell to the ground in a heap after the first taster blast and before being tasered four more times.
None of the officers involved in Dziekanski’s death has been charged. As the Braidwood inquiry continues, the public will be looking for insight into why police investigators and crown prosecutors concluded that the officers acted within the bounds of police protocol on the use of force and acted ethically respecting their participation in the subsequent investigation.
By all appearances, the inaccuracies contained in statements to investigators suggest an attempt by the officers to mislead investigators by altering events to justify their use of force. What’s equally concerning and unsettling is that the common version of events put forward by the officers suggests some level of collusion. How could each of their accounts be so wrong yet in perfect alignment?
Worse yet, investigators had immediately obtained the video capturing the event–recorded by a swift-acting citizen journalist–as well as the statements submitted by the officers. The conflicts between the video and the statements would have been instantly apparent, yet investigators never asked the officers involved to explain the discrepancies.
If not for the video, we would all be relying on the notes of the officers’ involved, notes that each officer has had to repeatedly admit in testimony are wrong.
The RCMP’s internal investigation into Dziekanski’s death appears deficient and lacks public confidence that justice has been advanced. Instead, the conclusion of the investigation only augments the view that the RCMP is protecting its own at the expense of Mr. Dziekanski’s reputation.
Police must re-open the investigation into Dziekanski’s death in a transparent and rigorous manner–not in the interest of satisfying a mob, far from it, but as an imperative to respond to the testimony that has emerged in the Braidwood inquiry. If the RCMP fails to do this, it does so at the risk of jeopardizing its credibility with the very cohort from which it needs trust and respect in order to function adequately: the Canadian public.

5 thoughts on “At the Precipice of Credibility

  1. James D. Schwartz Mar 28,2009 10:00 pm

    The scariest part about this situation for me is exactly your point about how the police report contradicted the video. In the days where technology wasn’t as integrated in our everyday lives, there wouldn’t have even been grounds for an inquiry.

    Video evidence is generally a lot more reliable than witness statements.

    When I first heard that the RCMP had confiscated the video after Dziekanski’s death, I was worried that this key piece of evidence would never make it to the public. I’m glad the public was eventually allowed to see the video in order to see the truth behind Dziekanski’s death.

    Now it’s just a question about whether justice will be served.

  2. Kam Mar 29,2009 10:23 am

    Hey Jim, this is your best writing by far, so far – thanks!

    That it’s considered normal for a police force to investigate themselves is just horrendous. In the absence of video evidence I wonder how many brutal acts of Police violence against ordinary people go unnoticed, unpunished, forever unknown.

    If after seeing the video played on the national news (!!!) they wanted to deny everything, if they wanted to get their stories straight, one would think that after all this time they could have come up with something that at least held water against what can clearly be seen on the tape. Are they *that* incompetent that they think the inquiry would fail to notice such glaring contradictions? The whole country saw that tape on the news..

  3. James D. Schwartz Mar 29,2009 12:04 pm

    Kam, I wish I could take credit for this 😉 This was written by The Urban Country’s latest contributor, the talented writer Brett Bergie from Calgary.

    Keep posted for more new articles from other talented writers too!

  4. Kam Mar 29,2009 12:47 pm

    My bad! I associate The Urban Country so closely with you alone Jim, that I completely failed to notice who actually wrote the post.

    And now the embarrassing bit – Clearly my comments were not intended to take anything away from your fine writings Jim! Please consider the fact that I mistook these words to be yours – as a direct reflection of just how great your own writing actually is.

    There – self dug out of hole. Again 🙂

  5. James D. Schwartz Mar 29,2009 12:53 pm

    lol, no worries Kam. I’m not offended. I know Brett is a great writer, that’s why I asked him to join the team 🙂

    So we can say that your comments are a reflection of Brett’s great writing as well as of my good judgment in selecting Brett to contribute 😛

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