Tag Archives: Robert Dziekanski

Supreme Court Dismisses Appeals by Killer Mounties Kwesi Millington and Monty Robinson in Dziekanski Case

On Monday, October 30, 2017, The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed appeals from killer Mounties Kwesi Millington and Benjamin (Monty) Robinson who had been convicted of perjury in connection with the killing of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport in 2007. The two Mounties were among four RCMP officers charged with perjury following a public inquiry into the killing of Mr. Dziekanski, a traveler from Poland who was tased multiple times in the arrivals area of the airport. Millington was sentenced to 30 months in prison while Robinson was sentenced to two years less a day, one year of probation, and 240 hours of community service.

The Dziekanski killing put on display clearly the culture of deception and lies that marks Canadian policing in general and the RCMP in particular and was infused with lies through and through. The RCMP spokesperson initially proclaimed publicly that Mr. Dziekanski was acting aggressively toward officers, not complying, and apparently drunk. All of these claims against the victim were shown to be lies when a civilian video of the encounter appeared showing that, in fact, Mr. Dziekanski did not confront officers aggressively and appeared to be following their orders (despite a language barrier as none of the officers spoke Polish). RCMP had taken the video from the videographer and attempted to keep it from being released publicly.

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

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ASIRT Uses Bogus “Excited Delirium” Again To Excuse Edmonton Police Taser Killing

Excited delirium is one of the favored excuses used by police and their statist supporters when officers kill civilians. It is an explanation considered dubious based on medical evidence and research and has been largely promoted by the makers of tasers as a means of justifying deaths that result after taser deployment. The condition excited delirium is not found in DSM-5 or the ICD-10 (the current versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases, respectively). Excited delirium has not been recognized by the American Medical Association or the American Psychological Association. Police psychologist Mike Webster called it a dubious diagnosis during the inquiry into the RCMP killing of Robert Dziekanski by taser at Vancouver International airport.

Yet coroners and supposed police oversight bodies in Canada continue to use the notion of excited delirium to excuse or legitimize police killings of civilians. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) seems particularly fond of using these excuses to justify killings of civilians by police. On August 28, 2017, ASIRT again trotted out the excited delirium excuse to justify the police killing of a 49-year-old man, Marcel Henry Moisan, in the late evening/early morning of December 7-8, 2015, involving multiple taser deployments and physical restraint.

In a media release ASIRT executive director Susan Hughson claimed the victim died as a result of excited delirium syndrome brought on by drugs in his bloodstream (not the use of tasers and/or restraints). Incredibly Hughson congratulated the Edmonton police for their use of “less-than-lethal force.” In her words: “Indeed, the resort to less-than-lethal force should be commended.” But they killed the man. Their use of force was exactly, precisely, lethal. It was not less than lethal.

ASIRT noted that Moisan (not named in the report) was experiencing some mental distress, and police had a record of a Mental Health Act encounter with the man in October of the same year. Yet no mental health care givers were dispatched to the scene. According to Hughson the man was clearly exhibiting distress to officers present and appeared to be rehearsing self harm actions. In her words: “He brought the knife to his throat. He appeared agitated, distraught, and confused.” He made “overt suicidal motions” appearing to slash at his neck with a knife.

In response police tased him again and placed him in leg restraints. Notes Hughson, in her release: “Within approximately two minutes and 55 seconds, the man went into medical distress. The restraints were immediately removed and CPR was commenced.” The man was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The coroner who repeated the bogus excited delirium excuse said: “It is the opinion of the [medical examiner] that the man died as a result of excited delirium syndrome that was due to methamphetamine toxicity; struggle during police restraint was considered a significant contributory condition.” Yet the police were exonerated despite acknowledgement of the use and role of restraints (the excusing of taser use is right out of the company playbook).


Multiple Killer Cop Monty Robinson Loses Perjury Appeal in Dziekanski Case

Benjamin “Monty” Robinson the RCMP officer who has killed two people, most infamously Robert Dziekanski on October 14, 2007, has lost the appeal of his conviction for perjury in that case. The panel of Appeal Court judges in British Columbia upheld a lower court’s decision that found Robinson lied during a public inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of Robert Dziekanski. In the majority decision Justice Mary Newbury wrote:

“The judge’s findings cannot in my view be said to have been unreasonable. I have little doubt that ‘viewed through the lens of judicial experience,’ the appellant had a ‘clear reason and motive to deny’ that he and his colleagues had discussed the incident and colluded in their evidence before the inquiry. The court was not left with any reasonable doubt on this point.”

Robinson had been sentenced to two years less a day for perjury in that case.

The Dziekanski killing gained international attention and shone a light on practices of public deception and lying in the RCMP. Robinson was the senior of four officers who confronted 40-year-old Robert Dziekanski in the Vancouver International Airport where the Polish traveller who spoke no English had been left without support for almost 10 hours in the arrivals terminal. RCMP almost immediately upon encountering Dziekanski used a taser on the man multiple times before pinning him to the ground causing his death on the scene. RCMP public spokespeople initially said Dziekanski had been irate and aggressive during the encounter and suggested he was drunk. The phony “excited delirium” claim was even suggested. Until the civilian video surfaced showing that in fact Dziekanski was compliant with officers, did not threaten them, and was in fact moving in the direction they suggested. The RCMP had clearly lied to the public in an effort to frame Dziekanski for his own death (a common endeavor in police killings).

The public display of deception by RCMP prompted the inquiry at which Robinson and fellow officer Kwesi Millington were found to have perjured themselves by colluding and then lying on testimony. Millington lost his appeal in a unanimous decision in July 2016.

Robinson would go on to kill 21-year-old Orion Hutchinson hitting the young motorcyclist with his SUV on October 28, 2008. His two children were in the vehicle at the time. In that case Robinson was convicted of obstruction of justice. It was found that the Mountie had used his police training to avoid charges of impaired driving by claiming that after the crash he went home and drank two shots of vodka to “calm his nerves” (a police ploy to cover drinking before the crash). The court heard that he had bragged to party guests that his training gave him a way to deal with drunk driving charges. Robinson was given a conditional sentence of 12 months in that case.

The fact remains that RCMP officer Monty Robinson killed two civilians. He has not been charged or held accountable for those killings.


Dubious Diagnosis: Phony “Excited Delirium” Findings Get Killer Cops Off in Burnaby and Edmonton

Police agencies and their ideological supporters, often located in criminology and psychology departments in universities and colleges, have developed entire cottage industries producing pseudo-science and pseudo-forensics, phony analyses, concepts, and terms, to justify and excuse police killings of civilians. These pseudo-scientific projects have constructed their own literatures, bodies of ideas, and “expert” witnesses supporting dubious “diagnoses” used to “explain” how it is that victims of police violence came to be responsible (biologically or psychologically) for their own murders.

Among the most pernicious and extensively developed and deployed of these pseudo-scientific diagnoses are the notorious notions of excited delirium and so-called suicide by cop. Neither of these has any scientific basis or legitimate supporting evidence to back them. They offer little, in fact, beyond the statements of police “researchers” (cops and former cops who have used such work not only to support their colleagues and former colleagues but to claim positions in academia) and some compliant criminologists and psychologists and others supportive of police on ideological or opportunistic grounds (i.e. funding).

While the dubious claim of excited delirium has no psychological or medical basis it is routinely used to let police officers walk away from any accountability when they kill civilians. Despite the recognition that excited delirium has no basis in scientific, psychological or medical, reality, it is still used in investigative cases on police killings, often by coroners’ offices in the Canadian context, for example.

In Canada the excited delirium excuse was used to let killer cops off the hook in two cases within a three week period over October and November of 2016. These cases involved the police killing of Maurizio Facchin (50) in Burnaby, British Columbia, in 2014 and Simon Chung (34) in Edmonton, Alberta, in 2013. Both cases involved the use of tasers by police and the men went into fatal distress only after a taser was used on them. Chung was also subjected to attempts by two Edmonton police to restrain him forcefully. He was tased twice by an officer while restrained, including one blast that lasted 28 seconds (Parsons 2016). In both cases the role of the taser in the men’s deaths was acknowledged yet both deaths were ruled accidental.

Notably in the case of the police killing of Simon Chung one of the officers claimed to suspect that the victim was experiencing excited delirium yet chose to restrain and taser him anyway. This would suggest culpability in his death given the claims of police that excited delirium could lead to a fatal response to either restraint or tasing.

 

The Dubious Diagnosis of Excited Delirium

Excited delirium has come under growing public scrutiny in recent years given the overwhelming proportion of diagnoses related to deaths involving police use of compliance holds and/or use of tasers. Typically these diagnoses are provided only by medical examiners not by hospital or emergency room doctors. Furthermore, and as alarming, there is the fact that excited delirium is presently not a recognized medical or psychiatric diagnosis by either the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IVTR) of the American Psychiatric Association or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9) of the World Health Organization. Due to these troubling facts, it is widely considered that the real cause of death in cases identified after the fact as instances of excited delirium are actually caused by straightforward police violence and use if force. These are related to taser use and positional asphyxia.

Civil rights groups have argued that diagnoses of excited delirium are only applied after the fact to get police officers off the hook in cases in which excessive force has resulted in the death of a civilian. The NAACP reported in 2003 that excited delirium diagnoses are provided more often in explaining the deaths of minorities than they are in the deaths of white victims. In 2007, Eric Balaban of the American Civil Liberties Union noted that excited delirium was not recognized by the American Medical Association or the American Psychological Association and that the diagnosis simply served “as a means of white-washing what may be excessive use of force and inappropriate use of control techniques by officers during an arrest” (NPR 2007). Melissa Smith of the American Medical Association confirmed in 2007 that the association had “no official policy” on the supposed condition (ABC News 2007).

Excited delirium is not recognized in Australia by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the Australian Medical Association or any other registered medical body. Neither is it recognized in law. A 2015 case, in which a man who had been declared to have died from excited delirium was overturned by a ruling in the Victorian Coroners Court. The presiding coroner in that case concluded that neither excited delirium nor so called excited delirium syndrome are appropriate or helpful in providing a legitimate medical cause of death (Coroner’s Court of Victoria at Melbourne 2015).

The Burnaby ruling in the Mauricio Facchin case is particularly stunning, and disappointing, given that Vancouver was site of the 2007 police killing of migrant Robert Dziekanski whose death police initially lied about publicly suggesting he suffered excited delirium. Video by a civilian witness showed this claim to be untrue as Dziekanski was following police instructions when he was tased and jumped by police causing his death. During the inquiry into police actions that police psychologist Mike Webster that police have been “brainwashed” by Taser International to justify “ridiculously inappropriate” use of the weapon. Webster referred to excited delirium as a “dubious disorder” pushed by Taser International during its police training (Hall 2008). A 2008 report on taser use by the RCMP, An Independent Review of the Adoption and Use of Conducted Energy Weapons by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, concluded that excited delirium should not be included in the operational manual for the Mounties in the absence of formal approval following consultation with a mental-health-policy advisory body (Kiedrowski 2008). Justice Thomas Braidwood concluded the inquiry finding that excited delirium should not be used as part of police use of force training as it is not a legitimate medical condition.

 

Recommendations Based On What?

In the case of the coroner’s inquiry into the police killing of Maurizio Facchin, the coroner’s jury suggested that police receive training in identifying and properly responding to instances of excited delirium. It was also recommended that 911 dispatchers receive such training so that they might identify and inform police of potential excited delirium cases upon dispatch. Finally the jury suggested that officers contact emergency services when a taser is going to be deployed in such cases.

In the case of the police killing of Simon Chung, Provincial Court Judge Lloyd Malin provided two recommendations. In the first he suggested that while Edmonton Police Service mentions excited delirium syndrome in its policy and procedure manual on use of force, officers should also be trained to recognize the symptoms in all situations, not only during arrests. Malin also recommended that officers be trained to call for emergency medical services as soon as excited delirium is suspected. This call should be made regardless of the need for police to restrain an individual (Parsons 2016).

These recommendations are based on the dubious diagnosis of excited delirium and will do little to change police behavior, particularly violent behavior. They will not address police killings of civilians. The recommendations are based on treatment of a social fiction.

 

Note

  1. The notion of suicide-by-cop was first used in the early 1980s by a former California police officer working toward a PhD in Psychology. Virtually all of the research on the issue has been prepared by people with connections to police departments.

 

Further Reading

ABC News. 2007. “Excited Delirium: Police Brutality vs. Sheer Insanity.” ABC News. March 2.

Coroner’s Court of Victoria at Melbourne. 2015. Finding into Death with Inquest—Inquest into the Death of Odisseas Vekiaris.

Hall, Neil. 2008. “Police Are ‘Brainwashed’ by Taser Maker. Psychologist Blames Instructions.” Vancouver Sun. May 14. A1

Kiedrowski, John. 2008. An Independent Review of the Adoption and Use of Conducted Energy Weapons by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Ottawa: RCMP

NPR. 2007. “Death by Excited Delirium: Diagnosis or Cover Up?” NPR. February 26.

Parsons, Paige. 2016. “Fatality Inquiry Finds Man Tasered by Edmonton Police Died of Excited Delirium Linked to Meth Use.” Edmonton Sun. November 17. http://www.edmontonsun.com/2016/11/17/fatality-inquiry-finds-man-tasered-by-edmonton-police-died-of-excited-delirium-linked-to-meth-use

 


Ending Illusions of Independence: IIO Director Steps Down and Calls for More Police Involvement

The problems of oversight of police in Canada have been consistently observed in every oversight agency in the country. Perhaps nowhere have these problems, and the limitations of institutional oversight structures in the Canadian context been more clearly revealed in a short period of time than in the example of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) in British Columbia. Less than four years in existence the agency, founded in direct response to the infamous killing by police of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport in 2007, in a case in which police lied about the killing until civilian video surfaced, has been beset by a range of troubles. These include a lack of capacity even to get police to file reports on time or refrain from watching news reports before filing reports, to the involvement of officers at the Justice Institute of British Columbia in training investigators to investigate police. All of this calls into question the independence, authority, and competence of the IIO and leaves victims and their families, as well as social commentators, questioning the organization.

Now the exiting director is, incredibly, calling for more, not less police involvement in and direction of the organization. The embattled director of the provincial oversight body, Richard Rosenthal, announced in September 2016 that he is leaving his position four months before his term ends, effective September 7. Rosenthal was appointed as the civilian director of the IIO with its founding in 2012. On his way out the door he has given a gift to police, and perhaps another nail in the IIO coffin as far as independence is concerned.

 

Curious Claims: Calling for More Cops

In particular Rosenthal has argued for greater discretion in the hiring of former police officers. Currently the IIO is restricted from hiring any person who has been a police force member in BC within the last five years. Rosenthal wants that restriction abolished (Rosenthal 2016). This has not prohibited the IIO from being trained by officers at the JIBC or hiring officers from outside the province. Without explanation, or regard for the implications of having officers investigating their friends and colleagues, Rosenthal suggests that former officers are the only means by which to provide training to civilians. This is a curious claim to say the least for someone who is leaving the IIO to study for his PhD in criminology. Surely there are many criminologists and forensic scientists who could train civilian investigators. Rosenthal’s claim speaks to the dependence on and over-regard for police exemplified in the IIO.

Rosenthal has also argued that the IIO director needs more discretion in choosing what cases to take to investigation. Right now the IIO mandate calls for investigation of all events in which death or serious injury is caused by a police officer. This means that the investigation delivers the assessment of officer culpability (though officers are virtually never found culpable or responsible regardless of the circumstances or evidence). More discretion would lead to cases being overlooked or not being pursued, even where an investigation might well be warranted. This is particularly so if Rosenthal’s other recommendation for more officer involvement in the agency were followed.

The issue of hiring former police to the supposedly civilian agency is not strictly academic. It has been a point of contention in the history of the IIO. Indeed, in 2015 the IIO was investigated for allegations of bullying and harassment related to the agency’s hiring of former officers (Meuse 2016). As a result 17 investigators and five non-investigative staff exited the IIO within only its first 28 months of operation (Meuse 2016).

Rosenthal as struggled to explain this. Upon leaving he has suggested:

“At the beginning, we were having challenges. We did not have alignment in vision and values of the organization. And unfortunately when you’re the leader of the organization, you take heat from people who don’t share that vision and who need to leave. [But] the good news is that now we are in a place where we have a strong executive that understands the importance of independence.” (quoted in Meuse 2016)

Yet this so-called independence has never been a hallmark of the IIO. Since the beginning of operations in 2012, the IIO has worked under a memorandum of understanding drafted in consultation with police chiefs from across British Columbia (Meuse 2016). Strangely, while suggesting a respect for independence Rosenthal has claimed that “the document has been excellent in allowing the IIO to work collaboratively with police forces” (Meuse 2016). The question always remains, “Can an independent body simultaneously be a collaborator?”

 

Comply or..Well, Nothing

One problem remains that there is no actual mechanism to compel police to respect IIO authority or act according to the needs and demands of the investigation rather than the interests of police forces and associations. As in other oversight agencies in Canada, police in BC are able to obstruct, ignore, interfere with, or disregard investigators and investigations. A recent IIO report itself has concluded that police routinely refuse to file reports in a timely manner after an incident of harm to civilians and often do so only after watching news reports. According to Rosenthal: “That’s not happening, on a systemic basis. It’s a huge problem as far as ensuring the integrity of investigations. We need the government to step up and create regulations in order to ensure that we’re able to do our job in an effective manner” (quoted in Meuse 2016).

 

Conclusion

None of this will be secured by having more police involved in the agency. Rosenthal’s statements, really an appeal for police involvement and the end of even limited “independence,” upon leaving should be a warning sign for all families and friends of victims who are seeking answers or some accountability and for all civilians in British Columbia. Particularly in a context in which police killings of civilians are increasing in the province.

 

Further Reading

Meuse, Matt. 2016. “IIO Director Richard Rosenthal Steps Down 4 Months Early.” CBC News. September 6. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/richard-rosenthal-steps-down-1.3748640

Rosenthal, Richard. 2016. “Exclusive Op-Ed: Outgoing Head of B.C.’s Civilian-Led Police Watchdog Asks for More Support.” Terrace Standard. September 2. http://www.terracestandard.com/opinion/392187931.html


No Oversight, No Accountability: Problems of Supposedly Independent Investigations of Police

Too often people in hopes for reform of policing, or for increased accountability of police, on the creation of supposedly independent investigation or oversight agencies. These institutions are often held out as some sort of panacea for problems of police brutality and crime. To be sure such agencies can represent an improvement over the dubious situation that exists in many provinces in Canada in which police violence against civilians, including killings of civilians, is only “investigated” by their colleagues in other forces, often within the same province or jurisdiction. At the same time the evidence over years of operation of independent investigation units, in provinces including Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba, shows that such units are never truly independent from police agencies and furthermore they are hampered by a range of issues from underfunding and lack of resources, to interference, obstruction, harassment and hostility from police, and few if any means to address uncooperative and non-compliant behavior among officers. Such institutions are also set upon by police associations and law and order police-friendly politicians alike.

The situations of non-autonomy, interference and intimidation, and lack of mechanisms for accountability or compliance with regard to supposedly independent investigations of police suggest that such agencies rather than offering real accountability for policing provide more of a cover for police operations, providing the public a false sense of integrity, oversight, or justice (a final line of community quality control). Indeed it is a misnomer to speak of these agencies as oversight agencies precisely because they have no authority over police and do nothing about day to day operations, governance, or practices of policing. In the end the independent investigations units can only make recommendations to the Crown, with decisions to proceed with charges rarely coming from police friendly and collaborative prosecutors concerned with career interests and working relationships.

In practice investigations units are plagued by lack of resources, reliance on police and police institutions for training, and absence of mechanisms to ensure cooperation or compliance from police. In many cases investigations take too long and result in little more than a reproduction of police excuses.

 

The IIO in BC

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) in British Columbia was, like other such units, received by much public anticipation and hopefulness. It would replace an unacceptable situation in the province in which police investigated police for police acts that resulted in harm to civilians. Since its founding in 2012, however, it has reproduced many of the problems experienced by other independent investigation units.

The office itself had its origins in the brutal killing by police of Robert Dziekanski, a traveler from Poland who was assaulted by several RCMP officers, tasered multiple times, and killed in the Vancouver International Airport (YVR). In the days immediately following the killing the RCMP made a number of public statements in which they blatantly lied about the circumstances of the killing, distorting what happened and pursuing a character assassination of the victim who they falsely described as drunk and aggressive (he was neither). The RCMP manipulation of the case would be undone when a witness brought forward a video recording of the encounter with police showing the RCMP story to be a fabrication (Dziekanski was retreating and compliant when police inexplicably tasered him repeatedly and jumped him). This video by Paul Pritchard, would become perhaps the most famous and significant piece of civilian journalism involving police violence in Canadian history. A public inquiry into the RCMP killing of Robert Dziekanski, and further evidence of officer collusion and lying, would lead to the creation of the IIO (lead officer Monty Robinson and one other officer involved in the killing, Kwesi Millington, would be found guilty of perjury).

Yet several years into its operations the IIO has become another symbol of disgraceful policing related practices in the province. It has been plagued by personal turnover, complaints by workers against administrators, and concerns about connections with the Justice Institute of British Columbia, which trains IIO members but is simultaneously the police training academy for officers in the province and which employs active officers as instructors.

Among the issues that have received the most public attention and criticism has been the significant delay in completing investigations. The IIO is routinely taking up to 18 months to complete its investigations into police involved deaths and injuries of civilians, with concerns that these are moving toward two year completion times.

These concerns were recently heightened when the IIO reported that the investigation into a police killing of a mother and son, Shirley Williams, 77, and Jovan Williams, 39, in the small town of Granisle on April 21, 2016, will again take approximately 18 months.

Pivot Legal Society, a Vancouver-based civil rights law group, has raised concerns about IIO practice and the great length of delays in investigation reporting. Pivot is currently awaiting the conclusion of several IIO investigations, including the killing of Tony Du in 2014, who was shot and killed by the Vancouver Police Department. That case is now getting close to 18 months without a report. Other outstanding cases which are now coming near 18 months with no IIO report are those involving the police shootings of Peter de Groot in Slocan, BC and Naverone Woods, who was killed in Surrey, BC. According to Pivot lawyer Douglas King:

“There is a limitation period of two years to start an action in most cases now, and people who are directly involved in these incidents, and families who have been affected, that’s often the deadline where they have to decide if they’re going to take action against a police department. 18 months is truly unacceptable, two years would be a bit of a disaster, to be perfectly honest. It would have severe impacts on the rest of the legal system.” (quoted in Britten 2016)

In addition to the impacts on the system and the issue of killer cops being active on their force, there is also the issue of addressing family needs and concerns. As King suggests: “It’s absolutely brutal, especially for the families of people killed by police, and for the officers themselves, to have to wait that long,” (quoted in Britten 2016).

The IIO has little to offer in the way of an adequate explanation for the numerous roubles plaguing the agency. Incredibly they have pointed to the sheer number of police involved killings of civilians in the province over the last few years. But that is what they are supposed to be addressing. According to IIO spokesperson Marten Youseff:

“An officer-involved fatality is equivalent to a homicide in the level of rigour that’s required. We rely on third-party reports. We don’t have our own forensic laboratory … and sometimes those reports take an exceeding amount of time. We’re definitely not proud of our timeliness, and we’re doing everything we can to expedite this process.” (quoted in Britten 2016)

Pivot Legal Society is having a hard time accepting this. Douglas King believes that some of the delays in the IIO are related to internal problems within the institution itself. In his opinion: “If the only thing holding up these investigations is a third-party report, then we really need to start talking to the provincial government about how that can be fixed.  If it’s a problem with internal issues with the IIO, then certainly the public has an expectation that the IIO should fix those” (quoted in Britten 2016).

 

Conclusion

Yet in numerous other cases of supposed police oversight agencies, including ones with longer histories and opportunities for correction than the IIO such as the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Ontario, the evidence shows that these problems are endemic to police oversight and cannot simply be reformed. They certainly cannot be addressed by training that includes active officers and/or institutions that maintain official training relations with officers. They also cannot be reformed through an addition of resources, including more investigators. Official reports, such as the Ombudsperson’s report in Ontario have noted the persistence by police forces of harassment, obstruction, uncooperative behavior, disruption and interference, and outright insolence and contempt shown by officers toward investigators and the investigations process. Until police are subject to consequences and punishment, including criminal consequences, for failing to comply with investigations or to follow processes without obstruction there will be no fulsome police oversight, or investigation that anyone can have any confidence in. Beyond this it is virtually impossible to carry out any truly independent, autonomous oversight of or investigation into police when they control their own crime scenes.

More than this, of course, is the lager issue of policing and the role of police within class stratified societies. The institution of policing is inherently political and police forces exert tremendous political pressure on governments and “regulators” at all levels. All of this occurs in a context in which police have been designed and developed as instruments of social war and the defense of status quo relations (which by definition will be enforced through often lethal violence). The only way to ensure public confidence and safety would be a dismantling of policing and rearrangement of social resources to support broader social services (mental health supports, community resources, social hosing, safe use sites, etc.).

 

Further Reading

Britten, Liam. 2016. “IIO Investigations Taking Too Long at 18 Months, Says Critic.” CBC News. May 13. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/iio-investigation-delays-1.3580472


Killer Cop Monty Robinson Sentenced 2 Years for Perjury

On Friday June 24, 2015, Benjamin “Monty” Robinson (RCMP) was sentenced to two years in prison plus probation and 240 hours of community service for perjury. Eight years earlier, on October 14, 2007, then-corporal Robinson along with three other RCMP officers, Constables Gerry Rundel, Bill Bently, and Kwesi Millington, killed Polish traveler Robert Dziekański at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). The unarmed Dziekański had been tasered five times by the officers who also deployed batons and pinned the man to the ground and handcuffed him as he was dying. Robinson, the senior officer in charge during the Dziekański killing, had been convicted of lying to an inquiry examining the events of the killing. A BC Supreme Court judge found Robinson guilty of perjury in June of 2015, ruling that he colluded with the four fellow officers to make up testimony that they presented at the inquiry into Dziekanski’s death.

Immediately following their killing of Dziekański, RCMP made a series of false public statements. They told a story apparently designed to denigrate Dziekański in the public eye and initially claimed he threw things and screamed and yelled after police arrived. It was also suggested that Dziekański was intoxicated. Police also claimed only three officers attended the scene. All of this was contradicted when a bystander video taken by traveler Paul Pritchard came forward. The video showed, contrary to police, that the taser was not used as a last resort but was deployed almost immediately. Police took Pritchard’s video and refused to return it until he brought forward a lawsuit for its return.

Notably, Monty Robinson was also convicted of obstruction of justice in a separate trial after the vehicle he was driving hit and killed a young motorcyclist, Orion Hutchinson (21), in October 2008. In that case Robinson apparently used knowledge gained as a police officer in order to cover up the fact that he had been driving after consuming alcohol. After hitting and killing Robinson left the scene, went home and drank two shots of vodka which he had learned could cover up the fact he had been drinking earlier. Incredibly, Robinson received no jail time in that case, being sentenced to one month of house arrest. Hutchinson’s mother claimed the sentence seemed only like Robinson was being grounded.