Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Discriminating justice: inequality before the law

Almost eight years after the death of Robert Dziekanski, Taser-toting RCMP constable Kwesi Millington was dealt a card that read, "Go Directly to Jail." Of course, an appeal may see Millington free on bail soon and the process should ensure the RCMP pays lawyers on this case for years to come.


Millington's 30-month sentence was not for deploying a conducted energy weapon five times nor for failure to provide medical assistance to the unconscious and breathless Polish traveller. Instead it was for perjury after he fabricated testimony given at the Braidwood Inquiry investigating Dziekanski's death.

Former police corporal Monty Robinson was similarly convicted in March but has not yet been sentenced for perjury. In July 2012, Robinson received a one year non-custodial term following conviction for obstructing an impaired driving investigation after killing a motorcyclist in a traffic collision.


Two other officers involved in the Dziekanski homicide escaped punishment. In July 2013, Cst. Bill Bentley was found not guilty of perjury and Cst. Gerry Rundel was acquitted in April of this year.


Dzienkanski's death was an individual tragedy that exposed an inconsistent court system, which dealt differently with four men who acted together in killing another. The courts believed rationalizations of two white men but disbelieved the justifications offered by two non-white men. Was that unexpected? Not in a nation that incarcerates aboriginal men at 10 times the national rate.

In the earlier days of this website, I wrote extensively about the death of Robert Dziekanski and the efforts of senior RCMP managers to evade responsibility for the acts of their members. The killing was a result of poor training and faulty decisions made by four junior officers under stress. The subsequent cover-up and defamation of a man who could no longer defend himself was a considered series of acts managed by the most senior officers of the RCMP. None of those individuals were punished at all; the worst were promoted and rewarded with medals.

Earlier articles about the Robert Dziekanski case are linked here.

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6 comments:

  1. Interesting. I thought they'd all colluded to come up with the same story? So the two coloured folk colluded more than the white guys? Will we ever learn the basis upon which this judgement was made?
    Justice may indeed be blind, but it strikes me it's also very expensive. (As in fired Health Workers. Aren't we lucky to have a bottomless pit of money thanks to LNG and the Prosperity Fund.)

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  2. In a previous post on this subject, Norm provided this citation from a judicial decision:

    "It cannot be overemphasized that the purpose of a criminal prosecution is not to obtain a conviction; it is to lay before a jury what the Crown, (the prosecutor), considers to be credible evidence relevant to what is alleged to be a crime. Counsel has a duty to see that all available legal proof of the facts is presented: it should be done firmly and pressed to its legitimate strength, but it must also be done fairly. The role of prosecutor excludes any notion of winning or losing; his function is a matter of public duty than which in civil life there can be none charged with greater personal responsibility. It is to be efficiently performed with an ingrained sense of the dignity, the seriousness and the justness of judicial proceedings." Boucher v. The Queen (1954) 110 C.C.C. 263 at 270 (S.C.C.).

    The tenet that government prosecutors should seek only the truth is widely understood and accepted by most democratic governments. But is it understood and accepted in British Columbia?

    Former BC Attorney General Geoff Plant wrote an open letter to former BC Solicitor General John van Dongen advising him that in the BC Rail corruption trial of David Basi and Bob Virk “the very object of the entire exercise” was “admissions of criminal wrongdoing.” He further advised Mr. van Dongen he should “Congratulate the government for having had the wisdom and the courage to seize an opportunity to bring the case to an end.”

    The opportunity seized was by way of a secret $6.2 million agreement that by Mr. Plant’s own words in the same letter was an illegal act. The opportunity seized was also deliberately withheld from the prosecutor and trial judge, preventing the latter from exercising her duties under the Criminal Code. And governments are not supposed to seize opportunities to end criminal trials by perverting the natural course of justice.

    Michael de Jong, the Attorney General who knowingly let this opportunity be seized on his watch has publicly stated about the secret agreement, “It is a balance between accountability on the fiscal side of the equation, but preserving absolute prosecutorial independence from political interference. And this is the case where those two considerations seem to intersect.”

    So when Attorney General de Jong looked at the blindfolded Themis holding the scales of justice, he didn’t see one side of the scales holding support for conviction and the other holding opposition. He saw one scale holding a bag of money and the other holding evidence. He also apparently saw the best way to ensure absolute prosecutorial independence in a criminal trial was to secretly offer the defendants escape from liability for $6.2 million in legal fees in exchange for guilty pleas that the prosecutor would have otherwise been unable to obtain.

    An examination of the words and actions of two recent British Columbia Attorneys General reveals the truth appears to be a distant cousin to government expedience and the (non) convictions in the Robert Dziekanski killing should not be a surprise. This is a BC Liberal democracy.

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  3. Millington held the taser and applied it five times, Robinson was in charge and went on to kill yet another innocent human being. Is this prejudice against non whites? I don't know the answer to that but possibly Karma is playing it's part in the total lack of justice given Robert Dziekanski's death. If this is the best our country and it's systems can offer to his mother then that fact should be made known to her and let her try and find some peace. I am ashamed as a citizen of this country for what has taken place.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't intend to suggest that Robinson and Millington should not have been convicted, just that there were different standards applied that allowed Bentley and Rundel to walk free. All four of these guys were faulted by Justice Braidwood after a more rigorous investigation than what the criminal court judges did.

      Most of us find it shocking that not one of the four RCMP officers offered medical assistance to the victim, when it was clear that he was unconscious and not breathing. All four failed repeatedly that night: no effort to de-escalate the situation through talk, resorting immediately to violence; excessive force on the unarmed traveller, rendering no medical assistance and refusing to remove handcuffs from the immobile victim after Richmond firefighters asked for that to be done. Justice Braidwood found they were all self-serving in their testimony, less interested in revealing truth than protecting themselves and the force from criticism.

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    2. Thanks Norm, The hardest part for me is that he had expressed relief upon seeing them after his ordeal at the airport only to have them turn on him the way they did, and then as you say they just let him die in restraints. Perjury charges somehow don't seem enough, at least not for me. Every aspect of Mr. Dziekanski's murder and the following attempts to defame his character make my skin curl to this day. My anger with them has not lessened since.

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  4. All this proves is that enough money can "buy" your required verdict. This further illustrates why an enquiry is needed into the BC Rail scandal.
    When the attorney general places partisan political motives "above" the rule of law, in a judicial matter, to prevent "the party in power" from being held accountable, its called "justice?" Sounds more like obstruction of justice to me. What are the legal requirements used to describe corruption and what defines a "criminal" organization. One would think that the legal community would be lining up to get a piece of this type of legal case. We have a fundamental flaw in both our political and legal systems if this is the way governments can interfer in the legal process, especially in cases where corruption can be traced back to political operatives and political motives. The use of money in any form to in any way "induce" alleged guilty parties to plead guilty and "reduce the exposure" of serving government figures from testifying...is from my perspective, obstruction of justice, and in itself a criminal act.

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