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RCMP Complaints Commission Releases Report on Dziekanski Vancouver Airport Taser Death

Report into the RCMP in-custody death of
Mr. Robert Dziekanski, October 14, 2007
by Commission for Public Complaints
Against the RCMP - December 8, 2009
Good Morning: Before I begin, I want to address a question some of you may have, namely, how exactly does the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP fit into to the overall Robert Dziekanski case? And, why release a report now?
Image capture from Paul Pritchard witness video

As most of you know, the Complaints Commission is the only organization which has been specifically tasked by Parliament to examine the conduct of RCMP members. Although those powers are limited in scope, they do allow me as Complaints Commission Chair to ensure RCMP members are held accountable to the public for their conduct in the performance of their duties.
Whereas Justice Braidwood's inquiry is looking into all aspects of the Dziekanski case, my focus – since the day after the incident – has been the conduct of the RCMP officers involved in the case, identifying what went wrong and more importantly, what needs to be done to avoid a tragedy of this nature happening again.

Why release my report now? Simply stated, my two-year long investigation is complete.
Having received more than 100 formal complaints about this case, and given the public notoriety of the events of 14 October, 2007, I believe it is in the public interest to release my findings and recommendations without further delay.

Let me just first say that the events of that night at the Vancouver International Airport not only represent a profound loss to the family and friends of Robert Dziekanski, they represent a defining moment in the history of the RCMP.

It is my view that the manner in which the RCMP responds to my report, and that of Justice Braidwood to follow, will have a profound impact on how the iconic institution is viewed by Canadians. As the commissioner of the RCMP has said himself, the force needs the confidence of the citizens it serves in order to be effective.

Before I get to my key findings and recommendations, I want to briefly recap CPC's role to date in this case.

I deployed an independent observer the day following the airport incident to monitor the criminal IHIT investigation to ensure it was impartial and free from bias. I can confirm that was indeed the case. There were, however, other issues with the investigation which I will comment on shortly.

I launched a Chair-initiated complaint on 8 November, 2007. In fact, I received more than 100 complaints from members of the public and organizations like BCCLA.

Approximately eight weeks ago I provided both the Commissioner of the RCMP and Public Safety Minister with copies of our interim report. This report reflects a comprehensive two-year long investigation into the actions of the four RCMP members who responded to the public disturbance 911 calls at Vancouver International on 14 October 2007, the subsequent criminal investigation and the manner in which the RCMP released information on the case to the public.

Ideally, I prefer to include the RCMP's response into any report we write prior to its release. However, given the public interest and sheer number of received complaints, I regard it to be in the public interest to release the report without further delay.

Key Findings

    * While they were in the lawful execution of their duties as police officers, the four officers failed to adopt a measured, coordinated and appropriate response to Mr. Dziekanski's reported behaviour.

    * The senior on-scene RCMP member failed to take charge of the RCMP's response.

    * No meaningful attempt was made to de-escalate the situation.

    * No warning—visual or otherwise—was given to Mr. Dziekanski prior to him being tasered by the Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW).

    * Use of the CEW against Mr. Dziekanski was premature and inappropriate.

    * The CEW was used multiple times on Mr. Dziekanski without any significant effort made to determine the need for further use.

    * The RCMP members present should have more actively provided first aid and monitored Mr. Dziekanki's condition.

    * The four RCMP members inappropriately met alone after the death of Mr. Dziekanski—prior to giving their statements.

    * The versions of events given to investigators by the four RCMP officers involved in the Vancouver International Airport in-custody death of Robert Dziekanski are not deemed credible by the CPC.

    * The senior on-scene RCMP member should not have been present at the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team briefing held at the Richmond Detachment on October 14, 2007.

    * No bias or partiality toward the involved RCMP members was present in the IHIT investigation of the death of Mr. Dziekanski, but the Pritchard video should have been shown to the members before taking statements from them.

    * The RCMP should have released certain information to the media which would have served to clarify information pertaining to the death of Mr. Dziekanski and corrected erroneous information previously provided without compromising the IHIT investigation.

It is my intent that our findings and recommendations contribute to the improvement of RCMP policing practices and assist in preventing a similar tragedy from recurring.  
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