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Dziekanski's death 'never should have happened,' supervising officer says

VANCOUVER, B.C. - The ranking RCMP officer who says he ordered one of his constables to stun Robert Dziekanski with a Taser told a public inquiry Monday the man's death "never should have happened."

VANCOUVER, B.C. - The ranking RCMP officer who says he ordered one of his constables to stun Robert Dziekanski with a Taser told a public inquiry Monday the man's death "never should have happened."

But Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson, the fourth officer to testify at the hearings, said he doesn't think he contributed to the tragic outcome. "This is a tragic thing that happened and it saddens me every time I have to look at it," said Robinson, 38, who has been on the force for nearly 13 years.

"No one should have passed away," he said. "This never should have happened."

"Is there anything that you did, from your perspective, that contributed to this event that you can see?" asked his lawyer, Reg Harris.

"No," replied Robinson.

Robinson testified earlier that he gave the order to shock Dziekanski with a Taser, and repeated the command as many as two more times.

That contradicts testimony from the officer who fired the Taser, who said he made the decision on his own, but Robinson insisted he told Const. Kwesi Millington to use the Taser when Dziekanski picked up a stapler and moved toward the officers.

"When he took the step forward, that's when I gave Const. Millington the command to deploy the Taser," said Robinson. "And at that point, the Taser was deployed."

Robinson said when Dziekanski didn't immediately fall down, he asked for a second shock.

The Polish man, who didn't speak English, had been waiting at Vancouver's airport for many hours. Police were called when he began throwing furniture in the airport arrivals area.

A bystander's video played numerous times at the inquiry shows Dziekanski was on the floor for the second stun, and Robinson acknowledged Dziekanski had either already collapsed or was on his way down by the end of the first shock.

Still, he maintained that he gave the command when Dziekanski was still standing.

On the video, one of the officers can be heard shouting, "Hit him again! Hit him again!" after the second stun, long after Dziekanski had fallen. The other officers have said that voice belongs to Robinson.

Robinson said he didn't remember giving a third command, but didn't dispute that it was him.

"I don't rule that out, it was me a third possible time," he said.

Robinson completed Taser training in 2003, but that training expired three years later. He wasn't recertified until a month after Dziekanski's death.

The fact that his certification had lapsed meant only that he wouldn't be able to use a Taser himself, the corporal said, but it wouldn't affect his ability to order his officers to do so.

Robinson said his command to use the Taser was the first instruction he gave any of his constables that night.

The officers were on a dinner break at the RCMP's airport detachment when they received a call about a man throwing furniture, and Robinson said they all walked to their cruisers and headed to the airport without so much as a word from him.

Robinson was the last one to arrive at the airport, and he said there was no discussion before the four of them walked into the international terminal and walked up to Dziekanski.

"Did you have any plan in your mind about what you would do with this call and the three constables attending with you as you entered the airport?" asked Vertlieb.

"No," replied Robinson.

Earlier in the day, Dziekanski's mother, Zofia Cisowski, approached Robinson outside court.

"Nice to meet you, nice to meet you," said Cisowski as Robinson walked away.

An RCMP spokesman later said he offered to set up a private meeting between Robinson and Cisowski, but she declined.

Crown prosecutors announced in December that the officers wouldn't be charged in connection to the death, saying they acted with reasonable force in the circumstances.

However, the officers' actions are under scrutiny by inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood, who can make findings of misconduct against the officers or anyone else.

After Dziekanski's death, all four officers remained on duty at the airport for several weeks before they were all reassigned, some outside the province.

Robinson was moved to the RCMP's Olympic Integrated Security Unit, which is preparing security for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, but was suspended with pay shortly after he was arrested last October in connection with a fatal collision.

A 21-year-old motorcyclist was killed when he was struck by a Jeep in suburban Delta, south of Vancouver.

In a news release dated Oct. 28, 2008, Delta police said they were recommending the off-duty officer - subsequently identified as Robinson - be charged with impaired driving causing death and driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, but the Crown has not announced any decision on charges.

 
 
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