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Polish government lawyer accuses officer of coverup at Taser inquiry – Metro US

Polish government lawyer accuses officer of coverup at Taser inquiry

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The veiled suggestions of a coverup that have hung over the inquiry into Robert Dziekanski’s death were put into words Wednesday, as the Polish government’s lawyer accused a Mountie of lying during his testimony.

Const. Kwesi Millington immediately denied colluding with other officers or lying under oath to explain away his use of a Taser on Dziekanski at Vancouver’s airport in October 2007.

“You and your fellow officers collaborated to fabricate your story in the expectation that it would justify your conduct to your superiors, do you deny that?” said Rosenbloom, the lawyer for Dziekanski’s home country of Poland.

“We never did that,” replied Millington during his third day of testimony.

“I am suggesting that you and your fellow officers intentionally misled (homicide) investigators and you continue to lie under oath at this commission, do you deny that?” said Rosenbloom.

“That didn’t happen,” replied Millington.

The inquiry has heard about several inaccuracies Millington and other officers wrote in their notebooks, recorded in internal police reports and told investigators in the days and weeks after Dziekanski’s death.

And each officer has been asked whether they talked to one another about what happened before making their statements – a suggestion they have all denied.

Millington, for example, initially said Dziekanski was yelling when police approached and was waving a stapler “wildly” just before the first stun of the Taser.

He also said in statements and notes that Dziekanski was still standing and walking toward the officers after three jolts of the 50,000-volt weapon, and that it took three of the officers to wrestle him to the ground.

But after being shown a bystander’s video of the event, Millington conceded at the inquiry that those facts were incorrect.

Rosenbloom also noted that some of those same errors – for example, that Dziekanski had to be wrestled to the ground – were consistent among the three officers to testify so far.

He asked Millington to explain how three RCMP officers who are trained to be observant could all report seeing something that didn’t happen.

“I don’t know, we dealt with the same incident, but I don’t know why,” said Millington.

Millington’s lawyer, Ravi Hira, scoffed at the suggestion his client was lying.

He told reporters outside the inquiry that most of the errors were about “non-material” facts, and he insisted most of what Millington told investigators was borne out by the video.

Four Mounties were called to the airport after Dziekanski, who didn’t speak English, started throwing furniture.

The officers have testified Dziekanski was defiant as they tried to communicate with him, and that he posed a threat because he was holding a stapler.

“We can all see a particular event and we can all see it differently, but that doesn’t mean … that you’re automatically a liar,” said Hira.

“On the material matters, there are no errors.”

Millington has said he knew his use of force would be examined after an in-custody death, and he realized the purpose of his notes, reports and statements were to justify his actions.

But he insisted the other officers never talked about what happened when they returned to the airport detachment after the incident or in the weeks they continued to work together.

Crown prosecutors decided last year not to charge Millington, Const. Gerry Rundel, Const. Bill Bentley and Cpl. Benjamin Robinson, saying they acted with reasonable force.

However, inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood’s final report could include findings of misconduct against the officers are anyone else.

The inquiry will now break for two weeks and resume on March 23, when Robinson, the supervising officer, will testify.

After that, the inquiry will hear medical evidence about how Dziekanski died, review RCMP training and policies, and hear from various agencies about what changes they have made since the incident.

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