Friday, April 17, 2009

Don't Give Guns (or Tasers) To the Reality Challenged

A supposed 'expert' from the Vancouver Police force has told the Braidwood inquiry that his four RCMP colleagues acted reasonably in killing Robert Dziekanski.

If this is the way cops think, we've got a problem.

VPD sergeant Brad Fawcett told Justice Braidwood that, because the officers perceived Dziekanski was about to attack them, as all four so conveniently claimed in the post-killing debrief before they were aware a bystander had video recorded the events, then that's good enough for him.

Sergeant Brad said we shouldn't second guess the cops. If they said they were under attack, of course they must be telling the truth. No point letting some dumb video make them out to be total liars. But wait, there's more. The Toronto Star reports that Sarge Fawcett testified that the video (yes, the one we've all watched) corroborates the officers' accounts:

The inquiry has heard that those statements conflict with the video, but Fawcett found the officers' statements were supported by the video.

For example, his report appears to accept the officers' claims that Dziekanski remained standing immediately following the first Taser jolt, with his hands clenched around the stapler. The video shows Dziekanski flail about for a few seconds before collapsing on the ground.

When one of Dziekanski's arm lifts above his head, the stapler visibly flying away, Fawcett's report describes the action as ``consistent with striking or throwing."

The report brushes aside other inaccuracies – for example, that Dziekanski had to be wrestled to the ground – as "minor in nature."

Fawcett agreed with the officers that Dziekanski appeared to be fighting back after he collapsed to the floor.

He said it doesn't matter whether Dziekanski was actually resisting or if he was reacting to the pain of the Taser.

"If the officer perceived it to be a response to the push-stun (Taser deployment), that would be one thing," he testified.

"If the officer's perception was it was conscious resistance on the part of the subject, then that's another matter."

If this is the basis on which cops investigate cops, we have a very serious problem. You shoot 50,000 volts through a man's body and, when he spasms, you're entitled to claim he's resisting and shoot him again? Perhaps you can just keep going until the body is so stone cold dead it won't twitch any more when you blast it with electricity.

Memo to the cops. Perception isn't an excuse unless its entirely consistent with the evidence of what actually happened. You don't get to put people to death on misperception. "Oopsie" isn't good enough nor is perception to be a vehicle of convenient contrivance to mask culpability

If cops aren't able to mix it up when they're in a four on one situation with a guy holding a stapler, we're relying on a defective batch of cops and we'd do well to discard them and recruit replacements who can do the job without resorting to potentially lethal force at the hint of someone waving a stapler. These guys are useless, they're bums. Worse yet, none of us is safe with guys like these in our midst carrying guns. You just never know when they might have a perception.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse it does. These guys must think we are all morons (or perhaps they are) to think that we would buy into that 'perception' theory. The more I hear from the RCMP the more disgusted I get. Is there no end to this farce from the RCMP farce?