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Robert Dziekanski: RCMP officer Kwesi Millington's perjuy trial wraps up

01/31/2015 01:23 EST | Updated 04/01/2015 05:59 EDT
Nearly a year after it began, the trial of RCMP Const. Kwesi Millington ended Friday with Crown prosecutors resting on their theory of why the Mountie lied at the 2009 inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski.

Prosecutor Scott Fenton argued Millington hoped to mask his attempts to justify using a Taser in the fatal confrontation with Dziekanski at Vancouver International airport in 2007.

"What you see are are....seriously erroneous mis-characterizations of Mr. Dziekanski's behaviour and level of resistance, which always default to making him more of a threat,"  Fenton said of Millington's initial statements about what occurred.

Immediately after the fatal face-off, Millington described Dziekanski as combative and holding a stapler "high." 

Millington also reported that Dziekanski was still standing after the first of five blasts from his Taser and had to be wrestled to the ground.

'Fast-moving, novel and traumatic situation'

At the inquiry, Millington acknowledged his mistakes, and said they sprang from what his lawyer argued was a "fast-moving, novel and traumatic situation."

Fenton told the judge that explanation defies belief. He pointed to the "symmetrically similar" mistakes made by all four officers involved. 

"They would have been aware IHIT (Integrated Homicide Investigation Team) was investigating," Fenton said.

"They didn't wrestle him to the ground. It never occurred.”

Fenton also dismissed the idea that the speed of the event might have lead to honest mistakes.

"This was not a firefight or a life-and-death kind of struggle," Fenton said. 

However in a move that seemed to contradict his argument, Fenton had Justice William Ehrcke watch amateur video of the incident in slow motion, pausing every few frames as it unfolded.

"Slowing down the video certainly enhances one's ability to see what's happening between each of the seconds," Fenton told the judge.

The Crown's theory that Millington and the others lied to make Dziekanksi sound like "a bear of a man" hinges on a belief the officers colluded at the airport before investigators arrived.

Fenton brought forward no evidence that happened, but suggested he didn't need to.

"It cannot be said there was not an opportunity for these officers to meet and discuss the event," Fenton said. 

Millington's lawyer, Ravi Hira, argued the Crown's theory is fatal to its own case because Millington had no reason to lie.

Hira argued the stapler Dziekanski held was a weapon as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada and the Mounties already knew they were justified in their use of force.

Defence says officer was not a 'trigger-happy cop'

He also maintains that Millington's claim — that he thought Dziekanski was still standing when he fired a second time — is consistent with someone telling the truth.

"Is the Crown alleging that Const. Millington for some reason wanted to repeatedly Taser someone to death? Hira asked.

"There is no allegation that Millington was 'a trigger-happy cop.'"

Justice Ehrcke then underscored the point: "So therefore he must have been telling the truth when he said he believed he was still standing?" he asked.

Hira also added it made no sense Millington would lie when he knew the whole incident had been videotaped.

Some of the allegations against Millington centre on his use of words and phrases in his statements and in his testimony at the Braidwood Inquiry.

Hira argued there may be a mistaken perception that Millington lied, because "he has difficulties with comprehension and articulation."

At the inquiry, Millington said he didn't know the meaning of the word "abdicated."

In his trial testimony, Millington asked the prosecutor what "contemporaneous" meant.

However, Fenton disputed Hira's claim.

"It's somewhat self-serving," he said, noting Millington has a university degree and once worked in a bank.

"He reveals, I would say, a normal, if not good command of the English language."

Justice Ehrcke will deliver his decision Feb. 20.

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