Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Perjury Trial Hears from Witnesses Who Saw RCMP Officers Use Taser on Dziekanski

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Perjury Trial Hears from Witnesses Who Saw RCMP Officers Use Taser on Dziekanski

Article excerpt

Perjury trial hears from airport witnesses


VANCOUVER - The trial of a Mountie accused of lying at the public inquiry into Robert Dziekanski's death turned its attention Wednesday back to the night of the Polish immigrant's fatal confrontation with police, hearing the imperfect recollections of eye witnesses who made their own mistakes when they first attempted to describe what they saw.

Const. Bill Bentley is charged with perjury for his testimony at hearings that examined what happened when Dziekanski was stunned with a Taser and died at Vancouver's airport -- specifically, when he attempted to explain discrepancies between his initial accounts in October 2007 and an amateur video of the incident that emerged later.

Bentley was forced during the inquiry to explain why he told homicide investigators and wrote in his own notes that Dziekanski came at the officers screaming before he was stunned and that two officers took Dziekanski to the ground -- both of which are contradicted by the video.

The Crown has alleged Bentley intentionally misled homicide investigators and recorded inaccurate information in his notes, and then lied at the inquiry to cover up his dishonesty.

Three witnesses who were at the airport testified Wednesday. Each gave statements to police in the hours after the incident that painted Dziekanski as an aggressive, confrontational man who appeared to be ready to attack the four police officers who were on scene.

Bentley's lawyer highlighted several such comments from the witnesses, as the defence argues the officer's mistakes were the product of a fast-moving situation combined with the trauma of having just been involved in an in-custody death.

Sidharth Arora, an airport security guard, told a homicide investigator in October 2007 that he saw Dziekanski pick up a stapler and swing it at the police officers before he was tackled to the ground and then stunned with the Taser.

On Wednesday, Arora wasn't asked to reconcile his initial statement with the video, which does not show Dziekanski swing the stapler and clearly shows him falling, without being tackled, once the Taser is deployed. …

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