And Injustice For All: Cops Face No Charges In Death of Robert Dziekanski

You who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now's the time for your tears

      Bob Dylan, "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll"

The cops who brutally attacked newly-arrived immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14, 2007, tragically causing his death, will face absolutely no criminal charges. That's right, none.

A year ago when I wrote my sad and angry piece, "Kill, Duck and Cover: The RCMP Rant", I was outraged and sickened, but at least I knew that, with the video evidence the whole world had just seen, there would eventually be some sort of justice for Dziekanski and his heartbroken mother, Sofia Cisowski. But, sadly, I was wrong. There will be no justice. None whatsoever.


As in just about every other case of police brutality here in Canada, the system has done almost everything possible to protect the cops from prosecution. As is generally the case with police forces around the world, the RCMP almost always tries to protect its own, even if that means keeping its most violent members out on the streets "protecting" the public.

It's been asked by so many people so many times before, but it really needs to be asked once more here: What the fuck's up with the RCMP investigating itself anyway?! Because that's what happened, once again, in this case. Is it some sort of sick joke? Because I don't get the punch line. And, in case you couldn't guess, they almost never find anything criminal in any of their own actions. Does anyone really think they want to?

A Job Well Done

As for the prosecutors, it's hard not to see them as completely aligned with the cops who they work with day in and day out, rather than with the public who they are supposed to serve. To any regular follower of the news it would appear that what matters to your typical prosecutor is protecting cops from justice, not protecting the public from brutality... or even death.

"Insufficient evidence to bring charges", they say, even if, in this case, the whole assault is right there on video for all to see.

But it's not just that there's insufficient evidence to press charges. No, it would seem that, in the minds of the prosecutors, this Robert Dziekanski case simply involved standard police procedure. Nothing criminal here at all. And that's not just my opinion, that's what was said Friday by the spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

Not only was there nothing wrong with the actions of these four cops, but, it seems, they did an outstanding job in the way they handled the situation. Seriously!

According to Stan Lowe, spokesman for the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch, "the officers in question were lawfully engaged in their duties when they encountered Mr. Dziekanski and the force they used to subdue and restrain him was reasonable and necessary in all the circumstances”.

The scariest thing is that Lowe went on to say that the officers followed RCMP policy on the use of force. That is to say, the way they violently took the unarmed, non-resisting Dziekanski down is exactly the way they should act in such situations. What is this, fucking North Korea?!

I'd love to see how Mr. Lowe would react if that had been one of his loved ones being taken out in such a "reasonable and necessary" manner.

And just so we all got this right, going in and talking calmly to the man and then handcuffing him and leading him away peacefully would not have been the right course of action. Violently taking him down, now that was the right thing to do.

Apology? Hell no, give these guys medals! He was holding a stapler, after all, and that's pretty scary for four big muscular, fully-trained-in-hand-to-hand-combat professionals. Hey man, they could have been stapled!

Good Cops/Bad Cops

Obviously society needs the police and clearly they do put their lives on the line at times, but that in no way excuses brutality in any form. They're simply civil servants paid to do a job for the public. But that's certainly not how some of them act.

Similarly, we need teachers, but I don't hear anyone saying we've got to tolerate any teachers who molest students.

And let's not forget that there are other people out there who risk their lives in the course of their work, most notably firefighters and search and rescue personnel, but we wouldn't tolerate any brutality on their part. So why is it tolerated when the police engage in it?

What we need in this country are good decent cops who would be sickened by the type of brutal force that was used against Dziekanski. And I believe there are many of them out there who were. We do know that many retired cops have spoken out about their dismay and even disgust at how quickly many police resort to violence and, particularly, the use of the taser these days.


The apologists for police brutality will say it's a tough job and they're risking their lives, so all is excused. To which I say, what a load of bullshit! Again, firefighters have much more dangerous jobs and risk their lives constantly, but they don't go around killing people who refuse to obey an order now do they?

Those who say that these guys were "just doing their jobs" must seriously think the job of a cop is to use brutal violence against unarmed civilians. But who would think such a thing?

If unprovoked, unnecessary brutality leading to death was just part of the job of the police then their jobs would involve inherently criminal behavior. And society would need protecting from them. But, of course, their real job involves no such license to rough up such utterly harmless people as Robert Dziekanski.

As a number of retired police officers have said in interviews, these four reckless cops were completely out of control. What was needed here was a calm response to a man in distress. Instead they barged in and immediately - within 30 seconds - violently tasered him five times.

Excessive Use of Force

If tasering a passive 40-year-old unarmed man five times and then jumping on him so he can no longer breathe isn't excessive use of force, what is?

Yeah, ok, if someone's shooting at you, shoot back. But all these other cases - cases of people being shot dead when either armed with just a knife or, in many other cases, tasered or shot to death when completely unarmed - are just ridiculous.

Not As Accepting of Brutality

Last week a cop killed a teenager in Greece (the first killing of a teenager there in over 20 years) and the whole nation erupted into a week-long fit of rage, riots and repulsion. And the cop was immediately charged with voluntary homicide.

Contrast that to Canada, where three teenagers were shot dead by the police in a one-month period across the country this past summer... and everyone shrugged.

The thing that really gets me is that they don't shoot for the legs, they actually shoot to kill... 15-year-olds!

Can you imagine shooting to kill a 15-year-old because he wouldn't drop a knife? Not because he lunged at you, just because he refused repeated orders to drop the knife. That's what happened to a kid in Winnipeg this past summer. There's got to be a more professional - and less lethal - way of dealing with such situations. Perhaps such as trying to talk the person down.

Not Such A Funny Joke

The more cases one reads, the more apparent it becomes that the whole "justice" system is a joke in this country.

Even in the rarest of cases where one cop testifies in court that a shooting by a colleague was unprovoked, such as the horrific case in Vanderhoof, B.C., the judge still let's the killer go free... and back to work.

The only time cops seem to get charged and convicted is when they get caught stealing and/or dealing drugs. That's right, drugs bad, brutalizing and even killing members of the public, ok.

Hit-and-run drunk driving causing death (with your own kids in the car!), as one of the four cops who killed Dziekanski is now accused of, is pretty unacceptable too. Though I can almost guarantee he'll get a light sentence because he's a cop. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Throw the book at him because he's a cop and should know better than anyone else. Either way, what a guy - killing two innocent people in just one short year.

Embarrassing... To Say The Least

Really now, think about it, shouldn't the RCMP be extremely embarrassed by the fact that four of their highly-trained officers couldn't handle a 40-year-old man, armed with nothing more than a stapler, in any other way than by tasering him five times and then jumping on him, causing his death?

Far from embarrassment, however, the RCMP seem to have little regret. In fact, it's totally mindboggling to read RCMP statements about the case and see how incredibly arrogant they are in their belief that they are faultless and that their officers performed to absolute perfection. As always, it seems that it was the victim's own fault (and, man, you can't get much more pathetic than actually trying to blame Dziekanski for his own death - but that's exactly what they, along with the prosecutors, seem to be doing).

A Clear Message

The prosecutors say the tasers contributed to, but didn't cause Dziekanski's death. But that's hardly the point here. It's not whether the tasers killed him or not, what's certain is that the actions of the cops did. If they hadn't handled the situation in such a violent way Dziekanski would still be alive and enjoying his new life in Canada today.

Finally, just let me say what a great message I think this sends to all the other cops out there. If you approach an unarmed man with his hands raised who isn't resisting arrest in any way, you can brutally take him down... and if he dies in the process, so be it, you'll face no repercussions whatsoever.

One thing is absolutely clear, though, and that's that the RCMP and the entire "justice" system is set up to protect the police and not the public. Anyone who follows the news on a regular basis and could still argue with that statement is either willingly ignorant or staggeringly blind.

One other thing no one can argue with is that three of those four cops who used "reasonable and necessary" force against Dziekanski are out there "protecting" us right at this very moment. Almost makes you want to move to Greece.

Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Saturday, December 13th, 2008


For further reading check out Vancouver-based civil-rights lawyer Cameron Ward's piece Quelle Surprise; no charges against RCMP in Robert Dziekanski death, in which he states: "no BC police officer has ever been prosecuted for a civilian death resulting from the intentional application of force in the 150 year history of this province"


To read my piece from last year on this case click here: Kill, Duck and Cover: The RCMP Rant


And to read another recent piece on Canadian politics click here: The Nonsensical Nationalism Rant: A Nation Built On Zed


For another piece on the Canadian media read this: The CBC Rant: Avi Lewis and The Canadian Media In The Never-Ending Black Era of Conrad


And for a recent piece on Canadian politics read this: Thank You Quebec: The Canadian Election Rant (Part 3)


For more on Canadian politics click here: Politics: Canada


And for a recent piece on American politics check this out: Fear and Loathing in The Heartland: Republicans' Lovefest With Ignorance


And for lots more on politics of all types visit the Politics Homepage


MikesAndDislikes Home

Inhumane cops brutality

Way society of good Canadian people doesn't take any legal actions against those criminals covered by police officer uniforms???? Perhaps you are intimidated and scare. SHAME ON YOU!!!!

Where are the Mounties I grew up to respect?

It’s always easy to be a “Monday Morning Quarterback”, and I wasn’t there with Robert Dziekanski or the 4 Mounties, so I am completely at risk of misunderstanding the situation.


However, I remember wondering when I saw the video, why, with 3 other officers as backup, one of the officers didn’t just grab a chair, sit down, smile, offer the poor guy his hand in friendship, and try first to bring calm and peace to the situation.


There would have been minimal risk and ample opportunity for stronger actions if that had failed.


Those would have been the kind of Mounties I grew up to respect.


I wonder what kind of “situation assessment and diffusement” training our once esteemed National Police Force candidates are getting these days to immediately taser and tackle a person.


I might do that.


I expect more of the folks we entrust with the public good and spend a great deal of time and money training to be better than the rest of us.


Mike Hughes (originally posted as a comment in response to this piece on the Canadian Dimension Blog)


Related satirical piece

Check out this related satirical piece:


Stabbing death not caused by knife, RCMP says


Kudos Mike... one of your best

Kudos Mike... one of your best rants yet, I was waiting for this one. Ken

I am so disgusted with our (lack of) justice system

I am so disgusted with our (lack of) justice system I could spit. The only way the RCMP could have redeemed themselves is to charge these 4 killers. Perhaps people would have eventually forgiven them for their heinous acts and lies to cover up. However, as usual they lied to protect their murderous cops. Where is our government in all of this? They should be making changes to prevent this from happening over and over again. I have lost all respect for the law and enforcers. I just hope to never need the police as I wouldn't know who to trust. There are many cops who are good guys individually, but collectively they are BAD. The system makes them bad. This verdict makes me ashamed of being a Canadian and is a black mark for Canada in the world's eyes.

From a former police officer

Dear Mike: I'm a man in his early 60s who used to be a police officer. My service was in the 70s-80s and believe it or not none of the members of our department (municipal) could tolerate the members of the local RCMP detachment, with the exception of 2 of them. The rest were apathetic, lazy, ignorant and amazingly vested with an attitude of superiority.


After completing my Police service I received an "Exemplary" conduct record of discharge, which in itself is difficult to obtain. Many years later I witnessed a similar beating of an innocent man in the comunity of Port Hardy, BC. The man whom the RCMP interpreted as drunk had received previous surgery for a broken pelvis and legs. He had 26 steel pins holding his lower body together and obviously had difficulty walking properly. No matter: He looked drunk. As in the airport case he was tackled to the ground and pepper sprayed in the eyes. He was also given a broken nose for his troubles.


Subsequently charges of assaulting the police were laid and word got out that I had made 7 pages of notes right after the incident and that I had a very credible police background. On the 1st appearance one of the officers didn't show so the Crown requested adjournment. Granted. 16 months later the fellow who had been beaten had his lawyer request dismissal of all charges under the constitution which is supposed to grant an expedient trial. This was definately not expedient. None of them wanted to testify to my contrary testimony. All the officers involved were transfered and one sought stress leave. Complaints by the victims family were lodged with the RCMP wrong doings division..AND No SURPRISE no wrong doings were found.


The whole issue boils down to one fact. A member can NEVER bring discredit to the FORCE. They will resort to any action to bury bad press.


So when you see a late 50s RCMP member standing on the highway with a radar gun and issuing speeding tickets, which is traditionally a beginners job, you can be assured he screwed up big itime in his past service and he will never be promoted past the Constable level. He's just pension sitting.


RCMP training consists of 6 months in Regina, Sask. For 5 months they learn how special they are and how wonderful the FORCE is and 1 month about criminal law. They then get sent to "Bumfuckville, Manitoba" and arrive as GOD.


And as they say "You now know the rest of the story"


NB: all the above info found in my as yet unpublished novel: "The Rules of Crime"


Keep up your good work...I'm behind you.

D. Milar

No charges

Thank you Mike...after hearing this devastating news, you have given me hope knowing that there are people like you with such deep feelings about this atrocity and can put it down on paper. We have been through the same misery during and after the unwarranted death of our son and brother, Robert Bagnell after he was unmercifully tasered and died in Vancouver, June 2004. We also are fighting back with our blog which now features your incredible rant. But no matter how hard we try, we cannot find justice as long as these people continue to police themselves. But you are a bright beacon in our search which will continue until changes are made. Thank you again....Riki Bagnell

Excellent rant. You've raised some serious issues

Excellent rant. You've raised some serious issues. I just read that article about the killing of the man in Vanderhoof. It seems unbelievable that even the RCMP partner - a woman - wasn't believed, nor were 4 other witnesses, nor were the people who investigated where the gun shots were in the body. I hope these two cases make the case for a civilian-led investigative commission when police are implicated -- maybe with retired police officers on board as well, like here in Ontario. I had always wondered if Ian Bush's parents would press charges. That case is really bizarre, with the bullet at the back of his head! DM

the cops

Mike, reality is a bitch ! This kind of power absolute is anything but new. This is meant to tell us once again, in no uncertain terms, just who is running things. There really is Big Brother, yes Mike he's real. Scary real. What hope is there for ordinary people who live within the the law, who watch with horror as the very people who enforce it, openly, and with malice, grind it under their Jack Boots. Be afraid, be very afraid. The laws are for US, not for them. My dad used to tell us kids, "so you think you live in a free Country?, do something to the establishment and watch how long it takes for the storm troopers with their billy clubs and shields to come visit".Dad was right.If we do not stop and take notice, and recognize Harper, and his like for who they are, and take our society back, then welcome to the future. A future that has been chronicled in films like Mad Max . I may sound slightly mad myself, but I'm old and I have eyes that see, I remember a man called Hitler.My thoughts tonite are for all the innocents ,and their families , that the government has allowed to be maimed and murdered by their public police enforcers,and go unpunished, and unrepentant.

Injustice for all

what happened to public inquiries, you never mentioned the RCMP incident in Houston, B.C. where a local citizen sucombed to injuries while in police custody..keep on it..someone has to take a stand..