VANCOUVER — The inquiry into the RCMP’s confrontation with Robert Dziekanski is on hold until September after a potentially explosive email between RCMP brass surfaced just as closing submissions were about to begin.
“Well gentlemen, I’m obviously appalled and I’m going to need a little time,” Commissioner Thomas Braidwood said after the lawyer for the federal government submitted the email.
Helen Roberts then gave a tearful apology to the commission and all the lawyers involved in the inquiry for not providing the email earlier, but said she believed the email may have been the result of a misunderstanding.
The government had the email since earlier this year.
“Canada continues, as it has all along, to fully support the work of this commission,” Roberts said.
The email was written weeks after Dziekanski was zapped five times by an RCMP Taser in October 2007 at Vancouver’s airport, where he died.
The email is an exchange between Chief Supt. Dick Bent and RCMP Assistant Commissioner Al McIntyre.
In it, Bent writes that he had spoken with Supt. Wayne Rideout, who was in charge of the investigation into Dziekanski’s death.
Bent writes that Rideout told him the officers indicated they decided en route to the airport that if Dziekanski didn’t comply, they were going to use the Taser.
Rideout’s lawyer told the inquiry that Rideout doesn’t remember saying such a thing and Bent must have been mistaken.
Rideout’s lawyer, Alexander Pringle, read a statement from his client at the inquiry, saying the email was simply a misunderstanding.
“In my view the information contained in Chief Bent’s email and attributed to me is a misunderstanding of a conversation I had with him and it does not represent what I understand to be correct at the time and what the investigation ultimately determined,” Rideout said in the statement.
The officers have already testified they did not discuss using the Taser beforehand.