E-mail says police planned Taser attack

A single sentence contained in an e-mail between RCMP brass in the weeks after Robert Dziekanski died has derailed a public inquiry, raising questions yet again about the testimony of four police officers and prompting calls for further investigation of the national police force.

VANCOUVER — A single sentence contained in an e-mail between RCMP brass in the weeks after Robert Dziekanski died has derailed a public inquiry, raising questions yet again about the testimony of four police officers and prompting calls for further investigation of the national police force.

As closing arguments were set to begin on Friday, a lawyer for the inquiry revealed a previously unreleased e-mail that suggested the RCMP officers developed a plan to use a Taser before they arrived at Vancouver’s airport.

All four insisted in their testimony that they did not.

The e-mail was met with a tearful apology by the RCMP’s lawyer for not releasing it sooner and denials from lawyers for the four officers and one of the senior Mounties referenced in the note. All claimed the contents of the e-mail were the result of a simple misunderstanding.

Commissioner Thomas Braidwood chided the RCMP for coming up with the e-mail so late, and put the inquiry on hold until Sept. 22 so its contents can be investigated.

“I find the delay in disclosing this material to the commission to be appalling,” said Braidwood.

“At the very least, it should have been disclosed to the commission before those officers testified.”

The delay means the inquiry could still be hearing new evidence from senior RCMP officials and additional testimony from the four officers nearly two years after Dziekanski died on the airport floor.

Braidwood’s final report — which will serve as a public record of what happened and include recommendations to prevent future tragedies — will be put off even longer.

And in the meantime, the RCMP, whose image appears to have already been damaged by the Dziekanski affair, has been forced to explain both the contents of the e-mail and why it was kept from public view for so long.

The e-mail was written in November 2007, just weeks after Dziekanski’s confrontation with the Mounties.

In it, Chief Supt. Dick Bent and RCMP Assistant Commissioner Al McIntyre were discussing their media strategy for the release of the now-infamous amateur video of the fatal confrontation.

Bent recounted a conversation with Supt. Wayne Rideout, who was in charge of the investigation into Dziekanski’s death.

“Spoke to Wayne, and he indicated that the members . . . . had discussed the response en route and decided that if he did not comply, that they would go to CEW (Taser),” wrote Bent, whose email was read in court on Friday.

The inquiry heard that the email was contained on a CD that the RCMP gave its lawyers in April, but government lawyers didn’t look through its contents until this week.

Federal government lawyer Helen Roberts apologized for not finding the email sooner, which she called an “oversight,” while casting doubt on the email’s contents.

“Canada continues, as it has all along, to fully support the work of this commission,” a tearful Roberts told the commissioner.

Still, Roberts said government lawyers have interviewed Bent, Rideout and McIntyre and concluded Bent’s email may have simply been wrong.

“It is our conclusion from these interviews that Chief. Supt. Bent must have misunderstood information provided to him by Supt. Rideout,” she said.

Lawyers for the four Mounties each stood up and said Bent’s email was wrong.

But that wasn’t enough for the commission.

While inquiry lawyer Art Vertlieb acknowledged the email was second-hand hearsay, he said the commission must determine whether or not Bent’s comments are accurate — and whether there are any other documents that have yet to be seen.

“The RCMP have had this for a long, long time — it should have been out,” Vertlieb told reporters.

The force released a statement insisted it has “co-operated fully” with the inquiry.

“Unfortunately in an exercise of this magnitude, such an oversight can occur,” the statement said.

“The RCMP is as disappointed as all of the parties involved in this inquiry that there will be a delay in the completion of the inquiry.”

Vertlieb also pointed out that it’s not clear if prosecutors saw the email before making their decision on charges.

“One of the other questions is: Did the attorney general’s office and the charge approval see this? And we have no idea.”

Crown prosecutors announced last December that they wouldn’t be charging the officers, but the officers’ testimony prompted loud calls for that decision to be reconsidered.

The attorney general at the time said they could re-open the case if they hear new evidence, although the current attorney general wouldn’t say whether the email would fit the bill.

The inquiry resumes on Sept. 22.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Jayden Grubbe is one of three Rebels on the NHL Central Scouting players to watch list for the 2021 NHL Draft. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Rebels seek consistency ahead of matchup with Hitmen

The Red Deer Rebels had to deal with a pang of regret… Continue reading

Quinn Mason died from an opioid overdose at the age of 23 in June 2020. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta mother whose son died from overdose advocates for ‘change’

It’s been about nine months since her son died from an overdose,… Continue reading

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday that the province was ready to move forward with Phase 2A and B in the coming weeks. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
Majority of Albertans to receive first shot before June 30: Shandro

Shandro says all Albertans should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

Alberta’s Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer spoke on Thursday by webinar to Red Deer Chamber of Commerce members. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Alberta’s economic diversification is already underway, says Jobs Minister

From the geothermal to the TV industry, new jobs will be created, said Doug Schweitzer

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Phil Noble, Pool via AP)
Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier (14) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen reacts to a goal by Winnipeg Jets' Paul Stastny, left, during first-period NHL hockey action in Montreal on Thursday, March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Pierre-Luc Dubois scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets edge Montreal Canadiens 4-3

Pierre-Luc Dubois scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets edge Montreal Canadiens 4-3

Toronto Raptors guard Terence Davis (0) shoots after grabbing a rebound against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Boston. At right is Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Tatum scores 27, Celtics outlast depleted Raptors 132-125

Tatum scores 27, Celtics outlast depleted Raptors 132-125

International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel answers a question during a news conference addressing hockey issues at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. The International Ice Hockey Federation has confirmed the postponement of the women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May 6-16. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Mark Humphrey
IIHF postpones women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May

IIHF postpones women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May

Quebec Premier François Legault chairs a virtual news conference Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. The premiers from the left are: John Horgan, B.C.; Jason Kenney, Alberta; Scott Moe, Saskatchewan; Legault, Quebec; Brian Pallister, Manitoba; Doug Ford, Ontario; and Blaine Higgs, New Brunswick. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Most Read