Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fire Up The Lawyers

I'll admit that I don't know how these things go in Canada, but I know that here in the states, a statement like the following from a government sanctioned anything would have lawyers salivating. The RCMP have been slammed for their role in the death of Robert Dziekanski. From the inquiry's official report:
Prior to deploying the CEW, Constable Millington should have issued the required warning/challenge to Mr. Dziekanski as required by RCMP
Because no significant attempts were made by the RCMP members present to communicate with Mr. Dziekanski, to obtain clarification of information pertaining to Mr. Dziekanski's situation, or to communicate among themselves, deployment of the CEW by Constable Millington was premature and was not appropriate in the circumstances.
Constable Millington cycled the CEW multiple times against Mr. Dziekanski when those subsequent cycles were not known by him to be necessary for the control of Mr. Dziekanski.
The multiple cycles of the CEW against Mr. Dziekanski when no significant effort was made to determine the effect of the CEW on Mr. Dziekanski was an inappropriate use of the CEW.
Corporal Robinson did not adequately monitor Mr. Dziekanski's breathing and heart rate.
policy, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Dziekanski appeared not to understand the English language.
Not a lawyer here, and feel free to correct me, but the executive summary of the report linked above seems to clear the officers involved from prosecution. But, if this had happened in the States and we had been lucky enough to have a public inquiry (we would never be that lucky), I'd be willing to bet we'd see headlines in line with the following:

Man gets $100,000 in lawsuit

From that link:

WILKESBORO - A Wilkesboro police officer was dropped from a federal civil-rights lawsuit after a $100,000 settlement was reached with the plaintiff last month, town officials said yesterday.

Wilkesboro's insurance carrier will pay most of the money, with the town paying a $10,000 deductible.

The lawsuit alleges that Wilkes County law-enforcement officers had beaten Paul Douglas Absher of Boomer in 2007. Absher -- who was hospitalized for two weeks after his arrest on charges of assault on a law-enforcement officer and resisting an officer -- is seeking $20 million.

Wilkesboro Police Lt. Rocky Moore was dismissed from the lawsuit after mediation last month. In a response to the lawsuit, Moore said he used his Taser once on Absher, but did not beat him. The town's statement said that the settlement its insurance carrier made the settlement, and the council was not consulted.

"The Mayor and Town Council unanimously believe that Lieutenant Rocky L. Moore did nothing wrong in his actions on the occasion that resulted in this lawsuit," the statement said. It added that if the case had gone to trial "Lieutenant Rocky L. Moore would not have been found liable for any of his actions, in that all of his actions on this occasion were entirely proper and in accordance with good police procedure."

State law requires such settlements to be made public after a reasonable time period. The town council was told about it Monday in closed session; then it was announced in open session.

Three Wilkes County sheriff's deputies --Harper Hartley, Harold Martin and Gene Wyatt -- as well as Sheriff Dane Mastin and the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office remain as defendants in the lawsuit.

The suit contends that Absher was standing by a road waiting for his girlfriend when he was approached by a deputy, kicked, shocked at least 10 times with a Taser, and beaten with flashlights and batons -- an assault that continued after his hands were cuffed behind his back.

His skull was fractured, and he was hospitalized at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center for 14 days, five of them in a medically induced coma, the suit says.

A judge dismissed criminal charges against Absher this past summer after testimony that the county had lost part of a video at the jail intake. Absher claims that he was beaten there, too. The prosecutor has appealed the dismissal of the criminal charges to the N.C. Court of Appeals.

Absher's attorney, John Vermitsky of Winston-Salem, said yesterday that he expects the civil case against the remaining defendants to go to trial. "We think our client has a very strong case at trial," Vermitsky said.

I'm betting that Canadian tasers prove to be nearly as expensive as their American counterparts.