Top Mountie tells Braidwood inquiry his e-mail was accurate

VANCOUVER – A top-ranking RCMP officer testified at the Braidwood inquiry Tuesday that his 2007 e-mail, which brought a sudden halt to the inquiry last June, was accurate to his best recollection.

"I believe what is written here is an accurate reflection of the conversation I had with Supt. [Wayne] Rideout," recalled Chief Supt. Dick Bent.

"I think it’s what I intended to say," he said.

"I think I wrote this very quickly after our conversation," he added.

Bent sent the e-mail, dated Nov. 5, 2007, under the subject line "Media Strategy – Release of YVR video," which said: "Finally spoke to [Supt.] Wayne [Rideout] and he indicated that the members did not articulate that they saw the symptoms of excited delirium, but instead had discussed the response en route and decided that if he did not comply that they would go to CEW [conducted energy weapon]."

The e-mail, sent to RCMP Assistant Commissioner Al Macintyre, contradicted the previous testimony of the four officers involved in the in-custody death of Robert Dziekanski, who died at Vancouver’s airport after he was zapped five times with a stun gun, was restrained and handcuffed.

The late disclosure of Bent’s last June brought a sudden halt to the inquiry, which is probing Dziekanski’s death.

The inquiry resumed Tuesday with Bent as the first witness.

Cross-examined by lawyer Ravi Hira, representing Const. Kwesi Millington, the officer who deployed the Taser on Dziekanski on Oct. 14, 2007, Bent agreed he had no notes of his phone conversation with Rideout.

Commission counsel Art Vertlieb told inquiry Commissioner Thomas Braidwood, a retired judge, that during the three-month break, the lawyers for the government of Canada, representing the RCMP, disclosed about 18,000 documents related to the incident.

Rideout, who was in charge of the investigation of Dziekanski’s death, is scheduled to testify.

The other scheduled RCMP witnesses are: Macintyre and Staff-Sgt. Doug Wright, who was in charge of the airport sub-detachment.

Two civilian witnesses will also testify: John Jubber, a United Airlines employee, and Gracie Churchill-Browne, an interpreter under contract to the Canada Border Services Agency, whose employees work in the customs and immigration area of Vancouver International Airport.

The inquiry is taking place in a federal court.

The hearing began Tuesday with Braidwood dismissing an application by Mitchell Taylor, the lawyer representing the federal government.

The application asked that any documents put to witnesses during questioning be disclosed to other lawyers a day in advance.

Braidwood ruled that request would cause further delays to the inquiry.

The final testimony is expected to wrap up this week, with final arguments by lawyers scheduled to begin Oct. 5.

Two new lawyers appeared at the inquiry Tuesday – David Crossin is appearing for RCMP Cpl. Dale Carr and Joe Doyle is representing Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre.

Both officers were involved in media relations after Dziekanski’s death.

nhall@vancouversun.com

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