Richard Peck sidesteps
the central issue
The Dziekanski death squad will be charged with
perjury, not manslaughter. Among other things,
that lets Stan Lowe off the hook
May 6, 2011
Today CTV and other media report that the four RCMP officers involved in Robert Dziekanskis death will face perjury charges for their testimony at the Braidwood Commission. But the reports (which come just two days after Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew criticized Pecks nearly year-long delay) dont mention charges directly related to their assault on Dziekanski, which led to his death.
Last June the B.C. government hired Peck as a special prosecutor to review the Criminal Justice Branch decision to exonerate the four Mounties. According to a Vancouver Province story at the time, Peck has the mandate to lay criminal charges against the RCMP officers and conduct the prosecution himself.
So, if todays CTV story is accurate, Peck has sidestepped the lethal assault and chosen to address the Mounties lies instead, resulting in watered-down charges.
Among the beneficiaries of Pecks decision will be police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe, not to mention B.C.s police status quo. Lowe was one of the CJB Crown attorneys who took part in the unanimous decision to clear the four cops. The B.C. government is talking about placing him in charge of Thomas Braidwoods recommended Independent Investigation Office, contrary to Braidwoods intentions. Such a move would further entrench B.C.s cop status quo and defeat the cause of police accountability.
From remarks Peck made when he was first hired for this assignment, I thought he implied an intention to whitewash Lowe and his former CJB colleagues. That would help the government deflect criticism if it puts the IIO under Lowes jurisdiction. Now it looks like Peck has sidestepped not only the actual assault, but the CJB decision too.
After the CTV story broke, B.C.s Criminal Justice Branch issued a media release promising a detailed statement once the deputy attorney general has reviewed Pecks recommendations. But the CJB added that, to protect the integrity of the prosecutions, it wont explain why the police werent charged for their role in Dziekanskis death until the perjury trials have finished.
That could take years.
So for the time being Peck has evaded the main issue. Later, possibly much later, well see his excuses for watering down the charges against Gerry Rundel, Bill Bentley, Kwesi Millington and Benjamin Montgomery Robinson, and for exonerating Lowe and his former CJB colleagues. Even if the four Mounties are convicted even if theyre convicted and suspended theyll continue to draw full salary and regular pay raises for years to come. Lowes promotion to IIO boss remains a strong possibility, which would give him even more power to cover up police misconduct. And with each passing year, public outrage about Dziekanskis October 2007 death diminishes.
May 7, 2011 update: Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight notes several troubling aspects of Pecks work, including the fact that he has previously represented the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. More...
May 9, 2011 update: Ian Mulgrew of the Vancouver Sun says Richard Peck looked like he was in a conflict of interest and his conclusions are suspect. More...