Last week the RCMP settled the lawsuit of one of the YVR Four, Bill Bentley, for an undisclosed amount of money.
While Bentley is unable to discuss the terms of the settlement, he said in an email, “There were many reasons why I settled, but the main reason was so I could finally move on after 12 years of devastation to my life and mental health.”
12 years since the events of October 2007 in which Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski died after being tasered multiple times by four Mounties trying to get control of the disturbed man. He had spent some 12 hours in the baggage retrieval / Customs area of YVR and had become distraught causing numerous people to call police after he started throwing around furniture and at least one computer.
The 12 hours he spent on Canadian soil has cost taxpayers well north of $50 million and still climbing as indicated by the settlement with Bentley. Given that there are still three lawsuits outstanding by the rest of the YVR Four, that number will continue to rise.
After settling with Bentley, the RCMP will have little choice but to settle with the other three members present on that fateful night.
While the settlement had no admission of fault against the RCMP, the fact they settled essentially means they couldn’t defend the organization against the allegations made. Which, in all four cases were essentially the same; the RCMP did not defend the actions of their members and as the media firestorm grew they were scapegoated by the Force in the hopes the whole matter would go away.
The Mounties of course could have avoided everything had they just spoken the truth out of the gate, defending their members saying they did nothing wrong and acted according to their training as it was at the time.
Police Taser training has since changed, but at the time those members acted appropriately given what they were faced with and according to their training. The RCMP just never said that.
Had they, they would have avoided everything that followed which includes the Braidwood public inquiry, the implementation of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the appointment of a Special Prosecutor and the prosecution of the four members on specious allegations of perjury. Two of the four, Bentley and Gerry Rundel were acquitted and two were convicted, Monty Robinson and Kwesi Millington, both of whom were sentenced to jail in a shameful distortion of our justice system.
They were all scapegoated by the RCMP and now the national police force has set the tone by settling the lawsuit with one of them.
Rundel has participated in a settlement conference, but has yet to reach agreement with the RCMP.
But with the bar now set and reading between the lines, the RCMP have acknowledged their failure of these four officers by settling the first of the lawsuits.
In my opinion, Rundel will be the next to settle and then they will have to tackle the two lawsuits of Millington and Robinson which becomes much thornier because they actually spent time in jail on trumped up charges and faulty inferences by judges who were part of the problem.
What a mess.
The whole mess, corruption and cover-up by the RCMP has been well documented by journalist Curt Petrovich in his excellent book Blamed and Broken: The Mounties and the Death of Robert Dziekanski.
How the rest of this plays out remains to be seen.
What seems clear is the RCMP will have to settle the lawsuits and the costs to the taxpayer will continue to mount. What likely will not occur is no one responsible for this mess will be held accountable.
The decision makers who caused all of this have all retired. They are still collecting their pensions and the taxpayers are still paying for their bad decisions.