Dr. Dawg

The value of a life: time to juxtapose

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Robert Dziekanski.jpgGarrett Styles.jpg

This is summer, the living is easy, and my blogging may be light from time to time. Readers know that my place is not solely devoted to incidents of uncontrolled police brutality, and I had meant to give the topic a rest—after all, there are enough cases before us all at this point to take up one’s writing time 24/7, and one does suffer indignation fatigue after a while.

But these two juxtaposed stories today require a good look, if only as as a vivid illustration of how what Bob Marley famously called the Shitstem works in Canada.

Item: The four killers of Robert Dziekanski, after years of investigations, cover-ups and inquiries, have been charged with—perjury. And they’ve now been given an extension to allow them—after four years—to prepare their defence.

The first court appearance for four Mounties charged with perjury for their testimony at the public inquiry into Robert Dziekanski’s death has been put off until August.

Const. Bill Bentley, Const. Kwesi Millington, Const. Gerry Rundell and Cpl. Benjamin Robinson were scheduled to make their first appearance Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, but the Crown defence lawyers asked for an adjournment until Aug. 31.

“Crown defence lawyers” may be a misprint, but it’s a telling one. They’re all on the same side. The defence, after four years, asked for more time to prepare. And the special prosecutor has already declined to prosecute the four horsemen for anything more than lying under oath.

Item: A fifteen year old boy has been charged with first degree murder for killing a police officer.

Clearly a serious crime was committed. The boy had been pulled over and he suddenly took off, dragging the officer for 300 meters. The vehicle then rolled, pinning the officer and ultimately killing him.

There is no question that the officer was a blameless victim of an impulsive act. There is no question that justice, accordingly, must be served. But first degree murder? And note the alacrity with which this lad was charged. (Robert Dziekanski was killed nearly four years ago.)

Here are the salient Criminal Code provisions (from sections 229 and 231, respectively), defining murder and first degree murder:

Culpable homicide is murder

(a) where the person who causes the death of a human being

(i) means to cause his death, or

(ii) means to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and is reckless whether death ensues or not;

(1) Murder is first degree murder or second degree murder.

Planned and deliberate murder

(2) Murder is first degree murder when it is planned and deliberate.

Murder of peace officer, etc.

(4) Irrespective of whether a murder is planned and deliberate on the part of any person, murder is first degree murder when the victim is

(a) a police officer, police constable, constable, sheriff, deputy sheriff, sheriff’s officer or other person employed for the preservation and maintenance of the public peace, acting in the course of his duties;

The question that presents itself is whether this kid had formed the intention to cause the officer bodily harm, or simply panicked and fled.

I have no difficulty with a lower legal bar to prosecute wrongful death where a peace officer is involved. But, on the face of it, this looks like textbook manslaughter by a frightened 15-year-old.

In any case, we have two innocent victims. And two glaringly different standards of justice in a country I used to recognize.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on June 29, 2011 6:44 PM.

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