Supervising Mountie: "I failed to articulate well."
Once again, the testimony at this morning's Braidwood Commission inquiry into Robert Dziekanski's death was like going through the looking glass into Wonderland. On the stand, Cpl. Benjamin "Monty" Robinson - the supervising officer that early morning in 2007 - gave a very different account of events at the Vancouver International Airport in October, 2007, than what he initially told an immediate RCMP investigation into the "in-custody death" of Dziekanski. He was pronounced dead at the scene after receiving five Taser jolts.
"So you were wrong?" said lawyer Walter Kosteckyj (acting for the deceased's mother), repeatedly, about Robinson's earlier statements. He'd said, for example Dziekanski had stacked his luggage up against the door of the arrivals section.
"It didn't happen?" asked Kosteckyj.
"No," said Robinson.
One by one, Kosteckyj went through earlier statements and got the same matter-of-fact "no" from Robinson.
So, was Dziekanski really "swinging" a stapler at the team of four Mounties and did he really try to "hit them with it."
And was he "angry and pissed off . . . kinda aggressive . . . not just where he's wired up."
Did it really happen "really quickly where he took the stapler and started swinging it at us."
"Not 100 percent accurate, no," replied Robinson.
Robinson even contradicted his earlier statement Dziekanski hadn't gone down after being Tasered once - out of five hits.
"You agree he went down?" asked Kosteckyj. "So that wasn't accurate either?"
"I didn't articulate that well, no."
* * *
Robinson obviously took advice from his lawyer, Reg Harris. Mostly, he seemed almost disinterested but he snapped to life whenever he could fire off at Kosteckjy: "I don't see where you're going with this."
He even did it when the lawyer was just asking him to point out his own location on the video of events that night taken by amateur Paul Pritchard.
At one point this morning, the inconsistencies in his testimony had a confused Commissioner Thomas Braidwood calling Kostekyj, "Mr. Dziekanski."
* * *
The morning's low point? Had to be when Kosteckyj was asking Robinson about Dziekanski's symptoms once on the ground. He'd already established Robinson's first aid certification had expired and was asking about breathing sounds. In his first report to the RCMP, Robinson said they sounded like "snoring."
He tried to explain today, then stopped.
"You're smiling, sir!" snapped Kosteckyj, asking Robinson if he found something funny.
"No," came the reply.
No further explanation was offered.
Throughout that exchange, Dziekanski's mother, Zofia Cisowski sobbed quietly. She's been a constant presence at the inquiry.