Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

VPD shooting shows officers’ bravery, IIO incompetence

with 16 comments

In the midst of the snow Monday morning and a Vancouver commute already made bad by the closing of the Alex Fraser and Port Mann bridges due to snow bombs and slick conditions, Vancouver Police made matters worse by having the temerity to shoot a man armed with a machete who kept coming at them and ignoring orders to drop the weapon. 29th Ave. Skytrain was then closed and caused all manner of delays.

As with most things involving the police these days, there was citizen journalist video posted to Facebook and You Tube within minutes of the events. But as with most of these things, the video doesn’t tell the whole story.

The incident started at Stadium Station in downtown Vancouver. Police received multiple 9-1-1 calls about a man armed with a machete. VPD were responding to the station and Transit police also responded by jumping on a train heading east. They just happened to jump on the same train but in a different car to their suspect.

At 29th, the Transit police called for VPD back-up and one officer confronted the man who was acting angrily, possibly in a drug-induced or mental health related state. The other officer then cleared the train of all civilians.

They then tried to talk the man down, to calm him and get him to drop the weapon. One of the Transit officers was a trained negotiator and he tried everything he had to talk the guy off the ledge, so to speak.

On an iPhone video taken from the platform, you can hear police talking to the man and then, suddenly something goes awry. The man reacts adversely and angrily towards police, who were in plainclothes. The police can be seen backing out of the train rapidly with weapons drawn. One of the officers radios to Transit operations to remotely close the doors on the train and the other clears the platform of all civilians including the citizen journalist.

The next part is missing on the available video. The armed suspect who can’t open the doors on the train car, begins to smash his way out through a window. The Transit officers try, in vain, to prevent him from getting out to the point one of the officers had shards of glass in his hair and scalp afterwards.

Despite their efforts and concerns for their own safety from the machete wielding crazed man, they backed away and the man crawled from the Skytrain car onto the platform. The Transit officers continued to keep their weapons trained on the armed suspect and backed away as the man continued to advance ultimately up the stairs from the platform towards the exit where a great many civilians could be in harm’s way.

The next video shows the man walking up the stairs with the saw-toothed machete brandished in front of him point forward at the police officers. At the top of the stairs on a short platform were at least two VPD officers in uniform. Whether it was the uniforms or the drugs or whatever, the armed suspect turns sharply towards the VPD members and amid the ignored shouts to drop the machete and the VPD officers backtracking rapidly trying to keep a safe distance, out of the kill zone of 21 feet, one shot is heard and the suspect is down. The threat eliminated.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) were then called. From everything I saw and know from speaking to sources close to the investigation, the police acted professionally, courageously and well within the Use of Force provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada,

The IIO will take a year and a half or so to do all manner of nonsense to justify their existence and will come to exactly that conclusion. But they will cause a lot of stress to members involved in the process, spend stupid money doing needless tests on weapons that shouldn’t have been seized and uniforms of witness officers equally needlessly seized.

A couple of weeks ago, at the Canadian Tire on Grandview Hwy in Vancouver, I wrote of another VPD shooting. In that one, the suspect tried to rob the store armed with a knife. He stabbed a clerk and he met up with responding officers at the entrance. They tried to arrest the suspect still armed with a knife. One officer was stabbed so badly in the ground fight, he was disembowelled. He staggered to his feet and fired his weapon and collapsed. His partner ran to his side to provide first aid to his partner. A third officer with a long gun held his weapon on the suspect. When the suspect tried to get up again another volley of shots were fired and the suspect was killed.

What I didn’t know when I wrote about that shooting, was that it took the IIO more than five hours to arrive on scene. From their office in Surrey. And then only two of their so-called investigators could bother to show up. There were dozens of civilians and somewhere around 30 VPD members including the Emergency Response Team who showed up after all the shooting was done.

No matter, VPD had to secure all the witnesses, the scene and basically stand around with their fingers in their butts because the IIO required it. Not just the officers involved but everyone whether they were there at the time of the shooting or not.

The Keystone Kops, when they finally arrived, demanded the three identified subject officers, and at least five identified ‘witness’ officers surrender, not only their weapons, but their entire uniforms right down to their boots.

They actually tried to seize almost 30 weapons including those of the ERT officers who arrived after the shooting. Yes, I’m being serious. They tried but it was only the resistance of the VPD Duty Inspector in charge of the scene who dug his heels in at that stupidity.

Then came the problem that neither IIO investigators had the requisite certification to handle a weapon.

They didn’t even have a basic Firearms Acquisition Certificate. Apparently they don’t think the laws of Canada apply to them.

I still don’t understand how the IIO thinks they can seize witness officers’ weapons, duty belts and full uniforms without a search warrant. Certainly, if they ask and the officers consent, that is legal. But if any officer told them no, they would need a warrant as would any police officer in any investigation.

So, I asked their Director of Communications, Marten Youssef, under what authority they did that. Here is his reply:

“The IIO is a law enforcement agency with all of the powers and responsibilities prescribed to all police agencies under the Police Act (see section 38.07). As such, the IIO may seize all evidence necessary to carry out its investigation according to the relevant laws. This process is further guided by the Memorandum of Understanding Respecting Investigations between the IIO and all police agencies in B.C. Section 8 of the MOU speaks specifically to the seizure of evidence from a scene.”

In the first instance, the powers of seizure for all police officers is granted by the criminal code and I can guarantee you it doesn’t include the uniforms of officers not designated ‘Subject’ officers who are involved in a serious incident. There is no evidentiary value to take weapons not fired, and duty belts and uniforms of designated witness officers. The only possible exception is if there is blood splatter contamination.

In the second instance, the signatures of the respective Chief Constables on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) cannot supersede the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which protects every Canadian, including police officers, of the right against unlawful search and seizure.

So the answer is meaningless. The only possible answer is the incompetence of the IIO investigators. They don’t actually know what they should seize for investigative and evidentiary value so they try and seize everything.

I would not want to be a police officer in British Columbia who might have to rely on these clowns to decide my fate.

Merry Christmas.

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

December 24, 2016 at 3:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

IIO missing the obvious, again

with 19 comments

On Thursday afternoon a robbery was attempted at the Canadian Tire store on Grandview Highway at Rupert in east Vancouver.  The suspect, Daniel Peter Rintoul, 38, a large white male, 6’1”, 380 llbs., allegedly stabbed a clerk in his 50’s then broke into a long rifle cabinet. Whether he retrieved  one or more rifles and ammunition depends on which reports you read.

What I do know is that on Friday I was contacted by Global TV reporter Rumina Daya to review  five minutes of citizen journalism video and to comment on it. Snippets of the video were broadcast on Global’s six o’clock news hour broadcast that evening. You can watch those reports here.

On the video you can see two VPD plainclothes officers attempt to arrest the large man as he exits the store. In the ensuing ground fight, the sort of wrestling match police officers everywhere get in on a regular basis, one of the officers clearly gets stabbed multiple times. He jumps up holding his abdomen, points his weapon at the big man and fires. His partner is extricating himself and in the video it’s not clear if he fired his weapon as well.

The stabbed officer then falls backward. A uniformed officer carrying a long-barrelled weapon trains his weapon on the downed suspect outside the kill zone of 20 feet.

The stabbed officer’s partner moves quickly to check on his downed partner, sees the wounds, quickly gloves up and begins first aid. The suspect can be clearly heard screaming numerous times, “Finish me off.” The officer with the long-barrelled weapon, keeps trained on the suspect and keeps his distance.

As the suspect is yelling and starts getting to his feet he lets off a blast of bear spray. You can clearly see the spray being released as he is yelling at the police to kill him. When he gets to his feet with an arm extended, likely with the knife used to stab two people so far, more shots are fired. Judging by the sounds I heard, it sounds like a short volley of C8 and 9mm suggesting another officer is present and fired but is not apparent from the viewpoint of the video shooter.

As the second volley of shots is being fired, the partner who was applying first aid to the stabbed partner, grabs the downed officer by his collar and drags him from the fray. The second volley of shots killed Rintoul.

The following day, VPD Chief Constable Adam Palmer told the assembled media that an elderly male hostage was taken by the suspect prior to exiting the store. Fortunately, that man managed to get away and wasn’t harmed. How isn’t entirely clear at this point. Perhaps that’s where the VPD injected themselves into the fray. On the video I viewed, that wasn’t clear.

But Palmer also said the following, “The actions of our officers were absolutely heroic. I’m very proud of the way they performed yesterday.” Good for the Chief because that is exactly what I saw on the video.

Palmer continued, “We tried to use the least amount of force possible to take him into custody, and when that was not possible, lethal force was used.”

And good on the Chief I say. It happens far too rarely that a senior police executive takes a stand backing his people at the sharp end of things. So far, I have seen that several times from this Chief.

As is the norm, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) was called in to investigate the actions of the police. While I harbour no illusions about the competence of the IIO, I was a little surprised to see a communication come from the IIO Monday, four days after the shooting, asking for anyone who had video of the events to please come forward.

Well, I saw five minutes of raw video on Friday, the day after the shooting provided to Global BC. Several days later the IIO is asking folks to voluntarily come forward with video?

They already know Global has video which has been broadcast. Gee, I don’t know, maybe their crack investigators should write an Information to Obtain a Search Warrant to get a judge or JP to issue a warrant they could produce to Global.

News organizations won’t simply provide evidence like that to police when asked, but they will when instructed by court order. The media expect that. They have to maintain a separation from authorities and they probably already have a DVD cut awaiting the IIO. That’s just a guess, but I bet I am not far from the truth.

The video was broadcast on the six o’clock news on Friday. A competent investigator should have been standing in their newsroom before the credits were rolling. Or at the very least within a couple of hours. But to issue that sort of vanilla plea for information and video from the public four days later, followed up by a press conference in the hopes citizen journalists who provided video to newsrooms might come forward just speaks to their level of competence.

The initial Chief Civilian Director may have been pushed out the door and a career bureaucrat meekly put in his stead. But, if I were one of the VPD officers designated ‘subject officers’ having been involved in this “heroic” incident, I’m not sure how much confidence I would have in those holding me in judgment.

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

November 15, 2016 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

YVR questions yield more questions

with 10 comments

For more than a year now I have been trying to get the final BC Coroner’s Service report into the suicide death of Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre, who was the the Media Liaison Officer (MLO) for the RCMP in October 2007 when Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski was Tasered by officers responding to a disturbance call at the International Arrivals area at Vancouver International Airport, YVR.

Lemaitre was found dead July 29, 2013, hanging in his home in Abbotsford. Two years later his widow, Sheila, filed a lawsuit against the RCMP and the Attorney General, claiming the Force made him a scapegoat for the fatal confrontation between Dziekanski and the RCMP and the resulting fall-out. I have written about the circumstances previously: Hindsight is 20/20 in YVR case

A year ago, I spoke with John Knox, the Special Investigations Coroner with the Coroner’s Service who is responsible for the file. He said the investigation wasn’t finished. I was incredulous. The man hung himself. For the Coroner’s office, whose responsibility is to investigate unnatural, sudden and unexpected deaths, determine a cause of death and ensure the relevant facts are put before the public either via a report or a public inquest, to be dragging their feet for two years at that point was incredible. A typical suicide should take no more than a month or two, three at the outside. What could possibly be taking so long?

Knox was unresponsive to my questions on the subject so I started digging around a bit and found out that Knox, to this date, now nearly three and a half years after the suicide, from what I can find out, has yet to conclude a file.

He has been with the Coroner’s Service since 2011. He was given the position of Special Investigations Coroner in 2012 to coincide with the launch of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) where he was the designated Coroner to deal with all things police involved.

Prior to that he was a private investigator since 2005. In BC, that primarily means doing ICBC investigations, mostly sitting in the back of a van doing surveillance trying to prove fraudulent claims. His LinkedIn page says he was “specializing in personal background investigations, insurance claims investigations, witness location services and document service.” Document service? Well, that’s impressive.

What qualified him for this position?

Incredibly, the fledgling IIO, lacking in experienced investigators were to work with a Coroner’s Special Investigator himself lacking in investigative expertise in major cases as well. Well, what could possibly go wrong? Talk about the blind leading the deaf.

In the four years since being named Special Investigations Coroner, he has yet to complete a file, including stunningly, 26 cases resulting from the Pickton investigation. Another source in the office told me, “John doesn’t really leave the office. Even on local cases he sends people out to do his work.”

I was stunned.

Then I was told about a recent suicide case of a municipal police officer in the late spring when Knox, instead of attending the family home, as is customary, required the widow to attend his office. He arranged for another coroner to sit in on the interview and said he was going to record the interview. He took his cell phone out then hid it and never told the widow he was recording the interview.

The coroner sitting 2nd chair was very uncomfortable with what was being done that a complaint was lodged with the Deputy Chief Coroner. This led to much upheaval in the office and after a couple of hours of what was described to me as a “raised voice conversation about the legality of recording without telling the person.” The DCC evidently said the service would support Knox.

Interesting.

In Canada, there has long been a legal standard called “One Party Consent” as it relates to recording private conversations derived from Sec. 184 of the Criminal Code, but that has been blurred by Supreme Court decisions mostly relating to the police doing it. And then there is the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act which further complicates this issue.  In this case, at the very least, the ethics are clearly lacking, let alone the lack of compassion for the widow of a serving police officer who had just tragically taken his life.

In 2011, following the appointment and subsequent departure of three Chief Coroners in a two year period, the service was in disarray. The BC Auditor General looked into it and issued a report with a number of recommendations in July, 2011. One of those concerned timelines of investigations. The service set a standard of 18 weeks. In August 2013, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe issued a response report saying that recommendation was “Fully or substantially implemented”

Well, evidently not, as the Lemaitre suicide case shows. Pierre Lemaitre took his life on July 29, 2013. Now, nearing the end of October, 2016 and no conclusive report appears forthcoming. Lemaitre’s widow is engaged in a lawsuit with the RCMP, two of the four members who attended YVR on that fateful night were shamefully convicted of perjury by a system looking for someone to scapegoat. And the Coroner investigating the suicide of one of the major players in the events of that fateful night in October, 2007 can’t seem to complete this or any other file.

Robert Dziekanski was on Canadian soil for 12 hours. Thus far, he has cost the loss of two lives including his own, more than $50 million of taxpayer’s money and four Mounties their careers and for two of them, possibly their liberty.

The story continues to get worse and worse.

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

 

Written by Leo Knight

October 27, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

IIO complaint nothing but sour grapes

with 7 comments

The news release issued by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) on Wednesday is instructive and unique. Not in the fact they announced that the VPD officer involved in a fatal shooting in April, 2015 would not face any criminal charges, but for the way the report ended.

The incident itself took more than 14 months for the IIO to determine the officer did nothing wrong. Albeit, that’s a few months quicker than their average and frankly, given the circumstances, about a year longer than it should have taken any competent investigator.

I don’t say that lightly. Let’s look at the circumstances. VPD received multiple 9-1-1 calls about a man with a knife who had stabbed two people in the 400 block of Gore on the Downtown Eastside. Three officers responded from close by, one equipped with a shotgun and beanbag rounds, a non-lethal use of force option.

The first officer, armed with his duty pistol and the officer with the shotgun immediately located the suspect armed with a bloody knife. The VPD members challenged the man pointing their weapons and yelling, “drop the knife, drop the knife.”

Three beanbag rounds were fired which struck the suspect and had no effect. The suspect then charged at the officer with what one civilian witness later described as a “bull charge.” The beanbag weapon was fired again and again with no apparent effect. That officer later said, “I thought he was going to stab me.”

Several shots were then fired by the other officer which momentarily doubled over the suspect. But it didn’t drop him. He then ran across the street to a parkade entrance at a church where a passerby female was bent over to pick a $20 bill she had dropped. Without warning the suspect attacked and stabbed the woman several times. The officer chasing then shot the suspect several times. He fell down, dead, on top of the woman he was stabbing.

Police had to pull the assailant off the woman to get her out from underneath to begin first aid. She later told IIO investigators, “I’d like to thank that cop that killed him. Because without him getting that lucky shot I wouldn’t be here right now.”

The IIO were called in as protocol requires. They interviewed three “Witness Officers” and 17 civilian witnesses. With all but some small exceptions, as one would expect, the witness accounts coincided and was corroborated with other associated gathered evidence including area video, recorded radio transmissions and 9-1-1 recordings.

The law is very clear when giving police the right to use lethal force and from this set of circumstances it would seem a textbook, righteous shoot.

But nothing is ever cut and dried with the IIO. This leads us back to what made the press release remarkable.

After the usual statement and case synopsis came this: “All firearm discharges resulting in death or serious harm are the subject of an automatic administrative review by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.  As such, this incident is subject to review by that office. In addition to this, the CCD will be forwarding a complaint to the OPCC regarding the failure of two of the involved officers to write any duty-to-account report relating to this incident.”

“This case appears to be an example of a pattern of problems with respect to subject officers involved in critical incidents in British Columbia failing to prepare timely duty to accounts or notes of their involvement in incidents.”

The Chief Civilian Director (CCD), the almost outta’ here Richard Rosenthal, apparently is all pissy because designated subject officers are no longer filing duty to account reports or copies of their notes. Well, he has only himself to blame.

Because he saw the role of the IIO to gather evidence to prosecute police officers and demonstrated that attitude with the incredible overreach in bringing a murder charge against Delta Cst. Jordan MacWilliams and others like Cranbrook Cst. Rick Drought. Charges were ultimately dropped but not after putting the affected officers through hell.

When the BC Chiefs and the RCMP agreed to the original Memorandum of Understanding, they believed the IIO would conduct professional, unbiased investigations to determine the truth of any incident. But that’s not what they got. And now it seems, they have finally realized it.

In a nutshell, the various unions, agencies and the RCMP have obtained legal opinions which essentially say that police officers are Canadians first and police officers second. They may avail themselves of the Charter of Rights & Freedoms just like anyone else. The Charter supersedes all other statutes including the BC Police Act. And why Rosenthal’s pathetic complaint will go no where.

If you know someone is looking to criminally charge you, why help them? It’s a fundamental principle of our constitution and the police have now decided to fight back against the IIO’s nonsense. Fairness is all the police wanted, but that’s not how the IIO operate. So, now the battle is on.

And it’s not just the police unions driving this bus. Senior management are on board. So too, surprisingly, are the RCMP.

In an 8 page memo dated August 16th, the RCMP directed Liaison Officers (officers assigned to facilitate between the agency and the IIO in an investigation) not to provide “compelled notes, statements or reports to the IIO.”

Cudos to seniour management of the RCMP to back their members. Trust me, it’s rare when  that happens.

In my opinion, the IIO, as it is currently constituted and operating in the manner it has, needs to be completely re-thought by the government. Their mandate should be to conduct professional, unbiased investigations to find the truth. If the truth leads to a criminal charge against a police officer then so be it. Every police officer knows they are responsible for their actions. But that’s a far cry from the IIO’s attitude, as stated by their Director of Investigations John Larkin, “We start out believing they are guilty and work from there.”

Rosenthal is firing a parting shot with this complaint to the OPCC. It’s just sour grapes from a man who failed utterly.

He had the opportunity to create a first class police oversight agency. It isn’t and he didn’t. A career bureaucrat has been appointed as interim CCD while headhunter PFM Executive Search looks for someone to take over this mess. Whoever that will be will have to dismantle a flawed culture and start over. If not, the chasm between the police and the IIO will grow wider.

Neither the citizens of BC nor the police who serve them should be satisfied with that.

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

September 4, 2016 at 12:36 am

Outgoing IIO chief won’t be missed

with 9 comments

Next month the Independent Investigations Organization (IIO) turns four since it commenced operations in 2012. Two days before the anniversary will be the last day for its first Chief Civilian Director (CCD) Richard Rosenthal.

Rosenthal was hired with much fanfare back in December, 2011 in a major announcement by the Premier Christy Clark and then Solicitor General Shirley Bond as well as several municipal police chiefs including then VPD Chief Jim Chu, then West Vancouver Chief Peter Lepine and Assistant Commissioner Fraser MacRae representing the RCMP.

They all stood in front of a big sign that said “Increasing Accountability.” Bond defended the hiring of an American because of his “experience” saying he had a strong track record in building these kinds of organizations which, in itself was not true. In fact, Rosenthal had never supervised more than five people in his career let alone led a start-up of more than 30 people.

In point of fact, Rosenthal did not even apply for the job within the requisite time frame in the original job posting which said the posting closed on August 16, 2011. Rosenthal only “applied” directly to then Assistant Deputy Minister in Justice, Jay Chalke, after he’d been informed his contract in Denver would not be renewed when it expired in the winter of 2012. Why Chalke re-opened the posting is anyone’s guess? Chalke is now British Columbia’s Ombudsman.

The fact that Rosenthal was a lawyer and a former Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles and was involved in police oversight in Portland and Denver was much-touted by the government as a reason for his hiring. Yet, he was spectacularly unsuccessful in the launch of the IIO and is in fact leaving prior to the expiration of his initial five year contract.

Rosenthal claims he is leaving of his own volition to pursue a PHD in Criminology at Simon Fraser University. Whether that or because the government declined to renew his contract given the tumultuous four years under him is moot really. The fact that he is gone, or soon will be, is good.

It is interesting to note that as one of his final acts he had senior management conduct a leak inquiry by searching every single employees’ computer simply speaks volumes about his lack of leadership skills. Presumably, he wanted to determine who was leaking information to the media, primarily yours truly. It would seem nothing of note was discovered despite their best efforts.

So, four years in and what is there to show for their efforts? Not a lot. They managed to alienate the whole of the police community in BC with the charging of Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams for second degree murder in the shooting incident at the Starlight Casino in November 2012.  MacWilliams was merely doing his job that day and to face a charge of murder was absolutely obscene. Fortunately, clearer minds prevailed and the charge was stayed last summer, but not before putting MacWilliams through hell.

The IIO has turned over virtually all of their original experienced investigators hired and paid for the privilege through severance with many taxpayer dollars.

They’ve been through a couple of investigations conducted by the PSA, essentially the government’s HR department, resulting from staff complaints of bullying and harassment. Employee surveys revealed huge disconnects between front-line staff and senior management. Rosenthal was being openly mocked by subordinates. Frankly, it was an absolute shit show.

His heir apparent, lawyer Clinton J. Saddlemeyer, appointed acting CCD in Rosenthal’s absence in 2015, was suspended for wearing a Guy Fawkes mask to the staff Halloween party when the IIO was investigating the shooting of an Anonymous activist wearing the same mask at the time.

Far from being transparent and swift, they are taking up to a year and a half to complete the average investigation. Just last week on August 9th, they put out a public notice seeking witnesses to an event that occurred last August 13th, 2015 in Burnaby. Really. A year later they suddenly discover there may be some salient witnesses to an event? It’s stunning really. Shouldn’t that be one of the first steps they take? You know, when memories are fresh and details clear?

The challenge for anyone taking the reins at this moribund and incompetent organization is huge especially given its mandate. Thus far, the government has not announced who is to take that challenge. Considering they announced back in January that the search had commenced.

For all their gurgling about the importance of having a lawyer with experience in police oversight at the time of Rosenthal’s hiring, my sources are telling me that a career provincial government bureaucrat will be named as CCD shortly. Whether permanent or interim is not known.

This particular bureaucrat rose to high levels in the civil service and retired in 2013 after a full career and is currently acting as a management consultant. So apparently, the reasons for hiring Rosenthal no longer apply.

I wish the new CCD well and truly hope that the competence and transparency level of the IIO can be hugely improved. Sadly, I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who understands transparency and few who were actually competent leaders who could inspire subordinates, but there’s always a first time.

In the interim, adios Richard Rosenthal. You’ve long overstayed your welcome.

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

August 18, 2016 at 12:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , ,

Justice denied for Mountie on appeal

with 8 comments

The war on police continues.

Last weekend, 12 Dallas police officers were shot, five of them fatally by a nutter with military training and Islamic inducement. Oh yes, I should add the shooter was black and the cops shot were white. In the ensuing ‘negotiations’ with police the shooter said he was trying to kill as many white cops as possible. But apparently, according to the Department of Justice, this was not a hate crime. Had the tables been turned, you can bet it would be a hate crime.

Tragic.

Yesterday, a travesty of justice was committed in a Vancouver court against a Mountie who was just doing his job. Cst. Kwesi Millington, the young officer who wielded the Taser at YVR the night Robert Dziekanski died, was appealing his conviction for perjury.

In issuing a 23 page written judgement, the Court of Appeal essentially punted. In legal terms they said the appellant (Millington) didn’t argue his case well enough to convince them to order a new trial.

Millington, with his legal team headed by Vancouver lawyer Ravi Hira will seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. I am not holding my breath on this one.

Hira argued five solid points on appeal yet the Court of Appeal gave him short shrift. Why?

The essential component of the criminal trials against the four officers involved in the YVR incident is did they collude to make up some sort of statement? In and of itself, this is nonsense. One only need look at the timeline of events to conclude it was impossible. Yet, the bespectacled, pencil-necked Mr. Justice William (Bill, when I knew him as a junior prosecutor) Ehrcke somehow managed to “infer” they must have colluded.

How, is a whole other question considering once Dziekanski went down, Cpl. Monty Robinson was monitoring his physical symptoms while the other three officers were canvassing witnesses.  Once the watch NCO from Richmond Detachment arrived and took control of the scene, he ordered  the three constables to the sub-detachment to await follow up investigators and Robinson to remain at YVR to await those self-same investigators from IHIT.

Erchke’s “inference” could also be justifiably called a “great leap in mental gymnastics” yet the Court of Appeal declined to deal with that.

One wonders if they were told to let sleeping dogs lie as it were?

From day one of this affair, politics has reared its ugly head.  The Braidwood inquiry which emanated from this was fundamentally flawed in that Mr. Justice Braidwood found the four officers colluded in the absence of any evidence. To conclude that one presumes that imagination trumps evidence.

That finding triggered two legal reviews. One, commissioned by the RCMP, was done by very respected counsel Len Daoust. He concluded that no case existed against the four members relative to perjury at the Braidwood inquiry. The other, that of Special Prosecutor Richard Peck, pursued the matter at great expense to the taxpayer.

Why, for example, were the four members prosecuted individually? Surely that quadrupled the cost to prosecute the cases on essentially the same fact pattern. Apparently, once a Special Prosecutor is appointed no further oversight can be done by the Criminal Justice Branch. Every decision is up to the Special Prosecutor. The meter on billable hours just runs and runs.

The prosecutions included flying a lawyer back and forth from Toronto for every appearance, argument, trial date and what have you.  Flights and hotels for a Toronto lawyer? Why? Are there no competent lawyers in Vancouver?

One notes that Peck was hired by the same Toronto lawyer a few years back to deal with a matter involving the Toronto Police. Apparently, scratching backs is accepted among lawyers when dealing with taxpayer dollars.

For the record, neither Richard Peck nor Mike Fenton, the Toronto lawyer who prosecuted three of the four cases, deigned to show up at the appeal hearing. Peck left it to his juniors. Perhaps he thought he’d lose the appeal?

But no victory for Kwesi Millington who spent the day in a jail cell. Just as he did the day the appeal was argued. A cop who was just doing his job was in a jail cell as his lawyer tried to argue common sense to a legal panel bereft of it.

I’m stunned. Offended. And a myriad of other things I probably cannot and should not say.

The YVR Four did nothing wrong. Yet two, the non-white ones by the way, were convicted and sentenced to jail for doing their jobs.  My anger in this is palpable.

It’s very hard to go to jail in BC if you are a garden variety criminal charged with B&E, theft, assault, rape, robbery etc. But a cop doing his job? Two years is the standard apparently.  And the BC Court of Appeal is okay with that.

Personally, I’m disgusted.

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

July 15, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , ,

IIO’s actions a mystery – again

with 13 comments

Police are often called to do things that are remarkable and courageous. Mostly it goes unnoticed and unrecognized.

In the wee hours of the morning on May 31st, a homeless man was camped out on the banks of the Fraser River in Maple Ridge, BC. He heard a loud engine roar and then saw a man in the water. He assumed it was a jet ski accident and went to a nearby 7-11 to call police.

Members of the Ridge Meadows Detachment responded to the call near Port Haney. They picked up the complainant and took him to the river to show them where he had seen the man.

The RCMP officers saw a man partially submerged just offshore. They tried to form a human chain to get the man but couldn’t quite reach him. One member,  with a little over 5 years service, took off his duty gear and waded into the rushing river. He managed to get to the man and got him to shore. The man wasn’t breathing and the officers called for paramedics and began CPR. Unfortunately, their efforts and those of responding paramedics were not successful.

The officers returned to the detachment and completed their reports and went off duty at 7 a.m. But their night was not over.

The watch commander did as he was required and notified the IIO. At 9 a.m. the off duty members were called back to the detachment and told that their actions would be the subject of an IIO investigation. They were told to copy their notes and surrender their uniforms and kit by detachment investigators apparently under instruction by the IIO who took care and control of the body for autopsy.

The IIO has yet to officially assert jurisdiction in the matter, but are interviewing witness officers and as I write this, the members involved will be interviewed by IIO investigators today.

Now, I don’t know where this will end up, but, as I wrote in this space two weeks ago in two other matters where the IIO asserted jurisdiction in cases where police performed CPR on two people in medical distress, this is nuts.

The IIO was set up to be civilian oversight for police in use of force incidents. How or why the IIO seems to think they should be involved in incidents like this is beyond me. They simply should have read the watch commander’s report and said this doesn’t concern us. But they didn’t.

The officers involved were heroic. Whatever caused this man to be in the water at that time of night is under investigation by Ridge Meadows RCMP as it would be for any sudden death investigation. Why the IIO would insert themselves into this situation is flat out mystifying. The officers don’t deserve the stress of what they’re about to go through. They should get medals.

Ridge Meadows RCMP publicly aren’t commenting. They did confirm a fatality to me when I called but said they would not be issuing a press release, presumably because the IIO have control of the investigation and they insist any public comment must come from them.

Being a cop is a tough job. It’s made even tougher by the IIO for no good reason. This appears to be nothing more than the IIO trying to justify their existence.

My guess is that they will come to the inevitable conclusion that the members did nothing wrong and they will release jurisdiction. But seriously, why are they wasting their time and putting these officers through the stress of interviews, having their uniforms seized and all that goes with it?

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the IIO as it is constituted, is fatally flawed and an enemy of police. This is yet another example.

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetime crime

 

Written by Leo Knight

June 1, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , , , ,