Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for May 2007

Tasers aren’t the enemy

with 4 comments

On June 23, 2004 Robert Wayne Bagnell died. According to a coroner’s jury, he died of “restraint-associated cardiac arrest” due to acute cocaine intoxication and psychosis. And not, because Vancouver police officers used tasers to arrest and control the out-of-control man.

According to the report in the Vancouver Sun Bagnell’s family were “disappointed” the coroner’s jury didn’t make any reccomendations. Such as . . .. . . what exactly?

Bagnell was the author of his own misfortune and nothing the family says will change that. He was on cocaine over-drive and destructive and violent. The police tried to just keep Bagnell contained until he came down and was more responsive. Circumstance forced their hand and the police opted to deploy tasers, considered non-lethal, to restrain and control Bagnell.
As happens sometimes when a taser is used on someone with a cocaine-fired heart, the electrical shock has an adverse effect on their cardio-vascular system. And sometimes when that happens, the already over-loaded heart shuts down. We can debate whether or not that is tragic in a different forum, but suffice to say that in all the cases of this type of thing happening, it was never a result of the taser use, but the result of what the people do to themselves.
But the hand-wringers seem to want to blame the police and force them to stop using tasers. The very thing they cry for when a cop under attack by some loser with a knife shoots the transgressor and the moaning starts: “why couldn’t they have shot him in the leg? Boo-hoo-hoo . . .
The jury didn’t quite say it as directly as I might have. But they were clear. Bagnall ingested way too much cocaine and it overloaded his system. That was why he died.

I’m sorry for the pain Bagnell put his family through and I sympathize with them. But, their anger is misplaced and the taser is a valuable weapon that allows the police to refrain from using the type of lethal force they would have previously had to use in so many instances.

The cops can’t interview someone to determine if they are in the throes of cocaine psychosis prior to deploying a taser. Yet, the hand-wringers and the chattering class is too quick to blame the police instead of blaming the ones who are actually responsible and unfortunately, never accountable.

As a final thought, I picked up my weekend Vancouver Sun on Saturday. On the main break of the Westcoast (B) section there was a teaser in big bold print at the top saying: “Report condems tasers” pg. B11.

Yet, when one turned to page B11, one read the fair and balanced piece written by Neal Hall and linked above. What report? What condemnation of tasers? So, what was the editor reading when he placed that teaser on B1? Or, more accurately, was it more likely wishful thinking by a charter member of the chattering class that seems to be representative of the mainstream media these days?

Just asking.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

May 28, 2007 at 2:14 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Media Sheep

with one comment

Years ago, when John Yorston hired me into the mewsroom of the now defunct Montreal Star, I was taught that jounalists had to question everything and to source what you were being told twice or more. I wonder where that dogma has gone in the mainstream media in Canada today.

Last week, Ontario Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman testified before the Air India inquiry that he had seen a piece of raw intelligence that indicated an attack was imminent on Air India and had promptly marched it over to an unnamed Mountie who said he had already seen the intel. Bartleman then said he’d heard about the Air India bombing in which 329 people lost their lives as he was packing the family up to go to the lake for the weekend. And for twenty plus years he said nothing!

The Central Canadian mainstream media may swallow this wholeheartedly as is their wont, but please, is there anyone in the real world, who believes that a career bureaucrat who was in the posession of some information that seemed to play out to be true, wouldn’t engage in a “cover your ass” exercise by telling someone superior immediately after the event?

Give me a break!

Bureaucrats learn, very soon after they are weaned from the nipple, that they must engage in an exercise called CYA – Cover Your Ass. Go on, I defy you. Ask any civil servant what “CYA” means and you will hear the response “Cover Your Ass.”

So, back to the career civil servant and now the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. How is it possible that he warned the RCMP of an impending threat, heard that the threat was carried out and did absolutely nothing for over 20 years to cover his ass?

I call Bullshit, Your Excellency.

Your move.

And while I am on the subject of “bullshit”, what is with lawyer Norm Boxall? He is representing some of the Air India families. He was chirping about the five months it took to get a warrant to intercept a primary target of the police investigation.

Excuse me! It is the lawyers who have created such a logjam for police to get intercept warrants in the first place. If this jackass wants to know what the problem is/was, perhaps he should look at his own learned friends.

Consider this quote from former Vancouver Police Homicide Sergeant on the subject: “A lawyer complaining that it takes too long to get a wiretap. Perhaps he might consider the fact that the original legislation which in itself was overly complex and cumbersome, was drafted by lawyers. Since then, decisions of the Supreme Court have made it even more complex and restrictive on the police as a result of…… guessed it……submissions by lawyers. Who stands ready to toss a wiretap should an ‘i’ not be dotted or a ‘t’ crossed? Yup, judges, who used to be lawyers. Lawyers have turned Part Vl into such an impossible administrative monster that most cops run the other way rather than become involved in one.”

But, back to the original point. Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor has said something is so. He has produced no evidence to establish that what he says is true. In point of fact, his actions subsequently have not been indicative of the sequence of events to which he has testified.
And, the worst part is the sheep-like mainstream media have swallowed it – hook, line & sinker.
Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

May 8, 2007 at 7:00 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Trouble in Paradise

with 14 comments

I’d say it’s nice to be back from a spring sojourn to Hawaii. But it’s not.

From Paradise to the reality of the nonsense that we seem to tolerate, without question, in our Deranged Dominion is a difficult transition.

First, news out of British Columbia that the three BC Ferry workers on duty on the bridge, that fateful night a year ago, when the Queen of the North ploughed into Gill Island resulting in the loss of the ship and two lives, were fired for not cooperating with the subsequent enquiries. And the oh-so-so-typical Left Coast response that their union will appeal.

While I would never attach the phrase ‘common sense’ and ‘union’ in the same sentence, have these idiots in this union lost whatever intelligence they were born with? Two innocent people are dead and a multi-million dollar piece of equipment they were responsible for is on the sea bed as a direct result of their actions. Who, if not the Officers on watch, are responsible?

They have demonstrated they have something to hide, hence their non-cooperation. BC Ferries have made them accountable for their actions. I would only ask what took them so long? The union needs to understand this is not the Hill they want to die on.


And then there’s the story of Ontario Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman and his incredible tale that, while a Foreign Affairs intelligence analyst, he spotted something that suggested an attack was imminent on Air India immediately prior to the actual bombing in 1985 that took 329 lives.

Does he really expect us to believe that after being rebuffed by a Mountie he brought the intel to and being so upset when he learned of the downing of the Air India flight off the coast of Ireland as he loaded his family into a station wagon for their weekend trip, that he did absolutely nothing for twenty two years? He is either an idiot or utterly incompetent. Either should disqualify him for a job as Ontario Lieutenant Governor.

Well, perhaps not in Dalton McGinty’s Ontario.

Suffice to say his testimony before the Major inquiry into Air India does not stand a credibility test and certainly didn’t deserve the breathless headlines on the front pages of dailies across the country on Friday.


And the kicker of the week is the knee-jerk reaction of the Chief Constable of Calgary Police Service after some cop-hating zipperhead shot some vanilla video of two Calgary cops arresting some uncooperative dopehead.

The video was sent to CPS Chief Constable Jack Beaton. A copy was sent, I am told, to Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier and copies to CTV and CBC. Okay. So what does the video show?

Abuse? Excessive force? Beatings? Police brutality? Well, not really. It shows two cops dealing with a street dopehead who is uncooperative. Along the way he takes a cuff and a bit of a drag when he won’t get up.

Umm, Jack, are you kidding me when you called that presser yesterday announcing the suspension of those junior officers? Are cops in Calgary no longer allowed to engage street assholes in the course of their duties anymore?

I carry no brief for Jack Beaton as the Chief Constable of the Calgary Police Service. In my opinion he is a lousy leader of a modern police service.

Cops he should be hanging out to dry, he seems to protect. People he should be protecting, he hangs out to dry. Why is that?

In my view Beaton is incompetent for the job he has. The Calgary Police Commission had every reason not to extend his contract in 2005. Why they extended him to 2007 should probably be subject to an independent investigation. But that is a separate matter.

The two junior officers in this video tape were doing their job. And in the real world, sometimes a cop’s job involves getting ‘hands on’. There are Use of Force provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada. Were these officers in breach of those regulations? I don’t know and I guarantee you, neither did Jack Beaton when he decided to deny them due process and suspended them based on 41 seconds of video that simply does not tell the whole story.

Why not wait until an investigation is done to render judgement?

Why would a previously indecisive Chief do that? Well, that is interesting in itself. A serving Staff Sergeant is accused of defrauding fellow members of over a million dollars in a Ponzi scheme and Beaton twirls on his thumb. Two junior officers are caught on video trying to do their job and allegedly rough up a dope dealer in a minor way and he suspends them before the horse is even out of the gate? What is he up to?

Beaton is staring at a huge embarrassment in the face of the witch hunt he conducted to find out who was behind the web site Stand Firm that was very critical of his administration. I would guess that he is seeking a quick hit PR win to blunt that hit. To accomplish that he will need to trash the careers of two young police officers who were just trying to serve the citizens of the city of Calgary. And that is tragic.

The men and women who are prepared to get “hands on” with the criminal element who are permeating the city of Calgary in recent years of economic boom are deserving of the support of their Chief. Beaton has failed the brave men and women of the Calgary Police Service yet again. And in doing so, in my opinion, he has failed the citizens of the city of Calgary. Yet again.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

May 5, 2007 at 7:38 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment