Archive for December 2014
The mystery deepens the more one learns in the bizarre case of Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams, who has been charged with murder in the second degree for doing his job in a shots fired / hostage taking incident at the Starlight Casino in New Westminster in November of 2012.
Peter Juk, the Crown prosecutor responsible for this outrageous debacle, is, I am told, an ambitious political sort with little trial experience. Yet he, together with the civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) Richard Rosenthal, have somehow contrived to have this fine young officer charged with murder.
Frankly, it’s outrageous.
Jordan MacWilliams appeared in court this week to face a charge of second degree murder. He is a third generation police officer. His wife is also a police officer. If I were a betting man, I would bet that at least one of his young kids will aspire to be a police officer. Yet, given what is happening to him, one might ask why.
The desire to serve is what drives police officers to do what they do. It is unique and ubiquitous in their ranks. And, simply put, that is just what Jordan MacWilliams was doing when he responded to a call, as a member of MIERT (Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team) on that fateful day when he shot a man who had fired three times at a female employee of the Starlight Casino and then dragged her at gunpoint more than 500 metres up the parking lot.
When MacWilliams arrived on scene in response to that call, he knew it was a difficult and dangerous situation. The man had a gun. He had fired it three times at the women he now had taken hostage.
As he took up his position to contain the armed man, by chance, the hostage managed to create some separation between herself and her captor.
MacWilliams and another member of MIERT saw the opportunity and moved between the hostage and the suspect. They deliberately placed themselves in harm’s way to rescue the hostage. Had MacWilliams intended to kill the suspect he could have easily shot him at that point. But he didn’t.
And why not? Because he wanted everyone involved to get out of this alive. That’s his nature as a cop. That he had to take the shot eventually that killed the suspect was regrettable but necessary when the suspect’s gun pointed in the direction of the Alpha Team (ARWEN operators) who were designated non-lethal in the attempt to arrest the suspect.
MacWilliams went home to his family that evening. So did the members of Alpha Team whose back was his responsibility.
Why he has been charged is anyone’s guess. I harbour no illusions about what Rosenthal is about. How he managed to get a member of the Crown prosecution service to go along is another question.
On Thursday at MacWilliams’ court appearance Global TV veteran crime reporter John Daly said that a document was given to MacWilliams’ lawyers outlining finally what it is that they think they can prove to justify a murder case. One of those lawyers, David Butcher erupted to the media as a result.
“We don’t accept it at all,” Butcher said.
“I think the public needs to be very concerned about the developments in this case because if it puts a chill on police protection, particularly in a world that’s become so dangerous, the public needs to be very, very concerned about the developments in this matter,” said the lawyer. And he is, of course, correct.
The fact is that the suspect’s gun was pointed at the Alpha team members when MacWilliams took the shot. Period. There should be nothing more to discuss. Suspect, shooter, kidnapper, hostage-taker, armed person threatening police got shot for his trouble. Done deal. End of. He was the author of his own misfortune.
Whatever Juk’s political ambitions may be, I sincerely doubt they will succeed with this nonsense. In point of fact, I rather suspect he may be doing fatal damage to those ambitions with this.
Equally, Rosenthal, who was hired by this government to lead the IIO would seem to be in serious jeopardy. He has fired or lost well more than a dozen investigators in the short time his agency has been in existence. And the dissension within is growing. He is facing accusations of mismanagement, micromanagement, weak leadership, cop-hating (especially RCMP) and more. There is little doubt he is trying to justify his existence.
It’s also interesting to note there have been three different IIO Directors overseeing this file since the incident happened. Great continuity.
In this case Rosenthal and Juk, by their actions, have declared war on every police officer in British Columbia just trying to do their job in the service of the public.
Frankly, in my view, both of them should be fired. The Premier should then publicly apologize to every police officer in BC for what is being done in the name of her government. And then she needs to rethink the configuration of the IIO and the adversarial nature of its function.
I don’t say that lightly. But that won’t happen any time soon.
Nothing is forthcoming. The silence, in fact, is deafening. And Jordan MacWilliams is still facing a murder charge for no other reason than he did his job.
Yesterday, Cst. Jordan MacWilliams appeared in New Westminster Supreme court to answer the charge of second degree murder laid inexplicably after he fired the fatal shot in a armed-hostage taking situation in November, 2012.
There is something political about this and why this charge has been laid against a good, young officer who did his job and did it well. I don’t yet know what it is, but, I will find out and I will ensure that is made known publicly.
Whether it is the political ambition of prosecutor Peter Juk or the political survival of IIO chief Richard Rosenthal, I don’t yet know. Equally, I don’t know why Attorney General Susan Anton is letting this pantomime play out on her watch. But I will find out.
Yesterday, the Crown provided MacWilliams’ defence team with a document outlining what it is they think they can prove to justify a charge of second degree murder against MacWilliams. It is a flight of fancy at best.
More to come in this.
I have never met Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams. But I know many young police officers like him. Indeed, in my younger, less cynical days, I was much like him.
He is a young man seized with a singular ambition; to help people, to serve his community and make a difference in his lifetime, alongside with being a member of that community and raising a family of his own. That’s what young police officers believe. Anyone involved in hiring in any police department in North America will tell you that is the primary answer to the question inevitably asked: Why do you want to be a police officer?
Cops are of a singular nature. They don’t become cops for the excitement. 95 percent of police work is boring and the remaining five per cent is sheer terror.
But, there is a certain segment of folks who want to wear a badge and carry a gun in the service of their fellow citizens. And it has always been thus, as it was for me when I decided to join the RCMP, lo, those many years ago. And we, as a society, as a community, should be thankful for those who serve.
So, how is it that a good, young police officer like Jordan MacWilliams has been charged with murder in the second degree for doing his job as a designated ‘lethal’ sniper on an ERT response to a shots fired / hostage situation at the Starlight Casino in November of 2012?
I have reported on that situation elsewhere in this space and won’t bore you with the finite details of the shooting save and except to say that I have looked at a great many police shootings over the years and indeed, have been the officer involved in one myself. There are always questions – did the officer have to use lethal force? Couldn’t he/she have used less lethal force? Were there other options?
And there are the really stupid ones too like, my favourite – couldn’t they have shot him in the leg or an arm?
In this case Const. MacWilliams did his job. A job that most of you reading this wouldn’t want to do, but that he does, or more accurately, did, quite willingly.
We ask much of the police officers who serve. We want to feel safe from those predators whose moral compass allows them to victimize innocent folks. We want our system of laws to be enforced but in such a way that we don’t have to look, because in reality that requires those employed to be at the sharp end to take actions that society feels is repugnant.
You may like sausages with your breakfast, but you probably don’t want to know how they are created. The same applies to an arrest of someone who doesn’t want to be arrested, such as we saw in New York with the takedown of the behemoth, petty criminal, Eric Garner, who died as a result of what was an otherwise routine takedown of a subject who was told he was under arrest and passively resisted.
The police expect to be criticized. It comes with the territory. But, police officers do not expect to be charged criminally for doing their job. And that is the situation facing Const. MacWilliams. For whatever reason, be it the sub-standard investigation of the inexperienced investigators of the recently formed Independent Investigations Office (IIO) or the fecklessness of a Crown prosecutor with a political agenda, I don’t know. But I can and will say that Const. MacWilliams did his job on that fateful day.
He and his team members went home to their families. The man who shot at a woman, and dragged her forcibly for 500 metres, held her hostage and threatened police, did not.
Yet, Jordan MacWilliams is charged with murder. A charge that had to be approved at the highest levels of government. A charge signed by the Deputy Attorney General. How is this possible?
What government would want to file a charge against one of those we employ to do the dirty work to protect us? These are questions that need to be answered. Crown spokesperson Neil McKenzie dodging and saying the matter is before the court is not good enough.
The Attorney General, Susan Anton, at the very least was appraised of the actions of her Deputy who signed the Direct Indictment. For something this dramatic and rare, my guess is the Premier, Christy Clark, was advised because of the potential political ramifications. Those ramifications are now coming home to roost. The Premier and the Attorney General need to respond. The public confidence in the justice system is at stake.
Frankly, this is offensive. Was the decision to charge MacWilliams simply because the IIO needed to get one on the board, so to speak, to justify the ill-advised decision of the Clark government who set up this mess in a knee-jerk reaction to the Braidwood Inquiry or the inquiry into the death of Frank Paul? We don’t know. And largely because no one at the Attorney General’s office will answer any questions that are begging for a response.
One wonders. Yet, this fine young police officer is still charged with murder for doing his job.
The mystery of why Delta PD Const. Jordan MacWilliams has been charged with murder for doing his job as a sniper covering other MIERT (Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team) officers who were designated ‘non-lethal’ ARWEN gun operators in a shots fired/hostage/standoff situation only deepens.
The police did their level-best to bring a peaceful conclusion to the situation initiated by 48-yr.-old Mehrdad Bayrami on Nov. 8th, 2012 at the Starlight Casino. Last week I told you how the hostage was rescued by MacWilliams and two of his colleagues, who risked their own lives to affect the rescue. If MacWilliams had wanted to end the situation with the suspect dead, he could have easily taken the shot when they broke cover after the hostage created separation between herself and the suspect.
But he didn’t. They retreated to cover with the hostage safe to try and see a successful resolution. That’s an important point to consider in this case. If MacWilliams was ‘gun happy’ or a ‘cowboy’ cop he could have taken the shot much earlier than when he was forced to by the circumstances.
It is still unclear what the theory of the Crown is about why a murder charge should be laid in this case. And not just to me.
It is very rare for a police officer in Canada to be charged with a criminal offence in relation to a use of lethal force. The last time it happened in BC was, according to my research, in 1975 and involved a VPD member who was charged with manslaughter following an incident which involved a struggle over the officer’s weapon. That charge was dismissed at the Preliminary Hearing.
Which, I might add, MacWilliams is being denied because the Crown in this case has elected, with the approval of the Attorney General, to proceed via direct indictment, a procedure usually reserved for complicated gang cases typically to streamline the process and reduce potential for delays involving multiple defence counsels.
But in this case, it shouldn’t be complicated. There are a handful of police witnesses, the IIO (Independent Investigations Office) investigators and a handful of ancillary witnesses such as the pathologist and crime scene technicians.
No, there should be little complicated about this case. From what I have seen it is as clean a police shooting as one might ever come across.
Bayrami sat in wait for a woman. When she arrived at the casino for work he attacked, firing three shots into her car. He then dragged her from the car and nearly five hundred metres up the casino parking lot to a point where responding New West PD members initially responded and the standoff ensued.
MacWilliams and two colleagues managed a courageous rescue of the female hostage. The police tried everything in their means to end the standoff, negotiators, a robot carrying a cell phone to initiate a dialogue and a non-lethal intervention using flash-bangs and ARWEN guns (so called ‘rubber’ bullets which are actually plastic projectiles).
A split second later, when the non-lethal approach failed and the suspect was waving his gun around and it pointed toward the ARWEN operator did MacWilliams, in the designated ‘lethal’ cover position, take what would prove to be the fatal shot.
This is not murder, it is a job well done and MacWilliams and his colleagues on the MIERT went home safely to their families that night. As did the female hostage they rescued. They should be given a medal.
What is probably equally telling is that MacWilliams’ colleagues are in full support. They have started a wristband campaign as a show of that support. It says “Honour,” “Courage,” “Integrity,” “Trust” and MacWilliams’ badge number, 2573.
Whatever political machinations have brought this murder charge against this good young officer needs to be undone. The Attorney General, Susan Anton, will eventually have to explain why this action was taken in her name and under her authority. That is only fair to the police officers who serve the citizens of British Columbia.