Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

More questions into IIO investigation

with 8 comments

This morning in Cranbrook, common sense finally re-entered the room and the Crown entered a stay of proceedings against RCMP Cst. Rick Drought. I first told you about this on Monday, but Drought has been going through hell since criminal charges were laid against him more than two years ago.

But this case was messed up out of the gate. And for a number of reasons. Where to begin?

Quite apart from the nonsense spouted by Independent Investigations Office (IIO) investigator Sherman Mah when he testified that he had no ability to take measurements at the scene and resorted to super-imposing an RCMP diagram on a printout of Google Earth to estimate the distance between Drought when he opened fire and the vehicle accelerating towards him. That was not only wrong, but plainly embarrassing. I only wish it stopped there.

I spoke tonight with Alan Armstrong, the good Samaritan who stopped to help Nicholas John Bullock and his 17-yr-old girlfriend who had run out of gas in the car they had highjacked in Coquitlam hours earlier.

When Armstrong picked them up he engaged them in conversation. Bullock repaid his courtesy by placing a cold, metal something at the back of his head and said, “Pull over. I’ve got a gun against your head and I’ll blow your fucking head off.” Armstrong protested that he was in traffic and couldn’t  and Bullock repeated the threat.

Armstrong pulled over and undid his seatbelt as he was told. He got a boot in his ribs pushing him from his Toyota 4Runner and got blasted with bear spray in the face for his trouble.

Bullock sped off with his vehicle while Armstrong staggered to a nearby home and asked for help. It was from there he called police and reported the carjacking at gunpoint.

It was this information that was broadcast out to Cranbrook RCMP officers when Drought spotted the 4Runner near Elizabeth Lake and he took up the pursuit.

But none of this information was known to the IIO because they never contacted Armstrong to get his story. They did finally contact him a little over a month after the events of Oct, 2, 2012. But that was to ask him if he knew where his SUV was. So, a month after they took control of an officer involved shooting they contacted the victim of a car-jacking not to get details of what happened, but to see if he knew what had happened to their primary exhibit. I was stunned.

How would anyone with care and control of an investigation such as this, lose control of their primary exhibit?  The incompetence is stunning.

Not to mention not speaking to the victim of the carjacking. You almost think the information about the gun given to the RCMP and broadcast to responding members would be germane, wouldn’t you?

Armstrong was incredulous when he spoke to the IIO investigator. And he’s a civilian. He said to the IIO investigator,”Why don’t you stand up in your cubicle and ask if anyone there knows where the vehicle is.” The response was classic. The IIO investigator said, “I hope if we have to contact you again I hope you’ll be more cooperative.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

When this file played out and the Crown in the form of Oleh Kuzma, former failed Regional Crown in the Interior, approved charges against Drought, Richard Rosenthal, the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO dispatched investigators to Cranbrook to serve the charge documents on Drought who was out of town with his son.

What occurred then was a comedy wrapped in a tragedy.  The investigators insisted on serving the charging documents directly and Drought’s lawyers said they would accept service. The back and forth took about eight hours.

They finally served counsel and returned to Vancouver. Rosenthal questioned them asking why they didn’t arrest Drought and conduct a ‘Perp walk’ with him. Unbelievable.

Richard Rosenthal is an absolute embarrassment in the role of CCD of the IIO. He has been protected by a Deputy Minister in the Department of Justice despite the myriad of complaints about him from very credible investigators in the IIO who have since been fired by Rosenthal.

The reality is there is little competence remaining in the IIO. The government may have had good intentions in the formation of the IIO, but the reality is something that is vastly different from those good intentions and needs to the addressed.

Premier Clark, this is now on you.

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

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Written by Leo Knight

October 15, 2015 at 4:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses

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  1. Kudos Leo. No coincidence that the stay was entered after your column on Monday. I suspect someone in Victoria saw your piece and put a stop to this travesty before the mainstream press roused from their sloth. This was an abject failure on the part of both the press and the IIO but ultimately the buck stops with Crown and their Charge Approval process. As with the McWilliams case, they either missed the glaring deficiencies in the IIO investigation or they were so eager to prosecute a policeman that they ignored them. Either way, Crown’s failure is far worse. The press has an obligation to do the right thing. The Crown has a duty.

    Bob Cooper

    October 15, 2015 at 6:15 am

    • I would be surprised if the mainstream media make much of this stay of proceedings. In my opinion the “party line” of the mainstream media is that cops are bad and reporting the deficiencies of this case goes against this “party line.” I hope I am wrong but I think this story will just pass quietly in the mainstream media. Can’t see the CBC doing an in depth story on this. No doubt Cst. Drought and his family have paid a heavy price, I only hope they can return back to a normal life. Thank you for your service Cst. Drought.

      Glenn

      October 16, 2015 at 2:19 am

  2. Well done Leo , this is the type of info that the media needed to publish but for some reason, chose not to. I hope that Cst Drought can get back to a normal life and move on .

    Bruce

    Bruce

    October 15, 2015 at 11:59 am

  3. Is there sufficient evidence to proceed against IIO for malicious prosecution. Against the individual Crown who “approved” the charge in the first place. The trial crown is just prosecuting what someone else approved, but he/she does have the obligation to enter a stay at the earliest opportunity when it is evident that the prosecution is malicious. Personally, I think we as police officers, or retired police officers, should band together and be the watch dog of the watch dog. Scrutinize, in extreme detail, their investigation of our family. That could be funded from within, as well as some portion of any awards won against the IIO

    Randy

    October 15, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    • I do not believe there is a mechanism, at this point, to go after the IIO. In this case, the Crown who tried the case is the same one who approved the charge, Oleh Kuzma.

      Leo Knight

      October 15, 2015 at 5:00 pm

  4. Thank you for this commentary Leo. Richard Drought is my brother in law. He is an outstanding person, kind, loyal. He volunteered with Young Cadets and is at most of his son’s hockey games. He is a proud dad to his daughters and a loving husband to my sister – Shan. I hope people realize what Ric and his family have gone thru for the past 3 years. Rosenthal and his case was a joke. Why did it take so long? Was it political after the Vancouver Airport incident? Why? Richard has helped so so many during his 18+plus years. He truly loved being a police officer and would do anything including getting in way of harm to protect those in his community. This is shameful what IIO did to Ric and his family. Can you imagine facing five years in prison while Bullock said “He has moved on..” ? Thank you for speaking out as so many dislike first responders. I thank you Ric for keeping your community and it’s members safe. Mary

    Mary Mullane

    October 16, 2015 at 1:59 am

  5. PS Rosenthal is back in Denver facing Sexual Harassment charges that he did not disclose when hired by Clarke in the first place. BC Tax dollars paid him millions to move him to Surrey.

    Mary Mullane

    October 16, 2015 at 2:06 am

  6. I heard about this earlier in the week while out of town and out of cell/computer contact. So if the MSM remains silent on this latest case, one can only imagine what the IIO will try and put before crown next time. I really like idea of some one watching the IIO. With the dunderheads they have in there, I am sure a small collective of retired major crime guys/gals and some retired forensic folks can have fun and pick apart the IIO’s incompetence on files. In the meantime I think the Delta Officer and Cst Drought should get together and hire a lawyer and sue the Ass off Rosenthal and any IIO investigator who dealt with their respective files. In fact, someone should file freedom of information requests for the IIO’s investigative notes, the Files they sent to crown and any correspondence between crown and the IIO on both those files.
    If crown has to give full disclosure to others, its only fair these two officers get FULL DISCLOSURE on their files and what went on behind the scenes between the IIO and crown. I
    If crap like this continues a lot of cops just might say fuck it, why bother and just show up after the dust has settled.
    THANKS CST Drought for responding to an in progress incident and having the balls to take action and surviving not only the incident but this kangaroo court bullshit you have had to endure the last few years.

    Tmac

    October 18, 2015 at 1:06 am


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