Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for July 2017

Another over-reach by the IIO

with 9 comments

I played golf with a few of my former VPD colleagues last week, all retired now, but with Major Crime and/or Internal experience and one, retired as the Inspector running the VPD Traffic Section. As we sat down for a post game libation, I got a press release from the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) saying charges of Dangerous Driving causing bodily harm had been approved against a Nanaimo Mountie, Cst. David Buchanan.

My immediate thought was that he’d been ordered to shut down a chase and hadn’t, risking lives of pedestrians as he careened down the sea wall in the Port of Nanaimo. But no, nothing of the sort apparently.

As I read the release further, it turns out the CJB believe that he was in a pursuit involving a scooter. A scooter? You know, something like a Vespa. A scooter, capable of burning up the pavement at something between 50-60 KMH.

Again, my mind conjured up a chase on a sidewalk with pedestrians diving out of the way.  But no, no such thing.

This occurred around eleven o’clock on a wet, rainy February night in 2016.

When I told my golfing companions that the charge involved the interaction with a scooter, the speculation began as to what the officer might have done to get over the bar to be charged criminally with Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm. All suggestions involved innocent members of the public being put at risk by the actions of the officer.

I began to look into the circumstances and the surmises of those experienced investigators did not appear to be the case.

Quite the contrary, the incident occurred at 11 p.m. Cst. Buchanan was assigned to the Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) at the time and was based out of Nanaimo. IRSU is a traffic enforcement unit that operates in different areas of the province. It is funded primarily by ICBC and is tasked with specific enforcement functions with the goal of reducing motor vehicle accidents.

Buchanan was down in the Shawnigan Lake area coming to the end of his shift. He stopped at the Tim Horton’s in north Duncan to get a coffee to accompany him on the hour-long drive back to Nanaimo.

As he was leaving the parking lot exit he noticed a scooter heading south on Hwy. 1 apparently without a license plate which is required for that class of vehicle.

Buchanan turned south and began to close the distance so that he could verify what he thought he saw. As he got closer to the scooter in his unmarked SUV, the male on the scooter turned off the highway and Buchanan followed, no lights, no siren.

The scooter rider ran through two rolling stops then made an illegal left turn across some train tracks at which point Buchanan made the decision to conduct a traffic stop. Once he activated his emergency equipment to stop the rider, the rider did what is known in surveillance terms as a “shit hook.”

He did a hard U-turn and re-traced his route. Buchanan had to execute a Y-turn in reverse to get turned around to head after the scooter. Now, remember this is late in the evening and there’s not another sinner on the streets in this quiet area.

Scooter Boy noticed the SUV getting closer and turned into a parking lot followed by Buchanan who saw an exit where Scooter Boy seemed headed. He blocked the exit and Scooter Boy glanced off the front right fender of the police car and continued on onto a grassy area. Unfortunately, the grass was wet and Scooter Boy fishtailed and crashed into a fire hydrant.  His ankle was fractured, caught between the hydrant and his scooter. This is where the Independent Investigations office (IIO) asserted jurisdiction. Although, I fail to see how a fractured ankle classifies as a “serious injury.”

There was a confrontation as Buchanan tried to take Scooter Boy into custody and strikes were delivered by the officer to get control and the suspect handcuffed. But, I note he wasn’t charged with assault as a result. The CJB determined that to be justified.

Did I mention that the scooter was not only unlicensed and uninsured but also stolen and Scooter Boy has a history with police. I know, big shock. Cst. Buchanan on the other hand is a police officer who has been decorated for valour.

Scooter Boy was identified as Bryce McKay. He has not been identified publicly until now, but Buchanan’s name has been in every media outlet on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and throughout BC.

And for what? Because he did his job?

The entire incident lasted, start to finish, 52 seconds. There is dash cam video that shows what Buchanan actually did during the incident. Menaka Giri, the Crown handling the prosecution of McKay who was charged with possession of stolen property, flight from police and possession of a stolen vehicle, reviewed the dash cam video and said in an email that she doesn’t see that Buchanan did anything wrong and that he should be confident to testify against McKay.

Well, apparently the prosecutors at the CJB felt otherwise and have approved criminal charges against yet another cop in BC just trying to do his job.

It ought to be an interesting trial. If I were defence counsel for Buchanan, I’d call Giri as a witness for the defence then simply stand and look at the judge and make a motion for dismissal because there’s clearly a difference of opinion in the office of the Crown itself. Talk about reasonable doubt.

It seems the IIO is attempting yet another overreach in charging another cop just trying to do his job and somehow they managed to get again the compliance of the CJB. Shame. This isn’t law, this isn’t justice. This is offensive to every cop trying to do his or her job.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

July 20, 2017 at 4:37 am

Three strikes on the IIO

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Two weeks ago, on June 18, Coquitlam RCMP received reports of shots fired by a distraught man at an address on Audrey Drive in what is normally a quiet residential neighbourhood.

Police attended which ultimately resulted in an exchange of gunfire. The distraught man retreated to cover behind a vehicle and a stand-off ensued. The Integrated Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team were called and ultimately secured the male using flash bangs and stun grenades. The man was discovered dead.

The RCMP initially issued a press release saying they thought he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Specifically, they said this: “The male was later located deceased by ERT members behind a vehicle with what is believed at this time to be a self-inflicted injury.” Note the use of the words “believed” and “at this time.”

That is a preliminary statement and hardly definitive. Nor could they be definitive without conducting an investigation which, in BC, is the responsibility of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO).

Yet, following an autopsy, Marten Youssef, spokesman for the IIO, was quick to put out a follow up media release saying the RCMP’s initial information was incorrect and the death was not self-inflicted. There was a tone that implied the RCMP tried to mislead but clearly that was not the case. The Mounties release was based on preliminary information and said as much.

Youssef went on to say, “The IIO has interviewed approximately 30 witnesses and six police officers.” Now, that statement was patently misleading.

How so? Well, the reality is that the IIO couldn’t field a full team of investigators and requested assistance from the New Westminster Police Department. For the first two days the NWPD supplied 4 detectives and three for the third day. Much of which time was covered on overtime. And they were the ones doing the interviewing, not the IIO.

So, the IIO’s raison d’être is to provide civilian oversight of any incidents involving serious injuries or death involving the police, ostensibly, to remove any questions of confidence in the police investigating the police.

Yet, here we are more than four years since their launch and the IIO couldn’t field a full team of investigators and had to call the police to investigate the police.

So much for the much vaunted transparency they claim as a stated goal on their website.

I have written much about the various issues this troubled organization has had, but this is really over the top. Out of the gate this has been a badly managed organization which has resulted in sky-high turnover. At any given time they seem to be about 25% short that they will admit. And they are constantly hiring and training new investigators with little or no investigative experience. They claim to follow the Major Case Management system yet they have no board certified investigators to do that.

Initially, they hired former police officers along with a mix of civilians with a goal to being completely civilianized after five years. Well, five years is in less than two months time and they can’t even field a full investigative team for a fatal incident?

The IIO is fundamentally broken as an organization and the legislation that formed them is, in itself, fundamentally flawed. They lack the investigative expertise to handle investigations such as these and now it seems they even lack the people to at least maintain the charade. This is also one of the reasons their investigations take so long which puts paid to another one of their stated goals which is to do investigations in a timely manner.

On the website page describing their “Mandate” it says this:

The CCD has announced three important goals for the organization:

•To conduct competent, thorough and unbiased investigations;

•To complete these investigations in a timely manner; and,

•To ensure transparency through public reporting.

Well, strike one, two and three. They are neither competent, timely nor transparent.

Sadly, this is a creation of government and BC is about to undergo a change of government. It seems highly improbable that fixing the IIO will be very high on the priority list for a minority NDP government which is one case of diarrhea away from an election when the Leg is in session. No, if new Premier John Horgan is smart, he will govern to make the NDP seem palatable to most British Columbians so they have a shot at a majority in the next election. Which means don’t do anything controversial or earth-shattering.

It seems we are stuck with this dysfunctional organization to provide civilian oversight of serious incidents involving the police for the foreseeable future. One fails to see how the public or the police can have any confidence in them.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

July 4, 2017 at 11:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized