Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for November 2017

The irony of the IIO

with 5 comments

“Don’t underestimate the value of irony—it is extremely valuable.”
Henry James

The irony is delicious.

Following the November 2012 fatal shooting of an armed hostage taker who had fired shots at the Starlight Casino by Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams, part of the Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team (MIERT), was charged with murder by the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) following the incredibly flawed investigation by the then-fledgeling Independent Investigations Office (IIO).

How flawed? Beyond belief. They never even interviewed the female hostage who was shot at, dragged and had a gun held to her head in the incident. They never asked for the video from the casino security staff itself who had the whole incident recorded. Casino security staff, who watched events unfold live on monitors and called 9-1-1, burned a DVD for the New West police who asked for and received it. They burned a copy for the Coroner’s office who asked for and received it. They burned a copy for the IIO who never asked for it. Stunning.

MacWilliams as one of the first officers for the MIERT who responded to the shots fired/ hostage taking call at the casino. The perpetrator had been waiting for a female casino employee to arrive for work and fired three shots at her before dragging her from her car and about 500 metres down the sidewalk toward the entrance when New Westminster PD units arriving to the 9-1-1 call from casino security boxed him in in the parking lot. The call to the MIERT went out.

Less than an hour into the stand-off, MacWilliams and another officer noticed the female hostage managed to separate herself from the armed man and they immediately broke cover and put themselves between the hostage and the assailant with weapons drawn, exposing themselves to danger while a third officer ran out and pulled the woman to safety. The exposed officers withdrew to cover and the stand-off continued for several more hours. Had MacWilliams wanted to kill the man he had he opportunity then. He held fire and risked his own safety.

The negotiators tried and failed to end the situation and the incident commander decided to try a non-lethal assault using ARWEN guns with plastic bullets to try and disarm the man.

MacWilliams was designated lethal in that attempt. He was in the sniper seat to provide cover for the ALPHA team when they broke cover to take the shots. They did and the suspect turned toward them with gun raised and MacWilliams did his job. He took the shot, protected his colleagues and took down the armed man.

As MacWilliams said to me after the event, “All my guys got to go home that night, we did our job.” And he is exactly right.

Had the IIO bothered to do their job were they actually competent, they would have interviewed the hostage who had information relevant to the hostage-taker. She would have told them, as she later told me, that the man had said to her when he had a gun to her head that the only way he was leaving the scene was in a body bag. In her mind that meant he was going to commit suicide at his own hand or force the police to shoot him.

You’d almost think that was important info that would corroborate the 22 page statement given by MacWilliams in describing the events of the day. Almost.

Instead they went through an elaborate charade trying to merge three video clips to suggest that MacWilliams fired before he should have and that resulted in him being charged with murder.

Insanity!

MacWilliams went for many months with a murder charge hanging over his head. The stress of the situation affected his life, his family’s life, his colleagues and police officers around the province who worried what might happen if they double-clutched if they were in a similar situation.

I wrote much on the situation exposing the charge for the sham it was. Fortunately, the murder charge was eventually stayed in a rare moment of clarity from the Criminal Justice Branch and MacWilliams was allowed to return to his job serving the citizens of Delta, BC.

Apart from the ridicule I heaped upon the IIO in this, they never suffered any consequences. They still exist and their incompetence is exacerbated with nearly every investigation they do. The police have no confidence in them and nor should the general public.

And even though the Solicitor General, in a rare moment of clarity and common sense, pushed the first Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal out the door early, the stupidity remains.

They recently brought in some experienced, retired police officers to help out with their procedures and training. That was good. But in at least one of those cases they are only having the instructor train new hires in proper major crime investigation techniques. Why not existing investigators so that everyone has the same level of training and information? That’s just plain stupid.

They have hired a new Chief Civilian Director who performed a similar role in Nova Scotia, albeit that model uses seconded, seasoned police investigators instead of the BC model which uses, well, inexperienced civilians with little or no expertise. Indeed, the new CCD, the rather unfortunately named Ronald McDonald, faces a huge challenge to bring credibility to this organization which has become the subject of derision in the policing community.

First indications are not good.

But, in a delicious twist of irony, earlier this week, Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams was summoned to Victoria and, at Government House, was presented with the Award of Valour for his actions on that day at the Starlight Casino.

Well done Constable. The IIO and the CJB should be ashamed for putting him and his family through the stress of a murder charge hanging over his head for all that time just for doing his job.  And the heads of those responsible should roll.

But I won’t hold my breath.

-30-

Leo Knight

@prmetimecrime

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Written by Leo Knight

November 23, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Successful campaign, but bitter feeling lingers

with 8 comments

Two weeks ago we started a GoFundMe campaign for Cindy Millington to help her through a tough time while her husband, RCMP Cst. Kwesi Millington, was serving his 30 month sentence after being convicted in a trumped-up charge of perjury.

After running for a week, we had surpassed the target goal of $10,000 and moved the goal to $12,000. Well, that too got passed. I spoke with Cindy and she was overcome with gratitude. We decided to let the campaign run through the long weekend then close it with a big thank you to all of you who supported Cindy. We then started the withdrawal process.

I then left for a pre-planned week in the desert playing golf with some of my retired former VPD friends. When I arrived at our hotel, I received a message from the GoFundMe Community Management Team saying, “It has come to our attention that your campaign may not be compliant with our Terms & Conditions.” They then proceeded to tell me the campaign was suspended pending a response from me.

I promptly responded explaining the situation and said the money was being raised for Cindy to help with the household bills and mortgage payments while her husband was unable to earn money and her salary alone would not cover everything. In the interim, I began getting messages from folks who were trying to donate but the site had been taken down and they were asking why.

I subsequently got this reply from GoFundMe: “Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that your campaign is in violation of the following line from our terms: “the defense or support of anyone alleged to be involved in criminal activity.”

Criminal activity? I was stunned.

What followed was a back and forth to ensure Cindy would be able to collect the donated funds and I’m pleased to say that Cindy has now received an EFT in the amount of $14,136.24.

When Cindy told Kwesi of the campaign he was very moved. Cindy said, “I told him how you created the campaign and it’s been flooded with donations. When I told him we were at $10,000 he said, OMG, I’m gonna cry, that’s amazing.”

While alls well that ends well, I suppose. But I’m still miffed at GoFundMe for the account suspension citing “the defence or support of criminal activity.” This was anything but. Kwesi Millington got steam-rolled by a system looking for scapegoats for political purposes and an employer that stood mute and did not come to the defence of the YVR Four.

Clearly by using the phrase “It has come to our attention…” indicates they got a complaint. Who would complain over this type of campaign? I don’t know. Maybe an anti-police type?Perhaps someone who doesn’t like inter-racial couples? A seniour member of the RCMP who did not agree with my criticism of the Force in this? Who knows?

But, what I do know is the policing community and those who support police came together and supported Cindy and the campaign for the week it ran and I guarantee you not one of those who donated in any way, shape or form defend or support criminal activity. It’s a nonsensical position taken by GoFundMe but at least they allowed Cindy to collect the donated funds, less their commissions of course.

I will stay in touch with Cindy and try and update you on how Kwesi and Monty Robinson are doing as I get updates. Again, thank you to all who supported this campaign. Your generosity is truly humbling and appreciated.

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

November 21, 2017 at 6:35 pm

The real price to be paid for a travesty of justice

with 13 comments

Earlier this week the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeals of RCMP members Benjamin “Monty” Robinson and Kwesi Millington and both began serving their sentences, two years less a day and 30 months respectively after totally undeserved perjury convictions.

As I have said previously, this is a travesty of justice. The four RCMP officers who attended a disturbance call at YVR in October, 2007 which resulted in the death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski, were just doing their jobs and now are both in prison. I’m disgusted.

There’s a lot of blame to be thrown around here, but none of it is on these members. They were failed by the seniour leadership of the RCMP and failed badly when they would not say publicly that these four officers acted according to their training and RCMP policy.

They were failed by the Braidwood Commission of Inquiry into the death of Dziekanski when Mr. Justice Thomas Braidwood failed to take into account the forensic video analysis of Grant Fredericks which showed demonstrably that the four members were telling the truth and the baying media hounds hadn’t a clue. Yet he sided with the hounds.

They were failed by the gutless politicians who had their own agenda that had nothing to do with justice and the truth.

Of the four, two were acquitted at bar and two were convicted. The two white officers were acquitted. The First Nations member and the black member were both convicted and now jailed. I am not making a specific accusation here, I merely am making an observation of fact.

I spoke with Kwesi Millington’s wife, Cindy, a few days after her husband turned himself in to begin serving his sentence. She was, as you might imagine, very upset. They expect that he will be terminated by the RCMP given the circumstances and that means his paycheque stops. Equally, while jailed he won’t be able to earn at another occupation now that his policing career is over.

Her salary isn’t enough to keep up with the mortgage, bills and legal fees they must now incur to get a parole lawyer to steer that process forward to ensure Kwesi gets parole at the earliest opportunity. She said she’d likely have to sell Kwesi’s car while he was in prison while using up what savings they had.

Kwesi has been transferred into the federal prison system in Kingston, Ontario. He is in protective custody because of his occupation. That means he spends his time in a small cell by himself with just 30 minutes of exercise a day with guards as company.

His first facility there will be for 2-3 months while Corrections Canada bureaucrats assess his case to determine which facility he should be assigned to serve his time. In the interim he won’t be allowed to call Cindy for several weeks until he gets his assigned phone card.

If I told you the whole of this story and how these members have been utterly abandoned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and left dangling in the breeze you might dismiss it as improbable fiction. This is the national police force after all. They have an iconic reputation and all that. Surely they would do the right thing, after all, their motto is “Maintiens le droit” – Maintain the right. And surely, you would be wrong.

The once proud force has done exactly the wrong thing in this matter every step of the way and much of it deliberately knowing what would happen to their members. It’s beyond offensive.

For regular readers of this space, my many supporters, police officers, retired and former police officers or just those of you who who can’t stomach injustice, I have set up a GoFundMe account to help Cindy and Kwesi in this trying time.

If you can help, please do. Anything would be welcomed. Here’s the link: https://www.gofundme.com/cindy-kwesi-millington

For the record, Kwesi was a young officer. When he used the Taser that night, it was the first time he’d ever deployed the weapon. When he testified at the Braidwood Commission, it was the first time he had ever testified in any forum.

Robinson was a Corporal in the RCMP. He has a pension and his income won’t suffer during his incarceration. He will, but at least his family will be okay. The circumstances are much different for Cindy Millington. She didn’t sign up for any of this.

She loves her man and was proud of him for what he was doing for a living, knowing all of the potential bad things that can befall a cop. But not this.

Unfair doesn’t even begin to explain what has happened to these four men. Worse for the two who are currently in the prison system. Worse still, for those who love them.

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Leo Knight

November 6, 2017 at 1:27 am