Next month the Independent Investigations Organization (IIO) turns four since it commenced operations in 2012. Two days before the anniversary will be the last day for its first Chief Civilian Director (CCD) Richard Rosenthal.
Rosenthal was hired with much fanfare back in December, 2011 in a major announcement by the Premier Christy Clark and then Solicitor General Shirley Bond as well as several municipal police chiefs including then VPD Chief Jim Chu, then West Vancouver Chief Peter Lepine and Assistant Commissioner Fraser MacRae representing the RCMP.
They all stood in front of a big sign that said “Increasing Accountability.” Bond defended the hiring of an American because of his “experience” saying he had a strong track record in building these kinds of organizations which, in itself was not true. In fact, Rosenthal had never supervised more than five people in his career let alone led a start-up of more than 30 people.
In point of fact, Rosenthal did not even apply for the job within the requisite time frame in the original job posting which said the posting closed on August 16, 2011. Rosenthal only “applied” directly to then Assistant Deputy Minister in Justice, Jay Chalke, after he’d been informed his contract in Denver would not be renewed when it expired in the winter of 2012. Why Chalke re-opened the posting is anyone’s guess? Chalke is now British Columbia’s Ombudsman.
The fact that Rosenthal was a lawyer and a former Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles and was involved in police oversight in Portland and Denver was much-touted by the government as a reason for his hiring. Yet, he was spectacularly unsuccessful in the launch of the IIO and is in fact leaving prior to the expiration of his initial five year contract.
Rosenthal claims he is leaving of his own volition to pursue a PHD in Criminology at Simon Fraser University. Whether that or because the government declined to renew his contract given the tumultuous four years under him is moot really. The fact that he is gone, or soon will be, is good.
It is interesting to note that as one of his final acts he had senior management conduct a leak inquiry by searching every single employees’ computer simply speaks volumes about his lack of leadership skills. Presumably, he wanted to determine who was leaking information to the media, primarily yours truly. It would seem nothing of note was discovered despite their best efforts.
So, four years in and what is there to show for their efforts? Not a lot. They managed to alienate the whole of the police community in BC with the charging of Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams for second degree murder in the shooting incident at the Starlight Casino in November 2012. MacWilliams was merely doing his job that day and to face a charge of murder was absolutely obscene. Fortunately, clearer minds prevailed and the charge was stayed last summer, but not before putting MacWilliams through hell.
The IIO has turned over virtually all of their original experienced investigators hired and paid for the privilege through severance with many taxpayer dollars.
They’ve been through a couple of investigations conducted by the PSA, essentially the government’s HR department, resulting from staff complaints of bullying and harassment. Employee surveys revealed huge disconnects between front-line staff and senior management. Rosenthal was being openly mocked by subordinates. Frankly, it was an absolute shit show.
His heir apparent, lawyer Clinton J. Saddlemeyer, appointed acting CCD in Rosenthal’s absence in 2015, was suspended for wearing a Guy Fawkes mask to the staff Halloween party when the IIO was investigating the shooting of an Anonymous activist wearing the same mask at the time.
Far from being transparent and swift, they are taking up to a year and a half to complete the average investigation. Just last week on August 9th, they put out a public notice seeking witnesses to an event that occurred last August 13th, 2015 in Burnaby. Really. A year later they suddenly discover there may be some salient witnesses to an event? It’s stunning really. Shouldn’t that be one of the first steps they take? You know, when memories are fresh and details clear?
The challenge for anyone taking the reins at this moribund and incompetent organization is huge especially given its mandate. Thus far, the government has not announced who is to take that challenge. Considering they announced back in January that the search had commenced.
For all their gurgling about the importance of having a lawyer with experience in police oversight at the time of Rosenthal’s hiring, my sources are telling me that a career provincial government bureaucrat will be named as CCD shortly. Whether permanent or interim is not known.
This particular bureaucrat rose to high levels in the civil service and retired in 2013 after a full career and is currently acting as a management consultant. So apparently, the reasons for hiring Rosenthal no longer apply.
I wish the new CCD well and truly hope that the competence and transparency level of the IIO can be hugely improved. Sadly, I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who understands transparency and few who were actually competent leaders who could inspire subordinates, but there’s always a first time.
In the interim, adios Richard Rosenthal. You’ve long overstayed your welcome.
The war on police continues.
Last weekend, 12 Dallas police officers were shot, five of them fatally by a nutter with military training and Islamic inducement. Oh yes, I should add the shooter was black and the cops shot were white. In the ensuing ‘negotiations’ with police the shooter said he was trying to kill as many white cops as possible. But apparently, according to the Department of Justice, this was not a hate crime. Had the tables been turned, you can bet it would be a hate crime.
Yesterday, a travesty of justice was committed in a Vancouver court against a Mountie who was just doing his job. Cst. Kwesi Millington, the young officer who wielded the Taser at YVR the night Robert Dziekanski died, was appealing his conviction for perjury.
In issuing a 23 page written judgement, the Court of Appeal essentially punted. In legal terms they said the appellant (Millington) didn’t argue his case well enough to convince them to order a new trial.
Millington, with his legal team headed by Vancouver lawyer Ravi Hira will seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. I am not holding my breath on this one.
Hira argued five solid points on appeal yet the Court of Appeal gave him short shrift. Why?
The essential component of the criminal trials against the four officers involved in the YVR incident is did they collude to make up some sort of statement? In and of itself, this is nonsense. One only need look at the timeline of events to conclude it was impossible. Yet, the bespectacled, pencil-necked Mr. Justice William (Bill, when I knew him as a junior prosecutor) Ehrcke somehow managed to “infer” they must have colluded.
How, is a whole other question considering once Dziekanski went down, Cpl. Monty Robinson was monitoring his physical symptoms while the other three officers were canvassing witnesses. Once the watch NCO from Richmond Detachment arrived and took control of the scene, he ordered the three constables to the sub-detachment to await follow up investigators and Robinson to remain at YVR to await those self-same investigators from IHIT.
Erchke’s “inference” could also be justifiably called a “great leap in mental gymnastics” yet the Court of Appeal declined to deal with that.
One wonders if they were told to let sleeping dogs lie as it were?
From day one of this affair, politics has reared its ugly head. The Braidwood inquiry which emanated from this was fundamentally flawed in that Mr. Justice Braidwood found the four officers colluded in the absence of any evidence. To conclude that one presumes that imagination trumps evidence.
That finding triggered two legal reviews. One, commissioned by the RCMP, was done by very respected counsel Len Daoust. He concluded that no case existed against the four members relative to perjury at the Braidwood inquiry. The other, that of Special Prosecutor Richard Peck, pursued the matter at great expense to the taxpayer.
Why, for example, were the four members prosecuted individually? Surely that quadrupled the cost to prosecute the cases on essentially the same fact pattern. Apparently, once a Special Prosecutor is appointed no further oversight can be done by the Criminal Justice Branch. Every decision is up to the Special Prosecutor. The meter on billable hours just runs and runs.
The prosecutions included flying a lawyer back and forth from Toronto for every appearance, argument, trial date and what have you. Flights and hotels for a Toronto lawyer? Why? Are there no competent lawyers in Vancouver?
One notes that Peck was hired by the same Toronto lawyer a few years back to deal with a matter involving the Toronto Police. Apparently, scratching backs is accepted among lawyers when dealing with taxpayer dollars.
For the record, neither Richard Peck nor Mike Fenton, the Toronto lawyer who prosecuted three of the four cases, deigned to show up at the appeal hearing. Peck left it to his juniors. Perhaps he thought he’d lose the appeal?
But no victory for Kwesi Millington who spent the day in a jail cell. Just as he did the day the appeal was argued. A cop who was just doing his job was in a jail cell as his lawyer tried to argue common sense to a legal panel bereft of it.
I’m stunned. Offended. And a myriad of other things I probably cannot and should not say.
The YVR Four did nothing wrong. Yet two, the non-white ones by the way, were convicted and sentenced to jail for doing their jobs. My anger in this is palpable.
It’s very hard to go to jail in BC if you are a garden variety criminal charged with B&E, theft, assault, rape, robbery etc. But a cop doing his job? Two years is the standard apparently. And the BC Court of Appeal is okay with that.
Personally, I’m disgusted.
Police are often called to do things that are remarkable and courageous. Mostly it goes unnoticed and unrecognized.
In the wee hours of the morning on May 31st, a homeless man was camped out on the banks of the Fraser River in Maple Ridge, BC. He heard a loud engine roar and then saw a man in the water. He assumed it was a jet ski accident and went to a nearby 7-11 to call police.
Members of the Ridge Meadows Detachment responded to the call near Port Haney. They picked up the complainant and took him to the river to show them where he had seen the man.
The RCMP officers saw a man partially submerged just offshore. They tried to form a human chain to get the man but couldn’t quite reach him. One member, with a little over 5 years service, took off his duty gear and waded into the rushing river. He managed to get to the man and got him to shore. The man wasn’t breathing and the officers called for paramedics and began CPR. Unfortunately, their efforts and those of responding paramedics were not successful.
The officers returned to the detachment and completed their reports and went off duty at 7 a.m. But their night was not over.
The watch commander did as he was required and notified the IIO. At 9 a.m. the off duty members were called back to the detachment and told that their actions would be the subject of an IIO investigation. They were told to copy their notes and surrender their uniforms and kit by detachment investigators apparently under instruction by the IIO who took care and control of the body for autopsy.
The IIO has yet to officially assert jurisdiction in the matter, but are interviewing witness officers and as I write this, the members involved will be interviewed by IIO investigators today.
Now, I don’t know where this will end up, but, as I wrote in this space two weeks ago in two other matters where the IIO asserted jurisdiction in cases where police performed CPR on two people in medical distress, this is nuts.
The IIO was set up to be civilian oversight for police in use of force incidents. How or why the IIO seems to think they should be involved in incidents like this is beyond me. They simply should have read the watch commander’s report and said this doesn’t concern us. But they didn’t.
The officers involved were heroic. Whatever caused this man to be in the water at that time of night is under investigation by Ridge Meadows RCMP as it would be for any sudden death investigation. Why the IIO would insert themselves into this situation is flat out mystifying. The officers don’t deserve the stress of what they’re about to go through. They should get medals.
Ridge Meadows RCMP publicly aren’t commenting. They did confirm a fatality to me when I called but said they would not be issuing a press release, presumably because the IIO have control of the investigation and they insist any public comment must come from them.
Being a cop is a tough job. It’s made even tougher by the IIO for no good reason. This appears to be nothing more than the IIO trying to justify their existence.
My guess is that they will come to the inevitable conclusion that the members did nothing wrong and they will release jurisdiction. But seriously, why are they wasting their time and putting these officers through the stress of interviews, having their uniforms seized and all that goes with it?
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the IIO as it is constituted, is fatally flawed and an enemy of police. This is yet another example.
On May 16th, 2016, the Independent Investigations Office released a media announcement saying they had cleared the Transit Police officer engaged in fatally shooting a knife-wielding man in the Safeway in Whalley, BC which occurred on Dec. 28, 2014. What could possibly have taken so long in what was, by all accounts, a cut and dried police use of force?
Yes, there were a lot of witnesses, but this should make the job easier. Additionally, there was CCTV footage that allowed the IIO to track the armed suspect’s movements throughout the store and, as well, the police movements from start to finish.
Both officers gave clear statements to IIO investigators which was corroborated by civilian witnesses, forensic evidence and CCTV footage. What does it take for Richard Rosenthal to accept that the police acted appropriately? What could possibly take so long? This should have been done and dusted in weeks not 16 months.
The problem is that Rosenthal, the Chief Civilian Director, believes his role is to gather evidence to prosecute police, not to find the truth.
On the heels of this, on May 20th, the IIO announced they were conducting a review of their own investigation into the shooting of an armed suspect at the Starlight Casino in November, 2012. This investigation led to the charge of second degree murder against Delta Police Constable Jordan McWilliams, of which much has been written in this space. The charge was stayed last summer nearly 3 years after the incident. It should have never been laid in the first instance.
This is ironic isn’t it? The IIO was formed because the government believed that the police shouldn’t investigate themselves. Yet, somehow we are supposed to trust the IIO to investigate themselves when their deeply-flawed investigation resulted in a charge against a police officer doing his duty and doing so courageously.
On Monday, the IIO responded to another police shooting, this one in Vancouver. Again, a knife-wielding suspect, clearly disturbed and clearly dangerous. And again, this appears to be a cut and dried use of force incident. But, given the IIO’s performance history they will likely drag this out for months and months.
How clear cut? Let’s take a look.
At midday, a visitor from Edmonton, Bill Whatcott, was in Vancouver visiting his dad. He walked out of the McDonald’s at Hastings and Cassiar in east Vancouver. He noticed a car fire and two female VPD officers in the parking lot. He didn’t think too much of it but took a photo of it anyway. Here’s the photo:
As he was taking photos of the fire, a man suddenly appeared on the scene. Here’s the next photo. You can seen the man has what appears to be self-inflicted wounds to his abdomen and a knife clenched in his fist.
The officer sees the knife and draws her weapon. The suspect then charges at the officer wielding the knife. This photo shows the moment before the shot was fired. Whatcott described it as a “death charge.” If you note the officer’s position in the above photo then in this one, it’s clear she was backing away from the man as he charged.
The officer fired a single shot which took down the suspect.
Here you see the officer holding her weapon on the downed suspect, maintaining a distance and yelling at him to stay down as her partner comes to assist. You can see the car fire still burning in the background.
Finally, other officers arrive along with paramedics and begin medical treatment.
The man was taken to hospital with gunshot and stabbing injuries, the latter presumably self-inflicted and the police continue to investigate the incident. VPD later said the burning car was associated with the suspect.
This appears to be as clean an officer involved shooting as you will see. Yet, the IIO will do what they do in their bubble to try and figure out what the officer did wrong to try and bring some sort of prosecution.
Whatcott posted online after the incident saying, “Anyways, please pray for the officer and subject involved. I found this was traumatic for me. How much worse for them……”
Indeed. And how much more traumatic is it for the officer involved to have something like this hang over her head for months and months wondering if the IIO will fabricate something for which she may be charged criminally?
I don’t have a problem with civilian oversight of the police. I do have a problem with the philosophy of the IIO as it is constituted. Rosenthal looks at things 16 days to Sunday trying to figure out if something an officer has done is an offence against any statute not just the criminal code or the Police Act. What the IIO should be doing is looking for the truth and whether police actions were appropriate or not, considering all the circumstances and in doing so, conduct a competent and timely investigation. If, in the process, evidence emerges that an officer used excessive force, then so be it, bring a charge. Every police officer is authorized to use force in the execution of their duty, but is criminally responsible for any excess thereof. Emphasis on excess.
As a former homicide investigator said to me on this one, “I could do this file from my sofa.” Yet this will take the IIO months and months. And given their history thus far, neither the public nor the police should have any confidence it will be either competent or timely.
Tomorrow, Friday, May 13th, is Catherine Galliford’s last day as a member of the RCMP. She will officially be pensioned off the staffing rolls. It comes ten years after she left the office for the last time and being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Galliford is well known in BC from being the face of the RCMP for many years as a Media Liaison Officer (MLO) from her days in Coquitlam, to the Pickton serial killer investigation during the long days of searching his pig farm for DNA evidence in the 65 plus Missing Women’s case that dominated headlines nationally and internationally. She was also the spokesperson for the RCMP when the Air India terrorist attack case was being prepared for trial and during the prosecution.
She was a poster child for RCMP recruiting. Attractive, fit and female.
She’ll retire with a Corporal’s pension and whatever big number in cash the RCMP had to come up with to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit filed back in the Spring of 2012. She fired the first shot in the Fall of 2011 in the war against the misogynist culture in the RCMP when she used her profile to go public about it all.
The RCMP denied everything of course. But they did settle last week for a big number because there is no possible chance the RCMP brass wanted to test her evidence in open court. Not in this lifetime or the next.
Her allegations made against three senior RCMP officers, a Force doctor and a member of the Vancouver Police Department were explosive. Her standing up against the Force encouraged many others to come forward including a class action lawsuit that has been launched involving over 400 female members at last count.
The RCMP brass did what they always do in cases like this. They deny, try to blame the complainant, then they try to trash the complainant, drag their feet, delay and more delay, try and force the aggrieved person to drop it because their pockets aren’t as deep as the federal government and in the end, instead of testing the evidence in a court of law, they settle for a big bag of taxpayer’s dollars. All, they would say if they actually gave a comment after the settlement, which they did not, would be to protect the reputation of the RCMP. The unwritten rule in the RCMP, is, whatever else you may do, don’t tarnish the buffalo, referring to the buffalo head at the centre of their logo.
I have long said the RCMP is 143 years of tradition unhampered by progress. And I say that as a former member and a member of the RCMP Veteran’s Association. And they proved that again in the Galliford case.
When one files a lawsuit, one files a statement of claim. The defendant files a statement of defence. Lawyers for each side hold discoveries of pertinent witnesses and either a settlement is agreed or the matter goes to trial.
Galliford was forced to participate in 11 discoveries. There were lawyers in the room representing the federal government, individual members, the provincial government, the Attorney General and, well you get the idea. The only lawyer in the room who wasn’t being paid by various governments was Barry Carter who Galliford was paying out of her life savings. She lost her house in the process and had to move in to her mom’s basement. Despite all of this she persevered and survived somewhat intact. And good for her I say.
In Galliford’s case, she wasn’t talking about a fellow constable slapping her butt or making a ribald joke. No, nothing like that. These were her bosses, older men in positions of power who did their level best to get her into bed. And, in her words, “When they are trying to get into your pants it becomes an obsession. It seems to consume them.”
The worst example of it was an Inspector, at the time in charge of a different section, who managed to ingratiate himself into the Air India file and begin travelling to, ostensibly, meet with family members of the victims and demanding she travel along. Now, there is no earthly reason in a file like that, that the MLO should travel all over Hell’s half-acre with a ranking officer to meet with family members of victims. No, this was just another case of a lecherous man in a position of power manipulating a situation to try and get her into his hotel room.
On one trip to Montreal, they were having dinner when – surprise – they were met at the restaurant by another, more senior officer, also from BC, who, during the conversation, suggested they re-convene at one of that city’s nefarious strip clubs. Needless to say Galliford declined and she returned to her hotel room, alone.
It’s shocking really. Galliford knew she had to, in her words, “play along to a point”.
“I knew that, for my career sake, I had to play along to a point. If I went to anyone to complain about it I knew I would be the one who was destroyed. So I tried to out-maneuver them,” she said to me earlier today.
By the time she left work she said, “If another officer asked me to sit on their lap I was going to become homicidal.”
The worst part of all of this is that everyone knows, they snigger and giggle but they condone it. The RCMP came to allow women in the fold rather late in the game. I was in Regina training in 1975 and only the second female troop was going through then. In contrast, VPD had female officers for decades before that.
But that doesn’t excuse the culture of the RCMP. Bob Paulson became Commissioner shortly after Galliford went public with all of this. He has mouthed all the pat phrases, all the platitudes saying there is no place for harassment and bullying in the workplace. Yet he, as Commissioner, is bullying the entire membership in ending the members’ advocates, the Staff Relations Representative program, by decree, and instituting something called the Members Workplace Advisors program. SRR’s had privilege in that anything members told them could be kept confidential in perpetuity. Not anymore.
The SRRs are done as of May 16th. The new program was initiated on May 9th. No consulting, just Commissioner’s decree. And the SRR’s have been ordered not to speak out. After all, no one may tarnish the buffalo.
As for Galliford, I wish her well. I have known her since 1997 when she was the MLO in Coquitlam Detachment. When I spoke to her earlier today she had an upbeat tone I hadn’t heard from her in years. I hope she is able to heal and be satisfied that she fought the bastards and won.
I know the Independent Investigations Office is struggling to demonstrate any relevance in their existence. I also know that they have demonstrated a significant level of incompetence since their error-laden launch in September of 2012 with the demonstrable lack of leadership displayed by the crusading Richard Rosenthal who seems to believe that virtually everything police do may somehow bear some criminal responsibility.
But, to demonstrate how absolutely redundant the IIO is, and, how utterly wrong-headed their construction and their raison d’être is, one only need to look at two cases in the past two weeks.
In strikingly similar circumstances, one on Saltspring Island and the latter in Abbotsford, BC last night, police responded to calls of a fight. When they arrive on scene they find unresponsive males. In the first, on Saltspring, RCMP officers arrived to find an injured, unresponsive male being administered CPR by two civilians, one of whom had non-life threatening injuries himself. Hmmm.
The RCMP officers took over the administering of CPR until paramedics arrived. The man later died in hospital.
Last night in Abbotsford, police arrive to find an unresponsive male at the scene of a reported brawl. They begin life-saving CPR until paramedics and fire responders arrive who take over the ministrations. Again, the man is pronounced dead in hospital.
The IIO will try and say they have asserted jurisdiction because technically, both were deaths in police custody. The obvious question is: in custody for what?
Both men were engaged in an altercation of some sort. The police were called in each case. They respond and find, in both cases, injured men in cardiac distress. In both cases the police administered CPR, albeit in one, they continued CPR started by citizens. In the other they initiated the CPR.
Now, we have to remember that the IIO, as explained by both Rosenthal and his chief investigator, John Larkin, believe their job is to gather evidence to prosecute police officers rather than to find the truth. An interesting and very telling parsing of words.
One fails to see what possible criminal behaviour police may have committed by trying to save two men’s lives. Seriously, what happens the next time a police officer finds someone in cardiac distress? Do they stand back and simply call paramedics knowing that any attempt to save someone’s life may result in their being read a caution saying, anything and everything they say may be given in evidence in a prosecution?
Or maybe they do exactly that and Rosenthal and his merry band of clowns say that by not doing anything they ‘MAY’ be guilty of criminal negligence even though it was the actions of the IIO in these two cases that caused them to not do anything.
The mind boggles at the stupidity of all of this.
At its full strength, the IIO has about two dozen investigators of dubious expertise. They are so short-handed because of Rosenthal’s leadership, or lack thereof, they have had nine newly hired “investigators” at the JIBC in the past month. But they don’t actually participate in police training. They only watch actual police officer recruits going through training.
One supposes the so-called leadership thinks monitoring actual training will actually prepare investigators to investigate serious incidents. Why they think that, one can only guess.
The other interesting aspect of this, is that had those officers, who tried in vain to save two men’s lives not been wearing a badge and a gun, they would have been covered by the Good Samaritan laws which exempt members of the general public from any sort of liability they might otherwise incur in a similar situation. But, because they’re cops, they have found themselves in the sights of the IIO.
Yes, this is ridiculous. Yes, it is the result of a plethora of errors by this government. But, yes, some good cops are going to go through the worry and rigours of being investigated criminally for trying to do their jobs and save some lives.
If you weren’t offended before, you now should be.
On March 14th the Criminal Justice Branch of BC announced there would be no charges laid against an off duty RCMP member who was involved in a traffic collision in Coquitlam in April 2015.
Without going into much detail, the officer was heading eastbound and the other driver was heading northbound on a cross street with a stop sign he ignored and turned left right in the path of the oncoming officer.
The IIO’s crack investigators sprung into action. A traffic reconstruction expert was called. This expert estimated the officer’s vehicle was travelling 45 KPH at the time of collision. The IIO had the Event Data Recorders (EDR) downloaded. They showed the officer was doing 59 KPH prior to the collision and 57 KPH at the time of collision.
The EDR’s also showed the other driver only slowed to 14 KPH when he went through the stop sign and began to turn left into the path of the oncoming officer’s car.
Clearly the officer had nothing to do with causing the collision. But, the Acting Chief Civilian Director, Clinton J. Sadlemyer, who you may remember from last November when I wrote this For Fawkes sake, forwarded the report to the CJB suggesting a charge be considered. Really? For speeding? For 7 kms over the 50 KPH limit?
In order to prove the charge against the officer, they would have had to call the engineer who designed the system to establish it was accurate, the guy who actually installed it in that car to prove it was working correctly, and the person who downloaded the EDR to prove it was done correctly. All to establish a charge of speeding that is so minimal it is inside the tolerance zone of traffic cops with laser or radar devices.
And, at what cost? Is there no one at the IIO with an ounce of common sense?
And what about the driver who actually caused the accident that actually resulted in the injuries he suffered? I have no idea. I can’t, officially, even get the name of the so-called “Affected Person.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Four days later the CJB announced there would be no charges against two Burnaby RCMP officers in a case where they, responding to a disturbance call, were attacked by a man who was 6’5, 300 lbs. who had been drinking heavily, taking crack cocaine and meth.
During the fight with three Mounties, joined in by two civilians trying to help the police, a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) was deployed twice with “no discernible effect.” The fight continued on the ground and one officer got folded under the big man and “feared for her life.” Together the five of them managed to get handcuffs on him after a lengthy ground fight.
Once handcuffed the big man became unconscious. Paramedics were called and after 45 minutes of resuscitation efforts, the big man was pronounced dead.
In comes the IIO.
The autopsy report showed the man died from “the combined effects of cocaine toxicity, means of restraint, and cardiomegaly (an enlarged heart.)”
The report further stated: “An enlarged, dilated heart can predispose a person to cardiac arrhythmias and sudden collapse, which may be precipitated by a stressful situation such as confronting means of restraint.”
The toxicological report showed “cocaine and alcohol together with their by-products including cocaethylene, a toxic product formed after the use of cocaine and alcohol.“ The report further stated: “A person under the influence of cocaine is prone to sudden death, and means of restraint applied at the same time will more likely than not further increase the physical/mental burden by increasing stress and/ or restricting breathing (such as in the case of a morbidly obese individual in a face-down position with hands to the back).” (Think Eric Garner in New York.)
In other words, the police had nothing to do with the death of the man. He did it to himself in what he imbibed and then he attacked the police who were called to deal with his erratic and violent behaviour by the residents who eventually assisted in securing the big man.
One of the civilians interviewed by the IIO said, “Nobody did anything wrong. Nobody did anything that shouldn’t have been done. I’m pretty sure we were all in fear of him getting up.” He also said “I’m telling you right now if we didn’t come in there, I’m
pretty sure it would have been a hell of a lot worse.”
The other civilian said, ”I couldn’t stop him. I tried to. I thought I could hold him ‘cause he come (sic) and grab hold of me and I thought … he was going to kill me…I was f****n’ scared. To be honest with you, I was petrified.”
So, we have a man out of control who is big enough that it took five adults, three RCMP officers and two civilians, to control and secure the violent man. That he died in the process is certainly not intended. Simply stated, he was the author of his own misfortune. The police just did their job in trying circumstances.
But in the upside down world of Richard Rosenthal, they must have. So, he submits a Report to Crown Counsel suggesting that because the RCMP officers initially refused to take the handcuffs off the man they somehow contributed to his death.
Which is, of course, stuff and nonsense. After the fight the Mounties didn’t know why he was unconscious and were concerned about what might occur if he gained consciousness again. Perfectly reasonable. And ultimately what was concluded by the CJB nearly two years after the fact.
Never one to accept the police acted appropriately, Rosenthal then issued a release saying despite what CJB decided, he had referred the matter the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for their review.
This circus never ends.