Crime & Punishment

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Posts Tagged ‘British Columbia

IIO complaint nothing but sour grapes

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The news release issued by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) on Wednesday is instructive and unique. Not in the fact they announced that the VPD officer involved in a fatal shooting in April, 2015 would not face any criminal charges, but for the way the report ended.

The incident itself took more than 14 months for the IIO to determine the officer did nothing wrong. Albeit, that’s a few months quicker than their average and frankly, given the circumstances, about a year longer than it should have taken any competent investigator.

I don’t say that lightly. Let’s look at the circumstances. VPD received multiple 9-1-1 calls about a man with a knife who had stabbed two people in the 400 block of Gore on the Downtown Eastside. Three officers responded from close by, one equipped with a shotgun and beanbag rounds, a non-lethal use of force option.

The first officer, armed with his duty pistol and the officer with the shotgun immediately located the suspect armed with a bloody knife. The VPD members challenged the man pointing their weapons and yelling, “drop the knife, drop the knife.”

Three beanbag rounds were fired which struck the suspect and had no effect. The suspect then charged at the officer with what one civilian witness later described as a “bull charge.” The beanbag weapon was fired again and again with no apparent effect. That officer later said, “I thought he was going to stab me.”

Several shots were then fired by the other officer which momentarily doubled over the suspect. But it didn’t drop him. He then ran across the street to a parkade entrance at a church where a passerby female was bent over to pick a $20 bill she had dropped. Without warning the suspect attacked and stabbed the woman several times. The officer chasing then shot the suspect several times. He fell down, dead, on top of the woman he was stabbing.

Police had to pull the assailant off the woman to get her out from underneath to begin first aid. She later told IIO investigators, “I’d like to thank that cop that killed him. Because without him getting that lucky shot I wouldn’t be here right now.”

The IIO were called in as protocol requires. They interviewed three “Witness Officers” and 17 civilian witnesses. With all but some small exceptions, as one would expect, the witness accounts coincided and was corroborated with other associated gathered evidence including area video, recorded radio transmissions and 9-1-1 recordings.

The law is very clear when giving police the right to use lethal force and from this set of circumstances it would seem a textbook, righteous shoot.

But nothing is ever cut and dried with the IIO. This leads us back to what made the press release remarkable.

After the usual statement and case synopsis came this: “All firearm discharges resulting in death or serious harm are the subject of an automatic administrative review by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.  As such, this incident is subject to review by that office. In addition to this, the CCD will be forwarding a complaint to the OPCC regarding the failure of two of the involved officers to write any duty-to-account report relating to this incident.”

“This case appears to be an example of a pattern of problems with respect to subject officers involved in critical incidents in British Columbia failing to prepare timely duty to accounts or notes of their involvement in incidents.”

The Chief Civilian Director (CCD), the almost outta’ here Richard Rosenthal, apparently is all pissy because designated subject officers are no longer filing duty to account reports or copies of their notes. Well, he has only himself to blame.

Because he saw the role of the IIO to gather evidence to prosecute police officers and demonstrated that attitude with the incredible overreach in bringing a murder charge against Delta Cst. Jordan MacWilliams and others like Cranbrook Cst. Rick Drought. Charges were ultimately dropped but not after putting the affected officers through hell.

When the BC Chiefs and the RCMP agreed to the original Memorandum of Understanding, they believed the IIO would conduct professional, unbiased investigations to determine the truth of any incident. But that’s not what they got. And now it seems, they have finally realized it.

In a nutshell, the various unions, agencies and the RCMP have obtained legal opinions which essentially say that police officers are Canadians first and police officers second. They may avail themselves of the Charter of Rights & Freedoms just like anyone else. The Charter supersedes all other statutes including the BC Police Act. And why Rosenthal’s pathetic complaint will go no where.

If you know someone is looking to criminally charge you, why help them? It’s a fundamental principle of our constitution and the police have now decided to fight back against the IIO’s nonsense. Fairness is all the police wanted, but that’s not how the IIO operate. So, now the battle is on.

And it’s not just the police unions driving this bus. Senior management are on board. So too, surprisingly, are the RCMP.

In an 8 page memo dated August 16th, the RCMP directed Liaison Officers (officers assigned to facilitate between the agency and the IIO in an investigation) not to provide “compelled notes, statements or reports to the IIO.”

Cudos to seniour management of the RCMP to back their members. Trust me, it’s rare when  that happens.

In my opinion, the IIO, as it is currently constituted and operating in the manner it has, needs to be completely re-thought by the government. Their mandate should be to conduct professional, unbiased investigations to find the truth. If the truth leads to a criminal charge against a police officer then so be it. Every police officer knows they are responsible for their actions. But that’s a far cry from the IIO’s attitude, as stated by their Director of Investigations John Larkin, “We start out believing they are guilty and work from there.”

Rosenthal is firing a parting shot with this complaint to the OPCC. It’s just sour grapes from a man who failed utterly.

He had the opportunity to create a first class police oversight agency. It isn’t and he didn’t. A career bureaucrat has been appointed as interim CCD while headhunter PFM Executive Search looks for someone to take over this mess. Whoever that will be will have to dismantle a flawed culture and start over. If not, the chasm between the police and the IIO will grow wider.

Neither the citizens of BC nor the police who serve them should be satisfied with that.

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

September 4, 2016 at 12:36 am

IIO’s actions a mystery – again

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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.

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Leo Knight

@primetime crime

 

Written by Leo Knight

June 1, 2016 at 5:54 pm

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Shooting investigation should be cut & dried

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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:

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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.

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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.

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The officer fired a single shot which took down the suspect.

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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.

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Finally, other officers arrive along with paramedics and begin medical treatment.

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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.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

May 27, 2016 at 6:22 pm

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When will RCMP brass ever learn?

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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.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

May 13, 2016 at 2:50 am

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The IIO is struggling to be relevant

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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.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

May 3, 2016 at 3:33 am

Despite charges stayed, more questions remain in Starlight Casino case

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The announcement yesterday by the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) in BC outlining that second degree murder charges against Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams were stayed and the accompanying explanation did little to clarify why charges were laid in the first instance. In fact, it speaks more to the incompetent investigation done by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO). Or perhaps something more nefarious.

In the media release the CJB attached an 8 page document they called “Clear Statement.” Well, it was anything but.

In it, CJB says as a result of the charge being laid, Crown prosecutors conducted “exhaustive” interviews with police officers at the scene at the Starlight Casino on November 8, 2012 and this led them to the conclusion that this case did not meet the charge approval standard in the province.

Well, in the first instance, doesn’t this really say that the investigation conducted by the IIO was sub-standard? Why wouldn’t they have surfaced this information during their interviews? Information such as the suspect’s finger was on the trigger when the gun in his hand moved to horizontal? Information such as there were other officers who had moved their fingers from the finger guard to their own triggers and would have also shot had MacWilliams not shot first?

These are no small matters. The information from the witnesses didn’t change. It’s more likely IIO investigators never asked the right questions. Why then, becomes the next question. Was it the incompetence of the investigators or perhaps, they were trying to come to the conclusion they wanted no matter the truth? Either is a possibility knowing what I know about the IIO.

Whatever the answer to these questions it is very clear that the CJB should not have approved the charge in the first place. None of the circumstances changed, nor has the standard to be met for the charge approval system. It seems to me that for all the reasons outlined by the CJB in their “Clear Statement,” that is exactly why the charge never should have been laid.

The matter of what the officer perceived the threat to be when he made the decision to use lethal force is paramount to the charge. If other officers had the same perception of the threat as did MacWilliams, then clearly no charge should have been laid.

Another aspect in this that is badly explained by the CJB is the reaction time from threat perceived to shots fired. This is known as “perception, processing and action.” Police are trained to minimize the time between perception and action, but it still exists. In this case the time delay was .49 of a second. A blink of an eye. Yet somehow, this became a salient issue in the decision to charge MacWilliams.

Retired Vancouver Police homicide investigator Bob Cooper was incredulous as he read the document especially as it glossed over this aspect. He said via email yesterday, “Any Use of Force expert worth his salt knows this and would have pointed it out in his report because it explains the differences in the perceptions of not just PC Mac Williams but a number of his colleagues as well as opposed to what is seen in the video.”

There are many more questions than answers in this and one hopes the CJB would answer them. But they won’t. They cannot be held accountable for anything they do except by the minister responsible and I have never seen any minister tread that path. The IIO report to the Deputy Minister responsible for the CJB, so again, while there are many questions to be answered in this by the IIO, but that too, seems unlikely.

Charging this officer with murder in these circumstances was an incredible over reach by the IIO and the CJB. Yesterday they stepped back from that over reach and did the right thing. But, they never should have been in this position in the first place.

Jordan MacWilliams was elated yesterday when he got the news from his lawyer David Butcher. This nightmare is finally over for him and he can go back to the job he loves, protecting and serving the citizens. I hope though, for his sake, that his emotional self can recover from the stress and damage done to his psyche by being put through this gut-wrenching experience. Not the shooting. He has said that were he to do it all over, he would do the same thing. For him, the critical thing was that he and his colleagues were able to go home to their families that night.

I mean, of course, going through the experience of being charged for murder when all he did was his job in trying and exigent circumstances. I truly wish him well. And I also truly hope that the CJB, the government, the IIO and the public of British Columbia has learned much from this sordid chapter in our province’s history.

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Leo Knight
@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

July 15, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Public, police deserve to know why charge laid against cop

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Last week the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) in Victoria released a statement saying that no charges would be approved in a case involving a relatively minor motor vehicle accident. That isn’t surprising, based on the facts where a female RCMP member was trying to effect a traffic stop and a motorcyclist coming in the opposite direction dumped and the rider suffered a broken leg.

The IIO investigation tried to allege that it was due to the mountie, who had lights and siren activated, had somehow contributed to the accident and therefore would have been charged with something like drive without due care and attention. Which, of course, is nonsense and so said the CJB.

But what was interesting to me was the media release was six pages long and 3,134 words explaining why they were not going to charge the police officer. Yet, in the case of Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams who was charged with second degree murder, the media release consisted of a single page and was 414 words in length and said absolutely nothing about why this extraordinary charge was laid against an ERT officer doing his job at an armed hostage taking situation.

The last media release by the CJB was on January 14 in a case where the IIO tried to get charges laid against two dog handlers in incidents where the suspects were bitten in the course of the arrest. In that release, also announcing no charges would be laid, the CJB made the announcement in 4,144 words.

In the one before that, on Dec. 23, 2014, the CJB announced no charges in the case of an Abbotsford police officer who made an arrest during which the suspect suffered a broken finger.The CJB used 3,357 words for that particular announcement.

Lots of talk about why no charges would be laid in relatively minor incidents but precious little in a singular case where a charge of murder was laid against a police officer engaged in the execution of his duty. This makes no sense. If the public deserves to know why a charge wasn’t laid, surely it is entitled to know why a charge was laid.

Equally, the police community needs to know. As it stands now in the MacWilliams case the thousands of police officers in BC don’t know why MacWilliams was charged when for all appearances he did the job he was paid to do on that fateful day in November, 2012.

In not telling them why, the CJB risks the possibility of a police officer hesitating, second-guessing what he or she is doing instead of following their instinct and training. That hesitation could cost someone their life.

In December the President of the BC Police Association, Tom Stamatakis, had this to say on the subject of a police officer being charged with murder in the execution of his or her duty: “The expectation is that police officers respond proactively to protect the public, if in responding proactively we are going to now face these kinds of charges, I worry that police officers will hesitate to intervene in circumstances like these, and if they do hesitate than that means the safety of the public is at risk.”

He went on to say that the charge against Macwilliams was “absolutely unconscionable.”

I have to agree with Stamatakis but it is equally unconscionable not to tell the public or the policing community why this is being done.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

February 10, 2015 at 9:55 pm

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