Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Posts Tagged ‘CJB

The circus never ends

with 7 comments

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.

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Advertisements

Written by Leo Knight

March 19, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

Despite charges stayed, more questions remain in Starlight Casino case

with 9 comments

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.

-30-

Leo Knight
@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

July 15, 2015 at 4:39 pm