Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Posts Tagged ‘cops

ISIS fighter more important to Canada than Canadian cops in Cuba

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For seven months two Vancouver area police officers have been detained in Cuba facing an allegation of rape made by a fellow Canadian tourist. They were held in jail for seven days and once released were told they cannot leave the country as the investigation ran its course. 

During that period of time, no one from the Canadian Embassy in Havana bothered to go to see them. The only contact they had was with a consular official in Matanzas who sympathized with them and allowed them to make phone calls to family in Vancouver, but was not able to offer much more than that.

Last week we learned that Canadian officials from Global Affairs Canada were communicating with a former ISIS fighter dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the British media. He isn’t Canadian, he is British born but has a connection to Canada via one of his parents. 

Jihadi Jack’s real name is Jack Letts, a Muslim convert born in Oxford in 1995 to a Canadian organic farmer father, Jack and a British mother, Sally.  

In September 2014 Jihadi Jack travelled to Syria. In 2016, The Sunday Times reported that he told his parents that he had joined ISIS. He has since stated that he travelled to the Middle East “to search for the truth” and that he never really joined ISIS.  He does say he went to Syria “To spread the religion of Allah and to help Muslims.” He married a local girl after he adopted the name Abu Mohammed and they had a child. 

After the fall of ISIS Jihadi Jack was taken prisoner by the Kurdish forces who were at the forefront of the fight with ISIS. The UK said he forfeited his right to assistance because of his ties to ISIS. Because of his Canadian parentage, for whatever reason, the Canadian government has taken over the case. In fact, Global Affairs Canada has reached out to him proactively and saying in an email exchange, “If it would be possible, would you like to come to Canada?”

“I want to live a normal life. I want to come to Canada,” Jihadi Jack replied. This, despite the fact there is no evidence he has ever set foot in the country.

In the email exchange, the consular official explained that we don’t have consular operations in Syria but nevertheless they were working on it. 

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition raised the issue in the House of Commons in Ottawa with the Prime Minister. As with most things, the PM, Justin Trudeau gave a non-responsive answer to a simple question, saying his government “takes with the utmost seriousness the threats posed by traveling extremists.”

Well that was clear as mud. 

Meanwhile, back in Veradero, Cuba, two actual Canadians, serving police officers are being held in that country on a flimsy accusation that simply doesn’t stand up to the most cursory of examinations. The accuser’s story is nonsense and I suspect even the Cuban authorities have realized this and they have moved the goalposts in what they are saying the two officers did. Now, instead of dragging her over 500 metres from the pool bar to the resort, through the busy lobby, past a bar, coffee shop and up three flights of stairs, they are now saying they took advantage of a drunk female. They took a blood test from the accuser two days after the alleged event and somehow this is evidence of their accusation?

Well, this week the two officers finally heard from someone in Canadian consular operations. 

In that communication they acknowledge they are aware that a trial date has been set for October 25 which clearly tells us they have been in communication with the Cuban government. 

They also say there’s not much they can or will do other than monitor the situation. 

In the note, they say, “There are limitations to consular services. We are able to advocate for your fair and equal treatment under local laws. On your behalf we have asked the local authorities several times, through diplomatic channels to expedite the process, but they are under no legal obligation to do so.”

The note goes on. “Once a decision is rendered, depending on the result, you may be released and allowed to return to Canada or be incarcerated.” Well, thanks Captain Obvious.

After saying there is nothing they will do, they invited the two officers to a meeting which is to take place Thursday.  Evidently there will be officials in Ottawa and Miami dialled into the meeting where they will all say sorry, but you are at the mercy of the Cuban justice system. 

So, if I have this right, the Canadian government, which does not have consular operations in Syria, is doing whatever it can to get Jihadi Jack released from the custody of the Kurds. But in Cuba, where it does have consular operations, Global Affairs Canada is doing nothing to get two Canadian police officers released despite the nonsense allegations made against them. 

Canada is the largest supplier of tourists to the Cuban economy, more than 1.3 million a year. The next largest country is the US which provides a little more than 240,000 a year. I’d say that gives this country a little leverage with the Cuban government. 

Canada also gives Cuba a significant amount of foreign aid a year not to mention the too numerous to track federally-funded non-profits who work there helping their locals in all manner of ventures. 

It seems to me that some back-channel communications threatening their tourism and foreign aid would go a long way towards getting some justice for the two Canadian police officers unjustly accused by a sociopathic female. 

Meanwhile, the President of the US has, so far in less than two years, managed to get 17 American hostages released from places like North Korea and just last week, Turkey. If only Canada had a leader with the same testicular fortitude to take advantage of the leverage this country possesses. 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

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Written by Leo Knight

October 17, 2018 at 8:41 pm

Cops in Cuban paradise in living hell

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It was supposed to be a great week of fun in the sun, a week on the beach in Cuba, get out of the March rains in Vancouver and a much-needed respite from the stresses of the streets in the Lower Mainland for two cops. 

Mark Simms, 28, and close friend of 8 years, Jordan Long, 30, both have about six years law enforcement experience. Simms has been in Vancouver Police Department for over a year after spending years in Delta PD. Long spent years in Corrections before joining Port Moody Police Department about five years ago.  They lead clean lives spending most of their time keeping physically fit and working. 

The boys were sitting by the pool bar at their resort hotel having a few libations late in the afternoon they were approached by a female who was described as about 20 yrs old, 5’10” with a heavyset build. She started the conversation with the two holidaying officers by saying,”I just [expletive deleted] someone who looks like you.”

“I want more and I wouldn’t mind [expletive deleted] both of you,” said the female. 

After a bit of conversation, and, I might add, not accepting her generous offer, the boys excused themselves and got up to go back to their room to have their usual pre-dinner nap.  The girl followed. In the room Mark was laying on the bed nearest the washroom and Jordan went into the bathroom. The female followed and the boys were passive, not dismissing her. 

Once in the room, the female undressed and threw herself onto the bed with Mark while Jordan went into the bathroom. The girl then got out of bed, entered the bathroom, grabbed Jordan by the neck and tried to pull his face toward her in an effort to kiss him. He didn’t want anything to do with her and pulled away and went out onto the balcony.

Upset by Jordan’s rejection, the girl then climbed back onto the bed with Mark and, being a young, healthy, single male, consensual activity ensued. 

After the brief encounter, the female went out to the balcony and asked Jordan to help tie her bikini top. Jordan declined again, not wanting anything to do with her.  Unlike Mark, he was not available.

The female left shortly thereafter and the boys laid down to have a nap.  They were awakened by hotel security about 30 minutes later and taken downstairs where they heard “That’s them.” Police were then called and they had Jordan get his things. 

Without any explanation or reason given, they were taken to a police station in Santa Marta.  They were questioned separately in Spanish with only a Sunwing rep to translate, denied access to a lawyer and kept in cells for 7 days.

Jordan had managed to keep his cell phone secreted on him and when he had the opportunity he called the Canadian Embassy in Havana and his brother back in Vancouver. Meanwhile the girl was allowed to return to her home in Ontario. She did not give a formal statement where investigators could question her properly. 

Under Cuban law she doesn’t have to testify. Defence and prosecution counsel are supposed to be present during such a statement interview which is the only chance an accused, via counsel, can challenge the accuser. This legal procedure was not adhered to.

The only evidence they have seen is from a female accuser’s written statement, in which she stated she was dragged from the pool, through the busy hotel lobby to the boy’s room, where she claims she was held down by the neck and shoulders and raped. 

They have since learned the police did take a test for the blood alcohol level in the female  and it was .12, well over the legal limit in Canada. The only problem was the test was taken almost as an afterthought – 17 hours later. 

It is believed these 17 hours were unsupervised, demonstrating a severe lack of continuity between the alleged incident and the time the blood was taken. In other words there is no evidence of what her Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level was at the time of the events. 

Considering that alcohol dissipates in the body at approximately .01% per hour, that would mean that, at the time of the events, she would have had a BAC of somewhere around .32 – .35 which might kill the average person. 

So, something’s not right. The boys said she appeared sober at the time.

Now, I should add that the Cuban Police,  Policía Nacional Revolucionaria or PNR, are primarily made up of conscripts. In Cuba there is conscription for everyone over 16 into either the army or the PNR. That could explain how the initial stages of this investigation were so screwed up. How bad?

There is no evidence the police even checked the lobby CCTV cameras which would have shown whether the female was in fact dragged through the lobby and up the stairs or not.  There is no mention in the police file whether video was reviewed at all or even if it still exists. 

In any ‘He said/She said’ investigation corroboration is key. The video would have been the ultimate corroboration supporting either the complainant or the boys. As it stands, what was left to the police was to interview staff to see if anyone could remember an incident as described by the girl. No one noticed any such thing. 

Now you’d think that if the girl was telling the truth someone would have noticed two men dragging a girl, in broad daylight, some 500 metres from the pool, across the resort, through the lobby and up three flights of stairs to a room.  No staff member saw any such thing nor did any other guest in the resort at the time report any such thing to hotel security.

Equally, once hotel security woke up the boys they were kept apart and questioned separately.  They both gave a similar version of events which, in and of itself, is corroboration of their story. The police did not bother interview any of the female’s friends who were with her on the trip.

I should also add there was a medical exam of the girl that proved negative for any injuries to her body, signs of force or vaginal damage. The female had insisted that a condom not be used, however, Mark wore one anyway.

There is so much wrong with this case. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of competence in the PNR investigators. Government of Canada representatives have been in touch but thus far don’t seem to be doing much of anything. 

A retired senior RCMP officer with 30 years experience in major crimes and serious sexual assaults has seen the evidence. He said, “I’m horrified at the lack of investigative safeguards and the quality of evidence.”

The boys are not allowed to leave the island nation and are staying at a lower-rent hotel and their funds are dwindling. They families have been helping but there is only so much they can do.  

The pastor at the family’s church, Rev. Blake Field at the Wilson Heights United, has been to Cuba twice to see what he can do because he speaks Spanish. Based on his observations of the case file he is absolutely convinced the boys are innocent and has started a fundraiser to help them. 

He tried to start a GoFundMe page but that was shut down almost out of the gate. He ran into the same problem I had trying to raise money for RCMP Cst. Kwesi Millington.  

It’s been six months since these two young cops have been held prisoner on that Communist Island. 

In Cuban law an investigation takes however long it takes and until it’s complete, there they will sit, unsure if they will face criminal charges. 

Where the Canadian government is in all of this is unknown. Certainly, the Global Affairs Minister and the Public Safety Minister have been informed, but there’s no sign they have done anything. 

On top of all that, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner is saying they will face an investigation by their office should they be allowed to come back to Vancouver anytime soon.  The boys  said months ago they would not only welcome but encourage a fair and proper Canadian investigation they are certain will clear their names.

This whole thing stinks. At every level. I will keep tabs on this case and report as things proceed. 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

September 7, 2018 at 7:49 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Tagged with , , , ,

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

Outgoing IIO chief won’t be missed

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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.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

August 18, 2016 at 12:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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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

Posted in Uncategorized

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Shooting investigation should be cut & dried

with 8 comments

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

Posted in Uncategorized

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When will RCMP brass ever learn?

with 14 comments

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.

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

May 13, 2016 at 2:50 am

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