Posts Tagged ‘cops’
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.
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.
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.
The more time I spend looking into the case of the four RCMP officers who responded to a call to YVR in October, 2007 which resulted in the tragic death of Robert Dziekanski, the more it appears they were railroaded, or scapegoated if you will.
The YVR four have been put through the ringer in this, pawns in a political game of blame, cultural ass-covering by their employer, the RCMP, and ultimately had their lives changed utterly and their careers effectively ruined. And two of them still face perjury convictions that are at best, a flight of fancy. Yet, all they did to deserve this was their job.
Regular readers will know that I have said publicly that they responded according to the way they were trained. The question then becomes “why?”
The mess started with then Media Liaison Officer (MLO) Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre released information which contained some factual errors and extrapolations or assumptions he should not have said.
The problem is not specifically with some inaccurate information in the ‘fog of war’ and all that, provided to Lemaitre in his initial briefing. That can be corrected as more information came to light as the investigation progressed. The problem was that the RCMP knew at the time that it was inaccurate and stood mute. They then exacerbated the problem when the officer in charge of the section responsible for the investigation, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), Wayne Rideout, made a conscious decision not to correct the public record. That decision made it appear as though the RCMP had engaged in a cover-up with the release of the now infamous Pritchard video.
This, coupled with the public outrage over yet another death resulting from the use of a Taser, supposedly a non-lethal use of force, triggered the political knee-jerk that became the immensely expensive Braidwood Inquiry which led to another review by the Commission for Public Complaints (CPC) against the RCMP, which was also flawed, and ultimately to the formation of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO). Talk about a bad decision.
Now, I would never presume to understand the RCMP’s media relations strategy, but having had a foot in both camps over the course of my career I do come at this with a little knowledge. Had the RCMP come out at the time and said, “We’re sorry, but our MLO was given initial information which was later found to contain factual errors. We strive to be as accurate as possible but in rapidly unfolding investigations this sort of thing does occur from time to time and was in no way the fault of Sgt. Lemaitre.” and gone on from there, the matter would have died in the news cycle of a day or two.
But they didn’t. And then, in the wake of the flawed Braidwood Inquiry report and the report made with great fanfare by Paul Kennedy, Chair of the CPC, the then-Commissioner of the RCMP, the bombastic bureaucrat, William Elliott, doubled down.
He conceived of a strategy that the Force would provide “Operational Guidance” to each of the four members blaming them for essentially, acting too quickly. The “discipline” isn’t that actually. It came in the guise of Form 1004’s which are designed to be “at the time” opportunities for supervisors to provide guidance to subordinate officers. You know the sort of thing where a direct supervisor says “That might have been handled better if you had. . . “ The RCMP policy says: “All entries on form 1004 are considered official notes. Each entry must be discussed with the member at the time or the incident and the member should be requested to initial and date the entry.”
They are to be kept on the member’s file for a period of two years. Unfortunately, Elliott waited for 37 months to provide “at the time guidance.”
The first drafts of the 1004’s were even back-dated to 2007-10-14, the date of the incident at YVR. The one that actually was served on the members was dated 2010-11-26. I have seen copies of both.
The document was grieved by two of the four members and an Early Resolution (ER) discussion determined that the forms should be removed from all the members’ files.
But, what this was really all about was scapegoating the four so that the RCMP could say publicly they were “disciplined.”
They had a set schedule, everything timed to a fare-thee-well complete with talking points all set by Elliott. The brass at “E“ Division all smartly saluted and did their parts, emailing draft documents back and forth, making revisions, suggesting changes, but at the end, Elliott got his way and no one spared a thought, officially and publicly, for the four members at the sharp end.
I have seen many, if not most of the email traffic, the timing schedule and the talking points memo labelled, “Q&As on Discipline in the YVR Case.”
This went on for months and God knows how many hours of very expensive persons’ time to give the Commissioner the ability to use the word “discipline” in relation to the four members who responded to the violent actions of Dziekanski.
And the worst of it is even though the 1004’s were wrong-headed, they are not supposed to be used for “discipline,” but for guidance. And the senior members of the RCMP knew that info contained within the 1004’s was just plain wrong.
An email exchange took place on November 26, the date on the final 1004, between Assistant Commissioner Peter German, then the Lower Mainland Commander and Staff Sergeant Mike Ingles, the Staff Relations Representative. Says German, “Good talking to you Mike. Attached are the draft 1004’s…plse get back to me re your wishes. As indicated, I hope to have the final versions on Monday for service on Tuesday….tx…pete.”
Ingles replied, “Peter, I’m not going to get into the merit of a 1004, that is the right of the organization to provide guidance that is misguided. What these members can’t accept is statements that if they accept become integrity issues. (sic) They didn’t meet privately with anyone. They were in police buildings in full view of everyone from start to finish. They didn’t discuss or fabricate notes, statements, or anything resembling that. I would like to be a part of helping to conclude this, but there is no way these will be accepted. What you had in June was what was appropriate for a 1004: guidance. These are a media release consistent with Braidwood’s report. Everyone in policing knows that the response was not as good as it needed to be, including the members involved no doubt, but that it was a response within the parameters of training.”
Then there’s this. In an email addressed to many of the the senior RCMP management in BC of the day, including Gary Bass, then the Commanding Officer of BC, A/Comm. Darrell Madill, then in charge of Contract and Aboriginal Policing (CAP), said: “Good evening Peter (German), as discussed with the Commr I have prepared the 1004’s and attached them for you.”
“The only changes to the 1004’s from those provided by the Commissioner for our joint review the other day were the following:
- I amended the date to 2010-11-26 for each 1004
- I amended the last line in the first paragraph after the list of “deficiencies” in each 1004 to read “”It is critically important for the RCMP as a whole, other members and you an an individual to learn from mistakes and shortcomings and to make appropriate statements.” and
- In the Robinson 1004 “duty of care” for Mr. Dziekanski was referenced in the last line of both the 2nd last and last paragraph of the last page. I removed the second reference in the last paragraph so the repetition was eliminated.
Call if you have any questions.
(So, an Assistant Commissioner is admitting that the RCMP was going to back-date an official document and he decided not to at the last minute and they were all, up to that point, going along with it? Isn’t falsifying an official document illegal?)
To which Bass replied copying German and the Commissioner Elliott, “As discussed in our telecom I have been in touch with the POBC (The Government of the Province of British Columbia) and they are fully briefed. In discussion on the issue of “failures at several levels”, they agreed and added that the POBC could be added to that list, that the fact that policy was inadequate was everyone’s responsibility. I add this as I think it further strengthens my suggestion that a re-ordering of the various documents, as discussed, would be beneficial.
I am enroute (sic) Ottawa this AM for a meeting and will be back in BC tonight.
One might ask what in the world the wording of Elliot’s “discipline” has to do with the provincial government? One might. But clearly this whole thing was a sop to the government and conceived by Elliott.
Why then? Well, there was the matter of the multi-billion dollar policing contract that was due to expire in two years and the fact that the government had served notice on the RCMP that they intended to have the RCMP fall under the BC Police Act in any new contract negotiations, which I might add, incensed Elliott .
Is that what this is all about? Is that why these four police officers were put through the meat grinder when they were just doing their jobs? To ensure the government was happy so the RCMP would keep their contract?
It seems to me they define the word scapegoat.
In the wake of the madness in Ottawa, the words heroes and courage were being much bandied about. And as they should. We have all seen the video shot by the Globe & Mail reporter showing police officers with weapons drawn moving toward the sound of gunfire and then dozens of rounds being fired leaving Parliament’s attacker dead.
It is part of the job for police to move to danger while the rest of humanity instinctively moves away from it. On the face of that alone, courage is needed.
Two days before, a Delta police officer, Const. Jordan MacWilliams, was charged with 2nd degree murder resulting from an incident on Nov. 8th, 2012 at the Starlight Casino in New Westminster.
The charge is chilling.
MacWilliams at the time, was a member of the Integrated Municipal Emergency Response Team. They had been called to the casino after shots were fired and an agitated man was holding a woman hostage.
Police contained the scene and isolated 48-yr.-old Mehrdad Bayrami who was waving around a pistol. As the five-hour stand-off dragged on, police tried numerous things to bring an end to it, including negotiators and deploying a robot equipped with a phone in an attempt to start a dialogue.
A decision was made to try a non-lethal approach to arrest Bayrami using a ‘flash bang’ and Arwen guns, which fire large plastic projectiles. MacWilliams was designated “lethal” and positioned using an armoured police vehicle for cover. His job was to take the shot if the non-lethal approach went bad and the exposed officers were in jeopardy. This is a typical tactical deployment.
The flash bang went off and Bayrami jumped back, pistol in hand. At least one, if not both Arwen rounds missed the intended target and MacWilliams fired one shot hitting Bayrami who died nearly two weeks later in hospital.
It’s hard to see from that set of facts how this results in the incredibly rare charge of murder laid against a police officer doing his or her duty. I have only heard of two prior to this, both in Toronto.
Police are authorized in using lethal force if they perceive their life, or the life of another is in peril. In this instance MacWilliams was in the catbird seat in the turret and designated ‘lethal.’ What is critical is what was his perception of the danger faced. And we don’t know that because in the adversarial system created by the Independent Investigations Office, MacWilliams as the designated “subject officer,” declined to make a statement. Which, I might add, is his right and not atypical.
With this charge a chill has descended on all police officers, but most especially those on ERT squads. What might happen then, the next time they are in the catbird seat and designated lethal? If they hesitate because of this, a police officer might die needlessly.
There’s no doubt the IIO needed to get one “on the board” to justify their existence politically. Especially, given there is a Legislative Committee reviewing its efficacy currently and two separate probes that could prove embarrassing to the organization.
One probe is being conducted by a labour lawyer over concerns raised by a former investigator about the culture in the organization under the leadership of Richard Rosenthal. Allegations which were reported on extensively in The Province by Sam Cooper.
The other is an independent review, ironically first suggested by Cooper in a question to Rosenthal, to which he replied he would not do. That review, which Rosenthal ultimately did order under his authority in the Police Act, is reviewing the IIO’s first case, the shooting death of Greg Matters in Prince George in September 2012.
There have been allegations by a senior investigator about Rosenthal – of interference, mishandling of exhibits and altering the primary investigator’s report.
The problem with this review is that the reviewer’s report will be submitted to Rosenthal and he’s under no obligation to make it public. Which, of course, makes no sense whatsoever. How can an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct report back to the very person against whom the allegations were made?
The other curious detail about this case is that the Crown has opted to proceed against MacWilliams by direct indictment, a rare legal move. Proceeding by direct indictment is a tool used by the Crown, typically, for very complex cases. It was used, for example, in the prosecution of Jamie Bacon.
Direct Indictment eliminates the stage of the criminal process known as a preliminary hearing which, by design, tests the evidence against an accused and allows a Provincial Court Judge the opportunity to dismiss a case for a lack of, or insufficient, evidence to proceed with a full-blown trial. Why this police officer would be denied that process given the circumstances is puzzling indeed?
Neil MacKenzie, the Communication Counsel for the Criminal Justice Branch, issued a press release and then declined to offer any details on this incredibly rare case claiming it would not “be appropriate for CJB to release additional information or comment further at this time.”
A young police officer, with a young family, who made a judgement call in a high-stress circumstance and did what he felt was his duty is charged with second degree murder and neither he nor the public – nor frankly his colleagues still on the front lines – are entitled to know why?
On the day the charge was announced, Delta Chief Jim Cessford held a press conference on the steps of police headquarters. While in progress, many of the civilian staff saw what was going on and stood out on the steps to show support for MacWilliams.
That speaks volumes. Apparently in Ottawa you can be a hero for doing your duty but in British Columbia, doing your duty can get you charged with murder.