Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Posts Tagged ‘investigation

Competence at heart of VPD / IIO court petition

with 14 comments

News broke yesterday that the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has filed a petition with the courts to try and force members of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) to cooperate with their investigators citing “obstruction” in the aftermath of a shooting which occurred in November at the Canadian Tire store on Grandview Highway in Vancouver. This is disingenuous in and of itself. The VPU has never said their members will not cooperate.

I have previously written about what happened that day. If you’re interested, you can read that piece here.

VPD Chief Constable, Adam Palmer, when he received a demand from the IIO that he order involved officers to cooperate and provide statements replied, on March 13, that he would be seeking legal advice. While he was in the process of doing that, the IIO filed the court petition, apparently not content with the Chief’s words and trying to force his hand. And with that, the battle lines are now drawn. Frankly, this was inevitable.

The IIO has been plagued with incompetence since its launch in September of 2012. I have outlined that incompetence in file after file in the intervening time. It has now gotten to the point that the Vancouver Police Union (VPU) has lost all faith in the IIO to conduct a competent investigation that they have picked this particular hill upon which to make a stand.

They want their members to have pre-interview disclosure to ensure whatever statement is made by any member will allow that individual to review CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) information, radio dispatch traffic and any CCTV video footage germane to the incident prior to talking to IIO investigators. If you want to understand why, you need only to consider the four RCMP officers who were involved in the taser death of Robert Dziekanski at YVR in 2007. Two of the four were convicted of perjury in what can only be described as a travesty of justice. (For more on that, click here)

The VPU wants their members to be able to avail themselves of as much information to ensure the accuracy of their statements in any IIO investigation. The IIO says no, they should rely on their memory and notes. In a situation such as occurred at the Canadian Tire store on that fateful day, as police were responding to first a robbery call, which escalated to a stabbing of a clerk, then a hostage taking, then an officer down, then shots fired, trust me, no one was making notes as they responded Code 3 to the scene.

As an aside, the IIO tried to manage the media coverage of this. In fact, the Vancouver Sun in their coverage said this: “A police officer was also hurt during the incident.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. The officer in question was stabbed multiple times by the suspect, Daniel Peter Rintoul, 38. Who, by the way, was a big man weighing in at over 380 lbs. The stabbed officer fired the first shot and fell to the pavement with his intestines hanging out. So, yes, I guess you could say he was “hurt” in the incident.

This is all about confidence on the part of the VPU that their members will be treated fairly and the investigation will be done in a competent and fair manner. Thus far, the IIO has proven its approach to investigations are anything but on both levels.

In this matter, the IIO was advised promptly, as required, by the Duty Officer. They ordered that all members on scene be held pending their arrival. There was more than 30 officers who responded ultimately to the escalating calls. It took the IIO more than five hours to arrive from their office in Surrey. Five hours. That’s a lot of police man hours standing around doing nothing instead of serving the citizens of the city they are paid to protect.

In point of fact, the IIO investigators tried to seize the uniforms and weapons of the ERT officers who responded even though they arrived after the shooting was done and the gun smoke had cleared. This in itself shows the incompetence. In the first place ERT officers weren’t there at the time. In the second place their weapons are high-tech and very personal, sighted in for and by each individual member. In the third place, VPD doesn’t have an armoury large enough to simply replace all of those weapons for however long it would have taken the moribund IIO to process whatever request they might have had for ballistics tests on weapons that weren’t used in the shooting. It’s madness.

The IIO then upped the ante for incompetence when they held an assembly for all involved officers at 2120 Cambie, police headquarters. They gave a Charter caution to everyone in the room and said they wanted to seize all laptops from police cars that attended the scene. Seriously.

Police laptops or mobile data terminals can communicate car to car and presumably the IIO wanted to ascertain whether any responding member had off-line communications which could be germane to their investigation. So, they actually wanted to seize dozens of laptops without considering what the VPD would use in the interim. The laptops are used to query criminal databases and write reports, stuff inherently needed by the police for virtually every call they take.

Common sense prevailed when the Duty Officer told them no in no uncertain terms.

A competent investigator would have simply attended EComm on Hastings Street where the computer servers are and had all communications downloaded from the server. Where, I might add, they would have to attend anyway to get the radio traffic for the incident downloaded from another server sitting right beside it.

This isn’t complicated stuff. Detective work rarely is, it’s methodical but it requires a level of competence and common sense and the ability to use critical thinking skills. Skills apparently lacking in the IIO and exactly why the VPU and Chief Palmer are taking the stand they are.

This will be interesting to watch and could dictate the fate of the current structure of the IIO moving forward. I only hope the provincial government is paying attention because this monster is their creation and only they can fix it.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

March 25, 2017 at 3:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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IIO missing the obvious, again

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On Thursday afternoon a robbery was attempted at the Canadian Tire store on Grandview Highway at Rupert in east Vancouver.  The suspect, Daniel Peter Rintoul, 38, a large white male, 6’1”, 380 llbs., allegedly stabbed a clerk in his 50’s then broke into a long rifle cabinet. Whether he retrieved  one or more rifles and ammunition depends on which reports you read.

What I do know is that on Friday I was contacted by Global TV reporter Rumina Daya to review  five minutes of citizen journalism video and to comment on it. Snippets of the video were broadcast on Global’s six o’clock news hour broadcast that evening. You can watch those reports here.

On the video you can see two VPD plainclothes officers attempt to arrest the large man as he exits the store. In the ensuing ground fight, the sort of wrestling match police officers everywhere get in on a regular basis, one of the officers clearly gets stabbed multiple times. He jumps up holding his abdomen, points his weapon at the big man and fires. His partner is extricating himself and in the video it’s not clear if he fired his weapon as well.

The stabbed officer then falls backward. A uniformed officer carrying a long-barrelled weapon trains his weapon on the downed suspect outside the kill zone of 20 feet.

The stabbed officer’s partner moves quickly to check on his downed partner, sees the wounds, quickly gloves up and begins first aid. The suspect can be clearly heard screaming numerous times, “Finish me off.” The officer with the long-barrelled weapon, keeps trained on the suspect and keeps his distance.

As the suspect is yelling and starts getting to his feet he lets off a blast of bear spray. You can clearly see the spray being released as he is yelling at the police to kill him. When he gets to his feet with an arm extended, likely with the knife used to stab two people so far, more shots are fired. Judging by the sounds I heard, it sounds like a short volley of C8 and 9mm suggesting another officer is present and fired but is not apparent from the viewpoint of the video shooter.

As the second volley of shots is being fired, the partner who was applying first aid to the stabbed partner, grabs the downed officer by his collar and drags him from the fray. The second volley of shots killed Rintoul.

The following day, VPD Chief Constable Adam Palmer told the assembled media that an elderly male hostage was taken by the suspect prior to exiting the store. Fortunately, that man managed to get away and wasn’t harmed. How isn’t entirely clear at this point. Perhaps that’s where the VPD injected themselves into the fray. On the video I viewed, that wasn’t clear.

But Palmer also said the following, “The actions of our officers were absolutely heroic. I’m very proud of the way they performed yesterday.” Good for the Chief because that is exactly what I saw on the video.

Palmer continued, “We tried to use the least amount of force possible to take him into custody, and when that was not possible, lethal force was used.”

And good on the Chief I say. It happens far too rarely that a senior police executive takes a stand backing his people at the sharp end of things. So far, I have seen that several times from this Chief.

As is the norm, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) was called in to investigate the actions of the police. While I harbour no illusions about the competence of the IIO, I was a little surprised to see a communication come from the IIO Monday, four days after the shooting, asking for anyone who had video of the events to please come forward.

Well, I saw five minutes of raw video on Friday, the day after the shooting provided to Global BC. Several days later the IIO is asking folks to voluntarily come forward with video?

They already know Global has video which has been broadcast. Gee, I don’t know, maybe their crack investigators should write an Information to Obtain a Search Warrant to get a judge or JP to issue a warrant they could produce to Global.

News organizations won’t simply provide evidence like that to police when asked, but they will when instructed by court order. The media expect that. They have to maintain a separation from authorities and they probably already have a DVD cut awaiting the IIO. That’s just a guess, but I bet I am not far from the truth.

The video was broadcast on the six o’clock news on Friday. A competent investigator should have been standing in their newsroom before the credits were rolling. Or at the very least within a couple of hours. But to issue that sort of vanilla plea for information and video from the public four days later, followed up by a press conference in the hopes citizen journalists who provided video to newsrooms might come forward just speaks to their level of competence.

The initial Chief Civilian Director may have been pushed out the door and a career bureaucrat meekly put in his stead. But, if I were one of the VPD officers designated ‘subject officers’ having been involved in this “heroic” incident, I’m not sure how much confidence I would have in those holding me in judgment.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

November 15, 2016 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

The IIO is struggling to be relevant

with 24 comments

I know the Independent Investigations Office is struggling to demonstrate any relevance in their existence. I also know that they have demonstrated a significant level of incompetence since their error-laden launch in September of 2012 with the demonstrable lack of leadership displayed by the crusading Richard Rosenthal who seems to believe that virtually everything police do may somehow bear some criminal responsibility.

But, to demonstrate how absolutely redundant the IIO is, and, how utterly wrong-headed their construction and their raison d’être is, one only need to look at two cases in the past two weeks.

In strikingly similar circumstances, one on Saltspring Island and the latter in Abbotsford, BC last night, police responded to calls of a fight. When they arrive on scene they find unresponsive males. In the first, on Saltspring, RCMP officers arrived to find an injured, unresponsive male being administered CPR by two civilians, one of whom had non-life threatening injuries himself. Hmmm.

The RCMP officers took over the administering of CPR until paramedics arrived. The man later died in hospital.

Last night in Abbotsford, police arrive to find an unresponsive male at the scene of a reported brawl. They begin life-saving CPR until paramedics and fire responders arrive who take over the ministrations. Again, the man is pronounced dead in hospital.

The IIO will try and say they have asserted jurisdiction because technically, both were deaths in police custody. The obvious question is: in custody for what?

Both men were engaged in an altercation of some sort. The police were called in each case. They respond and find, in both cases, injured men in cardiac distress. In both cases the police administered CPR, albeit in one, they continued CPR started by citizens. In the other they initiated the CPR.

Now, we have to remember that the IIO, as explained by both Rosenthal and his chief investigator, John Larkin, believe their job is to gather evidence to prosecute police officers rather than to find the truth. An interesting and very telling parsing of words.

One fails to see what possible criminal behaviour police may have committed by trying to save two men’s lives. Seriously, what happens the next time a police officer finds someone in cardiac distress? Do they stand back and simply call paramedics knowing that any attempt to save someone’s life may result in their being read a caution saying, anything and everything they say may be given in evidence in a prosecution?

Or maybe they do exactly that and Rosenthal and his merry band of clowns say that by not doing anything they ‘MAY’ be guilty of criminal negligence even though it was the actions of the IIO in these two cases that caused them to not do anything.

The mind boggles at the stupidity of all of this.

At its full strength, the IIO has about two dozen investigators of dubious expertise. They are so short-handed because of Rosenthal’s leadership, or lack thereof, they have had nine newly hired “investigators” at the JIBC in the past month. But they don’t actually participate in police training. They only watch actual police officer recruits going through training.

One supposes the so-called leadership thinks monitoring actual training will actually prepare investigators to investigate serious incidents. Why they think that, one can only guess.

The other interesting aspect of this, is that had those officers, who tried in vain to save two men’s lives not been wearing a badge and a gun, they would have been covered by the Good Samaritan laws which exempt members of the general public from any sort of liability they might otherwise incur in a similar situation. But, because they’re cops, they have found themselves in the sights of the IIO.

Yes, this is ridiculous. Yes, it is the result of a plethora of errors by this government. But, yes, some good cops are going to go through the worry and rigours of being investigated criminally for trying to do their jobs and save some lives.

If you weren’t offended before, you now should be.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

May 3, 2016 at 3:33 am