Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Posts Tagged ‘justice

Justice delayed is justice denied

with 5 comments

There’s an old legal maxim which says “Justice delayed is justice denied.” The phrase has been attributed to William E. Gladstone who was Prime Minister of the UK for 12 years spread over four terms in the mid to late 19th century.

But the concept goes back to the Magna Carta of 1215, clause 40 which reads, “To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.”

Yesterday the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) issued a media release saying there would be no charges against a member of the RCMP resulting from an in-custody death that resulted from an incident on February 14th, 2015. The man died in hospital on February 21st, 2015. I shook my head and read it again. Could it really have taken nearly three years to reach a conclusion in the case?

What could possibly be so complicated that it would take that long for a process to determine what happened?

The circumstances seem fairly straight forward.

Jacobus Jonker, 53, was arrested by Smithers RCMP resulting from a domestic dispute. His daughter called 9-1-1 saying her father was drunk, holding a knife and was “really aggressive.” She remained on the line with the dispatcher reporting that he had gone to his gun safe and taken out a shotgun, that he may be suicidal and was concerned he would shoot her.

When the responding officer arrived, later to be the so-called subject officer, Jonker was standing in the door. The officer called for him to walk towards him. He did with his hand in his coat pocket saying “shoot me.” While he was aggressive and non-compliant, the officer managed to take him into custody without using lethal force, using OC or pepper spray. Good job I say.

At the detachment, the next chapter in the arrest unfolded in the cells. Jonker became aggressive and attacked the officer’s supervisor who had joined him in cells to assist with the booking along with the jail guard. He tried to reach for the supervisor’s gun and then lunged at him physically. He was grabbed essentially in a headlock by the arresting officer and taken to the ground where a ground fight ensued while the supervisor tried to get handcuffs on the man and the guard tried to control his legs. Oh, and I should mention Jonker weighed 288 lbs. and neither officer topped 190.

He was a rugby player and coached the sport at the local high school. Suffice to say he was a physical challenge for the officers.

During the ground fight Jonker went limp, the officers flipped him over and observed he wasn’t breathing. They immediately began CPR and called EHS. Jonker was airlifted to Victoria where he died in hospital a week later.

Now, I should add that ground fighting is part of every police officer’s training. In the RCMP members are in the gym wearing judo gi’s. They sit back to back on the floor mat and on the instructor’s call, begin fighting, using any method, trick or tactic to get the other guy to tap out. There are no rules to ground fighting, save and except to get control. The object is to win, to survive. Cops don’t start fights, but their very life depends on their ability to finish them.

It’s tragic that Jonker died. It’s equally tragic this member had the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) investigation and possible criminal charges hanging over his head for as long as this. 34 months from the date of the incident to the day CJB finally issued a statement saying he would not be charged with manslaughter or criminal negligence causing death.

I should also add there was no mystery in any of this. There was a CCTV video system in operation in the detachment cell area and virtually all of the confrontation was captured and available for analysis.

Two police use of force experts were called in by the IIO, one with the RCMP but a different detachment and the other from the Calgary Police Service. Both said the use of force was appropriate and consistent with their training.

What could possibly take 34 months – nearly three years – to determine that this officer was simply doing his job? Jonker got “horribly drunk” as stated by his wife. He was aggressive and violent as indicated by his daughter in her 9-1-1 call and the fact the family had to flee the house. He was uncooperative and aggressive in the cells. He tried to take the supervisor’s gun and attacked that officer. He was pulled off of him by the subject officer and taken to the floor where to control the big man there was a ground fight the likes of which occurs in every jurisdiction in this country on a daily basis. I wish I could say it’s unusual, but it’s not.

In most of these incidents police are able to gain control of the suspect. But, sometimes bad things happen and occasionally people die as a result. But it is always the result of their own choices. The choice to use drugs, alcohol, use violence against the police, being fat are the usual contributing factors. That’s reality.

But there’s nothing complicated in any of this. What could possibly have taken 34 months for the IIO to submit a report to crown and crown to review to determine this officer did his job in accordance with the law and with his training?

Why keep the family of the deceased and the officer and his family hanging for so long? It is unprofessional and reeks of incompetence or worse, a fruitless effort to find something, anything, with which to charge a police officer.

This isn’t justice.

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Leo Knight
@primetimecrime

 

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Written by Leo Knight

December 15, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Successful campaign, but bitter feeling lingers

with 8 comments

Two weeks ago we started a GoFundMe campaign for Cindy Millington to help her through a tough time while her husband, RCMP Cst. Kwesi Millington, was serving his 30 month sentence after being convicted in a trumped-up charge of perjury.

After running for a week, we had surpassed the target goal of $10,000 and moved the goal to $12,000. Well, that too got passed. I spoke with Cindy and she was overcome with gratitude. We decided to let the campaign run through the long weekend then close it with a big thank you to all of you who supported Cindy. We then started the withdrawal process.

I then left for a pre-planned week in the desert playing golf with some of my retired former VPD friends. When I arrived at our hotel, I received a message from the GoFundMe Community Management Team saying, “It has come to our attention that your campaign may not be compliant with our Terms & Conditions.” They then proceeded to tell me the campaign was suspended pending a response from me.

I promptly responded explaining the situation and said the money was being raised for Cindy to help with the household bills and mortgage payments while her husband was unable to earn money and her salary alone would not cover everything. In the interim, I began getting messages from folks who were trying to donate but the site had been taken down and they were asking why.

I subsequently got this reply from GoFundMe: “Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that your campaign is in violation of the following line from our terms: “the defense or support of anyone alleged to be involved in criminal activity.”

Criminal activity? I was stunned.

What followed was a back and forth to ensure Cindy would be able to collect the donated funds and I’m pleased to say that Cindy has now received an EFT in the amount of $14,136.24.

When Cindy told Kwesi of the campaign he was very moved. Cindy said, “I told him how you created the campaign and it’s been flooded with donations. When I told him we were at $10,000 he said, OMG, I’m gonna cry, that’s amazing.”

While alls well that ends well, I suppose. But I’m still miffed at GoFundMe for the account suspension citing “the defence or support of criminal activity.” This was anything but. Kwesi Millington got steam-rolled by a system looking for scapegoats for political purposes and an employer that stood mute and did not come to the defence of the YVR Four.

Clearly by using the phrase “It has come to our attention…” indicates they got a complaint. Who would complain over this type of campaign? I don’t know. Maybe an anti-police type?Perhaps someone who doesn’t like inter-racial couples? A seniour member of the RCMP who did not agree with my criticism of the Force in this? Who knows?

But, what I do know is the policing community and those who support police came together and supported Cindy and the campaign for the week it ran and I guarantee you not one of those who donated in any way, shape or form defend or support criminal activity. It’s a nonsensical position taken by GoFundMe but at least they allowed Cindy to collect the donated funds, less their commissions of course.

I will stay in touch with Cindy and try and update you on how Kwesi and Monty Robinson are doing as I get updates. Again, thank you to all who supported this campaign. Your generosity is truly humbling and appreciated.

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

November 21, 2017 at 6:35 pm

The real price to be paid for a travesty of justice

with 13 comments

Earlier this week the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeals of RCMP members Benjamin “Monty” Robinson and Kwesi Millington and both began serving their sentences, two years less a day and 30 months respectively after totally undeserved perjury convictions.

As I have said previously, this is a travesty of justice. The four RCMP officers who attended a disturbance call at YVR in October, 2007 which resulted in the death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski, were just doing their jobs and now are both in prison. I’m disgusted.

There’s a lot of blame to be thrown around here, but none of it is on these members. They were failed by the seniour leadership of the RCMP and failed badly when they would not say publicly that these four officers acted according to their training and RCMP policy.

They were failed by the Braidwood Commission of Inquiry into the death of Dziekanski when Mr. Justice Thomas Braidwood failed to take into account the forensic video analysis of Grant Fredericks which showed demonstrably that the four members were telling the truth and the baying media hounds hadn’t a clue. Yet he sided with the hounds.

They were failed by the gutless politicians who had their own agenda that had nothing to do with justice and the truth.

Of the four, two were acquitted at bar and two were convicted. The two white officers were acquitted. The First Nations member and the black member were both convicted and now jailed. I am not making a specific accusation here, I merely am making an observation of fact.

I spoke with Kwesi Millington’s wife, Cindy, a few days after her husband turned himself in to begin serving his sentence. She was, as you might imagine, very upset. They expect that he will be terminated by the RCMP given the circumstances and that means his paycheque stops. Equally, while jailed he won’t be able to earn at another occupation now that his policing career is over.

Her salary isn’t enough to keep up with the mortgage, bills and legal fees they must now incur to get a parole lawyer to steer that process forward to ensure Kwesi gets parole at the earliest opportunity. She said she’d likely have to sell Kwesi’s car while he was in prison while using up what savings they had.

Kwesi has been transferred into the federal prison system in Kingston, Ontario. He is in protective custody because of his occupation. That means he spends his time in a small cell by himself with just 30 minutes of exercise a day with guards as company.

His first facility there will be for 2-3 months while Corrections Canada bureaucrats assess his case to determine which facility he should be assigned to serve his time. In the interim he won’t be allowed to call Cindy for several weeks until he gets his assigned phone card.

If I told you the whole of this story and how these members have been utterly abandoned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and left dangling in the breeze you might dismiss it as improbable fiction. This is the national police force after all. They have an iconic reputation and all that. Surely they would do the right thing, after all, their motto is “Maintiens le droit” – Maintain the right. And surely, you would be wrong.

The once proud force has done exactly the wrong thing in this matter every step of the way and much of it deliberately knowing what would happen to their members. It’s beyond offensive.

For regular readers of this space, my many supporters, police officers, retired and former police officers or just those of you who who can’t stomach injustice, I have set up a GoFundMe account to help Cindy and Kwesi in this trying time.

If you can help, please do. Anything would be welcomed. Here’s the link: https://www.gofundme.com/cindy-kwesi-millington

For the record, Kwesi was a young officer. When he used the Taser that night, it was the first time he’d ever deployed the weapon. When he testified at the Braidwood Commission, it was the first time he had ever testified in any forum.

Robinson was a Corporal in the RCMP. He has a pension and his income won’t suffer during his incarceration. He will, but at least his family will be okay. The circumstances are much different for Cindy Millington. She didn’t sign up for any of this.

She loves her man and was proud of him for what he was doing for a living, knowing all of the potential bad things that can befall a cop. But not this.

Unfair doesn’t even begin to explain what has happened to these four men. Worse for the two who are currently in the prison system. Worse still, for those who love them.

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Leo Knight

November 6, 2017 at 1:27 am

Another over-reach by the IIO

with 12 comments

I played golf with a few of my former VPD colleagues last week, all retired now, but with Major Crime and/or Internal experience and one, retired as the Inspector running the VPD Traffic Section. As we sat down for a post game libation, I got a press release from the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) saying charges of Dangerous Driving causing bodily harm had been approved against a Nanaimo Mountie, Cst. David Buchanan.

My immediate thought was that he’d been ordered to shut down a chase and hadn’t, risking lives of pedestrians as he careened down the sea wall in the Port of Nanaimo. But no, nothing of the sort apparently.

As I read the release further, it turns out the CJB believe that he was in a pursuit involving a scooter. A scooter? You know, something like a Vespa. A scooter, capable of burning up the pavement at something between 50-60 KMH.

Again, my mind conjured up a chase on a sidewalk with pedestrians diving out of the way.  But no, no such thing.

This occurred around eleven o’clock on a wet, rainy February night in 2016.

When I told my golfing companions that the charge involved the interaction with a scooter, the speculation began as to what the officer might have done to get over the bar to be charged criminally with Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm. All suggestions involved innocent members of the public being put at risk by the actions of the officer.

I began to look into the circumstances and the surmises of those experienced investigators did not appear to be the case.

Quite the contrary, the incident occurred at 11 p.m. Cst. Buchanan was assigned to the Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) at the time and was based out of Nanaimo. IRSU is a traffic enforcement unit that operates in different areas of the province. It is funded primarily by ICBC and is tasked with specific enforcement functions with the goal of reducing motor vehicle accidents.

Buchanan was down in the Shawnigan Lake area coming to the end of his shift. He stopped at the Tim Horton’s in north Duncan to get a coffee to accompany him on the hour-long drive back to Nanaimo.

As he was leaving the parking lot exit he noticed a scooter heading south on Hwy. 1 apparently without a license plate which is required for that class of vehicle.

Buchanan turned south and began to close the distance so that he could verify what he thought he saw. As he got closer to the scooter in his unmarked SUV, the male on the scooter turned off the highway and Buchanan followed, no lights, no siren.

The scooter rider ran through two rolling stops then made an illegal left turn across some train tracks at which point Buchanan made the decision to conduct a traffic stop. Once he activated his emergency equipment to stop the rider, the rider did what is known in surveillance terms as a “shit hook.”

He did a hard U-turn and re-traced his route. Buchanan had to execute a Y-turn in reverse to get turned around to head after the scooter. Now, remember this is late in the evening and there’s not another sinner on the streets in this quiet area.

Scooter Boy noticed the SUV getting closer and turned into a parking lot followed by Buchanan who saw an exit where Scooter Boy seemed headed. He blocked the exit and Scooter Boy glanced off the front right fender of the police car and continued on onto a grassy area. Unfortunately, the grass was wet and Scooter Boy fishtailed and crashed into a fire hydrant.  His ankle was fractured, caught between the hydrant and his scooter. This is where the Independent Investigations office (IIO) asserted jurisdiction. Although, I fail to see how a fractured ankle classifies as a “serious injury.”

There was a confrontation as Buchanan tried to take Scooter Boy into custody and strikes were delivered by the officer to get control and the suspect handcuffed. But, I note he wasn’t charged with assault as a result. The CJB determined that to be justified.

Did I mention that the scooter was not only unlicensed and uninsured but also stolen and Scooter Boy has a history with police. I know, big shock. Cst. Buchanan on the other hand is a police officer who has been decorated for valour.

Scooter Boy was identified as Bryce McKay. He has not been identified publicly until now, but Buchanan’s name has been in every media outlet on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and throughout BC.

And for what? Because he did his job?

The entire incident lasted, start to finish, 52 seconds. There is dash cam video that shows what Buchanan actually did during the incident. Menaka Giri, the Crown handling the prosecution of McKay who was charged with possession of stolen property, flight from police and possession of a stolen vehicle, reviewed the dash cam video and said in an email that she doesn’t see that Buchanan did anything wrong and that he should be confident to testify against McKay.

Well, apparently the prosecutors at the CJB felt otherwise and have approved criminal charges against yet another cop in BC just trying to do his job.

It ought to be an interesting trial. If I were defence counsel for Buchanan, I’d call Giri as a witness for the defence then simply stand and look at the judge and make a motion for dismissal because there’s clearly a difference of opinion in the office of the Crown itself. Talk about reasonable doubt.

It seems the IIO is attempting yet another overreach in charging another cop just trying to do his job and somehow they managed to get again the compliance of the CJB. Shame. This isn’t law, this isn’t justice. This is offensive to every cop trying to do his or her job.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

July 20, 2017 at 4:37 am

A crisis of confidence

with 6 comments

News of the imminent departure of the Chief of Investigations of the Independent investigations Office (IIO) John Larkin was broadcast to staff of the IIO last Monday morning. Curiously enough, staff coming to work also noticed that the office of Director of Investigations Allison Hemming-Cook had apparently been cleaned out on the weekend. Her status seems murky.

Staff think she’s on sick leave. If so, why clean out her office? Hemming-Cook says she is returning on June 20th following her impending marriage and honeymoon apparently to well-known Vancouver lawyer Monty Carstairs, QC. Which sounds like a vacation not a sick leave.

I tried to get clarification from Marten Youssef, nominally the Acting Director of Communications for the IIO. All he would provide was the vanilla response, “The IIO will not be providing comment on any personnel matters.” What that triggered, instead of a clarifying communication to the staff, was an email saying the word had gotten out and Youssef got himself on the news that night to try and spin his way out of my questions.

So, the staff there are left in the dark. Is there an open slot for a new Director of Investigations or isn’t there? If it’s a sick leave, how is it that a finite date for return has been set as stated by Hemming-Cook? The word in the office is that she was told in no uncertain terms to take sick leave. Whatever the reason, staff relations there appear to be the messiest they have ever been.

It would seem that Larkin and Hemming-Cook have worn out their welcome in that office. There is a union grievance filed against Hemming-Cook and several sources have told me that she and Larkin’s replacement, retired Asst. Commissioner of the Queensland police, Gayle Hogan, were at odds with each other. Hate is a strong word and I hesitate to use it, but I have been told they “hate” each other. I make no evaluation, but what’s clear in that is there will be a rocky road ahead if she returns following her honeymoon.

All of this follows a blistering letter sent by Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer two weeks ago in which he questioned the competence of the IIO. The Chief wasn’t mincing words. He said, “Changes need to be made to the IIO’s current practices to improve the relationship between the IIO and the police. The VPD has two principal concerns. The first concern is what appears to be the IIO’s lack of investigative competence. The second concern is the rigid position the IIO has adopted regarding pre-interview disclosure which has led to unnecessary friction and distrust between the police and the IIO. These concerns need to be addressed given the importance of independent police oversight to maintain public trust and accountability.”

Well, it would seem that changes are being made although it remains to be seen if these changes will be enough to satisfy the VPD and the Vancouver Police Union who have all but declared war on the IIO.

The question of competence of the IIO is a major concern for all police departments in the province including the RCMP. I have documented many instances underlining the apparent lack thereof over the course of the past four years.

There are many reasons why. Part of it was Larkin. He was, as described by Palmer, adversarial without question. He set the tone when he stated the IIO started every investigation believing the officer involved has committed a crime and work back from there. That, in and of itself, is incredibly unprofessional and anathema to any real investigator who knows his or her job is to find the truth about what happened not enter it with any pre-conceived notion about what occurred.

Part of it is turnover, lack of training and despite protestations to the contrary, the inability to meet the BC Provincial Policing Standards. They are after all, a police agency.

Section 1 of the Standards says this: “The chief constable, chief officer or commissioner must ensure that:

  1. A Command Triangle is formed for all major case investigations, as soon as reasonably possible given the circumstances and the needs of the investigation, with officers assigned to the following roles:

(a) Team Commander;

(b) Primary Investigator; and

(c) File Coordinator.”

It goes on to say this:  “The chief constable, chief officer, commissioner or chief civilian director must ensure that:

(2) An officer assigned to the role of Team Commander for a major case investigation, or an IIO investigator assigned to the role of Team Commander for the investigation of an incident where a person may have died as a result of the actions of an officer, whether on or off duty:

(a) Has experience relevant to the type of investigation; and

(b) Meets each of the following criteria:

(i) Successful completion of a provincially-approved Team Commander training course;

(ii) Previous experience in the role of Primary Investigator or File Coordinator;

(iii) Previous investigative experience in a supervisory or management role; and

(iv) No disciplinary records of serious misconduct that would affect his/her ability to

perform the duties of Team Commander.”

Aye, there’s the rub. The CCD MUST ensure the Major Case Management model is followed and MUST ensure a Team Commander is designated who meets the criteria as stated. At this point there is not one person in the IIO qualified to be a Team Commander which involves not just training but accreditation by a provincial board made of senior police investigators who evaluate the applicant’s major case experience.

About a year or so ago, Delta Police Chief Constable Neil Dubord wrote a letter to the IIO demanding they are held to the same investigative competencies as members of his department. I am waiting to confirm, but I am told he has not, to date, received a response.

Nor has the Delta Police Union who requested a review of the fatally-flawed investigation into the shooting at the Starlight Casino which resulted in 2nd degree murder charges against Delta Police Constable Jordan McWilliams, of which I have written much.

I specifically asked Youssef how many people at the IIO had Major Case Management certification and this was his response: “The IIO operates under an MCM framework and investigations are based on that model.”

Well, that was clear as mud.

The reality is that even though the IIO endeavours to follow the model as is required by the Director of Police Services for the province, they simply cannot meet the standard inasmuch as they have no accredited commanders and precious few who have had the investigators’ course.

Is it any wonder that Palmer, whose department follows the Provincial Policing Standards is lacking confidence in those who are responsible for investigating his officers and expecting them to get a fair shake?

Any which way you look at this, four and a half years into this, this is a mess. Perhaps, in the words of a former IIO investigator I spoke to today, “This is the messiest it’s ever been.”

That speaks volumes.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

May 24, 2017 at 1:15 am

Reports are scathing of the RCMP, but little will change

with 5 comments

Two reports were released Monday by the Public Safety Minister in Ottawa. The first, was written by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP and can be found here.  The CRCC broadly reviewed workplace harassment and bullying in the Force.

The other was authored by former Auditor General Sheila Fraser. It looked at four particular cases where harassment lawsuits were filed individually by female members Catherine Galliford, Alice Fox, Susan Gastaldo and Atoya Montague. That report can be found here.

The RCMP has had both reports for several weeks but thus far has had little positive reaction to either report both scathing in their criticism of the Mounties essentially saying the organization is  dysfunctional and the harassment and bullying was systemic. Where have we heard this before?

I have long described the RCMP as “144 years of tradition unhampered by progress.” These two reports just reinforce that statement.

None of this is new. There have been a number of reports over the past decade or so and successive commissioners have mouthed all the platitudes including the current one, Bob Paulson, who has been described by a number of officers to me as the biggest bully of all. I cannot argue. Indeed, Galliford told me this is the fifth such report she has participated in.

Both reports recommend some form of civilian oversight for the Force. If that is to happen then the RCMP Act will require the appropriate amendments, if not re-written in its entirety, given the recent union certification application made by the newly formed National Police Federation.

But even then I am not sure much will change. The problem is the culture within the RCMP. It, in and of itself, causes the dysfunction. Part of it is the Old Boys network. For example when Gary Bass was the CO of E Division (BC) his sycophants were referred to as the Bass Boys Club or BBC for short. Promotions literally depended on whether one was a member of the BBC.

When Craig Callens took over upon Bass’ retirement nothing changed except the name. The sycophants were then referred to as being on “Craigslist.”

Another significant issue is the “go along to get along” unwritten rule. Members don’t dare colour outside the box. But the overriding issue is the, again unstated policy, not to do or say anything that could damage the reputation of the RCMP. This is at the heart of the problem.

If a member has a complaint about a superior, even if validated, which is rare, the member is discouraged from pushing it for the good of the Force or the miscreant is simply transferred. Out of sight, out of mind so to speak.

The RCMP Act was re-written in 2014 ostensibly to make it easier for the Commissioner to fire the “bad apples.”

The CRCC report identifies what the RCMP has done since it’s last report on the matter in 2013 were simply small initiatives that had little or no effect.  Said Ian McPhail, Chair of the CRCC in the report, “If the last 10 years, over 15 reports and hundreds of recommendations for reform have produced any lessons, it is that the RCMP is not capable of making the necessary systemic changes of its own accord.”

Stunning words. Paulson’s response? Meh.

Well, to be fair he did put out a one page response in which he gave no reaction to the major recommendation common to both reports, the establishment of civilian oversight committee or board that will assume control for administration, finance and human resource management of the RCMP.

This is his response: “These reports make recommendations that require careful review and consideration. They will no doubt help improve policies to further support a healthy and respectful workplace as the RCMP continues moving forward.” How about that for tepid?

McPhail’s report also says that little has changed in the RCMP from their previous report in 2013 to the present day. Paulson’s response? “It should be noted that many of the reports’ judgments rely on the historical context of RCMP transformation efforts that are not, in my view, reflective of current RCMP environment, policies or processes.”

Yeah, that sure sounds like he is seized with the findings and recommendations doesn’t it?

Paulson has already announced he is leaving at the end of next month. We don’t yet know who his replacement will be, but unless the Trudeau government picks a strong leader – a real leader  who can take the Old Boys’Network by the scruff and shake the heck out of it – nothing will change. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau telegraphed today that the appointment will be either a female or someone well-versed in aboriginal issues. Leadership qualities apparently are not the criteria.

Equally, I don’t think Ralph Goodale, the Public Safety Minister, has the intestinal fortitude to take on the RCMP because any effort to establish some form of civilian oversight with authority over the Commissioner’s office will be fought every step of the way by seniour management in the RCMP. Take that to the bank.

The female members who were interviewed by Fraser were told that the Minister is “absolutely committed to follow the recommendations.” I’m sure Fraser believes that. I, on the other hand, don’t buy it for a second.

I spoke with former West Vancouver Chief and former BC Solicitor General Kash Heed to get his take. He said, “Nothing will change in the RCMP. There are consecutive reports over the past 15 years; Kennedy, Duxbury, Brown ‘et al’ calling for the same changes. The organization will not change unless they are redefined and stick to just federal policing.”

It’s hard to argue that. But that sort of institutional change would have to come from government. The same government lacking in the same sort of leadership that’s needed in the RCMP.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

May 16, 2017 at 3:04 am

Even basic cases seem beyond IIO’s capability

with 4 comments

After last week’s pieces on the impasse between the Independent Investigations Office and the Vancouver Police Union, I got many comments essentially asking how did we get to this point?

The simple answer is because the IIO views its role in investigating the actions of the police as to gather evidence with which to prosecute police. This is, of course, the doing of the first Chief Civilian Director, Richard Rosenthal, who ran the organization for a tumultuous four years.

Instead, what they should be seeing as their mandate, is to investigate to find the truth wherever that may lead. If there is evidence of police criminal misconduct then a prosecution should be brought to bar. And the same standard needs to apply as it does to police before recommending charges against any member of the public.

The concept of civilian oversight is fine with most police I talk to. But, they must have confidence in those who conduct that oversight. From its inception the IIO has demonstrated in case after case they are not competent investigators and thus, the impasse with the VPU.

The other real issue is their focus on the “Affected Person” and only police actions as they relate to that person. They don’t consider events as a whole and what caused the person to act as he or she did. No clearer demonstration of that failure can be made than their handling of the police shooting at the Starlight Casino. I have written much of that case and won’t drag you through it again, but the fact they never spoke to the woman who was taken hostage speaks volumes. She was shot at, dragged from her car and held at gunpoint for a lengthy period of time. At the very least she could have provided evidence showing the suspect’s, sorry, the Affected Person’s state of mind.

Had they done so, they would have found out that the suspect told her during the stand-off that the only way he was leaving was in a body bag. The only way that was going to happen was if he ate his own gun or pointed it at a police officer, which is ultimately what happened.

Instead they ignored all of that in its entirety and focused on building a criminal case with which to charge the officer who fired the fatal shot with murder. Ridiculous.

But it’s not just lethal force cases where they focus on building a case. The head of investigations there, John Larkin, has said they begin by believing the subject officer is guilty and work from there. Which is, of course, antithetical to any real investigator.

It happens even in less serious cases.

On November 9, 2015, shortly after 8 p.m. VPD were called to a Chinatown intersection where a crazed man was jumping up and down upon and kicking doors on a Black Top cab.  The cab had substantial damage to the hood, roof, windshield and door. Subsequent investigation determined that he’d been randomly damaging other vehicles in the neighbourhood.

The driver got out of the cab to confront the man but quickly retreated when he saw how crazed the man was.

When multiple police units arrived, the suspect hid behind another car. Civilian witnesses pointed out the shirtless man in his mid 20’s. As police approached he took off running and a foot chase ensued northbound on Abbott Street. The suspect was running in the middle of the street being closely pursued by a plainclothes officer. As the pursuing officer closed in on the fleeing man he pushed him from behind and the suspect fell forward and he was taken into custody. Arresting officers believed the suspect to be high on drugs and so an ambulance was called. But, due to shortages, EHS couldn’t respond. The decision was made to have the wagon take the suspect to the city jail where a staff nurse could assess him.

It should be noted that at no time did the suspect say he was hurt or in any kind of pain. But upon examination the nurse found he had an injured wrist. He was then taken to St. Paul’s hospital where it was determined that his wrist was broken, most likely when he fell forward, but it could have been pre-existing from punching cars.

The IIO were notified by the Duty Officer as required and the IIO asserted jurisdiction. Why is anyone’s guess. Their mandate is to assume jurisdiction in cases of “serious injury or death.” I’m not sure how a broken wrist is considered serious, but I digress.

The police are given the power to arrest people they reasonably believe have committed an offence. These circumstances clearly show they had the right to arrest in this case and the arrest was lawful.

The Criminal Code of Canada also says that the police may use as much force as is necessary to make that arrest and it also holds them criminally responsible for using excessive force. That is the only question here. Was the force used necessary or excessive?

A push is one of the lowest forms of force that can be used by police. it is marginally higher on the continuum than speech commands. It is used to take someone off balance for the purpose of securing the individual. In this case, the person fell, but that was much less dangerous for the officer than trying a flying football tackle. Pavement tends to be disagreeable on the landing for both parties.

This should be a no-brainer. The suspect was identified by civilian witnesses at the scene. He fled on foot and at full tilt the pursuing officer gave him a push which caused him to fall whereupon he was taken into custody.

Again, given those circumstances what could possibly be taking the IIO to reach a conclusion? It’s been 17 months since the events took place and they still have their investigation active. Why? This shouldn’t even be in question.

I contacted the IIO Director of Communications, (nominally A/Director, Public Engagement and Policy) Marten Youssef to ask the status of this investigation. He said, “We are nearing completion on this file and expect a decision to be issued in due course.” I wonder how long due course is?

Meanwhile, 17 months later the members involved are still waiting to learn if they may face criminal charges.

A senior VPD Sgt. said to me, “Sometimes people get bit by police dogs, sometimes fingers thumbs & wrists get broken. It should be simple for them to deal with this call. Never mind the two big ones that they have on their hands right now.”

Well said I thought.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

April 4, 2017 at 1:30 am