Crime & Punishment

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Posts Tagged ‘media

A broken organization

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As an organization, the RCMP is functionally broken. I have said this before and say it again. 

Last week a letter came to my attention written by a serving member of the RCMP. The letter was striking in that it was addressed to the Prime Minister and the Public Safety Minister who is responsible for the RCMP. 

The author of the letter signed his name but I won’t use it for the purposes of this discussion. I have confirmed he has 23 years service and is serving in BC. I am also told his father served and was a 33 year veteran. He was, I am told, involved in two shootings, both of which were deemed justified. 

The author praises the courage of Janet Merlo, Catherine Galliford and Krista Carle, who tragically committed suicide last week. These ladies, among others, have been at the forefront of the public complaints and lawsuits talking about the sexual harassment and bullying they faced as members. Carle’s suicide underlines the problem, chief among them is the denial, foot-dragging and lack of leadership that has existed and still exists in the RCMP. 

 The author says in discussing them, “The manner in which their complaints were handled provides a clear insight into the lengths that some in senior management have and will go to in an effort to isolate, discredit, demoralize and financially destroy those who dare to challenge them. I can tell you that these strategies are still very much in play by RCMP Management today. Management refuses to hold themselves to the very standard that they demand of the rank and file and it is no longer acceptable to allow this to continue without speaking out. Today I am doing just that.”

He also cites the crocodile tears of former Commissioner Bob Paulson when he tearfully apologized to these women at a national press conference and then promptly did the square root of bugger all to fix the problems. There are those who say Paulson was the biggest bully of them all. 

The letter consists of more than 4,000 words. The frustration is palpable and the author outlines many issues where he has identified areas of concern to supervisors, the Commanding Officer of E Division (BC), even the Commissioner and has heard nothing back. 

He says this, “My attempts to get any accountability and to get potential wrongdoing independently investigated has proven futile. Requests for documents results in heavily redacted useless pieces of paper or claims that no notes exist yet perpetrators are permitted to retire or are transferred. I am one of many with allegations that deserve independent inquiry / investigation from an agency separate and distinct from the RCMP. I, and others who have brought forward legitimate concerns have effectively been shunned and banished by RCMP Management including the current Commissioner and Commanding Officer of British Columbia and her staff here in ‘E” Division. This is either a failure of leadership or the result of legal advice that completely lacks insight into member health, safety, care and wellbeing. This lesson should already have been learned through the failures identified in numerous inquiries and commissioned reports. Why do we keep getting it wrong?”

Why indeed? 

He goes on, “I speak to members on a daily basis that are living one day at a time. I also hear from members on a weekly basis who are on the brink of suicide and have been left almost completely destroyed by management. What a sad waste of human resources.”

Sad indeed. Last week I spoke with Eddie MacDonald, a retired member who is on the executive of the National Police Federation, the organization which has applied to get certification to be the bargaining agent for the rank and file members. They have over 10,000 members who have signed on for their representation. Yet still they wait. 

MacDonald told me things are so bad they have a group studying suicides and mental disorders of RCMP members in the last year. Every police officer knows someone who killed themselves due to the rigours of the job. “My source stated 40 + since 2006. Since October 2017 there have been 11 members, serving and retired, who have died at their own hand.” That’s stunning and it’s something neither the media nor the Force will talk about. 

This week the Coroner’s office in BC announced there will be an Inquest into the death of Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre in July of 2013. Five years ago. What the heck took so long? 

Lemaitre was the media liaison officer who provided the press briefing in the hours after the death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski. 

The initial information he provided the media turned out to be inaccurate and he wanted to correct the record based on further information provided by investigators. He was over-ruled by the officer in charge of IHIT who had conduct of the investigation, Wayne Rideout. He was taken off the file and later reassigned to the Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) and ultimately Langley Traffic.  There he encountered a bullying, harassing supervisor who was the subject of many complaints for bullying and nothing was done.

Lemaitre became the media’s whipping boy in the weeks after the Pritchard video surfaced which showed the interaction between Dziekanski and the YVR Four. He was called a liar in the media when in truth he gave preliminary information to the media given to him by the IHIT media spokesperson and investigators. Like most of these things, preliminary information was incomplete and inaccurate and further investigation revealed more details. 

The decision by Rideout not to allow Lemaitre to correct the public record was a brutal error. It directly resulted in the Braidwood Inquiry and ultimately the creation of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO). I believe it also resulted in the suicide of Lemaitre. 

On the day Lemaitre committed suicide that supervisor was sent home by the RCMP and told not to come back. Fired, but not really. He was paid for at least two more years until he retired with a full pension. Another example of the lack of RCMP leadership and sweeping a problem under the buffalo skin so to speak.

My guess is the bullying became a part of the investigation of the Coroner but was stymied by the Force and thus the delay. It will be interesting to see if the Coroner’s Inquest goes down that path or if the RCMP has politically manipulated things so that it will not be on the table.  On the other hand, a lawsuit has been filed against the RCMP by Lemaitre’s widow Sheila. That will be heard in open court unless the RCMP settles on the courthouse steps admitting liability. 

Things haven’t changed in the RCMP.  Leadership, such as it is, diminishes the junior ranks and won’t listen favouring instead the old boy’s club they protect at the expense of all else. Never ever do or say anything to tarnish the buffalo, (the centre of their logo).

I have long described the RCMP as more than a hundred years of tradition unhampered by progress. Sadly, even with a new commissioner, nothing has changed. 

The BC member who wrote the letter to the Prime Minister anticipates he will be disciplined and perhaps even bullied for going outside the Force. Let’s hope that doesn’t occur. But my bet is that it will. 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

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Written by Leo Knight

July 25, 2018 at 5:55 pm

The irony of the IIO

with 5 comments

“Don’t underestimate the value of irony—it is extremely valuable.”
Henry James

The irony is delicious.

Following the November 2012 fatal shooting of an armed hostage taker who had fired shots at the Starlight Casino by Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams, part of the Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team (MIERT), was charged with murder by the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) following the incredibly flawed investigation by the then-fledgeling Independent Investigations Office (IIO).

How flawed? Beyond belief. They never even interviewed the female hostage who was shot at, dragged and had a gun held to her head in the incident. They never asked for the video from the casino security staff itself who had the whole incident recorded. Casino security staff, who watched events unfold live on monitors and called 9-1-1, burned a DVD for the New West police who asked for and received it. They burned a copy for the Coroner’s office who asked for and received it. They burned a copy for the IIO who never asked for it. Stunning.

MacWilliams as one of the first officers for the MIERT who responded to the shots fired/ hostage taking call at the casino. The perpetrator had been waiting for a female casino employee to arrive for work and fired three shots at her before dragging her from her car and about 500 metres down the sidewalk toward the entrance when New Westminster PD units arriving to the 9-1-1 call from casino security boxed him in in the parking lot. The call to the MIERT went out.

Less than an hour into the stand-off, MacWilliams and another officer noticed the female hostage managed to separate herself from the armed man and they immediately broke cover and put themselves between the hostage and the assailant with weapons drawn, exposing themselves to danger while a third officer ran out and pulled the woman to safety. The exposed officers withdrew to cover and the stand-off continued for several more hours. Had MacWilliams wanted to kill the man he had he opportunity then. He held fire and risked his own safety.

The negotiators tried and failed to end the situation and the incident commander decided to try a non-lethal assault using ARWEN guns with plastic bullets to try and disarm the man.

MacWilliams was designated lethal in that attempt. He was in the sniper seat to provide cover for the ALPHA team when they broke cover to take the shots. They did and the suspect turned toward them with gun raised and MacWilliams did his job. He took the shot, protected his colleagues and took down the armed man.

As MacWilliams said to me after the event, “All my guys got to go home that night, we did our job.” And he is exactly right.

Had the IIO bothered to do their job were they actually competent, they would have interviewed the hostage who had information relevant to the hostage-taker. She would have told them, as she later told me, that the man had said to her when he had a gun to her head that the only way he was leaving the scene was in a body bag. In her mind that meant he was going to commit suicide at his own hand or force the police to shoot him.

You’d almost think that was important info that would corroborate the 22 page statement given by MacWilliams in describing the events of the day. Almost.

Instead they went through an elaborate charade trying to merge three video clips to suggest that MacWilliams fired before he should have and that resulted in him being charged with murder.

Insanity!

MacWilliams went for many months with a murder charge hanging over his head. The stress of the situation affected his life, his family’s life, his colleagues and police officers around the province who worried what might happen if they double-clutched if they were in a similar situation.

I wrote much on the situation exposing the charge for the sham it was. Fortunately, the murder charge was eventually stayed in a rare moment of clarity from the Criminal Justice Branch and MacWilliams was allowed to return to his job serving the citizens of Delta, BC.

Apart from the ridicule I heaped upon the IIO in this, they never suffered any consequences. They still exist and their incompetence is exacerbated with nearly every investigation they do. The police have no confidence in them and nor should the general public.

And even though the Solicitor General, in a rare moment of clarity and common sense, pushed the first Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal out the door early, the stupidity remains.

They recently brought in some experienced, retired police officers to help out with their procedures and training. That was good. But in at least one of those cases they are only having the instructor train new hires in proper major crime investigation techniques. Why not existing investigators so that everyone has the same level of training and information? That’s just plain stupid.

They have hired a new Chief Civilian Director who performed a similar role in Nova Scotia, albeit that model uses seconded, seasoned police investigators instead of the BC model which uses, well, inexperienced civilians with little or no expertise. Indeed, the new CCD, the rather unfortunately named Ronald McDonald, faces a huge challenge to bring credibility to this organization which has become the subject of derision in the policing community.

First indications are not good.

But, in a delicious twist of irony, earlier this week, Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams was summoned to Victoria and, at Government House, was presented with the Award of Valour for his actions on that day at the Starlight Casino.

Well done Constable. The IIO and the CJB should be ashamed for putting him and his family through the stress of a murder charge hanging over his head for all that time just for doing his job.  And the heads of those responsible should roll.

But I won’t hold my breath.

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Leo Knight

@prmetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

November 23, 2017 at 5:52 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

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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

The final chapter in a travesty of justice

with 9 comments

The final chapter in an absolute travesty of justice played out yesterday at the Supreme Court of Canada. The appeals of RCMP officers Benjamin “Monty” Robinson and Kwesi Millington were dismissed without reasons and each must turn themselves in to begin serving their sentences in prison.

Both members were convicted of perjury resulting from testimony given at the so-called Braidwood Commission of Inquiry. Which, in itself, was a deeply flawed process.

The Commission, you’ll recall, was called by the provincial government following the death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski at YVR on October 14, 2007. The Commission issued it’s final report in June of 2010. It found, essentially, that the RCMP were not justified in using a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) or Taser as it is more colloquially known.

It also found that the four members who attended the disturbance call at YVR “misrepresented” their actions in their testimony to the Commission. In the report Mr. Justice Braidwood said, “I found all four officers’ claims that they wrestled Mr. Dziekanski to the ground were deliberate misrepresentations made for the purpose of justifying their actions.”

“I also disbelieved the four officers’ claims there was no discussion between or among them about the incident before being questioned by IHIT investigators, although I did not conclude that they colluded to fabricate a story.”

And out of this resulted in a Special Prosecutor being appointed and the four officers charged with perjury. Two were acquitted and Robinson and Millington were convicted in what can only be described as a travesty of justice. Yesterday, the SCC put an end to the appeals process and Robinson and Millington must begin to serve their sentences, two years less a day for Robinson and 30 months for Millington.

What it all came down to was whether they wrestled Dziekanski “to the ground” or they wrestled him “on the ground.”

To find that somehow they colluded to “get their story straight” is simply to ignore the evidence. In a nutshell, Robinson remained at YVR while the other three went to the Sub-Detachment to make their notes and await IHIT investigators. Robinson met with IHIT investigators at YVR and accompanied them to the Sub-Detachment where the interviews began. At no point were all four together and alone so that they could collude.

But that is not all the evidence Braidwood ignored.

Forensic Video Analyst Grant Fredericks did an analysis of the so-called Pritchard video, taken by a civilian witness which became critical to this whole mess.

Fredericks is an expert in his field. This from his report, “I am also a paid instructor of Forensic Video Analysis and Digital Multimedia Evidence Processing for the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA. I have been teaching at the FBI Academy since 1999.”

He has given expert evidence at trials in the US, Canada and the UK more than 60 times. Let’s just say he knows of what he speaks.

In his report Fredericks details how the video, shot in the European format PAL is not conducive to viewing in its entirety using the North American format, NTSC. But he does analyze it frame by frame.

At issue at Braidwood was testimony from the members that Dziekanski moved towards the members while brandishing a stapler over his head.

Fredericks conducted a Forward Motion Analysis and concluded that Dziekanski moved three steps forward towards the officers. In essence, he measured the number of pixels in the frame that Dziekanski occupied in successive frames. They decreased meaning he was moving away from the camera and towards the officers corroborating what the officers testified to, yet Braidwood ignored this.

He also shows Dziekanski holding the stapler over his head at the 00:3:41:23 point.

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This also corroborates what the members testified to, yet Braidwood chose to ignore this evidence.

Fredericks also shows at 00:04:03:08 after Dziekanski was tasered, an object was noted on the floor beside Dziekanski “consistent with the size of a Taser probe.”

This is critical because it happened before Robinson calls for Millington to “hit him again” meaning release another charge with the Taser. Why is this critical? Because a Taser needs two probes touching the subject in order for the energy charge to have any effect. So, all the charges triggered by Millington had zero effect on Dziekanski. All of which was completely ignored by Braidwood and the baying media hounds trying to say the members “executed” or “murdered” Dziekanski.

Fredericks’ report shows that the Taser was deployed three times after the dart was dislodged. The report clearly demonstrates the struggle on the floor the members who were hands on had with the large man. Again, in the blur of the moment, does it really matter when they wrestled him to the floor or on the floor? From the time of the initial Taser deployment the members went hands on, Dziekanski went down and the struggle to get him handcuffed went on. Yet, ignoring this critical evidence is the reason Robinson and Millington are going to jail.

There’s so much more to this travesty, from the RCMP refusing to say publicly that the members acted appropriately, a fact admitted to me by then Commanding Officer Gary Bass after he retired. The absolute stupid decision by then O i/c of IHIT Wayne Rideout in not allowing Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre to correct the record after he realized the initial information he gave at the first media briefing following the incident was inaccurate. That decision alone resulted in everything that followed once the Pritchard video was released.

Lemaitre was haunted by his error on that first morning and not being allowed to correct the record. His credibility suffered because of it and he was transferred to the Integrated Road Safety Unit, a traffic section. Lemaitre committed suicide in 2013. Was this a contributing factor? I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet on it.

The RCMP were painted as liars and covering up when in fact there was no such thing.  This was simply stupid handling of the media by the RCMP and not for the first time I might add.

The full Fredericks report can be found on Prime Time Crime here.

Why an experienced jurist would ignore this evidence and conclude as he did is beyond me. Since the perjury charges, convictions and the formation of the Independent Investigations Office resulted, this was critical.  One might think that the only way an experienced jurist would ignore exculpatory evidence is because the whole thing was a charade orchestrated by the government to get to a pre-determined conclusion.

Now, I don’t know that to be true, but it’s hard to come to any other conclusion when I look at all of this.

I got a message from Robinson following the SCC dismissal saying he’d be “off the grid for the next 8 months” I admire his attitude. I don’t think I’d be so stoic given that those four Mounties were just doing their job yet were buried by the system and now two are going to jail.

It’s a travesty.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

October 31, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Another over-reach by the IIO

with 15 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.

-30-

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

May 24, 2017 at 1:15 am