Sunday, December 16, 2018
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A broken organization

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...

Broken RCMP means broken people

This week, a serving member of the RCMP sent a message to the Prime Minister of Canada complaining about the actions of the Commissioner of the RCMP. Yes, you read that right. I have never heard of such a thing.  The author is one of the YVR Four who was scapegoated by the Force.  I have written much about their case, included the fact they were scapegoated, thrown under the bus, and two of them served jail sentences for doing their job.  And the RCMP knew that all along. In a May 2008 report examining the actions of the RCMP in the October 2007 incident at YVR in which Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski lost his life, the authors spent more than 1200 pages examining, primarily, their communications failures and errors after the event. But, throughout the document it clearly states the members were in the lawful execution of their duties and acted according to their training and the use of a Taser (CEW) was appropriate.  Indeed, in the report it links to an email written to the Commanding Officer, Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass in November 2007, a month after the incident which says all of that.  Yet, they never said that publicly. They never defended their members despite the withering media criticism, the subsequent Braidwood Commission, the Special Prosecutor appointment, the prosecution of all four members and the conviction and jailing of two of them. They never came to their defence despite knowing all along they did nothing wrong. The author of the complaint requested...

More positive signs of change at the IIO

Earlier this week the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) released a report that analyzed their investigation in the Nov. 8, 2012 police involved shooting at the Starlight Casino in New Westminster by Delta Police Cst. Jordan MacWilliams.  The analysis was conducted by retired RCMP Supt. Doug Kiloh who has much Major Case Management (MCM) experience but he also had expertise in ERT tactical procedures. Which, I might add, no one involved in the actual investigation had. On October 20, 2014 MacWilliams was charged with second degree murder. The charges were finally stayed on July 14, 2015. Regular readers will know that much has been written on this case in which I was very critical of the IIO’s investigation and questioned their competence in many aspects and on many occasions. The Delta Police Association wrote a letter of complaint to the IIO essentially saying their investigation was flawed and also questioned their competence. The IIO, to their credit, then commissioned the review by Kiloh. Kiloh’s 15 page report is very critical of the IIO but does note that in the intervening time a number of things have changed. But he also makes a number of recommendations involving training, investigative techniques, evidence management, MCM protocols and enhanced training. Kiloh also focused on two salient events from the IIO investigation. One was that investigators never spoke to the female taken hostage that morning. I surfaced her and interviewed about six months after the charge was laid against MacWilliams. I also surfaced the fact that the IIO never asked...

IIO investigative delay “unacceptable”

Yesterday the IIO's Chief Civilian Director (CCD) Ron MacDonald released his conclusions into the circumstance of a police involved fatal shooting near Slocan, BC on October 13, 2014. Yes you read that right, 2014. The Commanding Officer of the RCMP in BC, Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr promptly released a statement decrying the long delay. “The protracted nature of this review is unacceptable,” she said. The incident involved a manhunt in the mountains of the back country near Slocan, the town itself in lockdown for nearly five days. Think of it as a mini-Boston in the hours after the marathon bombings. Where this started was the police attending a rural location to investigate a dispute/possible assault call. They were met with an armed man who exchanged shots with police and fled into the back country. She continued, “This was a dynamic and dramatic series of events that has forever changed the police officers involved, a community and a family which lost a loved one. The techniques used and the resulting time delays in determining the circumstances compounded the trauma and severely limited the ability of many to move forward. The police officers were consistent in their participation in the IIO BC investigation and remained professional throughout the lengthy process. However, the delays have contributed unnecessarily to a state of extended uncertainty and stress that could have been avoided.” In his final report on the case, MacDonald, the newly appointed CCD  said this: “This investigation has taken an unfortunate length of time. This resulted from operational pressures within...

RCMP officer charged with manslaughter for doing his job

Two days ago the Criminal Justice Branch released  information saying that as a result of an investigation by the Independent Investigations Office into a police involved shooting that occurred “during an attempted traffic stop on January 29, 2015," RCMP Constable Jason Tait of the West Kootenay Traffic Unit was now charged with manslaughter. There was precious little other information. All the media reporting I could find on the original incident at the time yielded little more. An attempted traffic stop? There’s got to be much more to the story. So, I started poking around to try and find out what happened. It turns out the man who was shot, Waylon Edey, 39, who lived in Yahk, BC had been drinking in a Nelson bar and was so drunk he was cut off by the bar staff. They told him not to drive or they would call the police. He told them to “Go f**k themselves.” He got in his pick up truck and bar staff called 9-1-1. The next call comes from staff at a drive-thru restaurant who report Edey is drunk and has open liquor in his vehicle, a 5,000 lb. Ford F-150 and is heading toward Castlegar. Tait was off shift and had just arrived home. He’d heard the call but didn’t think too much about it until his supervisor called him and requested he assist looking for the reported drunk driver. Now, it should be noted that Tait was a member of “Alexa’s Team” a select group of 335 police officers, who...

Another over-reach by the IIO

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...

Common sense judgement

In the wake of the discussion last week of the manslaughter charge against RCMP Cst. Jason Tait, as a result of his actions stopping a drunk driver who was refusing to stop, let’s consider some things. He took the action he took to protect the citizens of Castlegar. He did his duty at great risk to himself, much like police officers do every day across this country. Things happen in the blink of an eye and police have to react to what is unfolding with two objectives; to eliminate the perceived threat and to protect life, which includes their own. Tait was charged by the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) three and a half years after the event occurred. It took the Independent Investigations Office nearly two years to do their investigation and a further 16 months for CJB to review it before filing a criminal charge against Tait. That is unconscionable. I think to appropriately consider this, it is instructive to look at the decision of the now retired Provincial Court Judge Donald Gardner in the prosecution of Delta Police Cst. Vicken Movsessian who was charged with careless use of a firearm after another lengthy IIO investigation.  The incident happened on Nov. 7, 2013 and the court decision was rendered in December of 2016. Suffice to say it has been underreported. The officer was seconded to CFSEU, a Joint Forces Operation working organized crime. On the night in question, CFSEU had surveillance on a vehicle they believed contained a gang member wanted on over...

BC government finally taking steps to address incompetence at IIO

Since the inception of B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office (IIO) I have been critical of them for a variety of reasons primarily surrounding their competence, or lack thereof more accurately. The IIO, for its part, has defended their woeful lack of training with, well, spin. As an example, investigators with the IIO don’t do any Use of Force training. They sit in on some classes when they spend their time at the Justice Institute (JIBC) but they don’t actually take the training. Yet, their primary focus is to investigate incidents where police officers have used force resulting in serious injury or death. Think about that. How can they possibly investigate incidents if they have no idea, for example, how difficult it is to take someone into custody who doesn’t want to be handcuffed? How can they investigate an officer involved shooting if they haven’t had any firearms training, let alone any Shoot / Don’t Shoot scenario training? They claim they follow the Major Case Management model but have no one who is board-certified as a Team Commander as mandated in the model. And there’s so much more. Regular readers will recall that Vancouver Police Chief Constable Adam Palmer sent a letter to the IIO in which the Chief said this, “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...

The final chapter in a travesty of justice

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...

The real price to be paid for a travesty of justice

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...

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