The mystery deepens the more one learns in the bizarre case of Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams, who has been charged with murder in the second degree for doing his job in a shots fired / hostage taking incident at the Starlight Casino in New Westminster in November of 2012.
Peter Juk, the Crown prosecutor responsible for this outrageous debacle, is, I am told, an ambitious political sort with little trial experience. Yet he, together with the civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) Richard Rosenthal, have somehow contrived to have this fine young officer charged with murder.
Frankly, it’s outrageous.
Jordan MacWilliams appeared in court this week to face a charge of second degree murder. He is a third generation police officer. His wife is also a police officer. If I were a betting man, I would bet that at least one of his young kids will aspire to be a police officer. Yet, given what is happening to him, one might ask why.
The desire to serve is what drives police officers to do what they do. It is unique and ubiquitous in their ranks. And, simply put, that is just what Jordan MacWilliams was doing when he responded to a call, as a member of MIERT (Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team) on that fateful day when he shot a man who had fired three times at a female employee of the Starlight Casino and then dragged her at gunpoint more than 500 metres up the parking lot.
When MacWilliams arrived on scene in response to that call, he knew it was a difficult and dangerous situation. The man had a gun. He had fired it three times at the women he now had taken hostage.
As he took up his position to contain the armed man, by chance, the hostage managed to create some separation between herself and her captor.
MacWilliams and another member of MIERT saw the opportunity and moved between the hostage and the suspect. They deliberately placed themselves in harm’s way to rescue the hostage. Had MacWilliams intended to kill the suspect he could have easily shot him at that point. But he didn’t.
And why not? Because he wanted everyone involved to get out of this alive. That’s his nature as a cop. That he had to take the shot eventually that killed the suspect was regrettable but necessary when the suspect’s gun pointed in the direction of the Alpha Team (ARWEN operators) who were designated non-lethal in the attempt to arrest the suspect.
MacWilliams went home to his family that evening. So did the members of Alpha Team whose back was his responsibility.
Why he has been charged is anyone’s guess. I harbour no illusions about what Rosenthal is about. How he managed to get a member of the Crown prosecution service to go along is another question.
On Thursday at MacWilliams’ court appearance Global TV veteran crime reporter John Daly said that a document was given to MacWilliams’ lawyers outlining finally what it is that they think they can prove to justify a murder case. One of those lawyers, David Butcher erupted to the media as a result.
“We don’t accept it at all,” Butcher said.
“I think the public needs to be very concerned about the developments in this case because if it puts a chill on police protection, particularly in a world that’s become so dangerous, the public needs to be very, very concerned about the developments in this matter,” said the lawyer. And he is, of course, correct.
The fact is that the suspect’s gun was pointed at the Alpha team members when MacWilliams took the shot. Period. There should be nothing more to discuss. Suspect, shooter, kidnapper, hostage-taker, armed person threatening police got shot for his trouble. Done deal. End of. He was the author of his own misfortune.
Whatever Juk’s political ambitions may be, I sincerely doubt they will succeed with this nonsense. In point of fact, I rather suspect he may be doing fatal damage to those ambitions with this.
Equally, Rosenthal, who was hired by this government to lead the IIO would seem to be in serious jeopardy. He has fired or lost well more than a dozen investigators in the short time his agency has been in existence. And the dissension within is growing. He is facing accusations of mismanagement, micromanagement, weak leadership, cop-hating (especially RCMP) and more. There is little doubt he is trying to justify his existence.
It’s also interesting to note there have been three different IIO Directors overseeing this file since the incident happened. Great continuity.
In this case Rosenthal and Juk, by their actions, have declared war on every police officer in British Columbia just trying to do their job in the service of the public.
Frankly, in my view, both of them should be fired. The Premier should then publicly apologize to every police officer in BC for what is being done in the name of her government. And then she needs to rethink the configuration of the IIO and the adversarial nature of its function.
I don’t say that lightly. But that won’t happen any time soon.
Nothing is forthcoming. The silence, in fact, is deafening. And Jordan MacWilliams is still facing a murder charge for no other reason than he did his job.