Nearly a year later still no answers from IIO in police shooting

On December 28, 2014, at 8:03 a.m. Naverone Woods, 23, took a knife from a shelf in an aisle in the Safeway store on King George Highway and 104th Ave. in Surrey. He was screaming and self-inflicting cuts when a bakery worker who heard the disturbance called 9-1-1. Two transit officers, one male and one female, happened to be only metres away looking for a male who had been seen banging his head on a wall at Surrey Central Skytrain station. Because they are multi-jurisdictional, they monitor local police radio traffic. They heard the Surrey RCMP call at the Safeway and went there quickly likely believing the calls were related. As it happened, the RCMP had no members available to respond so the Transit officers were on their own. When they got inside the store they found a situation with a bleeding, shirtless man with a knife trying to get at the bakery worker, who, after she called 9-1-1 went to have a look at what was going on. Woods spotted her and began chasing her. She retreated to the bakery and took cover behind two large bakery racks she pushed to block the entry leading to the area behind the bakery counter. The two officers immediately engaged Woods, yelling for him to drop the knife. He turned his attention towards the officers and began heading towards them. More warnings and finally two shots fired by the female officer. One struck a refrigeration unit behind the suspect and the other hit Woods and dropped...

Something’s got to give with IIO

This week, to no one’s surprise, the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) issued a media release saying there would be no criminal prosecutions against members of the Vancouver Police Department arising from a report to Crown Counsel submitted by the Chief Civilian Director (CCD) of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) following a running gun battle that started in Yaletown and ended at Science World on June 10, 2014. At the time I reported about that case in this space, I said, “Yet again, we see the incredible overreach in what should be a cut and dried case.” What was surprising is that the CCD, Richard Rosenthal, issued a statement of his own regarding the incident. It can only be described as an attempt to justify his existence by trying to explain his actions in this. Said Rosenthal, “In this case, based on the evidence obtained, the IIO was unable to unequivocally conclude that there was no potential that an offence may have occurred. This was due to the potential risk of harm to bystanders as a result of some of the shots fired by the officers. The fact that the involved VPD officers acted heroically that day and successfully gained control of a volatile incident that jeopardized both the safety of the public and responding officers did not eliminate the IIO’s responsibility to fulfill its mandate by making referrals to the Criminal Justice Branch as per the required referral standard.” Risk of harm to bystanders? Really? Is that what this was all about? Well,...

For Fawkes sake

Information coming from sources within the offices of the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIOBC) in the past week is stunning. Apparently, there is no one currently acting as the Chief Civilian Director and there won’t be for the next two weeks. Richard Rosenthal hasn’t been around but for brief sightings since he went on some type of approved administrative leave in the Spring when his wife took ill and later died. Another source tells me he has recently registered at Simon Fraser University in a graduate program in the Criminology department. In the interim, at the end of July, the government issued a “Cabinet order,” according to news reports at the time, which I presume is an Order In Council, appointing Clinton J. Sadlemyer, the IIO’s Director of Legal Services, as the Acting Chief Civilian Director. This occurred in the wake of a RCMP involved shooting in Ft. St. John outside a BC Hydro public hearing on the Site C dam project. A man inside disrupted the meeting by throwing tables around and hurling epithets which resulted in the police being called. This man soon left. As police arrived they were encountered by another man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask who was armed with a knife. According to information released by the police, he was acting “in an aggressive manner, refusing to comply with directions.” One of which was undoubtedly, “Drop the knife.” The result was that 48-year-old James Daniel McIntyre was shot by the RCMP and died. The IIO asserted jurisdiction and...

IIO still dysfunctional while millions are wasted on this folly

A couple of days after RCMP Cst. Rick Drought had the asinine charge of Careless Use of a Firearm stayed in Cranbrook court, Global reporter John Daly did a story for the six o’clock news. In the process of gathering information for his story, he interviewed Solicitor General Susan Anton who essentially said she didn’t have a problem with the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) and they were much like any other agency who investigates and submits reports to Crown for charge approval. Anton is either lying or is significantly out of touch with reality with what is occurring in her ministry and all the investigations into bullying, morale issues, inappropriate behaviour that are or have gone on in the IIO by various 3rd parties and the PSA, the governmental HR department who was instructed by her own deputy minister, Richard Fyfe. Police officers across the province are more than a little concerned every time they go to work that even if they do their job properly in high stress situations they run the risk of finding themselves in the dock of a criminal courtroom. And why not? They have seen at first hand the charge of second degree murder filed against Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams. He went through nine months of hell until the Crown, in a sudden moment of clarity, stayed the charge they couldn’t possibly have proven in the first instance. They say the same thing played out two weeks ago with the stay of charges against Drought. But...

More questions into IIO investigation

This morning in Cranbrook, common sense finally re-entered the room and the Crown entered a stay of proceedings against RCMP Cst. Rick Drought. I first told you about this on Monday, but Drought has been going through hell since criminal charges were laid against him more than two years ago. But this case was messed up out of the gate. And for a number of reasons. Where to begin? Quite apart from the nonsense spouted by Independent Investigations Office (IIO) investigator Sherman Mah when he testified that he had no ability to take measurements at the scene and resorted to super-imposing an RCMP diagram on a printout of Google Earth to estimate the distance between Drought when he opened fire and the vehicle accelerating towards him. That was not only wrong, but plainly embarrassing. I only wish it stopped there. I spoke tonight with Alan Armstrong, the good Samaritan who stopped to help Nicholas John Bullock and his 17-yr-old girlfriend who had run out of gas in the car they had highjacked in Coquitlam hours earlier. When Armstrong picked them up he engaged them in conversation. Bullock repaid his courtesy by placing a cold, metal something at the back of his head and said, “Pull over. I’ve got a gun against your head and I’ll blow your fucking head off.” Armstrong protested that he was in traffic and couldn’t  and Bullock repeated the threat. Armstrong pulled over and undid his seatbelt as he was told. He got a boot in his ribs pushing him...

Charges stayed against Cranbrook RCMP member

I will have much more to say on this later, but for now I am pleased to report that this morning the Crown has stayed the charges against Cranbrook RCMP Cst. Rick Drought. Common sense has finally re-entered the room. -30- Leo Knight

More mystery in another IIO cop prosecution

After the first week of testimony in the charge of careless use of a firearm against Cranbrook Cst. Rick Drought, a 15 year veteran of the RCMP at the time, I am still left wondering why this charge has been laid in the first place. A week into it and I have no inkling what it is the Crown thinks it can prove that adds up to criminal behaviour. What’s even more puzzling is that when the charge against Drought was first announced on August 8, 2013, the charge was ‘intentionally discharging a firearm into a motor vehicle knowing a person was in the vehicle and intentionally discharging a firearm while being reckless as to the life and safety of another person.’ Those charges were new to the Criminal Code in 2009 and were designed to prosecute gang shootings not police officers in the execution of their duty. It carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for each count. In the government background announcing the amendments it specifically said, “One of the main purposes of the bill is to facilitate the battle against organized crime, and to that end, it amends the Criminal Code.” So, with that in mind, let’s have a look at the facts in the case. In the early morning hours of Oct. 2nd, 2012, 25-yr-old career criminal Nicholas John Bullock, accompanied by his 17-yr-old girlfriend, violently carjacked two folks driving a white Chevy Malibu in the parking lot of the Coquitlam Superstore. They drove the car until...

Police watchdog puts cloud over courageous cops

On Thursday, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) issued a media statement saying the Acting Chief Civilian Director has made a report to Crown Counsel in relation to an incident involving the Vancouver Police.  Essentially they are saying one or more of the officers involved in a shooting on June 10, 2014 “may” have committed a criminal offence. Yet again, we see the IIO overreach is what should be a cut and dried case. Let’s look at just how cut and dried. At approximately 11:10 in the morning Gerald Mark Battersby, 61, pumped multiple shots with a .357 revolver into 52 yr. old Paul Dragan outside the Starbucks at Davie and Marinaside Cres. As it happened, a couple of VPD officers were just pulling up in front of Starbucks, drew their weapons and challenged Battersby who replied by shooting at the police then fleeing on a bike onto the Sea Wall towards Science Centre. Police gave chase and called for cover units to try and block Battersby from the other side. During the chase more shots were fired. Once at Science World, Battersby was engaged by members of VPD. More shots were exchanged. A female VPD member was trapped in her police car as Battersby shot into it, wounding her with flying glass. Another officer using the police car for cover got caught as Battersby chased him around the car firing as the officer tried to desperately find cover. Battersby was armed with a six shot .357 revolver. He’d already re-loaded at least once,...

Hindsight is 20/20 in YVR case

Two of the four RCMP officers involved in the incident at YVR that resulted in the tragic death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski were found guilty of perjury in bizarre decisions and given custody sentences. I don't believe either will serve any time at all. And the reality is that none of the four needed to be put through the hell that they have these last seven years. Both Cpl. Monty Robinson and Cst. Kwesi Millington have filed appeals of their convictions and given the other two Mounties involved were acquitted at bar and the Crown appealed one and was soundly defeated in the Court of Appeal, it seems likely the appeals will be successful. At least I hope that will be the case. I have stated this before and will say so again; not one of those four officers did anything wrong. They responded according to their training and the RCMP policy such as it was at the time. For them to be in criminal proceedings at all is a travesty. Let alone for the trumped-up charges of perjury. Throughout, the media narrative has been relentless all based on misconceptions that could have easily been cleared up had only the RCMP as an entity, done a better job of communicating with the public instead of hunkering down in the bunker, so to speak, and hoping things would blow over. The fall-out of those bad communications decisions resulted in the convictions against two of those members for perjury, mind you, nothing to do...

Column on police shootings disingenous

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t criticize another columnist’s opinion. Everyone is entitled to theirs. But I must take exception to National Post columnist Brian Hutchinson’s effort appearing in the Post and in the Vancouver Sun. (Questions raised over police shootings; One man ‘lucky he didn’t get shot’) His premise, resulting from three recent police shootings in BC, seems to be that the the immediate reaction of the police in violent circumstances is to draw their weapons and shoot someone. He then drew out the circumstances from a violent event in Chilliwack in an incident where the police were attacked by a suspect and they didn’t shoot and somehow reaches the conclusion that this was a rare, "unfamiliar" event. He conveniently ignores the fact that only some of the tens of thousands of contacts police have with the public turn violent and the police deal with that violence by using force to subdue the person who initiated the violence. And they do so on a daily basis without shooting someone. Simply put, yes there were three police involved shootings in BC in the past two weeks. All are under investigation by the Independent Investigations Office, the civilian investigative agency formed by the BC government to investigate incidents where police use force which results in serious injury or death. But we know nothing more than what was released in terse press releases. We do not know the circumstances in which police used lethal force and neither does Hutchinson. Unlike him, I won’t rush to judgement. He also...