'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. -Adam Smith "All the 'truth' in the world adds up to one big lie." Bob Dylan "Idealism precedes experience, cynicism follows it." Anon

August 23, 2011

Rogue Cops: a few bad apples or a rotten barrel?

Chain The Dogma    August 23, 2011

Rogue Cops: a few bad apples or a rotten barrel?

The shocking cruelty of police towards a serial killer's rape victim

by Perry Bulwer

Last week I started watching the TV series, The Wire. Yes, I know I'm several years late, but that's how I watch TV these days. I wait for a series to conclude, then obtain the entire series to view at my leisure rather than conforming to broadcast schedules. It is also much easier to remember characters and plot lines from episode to episode and season to season that way. So far I've only watched the first four episodes of season one, but even though those episodes aired in 2004 they still seem freshly ripped from today's headlines.

I am thinking particularly of the depiction of incompetent, violent police officers and their corrupt superiors. Of course, such depictions are nothing new, corrupt cops being a popular Hollywood trope, but the real rogues are often worse than those fictional ones. The Rodney King incident in 1991 helped illustrate that fact in a way that was impossible for the police to cover-up. Police brutality and abuse of authority are as old as policing itself, of course, but until the advent of video technology they always had a way to cover up their crimes through collusion. They still do that today, but it is much harder when there is video evidence often taken by witnesses. That type of evidence of police brutality has greatly increased now that most citizens carry cell phone cameras with them. However, instead of dealing with the problem of rogue cops who abuse their powers, law enforcement officials seem determined to criminalize filming police in public places.

What's good for the police apparently isn't good for the people -- or so the law enforcement community would have us believe when it comes to surveillance.

That's a concise summary of a new trend first reported by National Public Radio last week -- the trend whereby law enforcement officials have been trying to prevent civilians from using cellphone cameras in public places as a means of deterring police brutality.

Oddly, the effort -- which employs both forcible arrests of videographers and legal proceedings against them -- comes at a time when the American Civil Liberties Union reports that "an increasing number of American cities and towns are investing millions of taxpayer dollars in surveillance camera systems."

Then again, maybe it's not odd that the two trends are happening simultaneously. Maybe they go hand in hand. Perhaps as more police officers use cameras to monitor every move we make, they are discovering the true power of video to independently document events. And as they see that power, they don't want it turned against them.


Law enforcement officials, of course, don't like the cellphone cameras because they don't want any check on police power. So they've resorted to fear-mongering allegations about lost lives. But the only police officers who are threatened by cellphone cameras are those who want to break civil liberties laws with impunity. The rest have nothing to worry about and everything to gain from a practice that simply asks them to remember the all-too-forgotten part of their "protect and serve" motto -- the part about protecting the public's civil rights.

In some jurisdictions, such as California, the law already shields violent police officers. Here's an excerpt from a recent investigative report  there:

March 21, 2009, was one of the bloodiest days in the history of the Oakland Police Department and California law enforcement.


[Sgt. Patrick] Gonzales would emerge from the day’s dramatic violence as a department hero; some colleagues nicknamed him “Audie Murphy,” the most decorated American soldier of World War II. But to many in the black and Latino neighborhoods Gonzales polices today, he has long been known as something else: a loose cannon. During Gonzales’ 13-year career he has shot four suspects, three fatally. “He’s left a trail of victims in his wake,” says Cathy King, the mother of one of Gonzales’ shooting victims, “but he’s [considered] a valued member of the police department.”

Multiple lawsuits alleging wrongful death, excessive force, illegal searches and racial profiling incidents involving Gonzales have resulted in $3.6 million paid by the city in settlement money. Law enforcement experts say he fits the profile of the “bad apple” minority in OPD that is responsible for most of the allegations of brutality that plague its relationship with the city’s communities of color. And the Board of Inquiry report on the bloody events of March 21, 2009, places significant blame for the carnage on Gonzales’ decisions.

Yet, Gonzales has been consistently promoted and deployed into sensitive situations throughout his career, and without public outcry. That’s because few know about either his record or his promotions. His extensive personnel file is today off-limits to the public, thanks to a dramatic rollback in the transparency of law enforcement records following a California Supreme Court ruling five years ago. The 2006 decision, in Copley Press v. Superior Court of San Diego, effectively classified all records of individual law enforcement officers, even those employed by contractors.

The arc of Gonzales’ career, from a patrol officer in the Eastlake neighborhood to a sergeant on the SWAT team at the heart of one of OPD’s darkest days, tells the story of a department’s broken accountability system, now pushed behind a wall of secrecy.

I do not buy the "bad apple" argument. If Gonzales was merely a bad apple, why did he keep getting promoted? If he was a bad apple, so were his superiors, which suggests the entire barrel was rotten. There are just too many cases of police misconduct (I'm referring to the U.S. and Canada) for it to be a matter of a few corrupt cops. The problem is rooted in police culture and training. I do not know how else to explain the brutal behaviour of Ontario police towards a woman bound, beat and raped by a serial killer.

A woman who was bound and sexually assaulted by her then-neighbour, Col. Russell Williams, says the police left her tied up for five hours after responding to her 911 call.

Laurie Massicotte says Ontario Provincial Police officers told her they had to leave her in the harness, fashioned by Williams, until an OPP photographer arrived to take pictures of her in the restraint.

"I was left for five hours, still in my harness, still tied up, naked, lying under a comforter," Massicotte, 47, told the Ottawa Citizen in a telephone interview Friday.

"Five hours, no medical attention. I was in total shock. I didn't know what the heck was going on."

The OPP, she said, treated her like a criminal in the early hours of the investigation.

One officer told her neighbour, Massicotte said, that police suspected she was trying to "copycat" what happened to another sexual assault victim in Tweed, Ont., 12 days earlier.

"It was really, really, really bad," she said.


Massicotte was blindfolded and bound. Her clothes were cut from her with a knife. She was forced to pose while Williams took photos.

The ordeal lasted 3 1/2 hours. Williams left her in a makeshift straitjacket — her arms were cinched to her sides — but she still managed to dial 911.

The police told her she would have to stay in the restraint until the ident unit arrived. When photos were finally taken five hours later, Massicotte said she was then allowed to put on a bathrobe, and taken outside for three more hours while police combed her house for evidence.

She went through a lengthy interrogation before an OPP officer "finally confessed to me that this similar situation happened 12 days ago and we didn't warn anybody about it."

After the incident, Massicotte said she felt violated and terrorized by Williams — and "betrayed" by the police. She said she now suffers from post-traumatic stress and anxiety.

To recap, Laurie was tied up, beaten, and raped for 3 1/2 hours by a serial rapist and killer. When police arrived an obviously traumatized Laurie was left naked and tied up for 5 more hours because they did not believe she was a victim, but instead thought she was a criminal. Then when they finally untied her she was forced to wait another 3 hours outside while police continued their investigation. So, her rapist abused her for 3 1/2 hours, but the police abused her for 8 hours. But that was not the final indignity. Not only did the police think she was faking her own assault, they had failed to warn her that a similar attack had occurred just two weeks earlier. That failure in their duty of care to Laurie will be one of the claims in her lawsuit against the police force.

So, is that a case of a few bad cops, or an indication of a systemic failure in police training and oversight? Could those police officers really not tell the difference between a traumatized sex assault victim in shock and someone merely pretending to be? Are they trained to assume everyone they deal with is a criminal until they can prove otherwise? It certainly seems so, as the Robert Dziekański  case suggests. He was the innocent Polish man killed by police tasers in the Vancouver airport. They then tried to cover up what they did by giving false evidence. It was not just the four RCMP officers involved who colluded on their evidence and tried to mislead the investigation and inquiry. An RCMP spokesperson gave a false version of events to the public before anyone was aware that a witness had taken a video of the incident. No wonder police departments want to criminalize filming the police.

Post Script: I continued this theme of police misconduct in the blog post  "Sexual harassment in the RCMP and the failure to catch a serial killer" at the first link below.



  1. Russell Williams' victim sues police over 'betrayal'

    CBC News September 25, 2011

    An Ontario woman who was sexually assaulted by convicted killer Russell Williams says she has filed a $7-million lawsuit against the disgraced former base commander of CFB Trenton, his ex-wife and provincial police because she feels betrayed by the people she thought would protect her.

    In an exclusive interview Sunday with the CBC's Dave Seglins with questions screened by her lawyer, Laurie Massicotte said the September 2009 attack and the aftermath of the police investigation of her case has left her almost unable to function.

    "I don't even know who I am anymore," she told Seglins. "It's just really bad. I just feel really bad. I don't know what to do. I guess I'm still in shock and I haven't been able to come out of it."

    Massicotte filed a statement of claim in the Superior Court of Justice on Friday for damages, including pain, suffering and emotional and mental distress stemming from being bound and sexually assaulted by Williams in September 2009.

    Massicotte was Williams's second victim and has accused the Ontario Provincial Police of failing to protect her and give her enough information about a previous sexual assault in the town of Tweed, Ont.
    In her statement of claim, Massicotte raises the spectre of another, as-yet-unreported third sexual assault victim, saying she was told by justice officials during Williams's trial that he committed two sexual assaults prior to the night he broke into Massicotte's home.

    "The biggest question would be the fact that I wasn't warned about this," she said during the interview. "I wasn't warned about previous incidents."

    In the document, Massicotte describes being beaten, tied up at the wrists and blindfolded by Williams, who then sexually assaulted her and took several photographs and videos of her.

    About five hours later, after Williams left her home, she managed to dial 911, only to be told not to move — her hands still bound — while police teams investigated for several more hours. She alleges during this time, she was referred to over the police radio as "being crazy."

    Massicotte also alleges investigators told her neighbours that she was faking the attack and "copycatting" the earlier attack in the neighbourhood, which she said she wasn't aware of.

    She also said she was never taken to the hospital, tested with a rape kit after the attack, or examined for DNA trace evidence. It was only at Williams's trial that she learned he had broken into her home two previous times before the night he assaulted her.

    After 12 hours with investigators, she says an officer then apologized and told her a similar incident happened 12 days earlier just down the road from her and police did not warn the public.

    "I felt betrayal," she said in the interview. "I felt that they were judging me, they weren't believing me. Lack of empathy. For professionals that I counted on protecting [me], that I always looked up to and didn't feel that I had to live in fear because I felt that they would be there to protect me and everybody, just lack of empathy, not keeping me informed as to what was going on."

    In her statement of claim, Massicotte alleges investigators initially excluded Williams as a suspect "due to his position" as the senior military officer in charge of the nearby airbase, and allowed him to pass during surveillance of traffic coming and going from the main highway the day after she was attacked.

    Massicotte also alleges one of the local police officers whose daughter went to school with one of her daughters shared information about her assault improperly, and the information was disseminated at school and in the community verbally and by electronic means.

    read the full article at:


  2. RCMP officer 'scornful' of shooting report, mom says

    CBC News October 12, 2011

    The parents of a woman slain in Mission, B.C., say they have a new reason to believe the conduct of an RCMP officer cost their daughter her life — an audio recording of the 911 call, which they've exclusively released to the CBC. Mark and Rosemarie Surakka have received an audio recording that the RCMP was compelled to turn over to them which the couple says reveals a careless attitude by the investigating RCMP officer. The Surakkas’ daughter, Lisa Dudley, and her boyfriend, Guthrie Jolan McKay, were shot in their home in the Fraser Valley community, east of Vancouver, on Sept. 18, 2008. But police didn’t discover the victims until days later.

    Immediately after the shootings, Dudley’s neighbour called the RCMP to report he’d heard several gunshots and the sound of a crash coming from the home. The officer who responded, Const. Mike White, soon arrived near the property, but never got out of his car and did not talk to the man who’d made the 911 call. White left the scene a few minutes later, reporting he’d found nothing suspicious.

    Four days after the gunshots were heard, another neighbour peered into the house through a window and saw the body of McKay, 33. Paramedics were called and found Dudley, 37, still alive, but she died before reaching the hospital. At a disciplinary hearing earlier this year, White suggested he never spoke to the neighbour who’d called 911 because he had trouble locating the man’s house in the heavily treed neighbourhood that had many gated driveways.

    A recording of a phone conversation White had with a police dispatcher at the time was not part of the evidence. The Commision for Public Complaints Against the RCMP only released the recording to Dudley’s family after the office of Canada's Information Commissioner threatened court action to order the force to turn the recording over. The transcript reveals a light-hearted tone in the conversation between White and the RCMP dispatcher.


    "It was almost a scornful laugh,” said Dudley’s mother, Rosemarie Surakka, told CBC News after hearing the recording. “In my heart, it confirmed [White] had no intention of doing anything." Surakka said White should have gotten out of his vehicle or at least have spoken with the 911caller.
    “It would have been different, I know it would have. Lisa would have lived, I know she would have lived,” her mother said.

    The phone call should have been considered at White's hearing, said Dudley's stepfather. "We don't feel there was any intent really to hold him accountable,” Mark Surakka said.


    At his RCMP disciplinary hearing, White said he was "disappointed" with his actions that night and was also disappointed his name had been "associated negatively" with the incident. White eventually admitted to disgraceful conduct, received a reprimand and was docked one day’s pay. He since has been promoted to corporal.

    read the full article at:

  3. Slain B.C. woman's mother files lawsuit

    CBC News October 28, 2011

    A B.C. mother is suing the provincial and federal governments, alleging her daughter's charter right to life was violated when the RCMP failed to investigate the gunfire that killed her.

    Lisa Dudley died in September 2008 after being shot in her home in Mission, along with her companion, Guthrie McKay.

    Although a neighbour called 911, the RCMP officer who went to the scene never got out of his car and did not speak to the neighbour who had notified police.

    It was later revealed that the officer, Const. Mike White, also dismissively laughed off the 911 call in a conversation with his dispatcher.

    Dudley, 37, was found alive days later, but died en route to hospital. McKay was found dead in the home.

    The lawsuit filed Thursday in B.C. Supreme Court alleges that, had the RCMP done its job, Dudley would be alive today, said Monique Pongracic-Speier, the lawyer for Dudley’s mother, Rosemary Surakka.

    "The essence of the lawsuit is that the RCMP response was so inadequate that it amounted to a deprivation of her right to life, because when she was found she was alive and she subsequently died," Pongracic-Speier said.

    Pongracic-Speier said the situation might be different if Dudley had died right after she’d been shot, but that’s not what happened.

    “This is a woman who was alive for four days, stuck to her chair by dried blood, and who expired while paramedics were attending to her," the lawyer said.

    Suits alleging police violations of charter rights are not uncommon, but they usually revolve around arrests, searches or death in custody.

    Ruling provides precedent
    Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that financial damages can be awarded for constitutional breaches.

    Because the suit alleges a constitutional violation, the officers involved aren't named as defendants, but referred to as agents of the state.

    Surakka is suing the Attorney General of Canada, B.C.'s Solicitor General and the District of Mission, which technically employs the RCMP.

    Const. White was reprimanded and docked a day’s pay after an RCMP disciplinary hearing in connection with his actions the night of the shooting. He has since been promoted to the rank of corporal.


  4. Serial killer Russell Williams's neighbour sues after suspected in crimes

    By Dave Seglins, CBC News November 28, 2011

    A man who lived next door to Russell Williams in eastern Ontario is suing the serial sex killer, a neighbour and local police for wrongfully implicating him in the former military commander's crimes.

    Larry Jones and his wife, Bonnie, filed their $1,575,000 suit late Friday in Peterborough, Ont.

    Jones is suing Williams for the emotional and mental distress suffered as the subject of an intense police investigation, while Williams did nothing to alert police that they had the wrong man.

    Williams — the disgraced former base commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton in eastern Ontario — pleaded guilty to 88 charges and was sentenced in October 2010 to two terms of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years for the first-degree murders of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd. He was also sentenced to 10 years for each of his two charges of sexual assault and two charges of forcible confinement, as well as one year for each of the other 82 charges.

    Also named in the suit are neighbour Laurie Massicotte, Jones's former in-law, Jonas Kelly, the Ontario Provincial Police and police overseers in connection with the search of the Jones family home and the tarnishing of Larry Jones’s reputation in the Ontario community of Tweed.

    “Why haven’t I got an apology for what they did? It was totally wrong what they did,” Larry Jones told CBC News in an exclusive interview at his home Sunday.

    “It’s pretty upsetting — still to this day — and it will be until the day I die. I want to let everybody in the country know … we had nothing to do with this. It’s probably the worst day of my life the day police came to my house.”

    The statement of claim contains allegations that have not been proven in court.

    Jones’s nightmare began when he returned home from partridge hunting in late October 2009 and found dozens of police officers scouring his home. He was taken in for questioning and, according to his statement of claim, officers also interrogated his wife of 40 years, asking whether Larry "participated in bondage."

    He was told the investigation was related to a string of break-ins and two late-night home invasions and sexual assaults around the community on Cozy Cove Lane in Tweed. Word quickly spread through the the tightly knit community that Jones was a suspect in the investigation.

    Williams, who lived next door to Jones and just three doors away from one of the assault victims, was a respected base commander at CFB Trenton and had not yet been interviewed or questioned by police when Jones was interrogated. ...

    Calls investigation ‘negligent’

    Jones’s statement of claim alleges local OPP investigators were negligent and acted on spurious information that contradicted Massicotte’s statements to police.

    According to the suit, Massicotte told police the attacker was “not a tall or big person … between 30 to 40 years of age.” Jones was 65 at the time, stood 5-feet-9 inches tall, and weighed approximately 215 lbs.

    The suit suggests some OPP members continued to suspect Jones months after he passed both polygraph and DNA testing.

    Jones claims an officer even said, “Sorry about all this, you have been cleared 100 per cent. Go home, put your feet up and have a cold beer.”

    But when Jones's wife Bonnie tried to retrieve seized items at the local OPP detachment three months later, she was “advised by OPP officer Russ Alexander that the police were continuing to investigate Larry for the attack,” according to the lawsuit documents.

    On Jan. 27, 2010, while police were searching for missing Belleville woman Jessica Lloyd, Jones reported a break-in at his shed on Cozy Cove — the scene of earlier attacks.

    His suit claims Alexander was dismissive and asked, “What do you want me to do about it?” ...

    read the full article at:


  5. Dziekanski perjury trial timeline frustrates mother

    CBC News December 26, 2011

    The mother of Robert Dziekanski says delays in prosecuting the police officers involved in her son's death are prolonging her suffering.

    The Polish man died after four Mounties used a Taser stun gun to subdue him at Vancouver International Airport in October 2007.

    Last year, a public inquiry found much of the officers' testimony wasn't credible, but it will be up to two more years before the four stand trial for perjury.

    Constables Bill Bentley, Kwesi Millington and Gerry Rundel, and Cpl. Benjamin (Monty) Robinson are facing the charges regarding their testimony during the inquiry.

    Thomas Braidwood, the retired judge who headed the inquiry, described some of the Mounties' testimony as shameful and said they had made "deliberate misrepresentations for the purpose of justifying their action.”

    That was 2010. It took another year for a special prosecutor to lay perjury charges.

    Only last week were trial dates confirmed for all four officers.

    Mother says 2-year wait 'is too long'

    Each will be tried separately, the first next October, the last a year later, in 2013.

    "Two years is too long to wait. I have to do something again," Dziekanski's mother, Zofia Cisowski, told CBC News.

    Cisowski also said she has had no peace since her son's fatal confrontation with the RCMP.

    David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the delay doesn't serve anyone's interest.

    "You've got the transcript from the inquiry. You've got the videotape from the incident. How is this a complicated or challenging matter? Why is it taking so long? I think those are questions we can appropriately ask," Eby said.

    Darryl Davies, a criminology professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, said the trial delays and the RCMP's handling of the case are appalling.

    Davies told CBC News that new RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson must deliver on his promise to change the direction of the force.

    "If he doesn't address this issue, then he has failed from Day 1 from the get-go," Davies told CBC News.

    Trial dates based on lawyers' schedules

    Special prosecutor Richard Peck said the trial dates were set to fit the lawyers' schedules.

    All four officers are pleading not guilty.

    For the past several years, each officer has been on the payroll but deemed "not operational," a vague term the RCMP will only say means they are not involved in actual policing.

    Further questions to several of the officers' lawyers went unanswered.

    The Canadian government is paying the officers' legal bills.


  6. Mountie docked pay for assaulting inmates


    OTTAWA — A Mountie whose blog was shut down by the national police force earlier this year for calling aspiring models "second-class, working whores" and "skanks" has been docked 10 days pay after admitting to assaulting two inmates in a cellblock.

    One of the inmates was handcuffed when RCMP Const. Shawn Kropielniski lost his temper in 2010 and lifted up an accused by his lapel and dragged him into a cell only to then "hip toss" him onto the floor, and press his knees into his charge's back.

    An RCMP disciplinary board ruled against the constable.

    It's not the first time Kropielniski lost his cool on an accused in the cellblock. In fact, in November 2009, Kropielniski elbowed an accused in the head, knocking him off a chair and onto to the floor in the RCMP cellblock in Bonnyville, Alta. In that case, the officer, now in his late 30s, also hit the accused in the head with a closed fist.

    Kropielniski later pleaded in criminal court and apologized. An Alberta judge cited several supportive character reference letters when she ruled that even though Kropielniski pleaded guilty, he would be spared jail.

    The court heard about the RCMP officer's "good sense of humour."

    And the court also heard that the officer sought anger-management treatment, had expressed remorse and said he had disappointed his family, the RCMP and himself.

    Once he pleaded guilty to the 2009 assault, prosecutors in Alberta dropped the 2010 criminal charge.

    Earlier this year, Kropielniski's personal blog was shut down by the RCMP. In one entry, he complained about testifying in court against an accused. He wrote: "After sitting through four hours of bulls---, poor fashion taste, and annoying people, it was showtime."

    One of his blog entries was titled "Why being a police officer sucks."

    The Mountie admitted to disgraceful conduct for excessive force at a disciplinary hearing held in Ottawa earlier this year.

    The RCMP disciplinary board ruled that Kropielniski disrespected an accused's "dignity" by using excessive force.

    In its ruling against the constable, the board noted that Kropielniski had been disciplined back in 2007 for forwarding an "offensive" email via the RCMP's internal email system.

    For that internal problem, Kropielniski received counselling — the minimum informal disciplinary action under the RCMP Act.

    In his latest disciplinary ruling, on Sept. 30 in Ottawa, the RCMP internal-affairs board said, "Constable Kropielniski has agreed to abide by a code of conduct an he must keep this obligation in mind at all times. The nature of his profession demands that, as peace officers, members must hold themselves to a much higher standard of conduct than what is expected from a member of the general public. Members must live by a much stricter code of self-discipline and this is even more important when engaged in the very duties for which they are trained."

    Kropielniski was an Edmonton police officer before joining the RCMP.

    The constable, convicted in criminal court, was docked five days pay by the Mounties for each assault in the cellblock.


  7. Sober B.C. senior fined for drunk driving,

    By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun January 11, 2012

    An 82-year-old Cranbrook woman with medical problems maintains she was made to stand in the midnight chill for more than two hours while RCMP officers attempted 15 times to obtain a breath sample.

    When the stone-cold-sober pensioner with poor lung capacity was unable to blow hard enough to activate the roadside screening device, Margaret MacDonald was cited for failing to blow, her licence was suspended, she was fined $500 and her car was towed.

    Old but no fool, she quickly went to the local hospital where she had her blood tested for alcohol and obtained a medical certificate that said there was none — zero, nada — in her system.

    “I know if you don’t have proof, no one will believe you,” MacDonald explained. “That’s what possessed me to go to the hospital. The Mounties weren’t going to get away with saying I was drunk or had been drinking.”

    When she complained to the detachment, a corporal tried to help her out and gave her a letter supporting her appeal.

    It didn’t matter a whit — the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles adjudicator still found her guilty under the province’s controversial drunk-driving laws.

    “I may only have six months, maybe a year; when you’re in your 80s you don’t know how long you have left,” the spunky senior told me Tuesday.

    “Why should I have to spend my days fighting this? I’m on a fixed income and it’s already cost me $6,000. I consider this whole matter to constitute a substantial wrong and a miscarriage of justice that could have been avoided if the officers involved had not jumped to the conclusion that I was impaired, had not completely ignored me, had discussed anything with me and had given me a chance to explain anything. Not one of them even asked if I had had a drink.”

    The RCMP haven’t resolved her complaint — she’d like to be reimbursed by the force for her out-of-pocket expenses — and she is seeking a judicial review of the adjudicator’s decision.

    On May 21, MacDonald visited a friend in Jaffray, about 50 km southeast of the city.

    During dinner to celebrate an engagement, she says she had a sip of champagne in a token toast about 6 o’clock.

    A Mountie doing a routine traffic check on Highway 3 stopped her on her way home around 11:45 p.m. He stuck his head in the driver’s side window, chatted with her and told her to beware of elk.

    About 45 minutes later, in Cranbrook, a few blocks from her house, MacDonald mistakenly turned into the wrong lane and drove around a median. She felt dumb, but got home and parked her car.

    She was at her front door when a car pulled up and the driver beckoned to her. She thought the woman was lost.

    After pointing out her bad driving, the woman told MacDonald she was an off-duty cop and a patrol car was on the way to give her a breathalyzer test. She left when the cruiser arrived.

    The responding RCMP officer and auxiliary asked MacDonald to blow into the roadside screening device.

    She was unable to generate sufficient breath but they kept trying, and trying, and trying — 15 times, according to the material filed with the adjudicator.

    “One would have thought they might have considered that due to health and age I was unable to complete the test,” the nevertheless feisty MacDonald said.

    “At the age of 82, I have developed various health problems. Five years ago, I had pneumonia and was told by my doctor that I have scarring on one of my lungs; I have from time to time mild to mildly severe lung congestion.”

    The Mounties kept her standing outside wearing only a pair of sandals, a cotton skirt and a light blouse on a night that Environment Canada says the temperature hovered about 11 C. She said she had to “beg” to go to the bathroom.

    The elderly woman began to become more stressed, upset and cold as their efforts continued: “It took me two days to warm up afterwards.”

    continued in next comment:


  8. continued from previous comment:

    MacDonald estimated she was forced to stand for nearly an hour in the middle of the cul-de-sac in the glare of the cruiser’s headlights, her neighbours watching from their windows.

    “This was very embarrassing,” she added. “I was traumatized due to the treatment from the RCMP.”

    When they realized she wasn’t able to give a breath sample, the junior Mounties called a superior. MacDonald thought it took him about half an hour to arrive.

    On leaving his car, she maintained he roughly grabbed the roadside screening unit, inserted it in her mouth and sharply ordered her to blow.

    “I could not blow at all,” she said. “I was traumatized, cold and close to tears. When I could not blow, the senior RCMP banged his fist on the squad car and shouted at me: ‘Blow, blow … Your tongue is in the tube. You are doing this on purpose. You are slurring your words. You are drunk. I can smell alcohol on you.’ I said, ‘I don’t drink.’ He barked: ‘They all say that!’”

    She was cited for failing to provide a breath sample, given a Notice of Driving Prohibition for three months, told to pay a $500 fine and informed her car would be immediately towed.

    “I was crying,” MacDonald recalled. “I was humiliated. I cleaned out my car and a tow truck took it away. By this time it was about 2:45 a.m. I was exhausted, freezing cold and still crying.”

    Too upset to sleep, MacDonald decided if the RCMP were going to claim she smelled of booze, she wasn’t going to take it.

    “I would get a blood test,” she concluded. “I took a cab to the Cranbrook hospital where I was given a blood-alcohol test at about 3:50 a.m. The test showed there was zero-per-cent alcohol in my blood.”

    It was a long weekend, so on the Tuesday morning she went to the RCMP detachment and complained.

    After a cursory investigation, the corporal provided her with a letter saying: “I believe it is only fair that this Driving Prohibition and Vehicle Impound be terminated and removed from your driving record as soon as possible to mitigate any further impact to yourself.”

    He could not rescind the immediate roadside prohibition but helped her file an appeal. That cost MacDonald another $200.

    “I don’t usually drink — the last time I had anything to drink was a half glass of wine at Easter dinner in April,” MacDonald confided.

    “I was treated as guilty of driving while impaired without anyone even asking me if I had had a drink … I have had a motor vehicle licence for 63 years without any other incident. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. I was standing in the cold, lungs congested, legs hurting and dry mouth. They did not care.”

    The oral hearing was held June 1 and her appeal was denied June 9.

    A few days later, MacDonald suffered a mild, stress-related heart attack and was in hospital for five days.

    Her attempt to seek redress in B.C. Supreme Court was put on hold late last year because the drunk-driving provisions were already under review.

    On Dec. 23, Justice Jon Sigurdson gave the province until June 30 to correct flaws in the drunk-driving legislation because parts were unconstitutional — but only insofar as they applied to those who blow a “fail” on the roadside device, which indicates a blood-alcohol level of over .08.


  9. Massive Toronto police corruption trial begins

    By Dave Seglins, CBC News January 16, 2012

    Five former Toronto police drug squad officers who were accused of beating and robbing suspects of drugs and large sums of money will go on trial Monday, accused of a conspiracy in which they allegedly falsified official police records to cover their tracks.

    The charges against John Schertzer, Ned Maodus, Joe Miched, Ray Pollard and Steve Correia date back to the late 1990s and police drug busts they performed in which the Crown alleges the officers themselves committed a range of offences — from conspiracy to obstruct justice, to theft, assault, perjury and extortion.

    The five have all pleaded not guilty and on Monday will face a jury, after more than a decade and $14 million spent on investigations and prosecution in what is the largest case of alleged police corruption in Canadian history.

    In addition, between 1999 and 2003, the federal Department of Justice, without any explanation, stayed some 200 criminal cases against accused drug dealers arrested by the officers. Prosecutors did so long before the officers were charged or given a chance to defend themselves against allegations of misconduct.

    Six officers were originally charged in January 2004 after a Toronto Police Special Task Force led by a single RCMP chief superintendent spent three years investigating.

    In 2008, a trial judge stayed all charges, ruling that delays by the prosecution infringed on the officers’ rights.

    But in 2009, Ontario’s Court of Appeal rejected that and ruled a trial should proceed for five of the six officers, noting the complexity of the case. (Charges against Richard Benoit, though, were dismissed.)

    continued in next comment:


  10. continued from previous comment:

    Toronto’s former mayor John Sewell, who heads the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, said prosecutions of alleged police corruption in general can take years, likening them to organized crime trials in which defendants challenge every legal decision and ruling.

    “And they just go on and on and on forever,” Sewell told CBC News, “because they hope, or the strategy seems to be, that they can drag things out for long enough that witnesses are going to die, that they’re going to move away, maybe to another continent, people are going to retire, everyone’s going to forget what really happened.”

    Indeed, in the Toronto police case headed to court on Monday one witness has died, another has left the country and memories of all involved have no doubt faded.

    “Well it’s pretty extraordinary, to say the least," said criminology professor Simon Holdaway. Based in the United Kingdom, Holdaway studied the Toronto Police force extensively throughout the early 2000s. "One expects a public service to be able to sort out and go to trial quickly, and the police being one of, if not the, primary public service,” he said.

    “I found it a policing system, in terms of its culture, that was kind of like 15 years behind what was happening in the U.K. It was extraordinary, really,” Holdaway told CBC News, noting that unlike in Canada, in the U.K. all major police forces have dedicated anti-corruption units trained to rapidly deal with allegations of internal wrongdoing.

    The five accused have long asserted they are victims of a "witch hunt" within Toronto police and in 2003 several of them launched a $116-million lawsuit alleging "malicious prosecution" and "abuse of process" against the force, its then-chief Julian Fantino, as well as city overseers. The lawsuit remains on the books, awaiting the outcome of the criminal trial.

    All but one of the five men set to stand trial have retired from the force, many of them spending many years "suspended with pay" while collecting full benefits.

    In November 2007, former Det. Sgt. John Schertzer — who led the group of accused officers who were all members of Team 3 of the TPS Central Field Command drug squad — retired with full pension as he turned 50, with 32 years of service to the force.

    Steve Correia, 44, is still on the force but has been suspended while collecting full pay since he was charged criminally in January of 2004.


  11. Charge G20 officers, police watchdog orders

    By Dave Seglins, CBC News January 20, 2012

    Ontario's top police complaints watchdog has concluded five officers involved in the now infamous arrest of G20 protester Adam Nobody should be charged with misconduct for using unnecessary force and for discreditable conduct, CBC News has learned.

    CBC News has obtained a report produced by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) on Nobody's violent takedown on the lawn of Queen's Park in Toronto on June 26, 2010.

    The report, which was given last week to Toronto police Chief Bill Blair, orders him to lay disciplinary charges against five Toronto constables: Michael Adams, Geoffrey Fardell, David Donaldson, Oliver Simpson and Babak Andalib-Goortani.

    The OIPRD report also raises new questions about Nobody's conduct at the protest.

    It concludes officers had reasonable grounds to arrest him, accepting officers' statements that Nobody had threatened to kick the police officers' "heads in."

    As well, the report says Nobody's complaint that he was assaulted a second time as he was moved, with his hands restrained, to a police transport wagon could not be substantiated due to "insufficient evidence."

    "I'm very grateful somebody else believes me … and that other people are going to have to face retribution for attacking me," Nobody told CBC News in an exclusive interview. "I was getting pummelled and beaten. Police officers were holding my arms."

    But Nobody flatly rejects the OIPRD acceptance of officers' statements that he was agitating the crowd or uttering threats.

    "I did not threaten to kick any officer's head in. I was standing there. They were approaching us. I'm like, 'Why are you coming at us? We're not coming at you.' Again, we [were] at Queen's Park, the designated protest area!"

    He also stands by his allegations of a second assault: "I know it happened — [They] know it happened."


    The OIPRD report also reveals an intriguing twist that's raising questions about Toronto police supervision. Adams, an officer accused of using unnecessary force on Nobody, was involved in a police takedown May 5, 2010 – just seven weeks earlier – in which 18-year-old Junior Manon was fleeing police on foot when he was tackled and died from what a pathologist determined was "positional asphyxia."

    The SIU cleared Adams of any wrongdoing in Manon's death, which is currently the subject of a coroners' inquest in Toronto.

    Nobody questions why Adams was on the frontlines of the G20 arrest squads when he was still the subject of two mandatory investigations — one by the SIU and a second done internally by Toronto police.

    "He shouldn't have been out there if he's still under investigation," Nobody said. "For something as serious as a death? Like, how many cops were in Toronto that day, thousands? You needed one more who's being investigated? I think it's careless of his supervising officers, and all the way up the ladder."

    Toronto's police chief declined a request to comment on either the OIPRD report or the fact Adams was allowed to remain on frontline duty during the G20, given the probes into Manon's death.


    read the full article at:


  12. RCMP's Taser use in 2003 death slammed in report

    CBC News January 31, 2012

    The RCMP in B.C. is coming under fire again for the use of Tasers and restraints in the death of a Prince George man, and for the internal investigation conducted after his death.

    In 2003, Clay Willey was hog-tied and shocked with two Tasers simultaneously by officers at the Prince George detachment. He died hours later in hospital.

    An autopsy later found Willey had cuts, bruises and broken ribs but ultimately died from several heart attacks brought on by a cocaine overdose.

    The report from the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, which was issued on Tuesday, raises questions about the way police dealt with his arrest and the investigation that followed.

    At the time of his arrest Willey was high on cocaine and causing a disturbance on the streets of Prince George. After the RCMP arrested him, Willey continued to struggle and that's when officers decided to pepper spray him and hog-tie him.

    The report found it was reasonable for the officers to hog-tie Willey in order to restrain him, even though it was no longer part of police procedure, because the officers had no other equipment on hand at the time.

    "Constables Graham, Fowler and Rutten utilized an appropriate level of force when effecting the arrest of Clay Willey," said the report.

    But how Willey was treated at the police detachment did raise concerns for the CPC. It found police dragged him by his feet out of the police vehicle and then face down through the detachment.

    "Constables Caston and O’Donnell failed to treat Mr. Willey with the level of decency to be expected from police officers when they removed him from the police vehicle and transported him to the elevator," it said.

    It also found one officer's failure to secure his firearm and another officer's decision to draw her firearm during the transfer were a violation of RCMP policy.

    Inside the detachment Willey continued to struggle against the arm and leg restraints, so two officers then zapped him with their stun guns simultaneously in an attempt to subdue him.

    The independent report found, "the simultaneous use of the CEW by constables Caston and O’Donnell was unreasonable, unnecessary and excessive in the circumstances."

    The report also said the RCMP officers didn't get Willey medical help quickly enough, and he died after suffering several cardiac arrests en route to the hospital in an ambulance.

    The report also found several problems with the subsequent police investigation, including a failure to properly secure the scene, the cleaning of a police vehicle prior to its examination, failure to collect officers' footwear as evidence, the failure to recognize the loss of Willey's cellphone and failure to interview the officers in a timely manner.

    "Neither the criminal nor conduct aspects of the police involvement in Mr. Willey’s death were adequately investigated or addressed."

    The report from the Complaints Commission points out the RCMP agreed with virtually all of its findings and recommendations, but said the force took too long to respond to an interim report, which was completed 14 months ago.

    Prince George RCMP have scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning to respond to the report.

    In 2010 a public inquiry into the 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport concluded RCMP were not justified in using a Taser against the Polish immigrant and that the officers later deliberately misrepresented their actions to investigators.


  13. Judge rules RCMP punch unjustified and excessive

    CBC News February 3, 2012

    A Kelowna RCMP officer and dog handler has been found guilty of assault after punching a man nearly two years ago.

    Const. Chris Brinnen testified 24-year-old Kyle Nelson was being belligerent, swearing and giving him the finger outside a bar in February 2010.

    Brinnen told the court he chased Nelson down and only struck him when Nelson turned to take a fighting stance.

    But Nelson told a very different story.

    He testified he was leaving a bar when Brinnen gave him the finger. Nelson says he returned the gesture, and the RCMP officer threatened to throw him in the drunk tank.

    Nelson told the court Brinnen drove his SUV towards him. Nelson said he was scared and fled into a fenced alleyway, and when he heard Brinnen behind him, turned and raised his hands in surrender.

    'What are you doing? You're a cop'
    "And that is when he took like four steps towards me and just punched me right in the face," said Nelson after testifying in November 2011.

    "He put me in a headlock, threw me up against the fence, threw me down on the ground, got on my back, the dog had my foot in his mouth and I said 'What are you doing? You're a cop.' "

    In her judgement, Judge M.E. Shaw said the fact that Brinnen gave Nelson the finger was an "unfortunate, unprofessional and impulsive response."

    She ruled Brinnen did not strike Nelson in self-defence as he claimed.

    Rather, she found the officer did not have reasonable and probable grounds to arrest Nelson, making the force he used "unjustified and excessive."

    Outside the courthouse on Friday, Kyle Nelson's mother Heather called her son to tell him the news.

    "He's ecstatic," she told reporters.

    Brinnen has been an RCMP member for 14 years, and remained on-duty while the case made its way through the courts.

    His sentencing is scheduled for April 24.


  14. Montreal cops investigating more police brutality allegations


    Montreal police are investigating allegations of brutality among their ranks after a video of an officer hitting a protester surfaced on the Internet. It comes on the heels of a decision to suspend two Montreal cops temporarily for the repeated Tasering in 2007 of a man who died four days after his arrest.

    The video, shot during a protest against university tuition hikes on Jan. 27, shows a police officer approaching a protester and striking him in the stomach using the butt end of his baton. The officer proceeds to shove the young man several times as protesters yell for him to stop.

    “What we saw was pretty simple,” event organizer Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois told the daily La Presse. “We have a police officer who walked up to someone and hit him while this person was simply holding a banner.”

    The protester does not appear to have made any threatening gestures toward the officer, but police said over the weekend it was too early to determine whether the use of force was unnecessary.

    “Every time an officer uses force on the job, we look into it and determine whether or not it was appropriate,” said Sgt. Ian Lafreniere of the Montreal police. “In this case, we’ll review the footage.”

    In a separate case, a decision released Jan. 30 by the Quebec police ethics committee orders that Montreal police Const. Yannick Bordeleau be suspended for 20 days without pay for excessive use of force when he Tasered Quilem Registre six times when the officers pulled him over for a traffic violation in October 2007.

    Const. Steve Thibert, his partner during the arrest, has been ordered suspended for five days without pay for not stopping his partner after the first use of the Taser, which the ethics committee ruled was appropriate.

    “The severity of the misconduct in the present case was indicated by the use of the (Taser) on Mr. Registre five additional times after the first usage,” the report said in its conclusion. “Officer Bordeleau just screamed at Mr. Registre during the second, third and fourth (Taserings) to show his hands.”

    There is no date for the imposition of the suspensions and it is possible the officers will appeal.

    Fo Niemi, executive director of the human-rights watchdog group Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, said the punishment is not sufficient.

    “Of course not,” Niemi said. “The amount of times they Tasered him was very inhuman. Many people thought there should have been an outright dismissal” of the officer who Tasered Registre.

    Registre died in hospital Oct. 18, 2007, four days after the Tasering. Coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier ruled that while cocaine and alcohol might have contributed to his death, it was “difficult to believe” the Taserings played no role.

    Niemi said the committee was in a bind because there is very little jurisprudence in Quebec on disciplinary action for police officers’ excessive Taser use. The ruling notes that there is only one court decision on such discipline and it is currently being considered for appeal.


  15. RCMP sued for B.C. in-custody homicide

    CBC News February 7, 2012

    The parents of Clayton Willey say they are filing a civil suit against the RCMP to try to prove Prince George police officers were responsible for their son's death while in custody.

    Gloria and Brian Willey say they don't believe the RCMP Complaints Commission report published last week, which found arresting officers at the Prince George detachment were not responsible for Willey's death in 2003.

    At the time of his arrest, Willey was high on cocaine and causing a disturbance on the streets of Prince George. After he was arrested, Willey continued to struggle so officers hog-tied and shocked him with two Tasers simultaneously.

    He died hours later after suffering several cardiac arrests en route to the hospital in an ambulance.

    Willey's father Brian says he can't live with the commission's findings.

    "If he's hog-tied, how on earth can he be a threat to anybody? It's impossible. If you watch the tape, every time the red light goes off, they are tasering him," he said.

    "How many times? 40-50 times? I'm not sure. I didn't count. But this is not justice. This is torture. And then they murdered him."

    An autopsy found Willey had cuts, bruises and broken ribs but ultimately died from cardiac arrest brought on by a cocaine overdose.

    The RCMP report found it was reasonable for the officers to hog-tie Willey in order to restrain him, even though it was no longer part of police procedure, because they had no other equipment on hand at the time.

    But it also found that the simultaneous use of two Tasers "unreasonable, unnecessary and excessive in the circumstances" and said RCMP officers didn't get Willey medical help quickly enough.

    Lawyer for Willey's parents, Simon Wagstaff, says a notice of claim has been filed to begin court proceedings.


  16. Mission double homicide suspect pleads guilty

    CBC News March 19, 2012

    A Surrey man accused of killing two people in Mission, B.C., in 2008 has been sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree murder.

    Jack Woodruff, 53, pleaded guilty in the shooting deaths of Lisa Dudley, 37, and Guthrie McKay, 33, in New Westminster Supreme Court Monday. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

    His lawyer told the court Woodruff "regrets everyday" shooting Dudley and McKay in the incident involving a marijuana grow-operation.

    Woodruff told the court he pleaded guilty to show his wife, five children and six grandchildren he takes responsibility for his actions.

    He also implicated two others already charged in the murders, Bruce Main and Justin McKinnon. Woodruff was charged in 2011 and has since been held in custody.

    Police criticism
    The families of the two victims were in court in New Westminster to hear the plea.

    The RCMP has come under heavy criticism in this case for not following up on a 911 call of shots being fired.

    A neighbour found Dudley bleeding and tied to a chair in her Mission home four days after the first call to police.

    An officer had been sent to the home when the shots were initially reported, but he said he didn't see anything unusual and didn't get out of his car to investigate.

    Dudley's family complained she might have survived if officers had searched the house.

    Family members were further outraged when the officer who failed to check the house was docked a day's pay at an RCMP disciplinary hearing.


  17. No charge against Vancouver officer who fatally shot man

    The Canadian Press March 19, 2012

    A Vancouver police officer who repeatedly fired at a man and killed him with a shot to the head nearly five years ago will not be charged.

    Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe said Monday that extensive investigations have not produced any evidence to suggest Const. Lee Chipperfield used unnecessary or excessive force in handling the incident.

    Chipperfield was among several officers who responded to a 911 call about a man's erratic behaviour on the night of August 13, 2007.

    He fired multiple shots at Paul Boyd, who was mentally ill and swinging a bicycle chain.

    A coroner's inquest in 2010 heard Chipperfield shot Boyd eight times and fired the final shot, which hit the illustrator's head -- even after his partner told him to hold fire and disarmed the man.

    Chipperfield testified he believed Boyd was still armed. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/12/15/bc-boyd-shooting-inquest-bipolar.html

    The officer said he fired a shot at Boyd's head when he failed to see any blood from the previous shots and thought Boyd was wearing body armour.

    Boyd's father has claimed his son was on his hands and knees when he was shot. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/08/20/bc-policeshooting.html

    David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, is hoping the province's new independent investigation office will provide some accountability for officers shooting every bullet in their handguns.

    Eby questioned why it took five years to conclude the case and the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner's use of psychologist who said in a report that Chipperfield's emotional reaction to the events and a restricted focus rendered him "inattentionally" blind.

    "The only result of this five-year-long investigation is ever more tortured explanations for an officer's actions in shooting a disarmed and badly injured man in the head."


  18. RCMP seeks to fire B.C. Mountie guilty of obstruction

    CBC News March 23, 2012

    The RCMP's commanding officer in B.C. is seeking the dismissal from the force of Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson, who was found guilty Friday of obstruction of justice in connection to a fatal traffic accident in which he was involved while off duty. Assistant RCMP Commissioner Norm Lipinski told reporters after Robinson's verdict was handed down that he now faces a series of disciplinary hearings, and that Lipinski had discussed the matter with Commanding Officer Craig Callens. "The commanding officer is seeking his dismissal," Lipinski said.

    Justice Janice Dillon ruled Robinson deliberately obstructed the investigation of the collision that killed motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson, 21, in 2008. Robinson was driving his Jeep when it collided with Hutchinson's motorcycle in an intersection in the suburb south of Vancouver. During the trial the court heard how Robinson told officers at the scene that he went home after the crash and had two drinks of vodka. The defence argued Robinson had the drinks because he was an alcoholic, not because he was trying to interfere with the investigation.

    But the Crown argued he took drinks to frustrate any investigation into whether he had been drinking and driving, and the judge agreed. The judge said she found his act of drinking the two shots of vodka and telling the police officers at the scene about it "willfully designed to set up the defence he learned during his police training." Robinson knew that would make it impossible to extrapolate what he drank before he drove, she said.

    Dillon also concluded that Robinson had lied to officers at the scene about having two beers before driving, when he had actually had five, and that he had been wilfully vague in describing the exact amount of vodka he had drunk.

    The family of Orion Hutchinson broke into tears as the judge delivered the scathing indictment of Robinson's credibility. Robinson's conduct was "quite apart from what one would expect" from a trained off duty police officer, Dillon said, and called his use of his children to explain why he fled the fatal crash an "inexplicable perversion." Robinson's two children were in his vehicle at the time of the crash, and he told police he gave his driver's licence to witnesses and took them home immediately after the crash to protect them from the incident. He testified that was when he had the drinks to steady his nerves before returning to the crash site.

    Outside the court Orion Hutchinson's mother Judith said Robinson should now face consequences from the courts and from the RCMP. "The RCMP should immediately suspend him without pay and terminate him and then do an internal investigation of their own, which should have been done two years ago," Hutchinson said.

    Lipinski said the RCMP extended its condolences to the Hutchinson family. "I can only imagine how difficult this process has been for the family of Orion Hutchinson. On behalf of the RCMP I wish to express our sympathy and sorrow for what they’ve had to go through, and what they continue to go through," Lipinski said.

    Robinson is expected to be sentenced at a later date. The maximum sentence is 10 years, but neither the Crown nor family would speak to what penalty they hoped for. A coroner's investigation also concluded in 2010 that Hutchinson, the motorcycle driver, was also impaired and speeding at the time of the crash.

    Robinson is one of four officers charged in the death of Robert Dziekanski, who was jolted several times with a Taser at Vancouver's airport in 2007. All four are scheduled to stand trial on perjury charges in 2013.


  19. I will never call the cops again, widow tells inquest

    CBC News March 26, 2012

    A coroner's inquest in Burnaby, B.C., has heard the recording of the panicked 911 call Heather Hannon made after her common-law husband locked her out of their townhouse following a drunken argument on a fateful night in August of 2010.

    The call brought police to the house where they shot and killed Alvin Wright, then 22, after a confrontation in the couple's upstairs bedroom.

    Hannon told the inquest that she, Wright, his brother and a friend were already drunk when they decided to go to a Cloverdale strip bar for more drinks. When the time came to leave, Alvin wanted to drive home and became angry when Hannon refused and then left without him.

    When he got home, he kicked her out of the house and she called police.

    On the 911 recording played at the inquest on Monday, a man could be heard swearing.

    Heather Hannon told the dispatcher: "I've never seen him like this."

    The dispatcher asked her: "Can you get out of the house?"

    Hannon replied: "Please come, now."

    According to police testimony given in the course of a B.C. police complaints commission investigation, police arrived to find Wright upstairs, hiding in a closet, armed with a hatchet and hunting knife.

    Police said they shot Wright when he failed to respond to their warnings, and advanced on them.

    When Hannon was asked if she expected police to shoot Alvin when she called them, she broke down in tears.

    She said: "I'll never call the cops again, for anything."

    Notes from special meeting requested
    A 2011 Vancouver police investigation into the incident cleared the officer who shot and killed Wright.

    But lawyer Don Sorochan, who is representing Hannon in a lawsuit she launched against the RCMP, asked that the Langley detachment superintendent be compelled to testify at the coroner's inquest.

    Sorochan said he wants to know why police held a special meeting called by the detachment superintendent the morning after the shooting. He said he wants the notes from that meeting made available.

    Sorochan also wants the police force to explain why Hannon was held without charge for RCMP questioning, and why her cell phone was confiscated.


  20. Fatal shot fired as armed man approached, Mountie says

    CBC News March 28, 2012

    An RCMP officer who shot and killed a man in his bedroom in Langley, B.C., has told a coroner's inquest that he tried to get the man to drop a knife before he fired.

    Sgt. Don Davidson described how he entered Alvin Wright's small bedroom on Aug. 5, 2010, to find him hidden in a partially closed closet with a knife in one hand and a hatchet in the other.

    Police had been called to the townhouse Wright shared with his common-law wife, Heather Hammond, after Hammond had called 911 during an argument with Wright.

    In animated testimony laced with obscenities, Davidson told the inquest that without dropping the weapon, Wright stepped toward him, asking more than once to be shot.

    The officer fired one shot and Wright dropped to the floor, saying, “I wasn’t going to stab you, dude,” Davidson said.

    Wright died later in hospital from massive internal bleeding.

    Testimony halted

    In the midst of questioning Davidson Wednesday, lawyer David Eby asked for an adjournment, saying he was worried about the man’s state of mind.

    "I was extremely concerned about the professionalism of [Davidson] and I was concerned about his mental health," Eby told reporters later.

    After a 40-minute break, Davidson resumed his testimony.

    Eby also took issue with Davidson's account that Wright came straight at him, saying the forensic pathologist's evidence is that the fatal bullet entered his body on an angle.

    "There's any number of possible explanations,” Eby said outside the hearing room later. “But I can tell you the one that doesn't make any sense is that Mr. Wright was facing directly toward the officer given the direction of the bullet."

    Davidson told reporters that he did his duty that night and that given the same circumstances, he'd do it again.

    Wright's father, Allan Wright, said he found the officer's account hard to believe.

    "It's a police account of what happened. It's not conducive of my son's nature. In my view its probably fabricated," Wright said.

    Separate investigations by the Vancouver police and the B.C. Police Complaints Commissioner cleared Davidson of any wrongdoing in the shooting.


  21. B.C. shooting death jury calls for more Taser training

    Coroner's jury reports back on death of Alvin Wright at hands of RCMP

    CBC News March 29, 2012

    More RCMP officers should be trained in the use of Tasers and other intermediate weapons, a B.C. coroner’s jury has recommended after hearing the case in which a Langley man died after he was shot by police.

    The jury made its recommendation late Thursday in connection with the death of Alvin Wright, in August 2010.

    Wright was shot by a police officer responding to a 911 call about a violent domestic dispute. Wright died later in hospital from massive internal bleeding.

    Among its seven recommendations, the jury said, “More RCMP members should be fully trained and certified on alternative means of intermediate weapons to be used while on duty such as a Taser.”

    It also recommended police always announce themselves when entering such a situation, and should wear large reflective signs marked “Police” on the front and back of their vests.

    Another recommendation called for the RCMP to review, “current practice and training respecting command, control and communication during multi-officer operations.”

    The officer who fired the shot, Sgt. Don Davidson, told the inquiry that he and other officers identified themselves as police when entering the second floor of Wright’s Langley townhouse.

    Davidson said Wright was found hiding in a closet with a hunting knife in one hand and a hatchet in the other. When he refused to drop the weapons and advanced toward Davidson, the officer shot him, the hearing was told.

    Police were dispatched to the residence after Wright’s common-law wife, Heather Hammond, called for help during an argument in which she said Wright had locked her out of their home.

    Hammond filed a lawsuit against the RCMP a few months after the shooting.

    The shooting was subject to separate investigations by the Vancouver police and the B.C. Police Complaints Commissioner, both clearing Davidson of any wrongdoing.


  22. The following report may explain why there are so many "bad apples" in the RCMP. The force seems to attract a lot of undesirables with criminal or questionable backgrounds. All they have to do is successfully lie about their past and they are in.
    Some RCMP applicants self-incriminate during polygraph test


    Want to be a Mountie? Careful what you say during your job interview.

    From 2005 to 2011, an estimated 150 individuals who signed up to be law enforcers with the national police force ended up becoming the subjects of investigations after they admitted to "serious" — and previously undetected — criminal offences during the applicant-screening process, according to the results of an internal RCMP survey of regional recruiting units shared with Postmedia News.

    Most of the admissions were made during what's known as the "pre-employment polygraph interview and examination," officials said.

    In some cases, answers given by job applicants in their recruitment questionnaires caused such "grave concern" that recruiters felt duty-bound to call attention to the information.

    The RCMP was not able to provide details of each of the alleged crimes, but, in general, the agency identifies "serious criminal offences" as murder, sexual assault, accessing and possessing child pornography, arson, forcible confinement, robbery and weapons-related crimes.

    We have received admissions to almost all of those listed, as well as cases of domestic violence," RCMP spokesman Sgt. Greg Cox said in an email.

    It is not known how many of the roughly 150 flagged individuals were subsequently charged or exonerated. The RCMP doesn't keep track of that information.

    Is it possible any of them ended up being hired?

    "We would only hire a person who was exonerated of the alleged offence(s) and meets all existing standards for regular member police officers," Cox said.

    While admissions of past serious crimes don't happen often — there were more than 13,000 individuals screened during that period, the force says — they can present a bit of a conundrum as the RCMP is forced to weigh public safety against a job applicant's right to privacy.

    Information provided by an applicant during the screening process is considered personal under federal privacy laws, but the law does allow for disclosures of personal information in limited circumstances where the "public interest" is deemed to carry more weight.

    An "urgent" briefing note forwarded to the commissioner's desk in Ottawa last year and released under access to information illustrates the dilemma.

    The briefing note, prepared by recruiting officers in Saskatchewan, referred to the case of a job applicant from Manitoba who admitted to a serious crime — exact details were redacted — during the pre-employment polygraph.

    The recruiting officers, seeking permission from a commanding officer to disclose that information to criminal investigators, wrote that disclosing the information could pose a "threat" to the applicant's privacy.

    But to not disclose the information could "adversely impact the administration of justice or ultimately affect the public's confidence in the law enforcement community."

    "The decision should be balanced against the immediate and long-term foreseeable impact on the applicant's privacy rights and charter rights, as well as the protection of any existing or potential future victims," they wrote.

    In the end, public interest won out and Assistant Commissioner Bill Robinson, commanding officer of "D" division in Manitoba, authorized the release of information to criminal investigators.

    Sgt. Line Karpish, a "D" division spokeswoman, said this week the investigation is still ongoing.

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    During the early recruitment stages, applicants are asked a range of questions, including whether they owe any gambling debts, experimented with or sold illegal drugs, committed an act of domestic abuse or had sex with someone without their consent.

    In late 2005, the polygraph interview and examination was introduced in the recruitment process to help recruiters assess "truthfulness" and verify that prospective recruits are who they claim to be on their application forms, questionnaires and in their interviews, according to the RCMP's website.

    But, "no one had foreseen that we would start to receive information about crimes of such a serious nature at this interview," Cox said.

    Cox said the RCMP's response to each admission of a crime varies and is dealt with on case by case.

    "The applicant's charter and privacy rights are of paramount concern in the treatment of serious criminal admissions," he said.

    "The rights, expectations, and safety of any identified victim(s) are given equal consideration."

    Since 2007, the RCMP has been required to notify the Office of the Privacy Commissioner each time it plans to disclose personal information in the public interest. This allows the privacy commissioner to express any concerns.

    Valerie Lawton, a spokeswoman for the office, said this week that she was not aware of any concerns that her office has had in recent years with the RCMP's disclosures.

    She added that job applicants are informed of what the consequences might be if they admit to a serious crime during the recruitment process.

    Before applicants do the questionnaire and polygraph, they have to sign a consent form acknowledging that if they admit to having committed a serious criminal offence, that information could be passed on to law enforcement or some other authority, such as a child-protection agency, for investigation.

    "The RCMP strongly discourages any applicant from completing the applicant questionnaire or attending the (pre-employment polygraph) interview and examination if you believe this notice applies to you" candidates are warned.

    Yet, they still do it.

    "Why people tell you the things they tell you, sometimes you wonder," Karpish said.


  24. Mountie assault conviction nets absolute discharge

    CBC News April 24, 2012

    An RCMP officer in Kelowna, B.C., who was found guilty of assault earlier this year will not end up with a criminal record.

    Const. Christopher Brinnen was handed an absolute discharge for punching Kyle Nelson in the face outside a Kelowna nightclub in February 2010.

    Brinnen was on duty with other officers outside the club when Nelson, 24, started taunting them. When Nelson fled, Brinnen chased him down and punched him in the face.

    In her ruling, the judge said any conditions she would have put on Brinnen, including anger management courses and community work, have already been completed by the officer.

    Nelson's mother, Heather Nelson, said she is disappointed by the ruling.

    “I mean, he's found guilty and you know, there was no punishment, no penalty," Nelson said.

    But Brinnen's lawyer, Neville McDougall, says his client has already suffered from media attention and a reduction of income when he was forced to go on administrative duty for two months.

    "It's an unfortunate circumstance, but it's fair," McDougall said.

    Brinnen returned to active duty on April 2.


  25. Mounties disciplined for bad behaviour

    Cases of impaired driving, watching porn and sex with prostitutes described in report

    By Kathleen Harris, CBC News April 24, 2012

    RCMP officers have been reprimanded for impaired driving, careless use of firearms, using the force's computers to access pornographic websites and cavorting with prostitutes, according to the Mounties' most recent disciplinary report.

    In the last reporting period for 2010-2011, 65 regular and civilian members faced formal discipline hearings; 13 of them resigned from the RCMP and one was dismissed. Other code of conduct violations included using excessive force, having sex in an unmarked RCMP vehicle and filing false overtime claims.

    RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Julie Gagnon said an officer or civilian member can be subject to criminal proceedings as well as formal discipline for code of conduct breaches.

    “Depending on the circumstances, criminal and internal proceedings can take place concurrently, or the disciplinary process may take place after the criminal proceedings are completed,” she told CBC News.

    There were also 156 cases of informal disciplinary incidents that warranted corrective or remedial actions such as counselling, special training or increased supervision. Those include incidents such as publicly criticizing the force, uttering threats, uniform or dress violations, disobeying orders or oaths, or disgraceful conduct.

    The RCMP has been under intense criticism after widespread complaints from female officers about sexual harassment in the forces began to emerge last November. Commissioner Bob Paulson vowed that tackling the problem would be his top priority when he was appointed just weeks later.

    Appearing before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Status of Women Monday, Paulson blamed the culture of an institution that hasn’t kept pace with advancing equality rights in society at large.

    Gagnon said the RCMP is also working to update the broader complaint and disciplinary system.

    “The RCMP, in partnership with Treasury Board and Public Safety, is currently examining options to modernize discipline, grievance and human resource management processes,” she said.

    The annual report, which was released in February, is the third published after a government directive in 2008 designed to make the disciplinary process more transparent and accountable.

    The directive to overhaul the process by then-public safety minister Stockwell Day also called for national standardization of policies and protocols and more thorough monitoring and coordination of files.

    It also required the RCMP to give the government notice of any major disciplinary cases.

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    In the last year reporting year, 57 members were suspended – including 52 with pay and five without pay.

    Stoppage of pay and allowances are invoked only in “extreme circumstances” when it would be inappropriate to pay a member his or her salary, such as if the person is in jail awaiting trial, or has been absent without authority for seven days, according to the report.

    The disciplinary process was criticized recently by British Columbia RCMP Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens, who called it "absolute madness" that it is so difficult to dismiss or suspend a member without pay. He called for more local management control over who is hired and fired.

    The disciplinary report shows there have been anywhere from 61 to 106 new formal disciplinary cases recorded in the last 11 years.

    “Canadians have rightfully high expectations of their national police service and it is the RCMPs responsibility to live up to those expectations,” it reads. “Public trust is critical to our organization and it is essential that we maintain the high standard of conduct that has been demonstrated throughout the RCMP’s long history.”

    Some of the disciplinary cases summarized in the report:

    A constable received a reprimand and forfeiture of five days’ pay for allowing a prostitute actively soliciting sexual activity to enter personal vehicle for sexual activity.

    A constable received a reprimand and forfeiture of 10 days’ pay for impaired driving.

    A constable was dismissed for sexual assault and inappropriate comments of a sexual nature; reporting for duty while under the influence of alcohol.

    A staff sergeant received a reprimand and forfeiture of 10 days’ pay for making a false statement to a Canada Border Services Agency official.

    A civilian member received two reprimands and two forfeitures of seven days’ pay for use of controlled substances and theft.

    A constable received a reprimand and forfeiture of five days’ pay for operating a motor vehicle at excessive speeds without legitimate operational purpose causing damage of vehicle beyond repair.

    A constable received reprimand and forfeiture of one day’s pay for excessive force.

    A constable received reprimand and forfeiture of five days’ pay for improper use of government credit card.


  27. Medal of Bravery winner involved in 2 fatal police chases

    CBC News April 26, 2012

    There is growing outrage in a community near Cornwall, Ont., after a police officer was awarded a Medal of Bravery for an incident in which the high-speed pursuit of a suspect ended in the death of three people.

    Gov. Gen. David Johnston handed Akwesasne Mohawk police Const. Michael Biron the medal last Friday for putting his own life at risk to attempt to rescue an elderly couple after a van collided with their car on Nov. 14, 2008.

    The award is contentious because Biron had been the driver of a police vehicle in pursuit of the driver of the van, who was suspected of smuggling cigarettes. At the height of the chase, Biron's vehicle was pursuing at speeds reaching 160 km/h.

    Equally troubling for residents in the community is that six months ago, Biron was involved in a second police chase that ended with the death of a young couple.

    In the 2008 incident, Biron was in pursuit of the suspected cigarette smuggler when the suspect's van collided with a car. Both vehicles burst into flames.

    Canada Border Services officer Yves Soumillon also responded to the crash from the Canadian port of entry on Cornwall Island, just metres from the crash site.

    Biron and Soumillon rushed to the car and tried to open its damaged doors and save Edward and Eileen Kassian, both from Massena, N.Y. They were unable to rescue the 77-year-old couple before flames engulfed the vehicle. The driver of the van also died.

    Michael Kassian, the couple's son, called the award an injustice for his family and their friends.

    "I don't think he did anything to save their lives," said Kassian. "I think he did more using poor judgment based on the fact that he ensued this chase."

    After the collision, Biron was charged with criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death, but those charges were later dismissed.

    New York State Democratic congressman Bill Owens said that based on the Kassian family concerns, he is contacting Ottawa to find out why the award was given to Biron.

    Timmy Currier, the chief of police for Massena and a neighbour of the Kassians, said he believes Biron stepped over the line.

    "We're not going to pursue for minor violations. and most particularly, we're not going to pursue when people's lives are in danger … either the person being pursued, or the officer or innocent bystanders. In the Kassians case, their death was avoidable," said Currier.

    In the 2011 incident, 19-year-old Amber Aliff was driving her car with two passengers when they ran a stop sign. Biron set off in a brief pursuit from the Mohawk territory and into New York State but broke off the pursuit at an intersection.

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    A few hundred metres from the intersection, the car crashed into a tree, killing Aliff and 22-year-old passenger Dakota Benedict.

    "I just believe that if he had stopped chasing them at the border then they'd be here today," said Benedict's mother, Michelle Sawatis.

    Residents of Akwesasne have started a petition to remove Biron from the police force.

    In a joint statement released Thursday, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Commission and the Akwesasne police said Biron was nominated for the award without their knowledge or involvement.

    They said they would not be providing comment on "a process in which they did not participate."

    A spokeswoman with the Office of the Secretary of the Governor General said the award was given in recognition of Biron putting his own life in danger to attempt to rescue another person.

    "It is not related to any other incident that might have taken place following this event," said Marie-Pierre Bélanger in a statement.

    Bélanger said witnesses, investigators and police officers are contacted as part of the research process, but not family members of the victims of the crash.

    Michael Kassian said he was never contacted about the award, and said if he had been, he would not have endorsed any award for Biron.

    "It's a slap in the face," said Kassian.


  29. B.C. police shooting video sparks calls for new probe

    Mentally ill man crawling when killed by Vancouver officer's shot

    By Curt Petrovich, CBC News May 28, 2012


    New video of a fatal shooting by a Vancouver police officer nearly five years ago is provoking calls to reopen the investigation into whether it was justified.

    The video shows the last moments of Paul Boyd, a 39-year-old mentally ill animator, who died after an altercation with Vancouver police in August 2007.

    Boyd can be seen on his hands and knees on Granville Street, moving toward Const. Lee Chipperfield, who is pointing a gun.

    The view is briefly obscured when Boyd crawls in front of a car, and Chipperfield fires the last of nine shots at him. The fatal bullet struck Boyd in the head.

    The disturbing video is the only one known to be recorded of the incident.

    It was captured by Andreas Bergen, a tourist from Winnipeg, who was visiting Vancouver with friends. At the time, Bergen didn't think his shaky, dimly lit video was valuable because there were dozens of witnesses closer to the scene than he was.

    But in March of this year, B.C.'s police complaint commissioner issued a report, concluding there wasn't "clear, convincing and cogent evidence … that Chipperfield used unnecessary force or excessive force during his incident."

    Bergen said he read an account of the decision and became concerned.

    "I kind of felt guilty," Bergen told CBC News, "[Because] I have the tape and I think the tape will help to resolve some of that confusion. I don't think it was necessary to shoot Paul. Especially not eight times. And especially not in the head."

    The video didn't capture the entire event in which Boyd — who was suffering from bipolar disorder and paranoia — fought with police, striking two officers with a bicycle chain and lock.

    The video also doesn't show Boyd absorbing punches from police, blows from their batons and even several bullets fired to his midsection, yet not giving up.

    Although Chipperfield told investigators he thought Boyd was on his feet when he fired the fatal shot, a psychologist who was consulted by the police complaint commissioner theorized that the stress of the incident rendered the officer "inattentionally blind."

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    B.C.'s Criminal Justice Branch considered the case twice and both times concluded "there is insufficient evidence to establish that the officer's use of force was excessive in the circumstances."

    Boyd's father said he appreciates that police have a lot of leeway when it comes to using lethal force. But after seeing the video, David Boyd said he believes Chipperfield should be removed from active duty, if not taken off the force.

    "He should never have fired that shot," Boyd said. "I'm sure the police, if they were willing to say so, would agree he never should have fired that shot. He was firing at an unarmed, injured man, at the time."

    Boyd said Vancouver police have never apologized for killing his son and, although he has come to terms with his son's death, he still finds the video disturbing.

    Boyd said he appreciates for the first time how easily a bystander could have been injured by police gunfire. Chipperfield fired nine shots in total, but six bullets passed through Paul Boyd's body and one missed completely.

    "And I'm not even angry at Const. Chipperfield, really. I'm sorry for him, really, if anything. I would hate to be in his skin right now, knowing what he's done."

    David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the video should lead authorities to re-examine whether the final shot was justified.

    "I think that's the question people should be asking themselves when they look at this video and see a man who's disarmed, crawling on the road," Eby said after viewing the sequence.

    There is a lull of 23 seconds between the eighth and ninth shots, during which time another officer managed to grab the bike chain Boyd had been wielding.

    B.C.'s Criminal Justice Branch said after Boyd was killed, a pair of Vise-Grip pliers was found in his pocket.

    But Eby said the video makes it clear to him that Boyd posed no threat to anyone before the final shot.

    "I say a police officer needs to look at a scenario where someone is disarmed and crawling on the road, and say, 'I'm not gonna shoot this person in the head.' I would like them to make that call."

    Eby wants B.C. police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe to take another look at the case.

    Lowe told CBC News that the video "appears to be a very important piece of evidence … I think probably the Criminal Justice Branch would be very interested in having a view."

    The Vancouver Police Department turned down an invitation to see the video and declined to comment on whether it's significant.


  31. RCMP commissioner pledges to rid force of bad apples

    CBC News May 28, 2012

    The RCMP's disciplinary process is so bureaucratic and out of date that "bad apples" end up staying on the force long after they should be thrown out, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said in a remarkably frank open letter to Canadians on Monday.

    Paulson, who has held the top job at the force for six months, pledged to work on modernizing the disciplinary process, which can now take years to resolve a case.

    "I am trying to run a modern police force with a discipline system that was current 25 years ago," he writes. "Right now, this framework limits my ability to ensure our members' conduct is properly managed and corrected or, when necessary, to see to it that the bad apples are sent packing." The RCMP's current disciplinary process is enshrined in the RCMP Act.

    Paulson's comments come as public confidence in the force has been badly shaken by damaging reports of disgraceful conduct by some officers — conduct that often went unpunished.

    Six months ago, a CBC News investigation revealed allegations of a widespread culture of sexual harassment that allowed unacceptable behaviour to continue within the RCMP. Several current and former female officers in the force have since made similar allegations .

    Last week, it was revealed that an RCMP Sgt. Don Ray in Edmonton was demoted and will be transferred to B.C. after he admitted to having sex with subordinates, drinking with them at work and sexually harassing them over a three-year period. Some wondered why the officer wasn't fired.

    Paulson noted that "sometimes, [unacceptable] behaviour is met with punishment that just does not cut it."

    In his open letter, Paulson says Canadians can expect to hear about more cases of unacceptable behaviour. "They are the inheritance of past behaviours and attitudes," he says.

    Paulson also decried what he called the "administratively burdensome and bureaucratic decision-making process" that can see discipline cases tied up for years.

    "It's unsatisfactory that we have to continue spending your tax dollars to pay individuals that don't deserve to be in the RCMP."

    Paulson says he's started working on changing attitudes and behaviour at the force. "Since my appointment, I've clarified my expectations to my senior managers and all RCMP employees, and I have taken steps to address situations where I had the authority to do so."

    But he acknowledges that "legislation alone is not enough to keep your trust," saying reforms must be guided by a commitment at each level of the RCMP to foster a respectful workplace.

    "The challenges facing the RCMP are significant, but we will create a modern and even stronger organization that continues to make you proud," he pledges.

    "The men and women of the RCMP are up to this challenge, and those you encounter deserve your respect and support."

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    Paulson also wrote to Mounties directly, specifically mentioning the disgraced Mountie Ray and calling his behaviour "outrageous."

    An internal disciplinary board found Ray guilty of serial misconduct involving sexual harassment and drinking on the job. His punishment included losing a rank and 10 days pay and a transfer from Alberta to British Columbia.

    “It is a sad stain on our reputation, and I understand the province of British Columbia’s concerns about his transfer,” Paulson wrote.

    The commissioner says all future disciplinary transfers will be reviewed.

    Paulson also warns Mounties that “if you, as a member, cannot conduct yourself professionally — as the professional police officer who has been entrusted with special powers over your fellow citizens — then I need you to leave this organization. I feel as though the organization is under threat right now, and my primary duty is to protect Canadians and to protect the RCMP.”

    In his letter, Paulson notes: “The media are seeking and have obtained several records of decision in a number of recent and historical cases, as is their right. I expect salacious and troubling details of member misconduct to surface and be the source of much criticism of the force. Hang in there and try not to let these stories interfere with the tremendous work you do every day on behalf of Canadians.

    “Some of these stories are historical, some are recent, and sadly some are not yet widely known.”


  33. Alta. police asked to review Vancouver police shooting video

    CBC News May 29, 2012

    Police investigators from Alberta will conduct an independent review of a cellphone video of the fatal shooting by Vancouver police of a mentally ill man in 2007, which was released by CBC News on Monday.

    The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has been requested to review the new video and witness information as in independent body by the B.C. Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner, according to a statement released by the Vancouver Police Department on Tuesday morning.

    Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond said the review was ordered to ensure that British Columbians have confidence in their police.

    "This is a very sensitive case, which is why we have asked the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, an experienced, independent investigative agency, to consider the case in light of new information. I know that the Vancouver Police Department agrees that this matter be investigated externally and will fully co-operate with the ASIRT investigation."

    Video shows man crawling
    The video shows the last moments of Paul Boyd, a 39-year-old mentally ill animator, who died after an altercation with Vancouver police in August 2007.

    Boyd can be seen on his hands and knees on Granville Street, moving toward Const. Lee Chipperfield, who is pointing a gun. The view is briefly obscured when Boyd crawls in front of a car, and Chipperfield fires the last of nine shots at him. The fatal bullet struck Boyd in the head.

    The disturbing video is the only one known to be recorded of the incident. It was captured by Andreas Bergen, a tourist from Winnipeg, who was visiting Vancouver with friends. At the time, Bergen didn't think his shaky, dimly lit video was valuable because there were dozens of witnesses closer to the scene than he was.

    But in March of this year, B.C.'s police complaint commissioner issued a report, concluding there wasn't "clear, convincing and cogent evidence … that Chipperfield used unnecessary force or excessive force during his incident."

    Bergen said he read an account of the decision and became concerned and contacted CBC News to release the video. The video didn't capture the entire event in which Boyd — who was suffering from bipolar disorder and paranoia — fought with police, striking two officers with a bicycle chain and lock.

    The video also doesn't show Boyd absorbing punches from police, blows from their batons and even several bullets fired to his midsection, yet not giving up.


  34. Was the killing of Paul Boyd an appropriate use of deadly force? Hardly

    By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun May 29, 2012

    Frank Paul, Robert Dziekanski and now Paul Boyd — once again a dramatic, heart-wrenching video has surfaced belying the official B.C. police version of how a civilian died at their hands.

    The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, an independent body that investigates officers in that province, on Tuesday began reviewing the bystander’s footage of the fatal August 2007 confrontation between Boyd and the Vancouver police department.

    Attorney-General Shirley Bond made the damage-control announcement of the arm’s-length assessment shortly before the provincial coroner’s service issued a release saying it too would review the case.

    The newly discovered recording belies the official criminal justice branch account of Boyd’s death that was based on the police investigation. And it reinforces the belief among his family and civil rights advocates that Boyd’s killing was an improper use of deadly force.

    The video further tarnishes the much-discredited system the province depends on to oversee police.

    “How is it that the VPD investigators did not canvass these witnesses for what they saw?” complained Robert Holmes, B.C. Civil Liberties Association president.

    “The video shows the photographer was in proximity to the shooting. The failure of the VPD to control the scene and canvass witnesses for evidence is very troubling.”

    Andreas Bergen, a Winnipeg man visiting Vancouver at the time of the tragedy, gave the pictures to CBC.

    Once again a B.C. police investigation into one of their own looks shoddy, once again the branch looks complicit in a coverup and once again the complaints commissioner looks like a crony.

    As late as Monday, deputy police complaints commissioner Rollie Woods was insisting there was no reason to reopen the case.

    What unmitigated gall.

    In 2009, former judge William Davies condemned the justice system’s response to Paul’s needless death.

    The 47-year-old Mi’kmaq was dragged unconscious by two VPD officers from a cell in December 1998 and dumped in an alley where overnight he froze to death.

    A year later, in June 2010, retired appeal court judge Thomas Braidwood released a damning report from the inquiry into Polish immigrant Dziekanski’s death at Vancouver International Airport, where he was Tasered by Mounties.

    He said the RCMP officers were guilty of “shameful conduct” and they are awaiting trial on perjury charges.

    In both case, the videos exposed the misconduct by making blatant the attempts to hide or minimize fatal police errors.

    It is staggering that the VPD, the branch and the complaints commissioner mishandled this case while those inquiries were dominating the media.

    A talented and well-loved animator who suffered from bipolar disorder, the 39-year-old Boyd was shot dead by Vancouver Police constable Lee Chipperfield.

    First, no independent third-party investigation occurred — the VPD did it.

    Second, the branch took two years to decide it wasn’t going to lay a charge.

    It stated in a 2009 release: “While Mr. Boyd was struck and knocked down or partly knocked down by seven shots, he continued to get up and advance or attempt to get up and advance on the officer after each shot.”

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    The video captures a disarmed and wounded Boyd crawling haltingly across Granville Street.

    Twenty-three seconds after the fusillade, one more rang out.

    “According to the officer Mr. Boyd was on his feet and practically vertical when the last shot was fired,” the criminal justice branch declared.

    He wasn’t according to some witnesses, the pathologist and I think the grainy, shaky video supports that view.

    Regardless, the inquest didn’t begin until the fall of 2010.

    Afterwards, calls for a review of Boyd’s death were rejected despite contradictions between the police account, civilian witnesses and forensic evidence.

    The police union defended Chipperfield as making a hard, tough decision in the face of a threatening man who was terrorizing the public.

    But that’s why he shot Boyd seven times.

    The question is why 23 seconds later, the delusional man was shot again — the final round, a bullet to his head.

    Chipperfield, who joined the force in 2003, testified that he opened fire to stop Boyd from advancing toward several officers, failing to obey commands to drop his weapon and get down on the ground.

    He said he shot Boyd in the head because he kept getting up, advancing toward police and he thought he was wearing a bulletproof vest.

    His testimony was contradicted by other officers and the pathologist who said Boyd was most likely on his knees when hit by the final bullet.

    The CJB release suggested Chipperfield could reasonably have feared for his safety.

    Really? After he put seven slugs into Boyd’s torso?

    Watch the video. (http://bit.ly/JTg0Zx)

    It is impossible to believe Chipperfield was still afraid after he unleashed that first barrage. Boyd had been disarmed and pumped full of lead; he was on his hands and knees hemorrhaging.

    Chipperfield had 23 seconds to assess the threat.

    Count to 23.

    It is a long time: The 1971 Boston Bruins scored three goals in 20 seconds.

    Watch the video, and ask yourself if the final shot was an appropriate use of deadly force or an execution?


  36. Mistakes made in fatal shooting, former B.C. top cop says

    CBC News May 30, 2012

    A former B.C. solicitor general says amateur video released this week shows that Vancouver police failed to follow procedure in the shooting death of a mentally ill man.

    On Wednesday, Liberal MLA Kash Heed screened the video taken by a tourist as police confronted Paul Boyd, who had become violent and threatening on a Vancouver street on the night of Aug. 13, 2007.

    The incident ended after police fired a ninth shot, which hit Boyd in the head and killed him.

    Heed, also a former Vancouver police superintendent and a former West Vancouver police chief, had supported the officers’ actions based on five previous investigations that laid no blame against them.

    "After reviewing the incident I have a different opinion,” Heed said Wednesday. “I'm glad that we are now focusing on an outside agency to come in and review this incident. The minister of justice made the correct call here," Heed said.

    The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has been called in by Attorney General Shirley Bond to examine the video and interview the man who recorded it. The BC Coroners service also said Tuesday it was reviewing the results of its inquest into Boyd’s death in light of the new information.

    The cellphone video was shot by Andreas Bergen, of Winnipeg, who brought it to the attention of CBC News after becoming concerned when he read reports about the outcome of the investigations into the incident.

    Boyd can be seen in the video, crawling slowly on all fours toward Const. Lee Chipperfield, who fired the fatal round.

    Heed said a well-trained officer would not have fired that shot under the circumstances.

    "Because if the threat is no longer the threat that was posed originally, when you applied your force, of course, you must go to a different level to control the individual.”

    Forensic psychologist Michael Elterman, who also screened the video Wednesday, agreed with Heed.

    Elterman also dismissed a finding quoted that Chipperfield was under such great stress he was made “inattentionally blind” to the apparently reduced level of danger actually posed by Boyd.

    “It’s difficult to understand how this theory of perceptual blindness, or inattentive blindness, could have been operating in this situation,” said Elterman. “Another theory is the police officer panicked."

    It’s not known when the results of the Alberta police investigation will be made public.


  37. Vancouver police chief apologizes for 2007 shooting

    CBC News May 31, 2012

    Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu has apologized to the family of a man shot dead by an officer in 2007 and says the department will fully cooperate with the new investigation into the death.

    Paul Boyd was killed by an officer on Granville Street in August 2007 after he attacked officers with a bicycle chain. It was later learned he was suffering from a psychotic incident at the time

    Several investigations cleared the officer of any wrongdoing, but after CBC News uncovered a cell phone recording showing Boyd crawling on his hands and feet moments before he was shot, a new investigation by a special team of police from Alberta was ordered by the province.

    Chu pointed out there has already been four reviews of Boyd's death. But he said the new video justified another investigation and the VPD would cooperate fully.

    "I'm very sorry the events unfolded the way they did that day," said Chu. "I was very disturbed by the video. It was very troubling to see that."

    He said the department has created a new web page to link together publically available documents related to the shooting.

    Const. Lee Chipperfield, the officer who shot and killed Boyd has also been pulled from frontline duty and has undergone new training and consultation with psychology experts, said Chu.

    He has since been assigned to the forensic identification unit, said Chu.


  38. Suspended B.C. Mountie says theft due to PTSD

    Const. Derrick Holdenried accuses force of discrimination

    By Jason Proctor, CBC News June 18, 2012

    A Burnaby, B.C., mountie says the RCMP discriminated against him by suspending him without pay for problems caused by post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Const. Derrick Holdenried was charged with theft in January 2011 after he was accused of stealing $22 in loose change from a community policing station.

    The charge was ultimately stayed, and psychologists have attributed the 39-year-old's behaviour to post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of attending a "horrific" suicide scene.

    Holdenried says he's been left in limbo — a victim of the RCMP's desire to look like it's being tough on "bad apples."

    "The job made me sick," he told CBC News.

    "I am not a bad apple. I am a good person who is trusted and respected and loved by those who know me. I have struggled for two years to deal with this, and it's damaged my family. It's damaged me, and it's damaged the image of the RCMP as well — and I regret that.

    "But I need the RCMP to understand that there is a lot more going on here than just 'a bad apple.'"

    The RCMP wouldn't comment on the specifics of Holdenried's case, except to say a date for a formal disciplinary hearing has yet to be set.

    Possible sanctions could include "reprimand, loss of up to 10 days pay, demotion and dismissal."

    Holdenried says he's been told the force wants to get rid of him.

    He appealed his suspension without pay in Federal Court and filed a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission claiming the RCMP "failed to accommodate him and his disability, post-traumatic stress disorder, when it took a disciplinary approach to conduct caused by disability."

    He questions the decision to pursue criminal charges and release his name to the media. He says publicity around the case has devastated his family and made it impossible for him to find other work while he appeals his suspension without pay.

    Holdenried feels he's been dealt with harshly — especially compared to other high-profile cases of RCMP misconduct like a recent decision to demote and transfer a member who had sex with subordinates and exposed himself to a co-worker.

    "It would seem that members who act out violently or abuse alcohol, there doesn't seem to be the same consequences that I'm facing. So if I had drove while impaired and been caught — I'm not sure I'd be sitting here today with the story I have," he says.

    Holdenried graduated from RCMP Depot in January 2009 at the age of 35. He left a job at Ikea, where he worked for years as a manager, to pursue a dream of policing. His father was a police officer, and he says he always dreamed of public service.

    According to documents filed in the court case, RCMP began investigating him in November 2010 when a member of the Burnaby School/Youth Section complained change had gone missing from her desk. One supervisor told her to lock her drawer, and at another point, she considered leaving a note for the thief to see.

    Instead, supervisors mounted a camera above the desk and an electronic sensor on the drawer, in which they placed a steadily increasing amount of change.

    On three occasions, the camera caught Holdenried removing a total of nine toonies and four loonies. He was interviewed on Dec. 8, 2010 and immediately admitted taking the money, initially blaming the behaviour on "stupidity."

    RCMP member services referred Holdenried to a psychologist, who diagnosed post-traumatic stress-disorder linked to his attendance at the suicide of an 84-year-old man who shot himself in March 2010.

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    According to the investigation notes: "All surfaces in the room were covered with a fine spray of blood and other tissue" and it took "substantial force to pull the rifle" from the man's hands.

    Holdenried spent hours in the room, taking dozens of pictures of the scene and the wounds.

    "Really, that scene is seared in my head," he says. 'I don't think I've ever seen anything as troubling as that.

    "That scene, and what I was confronted with on that day, would vividly come to mind at any number of times. And it could be the smallest trigger and then I'd be in that room, smelling the smells and seeing what I had dealt with on that day."

    In the months leading up to the thefts, Holdenried became withdrawn and tired. He started binging on junk food and drinking as much six litres of pop a day.

    Rick Hancock, the psychologist who diagnosed Holdenried, wrote a letter on his behalf to the RCMP.

    "I believe the taking of loose change from an office desk is symptomatic of Const. Holdenried's psychological condition following the discovery of the horrific suicide," Hancock wrote.

    "If I had had the opportunity to assess Const. Holdenried in the spring or summer of 2010, I would without a doubt have suggested that he consider a stress leave from work."

    The RCMP asked a psychologist from its behavioural sciences group to review Hancock's opinion.

    Dr. Teal Maedel wrote her report without meeting Holdenried. She says that while it is clear he may be suffering from work-related symptoms of PTSD, "it is very difficult to say with certainty that post-traumatic stress disorder was the causal factor in Holdenried's thefts."

    Based on that opinion, Assistant Commissioner Daniel Dubeau stopped Holdenried's pay on May 13, 2011.

    Last month, a Federal Court judge refused to hear his request for judicial review of that decision because he hasn't exhausted the internal RCMP grievance process.

    But his lawyer argued that could take up to three years.

    Holdenried says both Veteran's Affairs and Employment Insurance have accepted claims based on his PTSD diagnosis. And he apologized to the constable whose change he took, offering to make restitution. She asked for $20.

    "I've always been honest about what I did," he says. "And I took responsibility. I've made my apologies. I've dealt with the criminal case which resulted in a stay of proceedings. I've done everything that's been asked of me and more to correct this as much as I can. What I would expect is accommodation."

    Holdenried says even if he can't be a front-line officer, he would like to be part of the RCMP. He notes that a Crown counsel also recently contacted him to testify in connection with a criminal case he investigated while still on duty.

    "I asked if he was aware of the situation I was in and if that was a concern," he says. "He has no concerns with me testifying and doesn't see it as an issue.

    Commissioner Bob Paulson recently wrote an open letter to Canadians vowing to speed up the force's disciplinary process.

    Holdenried says he applauds any attempt to do that, but he says it has to be accompanied by attempts to understand the problems members face.

    "The discipline process must be more streamlined and must be able to deal with a number of the issues the RCMP is facing. But there's so much more to this than simply a discipline issue," he says.

    "I was an excellent member of the RCMP who had a human reaction to a very traumatic event. But they don't want to hear it. It doesn't matter. But it matters to me and other people who find themselves in this situation — it's going to matter to them. And any adjustment to a discipline process has to take that into account."


  40. The original version of the article posted below referred to Cpl. Benjamin (Monty) Robinson as a "bad apple", but that phrase was removed from this revised version. I am certain that the RCMP prefer to label Robinson as bad apple to deflect attention away from the real problem, which as I write in the main article above, is the rotten barrel of police training and culture.

    Disgraced B.C. Mountie resigns before sentencing

    CBC News July 20, 2012

    A disgraced RCMP officer who was found guilty in connection with a 2008 traffic fatality and was involved in the death of Robert Dziekanski quit the force, just as his sentencing hearing opened in Vancouver.

    Cpl. Benjamin (Monty) Robinson was found guilty in March of obstruction of justice following a collision in Delta, B.C., that killed motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson.

    On Friday morning just as the sentencing hearing for the disgraced corporal was getting underway in B.C. Supreme Court, Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens announced Robinson had voluntarily submitted his discharge papers.

    Callens said he would have preferred to fire Robinson, but he immediately signed his discharge instead.

    "While I have been clear that I was seeking his involuntary dismissal, the opportunity to discharge him from the organization this morning was one which eliminated further delays, costs and uncertainty," said Callens.

    "Mr. Robinson’s career with the RCMP has ended. As a private citizen, he is no longer subject to any disciplinary actions under the RCMP Act; however, he is still subject to the ongoing criminal matters," he said.

    Robinson was facing an internal Code of Conduct investigation and was suspended from the RCMP with pay since the 2008 collision. But an RCMP spokesperson couldn't clarify who was paying Robinson's legal bills and exactly how much Robinson had been costing the force.

    At the sentencing hearing Crown prosecutors asked for a sentence of three to nine months jail time or a 12- to 18-month conditional sentence for Robinson, while his own lawyers asked for a three- to six-month conditional sentence.

    Robinson, who was off-duty at the time of the 2008 accident, left the scene before police arrived and went home to consume more alcohol, although he returned to the scene a short time later.

    At the trial, Justice Janice Dillon dismissed Robinson's defence in which he had claimed he had walked to his Delta, B.C., home a short distance away and had two shots of vodka to calm himself because he said that's what an alcoholic would do.

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  41. continued from previous comment:

    In her strongly worded judgment, Dillon said Robinson used his own police training in a deliberate attempt to obstruct justice. By drinking after the accident, there was no way police could determine if he had been impaired prior to it.

    Dillon also concluded Robinson had lied to Delta police officers who came to the crash scene, understating how much he had been drinking at a party just before the crash.

    Hutchinson, who died at the scene, was also found to have consumed alcohol before the crash.

    Dillon said she would impose a sentence on Robinson July 27.

    Earlier, Hutchinson's father read out a victim impact statement to court.

    Glen Hutchinson described becoming mentally unbalanced after his son's death. He said he lost his career and his relationships with his daughter and wife. He said he has tried to take his own life several times.

    "Right now, aside from still being alive, I have nothing," he said, weeping.

    "I will not witness Orion growing old, and there's a deep pain endured every single day in the struggle to find a purpose in life."

    Oustide court, Hutchinson's friend David Van Den Brink said the sentencing recommendations presented in court weren't harsh enough.

    "It should be worse," he said. "If you're trained to do something right, it's really hypocritical if you're arresting people for this. And then you do the exact same thing and worse, and then you lie about it and you have no remorse for it and you continue to lie. You won't stand up and take responsibility for your own actions."

    Robinson is also one of four RCMP officers awaiting trial on a perjury charge in connection with the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport in October 2007.

    Robinson was in charge of the team of officers who dealt with the disturbed and frenetic Dziekanski by quickly stunning him repeatedly with a Taser.

    Sentencing submissions in the obstruction case could go all day Friday and the judge might reserve her decision following that.

    The Crown and the defence are expected to put forward arguments on the length of sentence that should be imposed.


  42. Vancouver officers face probe for not warning woman of murder tip before her death

    By Mike Hager, Vancouver Sun August 8, 2012

    Two Vancouver police officers will face an external investigation into allegations they neglected their duty by failing to warn a Surrey murder victim she was at risk of being killed.

    Tasha Rossette, 21, was found stabbed to death five days after a confidential informant tipped police that her boyfriend intended to kill her. She was four months pregnant with his child and had a three-year-old daughter at the time of the November 2005 murder.

    Const. Craig Bentley received the tip and told his supervisor Staff Sgt. John Grywinski, but the two decided to continue investigating it before notifying Rossette. Both were working with the Integrated Gang Task Force at the time.

    Her boyfriend, Amjad Khan, the man named by the informant, and Naim Mohammed Saghir, his alleged accomplice, were charged a year after Rossette was found in her Surrey apartment by her horrified twin sister. Her throat was slashed and she had been stabbed more than 40 times.

    News of the tip stayed out of the public eye for seven years while an internal police investigation — spurred by Crown concerns about Bentley’s pre-trial evidence — inched along in its review of the officers’ inaction.

    In the meantime, the victim’s mother, Simone Rossette, had filed a second complaint, which was dismissed after a six-month investigation by the department in 2009.

    The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner requested more information about the dismissal and ordered the police to revisit the allegations. Eighteen months later, the OPCC said it could not even determine if anyone was actively investigating the allegations and ordered an external police department to begin a separate review.

    The allegations about the officers’ conduct came to light Tuesday after a judge turned down the pair’s “overly technical” attempt to have the OPCC’s order for an independent review quashed.

    Bentley and Grywinski had argued that, after being cleared of any wrongdoing in an internal investigation, the OPCC had no jurisdiction to re-evaluate their conduct using the same facts.

    The victim’s mother is still hoping to find out why her daughter wasn’t told of the threat.

    “It’s just really surprising that it’s gone on this long,” Rossette told The Sun on Wednesday. “It’s seven years for everybody else, but it’s like it just happened for us and it’s like time hasn’t healed [anything].”

    In her ruling this week, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow chided the officers for waiting so long before filing a petition to stop the external review into their conduct.

    “This is not a case where the petitioners are caught by surprise or can point to any prejudice,” Gerow said in the ruling.

    Rossette said her family is still in “deep mourning,” not helped by the battle to have the officers’ conduct investigated, coupled with a new murder trial for her daughter’s alleged killers.

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  43. continued from previous comment:

    In June 2008, a B.C. Supreme Court jury found Khan and Saghir guilty as charged, but a September 2011 appeal overturned their murder convictions and a new trial is set to begin next January.

    At the first murder trial, the Crown argued that Khan didn’t want the responsibility of Rossette’s unborn child and feared its birth would bring shame to his family.

    Ravi Singh, a friend of both Khan and Saghir, testified at the original trial that after Rossette refused an abortion, Khan allegedly said “[t]he only way to get rid of this problem is to kill her.”

    Singh testified that he had spoken to both men several times about taking care of Khan’s “problem.” He said Saghir told him that he had “to slice the bitch’s throat because she was fighting back.”

    And Singh said Saghir had what appeared to be scratch marks on him on Nov. 20, 2005 — the last night Rossette was seen alive and with Khan.

    The convictions were overturned by a three-judge panel that criticized the way the Crown cross-examined Khan and propped up the credibility of its “unsavoury witnesses.”

    As the various legal challenges proceed, Rossette said family and friends continue to grapple with the young mother’s brutal death.

    “Even Tasha’s friends still go to her grave and sit around and take her flowers.”


  44. VPD officer faces hearing for pushing disabled woman

    CBC News August 8, 2012

    A disciplinary hearing is scheduled to begin Wednesday for a Vancouver police officer who pushed a disabled woman to the ground two years ago.

    A surveillance video shows Const. Taylor Robinson shoving Sandy Davidsen on a Hastings Street sidewalk in June 2010, then walking away with two other Vancouver police members.

    Davidsen suffers from multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

    "I’ve never even received an apology from the officer for being pushed down," said Davidsen. "I’d like to see him receive more than just a slap on the wrist for what he’s done."

    In December 2010, Crown Counsel approved assault charges against Robinson. However, the charges were later stayed and he was ordered to complete an alternative measures program.

    Earlier this year, Robinson was found to be in abuse of authority and neglect of duty.

    Scott Bernstein, Davidsen’s lawyer, said he hoped Const. Robinson would be suspended for a number of days.

    "He should have to partake in mandatory training that would teach him how to deal properly with people with disabilities," said Bernstein.

    A decision is not expected for several weeks.


  45. RCMP emails reveal tension as force faces changes

    CBC News August 10, 2012

    RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson's pledge to restore public confidence in the national police force — following a number of high-profile scandals — has created tension among some members, who feel he is lumping all officers into the same category, a recent email exchange obtained by CBC News reveals.

    But the head of the organization says change is necessary and it requires "all hands on deck."

    A staff sergeant from B.C. wrote to Paulson after the RCMP chief issued a video statement focusing on the need for solid police work, accountable leadership, discipline and a respectful workplace.

    Paulson has been vocal about the need to rid the force of its "bad apples" and the government recently introduced legislation to give the commissioner more powers to discipline or fire those who give the force a bad name.

    Staff Sgt. Tim Chad, however, wrote to Paulson saying trust is missing between officers and senior managers, who are trying to create a new culture within the RCMP when only a few are to blame for its woes.

    "We are not all a bunch of screw-ups but it is evident we are all being lumped into that category and we are not valued and trusted," he wrote in an email in July.

    Chad also said the RCMP senior executive committee is pursuing changes to benefits without proper consultation with employees.

    "We are being paid lip service and this is of grave concern," he wrote.

    Paulson responded by suggesting that Chad is "living under a rock" if he thinks that the RCMP does not require an "all hands on deck" approach to restoring the public's trust.

    "Wake up Man, this organization is at risk," he wrote.

    Paulson stuck by his comments in an interview with CBC News and said the RCMP troubles didn't start with recent accusations of sexual harassment but go back years, including a pension scandal and the Taser-related death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport.

    "When some of our members think of our challenges as being a PR exercise that is being dominated by some bad behaving members then we do the organization a disservice," Paulson said.

    The RCMP is facing a number of lawsuits from women who allege they were subject to harassment and bullying on the job. One class-action suit has been filed by hundreds of current and former Mounties.

    Paulson said the RCMP needs to make fundamental changes or risk losing the trust of Canadians.

    "The employees in the RCMP need to understand what's at stake," Paulson told CBC. “And not everybody does. A lot of people do but not everybody does."

    Chad declined a request for comment saying it would violate policy.

    Staff Sgt. Mike Casault, from the RCMP's staff relations program, said he has heard similar complaints from other officers but said it is due largely to the widespread changes coming to the organization.

    Along with the changes to the way officers are disciplined, the RCMP announced it would overhaul employee health, disability and support services to reduce costs.

    "There are some members out there that are getting disgruntled, discouraged and so Tim [Chad] is not the only one," Casault said.

    Mounties are dealing with a number of unknowns and many are looking for clarity about what's in store, he said.

    Paulson was promoted to commissioner in November of last year and pledged to transform the RCMP to restore morale within the force and trust with Canadians.


  46. 30-year North Vancouver RCMP veteran slams Commissioner Paulson

    By Mohammed Adam, The Ottawa Citizen August 14, 2012

    OTTAWA — A 30-year veteran of the RCMP has sent an extraordinary letter to Bob Paulson blasting him for the way he is handling the problems facing the force, saying he has no respect for the commissioner’s stewardship.

    In a scathing letter, a copy of which has been obtained by the Citizen, Peter Kennedy, an officer with the North Vancouver Detachment, said RCMP top brass have failed one of Canada’s most revered institutions, and years of mismanagement has eroded confidence and trust in the force. The recent sexual harassment allegations by female officers are only the tip of the iceberg, Kennedy said. Using words like “immature” and “arrogant” to describe some of Paulson’s recent actions, Kennedy said he used to be proud of the RCMP, but not any more.

    His letter follows an earlier email exchange between Paulson and another critical B.C. officer, Staff. Sgt. Tim Chad.

    When the Citizen called the North Vancouver Detachment to speak with Kennedy, a reporter was told the officer was not working Monday.

    “There is a lot more than sexual harassment happening in this organization. There is bullying, intimidation, exclusion, veiled threats and more. The RCMP is slowly eroding because of management’s refusal to admit failure, or even step up to the proverbial plate. What image are you trying to protect. That ship has passed and sunk ... We are no longer the image on the post card purchased by tourists,” Kennedy, who included his badge number in the letter, wrote.

    “Management keeps on failing with a big fat F.”

    Addressing Paulson, he went on, “You do a good interview on television and say all the right things. But words will not help this organization in any way. Never have and never will. I have seen many commissioners come and go ... They used all the right words also. None have measured up to what a police officer should be or even the way one should behave.”

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  47. continued from previous comment:

    Controversy has been swirling around the RCMP for years over a number of high-profile bungles, including the Tazer death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport. But things appear to have come to a head following allegations by female officers of widespread sexual harassment within the force.

    Paulson, whose mandate upon appointment included the restoration of confidence, has vowed to clean up the force with a call for a cultural change. But his efforts have not been met with universal acclaim among the rank and file, some of whom believe the problem lies with the managers.

    Kennedy’s letter follows an email sent earlier to Paulson by Chad, who criticized the commissioner for “talking down” to members of the force “like we are all a bunch of screw ups.” Chad also warned that trust between senior managers and rank and file has disappeared.

    The commissioner’s response accusing Chad of “living under a rock” and saying the officer’s statements “reveal an ill-informed arrogance” that is “at the heart of what ails us” appear not to have gone down well with Kennedy.

    “I find your reply to him aggressive, insulting arrogant, condescending and immature,” he wrote.

    “All S/Sgt. CHAD was trying to tell you, there is a trust issue between management and its members. They are not being engaged. A man asking for a little understanding and help, was bullied by the very person who is supposed to help not only him but all of us. This email would be somewhat acceptable if it had been written by an angry teenager. However it was written by a 25 year member of the RCMP that should have better leadership skills ...”

    When Paulson calls for a change in attitude, Kennedy believes it should start at the top, noting that “most of the problem with these harassment investigations is the fact that they were handled by what is now your management team.”

    “At this time I do not have very much respect for your actions. You are at this point a man of words only. Your words are falling on deaf ears commissioner,” he said.


  48. Dissident Mounties threaten to expose force’s ‘orchards of Bad Apples’

    Brian Hutchinson | National Post August 15, 201

    VANCOUVER — On the heels of a bitter public spat between Canada’s top Mountie and two B.C.-based officers who criticized him, a new group of disgruntled officers has emerged, sniping at RCMP brass and threatening to expose certain “investigative files” and compromising pictures of members whom it deems unworthy of the uniform.

    The Re-Sergeance Alliance announced itself in an anonymously written email to media outlets this week. Claiming to speak for “slightly over 500 members” inside the RCMP’s E Division in B.C., the group apparently formed as two local officers were sending letters under separate cover to Commissioner Bob Paulson, chastising him and other senior RCMP managers for a host of controversies and alleged institutional failures.

    “Our Alliance is slowly now moving across the nation,” reads a missive posted this week on its website. “So those of you whom our leadership has ‘Handled’ for so many years, our so-called orchards of ‘Bad Apples,’ we simply state your time has arrived and your corruption is about to see the light and justice of your fellow Canadians.”

    The RCMP has been rocked in recent months by accusations of inappropriate — even criminal — conduct levelled at some members, a preponderance of them based in B.C.

    Several female members have filed lawsuits alleging harassment at work, as well.

    Mr. Paulson has been attempting to mend fences since his appointment as RCMP commissioner in November. He acknowledges the force needs to be reformed, and that it employs a number of wayward officers who aren’t easily dismissed under current rules. He believes proposed changes to the RCMP Act will bring accountability to the internal disciplinary process and will make it easier for him to fire Mounties who commit crimes.

    “It’s unsatisfactory that we have to continue spending your tax dollars to pay individuals that don’t deserve to be in the RCMP,” Mr. Paulson wrote in an open letter to Canadians in May. “I know that legislation alone is not enough to keep your trust … I have started working at changing attitudes and behaviours within the RCMP.”

    Some Mounties aren’t satisfied. In an email sent to the commissioner in late July and leaked to the media, RCMP Staff Sgt. Tim Chad dismissed the commissioner’s promises as “lip service” and accused him of “talking down to us like we are all a bunch of screw-ups.”

    Mr. Paulson responded in kind. “Your attempt to discredit my effort to have an honest discussion with the staff of the RCMP strikes me as a cheap and unsophisticated insult when you suggest that I am talking down to members,” reads his email in reply to the staff sergeant, who works from a detachment just outside Vancouver. “Wake up, Man, this organization is at risk.”

    His tone upset a second veteran Mountie; he fired off his own letter to the commissioner. “I find your reply to [Staff-Sgt. Chad] aggressive, insulting, arrogant, condescending and immature,” wrote Const. Peter Kennedy, who is based in North Vancouver. “At this time I do not have very much respect for your actions. You are at this point a man of words only…. Management keeps failing with a big fat F.”

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  49. continued from previous comment:

    The dissident Re-Sergeance Alliance has stepped up the attack on RCMP brass, posting on its website anonymously penned screeds containing unsubstantiated accusations about a number of current and former members. They also call into question Mr. Paulson’s sincerity and undertakings as commissioner.

    Mr. Paulson was unavailable for comment Wednesday. An RCMP spokesman in Ottawa said the force does not respond to “anonymous web postings.”

    Another posting defends Mike Webster, a B.C.-based psychologist who treats approximately 25 Mounties suffering from work-related problems. Mr. Webster has for years been critical of RCMP leadership, describing it as “cultish,” “xenophobic” and “unhealthy.”

    The RCMP informed him by letter earlier this month that it will no longer pay for services he provides its officers. “Your lack of objectivity in both your clinical work and public commentary towards the RCMP have weakened your effectiveness in treating your RCMP client base,” the letter read.

    The RCMP has also lodged a complaint against Mr. Webster with the College of Psychologists of British Columbia, the body that regulates the profession in the province.

    Reached at his office on Denman Island, on B.C.’s West Coast, Mr. Webster said he wasn’t surprised at the blacklisting. RCMP brass have expressed their displeasure with him before. “I wear it as a badge of honour,” he said. “I’m interested to see how the College will deal with this.”

    Mr. Webster said he will continue to meet with an “RCMP members support group,” some two dozen officers who gather near Vancouver once a month to discuss their various workplace problems. He will offer his services free of charge, he said.

    He noted that one of the support group members is Peter Kennedy, the North Vancouver corporal who recently criticized Mr. Paulson.

    Mr. Webster acknowledged he has a relationship with the Re-Sergeance Alliance, as well. “I have intimate knowledge of them,” he said. They are real RCMP members, he insisted, not frauds. “They are credible people.”


  50. Vancouver police officer filmed kicking handcuffed man

    CBC News August 16, 2012

    Vancouver police have launched an investigation after one of their officers was caught on CBC video kicking a restrained and handcuffed suspect in the chest.

    Ryan James Felton, a 39-year-old from Surrey, was arrested by police after being accused of taking $150 in cash and $250 in merchandise from a sex shop. He then ran around a residential neighbourhood in his underwear in what police have called "an apparent bad reaction to drugs".

    The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says the officer's actions are borderline criminal, and shows that the Vancouver Police Department has not learned from other recent high-profile cases involving excessive force.

    "This is somebody who is handcuffed, virtually naked, sitting on the sidewalk, getting kicked. And that's not acceptable," said BCCLA spokesman David Eby.

    The incident happened at 8:15 p.m. PT Wednesday night at the corner of 15th and Fir Street in the Shaughnessy area, when police cars swooped into the upscale neighbourhood.

    Police were responding to a call about a robbery at a store and reports that a man was taking off his clothes and trying to enter a home.

    The circumstances leading up to the incident are unclear, but police can be seen arresting a man in his underwear, asking him if he has a gun, and questioning him about drugs. In the video, the man, in handcuffs, does not appear to put up a struggle.

    But as a CBC producer films the scene, a plainclothes officer kicks him in the chest, with enough force to snap the suspect's head back. He then falls to one side, still handcuffed.

    "When you have somebody who is... very clearly not a threat and you use force, there's no legal authority to do that," Eby said.

    The Vancouver Police say the officer involved will “not be deployed operationally” until an investigation is conducted.

    “The Vancouver Police Professional Standards Section has initiated an investigation into the actions of a plainclothes police officer who allegedly committed an assault by kicking a handcuffed prisoner in the chest,” the force said in a statement.

    The Abbotsford Police Department has also been asked to conduct an external investigation of the incident.

    Police say the suspect, Felton, was taken to Vancouver General Hospital on Wednesday night, treated for a drug overdose, and returned to police custody.

    He has been charged with one count of robbery.

    view the video at:


  51. Chilliwack corporal’s critical letter latest dig at RCMP management

    By Douglas Quan, Postmedia News August 16, 2012

    Distrust of the RCMP's senior managers by rank-and-file members is widening by "leaps and bounds," according to a letter sent recently by a 39-year veteran of the RCMP in British Columbia to his member of Parliament.

    The letter, obtained by Postmedia News, is the latest salvo against RCMP leadership by disgruntled officers, who say their concerns are not being addressed.

    Cpl. Loren Chaplin writes that the force "needs to be burnt to the ground, metaphorically speaking, and either resurrected from the ashes with clear new focus and direction ... or it needs to be buried once and for all as having outlived its intended purpose."

    Chaplin said that officers are stressed out, burned out and tasked with doing more with less, and harassed or bullied if they "stumble or balk under the load."

    If the government is insistent on continuing with its national and international policing role, then municipal or provincial contracts need to be scrapped, he said.

    RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday. His staff says he is currently away on summer leave.

    Insp. Marc Richer, a national spokesman in Ottawa, said in an e-mail that the "obsession with making public these intended private communications only serves to undermine the majority of hard working members who are dedicated to the well-being of the communities they serve and safety of all Canadians.

    "No organization can undergo change without facing concerns from its employees. It is a situation where all have a contribution to make so that over time the situation improves."

    Reached by phone Thursday, Chaplin, who is currently on medical leave from the force in Chilliwack and plans to retire in January, said current efforts to reform the RCMP amount to nothing more than "tinkering."

    Those who believe that RCMP managers, who were responsible for the force's problems to begin with, can now fix those problems are "delusional," he said. His letter, addressed to Conservative MP Mark Strahl, is the third critical letter to surface in recent weeks from an RCMP member in B.C.

    On July 30, Staff Sgt. Tim Chad of the Ridge Meadows RCMP wrote to the commissioner saying that he and his colleagues were tired of being talked down to as if they were a "bunch of screw ups" and that reforms within the force are being carried out without proper consultation and instead being "forced upon us." He also expressed concerns that benefits and working conditions were being eroded.

    Paulson replied in an e-mail that Chad was "living under a rock if you think that our current situation ... does not warrant an 'all hands on deck' approach to restoring the public trust."

    "Wake up man, this organization is at risk," he said.

    Paulson acknowledged that changes are underway to the way health care is managed but that benefits will not decrease. Changes to the disciplinary process will still be carried out with the "greatest respect for due process," he added.

    After that e-mail exchange went public, Peter Kennedy, a veteran Mountie in North Vancouver, sent a letter to Paulson accusing him of being arrogant and condescending to Chad.

    "All S/Sgt. CHAD was trying to tell you, there is a trust issue between management and its members. They are not being engaged," he wrote.

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    This week, an anonymous blog site claiming to represent more than 500 current and former RCMP members emerged, stating that the only way change was going to occur within the force was from the "bottom up."

    The blog said the force's "rotten apples" need to be pushed "directly into the light" and that members need to demand their removal from the organization.

    "It's time for us as Canadians to rise to the challenge and take back the Force for our Fellow Canadians and demand justice for them, as we are better than this," said the blog, which has since been taken down.

    Simon Fraser University criminology professor Rob Gordon said Thursday that he feels some sympathy for Paulson. When the commissioner was appointed in November, he inherited a "maelstrom of problems that he's had to sit down and work his way through."

    "In eight months you're not going to turn around what's been building for 25 years," he said. "It's unfair to criticize him for not achieving that miracle."

    Clearly, he said, there are some members who are entrenched in their old ways and disapprove of all the changes that are happening, he said.

    Staff Sgt. Mike Casault, a member of the national executive of the RCMP's staff relations program, said Thursday he's not certain that the letters and the blog are necessarily indicative of a groundswell of discontent in the force.

    "There are some who have voiced their displeasure. But there are lots who go about their daily work. ... They just want to do a good job and go home safe."

    The reforms underway are creating uncertainty and panic among some officers but staff relations representatives are doing their best to ensure that officers' benefits, working conditions remain intact, he said.

    Rob Creasser, a spokesman for the Mounted Police Professional Association, a group of officers seeking the right to collective bargaining, said he believes the letters and the anonymous blog reflect widespread distrust in the senior mangers to create "meaningful change" in the force.

    He said the issue is not that members don't want change; they just don't think that Paulson and his senior executives can bring about real change without "buy in" from front line officers.

    Creasser said he is "hopeful" that more members will come forward to air their grievances in public.

    "The gloves have to come off."


  53. Ontario judge rebukes top Mountie in leaked letter

    By Curt Petrovich, CBC News Aug 17, 2012

    An Ontario judge has admonished RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson for the way he has dealt with dissent within the force. Ontario Superior Court Justice Brian Abrams wrote Paulson a letter, taking him to task for his tone and choice of words in responding to internal criticism during an email exchange between Paulson and B.C. Staff Sgt. Tim Chad. "After some deliberation I felt compelled to write a note," Abrams says in correspondence obtained by CBC News.

    In the email exchange — which was leaked to the public — Chad complained that Paulson was portraying rank and file members as "a bunch of screw-ups". Paulson replied, reprimanding his subordinate. While Abrams wrote the comments were unbecoming of both officers, the judge — a retired Mountie himself — levelled his criticism at Paulson. "While I take no position with respect to the substantive matters discussed in the correspondence, I was surprised by the tone," Abrams writes, after noting his regimental number when he was a member of the force. "To tell a subordinate they are 'living under a rock', that they are 'unsophisticated' and that to 'inform yourself ... it will take an effort', are not words I would have expected to read in correspondence coming from the Office of the Commissioner," he added.

    Abrams's letter was leaked on the heels of one from North Vancouver Const. Peter Kennedy, who likened the commissioner to an "angry teenager" who is "aggressive, insulting, arrogant condescending and immature." In a statement to CBC News, Paulson dismissed Kennedy's complaints, writing: "For every email from the likes of Const. Kennedy, I get a pile of supportive — it’s about time — messages." But the letter from Abrams may not be as easy to dismiss. In it, Abrams offers Paulson two admonitions. One is from his grandmother, who told him: "Just because you may be right doesn't always give you the right to say so." The other, Abrams says, he learned from the lawyer who was his articling principal, who cautioned him never to write a letter he wouldn't want to see on the front page of the Globe and Mail, introduced in court, or that your mother would be embarrassed to read.
    "All good advice, I think", Abrams concludes.

    Lawyer Walter Kosteckyj, a former Mountie, says the letter from a sitting judge is a remarkable indication that Paulson may be losing the moral authority to restore the RCMP's reputation. "I don't think the RCMP can fix this problem on their own anymore," Kosteckyj said. NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison says while the spate of leaked internal correspondence indicates deep structural problems within the RCMP, he doesn't think too much should be read into Abrams' letter. "And I don't think this public debate of what is essentially private correspondence is helpful in solving the larger problems", he says.

    Julie Carmichael, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, wouldn't comment on the correspondence. "What I can say is that our Conservative government is committed to ensuring Commissioner Paulson has the tools he needs to restore pride in Canada's national police force. Minister Toews recently tabled the Enhancing RCMP Accountability Act to do just that," Carmichael said. The RCMP also refused to comment on the letter. "It is unlikely that we would respond to what is likely a private communication between two parties", Sgt. Greg Cox told CBC News, noting that Paulson is on vacation.

    Mohan Sharma, the acting executive legal officer for Ontario's chief justice confirmed Abrams wrote the email. "It was the expression of a purely personal view," Sharma told CBC News in an email. "Justice Abrams has no further comment."


  54. It is sad that the RCMP seems to have become, from what I have read, an agency where officers that are not fit to serve other agencies want to work. I know of 1 officer who, before becoming an officer, was dating an escort and had a personal/professional relationship with an escort after being sworn in. And to say that these officers are in the top 2 best payed police forces in the country makes me cringe at the wasted funds.

  55. Police complaints office rejects officer's 1-day suspension

    CBC News August 21, 2012

    The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has rejected a one day suspension for a Vancouver Police officer who pushed over a disabled woman on a downtown eastside sidewalk.

    Const. Taylor Robinson was captured by surveillance video walking shoulder to shoulder down the Hastings Street sidewalk on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside with two other officers in June 2010.

    When the trio encounter Sandy Davidsen, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy and was walking with obvious difficulty, Robinson can be seen pushing Davidsen to the ground in the video.

    The incident outraged the public and in December 2010, Crown Counsel approved assault charges against Robinson.

    However, the charges were later stayed and Robinson was ordered to complete an alternative measures program.

    But earlier this year, an investigation by the New Westminster Police Service "determined the evidence appeared to substantiate the allegations" of abuse of authority and neglect of duty.

    As a result the Vancouver Police Department proposed suspending Robinson for one day and and that he undertake one day of specified training in available force options and appropriate responses.

    But the Police Complaint Commissioner has determined a one-day suspension doesn't reflect or adequately address the seriousness of Robinson's misconduct.

    In a statement issued by the Pivot Legal Society, Davidsen said she supports the rejection of the discipline by the OPCC, and hopes that there will finally be some meaningful consequences for the officer.

    "He never really apologized" said Davidsen, "The letter sent was just a justification for pushing me and then he didn't even take the time to sign it."

    In the letter of apology to Davidsen, Robinson said he thought she was reaching for his firearm and instinctively pushed her away, and that he regretted how much force he used and that he did not help her back to her feet and check if she was okay afterwards.

    A new disciplinary hearing will now be held to investigate the incident. Davidsen's lawyer Scott Bernstein said he has requested the OPCC appoint a retired judge rather than have a police officer review the case.

    "All too often police disciplining police results in a slap on the wrist. To restore public faith and promote a culture of responsibility among officers, British Columbia must end the practice of police investigating and disciplining police once and for all."


  56. Why Sandy's case matters

    by Scott Bernstein, Health and Drug Policy Campaigner, Pivot Legal Society August 22, 2012

    Yesterday started with my cell phone ringing at 6:08 a.m. I crawled out of bed to answer, and discovered that a reporter was on the other end asking if I could do an interview. Sensing my before-coffee grogginess, perhaps, she asked if I would like five minutes to "compose myself" and said that she could call back. I gratefully accepted.

    This reporter was on the ball to be sure; our press release about the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) decision to reject a one-day suspension as adequate discipline for the officer who brutally shoved Sandy Davidsen to the ground had only gone out eight minutes before. That was the first of about fifteen interviews yesterday on both radio and TV. I tried to communicate all that has happened so far in Sandy's case out and stress to the media why this case is so important. That work seemed to pay off, as the story was picked up by the CBC, Globe and Mail, The Province, and the Vancouver Sun, to name only a few media sources.

    With my phone ringing off the hook all of yesterday, and I didn't get much chance to reflect as I ran from interview to interview. Today, though, in a bit of a quieter moment, I am closer to understanding why this case resonates so deeply with the media and the public. Sandy is a sympathetic figure to be sure. She's about 100 pounds and has both cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. It's hard to believe that three 200+ pound officers thought she was a threat. So, as Constable Robinson doggedly sticks to his story that Sandy was "grabbing" his gun - despite all of the evidence to the contrary - I think people understand how unbelievable that story really is. But, even more so, I think the video of the incident shows a level of callousness on the part of the police that most people find truly shocking. The police are here to "protect and serve", but there they are, on film, not only shoving a disabled woman to the ground, but not even making an effort to see if she was hurt or to help her up. They just walked away. Sandy, was neither protected nor served by the police. Instead, she was treated like she didn't matter.

    This case is important to Sandy and to many of the residents of the Downtown Eastside. Being shoved to the ground and neglected is, unfortunately, what many residents of this community experience symbolically day after day. For Sandy, this case is about seeing justice done. She wants to feel recognized and validated. After two years, she'd like some positive resolution and to hear the officer take responsibility for his actions instead of offering excuses. She'd like to be compensated for what's been done to her by the police so that she might someday afford a motorized wheelchair and doesn't have to stumble along the sidewalk. For our community, this case is important because all too often we've seen the police abdicating responsibility for their actions.

    In a rare step, it seems that the OPCC is exerting some pressure and won't let Cst. Robinson get off with a slap on the wrist. If this case can somehow improve the climate of policing in the Downtown Eastside, it will be a victory for Sandy and for the DTES. Maybe this case will be one small step towards having a civilian oversight for ALL police disciplinary matters. In any case, Pivot will continue to support people like Sandy and work to see that this injustice doesn't happen again.


    Scott Bernstein
    Health and Drug Policy Campaigner


  57. Homeless death toll continues to climb

    BY JOHN BONNAR, rabble.ca | AUGUST 14, 2012

    The photo, featuring a yellow candle burning brightly, hung over the Toronto Homeless Memorial board as a symbol of hope that one day homeless deaths will be a thing of the past.

    For now though, anti-poverty and housing activists continue to gather on the second Tuesday of every month to honour those who’ve died on the streets of Toronto the previous month.

    Passersby were reflected in in the plexiglass cover of the Homeless Memorial Board that now contains the names of over 600 men, women and children.

    On a cool August morning, people drifted in and out of the Church of the Holy Trinity, a sanctuary for homeless people that’s open six days a week.

    Since the early part of the 20th century, the Church has been ministering to the needs of people in the inner city.

    On Tuesday, the smoke from the barbecues rose high above the trees in the grassy area just south of the Church.

    The corporate community hosted an event in support of the Daily Bread Food Bank to which no uninvited guests were allowed entry. Business people only. Not even the homeless people who sat on the benches a few yards away.

    Those who work in the plush office buildings overlooking the Labyrinth dropped non-perishable food items into the drop boxes as they entered the restricted area.

    The music blared out of the large black speakers, drowning out the conversation of the homeless couple scanning the list of names on the Memorial board.

    The event was closed off to the public. Security personnel floated around the perimeter. Nine chefs sweated above the oversized grills.

    Near noon, the lineup to get into the event stretched into the courtyard, almost reaching the entrance of the Eaton Centre.
    The memorial candles were lit shortly after noon and handed out to a couple of dozen mourners, before one person who died in July was added to the board.

    Her name was Cindy Foster.

    For almost 10 years, Cindy was part of the community at Sanctuary Ministries, a church in downtown Toronto.

    “She had this big, huge, curly red hair and a terrific laugh,” said Doug Johnson-Hatlem, a street pastor at Sanctuary. “She had a very tough life living on the streets.”

    After she’d been housed for four years, Cindy received an eviction notice nine days before she died of cancer in hospital.

    “She wasn’t even there and she got evicted,” said Greg Cook, an outreach worker at Sanctuary.

    “Which is often indicative of the nature of poverty and how precarious housing is.”

    In addition to Cindy, two other names were added to the board. One died in October 2008; the other in November 2011.

    After a moment of silence, housing activist Michael Shapcott stepped up to the microphone and announced a new national homelessness initiative called the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness whose mission is to create a national movement to prevent and end homelessness in Canada through the development of 10 Year Plans to End Homelessness in communities across the country.

    “We need to move from crisis responses (like shelters and soup kitchens) to solutions -- permanent, appropriate, safe and affordable housing with the support necessary to sustain it,” wrote the Alliance on its website.

    “We’ve had other national homelessness organizations over the years,” said Shapcott. “But groups have a life span and then they move on.”

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    Shapcott also mentioned that Sanctuary will be holding a meeting on Thursday, September 6 at 1 p.m. around the issue of social profiling of homeless people.

    “Social profiling is a fancy term for the prejudice and discrimination that people who live on the streets experience because of their lack of housing,” he said.

    “So we know that police treat homeless people differently than they treat people who are housed. We know that social services and many others treat homeless people differently than they treat people who are housed.”

    In their forum on September 6, people are invited to talk publicly about social profiling and how to end it.

    An hour before Tuesday’s memorial, Greg Cook said he witnessed a police officer issue a $65 ticket to a homeless person because he smelled Listerine on the man’s breath.

    “I don’t know,” said Cook. “There may be a law about that but I haven’t heard that one before.”

    While that police officer was writing up the ticket, Cook said he saw another officer allegedly rifling through a homeless man’s bag without a warrant.

    “He was looking for the man’s medication, but didn’t ask permission to look through the bag,” he said.

    “Then he threw it back down on the ground. Just really bullying and harassment in my opinion. And the gentlemen were just sitting there on the bench.”

    Cook, who spends a great deal of time as an outreach worker walking the streets building relationships with homeless people, said it’s common practice for police officers to ticket or write notes on homeless people.

    “Which is profiling,” said Cook. “Essentially, it criminalizes poverty.”

    At the end of the memorial vigil, Sherman Hesslegrave, the minister at the Church of the Holy Trinity, invited everyone inside the church for lunch.

    “I have no idea what they’re offering across the way,” he said.

    “But it looks like that’s a ticketed event and ours is not. You’re all welcome.”


  59. RCMP Commissioner had staff stand guard at his wedding

    by SEAN SILCOFF, The Globe and Mail August 27 2012

    Members of the RCMP’s iconic Musical Ride team spent a recent Thursday afternoon in another ceremonial role – acting as an honour guard at RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson’s wedding – a part that normally isn’t played by officers on duty.

    The Mounties, when first contacted by The Globe and Mail, said the officers were volunteers, which is the practice, but when pressed revealed they were on a paid shift.

    Commissioner Paulson and Erin O’Gorman, a director-general in Transport Canada, were married at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Ottawa on Aug. 16. The bride wore a strapless white gown; the groom was in his RCMP uniform, said guest and parishioner Marlene Pignat.

    The low-key wedding was attended by about 80 guests – plus a full “honour guard” consisting of eight RCMP officers dressed in their red serge uniforms, who formed a bridal arch with their lances. “They were dressed in all their finery,” said Ms. Pignat. “It was very nice. The couple seemed to be relaxed and enjoying the moment.”

    When The Globe enquired the following day, RCMP spokesman Corporal David Falls said the eight officers were members in training from the Musical Ride branch who volunteered to be at the wedding.“These duties were performed voluntarily at the end of their workday,” Cpl. Falls said in an e-mail.

    But sources familiar with the situation say the eight trainees were in fact assigned to attend the wedding as part of their regular duties. Because the wedding happened at 4 p.m., their shift was changed that day to start at noon instead of 7 a.m.

    When pressed for clarification, Cpl. Falls acknowledged the wedding in fact happened “in the middle of the [modified] shift” and that the commissioner requested an honour guard. But the spokesman insisted the trainees “were polled for their possible interest in this event. They were not assigned.” Again, sources familiar with the situation say that in fact they were assigned and did not volunteer.

    While the officers were not pulled from active police work – they are spending the year learning to ride and care for horses before joining the ceremonial riding team next year – they were assigned to attend a private function on their employer’s time, to the benefit of their boss.

    Commissioner Paulson has made it his mission to clean up the troubled organization.

    The Globe made several attempts to contact Commissioner Paulson, who is on leave until Sept. 4. He was not available for an interview, and it is unclear whether he knew the officers were on duty.

    One retired high-ranking RCMP official who asked not to be identified said he’d never heard of anyone being assigned during their working hours to perform honour-guard duties at a colleague’s wedding. “These are things that in the past would have been looked past, but in this day and age, when everybody’s looking at how we spend the public purse, they aren’t.”

    Tim Killam, a retired deputy commissioner with the RCMP, pointed out the officers pulled in for wedding duty were performing a ceremonial role in their regular day jobs in the first place, and that RCMP officers regularly show up at sporting events and other public forums as part of their assigned duties to do little more than stand upright and look iconic. “We do honour guard all over across this country because people look at the RCMP as a national symbol. How do you say no to that?” he said. “We’ve been doing it forever and people want it. People are proud of traditions. This is a duty I would think [the trainees] would want to do. It’s a great gig. It’s this, or what do you do back at the stable?”


  60. White Rock RCMP officer charged for fatal high speed pursuit

    CBC News August 27, 2012

    A White Rock RCMP officer has been charged with dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm following a high speed chase that resulted in the death of a pedestrian in May 2011.

    The charges were laid following an external investigation by the Vancouver Police Department, which alleges Const. David Bickle failed to follow numerous federal and provincial guidelines regarding pursuits.

    On May 18, 2011 Bickle attempted to stop a vehicle on Marine Drive, but the driver refused to stop and eventually collided with another vehicle at the intersection of Thrift Avenue and Johnson Road.

    The driver then accelerated through the intersection on a red light, striking and killing pedestrian Marilyn Laursen, 56.

    The driver, Dyle Danyliuk, was arrested, charged and pleaded guilty to four charges. He scheduled to be sentenced in September.

    After the incident, the RCMP asked the VPD to investigate the actions of Const. Bickle, a two-year member of the force, who was working alone that night. White Rock was Bickle's first posting.


  61. Whistleblower claims RCMP targeting him

    CBC News August 27, 2012

    A man who complained to the RCMP that one of its officers posted bondage photos online says that after he reported the Mountie, he and his wife were terrorized by police during a raid on their home.

    The man, whose name is not being made public, told CBC News that the raid occurred after he reported to the RCMP that Cpl. Jim Brown, of Coquitlam, B.C., had posted several bondage-type photos of himself with women on a website with a purported 1.7 million members.

    The RCMP is investigating Brown's connection to the photos.

    But the man said seven officers — bearing a warrant that said the search was being carried out as part of an investigation into alleged defamatory libel — raided his home and seized several computers and cell phones.

    The man said the officers told his wife that he was likely cheating on her because he had been lurking on the website where he found the photos of Brown.

    "After assisting the RCMP regarding this matter we have been targeted by those in Organized Crime Section," the man wrote in a letter to CBC News.

    The raid on the whistleblower’s home came a few days after a blog was posted online by a group called the Re-Sergeance Alliance, which claims to represent 500 Mounties. The blog post alleged corruption by RCMP management and accused the force of trying to cover up Brown's scandalous photos.

    The blog was quickly pulled down and all RCMP officers were advised of a new policy restricting members writing on social media.

    Micheal Vonn, a lawyer with B.C. Civil Liberties Association, calls the RCMP actions an inappropriate use of police resources, because defamation belongs in civil court.

    Vonn also said she believes the defamatory libel section of the Criminal Code is unconstitutional.

    “When we look at these arcane, highly suspect provisions of the Code and we see the police going after their own critics, we have reason to be very concerned indeed,” said Vonn.

    he RCMP has told CBC News there was no “raid” on the man’s home but a legal search that had judicial authorization and that its officers were respectful.


  62. Mounties criticized in B.C. jail sex case

    The Canadian Press August 29, 2012

    An investigation by the RCMP Public Complaints Commission has found that three officers accused of watching two female inmates have sex in a jail cell without intervening demonstrated a lack of professionalism.

    The commission said Wednesday that, while the RCMP investigation of the incident was thorough, the force failed to recognize an issue that could lead to a perception of bias when the force investigates its own members.

    The commission made four recommendations, including that the RCMP consider amending its policy in connection to when an investigation should be turned over to an external agency.

    The Elizabeth Fry Society filed the complaint after the August 2010 incident came to light.

    The women -- who had been arrested separately and were both clearly intoxicated -- were being held in the drunk tank when the officers and a guard allegedly watched them have sex via closed circuit TV.

    Cpl. Kenneth Brown, Const. Evan Elgee, Const. Stephen Zaharia and guard David Tompkins still face breach of trust charges in the case.


  63. Reliance on expert in B.C. police shooting under scrutiny

    By Curt Petrovich, CBC News August 29, 2012

    The father of a man shot by Vancouver police while he crawled on his hands and knees is asking investigators re-examining the case to question the use of an expert who cleared the officer involved in the shooting.

    David Boyd says he believes the Vancouver Police Department and B.C.'s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner should never have relied on the opinions of police psychologist Bill Lewinski.

    "It seems like he was the kind of witness you call in if you want to have the police exonerated," Boyd said.

    Boyd's son, Paul, was shot eight times following an altercation with police in 2007. But it was a final shot to the head while Boyd was on the ground and disarmed that killed the mentally ill animator.

    Stan Lowe, the police complaints commissioner, retained Lewinski as an expert and devoted some detail to his opinions in his final report into the shooting. The report was released in March.

    Lowe wrote that Lewinski "reasonably explained" why Const. Lee Chipperfield fired on an unarmed man by concluding the "intense emotional reaction to the events, coupled with a restricted focus," had, "rendered him inattentionally blind."

    Although Boyd was on the ground some distance away, Lowe says Lewinski's analysis was that the emotional intensity of the event left him "shooting to save his life rather than being focused on shooting to stop Mr. Boyd."

    David Boyd says when he learned Lewinski's opinion was involved in clearing Chipperfield, he was upset.

    "There's no point in asking someone when you know what the answer's going to be," he says. "And I think it just makes the whole thing laughable [that] they would go to someone like this."

    Lewinski is a behavioural scientist and executive director of a private, for-profit police training business in Minnesota called Force Science Institute Ltd. He's also a professor emeritus of Law Enforcement at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

    The former Canadian social worker and school teacher is frequently sought after by U.S. police forces that are facing civil or criminal cases following lethal shootings. Lewinski has been recognized as an expert in reaction, perception and memory by a number of state and federal courts in the U.S.

    But his credentials and research have also been attacked by lawyers for plaintiffs suing the police. A few have successfully had Lewinski barred from testifying.

    Three years ago, Pasadena, Calif., civil rights lawyer John Burton represented the family of a man who was shot while he was obeying police to get on the ground. Burton argued that Lewinski's opinions explaining what happened were "nonsense," "bogus" and "pseudo-scientific gloss."

    The judge agreed, barring Lewinski from testifying because his testimony lacked "scientific foundation."

    Burton is unequivocal: "My advice would be to treat Lewinski for what he is; he's partisan, he's paid for, he always testifies for the police officer and he will always justify a shooting," he says. "If that's what you want, is some pseudo-scientist with a PhD after his name to get up there ... let a cop off the hook for a bad shooting, he's your go-to guy."

    Two years ago, Lewinski was quoted that although his research could be used to prosecute police, he doesn't have time for that and with the size of his organization, he focuses on police.

    Oakland, Calif., lawyer Michael Haddad sees it differently.

    "When someone hires Bill Lewinski, they're not hiring an impartial expert," Haddad told CBC News.

    Haddad is president of the The National Police Accountability project, an organization of civil rights lawyers in the U.S. In 2006, Haddad represented the family of an undercover cop who was shot by two rookie officers.

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    The city hired Lewinski to testify in a civil suit, and Haddad says the psychologist was ready to give evidence that other officers who heard their colleague reveal his identity before he was gunned down could have been mistaken because of the stress of what happened.

    The city eventually settled out of court, but not before Haddad spent seven hours taking Lewinski's deposition.

    "He's a very charming guy," Haddad says. "But ultimately what I learned about him was that he went to a correspondence school of psychology."

    Lewinski received his PhD from Union Institute and University in Ohio in 1988.

    "He did his courses over the internet," Haddad says. "At the end of it, they gave him a degree of a PhD. He called himself a police psychologist. I believe at the time I took his deposition, there was nobody else in the United States with that title. He made it up."

    Two years ago, Chicago lawyer Melvin Brooks questioned Lewinski prior to this testimony in a case in which a police officer shot an armed teenager who was running away from him.

    In a motion filed with the court, Brooks argued Lewinski's degree "is not worth the paper it is written on," and that Lewinski had conceded he is not an expert in biomechanics, use of force, ballistics, or any of the "hard sciences" like anatomy or physics.

    Brooks lost his motion to bar the psychologist from testifying.

    He also lost the civil suit against the police. In allowing Lewinski to give evidence, the judge cited his "extensive 40 years of experience domestically and abroad," noting his explanations "were helpful to the jury."

    "You know the courts are buying into it for the most part," Brooks says. "Which is somewhat unbelievable to me, because it's really not based on science."

    In analyzing the shooting of Paul Boyd, Lewinski's opinion was that the stress of the incident rendered the officer who did the shooting, "inattentionally blind."

    "Inattentional blindness" is a subject University of Illinois psychology professor Dan Simons knows well. While at Harvard, he and a colleague conducted experiments which demonstrated people can fail to notice things in front of them if they're focused on something else. They co-authored a popular book on the subject in 2010.
    Simons found that when asked to concentrate on a video of people passing basketballs around, they frequently failed to see a person wearing gorilla suit walk right through the scene.

    Simons, who's studied the phenomenon for 15 years, says he's asked nearly every week to testify in court for one case or another. He says always declines, because while inattentional blindness may be an explanation for errors in judgement, you can never be certain. As for the Boyd case, Simons is reluctant to weigh in.

    "It sounds like a case of misperception as opposed to inattentional blindness," he offers tentatively.

    Simons says years ago, Lewinski asked him to come and talk at one of the many training seminars he offers to law enforcement. Simons declined.

    "Within the scientific world, he doesn't really do anything on inattentional blindness that I know of. So would he count as an expert in the scientific world? No."

    Lewinski declined repeated requests for interviews over the past several weeks. A spokesperson for his Force Science Institute indicated Lewinski was busy conducting training and in court. CBC News was provided with a two-page biography that notes Lewinski's, "groundbreaking findings have been presented at peer-reviewed conferences," and have been, "published in peer-reviewed journals."

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    Following a request for details of the peer-reviewed research, CBC News was referred to Lewinski's website, which lists a number of articles he's written. One he co-authored was published in Psychological Science, a top science journal. Many others appeared in a law enforcement publication and a police trade magazine called The Police Marksman.

    Rollie Woods, B.C.'s deputy Police Complaint Commissioner says Commissioner Stan Lowe was, "aware of Dr. Lewinski's background, what his expertise was, what his C.V. was, and also that there was some controversy around his opinions and research."

    But Woods told CBC News, "Dr. Lewinski does offer a reasonable explanation as to what may have occurred."

    Woods says Lewinski was retained because he'd already provided his opinions to the Vancouver Police Department and the Commissioner wanted to see if new evidence would change Lewinski's mind about what happened. It didn't.

    "I am certain that the commissioner would have weighed all the evidence", Woods said. "There are 6,000 pages of documentation in this fi