Monthly Archives: July 2015

Killing Accountability: Cop Crime, the SIU and the Blue Wall

Killing Accountability: Cop Crime, the SIU and the Blue Wall

Only a few police agencies in Canada are subject to any independent civilian oversight or mechanism of accountability. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Ontario is often presented as the model example for civilian oversight of the police. The SIU oversees municipal, regional and provincial police in Ontario but does not investigate the federal police, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or First Nations constables or Canadian Forces Military Police. The SIU is responsible for investigating all cases in which police officers are involved in the serious injury or death of civilians.

Despite its place as a model for civilian oversight the SIU has, throughout its history, had a reputation of police bias or being soft on police. For almost a quarter century, the SIU has also been subject to interference, obstruction, and uncooperativeness by police agencies at all levels. A range of ongoing problems have left the SIU what some have termed a “toothless tiger.”

Documents obtained by the Toronto Star show that over its nearly three decade existence, the SIU has conducted at least 3400 investigations but laid criminal charges following a mere 95 of them. While the SIU does not track what happens to those it charges the Star found that only 16 officers have been convicted of a crime after a SIU investigation. Incredibly only three have seen the inside of a jail

Critics contend that the SIU has been regularly unable to perform its stated function as a direct result of police interference. Even more this interference and obstruction is explicitly condoned and, in many cases, even encouraged by police associations. Numerous studies and reports over the decades have found substantial evidence bearing out these concerns.

Then-Ontario Ombudsperson, and former SIU director, Andre Marin authored a 2008 report on the SIU entitled “Oversight Unseen” which was the subject of much attention and which generated a great deal of discussion. In it Marin identified a number of serious issues impacting the efficiency and effectiveness of the SIU and calling the unit’s work into some question. Even more damning was what the report had to say about police agencies and their respect, or more accurately their lack of respect, for public oversight and accountability to the public. Marin was led to conclude that the SIU was a “toothless tiger.”
The disturbing issues highlighted by Marin are numerous. They include delays in notification to SIU by police forces regarding incidents; resistance by subject and witness officers toward disclosing their notes without prior vetting by a lawyer; sharing of legal counsel by the suspect officer and witness officers; and resistance by police officers to submit to SIU interviews.

Critics of police conduct with regard to the SIU note that a delay in the delivery to investigators of notes and interviews with officers can produce a protracted and weakened investigation. Marin spoke to the issue of delayed notification to the SIU in a 2011 interview with newsmagazine W5. As he explained his concerns at that time: “when the legislation says immediate notification, how can you be more clear than the word immediate … if a police agency decides to call three days later, they’ll get I presume a complaint letter from the SIU which will or will not be answered. But there’s no consequence for that police agency” (quoted in Finlay 2011). In the 2008 report, Marin reasoned for more prompt interviews with witness officers. He reaffirmed this years later. In 2011 he asserted that “our investigation found that the problem of delayed witness officer interviews has persisted [over decades] to this day, and continues to compromise the integrity of the SIU’s investigative process” (quoted in Finlay 2011).

The impact of delays is significant and dramatic compared with a more forthright process by police. Marin suggests, for SIU investigations in which police are cooperative: “SIU cases with the right level of co-operation should always be resolved in a matter of days, not weeks and months” (quoted in Finlay 2011).

A few years after the Marin report, former Chief Justice LeSage undertook a 15-month review of the SIU and police relations. His 2011 report also called for several significant changes to investigative procedures, including the recommendation that witness officers and subject officers be prohibited from sharing legal counsel. Lesage further recommended that officers involved in a SIU investigation not be allowed to communicate with each other about the incident.

The root of problems facing the SIU, as for all attempts to investigate police for acts of violence and killings, as for acts of misconduct more generally, is the police themselves as an institution. More specifically is the institutional culture, a dual sense of both entitlement and misplaced victimology (being put upon by a community “out to get them”) expressed by the police. This is the infamous “blue wall” of police silence and secrecy identified and discussed by criminologists. According to Marin, “the police unions take control of the situation…they will defend and protect members regardless of whether or not they believe that person has committed a wrong doing” (quoted in Finlay 2011). Indeed numerous studies of the SIU have identified and highlighted the presence and impacts of the blue wall in interfering with, impeding, and negatively impacting investigatory attempts.

Marin’s observations echoed an earlier study on the SIU, released in 2003, for the Attorney General. In a 2003 study on the SIU, retired Justice George Adams also referenced explicitly “the difficulty for the SIU has been in dealing with the PAO [Police Association of Ontario]” (quoted in Finlay 2011). As recently as July, 2015 serious questions were raised following a decision not to lay charges against the officer involved in the September 2014 killing by police of Jermaine Carby (33) in Brampton, Ontario. In this case Peel Regional Police have maintained a veil of secrecy around the officer who removed a key piece of evidence from the scene of the fatal police shooting (Gallant and Gillis 2015).

As Marin has concluded: “The director of the SIU cannot cause consequences to happen to police agencies who thumb their nose to civilian oversight. So that’s where the rest of government needs to come in and they’ve been rather invisible through all of this” (quoted in Finlay 2011). Such are the limits of investigation of police given the nature of police institutions and their organizational and political power. The result is to allow murderous institutions significant leeway in eluding investigators and avoiding meaningful consequences for their murderous activities. They wield a power unlike any other social institution.

In his annual ombudsperson’s report released July 28, 2015, Marin called on the Government of Ontario to give the Special Investigations Unit more power to charge police who fail to co-operate with SIU investigations. Marin argued again that the provincial government should explicitly outlaw police from impeding SIU investigations.

As has been the case for governmental responses by succeeding governments, under different political party control, current Attorney-General Madeleine Meilleur (Liberal) avoided questions related to giving the SIU more power.

References

Bruser, David and Michele Henry. 2010. “Are these Cops Above the Law?” Toronto Star October 28. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2010/10/28/are_these_cops_above_the_law.html

Finlay, Patti Ann. 2011. “Is SIU a ‘Toothless Tiger?” W5 April 22. http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5-is-special-investigations-unit-a-toothless-tiger-1.629156

Gallant, Jacques and Wendy Gillis. 2015. “Peel Police won’t Name Officer who Removed Evidence from Killing Scene.” Toronto Star July 22. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/07/22/peel-police-wont-name-officer-who-removed-evidence-from-killing-scene.html


People who Died Following a Traffic Incident Involving a Police Officer Since 1987 (Alberta)

People who died following a traffic incident involving a police officer in Edmonton:

• Giovanni Aleman, 7, d. June 2, 2001
• Corey Bishop, 16, d. July 24, 2004
• Ryan Pope, 17, d. July 24, 2004
• Patti Lee Kibbee, 47, d. Nov. 12, 2004
• Marcus Tootoosis, 25, d. July 12, 2007
• Colleen Cappo, 31, d. Feb. 16, 2009
• Corey Alan Bishop, 52, d. Aug. 6, 2012

People who died following a traffic incident involving a police officer elsewhere in Alberta

• Brad Kerfoot, 30, d. Nov. 19, 2009
• Byron Gray, 29, d. June 9, 2010
• Ryan Gray, 18, d. June 9, 2010
• Roy Beauregard, 53, d. Aug. 12, 2010
• Anne Cecilia Walden, 84, d. Mar. 8, 2012
• Crystal Trotchie, 33, d. Nov. 22, 2013
• Branden Anderson, 27, d. Nov. 22, 2013

Source: Coalition contre la Répression et les Abus Policiers (la C.R.A.P)


People who Died in Police Custody Since 1987 (Alberta)

People who died in police custody since 1987 (Alberta):

• Dean Welsh, 34, d. April 12, 1997
• Darren Varley, 26, d. Oct. 3, 1999
• Charles Ramsay, d. April 1, 2007
• Arthur Ross Lafrance, 49, d. Oct. 15, 2007
• Sylvester Omeasoo, 47, d. Oct. 6, 2008
• Louize Findlay, 49, d. July 6, 2010
• Charlene Danais, 28, d. Aug. 7, 2011
• Jeff Oatway, 34, d. April 13, 2012

Source: Coalition contre la Répression et les Abus Policiers (la C.R.A.P)


People who Died Following a Police Intervention Since 1987 (Alberta)

People who died following a police intervention since 1987 (Alberta) :

• Manuel Datuin Viray, 36, d. Feb. 24, 1989
• Roy Sheppard, 29, d. Feb. 19, 1996
• Connie Jacobs, 37, d. Mar. 22, 1998
• Ty Jacobs, 9, d. Mar. 22, 1998
• Gurdeep Singh Grewal, 30, d. July 21, 1998
• Arthur George Provencal, 34, d. Dec. 23, 2000
• Kasim Cakmak, 37, d. May 11, 2001
• John Pavic, 31, d. May 16, 2001
• Richard Bellerose, 30, d. July 27, 2002
• Tamer Sayed Roha, 27, d. Sept. 4, 2002
• Douglas Richard Oliver, 37, d. Feb. 5, 2003
• Deng Fermino Kuol, 34, d. Oct. 25, 2003
• Ronald Perry, 28, d. Mar. 23, 2004
• Harjinder Singh Cheema, 30, d. Jan. 21, 2005
• Alesandro Fiacco, 33, d. Dec. 24, 2005
• Ted James Meiorin, 40, d. Mar. 26, 2006
• Jason Doan, 28, d. Aug. 30, 2006
• Leo Raymond Poulin, 59, d. June 12, 2008
• Walid Maragan, 35, d. Sept. 4, 2008
• Trevor Grimolfson, 38, d. Oct. 29, 2008
• Gordon Walker Bowe, 30, d. Nov. 2, 2008
• Travis Douglas Oakes, 33, d. Mar. 18, 2009
• Grant William Prentice, 40, d. May 6, 2009
• Shawn Michael Price, 36, d. May 10, 2009
• Melvin Donald Vanhouwe, 49, d. May 24, 2009
• Bernadette Auger, 48, d. Jan. 16, 2010
• Corey Lewis, 39, d. July 18, 2010
• Bernard Emery Giroux, 37, d. Nov. 19, 2010
• Mohamud Mohamed Jama, 37, d. Jan. 1, 2011
• Steven Boucher, 63, d. Jan. 10, 2011
• William Francis McCoy, 56, d. Jan. 16, 2011
• Cyrus Green, 17, d. Feb. 5, 2011
• Ahmad Abdallah, 24, d. Mar. 16, 2011
• Kinling Robin Fire, 39, d. Mar. 31, 2011
• Corey Peeace, 40, d. June 10, 2011
• Jonathan Rawlings, 36, d. Aug. 11, 2011
• Peter Spiewak, 32, d. Oct. 20, 2011
• Darby Mohan, 49, d. Jan. 11, 2012
• Brad Clark, 27, d. Feb. 8, 2012
• Deu Raj Puri, 26, d. July 15, 2012
• Russell Skoropad, 43, d. July 18, 2012
• Mike Grisch, 24, d. Dec. 12, 2012
• Lance Cutarm, 30, d. Aug. 3, 2013
• Marc-Andre Fontaine, 27, d. Aug. 4, 2013
• Simon Chung, 39, d. Oct. 31, 2013
• Jason Gary Roy, 33, d. Feb. 28, 2014
• John Carlos Quadros, 55, d. May 9, 2014
• David Charles Sandaker, 24, d. May 11, 2014
• Trevor Proudman, 32, d. Nov. 12, 2014
• Anthony Heffernan, 27, d. Mar. 16, 2015

Coalition contre la Répression et les Abus Policiers


Man Dies in OPP Custody (July 26, 2015): Unnamed (Ontario)

In the early morning of Sunday, July 26, 2015, a 52 year old man died while being driven home from a bar in Grand Bend, Ontario by officers of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which is called in all cases of civilian injury or death involving police contact, has assigned six investigators to the case. Initial reports suggest that one officer is the subject of the investigator with a second officer designated as a witness. The name of the victim has not yet been released.


People who Died Following a Traffic Incident Involving a Police Officer (British Columbia)

People who died following a traffic incident involving a police officer:

• Benito Di Spirito, 66, d. June 24, 2003
• Paquilina-Maria Di Spirito, 65, d. June 24, 2003
• Orion Hutchinson, 21, d. Oct. 25, 2008
• Victor Duarte, 47, d. d. Oct. 29, 2012
• Donald Allan Murray, 72, d. Dec. 27, 2012
• Darcy David Cole, 29, d. June 15, 2013
• Marcus Larabie, 14, d. Dec. 26, 2014

Source:Coalition contre la Répression et les Abus Policiers (la C.R.A.P.)


Killed by Toronto Police: Kwasi Skene-Peters (July 25, 2015)

In the early morning of Saturday, July 25, 2015, Toronto police shot and killed Kwasi Skene-Peters (21) outside the Tryst nightclub on Peter Street in downtown Toronto. A witness claimed to see around 20 officers rush to the scene before then hearing 20 to 30 shots fired. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) assigned five investigators and four forensic investigators to examine the case. The SIU reviews all cases in Ontario in which police officers are involved in incidents where someone is seriously injured or dies.


Killer Cop Monty Robinson Sentenced 2 Years for Perjury

On Friday June 24, 2015, Benjamin “Monty” Robinson (RCMP) was sentenced to two years in prison plus probation and 240 hours of community service for perjury. Eight years earlier, on October 14, 2007, then-corporal Robinson along with three other RCMP officers, Constables Gerry Rundel, Bill Bently, and Kwesi Millington, killed Polish traveler Robert Dziekański at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). The unarmed Dziekański had been tasered five times by the officers who also deployed batons and pinned the man to the ground and handcuffed him as he was dying. Robinson, the senior officer in charge during the Dziekański killing, had been convicted of lying to an inquiry examining the events of the killing. A BC Supreme Court judge found Robinson guilty of perjury in June of 2015, ruling that he colluded with the four fellow officers to make up testimony that they presented at the inquiry into Dziekanski’s death.

Immediately following their killing of Dziekański, RCMP made a series of false public statements. They told a story apparently designed to denigrate Dziekański in the public eye and initially claimed he threw things and screamed and yelled after police arrived. It was also suggested that Dziekański was intoxicated. Police also claimed only three officers attended the scene. All of this was contradicted when a bystander video taken by traveler Paul Pritchard came forward. The video showed, contrary to police, that the taser was not used as a last resort but was deployed almost immediately. Police took Pritchard’s video and refused to return it until he brought forward a lawsuit for its return.

Notably, Monty Robinson was also convicted of obstruction of justice in a separate trial after the vehicle he was driving hit and killed a young motorcyclist, Orion Hutchinson (21), in October 2008. In that case Robinson apparently used knowledge gained as a police officer in order to cover up the fact that he had been driving after consuming alcohol. After hitting and killing Robinson left the scene, went home and drank two shots of vodka which he had learned could cover up the fact he had been drinking earlier. Incredibly, Robinson received no jail time in that case, being sentenced to one month of house arrest. Hutchinson’s mother claimed the sentence seemed only like Robinson was being grounded.


People who Died in Police Custody since 1987 (British Columbia)

People who died in police custody since 1987 (British Columbia):

• Victor George, d. April 4, 1991
• Adeline Wilson, 50, d. Oct. 28, 1994
• Frank Paul, 47, d. Dec. 6, 1998
• Paul Alphonse, 67, d. April 18, 2000
• Adam Wayne Beadle, d. Mar. 2, 2001
• Richard William Allen, 29, d. July 4, 2001
• Francis Joseph Mark, 55, d. Oct. 26, 2001
• Peter Prince, 64, d. Nov. 9, 2001
• Dwight Caron, 20, d. Nov. 1, 2004
• Ian Bush, 22, d. Oct. 29, 2005
• Ryan Snopek, 30, d. Jan. 1, 2006
• David Kenneth Smelts, 45, d. Oct. 6, 2006
• Steve Qualtier, 46, d. Aug. 5, 2007
• Christopher Tom, 38, d. Aug. 5, 2007
• Cecil Edward McKenna, 50, d. Oct. 28, 2007
• David James Stitt, 46, d. June 19, 2008
• Ryan Alexander Wagemans, 24, d. July 1, 2008
• Brandon Whitelaw, 22, d. July 31, 2008
• Ian Alexander Young, 55, d. Oct. 19, 2008
• George Alfred Jones, 40, d. Jan. 18, 2009
• Gordon Brent Amyotte, 39, d. May 28, 2010
• Alyssa Oleksiuk, 25, d. Sept.10, 2013

Source: Coalition contre la Répression et les Abus Policiers (la C.R.A.P.)


People who Died Following a Police Intervention since 1987 (British Columbia)

People who died following a police intervention (British Columbia) :

• John Sheffield, 45, d. Feb. 2, 1987
• Greg Coghlan, 23, d. June 30, 1988
• Mario Deiana, 44, d. July 19, 1988
• Douglas William Hemminger, 30, d. Nov. 16, 1988
• Joseph Cholette, 38, d. Dec. 31, 1988
• Pak Chee Wu, 38, d. June 24, 1990
• James Douglas Stephenson, 22, d. July 17, 1990
• Larry Prebble, 56, d. Aug. 2, 1990
• Frederick Hodgins, 37, d. Jan. 2, 1991
• James Cruikshank, 64, d. Feb. 5, 1991
• Darel Cruikshank, 30, d. Feb. 6, 1991
• Brian Shaw, 40, d. Aug. 20, 1991
• Randall Andrews, 28, d. Dec. 7, 1991
• Frank Bell, 21, d. Mar. 3, 1992
• Danny Possee, 22, d. May, 12, 1992
• Willie Hewer, 34, d. April 9, 1994
• Joey Peters, 33, d. Aug. 3, 1994
• Benjamin Dickson, d. Dec. 29, 1994
• Roger Binette, 64, d. Aug. 28, 1996
• Charles Albert Wilson, 30, d. Oct. 7, 1996
• Stanley George Paul, d. May, 26, 1997
• Thomas Alcorn, 67, d. Dec. 2, 1997
• Glen Robert Edwards, 18, d. April 1, 1999
• Anthany Dawson, 29, d. Aug. 15, 1999
• Sai-Ming Wai, 61, d. Dec. 14, 1999
• Donald James Mayer, 46, d. Dec. 17, 1999
• Mladen Cujko, 33, d. Aug. 21, 2000
• Jeff Berg, 37, d. Oct. 22, 2000
• Benny Matson, 49, d. May 12, 2002
• John MacKay, d. July, 2002
• Christopher Eklund, 33, d. Aug. 1, 2002
• Darrell Paquette, 43, d. Sept. 2002
• Tom Stevenson, 46, d. Dec. 7, 2002
• Lorraine Moon, 40, d. Feb. 28, 2003
• Terrence Hanna, 51, d. April 19, 2003
• Keyvan Tabesh, 18, d. July 14, 2003
• Clayton Alvin Willey, 33, July 22, 2003
• Lyndon Charles Valan, 32, Nov. 29, 2003
• Rhonda Lee Schwartz, d. Feb. 18, 2004
• Joe Pagnotta, 52, d. Feb. 24, 2004
• Roman Andreichikov, 25, d. May 1, 2004
• Graham John Maryancik, 29, d. May 27, 2004
• Robert Bagnell, 44, d. June 23, 2004
• Majencio Camaso, 33, d. July 11, 2004
• Dean Andrusyk, 49, d. Sept. 28, 2004
• Gerald Chenery, 29, d. Dec. 27, 2004
• Kevin St. Arnaud, 29, d. Dec. 19, 2004
• Stephen Hanaghan, 45, d. June 27, 2005
• Gurmeet Sandhu, 41, d. June 30, 2005
• Kyle Tait, 16, d. Aug. 23, 2005
• Derrick Patrick Madrusan, 38, d. June 7, 2006
• Donald Lewis, 43, d. Aug. 13, 2006
• Daniel Antony King, 37, d. Oct. 13, 2006
• John Seguin, 37, d. Feb. 3, 2007
• Paul Boyd, 39, d. Aug. 13, 2007
• Daniel Hong Ross, 40, d. Sept. 2, 2007
• Robert Dziekański, 40, d. Oct. 14, 2007
• Robert Knipstrom, 36, d. Nov. 24, 2007
• Christopher Paul Klim, 24, Dec. 27, 2007
• Frank Jonathan Frechette, 49, d. Sept. 30, 2008
• Derek Welton, 39, d. Mar. 1, 2009
• Michael Vann Hubbard, 58, d. Mar. 20, 2009
• John Ian Rice, 38, d. July 12, 2009
• Rodney Shane Jackson, 35, d. Sept. 26, 2009
• Valeri George, 41, d. Sept. 30, 2009
• Jeffrey Scott Hughes, 48, d. Oct. 23, 2009
• Matthew John Wilcox, 39, d. Jan. 10, 2010
• Corey Lewis, 39, d. July 18, 2010
• Wilbert Bartley, 50, d. July 30, 2010
• Alvin Wright, 22, d. Aug. 6, 2010
• Adam Purdie, 28, d. Mar. 2, 2011
• Brendon Samuel Beddow, 23, d. Mar. 23, 2011
• Darrell Elroy Barnes, 48, d. July 22, 2011
• Justin Zinser, 23 ans, d. Sept. 24, 2011
• Angus David Mitchell, 26, May 30, 2012
• Gregory John Matters, 40, d. Sept. 9, 2012
• Christopher Lewis Ray, 52, d. Oct. 29, 2012
• Mehrdad Bayrami, 48, d. Nov. 8, 2012
• Alton Cuyugan, 33, d. Nov. 13, 2012
• Jesse John France Jr., 29, d. Jan. 18, 2013
• Douglas E. Combs, 16, d. Jan. 25, 2013
• Ryan Jacob, 45, d. Jan. 31, 2013
• Craig Widdifield, 28, d. April 24, 2013
• Phuong Na Du, 51, d. Sept. 22, 2013
• Gaetan Gilbert Plante, 61, d. Jan. 17, 2014
• John Robert Buehler, 51, d. Sept. 17, 2014
• Peter DeGroot, 45, d. Oct. 14, 2014
• Rhett Mutch, 20, d. Nov. 1, 2014
• Naverone Woods, 23, d. Dec. 28, 2014
• Waylon Jesse Edey, 39, d. Jan. 29, 2015
• James Daniel McIntyre, 48, d. July 16, 2015
• Hudson Daryl Willis Brooks, 20, d. July 18, 2015
• Myles Gray, 33, d. Aug. 13, 2015

Source: Coalition contre la Répression et les Abus Policiers (la C.R.A.P.), with additions by killercopscanada.