On Monday, June 11, 2018, trial began for killer cop Patrick Ouellet of the provincial police force, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), in the death of five-year-old Nicholas Thorne-Belance in 2014. Officer Ouellet is charged with one count of dangerous driving causing death in the case. Thorne-Belance was a passenger in his father’s car when it was struck by the unmarked police cruiser driven by Ouellet. Ouellet’s vehicle was traveling at more than 120 km/h in a 50 km/h zone in the Longueuil borough of Saint-Hubert, south of Montreal when he hit the vehicle the five-year-old was in. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.
Category Archives: Court Cases
On Tuesday, April 3, 2018 a charge of manslaughter was sworn against British Columbia killer cop RCMP Constable Jason Tait for shooting and killing Waylon Edey on January 29, 2015 near Castlegar. Edey was a father of four from Yahk. The charge is a rare decision against a killer cop in Canada.
The charge comes more than a year after the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) completed its investigation, according to a statement from the BC Prosecution Service. The IIO report was submitted in December of 2016. Said the statement: “The investigation and charge assessment process were protracted due, in part, to the complexities of the evidentiary issues in the case and the requirement for further investigation and analysis.”
Constable Tait was a member of an RCMP traffic unit at the time of the shooting near Castlegar. He shot and killed Waylon Edey during a traffic stop.
Waylon Edey’s mother, Deborah Edey, has filed a lawsuit against British Columbia’s Minister of Public Safety and Canada’s Attorney General as well as the RCMP officer who shot Edey. She is suing on behalf of her grandchildren, who range in age from 22 to 14. The suit claims that Waylon Edey was unarmed at the time he was shot and that the use of deadly force was unwarranted.
Killer cop Jason Tait is scheduled to make his first appearance in provincial court in British Columbia on April 30, 2018.
On February 12, 2014, York Regional Detective Remo Romano struck and killed 18-year-old pedestrian Natasha “Carla” Abogado while driving at speeds of 115 km/h in a 60 km/h zone on a busy Toronto street. January 17, 2018, found Romano on trial for the third time for the killing.
His first trial in May 2016 ended in a mistrial when the jury could not reach a verdict. He was acquitted in a second trial later that year but the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a retrial based on flaw’s in the trial judge’s charge to the jury. Romano is pleading not guilty. At the outset of the current trial, Superior Court Justice Todd Ducharme told the jury not to research the case, including what happened in the previous proceedings.
Detective Romano struck Abogado while she was crossing mid-block to her family’s home on the south side of St. Clair Avenue East, on her way home from a part-time job. Romano was speeding eastward on St. Clair Ave. E., trying to catch up with other police surveillance members of Project Litterbox, a YRP surveillance investigation into a series of non-violent commercial break-ins where around $500,000 in cosmetics and perfumes had been stolen. He was driving an unmarked truck with no sirens or flashing lights. Romano was trying to catch up to the other officers because he had been at the station retrieving another officer’s firearm that had been forgotten in a desk drawer.
According to the opening statement by Crown attorney Rebecca Schwartz, Romano was driving 115 km/hr in a 60 km/hr zone near a seniors’ health centre. Detective William Newton, who travelled in a police vehicle behind Romano, stated that no arrests were imminent as they sped along the busy avenue. He said that Romano was simply “trying to catch up to the action” (Mandel 2018).
Witness Dorota Taylor saw two police vehicles speed past her. In her testimony: “I thought they were racing because of how close they were to each other and the speed that they were going” (quoted in Mandel 2018).
The jury was told that a senior collision reconstructionist from the Special Investigations Unit, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, will testify that if Romano had been doing even 80 km/hr that night (instead of nearly twice the legal limit) he would have been able to avoid hitting Abogado.
We need to remember that killer cop Romano was speeding at twice the legal limit with no lights or sirens to catch up with surveillance team members who were working on a case protecting wealth for private companies, not responding to any immediate threat (and certainly no violent one) to the public. He simply wanted to be part of “the action.” And he killed Natasha Abogado to do so.
Mandel, Michele. 2018. “Third Trial for Speeding York Cop in Death of Teen.” Toronto Sun January 17. http://torontosun.com/news/local-news/mandel-third-trial-for-speeding-york-region-cop-accused-of-dangerous-driving-causing-death
The state protects the state. Killer cops are rarely charged in Canada. And when they are, they are typically acquitted, even in cases in which they have obviously acted in a dubious, reckless, or murderous manner.
Quebec City police officer Simon Beaulieu backed his police car over Guy Blouin on September 3, 2014, killing the 48-year-old. Beaulieu used this lethal force against Blouin for no other reason than a baseless suspicion that Blouin had stolen a bike. This was apparently a case of class-based police profiling of a working class person in a working class neighborhood. Blouin had, in fact purchased his bike. Officer Beaulieu was charged in October 2015 of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death after he struck and killed Blouin.
On Friday, January 12, 2018, killer cops Beaulieu was found not guilty on both counts by Quebec Court Judge René de la Sablonnière. A not surprising result, no matter how unjust.
De la Sablonnière said the elements of proof presented to him did not show without a reasonable doubt that Beaulieu’s actions that day were dangerous, despite the fact that he sped backwards the wrong way on a one way street and drove over a cyclist who had, in fact done nothing wrong and posed no threat to the public or the officer. The judge concluded: “This was a sad and unfortunate accident” (quoted in Page 2018). But actively driving backwards over someone on a bike is not an “accident.”
The judge reached his conclusion despite the fact that the Crown prosecutor’s expert witness was a Sûreté du Québec crime reconstruction expert (another cop) who testified the police cruiser was going 44 kilometers per hour when it struck Blouin. The judge simply decided to side with the defense version of events which posed the police cruiser’s speed at 22 kilometers per hour. Why side with defense (posing a self-interested estimate) against one provided by a police expert (usually believed unquestioningly in cases against civilians)? The answer is that the state is always predisposed to protect the state in cases of police harm to civilians, under even the most egregious circumstances.
Incredibly, De la Sablonnière said Beaulieu made sure the coast was clear before backing up. This despite that obvious case that it was not clear—as evidenced by the fact that he ran Blouin over. How could he have ensured the coast was clear? Then the judge blamed faulty ABS brakes, a scenario only raised by a defense promoted and provided witness. Said de la Sablonnière: “He could not foresee there was a problem with the brakes” (quoted in Page 2018). But why was he speeding backward toward someone on a bicycle anyway? That is the question.
Throughout his ruling De la Sablonnière repeated that in order for a person to be found guilty of criminal negligence, his actions had to be significantly out of step with what is considered to be normal behavior. But he made sure to stress that normal or expected behavior had to be considered differently for police officers than for civilians (see the contradiction there—normal defined as different for some).
Stuart Edwards, a member of a citizens’ committee from the working class Saint-Roch neighborhood where the accident happened, pointed out that the reasoning behind the ruling is hard to accept (Page 2018). And clearly it is for anyone not ready to accept class-profiling of poor ad working class people or to treat police in a privileged manner within a legal system that otherwise brags of “equality before the law” (yes, we know that is a myth).
Said Edwards, from the committee formed in response to Blouin’s killing and who was present in court at each step in the trial: “That’s a judicial impunity for a policeman, because he’s a policeman. I don’t buy that. I’m personally disappointed. I don’t accept this — I think it’s wrong” (quoted in Page 2018).
As should we all. And Edwards noted that the committee is very much concerned with the effect the not guilty ruling will have in the community. It validates the exertion of lethal force by police against people in a poor and working class community under any circumstances and with impunity.
The city’s “police brotherhood” confirmed that concern saying the court decision recognizes that society must give special consideration to police officers. That sounds a lot like a threat.
Page, Julia. 2018. “Quebec City Police Officer Acquitted of All Charges in 2014 Death of Cyclist.” CBC News January 12. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/verdict-police-officer-guy-blouin-trial-1.4483566
Anthony Heffernan was alone in his hotel room, holding a syringe, and posing no threat to the public or police, when Calgary police officers broke down the door to the room, burst in, and shot the 27-year-old four times, twice in the head. The officer in question fired six time in total that day in March 2015. The syringe Heffernan was holding had no needle attached. Despite the fact that the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines case of police harm to civilians in Alberta, found that there were grounds to charge the officer responsible criminally, the Crown prosecutors decided not to lay charges.
On January 10, 2018, Anthony Heffernan’s parents found out that their bid to have a judicial review of the decision not to lay charges in the case was not granted. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Henderson ruled that there is no evidence to support the parents’ allegation that there was an abuse of process by the Crown.
This does not answer why the Crown chose not to follow the ASIRT recommendation to charge the officer nor does it explain how breaking down a door and firing six shots at someone for holding a piece of plastic is justifiable or reasonable force, or does anything to protect the public. The state protects the state.
The Heffernan family had argued that the officer fired recklessly and wildly. They have filed a lawsuit against the police service.
The Calgary police force had been involved in six fatal police shootings over two years in 2015 and 2016.
RCMP Constable Elizabeth Cucheran has been charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in the killing of Hudson Brooks on July 18, 2015 in Surrey, British Columbia, a rare case of a killer cop being charged in Canada. On January 9, 2018, Constable Cucheran pleaded not guilty to both charges. The officer’s lawyer Andrea Kastanis entered the not guilty pleas on Cucheran’s behalf as Cucheran did not attend provincial court in Surrey, Interestingly, Kastanis also informed the court that Cucheran has elected to be tried by judge and jury rather than judge alone. The next step court dates will involve a preliminary inquiry now scheduled take place over eight days in November and December of 2018.
No members of the Brooks family attended court on January 9, saying they will wait for the trial to start. The family has organized a number of events and started a campaign calling for Justice for Hudson since their loved one was shot and killed outside an RCMP detachment in South Surrey in 2015. They had a very long wait with little information about the killing of Hudson Brooks. Cucheran was only charged at the end of 2017, nearly two and a half years after Brooks died.
The RCMP has placed Cucheran on administrative duties. The force had initially suggested publicly that Brooks had a weapon as an officer was shot during the killing. It turns out that only police service weapons were present at the scene and that would was inflicted by the RCMP themselves.
Killer Toronto cop James Forcillo has been charged with perjury and attempting to obstruct justice in relation to an attempted bail variation it was announced on December 21, 2017. The 34-year-old Constable Forcillo allegedly lied under oath when he sought a bail variation that would change his primary address. This resulted in the two new charges, according to Toronto police. The charges result from breach of bail allegations by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU). This initiated a separate investigation by the Toronto Police Service’s professional standards unit. Forcillo had his bail revoked in November, 2017, and was taken to a Toronto area jail after authorities found he failed to live with his surety and did not provide information of a change of address.
Forcillo had already secured a place of infamy, even within the dubious history of policing in Canada, for shooting Toronto Youth Sammy Yatim (18) multiple times, killing him, while the teenager was alone on an empty streetcar with no one near, and posing no threat to police or the public. Forcillo was convicted in 2016 of attempted murder for that 2013 killing, because he shot Sammy Yatim even after the youth had fallen to ground and was already dead or dying, and was sentenced to six years. Civilian video of the police interaction went viral and showed that Yatim posed no threat to police or the public yet was shot and killed anyway.
Forcillo had been out on bail while awaiting appeal of that conviction. He is seeking to use the bogus “suicide by cop” excuse to get off (even though he had a choice not to shoot Yatim and even though he shot him after he was on the ground and not moving—hardly suicide in either case). Current court records show that Forcillo had applied to have the conditions of his bail changed so that he could live with his new fiancée, Sara Balderrama, at an apartment in north Toronto. However, before that application was approved, investigators visited Balderrama’s apartment and found Forcillo already there. The records allege that he told investigators his new arrangement was “only temporary”and suggest it was Forcillo, not his fiancée, who had signed the lease.
Killer cop Forcillo remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court to face the new charges on December 29, 2017.