Category Archives: Police Accounts of their Killings

IIO Determines RCMP Killed Man the Force Claimed Killed Self

There has long been a concern, a suspicion, that police claim victims of police shootings have died of self-inflicted wounds when, in fact, they were killed by officers. (That suspicion has been particularly strong in cases where police investigate police.) One such case was confirmed on Monday, June 26, 2017 when the Internal Investigations Office (IIO) in British Columbia, the oversight agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians overturned an RCMP claim that the June 18, 2017, death of a Lower Mainland man had died of a self-inflicted wound despite police firing shots at the man. The IIO has determined that the man killed in Port Coquitlam, in fact, died from a police bullet.

In a media release on Juen 26, IIO spokesperson Marten Youssef declared: “Initial reports made to the IIO … by the RCMP, suggested that a distraught male may have shot himself following an exchange of gunfire with police. Following an autopsy, it has been determined that the male’s death was not self-inflicted.” In the initial, confused, report from the RCMP the force had made it seem publicly that the man had killed himself. That was the impression they shaped for the public.

The IIO  reported that it had interviewed six police officers and 30 witnesses over the past week. They have additionally reported that in the hours after the police killing a male relative of the man killed also received “serious injuries.” That situation is still being investigated. No police officers were injured.

While recognizing the numerous problems with the IIO, one can speculate how the initial RCMP claims might have been treated had another police force investigated the present case. RCMP distorting facts for public management after killing someone is not unique in the province as the killing of Robert Dziekanski showed.


Haim Queroub, Cop in Andrew Loku Killing, Tries Bogus “Suicide By Cop” Claim

Haim Queroub, the second cop in the Toronto police killing of Andrew Loku, finally spoke publicly during the coroner’s inquest into Loku’s death. Queroub, had been on the force only 11 weeks when he and shooter Andrew Doyle encountered and killed Andrew Loku in the hallway outside his apartment on July 5, 2015. Queroub used his time on the stand to hint that Loku’s  death was a “suicide by cop.”

Queroub testified that when he and officer Doyle shouted at Andrew Loku, the distressed man said, “What ya gonna do … Come on … Shoot me.” Here Queroub is trying to plant the notion of suicide by cop, a bogus excuse that killer cops and their police associations routinely use to be let off for killing civilians under a range of situations which are not suicides. Yet, as lawyers at the inquest pointed out these words could well have been spoken as questions (asking if the cops were seriously going to kill him for standing outside his apartment with a hammer). Queroub said he could not clarify whether the words he believes he heard were actually a question. Clearly in raising this, though, he is attempting to present the possibility of “suicide by cop.”

Queroub’s testimony did confirm that the two officers had no discussion about nor plan to pursue de-escalation or to address someone potentially in distress. Incredibly both officers testified that they talked about how to get to the scene but not what they would do once they got there. There was no dialogue with Loku. Instead he was shot and killed within 21 seconds of police encountering him.

Clearly, as critics have suggested, police training is not the issue. Queroub testified he had received training both on interacting with people with mental health issues and on implicit bias when dealing with racialized people and communities. He even testified he had received de-escalation training. Yet none of these came into use when officers Queroub and Doyle encountered Andrew Loku and chose to shoot him within a mere 21 seconds. Queroub testified he did not even consider the man’s  distress or how to deal with it appropriately.

And he concluded that if he had to do it over again, he would not change anything. Police do not need to because they will not be held to account for killing civilians. And they know it. Instead phony “suicide by cop” claims, or other measures, will be used to get them off or help them to sleep at night.


Andrew Doyle Identified as Toronto Killer Cop who Shot Andrew Loku

Finally, nearly two years after Toronto police gunned down Andrew Loku, Constable Andrew Doyle has been identified publicly as the officer who pulled the trigger. Doyle took the stand Wednesday, June 14, 2017, during the second week of testimony in the coroner’s inquest into Loku’s killing by police. Doyle and Haim Queroub had only been identified as the officers involved in Loku’s killing during a previous session of the current inquest. The one who did the shooting had not been identified.

Doyle raised his firearm, pointing it at Loku, almost immediately upon encountering the man, a refugee from South Sudan. Evidence presented previously at the inquest, including the surveillance video of the encounter, shows that Loku was shot within 19 seconds of officers Andrew Doyle  and Haim Queroub encountering him. Earlier testimony from psychology professor Nicholas Rule shows implicit bias against Black men in Canadian and US contexts, including increased perceptions of threat. Community groups want the inquest to address issues of racism in the very quick deployment of lethal force against Andrew Loku, who witnesses and video suggest was not actively threatening the officers.

On the stand officer Doyle said coldly: “We’re trained to stop the threat. Two rounds stops the threat. He immediately fell to the ground. There was no need for anything else.”  Doyle said he had no training in alternative methods to disarm the man. Despite the blood pooling under Andrew Loku’s body, Doyle said his main concern was to make sure the dead man did not have another weapon.


Killer Cop James Forcillo Appeals Conviction for Killing Sammy Yatim on Bogus “Suicide by Cop” Claim

The notion of “suicide by cop” is a phony construct devised as a cynical ruse to excuse killer cops and get them off the hook when they kill civilians. The problems with this notion have been detailed and analyzed repeatedly in this project. Applied after the fact and in a range of instances, including those in which the cop killed someone who posed no threat to police or the public, the excuse covers up killings which are in no way suicides. If a police officer chooses to shoot someone who is isolated from the public and poses no threat to anyone, that is not suicide. If the cop has a choice not to kill, that killing is not a suicide. Saying it is denies the dignity of the victim who has not chosen to  end their own life. It has been consciously ended for them. Without consent. Suicide by cop is in these cases purely propagandistic.

Yet killer cops, their departments, and police associations routinely trot this piece of copaganda out in diverse circumstances. Such is the case of Toronto Constable James Focillo who shot 18-year-old Sammy Yatim multiple times while the youth was all alone and readily contained on an inoperative and empty streetcar. Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to six years in prison for the 2013 killing of Yatim. Forcillo is now appealing his conviction on the basis that testimony arguing for “suicide by cop” in Yatim’s case was excluded from the trial. The testimony was provided from cop “criminologist” Rick Parent of Simon Fraser University who has built a tidy side career on justifying “suicide by cop” claims by his colleagues who kill.

The suicide by cop claim is ludicrous in this case. First, Yatim was alone and contained and posed no threat to the public or police. Secondly, Forcillo fired two distinct volleys of multiple shots at the youth, pausing before shooting the second volley even after the young man had fallen dead from the first round of shots. Clearly not a suicide. Forcillo had multiple opportunities not to shoot and to stop shooting. There is no way to construe that as a suicide on Yatim’s part.

Forcillo, who is currently on bail pending the appeal, is asking for a not guilty verdict or a new trial. Forcillo is asking the appeal court, which is set to hear his case this fall, to substitute a not-guilty verdict or order a new trial. The killer cop is also seeking a declaration that his mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder is unconstitutional, and seeks a suspended sentence. Absent these outcomes he wants his sentence reduced to the minimum of five years.


Killer Cop John Musicco Testifies at Coroner’s Inquest into Killing of Rhett Mutch

More than two years ago a Victoria mother’s plea for help for her son ended with police taking the young man’s life. Rhett Mutch was shot and killed inside his mom’s home by Constable John Musicco. Mutch posed no threat to the public. In a 911 call made by Marney Mutch she told the operator that her son would not do anything to physically hurt her. While Musicco was, predictably, cleared of any wrongdoing in killing Rhett Mutch by the provincial investigation unit for British Columbia, a coroner’s inquest is looking into the killing.

Rhett Mutch was killed by Constable Musicco on November 1, 2014. Marney Mutch had called 911 after her son broke into the basement of her home on Dallas Road in Victoria. Several police officers entered the home, killing Mutch within only minutes of their arrival.

The inquest which started May 15, 2017 has focused on misinformation apparently passed from the 911 operator to police. In the 911 call, which was played for the coroner’s jury, Marney Mutch said that her son had a knife, but would not use it to hurt her and further told the operator that he was holding it by his stomach. In the dispatch audio, a police dispatcher is heard saying that Rhett Mutch was holding the knife to his throat.

Victoria Police Sergeant Gregory Holmes,  the supervisor the day of the incident testified to the jury on Monday, May 15 but could not answer why police responded with force if Marney Mutch was not in danger and simply wanted help for her son. It is not clear either why police went after Rhett Mutch who was by then alone in the house, his mother having left safely when police arrived.


Audio of RCMP Killing of Hudson Brooks Posted Online

A matter of seconds. That was all the time that transpired before Surrey RCMP officers decided to shoot and kill Hudson Brooks after encountering the youth,  as revealed in newly released audio of the killing.

Most of the significant questions about the RCMP killing of Hudson Brooks outside an RCMP community policing detachment in south Surrey, British Columbia remain unanswered almost two years after the 20-year old was shot by police on July 18, 2015. His family has persistently sought answers, both of police and the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the unit that examines police harm to civilians in the province.

In March 2017 police audio of the killing of Hudson Brooks was posted on YouTube. Notably, the clip was not released to family by police who have been uncommunicative regarding the killing. The audio was apparently posted by a user who regularly uploads recordings of police-involved incidents from radio traffic and scanners. The 2 minutes and 41 seconds of audio reveal the chaos of police actions and confirm the quick move by officers to deploy lethal force with virtually no interaction with, or attempt to communicate with the young man who would become their victim.

After hearing the audio, Jennifer Brooks, Hudson Brooks’ mother responded:  “It was devastating. It was so heartbreaking. There was no ‘stop, put up your hands,’ nothing. Within seconds of them calling upon him, he was shot. He didn’t stand a chance. How this went so wrong so quickly is unfathomable” (quoted in Chan 2017).

The audio confirmed what the family and some commentators have managed to piece together about the killing, from witnesses and available limited reports. Up front a female voice is heard describing Hudson Brooks. At the 52 second point, a male voice is heard saying: “I got something right here coming directly at me.” In a matter of mere seconds later: “I need help now. I need help now.” Then the call of “shots fired.”

The tape does confirm what many have suspected for some time, that the RCMP officer who was shot during the encounter actually shot herself. In the audio a female voice can be heard saying, “I shot myself.” This is followed by a male voice calling for emergency services: “Suspect is critical. We need a code. We need it now.” This is noteworthy because police initially used the shooting of an officer to suggest to the public that Hudson Brooks was armed and inflicted the wound, thus justifying, in their view, the deployment of lethal force.

The IIO has requested that the recording be taken down. Jennifer Brooks, however, says that while she would not listen too it again she supports it being publicly available so long as it does not impact the ongoing IIO investigation. In her  words: “Otherwise, the public needs to hear what happened” (quoted in Chan 2017). And answers are needed now. Why did police shoot? And why did they jump to shoot so quickly? Why did officers panic to such an extent that one would shoot herself and what does this say about the safety of any public into which such panicky officers are deployed? Too much time has passed with minimal to no information from police or the IIO.

 

The video can be found at:

 

Further Reading

Chan, Cheryl. 2017. “Audio of Surrey RCMP Shooting of Hudson Brooks Posted Online.” Vancouver Sun. March 30. http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/he-didnt-stand-a-chance-audio-of-police-involved-shooting-of-hudson-brooks-posted-online


Former Oversight Director Says Police are “Ungovernable”: Hamilton Cops Do Not Report Killing of Chokha Bayez (20)

As this project has detailed repeatedly police across Canada act largely as they wish in investigations into the harms they inflict on civilians. This includes not even reporting those harms.

In September of 2016 a Hamilton police officer was involved in a vehicular pursuit that killed 20-year-old motorcyclist Chokha Bayez. Yet the Hamilton police broke the law and never reported the killing by the officer to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) as they are required to do. Every police service in Ontario is legally mandated to notify the SIU immediately of any incidents of serious injury, allegations of sexual assault, or death involving their officers (Carter 2017).

An SIU investigation into the Hamilton police killing of Bayez was only initiated when the victim’s family contacted the unit a month after the crash. This is an unacceptable delay that further serves to interfere with any proper investigation. As judge Michael Tulloch put it is his report on oversight in Ontario: ”In most cases, the SIU depends on the police notifying it of incidents within its mandate. Prompt, thorough police notification is the starting point for effective, efficient SIU investigations. If the police take too long to notify the SIU of an incident, or fail to do so at all, any investigation may be compromised and justice may not ever be done” (quoted in Carter 2017).

Furthermore, the investigation is not even listed on a Hamilton police report of SIU investigations presented to the police board earlier in April 2017 (Carter 2017). Constable Steve Welton told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that the incident was included (despite saying he could not comment on the case and failure to report to the SIU). Oddly, according to the CBC, no vehicular death can be found in the police board report (Carter 2017). CBC News only became aware of the SIU investigation as a result of a freedom of information request listing all of the SIU’s investigations into Hamilton police officers from 2016 (Carter 2017).

As we have documented consistently in this project there is no proper independent oversight of police and no mechanism is used, legal or otherwise, to ensure there are any negative consequences for officers and police forces who fail to comply with investigative policy and requirements. Even where they violate or flaunt the law.

SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon told CBC News: “If the SIU Director is of the view that there may have been a breach of the regulation, and no charges are laid, it has been the Director’s practice to notify the Chief/Commissioner of his concerns in order that they may be reviewed” (quoted in Carter 2017). Of course the chief is under no obligation to act and it is unsure if such notice has even been given in this case.

André Marin, a former Ontario ombudsman and past SIU director, is clear in stating that under current conditions there is nothing to stop police from acting like this whenever they so choose. In his words: “Because there are no consequences, police can be extremely lax. They have proven themselves to be ungovernable” (quoted in Carter 2017).

Marin has a stark assessment of police services boards as well. In his view, while they could push for oversight:  “Police services boards should be vigilant and hold their feet to the fire — but they don’t care either. There is absolutely no excuse for this” (quoted in Carter 2017).

Again, the police are a law unto themselves. And the state always protects the state.

 

Further Reading

Carter, Adam. 2017. “Hamilton Police Broke the Law and there were No Consequences.” CBC News. April 25. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/hamilton-police-siu-1.4083410