Category Archives: Police Accounts of their Killings

Court Actions Questioned in Killing of Michel Vienneau by Constables Mathieu Boudreau and Patrick Bulger

Michel Vienneau, a 51-year-old man from Tracadie, New Brunswick, was shot and killed by Bathurst police officers Mathieu Boudreau (now 28) and Patrick Bulger (now 38) outside the Bathurst VIA Rail station on the morning of January 12, 2015. Despite serious questions about police killing of an innocent man under questionable circumstances, in which police had no “reasonable and probable” grounds to arrest, charges against the officers were dropped by provincial court Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman. Now that the Crown prosecutor has chosen not to appeal, the publication ban on evidence presented during the officers’ preliminary inquiry has been lifted. Emerging details raise further questions about the killer cops’ actions and the judge’s decision not to try their cases.

Police intercepted Vienneau as he arrived by train from a Montreal vacation with his common-law partner, Annick Basque. Police were acting on an unconfirmed and unverified anonymous tip that Vienneau was carrying an unspecified “load of drugs” back from Montreal with him. An RCMP investigation following Vienneau’s killing found that the tip was completely false. Vienneau not carrying any drugs, and he had no previous record with police. He was completely innocent of the claims made anonymously against him, yet police killed him shortly after encountering him. Constable Boudreau fired four shots at the victim who was inside his car at the time.

It seems that there was some pressure on Constable Bulger to make a big bust, and a concern that he might have missed it. When the tip came in just before 10 AM that morning, a supervisor is reported as saying to Bulger, “you missed a load this morning.”

Six police officers attended the Via Rail train station in Bathurst in three unmarked cars to intercept Vienneau. Curiously, they did not take the opportunity to arrest Vienneau immediately but instead waited until he and Basque disembarked the train, picked up their luggage and entered their vehicle.

Basque’s account of the police attempt to arrest Vienneau differs greatly from the one provided by the officers. She says that she did not even know that the men accosting them were police officers. When Bulger exited his car with a gun in his hands, she reports that Vienneau tried to drive by him, moving slowly. Basque suggests that when she heard gunshots her first thought was that the men were “going to kill everyone.”  Not realizing that they were police officers, she fought against her arrest until she recognized some uniformed officers.

The Crown’s case raised the fact that the police had no “reasonable and probable” grounds to arrest Vienneau in the first place because the tip police were acting on was unreliable and unverified. Details released reveal that the preliminary inquiry heard that less than an hour elapsed between the time police received the tip was and the time that they arrived at the train station. In fact, the tip was not investigated by police and, incredibly, several officers had not even read it fully.

In the decision of February 24 , 2017, provincial court Judge Dugas-Horsman stated that she simply did not feel Boudreau and Bulger had acted illegally. It seems that Judge Dugas-Horsman made several contortions of logic to let the police off. First, the judge found that ‘”not having reasonable and probable grounds’” for an arrest did not make for an unlawful arrest. She then said that technically an arrest never happened because, well the police killed Vienneau before he was fully under arrest (even though he was “technically” detained in his vehicle). The judge then gave officers another excuse, suggesting that officers have the right to stop vehicles under the Motor Vehicle Act. Judge Dugas-Horsman then went further offering the copaganda excuse that anyone disobeying a police order to stop (as Bulger says he did without independent confirmation of the order or whether Vienneau ever heard it if it were given). According to Dugas-Horsman (in full cop defense mode): “This failure to stop heightens the suspicion of a police officer, who is then entitled to wonder why the person is not stopping,.” The state protects the state and goes out of its way to do so in protecting killer cops.

The only testimony presented at the preliminary hearing, apart from that provided by Annick Basque, was provided by several police officers. The Vienneau family has raised questions about this. They ask why none of the civilians who were present at the train station were asked to provide their versions of what they witnessed that day. The family has also asked why no one has bothered to investigate where the anonymous, and false,  tip came from in the first place.

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Killer Toronto Cop James Forcillo Charged With Breaching Bail Conditions

Killer Toronto cop James Forcillo, who shot and killed teenager Sammy Yatim, who was alone on an empty streetcar, in 2013 and was later convicted of attempted murder in that case, was charged on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, for breaching his bail conditions. The Special Investigations Unit, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, has reported that Constable Forcillo, who has been out on bail while he appeals his conviction, was accused of breaching conditions related to his house arrest, but they have provided no additional details about the case.

Forcillo’s force, the Toronto police, have reported that Forcillo was charged with failing to comply with recognizance.  Forcillo was allegedly found at a new residence address in violation of his bail conditions. Constable Forcillo was arrested by Toronto police at around 7:30 AM and made a brief court appearance shortly after 11 AM before being remanded into custody. According to Forcillo’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, a bail hearing on this new charge has been put over to Friday, November 17.

Forcillo had his bail conditions extended in late September of 2017, only one day before he was set to appeal his 2016 conviction in the killing of Sammy Yatim. Forcillo, who shot Yatim multiple times, even after the youth had fallen to the ground from a fatal shot, was sentenced to six years in prison, one year more than the mandatory minimum.

The judge in Forcillo’s trial referred to video of the killing as “powerful evidence” that what the officer claimed occurred during the encounter did not actually occur. Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward found that Forcillo had abused his authority in a manner that served to undermine public trust in law enforcement and the justice system.

In despicable fashion, Constable Forcillo has sought an appeal in his case on the basis of the dubious claim that Yatim was attempting to commit “suicide by cop.” This is a nonsensical ruse used by killer cops to justify cases where they actively decide to kill someone, even if the victim they choose to kill is alone on a street car, away from anyone else, and posing not immediate threat to officers of the public. It is a pure piece of copaganda that serves to exonerate killer cops while blaming their victims. Of course, cops can choose not to shoot to kill. They decide, not the victim, which marks this as very distinct from suicide.

Ed Upenieks, a lawyer for the Yatim family, noted that the alleged breach of conditions by Forcillo shows the officer has a lack of respect for the system. According to Upenieks: “It calls into question his respect for the legal system and for the bail conditions” (quoted in Freeman 2017).

 

Further Reading

Freeman, Joshua. 2017. “Cop in Sammy Yatim Case Arrested After Allegedly Being Found at New Home.” CP24.com November 15. http://www.cp24.com/news/cop-convicted-in-sammy-yatim-case-arrested-after-allegedly-being-found-at-new-home-1.3679007


New Trial Ordered for Killer Cop Remo Romano in Natasha Abogado Killing

Detective-Constable Remo Romano, a York police officer, will be headed to trial for a third time on charges of dangerous driving causing death for the killing of 18-year-old pedestrian Natasha Carla Abogado in February 2014. Romano (45) was on duty and behind the wheel of an undercover police pickup truck when he struck Natasha Abogado as she attempted to cross St. Clair Avenue East around 8 PM.

Romano was traveling at a speed of least 109 kilometers per hour in a 60-km/hr zone. He was reportedly trying to catch up to other members of his surveillance team, not I active pursuit of anyone.

Romano was tried in May 2016, but a jury was did not come to a unanimous verdict after a few days of deliberating, resulting in a mistrial. Romano was tried again in September 2016 and a jury acquitted him of dangerous driving causing death. Following that decision, the Crown prosecutor filed an appeal, citing issues with the way in which the judge directed the jury to come to its verdict (Beattie 2017).

On September 28, 2017, a panel of three court of appeal judges agreed with the Crown and ordered a new trial. They found that the trial judge, Justice Brian O’Marra, did wrongly explain the dangerous driving law to the jury. Specifically, the judge incorrectly instructed the jurors not only to focus on how Romano’s actions as a driver caused Abogado’s death, but also how the victim Abogado herself might have been at fault (Beattie 2017). Another case of victim blaming to excuse or justify a police killing of a civilian.

Justice David Paciocco said in his decision: “Most significantly, the trial judge made irrelevant and adverse comments about Ms. Abogado’s conduct” (quoted in Beattie 2017).

Incredibly, according to Paciocco, O’Marra instructed the jury to consider that Abogado was jaywalking and described that as an “inherently risky activity” (despite the fact that people do it all the time without harm) and that “pedestrians must be aware, when they jaywalk, that drivers are not always paying attention, not always concentrating on what is going on ahead of them” (quoted in Beattie 2017). Even more O’Marra took a page out of the “what was she wearing” playbook for dismissing women victims of crime, and argued that Abogado’s clothing was dark and had “poor visibility” at the time of the collision (Beattie 2017). This was simply a replay, and reinforcement, of the Romano legal team’s defense ploy to get their client off.

The appeals decision noted that these statements turned the jury’s attention away from the central issue of whether or not Romano’s driving was itself, in fact, dangerous (Beattie 2017). By then the damage had been done to the Crown’s case. Concluded Paciocco: “The errors in the charge … are sufficiently serious that the jury was not in a position to evaluate properly the dangerousness of the operation of the motor vehicle, leading to a miscarriage of justice” (quoted in Beattie 2017).

At the second trial, Crown prosecutor Philip Perlmutter pointed out that Romano operated his vehicle at such a high rate of speed that it became impossible for him to adjust his driving in the event that something unexpected happened (Beattie 2017). Even more, his speeding was entirely unnecessary and unjustifiable according to the Crown. The surveillance operation that Romano was part of was only focused on intelligence-gathering and, as such, was neither dangerous nor urgent (Beattie 2017). It should never have resulted in the death of an innocent young woman.

York Regional police have confirmed that Detective-Constable Remo Romano is still an active officer on the force.

 

Further Reading

Beattie, Samantha. 2017. “Third Trial Ordered for York Cop Previously Acquitted of Dangerous Driving Causing Death.” Toronto Star. November 3. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/11/03/new-trial-ordered-for-york-cop-previously-acquitted-of-dangerous-driving-causing-death.html

 


Supreme Court Dismisses Appeals by Killer Mounties Kwesi Millington and Monty Robinson in Dziekanski Case

On Monday, October 30, 2017, The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed appeals from killer Mounties Kwesi Millington and Benjamin (Monty) Robinson who had been convicted of perjury in connection with the killing of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport in 2007. The two Mounties were among four RCMP officers charged with perjury following a public inquiry into the killing of Mr. Dziekanski, a traveler from Poland who was tased multiple times in the arrivals area of the airport. Millington was sentenced to 30 months in prison while Robinson was sentenced to two years less a day, one year of probation, and 240 hours of community service.

The Dziekanski killing put on display clearly the culture of deception and lies that marks Canadian policing in general and the RCMP in particular and was infused with lies through and through. The RCMP spokesperson initially proclaimed publicly that Mr. Dziekanski was acting aggressively toward officers, not complying, and apparently drunk. All of these claims against the victim were shown to be lies when a civilian video of the encounter appeared showing that, in fact, Mr. Dziekanski did not confront officers aggressively and appeared to be following their orders (despite a language barrier as none of the officers spoke Polish). RCMP had taken the video from the videographer and attempted to keep it from being released publicly.

The Supreme Court rejected the appeals immediately after hearing them. Because they ruled from the bench, formal reasons for their decision were not immediately available.


Killer Cop Daniel Montsion’s Lawyer Claims Vicious Beating Did Not Kill Abdirahman Abdi

There used to be an old saying, “Help the police, beat yourself up.” Now Michael Edelson, the lawyer for killer Ottawa cop Daniel Montsion, wants a court and the public to believe that the vicious beating his client inflicted on 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi had nothing to do with killing him. Instead, he suggests Abdi died of a heart attack. And he apparently wants people to believe that, even if he did have a heart attack, a severe beating with baton by police did not play a part in it. So, according to copagandist Edelson, Abdi is responsible for his own death: not the brutal assault he was subjected to. Maybe he beat himself to death.

Edelson made these absurd and offensive claims in an attempt to move up the court date for officer Montsion. According to audio court transcripts from the October 20 hearing, Edelson suggested: “This is not a beating that caused the death of Mr. Abdi. Mr. Abdi died of a heart attack. That’s what killed him.” Montsion has been charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon in the killing of Abdi in July 2016.

The lawyer’s request to move the trial date was denied. The 12-week trial remains scheduled to start in February 2019, which is almost three years after Abdi’s killing.


Trial for Killer Cop Simon Beaulieu Hears Cops Should Be Given More Consideration Than “Regular” Citizens

Quebec City police officer Simon Beaulieu drove into and killed Guy Blouin  on September 30, 2014, backing his police vehicle over the victim who was riding a bicycle at the time. We have already documented the base policing assumptions that led Beaulieu to act in the way that he did in killing Blouin (assuming Blouin was suspicious because he was riding the wrong way on a one way street; assuming he had something to hide because he did not obey an order allegedly given to stop, etc.).

On Monday, October 23, 2017, the court heard, during Beaulieu’s trial on charges of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death, that as a police officer he “could not be judged on the same level as a regular citizen” (Page 2017). Said Beaulieu’s defense attorney Maxime Roy: “We can imagine that being on patrol requires more manoeuvres than your average person” (quoted in Page 2017). And Roy concluded that Beaulieu was simply “trying to do his job and apprehend a suspect” (Page 2017). Never mind that the so-called suspect was a product of the officer’s authoritarian privilege and did nothing more than ride the wrong way and, the clincher, disobey a police order (which there is no way of knowing was either given or heard).

It is no surprise that police believe they are better than “regular” members of society and should be treated preferentially in all cases. This is a rather common approach to getting killer cops off in the rare cases in which they are actually brought to trial. That it could be confidently uttered as an element of defense in a killing of a civilian who did no wrong shows the nature of the criminal justice system in the Canadian state context.

 

Further Reading

Page, Julia. 2017. “Defence Attorney Calls for Acquittal on all Charges Against Quebec City Police Officer.” CBC News. October 23. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/simon-beaulieu-defence-closing-arguments-1.4367741


Killer Cop Simon Beaulieu and the Policing Assumptions that Take Lives

Quebec City police officer Simon Beaulieu killed 48-year-old  Guy Blouin when he struck the cyclist with his police vehicle on Sept. 3, 2014. During Beaulieu’s ongoing trial for criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death, Yves Brière, a crime scene reconstruction expert with the Sûreté du Québec (the provincial force), earlier testified that he estimated Beaulieu to be traveling in reverse at 44 km/h when the cruiser hit and drove over Blouin on his bicycle.

On October18, 2017, officer Beaulieu took the stand. His testimony was interesting in revealing several generally held police assumptions about people that contribute to the killing of civilians by police.

First, cops assume everyone is a criminal (except themselves). Beaulieu testified that he was on a routine patrol in the Saint-Roch neighborhood when he observed Guy Blouin cycling toward him. But Blouin was riding his bike on a one-way street in the wrong direction. So Beaulieu assumed something was up and maneuvered his police car to block the cyclist.

Second, cops assume that everyone respects their authority unquestioningly, so anyone who does not listen to an officer’s orders must be up to something or hiding something. So, when Blouin rode his bike around the car and appeared to ignore the police order to stop, Beaulieu immediately suspected the cyclist had been involved in criminal activity. Not that he did not hear the order or had no reason to be stooped by police. In Beaulieu’s own words: ”In my experience, someone who doesn’t stop has something to hide” (quoted in Page 2017). So Beaulieu backed the police car into and over Blouin.

Third, cops assume that victims will be grateful for help offered initially from the very officers who hurt them. Beaulieu heard Blouin scream in agony from being driven over and excited his police car and saw the stricken man on the ground with leg and shoulder injuries. According to Beaulieu, the victim was agitated and refusing help from the officers. Did they call for medical help right away?

Fourth, and incredibly, cops assume that telling someone they are under arrest will calm them down!?! In Beaulieu’s words: “He was not collaborating, so I tried telling him he was under arrest to get him to calm down,” (quoted in Page 2017).

Fifth, cops assume that traveling in an ambulance with someone they have injured only moments before will make the victim less agitated. In this case both officers went with Blouin to hospital because , in their view, he was visibly agitated. And why wouldn’t he be?

In this case, Blouin remained agitated as the officers accompanied him . He lost consciousness en route and died only 20 minutes after being driven over by officer Beaulieu.

It turns out that the bike Blouin was riding at the time, which Beaulieu assumed was stolen because the rider was going the wrong way on a one way street and did not stop when an officer ordered him to, had been purchased by Guy Blouin at a local pawn shop. Police assumptions kill. An do so with frequency in the Canadian state context.

 

Further Reading

Page, Julia. 2017. “Quebec City Police Officer Accused of Running Over Cyclist Says Speed Wasn’t Over 25 km/h.” CBC News October 18. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/simon-beaulieu-testimony-guy-blouin-death-1.4360387