Crown attorneys
show the IIO who’s boss

A Mountie gets away with shooting
an unarmed man nine times, thanks to
weak legislation and weakling “activists”

 

Very dramatically, the case of RCMP constable Elizabeth Cucheran demonstrates one of the many weaknesses of police accountability in B.C. The province’s Independent Investigations Office can recommend criminal charges against police but can’t actually lay charges itself. That’s up to Crown prosecutors who, in B.C. especially, have long shown extreme reluctance to do so.

In Ontario, the director of the Special Investigations Unit holds sole authority to lay charges against police in these matters.

In July 2015 Cucheran fired 12 close-range shots at an unarmed man, Hudson Brooks, hitting him nine times and herself once. Following an IIO investigation and a preliminary inquiry, the Crown approved charges against Cucheran of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. But for some reason the Crown later decided to second-guess the IIO investigation and recommendation, the findings of the preliminary inquiry, and its own decision. In September the B.C. Prosecution Service stayed the charges.

Not surprisingly, widespread outrage greeted the decision. Criticism also came from IIO director Ron MacDonald, who told the Vancouver Province: “We believe this investigation provided the Crown with evidence that supported a trial in this matter, and continue to believe that. We have a disagreement with the Crown on their analysis of the law and facts in the matter.”

Analysis of the law and facts in the matter: Those are vitally important things to disagree about.

Yet a key point to the Crown’s ultimate decision was a more recent claim that Brooks exhibited “excited delirium,” a condition that supposedly presents an almost superhuman level of danger. In a letter published by White Rock’s Peace Arch News, Kwantlen Polytechnic University criminologist Jeff Shantz pointed out that the idea of excited delirium has been discredited repeatedly since the RCMP used it to excuse numerous Taser blasts and other brutality that caused Robert Dziekanski’s death (an incident which led to the IIO’s creation).

Except for the PA News, the media accepted this revival of the excited delerium rationale, once again showing that this small circulation paper leads the province in reporting IIO-related issues.

Shantz also criticized the charges themselves, saying they wouldn’t have addressed the enormity of Cucheran’s actions even if a trial did proceed.

The Crown/IIO power imbalance, however, also requires attention. It’s one of a number of weaknesses that were legislated into the agency at the outset. Typifying the futility of this project, my warnings went unheeded.

What did get plenty of coverage, though, was fulsome praise from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. On separate occasions BCCLA opportunists Jason Gratl and Robert Holmes dishonestly claimed that the IIO’s creation ended the practice of police investigating each other. The media repeated their whopping lies, thereby ingratiating these careerists with the B.C. establishment.

The IIO falls far short of the SIU, which was supposed to have been B.C.’s supposed model. For that we can thank a courtier media, two political parties (and now a third) that give the impression they take orders from a powerful police lobby and social justice phonies like those of the BCCLA and Pivot Legal Society.

Read more about B.C.’s inadequate Independent Investigations Office
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