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Opinion stories

KNIGHT: RCMP Corporal charged criminally just for doing his job well

True North's Leo Knight reports on how a Corporal with 16 years of service in Alberta is being charged criminally for assault causing bodily harm and use of a weapon.

The RCMP has long been a dysfunctional organization. That’s certainly not a secret given the class action lawsuits they have settled in matters of sexual harassment, bullying of subordinate officers by senior members and general mismanagement. 

The last Commissioner initiated new processes ostensibly to streamline complaints against superior officers, but as far as I can see they just make it easier to bully subordinate members and ultimately to fire officers who don’t tow the company line. 

The current Commissioner, Brenda Lucki, appears to be just an affirmative action promotion by the Prime Minister. She has done little, if anything, to modernize the moribund national police force. 

A good organization puts its employees first, it trains them and supports them. It does not attack them, especially when they have done a good job.

The experience of a Corporal with 16 years service in K Division (Alberta) is a great example. 

He had an idea to start an Integrated Crime Reduction Unit focussing on perpetual offenders. He got permission and began to put together a team from various detachments in the Edmonton area in September of last year began operations.

Over the course of the next three months his team amassed 59 arrests and processed more than 500 criminal charges against those prolific offenders. A job well done one might think. One that did the RCMP proud. 

So much so that even the provincial government noticed and approved $10 million in additional spending to replicate his squad’s efforts across the province.

It was the direct result of the work done by his CRU team. 

But one of those arrests was about to come back and bite him in the butt. Why? Not because he did anything wrong per se, but because he got into a dispute with an Inspector. 

It began on November 15, 2017. The CRU team located a stolen vehicle in Devon, Alberta. Two males eventually made their way to the vehicle and a mobile surveillance operation was begun. 

Eventually the vehicle arrived at a hotel near Leduc where they parked next to another stolen vehicle. One of the occupants got out and started transferring bags into that vehicle.

The two vehicles then travelled in tandem through Leduc eventually stopping at a gas station in Nisku. One of the males got out of the original stolen vehicle and went inside the store. He was observed at the back of the store observing other customers and the clerk. 

Suspecting a robbery was about to occur, the Corporal ordered his team to affect arrests. 

During the arrest the suspect resisted and a fight ensued. The Corporal along with another officer delivered several closed fist strikes to the head of the suspect. As the wrestling match continued as they tried to get handcuffs on the suspect. A K9 handler arrived and engaged in the struggle. During this, the K9 handler kicked the suspect in the face resulting in a fractured orbital bone in his face. 

The whole incident was recorded on the gas station’s security cameras. Given the physical injury, the Corporal reported the matter as required and the civilian review agency in Alberta, ASIRT, was notified. 

Both suspects had multiple warrants for their arrest. A search of the stolen vehicles yielded various items of stolen property including a .357 calibre handgun and several dozen rounds of ammunition. Charges were laid and convictions obtained.

A good job by the police one might think. 

But the processes of the RCMP would begin to take their toll. 

The Corporal cooperated with every part of the resulting investigation, giving statements to the investigatory bodies. Yet, he was put on administrative leave weeks after the incident for reasons he could not comprehend. He reacted badly as he objected to his boss, an Inspector who didn’t take it well. You see in the RCMP a subordinate is not to question the decision of a commissioned officer. 

Thus began a nightmare for the Corporal that has yet to play out.

He has been charged criminally for assault causing bodily harm and use of a weapon, his handcuffs. 

The Corporal readily admitted the strikes to the face in the ground fight with the suspect. The suspect himself admitted the Corporal did nothing wrong and it was the kick by the K9 officer that caused the damage.

And the security video corroborates everything. Yet, the charges remain in force and the Corporal remains on suspension, being paid, but unable to serve the citizens of his community which is all he ever wanted to do. 

Having reviewed the evidence I don’t see how he can possibly be convicted. 

Reasonable doubt being what it is, I can’t imagine any court convicting him.  But, because he reacted badly to the decision of a superior officer, and told him so, he is being left to twist in the wind with criminal charges hanging over his head like the Sword of Damocles.

Despite all the lawsuits, despite all the criticism, the RCMP still cannot bring themselves to support their members when they deserve it. 

It’s shameful really but unfortunately, not surprising. 

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