Friday, May 4, 2012

Justice is blind ... to abuse, again still

I republish this article from January 2011. The trial of RCMP Constable Mantler is scheduled for November 2012 and this seemingly straight forward case is scheduled to last three weeks. It is worth re-examination because, in numerous ways, it illustrates the defective operation of British Columbia's police and court services.

In the summer of 2012, Mantler is scheduled for trial on an unrelated assault of another innocent citizen. That story is covered in Second Assault Allegation Against Cst. Geoff Mantler.


See also my story Circle the wagons, blame the victims and the letter of complaint by the BC Civil Liberties Association about the Tavares assault and subsequent media releases by the RCMP.
_________________________ end of second update_________________________

Hours before a planned protest march in Kelowna, police announced they will recommend to prosecutors a charge of assault causing bodily harm against RCMP Cst. Geoff Mantler. I caution there is a long way between this announcement, formal charges and an actual trial, much less a conviction with consequences.

Without retracting any of the complaints in this and other articles in Northern Insights regarding RCMP failures, I accept this particular case has been handled more expeditiously than any other high profile police assault. The accountability remains inadequate and still too much delayed and the force needs to prove this results from dedication to higher standards of conduct, not a response to public pressure.

Nevertheless, it could be a beginning of needed change. We have seen more RCMP discipline taken in public recently than ever before, some not under the focus of intense scrutiny. To that limited extent, I applaud Sup't Bill McKinnon. May other commanders follow his lead.
_________________________ end of first update_________________________

If you wonder why Olympics 2010 security cost almost a billion dollars, the case of 31-year-old Joe Bowser provides an illustration. One illustration out of thousands, perhaps more.

Bob Mackin of 24 Hours has the story at The Tyee:
A Vancouver software developer . . . Joe Bowser, 31, . . . received 79 pages by mail on Jan. 10 showing how the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit deemed him a “person of interest”, spied on him and monitored his blog, Tweets and Facebook updates. . . The file, which said he had no criminal record, includes copies of his Facebook and Twitter pages. . .

Const. Georges El-Azzi’s report detailed his failed Jan. 19, 2010, attempt to interview Bowser after a four-and-a- half-hour stake-out of Bowser’s Nitobi Software workplace. El-Azzi’s superiors decided Feb. 6, 2010, to take no further action.
You can bet the cost of assembling that one file was immense. Police officers, including staff working near endless overtime, were handsomely paid to monitor the actions and writings of a law abiding citizen, one who has committed no crimes but failed to applaud the corrupt Olympics movement with sufficient enthusiasm.

I can guess they have a file on me as well. I was trained as a Volunteer Observer by the British Columbia Civil Rights Association. I even took out membership in the BCCRA and visited Observer HQ on Vancouver's downtown east side, which was under occasional surveillance by security forces. Undeclared Liberal leadership candidate Harry Bloy, MLA for Burquitlam put the police on notice about "limited intellect terrorists" threatening the province because they did not understand "how the world truly operates." I was one of those, I guess.

Perhaps I was dangerous also because I too did not applaud the games. Instead, I blogged the Origins of our traditions, telling the story of how Nazi Germany helped develop ancient Olympic folklore by carving the five-ring emblem onto a stone alter in Delphi, Greece. Germans thought the symbol, which originated about 1920, would gain distinction if people thought it actually dated back more than two millennia. Potential terrorist that I might be, I sourced that story from one of the largest journals of radical subversion, the New York Times.

I learned today about Joe Bowser's 79 page RCMP file, the same day I heard about the Mounties damage control effort in Kelowna. Supt. Bill McKinnon held a news conference to say:
“I want to ensure the public that senior members of the RCMP hear loud and clear what the general public's views are in relation to the video that has been shown across the country . . . We realize the processes are not moving as quickly as most people would like, but everyone must understand that the processes must be followed . . ."
RCMP took a telephone report and sent police officers to investigate. That resulted minutes later in Buddy Tavares, 51, being kicked in the face while on his knees submitting without resistance to Constable Geoff Mantler, 27. One other thing, Tavares was recovering from a previous brain injury, Mantler was not. Police carried bruised and bleeding Tavares off to jail, where he stayed for days, except to receive medical attention.

Police action was swift and brutal when it involved Tavares. Not quite so swift when it came to Mantler. He was congratulated by other officers for his successful take down of the prisoner and that might have been the end of things except that one of those little video cameras captured the swift kick. Once that hit the Internet, Mantler was placed on "administrative duties." As public outrage grew, Mantler was sent home on suspension, with full pay. That is a situation where people can be parked for years at a cost of about $100 K a year. (We cannot forget the infamous Cpl. Monty Robinson.)

Although, the assault and battery by Cst. Mantler was plain, captured on video and witnessed by other police and private citizens, he didn't spend time in a jail cell and no charges have been laid against him. We are asked to wait patiently while police complete an investigation of police. Check back in 2013 for a progress report.

However, RCMP did lay a charge immediately against Tavares, for careless use of a firearm. Apparently that did not need a full investigation by a team of senior investigators. The firearm charge would involve the shotgun Tavares was transporting, with trigger lock attached; the one he used at the nearby golf course to frighten birds from the facility, as part of his job. RCMP initially spun a story to the media about a domestic abuse situation involving their victim but police court filings make no mention of it and Tavares' family acknowledges no abuse, other than that by Cst. Geoff Mantler.

Once again we see that police can move quickly when it comes to arresting, injuring and slandering private citizens but not quite the same speed when one of their own is involved. It reminds of a statement in my Economics 100 course long ago. They were teaching about supply and demand dynamics and explained that if money to lend was in short supply compared to demand, interest rates would rise quickly. However, if the reverse were true, interest rates would be slow to reduce. As the author put it, "Interest rates tend to be volatile upwards and sticky downwards." Justice is like that. It can be swift if the bad guys don't wear uniforms, shirts and ties. Its forward progress can be particularly sticky when colleagues investigate colleagues in the justice industry.

Should Supt. Bill McKinnon be surprised if a public demonstration is held on the steps of the Kelowna RCMP detachment? Perhaps instead he should explain how an RCMP officer can assault a non-threatening, compliant citizen, drag him off to jail battered and bleeding, lock him up for days under confused circumstances and then RCMP quickly lay criminal charges and go out of their way to slander the citizen with an accusation and implication they back away from days later. I also want to know how another police officer can witness the original assault and battery and not arrest the perpetrator.

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15 comments:

  1. Norm, you're doing such a tremendous pubic service with your reporting.

    In the spirit of trying to find our way out of this dark world BC has descended into, would you permit me to offer your readers a snippet of an email from John Horgan's leadership campaign?

    We are in a race against time - the deadline for new membership sign-ups is midnight on Monday, January 17. Only members who have signed up by then will be eligible to support John in the April 17 leadership vote.
    ...Think of five friends who share our desire for pragmatic, honest leadership that puts the environment and people first. Now forward this e-mail to them and ask them to go to:

    www.horganforbc.ca

    and sign up right away.

    ...Please don't delay, we have just 48 hours left to bring in new members to elect John Horgan to lead the BC New Democrats to government in the next election.


    http://www.horganforbc.ca/join-ndp-january-17

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Norm, I listened to several newscast reports, and other 'reporter-on-the-scene' interviews from CBC Radio on this item, and there was no mention of virtually all of what you reported.

    That's what CBC Radio specializes in, sanitizing and altering the news but in such a clever way that people think that CBC is actually doing a good job of reporting on the police. Nope.

    CBC news reports usually leave enough holes in the story, and/or they throw in a few unverified rumours (under the guise of “balanced reporting”) that the audience is left with major doubts (e.g. the 'domestic abuse' angle and the 'disgruntled employee' angle). I had that doubts about this man, until I read your story.

    And once these carefully crafted misperceptions are lobbed out by the media, they will live on forever. Unless there's spectacular and long-sustained media attention, like in the case of the Polish immigrant who was killed by police at the Vancouver Airport, this Kelowna man's reputation is gone forever in the minds of many people tainted by the news media's portrayal of the story.

    Great work you're doing Norm.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The RCMP have turned into a sick joke, a clone of an American style, paranoiac FBI. The RCMP now invoke a sad shake of the head, where a once proud Canadian tradition is now a bad 'keystone cops' repeat.

    More sad, is that Canadian politicians, including senior Canadian politicians, condone the RCMP's 1950's style, Tail-gunner Joe, performance.

    Come on guys, the RCMP are not supposed to be a jack-booted Gestapo, with a license to kill or maim - they are a police force damn-it and they should act like one, unless, of course, the equally paranoiac Harper wants a violent and evil secret police force.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great reporting Norm! It seems to be the new normal with police to view everyone as guilty until proven innocent. The RCMP has completely lost it's way. They see everyone outside their culture as suspect.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There is no doubt, the RCMP need to be put out to pasture. Some of their crimes are worse than the criminals they arrest. There are thousands of BC people, who don't even want them, as an icon for Canada. Their image is in tatters. They have no integrity or credibility left. Police investigating police, a corrupt judicial system, that sweeps the RCMP's crimes under the carpet. Punishment, is a years vacation with pay, and a transfer to another hapless community. I had thought, there was a consideration, to fire the RCMP and have the provincial police. They seem to have made changes for the better, and have stuck by them. I give them a lot of credit for that. I think citizens, would be much safer in their hands, than the RCMP's. There is no way to protect yourself from the RCMP, their crimes are mostly overlooked, and the citizen, who has been victimized by the RCMP, gets no justice at all. There is not one doubt in my mind. Had the beating not have been taken by, a video camera. That poor man from Kelowna, would have been victimized fully by the RCMP, and paid the price, instead of the officer, that kicked him in the face. Get rid of the RCMP, they are bad, bad news.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Harper, will need brown shirts, as soon as he has Canada ready, for his pet project, he is preaching about...Global governance. The U.S. citizens have known about global governance, long ago. They say, this has been worked on, since 1945. I'm not so sure, they are wrong about that anymore either. Harper, has often spoke about, global governance, says, the world has to have this. I have been meaning to find some information, to see just what this means. I am rather afraid to look, in case the dots all connect. I have heard the Bilderberg group mentioned. That's the meeting, Campbell went to, in Spain.

    ReplyDelete
  7. They're unleashing the dogs now in order to intimidate and suppress the plebians who might dare oppose their "G"reat work.

    Make no mistake, this is the twilight of liberal democracy and the dark night of tyranny is approaching fast.

    And none will dare call it conspiracy.

    Be(e) well, good folks.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Creating and protecting democracy can only occur if every citizen is well informed and information flows freely. We lost the mainstream media as public watchdogs. Now that role is largely filled by the Internet.

    And, who would have guessed, business and government aim to harness the web through traffic direction, diversion and other management techniques. Click on the label 'Michael Geist' on the left side of this page for more information.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The RCMP is only as good as its' management. They have evolved to a dog eat dog enterprise, with only the meanest rising to the top. Disbanding them is the only solution. Why should this member still get his pay while being suspended? I say no pay or benefits while on suspension.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Q: Why should this member still get his pay while being suspended? I say no pay or benefits while on suspension

    A: The Union

    ReplyDelete
  11. Except, there is no union. The ones to blame are Harper's Conservatives and Liberal governments before them. Countless experts have called for amendment to the legislation governing the RCMP. Politicians tell us to be patient but no changes have been made. The senior officers of the RCMP have no way of suspending an officer without pay.

    ReplyDelete
  12. RCMP and accountability should never be stated in the same breath. That's like saying the OPP and CSIS are accountable agencies. Stuff for the comic pages.


    Apparently Shirley Bond thinks financial accountability is the only kind we were looking for. What about civilian oversight? What about discipline of a RCMP member? How about changing the police act to make them accountable even after they quit? How about a new system for charging cops that doesn't involve their friends at the crown council office? How about compelling them to immediately provide a statement after an incident like YVR? I could go on and on and on and on.......

    Thanks for screwing the province yet again BC LIEberals, The Liars Club of BC strikes again.....

    ReplyDelete
  13. "...their friends at the crown council office"...?
    Do you actually know anyone at a crown council office?! Not the biggest RCMP fans, in my limited experience.
    And while I agree the BCLiberals have been and are a disaster, they HAVE made the first tentative steps towards civilian oversight...
    Otherwise, I concur.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Canadian CanaryMay 6, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Kudos once again Norm, another fine piece of journalistic blogging.

    I recommend you and other people read the Toronto Star's recent special investigative series on Police Lies. Their investigation was national in scope:

    http://www.thestar.com/topic/policewholie

    The Star's investigation culminated on May 1st with the Ontario Attorney-General announcing a probe into police deception:

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1170785--police-who-lie-attorney-general-orders-probe-of-police-deception

    Why isn't BC's Attorney-General doing the same??? Because most of the media here are hand-puppets of the politicians.

    The Toronto Star is the only big newspaper in Canada that is doing any trustworthy investigative journalism. Others just don't even come close. This includes the Victoria Times-Colonist which occasionally gets lauded in BC blogs, still has too many flaws in their overall editorial and content decisions to qualify, and their investigations often obscure more than they reveal. Maybe, over time, the Times-Colonist's new ownership will convince me otherwise, but not yet.

    Meanwhile, I tune in to the Toronto Star above any other mainstream news outlet. They're the closest thing we have in Canada to responsible and professional journalism.

    ReplyDelete
  15. it is my opinion that this so called officer of the law is nothing more than a scrawny little puke that would be nothing without his gun and a team of others with guns backing him up. he has neither the personallity or temperment to be a peace officer....that's what they are supposed to be....PEACE officers. He's a bully and i feel he should be taught a lesson.

    ReplyDelete

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