It’s time for the authorities to clear their heads and come clean on CR’s death. Apart from the threat to civil liberties, a year of official silence dishonours the life and death of a man who was loved and is missed.
When officials create an information vacuum, regular folk will fill it with theories.
Here then, is the Turpin Laboratories theory of why the identity of CR remains a provincial/municipal secret a year after he died in a Halifax police cell: the Serious Incident Response Team, which investigates possible misdeeds in the policing world, and the Public Prosecution Service, which prosecutes when SiRT brings charges against someone, don’t get along.
And they don’t get along, the theory goes, because of the “Officer 1” case. In January 2016, SiRT charged Officer 1 with stealing “cut”, a substance used for diluting illegal drugs, from the HRP evidence room. The PPS, aka “the Crown”, failed to act until it was too late to go ahead with the prosecution, so Officer 1 got to walk away from it all.
SiRT gets the last word in these situations, so its director, Ron J. MacDonald, wrote a masterpiece in the art of flaying another organization while being studiously neutral.
Here is MacDonald’s conclusion:
This investigation led to the conclusion that there were sufficient grounds to lay charges of theft, breach of trust, and obstruction of justice. As a result, charges were laid on January 27, 2016, and SiRT’s file was provided to the Crown on March 15, 2016. Subsequently, the Crown entered a stay of proceedings on May 30, 2016. On January 27, 2017, SiRT was informed by the Public Prosecution Service that due to issues related to delays in the prosecution of the charges, that the charges would not be re-instituted.
As a result, Officer 1 is deemed never to have been charged with any criminal offence.
At best, we have here a conflict between two public agencies with different mandates over two unrelated policing issues. Worse, is the possibility the two organizations are engaged in a peeing match. Worst, is the possibility that SiRT believes the PPS is protecting bad cops.
How have we arrived at these hypotheses? We know that MacDonald wants to charge someone because both SiRT and the PPS acknowledge they’re currently discussing CR’s case. Chris Hansen, a PPS spokesperson, said last week: “I think it would be correct to say advice from the Crown is ongoing as the investigation continues.”
We know that SiRT and PPS have been batting this one back and forth since January or February because MacDonald told me in late 2016 that CR’s case would be ready early in 2017.
In other words, as in the Officer 1 case, SiRT wants to prosecute and the Crown is taking a long time to get on board.
SiRT and police don’t need PPS permission to file charges, but they almost always consult first. It makes sense because if the PPS does not believe the case will succeed, then there’s not much point in going ahead with it. If you ignore the Crown’s advice and lose, well then you have career-damaging egg on your face.
Hansen said there is no connection between the two cases. When I asked MacDonald about that, he was studiously forthright: “I do not intend to address that question.”
It’s time for the authorities to clear their heads and come clean on this. Apart from the threat to civil liberties, a year of official silence dishonours the life and death of a man who was loved and is missed.