Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2003
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 The Province
Author: Adrienne Tanner


But Crown Wants 30- To 90-Day Sentences For Officers' 'Lecture That
Got Carried Away'

One by one yesterday, lawyers for the six Vancouver police officers
who assaulted three suspected drug dealers in Stanley Park requested
conditional discharges for their clients.

If Judge Herb Weitzel agrees, the officers will be spared a criminal
record once they complete their sentencing conditions.

The lawyers, among Vancouver's most high profile, were in Vancouver
Provincial Court yesterday for the first of a two-day sentencing
hearing for the officers, all of whom pleaded guilty to three counts
of assault.

Submissions for Constables Gabriel Kojima, Raymond Gardner and James
Kenney were heard yesterday -- the other three are expected today.

The version of the night's events offered yesterday differed wildly
from initial accounts, which were based on interviews with, and
statements from, the victims.

Instead of a premeditated beating, where the victims claimed they were
beaten as they ran a gauntlet of enraged officers, the incident
yesterday was described as a lecture that got carried away.

"It was not a conspiracy to take them into the dark and beat them up,"
said David Crossin, who represents Kojima.

The victims were picked up for breaching the peace early on Jan. 14
and, in keeping with Vancouver police policy, were removed from the
downtown area and dropped in the park, he said.

To a casual observer, the lecture would have resembled a verbal
tirade, admitted Crossin.

The victims were revolving-door criminals with more than 100
convictions between them. So the language, he said, "had to fit the

As the officers began to hector their prisoners, they momentarily lost
control, Crossin said. "Their composure abandoned them out of
frustration for about two minutes," he said.

Crossin argued the appropriate sentence for his client would be a
conditional discharge and community service.

Crown prosecutor Robert Gourlay said a conditional discharge or
absolute discharge would not be appropriate for any of the officers.

"Police officers are in a position of trust and authority and the
public expects a high standard of conduct from these officers," he

They abused their positions of trust and authority and the sentence
must denounce this unlawful conduct, Gourlay said.

He argued for a short, sharp sentence of between 30 and 90 days to be
served either behind bars or at home.

Weitzel heard glowing accounts of all three officers who had
unblemished careers before the attack.

After less than a year on the force, Kojima won a deputy chief's
commendation for bravery for a case involving the Hells Angels.

Gardner initiated a program to increase communication between police
and Vancouver's gay community.

Kenney was praised by Chief Const. Jamie Graham for his past
performance. Kenney did not strike or berate the victims, but pleaded
guilty because as acting supervisor, he had a duty to try to stop his

The six officers have been suspended with pay since the incident came
to light in January. An internal disciplinary hearing to determine
their future as police officers will be held in January.

Gardner wrote a personal note of apology which was read in court by
his lawyer, Richard Peck. In it, he spoke of the frustration he felt
at his inability to curb the proliferation of drug dealing in the
downtown area and help local merchants who complained the problem was
hurting their businesses.

That night, as he lectured Barry Lawrie, one of the victims, Gardner
realized, "he didn't care what I said . . . I felt the pangs of

"Immediately after the incident, I felt wrong and disappointed in
myself," he wrote.
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