Pubdate: Sat, 13 Nov 2004
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2004 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Alexandra Paul
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Porta-Potty Overturned, Late Husband's Cremated Remains Dumped

A single mother is outraged that police pointed guns at her son and
dumped some of her late husband's cremated remains on the floor during
a raid on her home. "My son was hysterical. He was bawling," said
Tracy Schaldemose, 36, as she surveyed the wreckage of the family's
duplex after the raid this week. The raid, conducted by an estimated
10 Winnipeg police officers, who told Schaldemose's son they were
looking for marijuana, is being investigated by the province's Law
Enforcement Review Agency.

A LERA investigator confirmed the agency is investigating a complaint
from Schaldemose's address at a housing project on Kylemore Avenue in
Fort Rouge.

Schaldemose and her neighbour said an investigator spent half an hour
at her home taking photographs and making notes after the raid on Wednesday.

A Free Press reporter and photographer who were called by the family
saw clothes and other belongings that had been dumped out of closets
onto the floor, and drawers and cupboards hanging open.

This marks the fourth police raid on a city home in recent weeks.

And last year, two other families -- one in the North End and another
in Elmwood -- went public with their LERA complaints after police
raided their homes on the basis of bad informants' tips. Police
apparently left no search warrant behind after the raid this week.

After two days of cleaning up, the family said they have yet to find
such a warrant anywhere. Canada's Criminal Code requires police to
have a search warrant before raiding a residence, and to leave a copy
of it for the occupant.

Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Bob Johnson said the force can't
comment on the complaints because of the LERA probe.

The first three raids were false-alarm searches, all carried out on
Oct. 29. In those cases, police were hunting for two suspects in a
slaying, but turned up nothing. Police apologized for the intrusions
and, in one case, returned to help clean up the mess. During the
latest raid, Schaldemose's son, Dean Champagne, 13, was home alone.

A group of men -- some wearing ski masks -- broke open the back door
and stormed upstairs into his room, yelling at him that they were the
police, he said.

"They stormed into my room and two of them were holding guns. They
were pointing them at me," the boy said.

Champagne said the officers ordered him to stand up, stay still and
tell them where the marijuana was hidden.

"They said someone (told) them we were selling marijuana. We're not,"
the boy said.

In all, there were 10 police officers, say neighbours who counted the
officers who stormed the dwelling.

The police found a single pot plant and took it with them, Champagne

In the course of the search over the next hour, the house was turned
upside down.

Among the clutter afterward was a dusting of ashes on the living room
floor that agonized Schaldemose. A cardboard urn that held her late
husband's cremated remains was lying open on the living room floor.
Clearly labelled as human remains, the urn held three small plastic
bags with his ashes and some of the ashes had spilled out.

"That was my first husband, Doug Runions," the woman exclaimed. "I
wasn't ready to let him go yet."

In the basement, police overturned a porta-potty filled with human
excrement. The single mom said she hadn't emptied it after her
daughter last used it. Her daughter, 12, has a medical disability that
makes it hard for her to reach the bathroom in time, so the potty is
kept in the basement where the TV is hooked up.

The raid kicked off a chain of events for the family.

First, a public health inspector showed up, saying he'd got a tip
there was human excrement on the floor, Schaldemose said.

Next, a couple of child welfare workers came to take away her kids,
she said.

The inspector left without laying charges after seeing the overturned
potty. The child welfare officials left without her kids, telling her
to call her worker instead.

Schaldemose is furious and she vehemently denied that she grows
marijuana or sells it. "I don't think we deserved this," she said.

Child welfare authorities are the only officials to offer a specific
reason for the police raid, Schaldemose said. "They said the police
told them I was a very large drug dealer and I had a very large grow
op," she said.

"My mouth dropped and I showed them the pot that the (single
marijuana) plant was in," the single mother said.

Neighbours said the family is being harassed for no reason.

Neighbour Kelli Holdsworth said, "I was just appalled... the police
can (come in) and destroy your house like that. It scares me."

LERA typically takes nine months to conduct a full investigation.

The agency fields an average of 350 complaints about police conduct a
year of which 280 proceed to full investigation. Typically, fewer than
a dozen end up before a provincial court judge with the authority to
impose penalties ranging from ordering a police officer to be fired to
making a verbal admonishment that doesn't go on an officer's record.
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