Pubdate: Thu, 29 Jan 2004
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Province
Author: Adrienne Tanner


'I Want To Send A Message To All' About The Stanley Park Beatings: Graham

Calling it the most difficult decision of his career, Vancouver Chief 
Constable Jamie Graham yesterday fired two of the six officers involved in 
the beatings of a trio of suspected drug dealers in Stanley Park.

"I want to send a message to all that there can be no justification for 
this type of conduct," Graham said.

The remaining four constables were suspended for 20 days without pay and 
ordered to work under strict supervision for the next year. Three of them 
were also demoted.

Graham said that in deciding to retain the four, he considered the fact 
they had subsequently apologized to the men they arrested and to the 
citizens of Vancouver.

"I, too, wish to apologize to the citizens of Vancouver if the deplorable 
actions of a few of my police officers have in any way shaken their faith 
in the Vancouver police," the chief said.

He also took the unprecedented step of publicly releasing a 100-page report 
detailing reasons for his decision on the Vancouver police website. This 
account of the beatings on Jan. 14, 2003, indicates they were far more 
severe than portrayed in the agreed statement of facts presented in 
provincial court in November when the officers pleaded guilty to three 
counts each of common assault.

And just as the judge varied the sentences, Graham said yesterday he 
thought it proper to vary the discipline.

Const. Duncan Gemmell, the most experienced officer on duty that night and 
the one who led the assaults and then conspired to cover them up, was fired 
for "inexcusable" conduct, Graham said.

Gabriel Kojima, a rookie officer who wielded his police baton during the 
assaults, escalating the level of violence, was also dismissed.

Constables Raymond Gardner, Brandon Steele, Jim Kenney and Chris Cronmiller 
were given maximum suspensions without pay -- five days for each 
code-of-conduct violation -- and the first three were demoted. Cronmiller, 
the most junior of the six, will remain at the lowest rank for an extended 

The firings drew instant -- and opposite -- reactions from the Vancouver 
Police Union and B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

Union president Const. Tom Stamatakis said the two dismissals serve the 
best interests of neither the public nor police.

The officers accepted responsibility for their actions and have already 
been punished by the courts, said Stamatakis, adding: "They shouldn't have 
to pay with their careers as well."

He said the union will help Kojima and Gemmell exercise their right to a 
review by the police complaint commissioner.

But civil-liberties association president John Russell said after reading 
the chief's report it is obvious all six officers should have been dismissed.

"Five of the six police officers in this case participated in a brutal and 
premeditated beating of three citizens of Vancouver," he said. "The sixth 
officer present, the officer in charge, while he did not participate in the 
beatings, organized and led a coverup of those events."

Russell said the case highlights serious problems with the VPD's overuse of 
its powers to arrest for breaches of the peace. Breaching, as it is called, 
allows officers to arrest suspected troublemakers and dump them in a remote 
part of town without charge.

He urged Attorney-General Geoff Plant to heed the police-complaint 
commissioner's call for a public inquiry into the 1998 death of Frank Paul, 
who died after being dumped in an alley by police who'd been ordered to 
"breach" him even though he was too drunk to care for himself.

In his report, Graham defended "breach" arrests in the Stanley Park case 
and the policy in general. "It was the non-adherence to the policy and the 
law which was at issue in Stanley Park, not the law itself," he said.

Phil Rankin, the lawyer representing the victims of the assaults in a civil 
lawsuit, said he is not convinced the officers should be fired. He said he 
gets dozens of complaints about excessive use of force by police and the 
actions of these officers were no different.

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Const. Duncan Gemmell


Age: 39. Service: Joined VPD in January 2002 after five years on Regina force.

Judge Herbert Weitzel said: "His was a breach of trust at a high level."

Sentence: 60-day conditional served at home under nightly curfew, six 
months' probation and 40 hours' community service.

Chief Jamie Graham said: "[Gemmell] delivered the first blow and later 
wrote a false and misleading report."

Const. Gabriel Kojima


Age: 23. Service: Out of police academy for less than a year at time of 

Judge: "In terms of moral blameworthiness, I find his actions to be at a 
higher level than most of the other defendants."

Sentence: 30-day conditional served at home under nightly curfew, six 
months' probation and 30 hours of community service.

Chief: "He degraded the complainants and kicked one of them in the head."

Const. Raymond Gardner

Suspended and Demoted

Age: 32. Service: Joined VPD in 1999.

Judge: "[Gardner] was, in my view, a direct participant in each of the 
three assaults."

Sentence: Nine months' probation, 50 hours' community service.

Chief: "Deserves a second chance . . . he neither initiated the incident 
nor used a weapon. He did, however, take part in the violence."

Const. Brandon Steele

Suspended And Demoted

Age: 31. Service: Joined VPD in November 1999.

Judge: "Each complainant was vastly outnumbered, five to one . . . The 
explanation offered is one of being frustrated."

Sentence: Suspended sentence, six months' probation and 25 hours of 
community service.

Chief: "While partaking in the violence, he played a relatively minor role 
in comparison to the two dismissed officers."

Const. James Kenney (acting sergeant at time of incident)

Suspended And Demoted

Age: 34. Service: Joined VPD in 1999.

Judge: "[Kenney] bears the lowest level of moral blameworthiness of all the 
defendants, despite his titular role as the acting sergeant."

Sentence: Absolute discharge without conditions.

Chief: "I found that his choice not to intervene showed a serious lack of 
judgment and leadership."

Const. Christopher Cronmiller

Suspended, Promotion Delayed

Age: 27. Service: Started with VPD in November 2002.

Judge: "His involvement in the incidents was less than most of the others."

Sentence: Conditional discharge, six months' probation and 30 hours' 
community service.

Chief: "While I believe that this officer took part in the assault, I also 
believe that he neither initiated it nor escalated it."
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