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


Chief Constable's Report Paints A Far More Shocking Picture Than Came Out 
In The Criminal Case Against The Six Disgraced Officers

Before the Stanley Park beatings began, some of the six offending police 
officers scanned the bushes with their flashlights, scouting for witnesses.

That detail and others were released yesterday in a report by Chief 
Constable Jamie Graham that indicated the beatings were much more 
protracted and premeditated than previously proven.

In provincial court last year, the actions of the six Vancouver police 
officers who assaulted a trio of suspected drug dealers in Stanley Park 
were minimized as a lecture that got carried away.

But Graham's report, drawn from a compilation of witness statements, 
coincides more with reports from the victims who claimed they were beaten 
Jan. 14, 2002, by a "gauntlet" of police officers.

It also reveals a disturbing comment made by Const. Gabriel Kojima, the 
only officer to use his police baton as a weapon during the assaults.

His words to Const. Troy Peters, the recruit who refused to participate in 
the beatings and ultimately told the truth about what happened, indicate 
Kojima relished administering the beatings.

"Now that's the s--- we sign up for, isn't it?" Peters recalled Kojima 
saying as they walked into the office later that morning.

While Provincial Court Judge Herb Weitzel had only an agreed statement of 
facts upon which to base his sentencing decision at the criminal trial, 
Graham was privy to much more information.

Lawyers for the disgraced officers tried to persuade Graham to adopt the 
courthouse statement of facts "as the complete and accurate account of the 
events," Graham said in his report.

He ignored the advice. "I considered this document, but I also considered 
all the evidence available to me."

Graham's report, which relied heavily on statements from Peters, also found 
evidence of an attempted coverup -- charges that were not pursued in court.

"Const. Peters recalled . . . being shocked at the attempted justification 
for their earlier actions because the three weredrug dealers," the chief's 
report states. "He recalled that there were instructions given out that 
this was not to be talked about so as to thwart any internal investigation."

Over the course of multiple interviews, Peters recalled how Kojima shone 
his flashlight in the victims' eyes, says the report.

"I believe this was done to blind them from witnessing the persons who were 
about to commit the assaults," Graham concluded.

Peters then described the assault against Barry Lawrie. "Peters saw Const. 
Gemmell punch Mr. Lawrie in the back kidney area and then everyone, all 
except Const. Kenney, followed suit with three to five punches each," the 
report states.

In court, Gemmell acknowledged only that he poked Lawrie in the chest with 
his index finger. Constables Steele and Kojima admitted only that they gave 
Lawrie a shove.

Next out of the police wagon was Jason Desjardin.

Peters described the attack on him as a shove by Const. Steele followed by 
a "flurry of punches," Graham wrote. "The complainant [Desjardin] fell to 
the ground and was kicked by everyone, all five constables."

Kojima had his baton in his hand, the chief's report states.

Again, the agreed statement to the court was milder.

It maintained Gemmell punched Desjardin in the stomach and Gardner shoved 
him in the chest a couple of times. "Kojima contacted Desjardin with his 
police-issue baton in the vicinity of his knee," said the agreed statement 
of facts.

In Graham's report, Peters said the last victim, Grant Wilson, was struck 
by Kojima in the leg with his baton. "Mr. Wilson went down and everyone 
started kicking him. Mr. Wilson was screaming and was eventually seen to be 
limping away," says Graham's report.

The courthouse agreed-upon facts have Wilson only being berated and punched 
by Steele, shoved by Gardner and "prodded" by Kojima's boot instep.

A careful examination of Peters' statements to police investigators and 
Crown prosecutors shows some inconsistencies that would have proved 
challenging had the case gone to trial.

In the dark, it was difficult for the recruit to identify who delivered 
which blow.

And at one point, the recruit said he did not watch and "just kind of 
looked the other way and listened to the screams," Graham's report states.

John Richardson, executive director of Pivot, a legal advocacy group, 
applauded the chief for releasing such a detailed accounting of the incident.

"I think it shows he's making an attempt to be transparent. He wants to 
make his reasoning clear and his rationale defensible."

Richardson said he is heartened by the chief's disciplinary decisions.

"It shows there's a line you can't cross within the VPD. And that's great."


Jan. 14, 2003: Six Vancouver police officers pick up three suspected drug 
dealers on Granville Street in the early morning and drive them to Third 
Beach in Stanley Park, where some officers assault the three men.

Jan. 22, 2003: The six officers are suspended with pay after another 
officer comes forward to advise the police department's internal 
investigation section of the allegations.

Jan. 24, 2003: Chief Constable Jamie Graham advises the public and media of 
the allegations and suspensions of the officers. A criminal investigation 
with approximately 15 investigators is launched.

Feb. 3, 2003: Police investigators deliver a report to Crown counsel.

March 21, 2003: Crown approves charges against the six officers.

Nov. 24, 2003: The six plead guilty to an agreed statement of facts in B.C. 
Provincial Court.

Jan. 5, 2004: Judge Herb Weitzel sentences the six.

Jan. 15-16, 2004: Graham conducts an internal disciplinary hearing under 
the Police Act.

Jan. 28, 2004: Graham releases the results of the internal proceeding.
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