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Kenora, Ontario Police

Officers face misconduct charges
Carambetsos's civil claim 'fairly imminent': lawyer

Kenora Police shoulder patch

Wednesday's announcement that Kenora Police Chief George Curtis will lay charges against two of his officers under the Police Services Act for their misconduct in the Max Kakegamic death investigation, won't stop Justin Carambetsos, the subject of the investigation until a Superior Court Justice stayed the charge of manslaughter earlier this year, from proceeding with a civil claim for malicious prosecution.

"It's too little, too late," said Carambetsos's lawyer Charles Sinclair said of the planned charges, adding filing the claim is "fairly imminent."

“What the courts cannot tolerate is police dishonesty”
--Justice Hambly

Sinclair said he didn't know if the claim would name Kenora Police Services Board, Kenora Police Service, the City of Kenora, and/or individual police officers.

Sinclair's law firm Sack, Goldblatt, Mitchell sent a letter to the city June 30. Kenora Police Services Board chairman Ron Lunny said he forwarded the letter, which included the threat of litigation, to the city's insurer, Frank Cowan Company.

Sinclair said he'd received a reply from the city's lawyer.

Curtis decided to lay charges after reviewing a report from OPP Det. Insp. Bob Deasy. Deasy was asked by Curtis to look into several areas of misconduct described by Superior Court Justice Peter Hambly in his ruling to stay the manslaughter charge.

The Kenora Police Service reported in a press release Wednesday that Curtis "has identified misconduct on the parts of Sergeants Tom Favreau and Lloyd White. As a result, both of these officers shall be facing charges under the code of conduct of the Ontario Police Services Act."

Curtis will decide how much of the report he'll make public "once the whole process is complete," Kenora Police spokesman Bob Bernie said, adding Curtis may release "excerpts from it."

Curtis has asked the professional standards branch of an outside metropolitan police force to ensure a process is developed for dealing with these matters and that the proper charges are laid.

He hopes to start the process before Christmas, Bernie said.


A dark day for justice

Canada's Criminal Code is quite clear -- lying to mislead a court is a crime. That's why I, like many others, was dumbfounded when an investigation into the actions of three Kenora Police Services officers involved in the Carambetsos manslaughter case recommended no criminal charges be laid.

Carambetsos was charged with second degree murder in the death of Max Kakegamic on Oct. 4, 2000. The case was reduced to manslaughter following a preliminary hearing, and after many twists and turns, was finally presented to a jury this past January.

The trial, which began in mid-January, quickly bogged down in hearings on evidence motions and ended with the dismissal of the jury, followed by a stay of proceedings ruling.

The turning point was documented evidence of lying by Sgt. Lloyd White, a senior constable at the time of Kakegamic's death and lead investigator in the case.

Even though he admitted in court to lying under oath in response to direct questions while on the witness stand, he broke no laws. That's the conclusion of Ontario Provincial Police Detective Inspector Bob Deasy.

Deasy, in a report delivered to Kenora Police Chief George Curtis late last month, concluded that while there were a number of issues related to the murder investigation, none were criminal in nature.

To being dumbfounded by that conclusion, you can add disgusted.

Deasy noted one reason for the length of his investigation, which began after Curtis called on the provincial force for an independent review of the officers' conduct following Hambly's stay of proceedings ruling and findings delivered Feb. 18, was because "we had to amass all volumes of transcripts in this case and read them, from bail hearing on."

How he could have done that and not found grounds for charging White with perjury is beyond me.

No doubt

Hambly's finding of police misconduct was unequivocal. Since his ruling I've heard the judge's findings referred as 'suggestions' and 'allegations.' They weren't.

His 57-page ruling -- with its damning indictment of White, Sgt. Tom Favreau and Const. Chris Ratchford -- left no doubt about his conclusions and the reasons he was staying the proceedings.

"What they did was to use the power of the state to gather evidence to support their conclusion that Justin Carambetsos was guilty. Not only did they do that, they used the power of the state to suppress evidence which supported the accused's innocence. This conduct is unacceptable."

Most damning of all was his view on the veracity of the officers.

In his review of the history of the case Justice Hambly cited numerous instances where the evidence lead him to conclude all three officers had mislead and lied to fellow officers, Crown attorneys and the court.

"The evidence of Favreau, White and Ratchford has no credibility in these proceedings. I find with regret that I cannot accept anything that these officers say unless it is corroborated by reliable, independent evidence," wrote Hambly.

Now, some may dispute Hambly's conclusions, argue he got it wrong when weighing the evidence, as Deasy has done with his exoneration of the officers on Criminal Code offences.

But White's lying -- in regard to a detailed declaration of innocence by Carambetsos of how he had found Kakegamic at a downtown apartment, removed him and left him alive on the street -- isn't open to debate or doubt.

White admitted to Justice Hambly on Jan. 26, during motions proceedings, that he'd lied about the statement. The admission came after he was presented with a written summation of Carambetsos' statement to him, contained in a detailed chronology of the case sent by then Sgt., now Deputy Chief Dan Jorgensen, who was the forensics officer assigned to the case -- along with various clothing and blood samples for forensics testing at a provincial facility.

Until then, he had steadfastly insisted Carambetsos had said nothing of consequence to him during initial questioning. He maintained that lie when questioned by other investigators, by Crown attorneys and in several appearances on the witness stand during the three years the case dragged through the courts.

The only explanation White offered to Hambly this January for lying about the statement's existence was that, in questioning Carambetsos without a lawyer present, even though he wasn't supposed to, he had told Carambetsos anything he said would be 'off the record'.

That's a weak excuse, White is a veteran police officer. He knows what the law is, what his duty is and what the oath he took to tell the truth in court means. He chose to ignore all three.

Code is clear

Perjury by a witness is a serious offence, it carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

Section 131 of the Criminal Code reads: "Every one commits perjury who, with intent to mislead, makes before a person who is authorized by law to permit it to be made before him a false statement under oath or solemn affirmation, by affidavit, solemn declaration or deposition or orally, knowing that the statement is false."

White lied in court, the forensics file prepared by Jorgensen proved it and White admitted to it.

Whether the lie was intended to mislead, as proving a charge of perjury requires, is something for a court not a police officer to decide.

Deasy declined to explain why his conclusion of the seriousness of the officers' actions differs so greatly from Justice Hambly's. And he refused to discuss in any way White's admission of lying on the witness stand.

All he offered by way of explanation is that "many others" reviewed his report before it was handed to Curtis.

This week Curtis completed his review of Deasy's report -- not surprisingly, no Criminal Code charges will be laid. Curtis also concluded there was no wrongdoing by Jorgensen and Ratchford. Clearing Jorgensen isn't a surprise, Hambly too assigned no blame to him and in fact praised him for his conduct.

Favreau and White will face misconduct, but not criminal, charges -- the charges will be laid under the Ontario Police Services Act, where the severest penalty is dismissal from the force.

It's a dark day for justice when Ontario's provincial police force concludes a police officer lying on the witness stand doesn't constitute a crime.


Cops' close call
No criminal charges in case

Three Kenora police officers won't face criminal charges as a result of alleged misconduct during a 2000 manslaughter investigation, an Ontario Provincial Police review ruled. But the men may still be charged under the Police Services Act, the Kenora Police Service confirmed yesterday.

The OPP was asked to investigate the officers' actions last February after Superior Court Justice Peter Hambly stayed a manslaughter charge against Kenora resident Justin Carambetsos.

In his ruling, Hambly suggested the cops -- case manager Sgt. Tom Favreau, lead investigator Lloyd White, and file manager Chris Ratchford -- failed to investigate the case impartially.

Hambly also claimed they ignored a second possible suspect who happened to be a nephew of Favreau's.

"What they did was use the power of the state to gather evidence to support their conclusion that ... Carambetsos was guilty," Hambly said in his ruling. "They used the power of the state to suppress evidence which supported the accused's innocence."

Kenora police Chief George Curtis asked the OPP to launch the investigation, which yesterday reported a number of issues relating to the investigation had been identified, but none were found to be criminal in nature.

The matter has now been referred back to Curtis for an internal review.

"The chief will have to decide (if there will be) charges under the Police Services Act," Kenora police spokesman Bob Bernie said yesterday, adding Curtis will likely release a detailed press release in two weeks.

OPP Det. Insp. Robert Deasy said yesterday he wouldn't comment on the apparent disparity between Hambly's ruling and the OPP's finding of no criminal wrongdoing until after Curtis deals with the report.

MISTRIALS

"The case is still live and open," Deasy said. "It's in the chief's realm."

Carambetsos was originally accused of second-degree murder in the Oct. 4, 2000, death of 28-year-old Max Kakegamic. The charge was reduced to manslaughter in June 2001. The case twice resulted in mistrials -- once in November 2002 and again in January 2004.

Favreau and White were reassigned to administrative duties after Hambly's ruling was released. Favreau is on sick leave, Bernie said yesterday.

Ratchford was not reassigned.


Plenty of First Nations recruits for area police forces

Recruiters for local police forces aren't having any difficulty getting applications from the aboriginal community.

Despite media reports of tension between aboriginal communities and law enforcement, all three area services said they were encouraged by the response to their advertisements.

While acknowledging there is a lot of friction at times between his officers and members of the aboriginal community, Deputy Chief Dan Jorgensen of the Kenora Police Service also emphasized the value of young aboriginal officers who understand both the culture and language of local First Nations.

He also downplayed the force's image of being hard on aboriginal people.

"I don't think we're a police force of racists," said Jorgensen.

He said the addition of First Nations officers would help lower tensions between police and aboriginal residents, which have been high in recent months following the staying of charges against Justin Carambetsos in the beating death of Max Kakegamic.

Justice Peter Hambly made the ruling in February the handling of the case by Kenora police made it impossible for Carambetsos to receive a fair trial. Tensions were also high during the investigation into the disappearance of Chippy McDonald, which was conducted by the OPP in 2000.

Included in hiring process

Jorgensen said he had posted recruitment ads in First Nations media, as well as local band offices, as part of the current hiring process for a new recruit. He hoped to visit bands to discuss career opportunities.

Treaty 3 spokesman Adolphus Cameron has been critical of the police work in the past, saying an Ojibway life wasn't treated the same as a non-aboriginal's.

But on Thursday he was encouraged by Jorgensen's offer to visit local reserves to talk about careers in law enforcement.

"That would be excellent. First Nations communities would really welcome that," he said, noting community members left out of recruiting programs.

While Kenora police have received many strong applications from First Nations applicants, the deputy chief added there were also many non-aboriginal applicants with university degrees, who are sought after by hiring panels.

Meanwhile, Treaty 3 Police Service is looking to hire an estimated 15 officers in the coming months, and they continue to advertise in aboriginal media.

Chief Brian Rupert says 78 per cent of his staff, or 43 of 55 officers, are of aboriginal ancestry, but he would like to have more.

"It's our objective to have an aboriginal police force," he said.

Their recent recruiting drive resulted in 150 applicants, of which 16 were interviewed by the board and 14 took provincial testing, said deputy chief Wally McLeod in June.

Aboriginal recruiting efforts by the Ontario Provincial Police included a five-day orientation program called OPP Bound. Now in its second year, the initiative focused on aboriginal candidates this summer.

300 applicants

Organizers received more than 300 applications and chose 92, said Sgt. Kristine Cholette, noting about 80 completed testing on the last day.

"That shows you that they have an interest in policing," she said.

In addition, the OPP supplies support for investigations, community policing and community services for 36 First Nations across the province, along with training support and awareness seminars for public and private sector companies.

The Treaty 3 Police Service went into service last summer, and is still taking over responsibility from the OPP and RCMP in 28 First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba.

The aboriginal police force was created in response to a need for a more culturally sensitive law enforcement agency in the area.

In the near north, the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service is looking for aboriginal candidates for its auxiliary service. Those interested in a career in law enforcement will have the $5,000 training fee waived, if they join the auxiliary."We're up and running and we're going to hold the riding for the Liberals," he said. "We're going to carry on the work Bob started."


OPP to investigate Kenora police

TORONTO -- The Ontario Provincial Police have been asked to investigate police in the Northern Ontario community of Kenora after a judge ruled local officers suppressed evidence capable of showing they charged an innocent man in a killing, Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter said yesterday.

Mr. Justice Peter Hambly of Ontario Superior Court stopped the murder trial of Justin Carambetsos and harshly condemned Kenora police for misleading the Crown and defence about the existence of another suspect -- a nephew of the lead investigator in the case.

The judge accused Sergeant Thomas Favreau, Sergeant Lloyd White and, to a lesser extent, Constable Chris Ratchford of "egregious acts of misconduct," which include suppressing critical evidence, perjury and failing to investigate Danny Favreau. CP


Judge blasts Kenora officers
Police found to have lied under oath in court

Manslaughter charge against man stayed

The Kenora police force is at the centre of a storm of controversy after a damning ruling from a judge who found that officers lied under oath, withheld evidence, and failed to investigate a possible suspect who was related to one of them.

"These officers were a force unto themselves," wrote Mr. Justice Peter Hambly in a Feb. 18 decision that was released Friday.

"The courts can sometimes tolerate police inexperience, blunders, mistakes and inefficiency ... What the courts cannot tolerate is police dishonesty."

Hambly last month stayed charges against bar owner Justin Carambetsos, 28, on trial for manslaughter in the Oct. 4, 2000, death of Max Kakegamic, also 28, of North Spirit Lake First Nation.

In his 55-page ruling, the judge found that the existence of a detailed statement Carambetsos made after his arrest - in which he protested his innocence - was concealed from both the crown and the defence.

Hambly imposed a 30-day publication ban on his reasons to avoid tainting a jury should the crown decide to appeal. No appeal was filed.

Northern aboriginal leaders are calling for a public inquiry into the botched probe, in a community where aboriginals have long complained about their treatment by police. There are 33 officers on the Kenora force.

"I'm quite bitter that they abused their power the way they did," Carambetsos said in a telephone interview from the Whistling Monkey, his pub in Kenora, a city of 15,000.

He recalled his fear that he would be convicted and sent to jail for a crime he didn't commit as he listened to the officers lying on the witness stand. "I don't think they should be in policing."

The officers ignored evidence pointing to another suspect, the nephew of one of the officers, Hambly wrote.

"The conduct of (Sergeant Lloyd) White and (Sergeant Tom) Favreau constitutes deliberate state action aimed at the exclusion of relevant evidence from the judicial process," wrote Hambly, a Kitchener judge who was brought in to preside over the trial.

A third officer, Constable Chris Ratchford, also "likely" fabricated evidence, Hambly wrote, stating: "I find with regret that I cannot accept anything that these three officers say unless it is corroborated by reliable, independent evidence."

Kenora Police Chief George Curtis called in the OPP on Feb. 20 to investigate, and has re-assigned White and Favreau to administrative duties.

Hambly noted that the case exacerbated racial tension in Kenora. Aboriginals staged protests when Carambetsos was released on bail in October, 2000, after being held in custody for eight days, charging that a native accused in the killing of a non-native would not have been released.

But it wasn't widely known then that Carambetsos is Metis.

Stan Beardy, Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, has called on the province to hold a public inquiry into the actions of Kenora police.

The case against Carambetsos fell apart two days after the trial started in January, when defence lawyer David Gibson was cross-examining Dan Jorgensen, the identification officer in the case.

In his notes, Jorgensen detailed the account Carambetsos had given to White: that a female neighbour had asked for his assistance when she found Kakegamic collapsed in her apartment, and that the man was drunk, but alive, when he escorted him to the street.

Kakegamic was found at that spot some time later, dead from an apparent beating.

Doubts about the case were first raised in 2001 when, unknown to the public, crown attorney Dan Mitchell wrote a letter to Chief Curtis complaining that another suspect had not been investigated.

The other possible suspect, Favreau's nephew, has a criminal record for theft and is known to prey on helpless drunks, Hambly wrote.

Hambly noted that Mitchell complained that Jorgensen was "reproached" and described as a "mole" for communicating with the prosecutor.

"It is a measure of the extent to which senior police officers in the Kenora Police Service misunderstood their proper role that a police officer who made proper disclosure to the crown attorney could be described by his fellow officers as a 'mole'," Hambly wrote.