inJusticebusters want to extend our solid congratulations and admiration to to Jason Roy (Neil's friend, shown) and Stella Bignell (his mother). During the summer of 2003, we had occasion to all work together as the Stonechild Inquiry and the the Klassen civil trial were scheduled to begin the same day.
It was clear to us that the government had deliberately scheduled these events to divide media attention and public sympathy. As we worked together, it became apparent this strategy didn't work. inJusticebusters posted more than 5000 posters throughout the city encouraging people to attend this justice double feature.
And attend we did. The media outdid itself on both stories. A level of journalism was attained in this city which we aspire to maintain.
We have not had time yet to read the report but a quick perusal and other accounts tell us it is thorough and written in the standard we are coming to expect from our judges: readable and sensible commentary on a subject gripping enough to hold our attention. This is 229 pages; Judge Baynton's decision in the Klassen Kvello matter was 189.
Justice Minister Frank Quennell sat on the report for a couple weeks and then held a press conference where, although he was shaking on camera, he directed the Saskatoon Police Service to act. This was more than he did in response to the malicious prosecution judgment against Brian Dueck, Prosecutor Matt Miazga and Carol Bunko-Ruys. The Justice Department has appealed this decision and is now stalling to perfect its appeal. We were told it would be in November but that is clearly not going to happen.
Recently there has been an outpouring of support for the two policemen, Larry Hartwig and Brent Senger who were suspended shortly after Chief Sabo received the report from the justice minister. It is possible Judge Wright erred in his conclusions.
I think that it is possible that Senger and Hartwig had Stonechild in custody for a while, in cuffs. That they let him go and he became vulnerable to street enemies who took him for the ride. The unconscionable part of all of this is the cover-up. When Stonechild's body was found, the Saskatoon Police set about to cover their tracks. There is no question in my mind that Larry Hartwig is not a brute like Hatchen and Munson. I haven't met Brad Senger. But the fact that they set about to cover their tracks and almost the whole police department was involved in the cover. Justice Wright saw the blue wall of silence up close and personal. He noted that Hartwig and Senger were evasive.
Even Chief Sabo said on television that he participated in an "issues" meeting to discuss the problems they would face with the inquiry and that he saw nothing wrong with this: that before all else he was a cop and that is where his loyalties were. Nonetheless, Sabo welcomed inquiries into his department from the time of his appointment, promised a more open policy and claimed to support the inquiry into Neil Stonechild's death, despite the fact that previous chiefs had resisted.
Moreover the public supported the inquiry. It was open, well attended, well covered in the media and as thorough as it could be with the degree of coopertion it received. We have now to accept it. There are no appeals. Senger and Hartwig have to be fired.
There is still a long road to travel regarding the Saskatoon Police Service; indeed, policing in the whole province is far from good. To undo the malicious deeds of Brian Dueck alone would require a six week inquiry. This month I learned that Dueck ordered the RCMP sting on Wilf Hathway whose story is being revealed below. We know that Dueck was involved with Murray Zoorkan in the Kim Cooper case. Every time this man's name comes up it is to do with illegal operations. At the time of the finding of the bodies by the Queen E Power station, before Darrell Night (right) found the courage to come forward, Dueck was in charge of Major Crimes, head of the integrated drug unit and in charge of just about every important department in the Saskatoon Police service. That's a lot of scope for malice.
Yet Dueck is still on Superintendant's pay -- for almost a year -- as his misdeeds are being secretly investigated. He is on medical leave receiving full salary of $104,000 a year.
We have been assured that he is being thoroughly investigated. We hope that who ever is looking into him will discover the reasonable and probable cause he had for asking the RCMP to investigate Wilf Hathway, who had moved to Kamloops, for the 1998 murder of Denver Crawford. Hathway, who was a tenant in Crawford's house, was thoroughly investigated at the time of the murder. He had come home drunk and he discovered the body. He called the police. Complete forensics were done. There was absolutely no evidence to tie Hathway to the crime. Nonetheless, Saskatoon police told Crawford's family members that they were sure Hathway was their guy and promised to get him.
The Saskatoon police also visited Hathway's father and told him that they had reason to believe his son was intending to kill his mother. Dueck then put Hathway on a waiting list for a special RCMP operation.
Richard Klassen spoke on John Gormley this morning re-opening the idea that Saskatoon should get rid of its police service altogether and call in another body to police us. This is definitely up for discussion. The question would be who would we get?
In late December, 2003, around the time Judge Baynton was finding that Dueck had acted maliciously in pursuing the Klassen and Kvello families, having found only exculpatory evidence and nothing suggesting they had molested children, Dueck got the go-ahead for the RCMP to do a profile on Hathway which they did, discovering that he was a full time student working part time as a janitor spending his days going to the campus, taking his step-daughter to and from day-care and his home. They then set up "Project Erlina" to sting him into confessing. After spending between $50 and 100K, they had manoevered Hathway into having witnessed so much criminal activity -- including catching a glimpse of a cop named Dibblee, posing as the "Mr Big" of a criminal organization, and his "body-guard" McCoshen, that they scared him into saying stuff which they claim is inculpatory.
(This sting has been used so many times that Al Haslett has bragged it is always successful. In other words they are able to make people "confess" whether or not they did what they confess to. It is the kind of policing that is right up Dueck's alley and like the child "disclosures" he helped extract in the Klassen/Kvello set up, its success relies on court-ordered publication bans.) Other cases where this sting has been used include Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay and Kyle Unger, where convictions are being vigorously challenged.
Hathway has not had a court hearing yet. He has been separated from his family and sits on remand, awaiting a preliminary hearing in March. Brent Klaus is the prosecutor assigned to his case.
He was told that he cannot have contact with the media but when he pressed to see the rule written down, was informed there really wasn't such a rule.
Saskatchewan residents have also been promised an inquiry into the circumstances regarding David Milgaard's false arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment. We were told this would happen after Larry Fisher had exhausted his appeals. As the Saskatoon Police Service folds itself back into protective-cover mode in the wake of the Stonechild Inquiry, the truth is going to be harder to get at.
We are waiting.
By the time the Milgaard inquiry gets going and Commissioner McCallum begins to hear testimony, most of the important players (and a fair number of them are mounties) will have died or found holes to hide in.
It is a scandal and an outrage but we have made enough progress in five years to see just how huge a task it is going to be to clean up our city to the point where we can get off Amnesty International's list of places on the planet where police brutality is a problem.
As sections of the public shift their interest from mindless adventure movies to documentaries like Fahrenheit 911, perhaps they will as well begin to read decisions such as those written by Judges Wright and Baynton and recognize them for the exciting, current and important works they are!
Make no mistake, people are catching on. What we are catching on to is that if we work hard enough, and pick ourselves up off the ground often enough, we can attain a measure of accountability.
Each victory, each judicial inquiry report, each finding of malice against those who are clearly malicious makes the next one a little easier.
It is the exercise with which we will, indeed we must change the world from a cold place where the poor are shoved aside like so much dirt off the shoes of the rich to make themselves even richer. Police who act outside their proper boundaries are slowly being exposed.
The accounting will come later. In the meantime, we had all better keep watch for the safety and protection of Jason Roy and Darrell Night.
inJusticebusters will continue to provide direction if you run out of reading material!
--Sheila Steele (written Oct. 26, edited and added to Nov. 4, 2004)
Pembroke Pines police did nothing criminal last year when they hog-tied a man who later died. But the state Legislature should ban the restraint method the officers used, a grand jury investigation has concluded.
Pembroke Pines police had prohibited the use of hog-tying, or ''prone-hobbled-restraint'' before Kerry O'Brien, 31, died in November 2003. But the grand jury concluded in a report unsealed this week that the new policy had not been effectively communicated to officers.
The Police Department should make sure it verbally informs officers whenever use-of-force policies are changed.
O'Brien died Nov. 10, 2003, from positional asphyxiation, meaning the position he was in cut off his air supply. The Broward Medical Examiner ruled the death an accident.
The incident began when witnesses reported O'Brien's bizarre behavior at the busy intersection of 146th Avenue and Sheridan Street. When a Fire-Rescue team arrived, O'Brien attacked the truck and threatened to kill the rescue workers. A police officer then used a Taser on O'Brien. When that didn't work, officers tackled him. He continued to fight and kick his legs, and was then hog-tyed by handcuffing his hands behind his back and attaching the handcuffs to leg restraints.
Officers soon noticed he wasn't breathing, and they couldn't revive him.
A police spokesman declined to comment on the grand jury report.