The Saskatchewan Justice Department has rejected an MP's call to reopen the investigation into the case of two Saskatoon police officers,Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson, who abandoned Darrell Night near the city limits on a cold night in January, 2000.
Saskatoon-Wanuskewin MP Maurice Vellacott had claimed new evidence was reason enough to reopen the case.
But the Saskatchewan prosecutions branch decided otherwise after reviewing a report from RCMP, which took a second look at the case at Vellacott's request.
Vellacott maintains that Night asked to be dropped off and had a relative, Lorna Night, with whom he often stayed in Clancy Village, a Fairhaven apartment complex 2 ½ kilometres from Night's drop-off point.
Former officers Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson (right) were convicted of unlawful confinement in 2001 by a jury and sentenced to eight months in jail. They were fired from the police force.
Justice Minister Quennell wrote to Vellacott, a Conservative MP, on Jan. 20.
"My officials advise me that the police investigation of your suggestion that Mr. Night had a relative living very close to where he was dropped has conclusively shown that not to be the case," the letter reads. "Further, I am advised that even if it were the case, it makes no difference to the liability of the two former police officers . . . I am satisfied that in this case the prosecution was properly undertaken and the correct result achieved."
Vellacott says the officers made a mistake, but not one that merited criminal prosecution. They had been reluctant to take Night, who had been drinking, home because they thought they would soon be called back, Vellacott said.
Night is still trying to put the incident behind him.
"It bothers me. I just can't believe people would try to freeze people. I'm angry," Night said, in an interview from the Saskatchewan reserve where he's living. "I'm very thankful I'm alive."
Night said at no time did he ask police to let him out near the power station. He was dressed in jeans, a jean jacket, running shoes and a T-shirt.
"It's minus-what out there? I'm not going to get out and walk from there. They were trying to kill me."
He says he has never heard of Lorna Night.
Vellacott suggests Quennell's letter was influenced by the fact a Native justice conference was taking place this week in Saskatchewan. He said he regrets not insisting that an out-of-province police force take a second look at the original RCMP investigation, rather than the RCMP itself.
Vellacott says a thorough investigation would have turned up Saskatoon Police Service incident reports that establish Night often stayed at Clancy Village.
"It's anything but conclusive," he said in an interview, of the RCMP's review of the case. "The RCMP have not done their job. We obviously have a problem. They weren't diligent in their job."
Vellacott said he found it "quite jolting" to read Quennell's comment that it doesn't matter if Night had a relative near his drop-off point.
"I think that tells you where this guy was from the beginning."
But Quennell says the facts don't support the belief that Night's relative lived in Clancy Village when he was dropped off. The RCMP review of the case looked at Lorna Night's rental receipts, business records of the landlord, police call records and statements by her and her spouse, he said.
Quennell denies the Native justice conference had anything to do with his response to Vellacott.
Night insists police didn't take him anywhere near Fairhaven that night. After they cuffed him and pushed him into the cruiser's back seat outside a party on 20th Street West, they drove east down 20th, then south down Avenue H, which turns into Spadina Crescent near the edge of town. Some distance south of the remote Queen Elizabeth power station, the officers told him to get out, Night said.
"When they opened the door for me to get out, they said, 'Out you f'n - Indian.' "
The officers later circled around and pulled up again near Night, he said.
"I told them, 'What are you guys trying to do? I'll freeze to death out here.' And Hatchen says to me, 'That's your f'n problem' and then drives away."
Night walked to the power station, where an employee he calls "an angel" let him in. The worker called a cab and Night went to his sister's house on Avenue U.
He said he was living at the time with a relative on Avenue R, not in Clancy Village.