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Kevin Tokarchuk

City's deputy police chief retiring: Put on paid leave after probe into gang revenge killing

Kevin Tokarchuk

A senior city police officer caught up in the ongoing probe into what police knew before the killing of Kevin Tokarchuk announced his retirement yesterday.

Deputy Chief Jim Thompson will leave the Winnipeg Police Service Feb. 7 after almost 31 years on the job.

A police source said Thompson is leaving to go on an extended winter holiday in Florida. Thompson had originally planned to retire in April.

He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Thompson was placed on paid administrative leave last June 27 by Police Chief Jack Ewatski as a result of a widening internal probe into police actions prior to the killing of Tokarchuk. Seven other officers were also placed on paid leave.

Tokarchuk, 24, was shot to death in his garage May 12. Police suspect it was an anniversary payback for the May 12, 2002 killing of Zig Zag Crew gang member Trevor Savoie. Tokarchuk's brother, Daniel, has been charged with killing Savoie.

Ewatski said his decision to place the men on administrative leave was not punitive, but a way to ensure the internal investigation was transparent. Thompson and the other officers returned to work last month, some in different duties.

The internal probe began May 26 when it was reported a tipster had warned police in advance that Tokarchuk had been targeted in a gang revenge plot.

It's also alleged the tipster's information was passed up the chain of command, but that Tokarchuk was not warned.

The internal probe is still continuing and a determination has not been made on whether any police procedures were breached. The most severe penalty is dismissal from the force if an officer is found to have violated police policy.

A confidential report by an Alberta assistant Crown prosecutor has already recommended no criminal charges be pursued against the officers. Tokarchuk's mother, Diane Tokarchuk, has hired local lawyer Barry Gorlick and is considering a lawsuit against the police service.

A government spokesperson has said the province will review the Tokarchuk file once police are finished.

Police probe nears end
Death-threat warnings investigated

Four of eight Winnipeg cops involved in an internal investigation into the events leading up to the Kevin Tokarchuk murder are headed back to work. Chief Jack Ewatski said in a statement issued yesterday that the officers placed on paid administrative leave in May and June, will return to active duty Monday, as the seven-month investigation into allegations that police failed to warn Tokarchuk about a death threat "is nearing completion."

"Some members will be returned to their previous assignments, while others will be temporarily re-assigned," Ewatski stated.

Sources told The Sun the four officers are Deputy Chief Jim Thompson -- the chief's right-hand man -- an inspector and two constables. The inspector, who had been overseeing the crime division when the allegations first surfaced in May, will be transferred to the communications centre, sources said.

The three remaining officers on administrative leave -- all sergeants, according to sources -- are expected to be back at work in the near future. An eighth officer was placed on administrative leave but has since retired.

"A decision regarding internal disciplinary action will be made once the investigation is fully completed," Ewatski stated.

The officer who was placed on administrative leave but has since retired told The Sun the officers never should have been removed from their duties in the first place.

"What was said (yesterday) hasn't answered anything or addressed much," added former Sgt. Jeff Bellingham.


Winnipeg Police Association president Loren Schinkel said he's happy for the four officers who are going back to work but he is perplexed that three others will remain on leave.

Ewatski has maintained the moves were made for the sake of transparency during the internal probe.

"I think the chief made this very clear to begin with that this was not imposed to penalize anyone or to infer any guilt with regard to this investigation," said Winnipeg police spokeswoman Const. Shelly Glover.

Tokarchuk, 24, was fatally shot in the head in the garage of his family's home May 12 in an apparent gang-related retaliation for the fatal shooting of a Hells Angels associate exactly one year earlier -- a murder for which Tokarchuk's older brother, Daniel, is awaiting trial.

Tokarchuk's mother, Diane Tokarchuk, was informed of the latest developments. She couldn't be reached yesterday for comment.

Deputy police chief gets heat for Tokarchuk case

WINNIPEG - There was a startling announcement Friday afternoon from Winnipeg's police chief. An eighth officer is being temporarily sidelined over allegations police failed to warn a murder victim he was about to be killed. What's so startling is the fact the officer is the city's number two cop.

The decision to put Deputy Chief Jim Thompson on leave came after Chief Jack Ewatski got new information about the Kevin Tokarchuk murder case.

Mayor Glen Murray says he supports the chief's decision, but he's worried about the number of officers on leave.

"We sometimes have more police officers investigating police officers than we have officers investigating criminals. We have to be mindful of that, and we don't want to create a culture where that becomes pervasive.

"At the same time, there is the need for public accountability," Murray allows.

The mayor says the public shouldn't jump to conclusions. He says being put on leave does not determine a police officer's guilt or innocence. It's simply a procedure to ensure a fair investigation.

Kevin Tokarchuk was killed in his family's garage. Police say it was a gang retribution killing. It happened exactly one year after another man with gang connections was killed. Tokarchuk's brother is charged with that murder, and is still awaiting trial.

Police are in the middle of an internal review of the case. A report isn't expected for several weeks and it probably won't be made public.

There have still been no arrests in the killing of Kevin Tokarchuk.

For Immediate Release

Winnipeg Police Service Media Release

May 21st, 2003

Statement from Jack Ewatski, Chief of Police

The Winnipeg Police Service takes very seriously its responsibility to serve and protect the citizens of Winnipeg.

Yesterday afternoon, information related to the Kevin Tokarchuk murder case was brought to my attention. I have ordered an internal review, to determine when the information came to the Service, who was aware of the information and what actions were taken.

This is a matter of great concern to me and our entire organization. I want to assure the Tokarchuk family and all citizens that this matter will be investigated fully.

The Mayor and Executive Policy Committee have been briefed by Winnipeg Police and concur with the Chief's decision. On conclusion of the internal review the Winnipeg Police Service will enter into discussions with the province to determine if further investigation or review is required.

The Winnipeg Police Service confirms that Crown Attorneys were not aware of the threat against Kevin Tokarchuk.

There are several ongoing investigations related to this murder case and for this reason we cannot comment on anything specifically related to this case at this time

For Immediate Release

Winnipeg Police Service Media Release

June 27th, 2003 Public Notice

Statement from Jack Ewatski, Chief of Police

Kevin Tokarchuk was murdered on May 12, 2003 while working in the garage at his family home. In the weeks following that incident, information came to my attention that alleged some members of the Winnipeg Police Service might have had prior knowledge about a threat to Mr.Tokarchuk's life.

On May 21, 2003, after receiving this information, I announced an internal review into the allegations, to determine if a full investigation was warranted. On May 26, based on findings of the review, I ordered a full internal investigation into the matter, and placed five WPS members on paid administrative leave. On June 3, based on additional information gained in the ongoing investigation, a further two officers were placed on administrative leave. This non-punitive action has been taken to preserve the integrity of the internal investigation and to ensure the murder investigation and any future court proceedings are not compromised.

Based on information I received late yesterday afternoon, I have placed an eighth member of the WPS on paid administrative leave, effective today. This member is the Deputy Chief who oversaw the Branch of the Service handling criminal investigations.

I have briefed Mayor Glen Murray, Councillor Jenny Gerbasi and Acting Chief Administrative Officer Bob Pruden, and they concur with my decision. In addition, I have informed both the Winnipeg Police Association, and the Winnipeg Police Senior Officers' Association. I have also ensured that Mrs. Tokarchuk is aware of this development in the ongoing investigation.

On conclusion of the internal investigation, the Winnipeg Police Service will forward the completed report to an outside law enforcement agency for review. Prior to that we will enter into discussions with the Justice Department before selecting that agency.