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Cops and Angels?

Dueck threatens citizen, judge throws case out, no consequences

Murray Zoorkan

inJusticebusters allege StarPhoenix is covering up for the Saskatoon Police Service who has erased Dueck's involvement in this incident.

We base our allegations on the following facts: Betty Ann Adam's original report (reprinted below) clearly states that Dueck was the cop who made the threats. In the following weeks Chief Scott completely exonerated Zoorkan for his role in the investigation.

We relied on StarPhoenix reports and carried them under the headline "Scott tells Judge Laing to suck a rope". We thought there might be some further reporting on what action might be taken against Dueck for his prominent role in the threats against Cooper. So we waited. And waited. In January, I called Betty Ann Adam to ask her what had become of Dueck regarding this case. She told me that she had heard nothing. I then asked her if, as a reporter she was going to follow up this part of the story. She was fairly testy with me and the conversation ended. We see Lori Coolican is now covering the story.

This is not the first time StarPhoenix has got testy with us. They really dug in their heels in 1995 when they were tired of the Foster Parent story. Reporters switched beats regularly. Les Perreaux covered Richard Klassen's 1996 trial, where he was acquitted of criminally libelling Dueck -- and wrote a story so confused that it led many of the people of Harris to believe Klassen was guilty of the original sex scandal charges. The family lived in a virtual state of seige for two years and relocated to Manitoba. During January, 2001, Les Perreaux apologized and did his best to cover the attempts by Dueck's lawyers to drive Klassen out of the lawsuit and discredit this website. Then Perreaux moved on to a new job in Winnipeg.

StarPhoenix has lots to answer for regarding the Saskatoon police. With the exception of an occasional column from Randy Burton or Les MacPherson, it more or less accepts the cops' press releases on face and doesn't bother to probe further. What a shame that we have to rely on The Fifth Estate for serious investigative journalism.

Do reporters not find it odd that Dueck is the CID Superintendent, in charge of criminal investigations? It appears that he is the third highest ranked cop in the city, with only Chief Dave Scott and Deputy Chief Dan Wiks above him. The Criminal Investigations Division is responsible for most of the detective/plainclothes officers within the Saskatoon Police. Sections within this division include: Special Investigations, Integrated Intelligence, Serious Crime, Major Crime, Polygraph, Identification, Integrated Drug, Commercial Crime/Arson, Morality, Vice, General Investigations/Stolen Auto, Break and Enter, SHOCAP and Pawn Detail. Approximately 90 personnel work in this division. The CID Superintendent is also in charge of the Center for Children's Justice and Victim Services.

April, 2002: Zoorkan now heads the Cold Squad, a prestigious position which lets him go on TV and wear nice suits.


Man sues officer over 'Rambo-type' tactics

  • Postal worker Kim Allan Cooper acuses officer Murray Zoorkan of malicious prosecution and abuse of public office over a mail theft investigation.
  • Charges against Cooper laid in 1998 over the disappearance of $184,500 were stayed by Justice Robert Laing in March, 2000.
  • Laing said Zoorkan conducted a "Rambo-type investigation" and was "a police officer totally out of control. . . ."
Judge Robert Laing

A Saskatoon postal worker who endured what a Queen's Bench justice called a "highly Rambo-type investigation" by city police in 1997 is suing the high-ranking officer who tried to get him to confess to stealing nearly $200,000 from the mail.

The suit, filed earlier this year by Kim Allan Cooper, 46, accuses Saskatoon police officer Murray Zoorkan, then a sergeant, of malicious prosecution and abuse of public office "by maliciously and/or knowingly acting contrary to the law by initiating the proceedings against the plaintiff without reasonable and probable cause." Zoorkan was promoted to superintendent earlier this year.

Cooper was charged in December 1998 with theft over $5,000 and theft from the mail following a two-year joint investigation into the disappearance of a money packet containing $184,500. It had been mailed from Credit Union Central in Regina to branches in and around Saskatoon.

The money never arrived. It was scanned by a computer at the Regina post office, but vanished after that. Cooper was a postal clerk who was sorting packages at the Saskatoon post office the night the money went missing.

The charges against him were stayed last March after Justice Robert Laing dismissed the only evidence against him - a written statement Cooper gave to police after a series of encounters with Zoorkan and other officers, who were trying to get him to take a polygraph test.

In spring 1997, Cooper and his family were openly followed by police, and Zoorkan threatened the man and his wife, making references to their marriage and saying he knew where their children went to school.

The officer threatened to arrest Cooper in front of his children. He told him the Hells Angels knew he had stolen a large sum of money and would be after him and his family for it, court heard at Cooper's trial.

Cooper finally gave a written statement to police explaining he had seen the money packet on the night in question, and had left it locked in a cage on the instructions of his supervisor. It was the only evidence police ever obtained showing the money packet made it to Saskatoon.

In ruling the statement inadmissible, Laing called Zoorkan "a police officer totally out of control . . . operating without any sense of decency or conscience."

In the wake of Laing's comments, senior police officials investigated Zoorkan's tactics and decided no action would be taken against him.

Cooper was fired from the post office the day after he was charged. He has been reinstated, but now works as a mail carrier rather than in the warehouse, defence lawyer Darren Hagen said Friday.

Cooper hasn't specified how much money in damages he is seeking. Speaking on his client's behalf, Hagen said "he doesn't feel he or his family were treated very fairly at all by the tactics used by the Saskatoon city police.

"One judge has already agreed with that and thought it was totally inappropriate, the conduct of Sgt. Zoorkan."

He said Cooper is looking forward to having the matter resolved in the courts.


Judge slams 'Rambo' investigation: Postal worker's name cleared after mail theft charges dropped

Charges against Kim Allan Cooper, a Saskatoon postal worker accused of stealing $184,500 from the mail, have been dropped after a judge threw out the only evidence against him, declaring that it was obtained by a police officer "operating without any sense of decency or conscience."

In his March 8 decision, Queen's Bench Justice Robert Laing said Sgt. Murray Zoorkan, a 27-year veteran of the Saskatoon Police Service, staged a "highly Rambo-type investigation" that included intimidating comments about Cooper's wife and children and a threat that the Hells Angels biker gang would come after them.

For more than seven weeks, Zoorkan pressed Cooper to take a polygraph test, something Cooper had the right to refuse. Nor was Cooper advised of his right to a lawyer.

Cooper eventually gave Zoorkan a short handwritten statement. In it, he said he recalled handling a money packet the night in question. He said the supervisor told him to leave it on the table, that he left it there and locked the room before going home.

That statement formed the basis of the Crown's case against Cooper. It was the evidence Laing threw out two weeks ago.

Cooper, 45, was charged in December 1998 with theft over $5,000 and theft from the mail. The charges followed a two-year joint investigation by Canada Post and city police in Regina and Saskatoon. Cooper was fired the next day, on Dec. 22, 1998.

The theft involved the corporation's now-defunct "money packet system," which allowed customers, such as banks, to send cash by registered mail. The money was never recovered.

"It disappeared without a trace," said prosecutor Terry Hinz.

On Oct. 6, 1996, a package containing $184,500 in cash was mailed from Credit Union Central in Regina, destined for Saskatoon and branch offices in the area. The registered packet was scanned by a computer in the Regina post office. Nobody knows what happened to it after that.

The normal procedure would have been for the package to be placed in a "monotainer," a large open box, that would have been carried by forklift to the loading dock, then placed in a semi-trailer. In Saskatoon the monotainer would have been carried in, dumped on a table and the bags and boxes sorted. A registered money packet should have been scanned and locked in a safe awaiting delivery to the local address.

When the package didn't arrive, the credit union contacted Canada Post. Postal investigators tried to find out what happened to it, but came up with nothing. The matter was reported to police and officers in both Regina and Saskatoon investigated.

After months of tracing the route the package should have taken, they came up empty-handed. They had no evidence to show the package ever left the Regina post office and no way to link any individual to it.

By Feb. 12, 1997, Zoorkan's main suspect was Kim Cooper, the postal clerk who sorted packages in Saskatoon the night the money disappeared.

Cooper had worked at the post office for 12 years. His wife Marilyn is the nurse in charge at Luther Senior Centre. The couple have four sons, who were 13, 11, seven and four years old at the time.

Cooper enjoyed coaching his sons in soccer, taking them to judo lessons and puttering around the garden.

Cooper and his wife spoke Saturday about the nightmare they endured during the investigation and how it has changed their lives.

Meeting with a reporter and their lawyer, Darren Hagen, the couple were tense and nervous. Some recollections brought them to tears.

On March 14, 1997, Zoorkan and another officer interviewed Cooper at the police station, during which Cooper refused to take the lie detector test. When Cooper stood up to leave, Zoorkan told him to sit down, that he wasn't finished with him yet. At the end of the interview Zoorkan told Cooper they would be in touch.

Although Cooper had asked that the interview be taped, it was not. Cooper said that on more than one occasion, Zoorkan discouraged him from consulting a lawyer, saying that Cooper didn't need one if he was innocent and that a lawyer would just slow down the process.

Soon after the first interview, Cooper phoned a lawyer whose name he got from the yellow pages. The lawyer told him polygraphs are inconclusive and are not accepted as evidence in court.

Near the end of March, police in a cruiser followed Cooper and his wife as they prepared for an Easter vacation with Kim's relatives in Calgary. The couple felt they had no choice but to go to the police station to see Zoorkan.

At the station, Zoorkan told Cooper he was a suspect in the theft. He asked Cooper how his marriage was. When Cooper replied that it was like any marriage, Zoorkan said, "We'll see about that."

Zoorkan told the couple he intended to talk to all their neighbours, their minister, their children's friends' parents.

He also told the couple he knew what school their children went to. "He was going to try and destroy our family. I felt like he was trying to break us," Marilyn recalls.

"I couldn't believe the incident was happening. Why would you involve our children?," she said. "I was afraid. We were doing what we thought was right by co-operating and it was a threat."

On Saturday, April 24, Cooper and his family returned from buying groceries to find Zoorkan waiting in a police car parked in front of their house. When the family got out of their van, Zoorkan approached Cooper and said he wanted to talk to him.

When Cooper refused, Zoorkan told him to get in the police car or he would arrest him immediately in front of his family.

Brian Dueck

In the police car, Zoorkan angrily swore at Cooper. He told Cooper another officer had some information Cooper would be interested in.

Sgt. Brian Dueck arrived and got in the car with them. He said word on the street was that the Hells Angels knew he had $184,000 in cash and that they intended to come after his wife while he was at work.

After 70 minutes of sitting in the police car on the street in front of the neighbours, Zoorkan let Cooper get out of the car.

He walked past his family, who had stayed in the front yard throwing a ball the entire time, and went into the house. He went into his bedroom and cried. "I lived in fear. I had to go to work with this threat. It was a death threat. I was taking different ways to work," he said.

Cooper still refused to do the polygraph.

On April 29, Zoorkan told them to come to the police station again. This time another officer was in the interview room with Zoorkan and the Coopers. The other officer took a less aggressive approach in trying to get Cooper to do the polygraph, while Zoorkan sat against the wall.

When the Coopers said they had to leave to take one of the boys to a dental appointment, Zoorkan stood up and kicked a chair, startling the couple. On May 6, Cooper sat down at his kitchen table and wrote the details he remembered from Oct. 6, 1997.

Cooper's statement was the first evidence police had to show the money arrived in Saskatoon. It did not contain an admission. Rather, Cooper wrote that he had notified his supervisor that a money packet had arrived, that the supervisor couldn't get the safe open and told him to leave the money on the table for the day staff to put in the safe.

Cooper told the supervisor he was uncomfortable doing that, but the supervisor overruled him.

"I left the pouch on the table, locked the cage and gave the key to (the supervisor.)" Cooper wrote.

On May 17, Zoorkan phoned Cooper and called him a liar.

The couple waited to see what would happen next. For a year and a half, nothing did.

On Saturday, Dec. 18, 1998, Cooper was driving his son and his son's friend to judo when three unmarked police cars surrounded him. Zoorkan came to the car and told him to get out. He told Cooper he was under arrest for mail theft.

Cooper was held in custody for 12 hours before being released. On Monday, Dec. 21 he was formally charged. He was fired the next day.

For the next five months, Cooper stayed in the house almost constantly. Cooper took a job as a truck driver and now works away from home five days a week.

The first part of the trial was to determine which evidence would be admitted. After a voir dire, Justice Laing ruled that Cooper's handwritten statement was not admissible and the Crown stayed the charges.

"The case is toast," Crown prosecutor Terry Hinz said last week. "Once Judge Laing ruled that statement was inadmissible we're back in the situation where we can't even prove the money left Regina. Without that statement we had no alternative but to shut the case down.

In his ruling, Laing severely criticized the investigative tactics employed by Zoorkan: "He decided he would operate not according to the law - which I am sure he was well acquainted with - but according to his own rules, which, in a nutshell, was intimidation to force Mr. Cooper into doing something that law said he had a perfect right not to do," Laing stated.

"I will go so far as to say that Sgt. Zoorkan's conduct, in my opinion, was offensive to the rule of law.

"In the view of this police officer, the end justified the means. The courts have never tolerated this approach by police officers, nor do I."

Laing characterized Zoorkan's actions the day he threatened Cooper with the biker gang and threatened to arrest him when he had no grounds to do so, as those of "a police officer totally out of control."

"There was never any right to counsel or any warning given to Mr. Cooper at any stage along this highly Rambo-type investigation," Laing stated.

Laing also stated that Zoorkan lied when he claimed that he accidentally left the microphone turned off during the first interview. Laing also noted that Zoorkan did not warn Cooper that he was the main suspect and did not tell him of his right to have a lawyer present.

"These were two experienced police officers. . . . I am not able to suggest or overlook that they did not know what the proper procedure was," Laing wrote. Laing was amazed by Zoorkan's intimidation of Cooper.

"The evidence indicates, in my mind, a police officer operating without any sense of decency or conscience," Laing stated.

"It would not hurt my feelings if the remarks were made available to the police chief," Laing stated.

Dale Meier, president of Local 824 of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said he expects Cooper to get his job back.

"In cases like this, I've never seen anything less," Meier said.

The union automatically filed a grievance with the corporation when Cooper was fired, saying that he was unjustly released. Now the union will wait for confirmation from the courts that the charges have been dismissed before proceeding to arbitration with the employer, Meier said.

Canada Post spokesperson Brian Garagan said the corporation's legal staff will review the matter after all the legal procedures are complete.


Judge's denunciation of cop to be reviewed

Police Chief Dave Scott has instructed senior police officials to review the statement of a Queen's Bench justice who denounced the investigative techniques of a Saskatoon police sergeant as those of "an officer totally out of control."

Justice Robert Laing made the comments about Sgt. Murray Zoorkan in his March 8 decision to dismiss the only evidence against a Saskatoon postal worker who was charged with stealing $184,500 from the mail.

Without the statement from the postal worker, Kim Allan Cooper, as evidence in the case, Crown prosecutor Terry Hinz had no choice but to stay the charges against Cooper.

The missing money was mailed from Credit Union Central in Regina in October 1996. It was scanned by computer at the post office there, then disappeared without a trace.

For more than seven weeks in the spring of 1997, Zoorkan tried to get Cooper, who sorted packages in Saskatoon, to give a polygraph test, something Cooper had the right to refuse.

Laing said Zoorkan intimidated Cooper with comments about his marriage and by saying he knew where Cooper's children went to school. As well, Cooper was threatened that the Hells Angels biker gang would come after him or his wife. Cooper eventually gave police a short statement saying he had handled a money packet the night the cash disappeared. He said he left it locked in a cage, at the direction of his supervisor.

Laing said the statement was given involuntarily by (sic) an officer "operating without any sense of decency or conscience," who staged a "highly Rambo-type investigation," that was "offensive to the rule of law."

Scott said Dan Wiks, deputy chief in charge of operations, and Don MacEwan, superintendent in charge of criminal investigations, will consult with Hinz in reviewing Laing's statements, "to see if there are any issues that we as a police service should be concerned about with regards to the investigation. "If there is I will address them."

Scott said he has no idea what the possible outcomes might be.

The review will probably take a couple of weeks, Scott said. He leaves for a holiday April 11 and won't be back until the end of the month.

"It would be around the first of May, I would imagine, before I could get a clear understanding of what the issues are and what we should do," he said.


Police officer off the hook for 'Rambo-type' inquiry
Chief rules no discipline needed, despite judge's comment

Police Chief Dave Scott will not discipline a Saskatoon officer who was chastised by a judge for staging a "highly Rambo-type investigation" and "operating without any sense of decency or conscience."

Scott directed an interview request Tuesday to Staff Sgt. Glenn Thomson, who said an internal investigation into the behaviour of Sgt. Murray Zoorkan during a mail theft investigation three years ago did not uncover any illegal activity. No action will be taken, Thomson said.

"We have interviewed the prosecutor and defence counsels, the judge declined an interview. As a result of that we found no misdoings under the Criminal Code or the provincial Police Act," Thomson said.

"The superintendent of criminal investigations, the member and the prosecutor sat down and discussed the situation and the techniques and we're satisfied that the situation has been dealt with. "It's all over and done with."

In March, Scott directed senior police officials to look into Zoorkan's behaviour following a scathing rebuke by Queen's Bench Justice Robert Laing about Zoorkan's methods in obtaining a statement from a suspect in the mail theft case.

In the judgment, Laing declared inadmissible a statement by postal worker Kimberly Allen Cooper regarding a missing mail packet that contained $184,500. Without Cooper's statement as evidence in the case, Crown prosecutor Terry Hinz stayed the charges against Cooper.

The missing money was mailed from Credit Union Central in Regina in October 1996.

It was scanned by computer at the post office there, then disappeared without a trace.

For more than seven weeks in spring 1997, Zoorkan tried to get Cooper, who sorted packages in Saskatoon, to take a polygraph test, something Cooper had the right to refuse.

Laing said Zoorkan intimidated Cooper with comments about his marriage and by saying he knew where Cooper's children went to school. As well, Cooper was threatened that the Hells Angels biker gang would come after him or his wife.

Cooper gave police a short statement saying he had handled a money packet the night the cash disappeared. He said he left it locked in a cage, at the direction of his supervisor.

Laing said the statement was given involuntarily to an officer "operating without any sense of decency or conscience," who staged a "highly Rambo-type investigation" that was "offensive to the rule of law."

In his ruling, Laing criticized the investigative tactics employed by Zoorkan: "He decided he would operate not according to the law - which I am sure he was well acquainted with - but according to his own rules, which, in a nutshell, was intimidation to force Mr. Cooper into doing something that law said he had a perfect right not to do," Laing stated.

Scott asked Dan Wiks, deputy chief in charge of operations, and Don MacEwan, superintendent in charge of criminal investigations, to consult with Hinz in reviewing Laing's statements, "to see if there are any issues that we as a police service should be concerned about with regards to the investigation." Thomson said the matter was completed in the last few days.

Darren Hagen, Cooper's lawyer, said Cooper has directed him to look into his legal options and whether lawsuits against police in similar cases have been successful.

Cooper has not decided whether he will file a formal complaint with the police department about Zoorkan's actions, Hagen said.


City police owe explanations for recent 'policies'

Saskatoon city police have a new word for lying under oath, for threatening a man's wife and children, for behaving without conscience or decency. The word is "policy."

This would explain how a senior officer can get away with all of the above without being disciplined in any way. It's standard operating procedure.

The officer would be Sgt. Murray Zoorkan, who earlier this spring was denounced in open court by the presiding Queen's Bench judge. This happened during a case involving a postal worker acquitted of theft, when Justice Robert Laing rejected Zoorkan's evidence. The case revolved around an ambiguous statement extracted from the accused by means of police intimidation, including systematic harassment and, most despicably, threats of violence against his family.

I know where your children go to school, Zoorkan told the accused.

"Totally out of control," was Laing's characterization of the veteran officer. Zoorkan's methods were not only unconscionable and indecent, said the judge, but "offensive to the rule of law."

It was an invitation to justice authorities to charge Zoorkan with criminal intimidation and-or perjury.

That was back in March. This week, more than two months later, police finally announce Zoorkan will not be charged with criminal intimidation. Neither will he be subjected to any internal discipline. Not so much as a reprimand.

It figures that police aren't saying why Zoorkan, a senior, veteran officer from whom others will take their lead, is allowed to get away with the kind of conduct you'd expect of a gangster. Police Chief Dave Scott, who is responsible for internal discipline, won't even deign to publicly discuss the little matter of a rogue cop.

He left the talking to Staff Sgt. Glenn Thomson, who would only say that there was no crime, no violation of the Police Act and no reason to discipline Zoorkan.

How this could be when sworn testimony led a respected trial judge to declare otherwise, neither Thomson nor anyone else in authority will say.

"It's over and done with," Thomson insisted.

As usual, the city's police commission has kept a low profile. So low as to be invisible. If we still have a police commission, that is.

We're supposed to. It's important. Without the leadership and civilian oversight of an effective police commission, police could do whatever they wanted.

They would be out of control. Exactly as they appear to be.

Surprise.

The police commission we're supposed to have is supposed to be chaired by Mayor Henry Dayday. Someone should mention this to him, if it isn't already too late.

Under the dubious leadership of Dayday and Scott, the Saskatoon police service is squandering its most important resource, namely the public trust.

Police are already suspected of dumping helpless drunks at the edge of town, at night, in winter. Police files that might have implicated particular officers in a case where a man froze to death have conveniently gone missing.

This is not the first time something like this has happened.

Records that might have exposed a police cover-up of David Milgaard's wrongful conviction conveniently went missing, too.

When Zoorkan was reprimanded by the judge, Scott responded by going on holidays. This even as an RCMP task force investigated other allegations of police misconduct.

It's not as if there's a lot of brilliant investigative work in between scandals. Police appear to have no clue in three unsolved home-invasion murders and as many brutal assaults.

And now we learn that police policy apparently includes threatening children to force a confession from their father, who, from all indications, is innocent.

" . . . In the view of this police officer," said the judge, "the end justified the means. The courts have never tolerated this approach by police officers and neither do I."

What's alarming is that the same cannot be said of our mayor and police chief. They're leaving an out-of-control officer on the street with a badge and gun. They can't even police their own department.

Dueck was the lead investigator, indeed, the manufacturer of the Foster Parent scandal. Even though the corrupt methods for obtaining convictions on Satanic cult cases had been thoroughly exposed by 1989 through the overturning of several U.S. convictions, he and free-lance therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys whipped whipped up a Satanic frenzy in Saskatchewan, aided by university chaplain Colin Clay. Social Services worker Liz Newton provided the link to the money which financed the Thompson facility where the three troubled Ross children were allowed to carry on activities which were destructive to themselves and each other.