SEP. 10, 2001, SASKATOON: Our cops drive drunk poor people to the edge of town during killer cold weather. As the trial of two cops indicted for doing this to Darrell Night begins, we will see if the courts are going to make such practices legal.
Amnesty International has already brought Saskatoon to the attention of the world. Now the world waits for us to do the right thing.
And let us not forget that Superintendent Brian Dueck was the boss of these cops and that he remains in that position today. Stay tuned.
Darrell Night, through his lawyer Don Worme, in consultation with aboriginal leaders managed to break open the story of how Saskatchewan Police have for decades routinely driven drunks to the edge of town, seometimes in freezing weather, and kicked them out of the car telling them to sober up on the walk back to town. Night survived such treatment. It was cold comfort to have the RCMP assigned as the investigative body. As usual, they are whitewashing the investigation by dragging it out, using the local media which has always played the role of press agents for the police and social services. Sheila Steele
SASKATOON - An aboriginal man, Darrell Night, who has alleged two Saskatoon police officers, Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson, dumped him on the outskirts of the city a year ago has filed a civil lawsuit against them.
Darrell Night claims officers Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson (right) picked him up last Jan. 29 without cause or explanation and dropped him off near a power station in -25 C weather. Mr. Night also alleges the officers uttered racial epithets.
Both officers have already been committed to stand trial on criminal charges of assault and unlawful confinement relating to the same allegations. No trial date has yet been set.
Mr. Night's allegations have led to numerous complaints about police treatment of aboriginal people in Saskatoon. An RCMP task force is looking into several cases, including two in which men died within hours of being released from police custody. Another case involves a man who alleges officers tried to drown him in the South Saskatchewan River.
City solicitor Theresa Dust said the board of police commissionaires must decide whether they will handle the civil suit on behalf of the officers.
In general, the board would represent officers in defending a suit, and their insurance would cover any finding against them if it was job-related, she said. It's unclear whether the insurance would cover a lawsuit if there was also a criminal conviction.
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) will hire private investigators to follow up on an RCMP probe into allegations Saskatoon Police may have been involved in the freezing deaths of aboriginal men.
"It's independence. The chiefs are saying we should be doing something ourselves to watch the investigators. That's where the idea came from. The options point to looking at our own investigators," said FSIN chief Perry Bellegarde.
"Our people can feel good that there is something else happening and it's not just a case of big brother investigating little brother but there are outside persons looking into it."
Bellegarde said the FSIN will hire a few licenced investigators to check on the RCMP's work. He said the FSIN is looking at two or three candidates with experience following up incomplete police work.
Two city police officers are accused of dropping Darrell Night off south of the city on a frigid January night, forcing him to find his own way home.
The RCMP has completed its investigation into the case and the Saskatchewan Department of Justice is now considering whether to lay criminal charges against the officers.
The Saskatoon police say the officers admitted to dumping Night outside town. Their union says there was a reason fore their action, but the reason has not been disclosed.
The RCMP is also probing the freezing deaths of three aboriginal men in isolated areas of he city. In at least two of the cases witnesses allege they saw the men in police custody on the nights they disappeared.
Lawrence Joseph, a vice-chief of the FSIN in charge of justice issues, said his people should be able to rely on government-funded police forces, but recent events have shown them unworthy of trust.
"They're paid to do justice to all people, but they're leaving First Nations people and poor people out. The purpose of bringing in investigators from the outside is to investigate the investigators," Joseph said.
"We bring our own people so they can openly do things based on our instructions to go and investigate certain things that have been overlooked or that they can't go into.
"The RCMP have their marching orders and that's all."
Joseph shrugged when asked if the month-long probe was moving quickly enough for him.
"I don't think it's expedient. It feels like a lifetime for 19 investigators to investigate something that has already been admitted," Joseph said.
RCMP Sgt. Rick Wychreschuk declined to comment on the hiring of private investigators, saying the RCMP doesn't have anything to say about the issue.
Wychreschuk did say the task force investigating the allegations is being careful to do complete investigations on each of the cases.
"Our position has always been to do a complete and thorough job. We don't want to rush our investigation," he said. "We didn't want to get into a position where at a later time somebody said we left things uncovered."
The FSIN repeated its call Tuesday for a public inquiry into Saskatchewan justice issues, including the recent allegations against police.
Justice Minister Chris Axworthy has said such an inquiry may be considered after the current criminal processes are complete.
An RCMP task force has completed its investigation into allegations that two Saskatoon police officers abandoned an aboriginal man, Darrell Night, in a field on the edge of the city in freezing weather.
The task force continues to investigate the deaths of five other aboriginal men, RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Rick Wychreschuk said Monday.
The task force has submitted its report on the Night matter to the provincial Justice Department, which will review it and decide whether charges will be laid against Const. Dan Hatchen and Const. Ken Munson. The officers are currently suspended without pay.
Because the investigation looked into the conduct of police officers, the decision on whether to lay charges will be made by public prosecutions, rather than the police, a Justice Department spokesperson said Monday. It is not known when a decision will be made.
Hatchen and Munson were suspended from the force after Night complained to police that two officers had left him in a field near the Queen Elizabeth II power plant on the western outskirts of Saskatoon in the early morning hours of Jan. 28.
Night came forward with the complaint after the bodies of Rodney Naistus and Lawrence Wegner (right) were found in the same area. They had gone missing the same weekend that Night had been left near the power station.
The incident sparked the Justice Department to appoint a special RCMP task force to investigate.
The investigation was also expanded to include the deaths of two other aboriginal men, Lloyd Dustyhorn and Darcy Ironchild, who had been in police custody shortly before their deaths, and another, Neil Stonechild, who died in 1990 under circumstances similar to those of Naistus and Wegner.
SASKATOON -- An RCMP task force has finished its investigation into a complaint by an aboriginal man that he was dumped outside Saskatoon in freezing weather by Saskatoon police officers. Darrel Night said he was taken taken outside the city Jan. 28, dropped near a power plant and told to walk home. Two city officers were suspended with pay in connection with the complaint.
The RCMP report has been given to the public prosecutions division of Saskatchewan Justice, which will decide whether any charges should be laid. No details of the report have been released.
The complaint also triggered an RCMP investigation into the freezing deaths of five other aboriginal men. Two of the five were found south of the city in late January and early February.
May 12, 2000: Another person has come forward with another serious allegation against the Saskatoon Police.
Rod Wailing claims two Saskatoon city cops took him to the river and tried to drown him on a late summer afternoon in 1997. He says he did not come forward with his story before because he didn't think anyone would believe him. The seriousness with which Darrel Night's allegations have been taken gave him confidence to come forward with his testimonial.
Wailing appeared on CTV's Canada a.m. and was interviewed by Valerie Pringle after the local CTV station carried his story. One year later, we hear rumours that several dozen more people have taken their experiences to the FSIN shadow commission. injusticebusters wish the FSIN would be more forthright and public about the investigation. It would seem that the police in Saskatchewan have graduated from leaving Natives to die in the cold or trying to drown them to shooting them in cold blood.