NEWS RELEASE · 7th November 2012
BCCLA calls for appointment of special prosecutor in Wright case
The BCCLA is calling for the appointment of an independent special prosecutor to review the investigation into the injury of a Terrace man during or in close proximity to his detention by the RCMP. Robert Wright suffered a serious and disabling brain injury in the incident.
“We have been advised by Heather Prisk, wife of Robert Wright, that the New Westminster Police Department has completed their investigation and recommended charges against at least one person,” said Lindsay Lyster, President of the BCCLA. “If it is indeed the case that charges are recommended, and the charges are recommended against a police officer, that recommendation should be reviewed by an independent special prosecutor appointed by the Province.”
The New Westminster Police Department was asked by the RCMP to investigate the case to ensure independence. The incident took place before BC’s new Independent Investigation Office opened.
“We do not know what was uncovered during the investigation, but we do know that videotape evidence from the cells and from a second location were part of what investigators were asked to review by Ms. Prisk,” said Lyster. “If the NWPD is recommending charges, and an independent prosecutor decides not to proceed, the public, the involved officer and the RCMP as a whole deserve to have a fully transparent accounting of why that decision was made, and what information or video was relied on in making that decision.”
Decisions by the Criminal Justice Branch in BC not to charge police officers were major issues in both the Frank Paul Inquiry and the Braidwood Inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski. Similarly, in the case of Paul Boyd, the Crown elected not to approve charges against the Vancouver Police officer who fatally shot the disarmed, crawling man on Granville Street.
The Wright case was one of three highlighted by the BCCLA in Northern BC in a press release this summer. If charges are recommended by the investigating officer, this would be the second of the three cases which have substantiated the claims of the complainants that terrible consequences followed after calling 911 for police assistance. The Association is still waiting on the results of the investigation by Delta Police into the case of the girl whose arm was broken by an RCMP officer in Prince Rupert. Read News Release by the BCCLA earlier this year by clicking here Read Vancouver Sun Report Here Read the letter to Shirley Bond, BC's Attorney General here
things to keep in mind
Comment by Christie Brown on 11th November 2012
As we perceive the actions of both parties - the RCMP, and those seriously injured in custody, I think we can gain a more complete understanding by realizing that:
1. Police are courageous human beings who we need for our protection. From the worst to the best of them, they are human and will make mistakes.
Some of these inevitable mistakes will be unacceptable. Individuals need the integrity to be honest about their mistakes and their coworkers' mistakes, as hard as it is. I never thought I'd start to understand "the blue code of silence", but watching the TV series "Southland" opened my mind a bit.
When a clear, ongoing pattern of mistakes emerges, the public needs to acknowledge the pattern and take action to make useful systemic changes to laws such the RCMP Act; to improve processes such police training; and to improve the structure of organizations which investigate and rule on the cases.
2. Police, paramedics, nurses and doctors all perform work that involves dealing with mental health emergencies.
These crises can get ugly, extremely unpleasant, scary, and send staff into fight-or-flight mode. When handled well, according to the best training, by smart people with integrity, an uncooperative person may recover and come to apoligise and thank you one day. I only know the few details I have read about this case from the internet, but it sounds like the man may have been having a mental heatlh related crisis. It sounds like he needed some serious help, and emergency services were in the position of protecting him and others from his actions.
A lot of us have never faced the circumstances in which people have such crises. We may have grown up in a different world, with a different childhood. We will never be able to imagine or understand why troubled people would make certain choices. IT WILL NEVER MAKE SENSE. I think people can only make things better in the future by working to improve Canadians' health; by refraining from quick judgements; and by seeking to better understand how to respond more appropriately next time.
That is the way Brain injuries sometimes work
Comment by Rick Smith on 7th November 2012
I'm no neurosurgeon but an old associate of mine from Yellowknife, Mike Stillwell (a former government secretary and operator of a marina and tour company) was struck in the forehead by the lower mast of one of his sailboats as it swung around. Laid him out cold. The bleeding and brain injury was at the back of his brain. The brain moves in the skull. A trauma to one side potentially injures the other side. One would expect any doctor to know this. Where did the police find their own favoring neurosurgeon?
How about we try some truth.
Comment by Mr. Peters on 7th November 2012
How about you print the summery from the Justice Branch in which they explain their reason for not laying charges.
"A neurosurgeon who treated Mr. Wright was unable to conclude that the trauma that Mr. Wright suffered caused the bleeding in his brain. The bleeding was on the left side and there was nothing in the area to suggest that he had suffered trauma on that side of his head. As a result, the Doctor concluded it was likely that the bleeding was caused by a medical condition."
"In their interaction with Mr. Wright, police remained calm and patient. The circumstances do not support a conclusion that the force was applied out of anger, malice or retribution. It was not applied gratuitously, but rather in response to a perceived threat. The use of force was situational, of brief duration and it ended when the officer had achieved his purpose. Once Mr. Wright was down and under control, no officer applied any other force."
If you are dumb enough to pick a fight with the cops on their terms you deserve the Darwin award for stupidity.