JUSTICE BLINDLY BELIEVES COP
Attorney General tells odd story
(in young man's death by police)
Globe & Mail, Sep 11, 2006
Wally Oppal the judge would have been deeply suspicious of the story that Wally Oppal the B.C. Attorney-General is telling Canadians. A young B.C. man with no criminal record is taken to an RCMP station on a misdemeanour. Twenty minutes later, he is dead from a bullet to the back of the head. Wally Oppal the Attorney-General says the young man was choking the arresting officer, who had no choice but to kill in self-defence. Wally Oppal the appeal court judge would have wondered whether a young man with a clean record would try to choke a police officer to death within 20 minutes of being taken into custody.
Mr. Oppal has never seen the file on the Ian Bush case. He was briefed by Crown counsel on it. The facts available to the Crown came from the RCMP investigation into the shooting by its own officer. Mr. Oppal cannot be certain, without looking at the file, whether that investigation of the death was thorough.
As Attorney-General, Mr. Oppal is ultimately responsible for ensuring that this deadly shooting in virtually unheard-of-circumstances is properly investigated and resolved in a just manner. But when Wally Oppal the Attorney-General offers his legal analysis, attached to it is the credibility he earned when he was Wally Oppal the judge -- initially on the B.C. Supreme Court, beginning in 1985, and then on the B.C. Court of Appeal in 2003. (He resigned from the bench last year to enter politics.) But Wally Oppal the appeal court judge would not have given a legal opinion on the basis of a summary of facts. There is nothing at all judicial in the analysis Mr. Oppal is offering.
Mr Oppal's verson of events is an abbreviated form of the description that the officer, Constable Paul Koester, gave in his statement of defence in a civil suit filed by the parents of the dead young man, 22-year-old Ian Bush of Houston, BC.
Constable Koester says he gave Mr. Bush a paper to sign promising he would appear in court. Mr. Bush began punching him in the face and head. Constable Koester then, while fighting back, told Mr. Bush he could leave without signing the paper. Mr. Bush began choking him from behind. (The statement does not say whether it was with his hands, his shoulder or twine.) Constable Koester felt he was passing out. He withdrew his revolver. He struck Mr. Bush with the butt of the revolver several times, but failed to break the hold. Finally he shot him, he said, because he had a reasonable belief that he would be killed or grieviously harmed if he did not.
Wally Oppal the appeal court judge would have asked (as anyone would who ponders the official/Constable Koester version of events): Did the officer provoke the young man's assault? Was the young man, if he was choking the officer, acting in self-defence himself?....
Would Constable Koester offer to waive the promise-to-appear note from a man who had just battered him? This is the same Constable Koester who arrested Mr. Bush for giving a false name when asked about an open beer he was holding. If he was offering to set Mr. Bush free immediately, why would Mr. Bush try to choke him to death? These men were roughly the same size; Mr. Bush was a bit stockier. How did their training in physical battle compare?
With few facts in the public domain, there is little reason for the public to accept that Constable Koester acted in self-defence.
Time to take RCMP probes outside force. Gary Mason, GlobeMail, Jan 27, 2007
VANCOUVER -- The conduct of the RCMP in British Columbia becomes more frightening and disturbing by the day. The latest whiff of scandal enveloping the force comes courtesy of a coroner's inquest that took place this week in Vanderhoof into the RCMP shooting of Kevin St. Arnaud in December of 2004....Fearing for his life, the officer said, he pumped three shots into Mr St Arnaud...Of course, this being BC, the RCMP shooting was investigated by the RCMP. Nor surprisingly, it concluded that Constable Sheremetta, with less than two years of experience on the force at the time, acted in self-defence....The coroner's inquest heard testimony this week that completely undermines the RCMP's and Constable Sheremetta's version of events. The most damaging deposition came from a former RCMP officer who was on the scene the night of the shooting....What further evidence does Solicitor-General John Les need to finally call for a completely independent review process in cases where RCMP officers have been involved in the shooting deaths of civilians? There are too many similarities between this story and the one of Ian Bush, the 22-year-old mill worker from Houston, BC, who was shot in the back of the head in an RCMP detachment after being arrested for having an open beer outside a hockey game. It took the RCMP months to complete its investigation into the Bush shooting before turning the matter over to the Crown, which found the officer who fired the fatal shot acted in self-defence....The RCMP's own investigation into [these shootings] has to be investigated as well. Something is not right here.
MORE MURDER BY COP and COP-CUSTODY DEATHS
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