column was published in the
Shore News on
Sept. 29, 1999)
By Leo Knight
really beginning to bug me the way criminal defence lawyers are
using the media to try to manipulate the cases against their
clients before the police investigations are even complete.
David Gibbons blustering about the RCMP's "invasion"
of erstwhile Premier Glen Clark's home in the "middle of
Gibbons kept a straight face while spouting that nonsense truly
attests to his rare acting talent.
the logic in fabricating and exaggerating to the media has
something to do with putting pressure on the police to deflect
their focus on the task at hand. Or perhaps they believe they
can somehow stall or stop the process entirely.
also rankles is the willingness of much of the mainstream media
to regurgitate the nonsense as though it actually bore some
resemblance to reality.
the case dominating the headlines in the past week of the women
under investigation because her 18-month-old baby fell from the
Capilano Suspension Bridge. Miraculously, the baby survived the
50-metre fall, but that doesn't change the Mounties' need to
determine what happened.
woman's lawyer grabbed headlines last week when, during an
impromptu press conference, he accused the RCMP of all manner of
despicable acts. He actually used the word "torture"
in his bizarre verbal barrage.
I write this, RCMP brass have not responded to the allegations
except to say the investigation is ongoing. And why not?
Certainly not because the allegations are true. In general
terms, the police of this country are not in the business of
realistically, the interviewing of any suspect -- and clearly
that is what this woman is -- is done with audio and video
recorders rolling throughout. Without the audio/video backup,
defence counsel and an acquiescent judiciary in this country
have made it virtually impossible to get a statement by an
accused admitted as evidence in court.
There can be no "torture" at any point in the interview process. There are video cameras in virtually every area of the police station any suspect is in. Not to mention the audio/video recording of the entire interview process. This protects suspects from any abuses by the police, but it also protects the police from the far more common malicious accusations of assault and abuse leveled by the criminal element and their chosen legal representatives.
ensure I was accurate in this analysis of the comments made by
the woman's lawyer, I spoke to some police officers close to the
investigation. The reality of the situation is much different
from what the lawyer would have the public believe.
off, I'm not making a determination of this woman's guilt or
innocence, but rather taking a cold look at some of the facts in
the face of the wild allegations made by her lawyer.
photographs published last week, taken before and right after
whatever happened, show the woman peeking over the rail of the
suspension bridge her arms free of the burden of the infant
pictured in them seconds earlier.
cops are parents too and can look at things from that point of
view. If it were your child this had happened to, would you be
peeking over the railing or, more likely, would you be screaming
a blue streak in absolute panic?
you have walked to the end of the bridge and called your
estranged husband, the father of the child, before calling
9-1-1? Is it any wonder the police view the woman as a suspect,
not a witness?
there is some reason to believe the woman was offering the child
up for adoption via the Internet prior to the incident at the
suspension bridge. That's why the Mounties seized a computer in
the execution of the search warrant at her residence.
are trying to gather sufficient evidence to determine whether a
crime has been committed. That's their job and their inherent
responsibility. Part of that job involves the interviewing of
the interview process, the woman never once asked about the
child. Not once. She only complained about a scratch on her arm.
The same scratch the police officer conducting the interview,
the so-called torturer, cleaned with antiseptic, gently blew on
and put a Band-Aid on. Some torture!
lawyer can say whatever he wants. But, frankly, his allegations
in this case are inflammatory in the extreme.
police are held to account for their every action. Why then
should defence lawyers be allowed to spout their fantasy
allegations and the police are required to turn the other cheek.
The police must be allowed to do their job. The RCMP hierarchy must also speak out and defend their officers when the situation merits. To stand mute only adds credibility where there should be none.