Earlier this week the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) released a report that analyzed their investigation in the Nov. 8, 2012 police involved shooting at the Starlight Casino in New Westminster by Delta Police Cst. Jordan MacWilliams. The analysis was conducted by retired RCMP Supt. Doug Kiloh who has much Major Case Management (MCM) experience but he also had expertise in ERT tactical procedures. Which, I might add, no one involved in the actual investigation had.
On October 20, 2014 MacWilliams was charged with second degree murder. The charges were finally stayed on July 14, 2015.
Regular readers will know that much has been written on this case in which I was very critical of the IIO’s investigation and questioned their competence in many aspects and on many occasions.
The Delta Police Association wrote a letter of complaint to the IIO essentially saying their investigation was flawed and also questioned their competence. The IIO, to their credit, then commissioned the review by Kiloh.
Kiloh’s 15 page report is very critical of the IIO but does note that in the intervening time a number of things have changed. But he also makes a number of recommendations involving training, investigative techniques, evidence management, MCM protocols and enhanced training.
Kiloh also focused on two salient events from the IIO investigation. One was that investigators never spoke to the female taken hostage that morning. I surfaced her and interviewed about six months after the charge was laid against MacWilliams. I also surfaced the fact that the IIO never asked casino security for their video. Casino security burned a DVD for the New Westminster police and the coroner. They got their copies but the IIO never asked.
When I asked why the IIO never bothered to touch these basic but critical things to understand what happened, I was told that the IIO doesn’t concern themselves with what led up to the Affected Person’s interaction with police but just the actual interaction. I was stunned.
Well, evidently Kiloh was equally stunned. He deals with these failures and others in his report.
The new Chief Civilian Director, Ron MacDonald, put out a statement corresponding with the release of the Kiloh report. In it he said, “I have accepted the conclusions and recommendations outlined in his report, which is attached, in their entirety.” He goes on to say than many of the recommendations have already been undertaken.
He then said this: “As the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO, I am focused on ensuring our investigations are carried out in as excellent and timely a manner as possible. We will always work to improve where necessary. This report and our response to it is an example of how the IIO is prepared to receive feedback and acknowledge weaknesses, recognize the need to improve, and make the needed changes.”
Well, that’s diametrically opposed to the first CCD, Richard Rosenthal
Considering the new CCD said he accepted the conclusions and recommendations “in their entirety,” I sent the following question yesterday to Marten Youssef, the IIO’s Director of Public Engagement:
If, in fact, the IIO accepts the report and recommendations “in it’s entirety,” that leads me to a very salient question. In the Starlight Casino investigation I surfaced the female hostage who was not interviewed by the IIO and the fact that casino security had burned a DVD of all of their video for the IIO but was never asked for it. Kiloh refers to both these matters as failings.
At the time when I questioned these things I was told by the IIO, I believe it was you, that was because the IIO was only interested in the limited focus of the police interaction with the Affected Person and not in circumstances that led up to that interaction.”
Youssef forwarded that enquiry to the new CCD who responded himself.
Here is his pasted response intact:
I have reviewed your email regarding the report about the Starlight Casino shooting. That report is about a five year old investigation, and the report notes several issues with that investigation. While it was important for us to release the report to publicly acknowledge those issues, and to demonstrate transparency to the public, at this point my goal is to focus on the approach the IIO takes going forward.
In that sense you refer to the fact that the whole of the circumstances of an incident ought to be relevant in our investigations, not just the immediate interaction between the police and the AP.
To put it simply, I agree with you, and that is indeed the approach we take in our investigations. Not only can that context assist in an assessment of police actions, it will help explain the entire fact situation to the public.
I hope that addresses your questions.
Well, well. Rosenthal never responded to my questions in his four years as CCD, let alone admit I was correct on any issue let alone such a salient one.
There are positive winds blowing at the IIO with this new guy at the helm.
One last point, Earlier today the Criminal Justice Branch released a report saying there would be no charges in an event at West Shore RCMP jail in which the arrestee, very drunk, was fighting with three members and taken to the floor when she sustained an injury. The whole thing is on video as you might imagine.
This occurred four years ago and the decision was only released today. Four years. The new CCD talks about timely investigations. Clearly this was not a priority of the previous administration. So, far he is talking the talk and walking the walk with two recent events that have taken place since he assumed the mantle were cleared in two months and one month respectively.
There were a couple more in the past couple of weeks. We shall see how the new IIO does with those.
I’m hopeful right now that MacDonald has forced the IIO to turn a corner. Early signs are promising.
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