Jon Woodward (CTV British Columbia) – The RCMP Sergeant investigating allegations of police brutality against a Terrace Mountie didn’t interview the officer for three months after the incident – and then waited almost eight months before she filed her final report.
That timeline was one factor in a lengthy delay that resulted in Cpl. Travis De Coene being found to have used inappropriate force – but not given any punishment.
“Unfortunately, due to time limits associated with the issuance of discipline, no discipline was administered,” North District Supt. Rod Booth wrote to the complainant Shane Parker on May 28, 2012 – a full 23 months after the June 19, 2010 incident.
The RCMP say new discipline standards are to have internal code of conduct reviews finished within 90 days of a complaint. Both the RCMP Deputy Commissioner in B.C. and B.C.’s Solicitor-General told CTV they welcome pending changes to the RCMP Act that would improve accountability.
On June 19, 2010, Parker was arrested outside of a Terrace nightclub. Then 22, Parker asked an officer why he was arresting another person, a stranger to him. The exchange grew into a confrontation and the RCMP allege he was interfering with their investigation.
Parker was handcuffed and taken into custody. Records show he was screaming and resisting – in an interview later, Parker said he was just scared for his welfare. Parker is now undergoing a mental health assessment in a subsequent criminal file.
Once the RCMP cruiser pulls into the Terrace detachment, Parker refused to get out of the vehicle. Cpl. De Coene pulls him out, striking him repeatedly. Then, surveillance video shows De Coene’s elbow rise three times. Afterwards, Parker is put in a restraint chair and spit mask and wheeled to a cell.
Parker complained to the RCMP, saying he had suffered bruising, stitches, and a concussion, on August 12, 2010. He and some other civilians were interviewed on August 26.
But investigating officer Sgt. Heidi Wild didn’t interview the officers involved until November 30, 2010. And she concluded that De Coene and another officer, Const. Chad King, had used excessive force in her final report on July 11, 2011, almost 8 months later.
It wasn’t until May 28, 2012 the family heard there would be no discipline for De Coene. Const. King was ordered to get special training.
“It was hard to understand,” said Karen Parker, Shane Parker’s mother. “We didn’t get a lot of explanation that went along with that.”
Parker’s lawyer, Terrance Hudson, said another factor in the delay was that a sergeant in the detachment attempted to press charges against Parker individually.
“There were a number of options that they had and because they didn’t get on it and they didn’t do anything about it, it essentially went nowhere,” Hudson told CTV News.
The BC Civil Liberties Association’s David Eby said the RCMP has promised changes before but little has changed.
“They take took long to investigate officers, they take too long to find witnesses, then when the reports are done they sit on them for months. This is where it breaks down. It’s a lack of will in my opinion to hold officers accountable,” Eby said.
FG_AUTHORS: RCMP Watch