Sensitive police photos
land in wrong hands

Grand Forks man finds camera
with images of corpse, suicide note

Mona Mattei, Vancouver Sun, Nov. 16, 2011


Buck Addams of Grand Forks discovered a camera
near his property with photos from police investigations.
Photo: Mona Mattei, Special to the Sun.


Evidence from several serious RCMP files is in public hands after sloppy police work landed sensitive video images in the open.

Photographs left in police cameras on Dion Nordick’s property in Grand Forks included images of a corpse, suicide note and the aftermath of a domestic dispute.

RCMP at the Grand Forks detachment put the home of Nordick, who goes by the name Buck Addams, under surveillance as part of executing a search warrant on June 13 for an alleged marijuana growing operation.

No grow-op was found. However, during the search police found spray paint and stencils — which Addams says are used for his work making signs — and confiscated them as possible evidence in another case they were investigating involving graffiti vandalism.

Addams, a 33-year-old graphic artist and Web marketing specialist, found out about the search when he arrived home to find the warrant in his mailbox and some of his painting materials missing. However, he was not aware that the police were continuing to spy on his home until one day when he saw a flash go off as he left his house.

“As I got closer [to where the flash went off] I saw that it was a hunting camera strapped to a tree. So I ripped it down off the tree,” Addams said. “I took a look [on the other side of the driveway] and I found another hunting camera.”

Addams checked the flash drive cards to see what images the cameras contained. One card was clear of any photos except the surveillance, which started on June 14 at 3 a.m., according to the time stamp.

But the other card had two files with a total of 240 pictures, including graphic images taken at crime scenes, involving a variety of police cases. Some of the photos were very disturbing, said Addams.

“If it was my or your loved ones that were on that camera, which it may very well be, it’s not something that you want to have fall into the hands of [members of the public],” Addams said.

Staff Sgt. Dan Seibel, operations NCO for the Kootenay boundary regional RCMP detachment, said police used the search warrant to place the cameras outside of Addams’s property. When the police attempted to retrieve the cameras, they were gone, he said.

“The RCMP did formally request that the cameras, which are Government of Canada property, be returned immediately,” said Seibel. “The RCMP position remains that police were acting within our legal authority. We are aware that photos have appeared on the camera disc; the type of photos and file management of them have been subject to ongoing assessment and legal review.”

Seibel confirmed that the photos were attached to the original files at the time they were taken and they are unsure why the camera cards were not cleared according to protocol.

“We’re examining the matter to determine whether the investigators using the camera completely deleted the related images and will determine what steps the officer took when handling and setting the camera up,” Seibel explained.

The cards are in the safekeeping of Addams’s lawyer, Jesse Gelber, in Trail. Gelber has been negotiating with the RCMP on Addams’s behalf for the return of his property, and to hold the RCMP accountable for the surveillance fiasco.

“If there was a warrant, we haven’t been provided with it yet,” said Gelber. “We’re not making any accusations, we’re simply asking the police, as we’ve done with two separate letters that we’ve sent to them, to provide an explanation of what was going on. If there’s a warrant, produce it.”

The police have an entitlement to use cameras providing they meet certain standards, according to Seibel. Seibel said the cameras were not on Addams’s property and, while not directly related to the search warrant, that they were left in place to gather further evidence for graffiti or another criminal investigation.

“The concern that I have is that the cameras were in fact stolen, and efforts have been made through legal channels to have the cameras and of course the images returned,” Seibel continued. “It appears that we have a legal defence counsel refusing to do that.”

Addams confirmed that after the search was conducted he willingly went to the police to discuss his situation and try to resolve any questions, including his claims that he is innocent of any graffiti.

Addams has not been charged with any violations, although Crown counsel has alleged that he is in possession of police property, Addams added. Addams has since relocated to Nelson as a result of what he feels is continued police harassment.

Go to Meet the new boss: Commissioner Bob Paulson won’t fix the RCMP
Go to News and Comment page