Time heals all things
— or so the police hope

Those inexcusably long cop-on-cop investigations
have to be a deliberate ploy to compromise justice

Nov. 13, 2010

Police can work quickly when they want to. And, when they want to, they can work slowly — very, very slowly.

Victoria police took all of one day, maybe less, to recommend murder charges after Mark Henderson was stabbed to death on Nov. 11. This is the same police force that’s in its second year of investigating the Oct. 23, 2009 shooting death of Jeff Hughes. Henderson wasn’t killed by a cop. Hughes was.

Let’s compare some other cases.

Delta police took over eight months to investigate the Vancouver police beating of Yao Wei Wu. The investigator didn’t bother interviewing the two officers until nearly four months after the assault. B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner approved two further delays. Then, despite Wu’s very serious injuries, police recommended no charges be laid.

New Westminster police are now in their fourth month of investigating Vancouver Police Const. Taylor Robinson, who was caught on video shoving a disabled woman to the ground. There’s no credible evidence that any investigation even began until nearly seven weeks after the assault.

Vancouver police are now in their eighth month of investigating a Victoria cop caught on video kicking people needlessly.

Abbotsford police took over a year to investigate West Vancouver Const. Griffin Gillan’s part in a drunken police assault on Firoz Khan. Then they recommended Gillan keep his job.

Abbotsford police took nearly nine months to investigate the fatal Vancouver police shooting of Michael Vann Hubbard, a skinny, feeble-looking 58-year-old street guy who was walking unsteadily and carrying a very small knife. No charges were laid.

Vancouver police spent a year investigating one of their own officers who killed Paul Boyd by shooting him eight times. Crown attorneys stalled another year before deciding against charges.

As for the RCMP, the Robert Dziekanski decision took 14 months from the time the Mounties began their self-investigation to the time Crown attorney Stan Lowe, now B.C.’s police complaint commissioner, announced the deadly Taser shocks were “reasonable and necessary.”

The list goes on. The delays are inexplicable, especially since the perpetrators are known right from the start. In many cases the circumstances are known from clear video evidence.

The delays also compromise the investigation. Evidence is missed, witnesses’ memories fade. Moreover the public’s sense of outrage can dissipate over time. Quite simply, it’s easier to announce a dubious, even outrageous decision a year or so after the event.

It’s as if the police have their own self-serving interpretation of an old saying: Time heals all things.

But it doesn’t — not for the principle of justice and even less for the victims.

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