RCMP sergeant: 'smear campaign' against Brown
- RCMP sergeant: 'smear campaign' against Brown
By Ken MacInnis - Williams Lake Tribune
Published: October 05, 2010 8:00 AM
Updated: October 05, 2010 4:41 PM
Former Williams Lake RCMP detachment commander Staff Sgt. Grant Martin says there was an orchestrated smear campaign against his successor, Staff Sgt. Warren Brown.
"The release of videos and bringing the First Nations community here (to the Williams Lake courthouse) has done much more to hurt police and First Nations relationships than the videos showing aboriginal men in Williams Lake cells," Martin said Friday after a judge denied a stay of proceedings request in the trial of Kurtis Billy, Bradley Stump, and Mitchell Jeff for a February 2010 armed robbery.
"We've lost focus about what this trial is about," said Martin, currently Cariboo Chilcotin Advisory NCO. "If Brown acted inappropriately, we know the [Public Complaints Commission] is investigating."
Martin went further, saying the timing of the release of the videos almost at the conclusion of the trial - one video shows Brown throwing Billy to the ground in a Williams Lake cell this summer - and Union of BC Indian Chiefs grand chief Stewart Phillip speaking to provincial media in Williams Lake were orchestrated by Billy's lawyer George Wool.
Media reports highlighted racial tension in the city.
"This has set us back [in police-First Nations relations]," Martin said. "This comes from mostly people outside the community," he said, noting Wool, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which released the videos, and Phillip are not based in Williams Lake.
Wool denied Martin's allegations Friday afternoon.
"That is completely untrue," he said. "There is absolutely no truth to that - I didn't invite Stewart Phillip, and I'm not a member of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association."
In court, Mr. Justice Peter Willcock dismissed Wool's request for a stay of proceedings, finding the harm to Billy was "trivial," that the force Brown and other officers used was used in the discharge of their duties, and that the force they used was not cruel and unusual punishment, as Wool claimed.
The court heard an angry Billy covered the camera in his cell with paper towel, and threatened to fight an RCMP member, refusing to sit down as asked. The video released by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association shows Brown speaking to Billy very briefly before taking him to the ground and standing on his legs while other officers held him down and handcuffed him.
In his testimony, "Mr. Billy minimized his role in initiating the incident," Justice Willcock said. "[Brown] was clearly set on immediate compliance, and did not give him much time to be compliant...I cannot find that any blows were inflicted on Mr. Billy."
Last week, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association released the videos of Brown and Billy, and another video of Oren Mostad, a First Nations man, being taken to the ground by an RCMP member after refusing to be fingerprinted.
It also re-released a video of Lloyd Gilbert, who was restrained in a chair in Williams Lake cells this year while intoxicated.
The RCMP is investigating, and asks the public to reserve judgement until all the facts are known.
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