An investigation into the way Kelowna Mounties dispersed information about the now-infamous Buddy Tavares case, has come up in favour of the police, but the human rights watchdog that lodged a complaint isn’t letting go just yet.
“We heard a couple weeks ago that the investigation by the RCMP was complete, but it still has to be reviewed by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP,” said David Eby, with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
The commission provides civilian oversight of RCMP members’ conduct in performing their policing duties. Eby said that he hopes they will highlight some of the faults in the system that allowed Supt. Bill McKinnon to speak out about Tavares while an investigation into him firing shots at Harvest Golf Club continued.
Specifically, McKinnon said the charge against Tavares was linked to a “domestic violence situation.”
“The RCMP has no policy to regulate what they say and don’t say about complainants,” said Eby, stressing that an investigation into contravening a policy that doesn’t exist, isn’t of much help.
“We have seen police releasing the most favourable version of events in any situation where police are involved in deaths and releasing or seeking information that puts the complainant in a bad light.”
The practice was well highlighted, said Eby, in the case where Robert Dziekanski died after being tasered by police at the Vancouver International Airport. That time, police went so far as to send a team of RCMP to Poland, to search the man’s background for information that cast aspersions on his reputation.
“There needs to be clear policy for when there’s a situation where RCMP conduct is, or will be, questioned by the public. There’s no reason for the RCMP to release information, other than to say they’re investigating.”
Eby said even if they are doing their best to be even handed, something could go awry and then they’ve potentially tainted a case.
“That’s a no win situation, and gives them no option except to do damage control and that shouldn’t be their first responsibility,” he said.
“As soon as there’s an independent body doing investigations, that matters far less.”
As for the RCMP investigation into the association’s complaints, the RCMP’s Cpl. Annie Linteau said the finding was that the allegations were unsupported.
“The allegations were that comments made by Supt. McKinnon and Const. Steve Holmes were not factual and whether or not, if those comments contravened RCMP policy,” she explained.
“It was determined the comments were factual and speaking them did not contravene RCMP policy.”