News release. November 6, 2012
The BC Civil Liberties Association and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs are calling for the release of the full investigation file relied on by the Crown in refusing to approve charges in the disabling injury of a Terrace man in RCMP custody. A report released last Friday by the Criminal Justice Branch explains that the CJB relied on a use of force expert’s report, surveillance video, as well as cell block videotape and audiotape in deciding not to approve charges recommended by the police investigators.
“Just eight weeks ago we discovered that the Criminal Justice Branch had relied on an ‘expert’ who has never, so far as we can tell, testified against police interests, in refusing to approve charges in the Paul Boyd case,” said Lindsay Lyster, President of the BCCLA. “Now we discover that the Criminal Justice Branch is refusing to approve charges again, based on the behind-closed-doors testimony of a secret use of force expert. Who is this expert, and what did he or she say to the Crown?”
A five page report released by the Criminal Justice Branch outlines that Robert Wright visited hospital three times and hit his head twice while in police custody. In one of the two incidents, Wright was handcuffed and kneeling, facing the wall and being searched by three police officers when he was “taken” to the ground by a police officer and hit his head, requiring twelve stiches.
“The video and audio tape in this case must be released,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “We want to see how a man, kneeling down, surrounded by police, in handcuffs, presents such a threat to three police officers that he must be ‘taken’ to the ground causing a terrible head wound. What possible scenario could the videotape capture that justifies this use of force against a restrained man? This reminds us all of Clayton Alvin Willey video, which showed he was hog tied when the RCMP said they were justified in repeatedly Tasering him.”
Wright survived the incident with disabling brain injuries. He lives in Terrace, B.C., in the full time care of his wife, Heather Prisk-Wright.
In Clayton Alvin Willey case, the RCMP released footage of Clayton’s final moments only after years of sustained advocacy by the UBCIC and BCCLA, and more than nine years after Clayton’s 2003 death. The video of Frank Paul’s final moments was only released five years after his death by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC – (604) 684-0231
David Eby, BCCLA – (778) 865-7997
Heather Prisk-Wright (wife of Robert Wright)
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.