A Vancouver police constable who could lose his job over allegations that he interfered in an Oak Bay police department homicide investigation will get a public hearing into his case.
The case stems from a death that was ruled accidental in 2001 but was reopened in 2008 as a homicide investigation.
The officer, whose name has not been released, requested the hearing after New Westminster Police Chief Dave Jones announced Sept. 12 that the officer should be fired.
Jones investigated the allegations against the officer upon a request from Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu. That responsibility also made Jones the discipline authority in the case.
Jones recommended the officer be fired based on two counts of deceit related to the Police Act. The punishment would make Jones’ other recommendations unnecessary, including suspending the 13-year veteran for up to 20 days for corrupt practice.
So far, the officer has not been charged with a criminal offence.
Oak Bay police issued a statement in July, saying the Vancouver constable allegedly revealed details of a homicide probe to a person under investigation.
Police said the constable accessed restricted police databases without authorization and provided that information to the same person.
He also failed to provide knowledge he had of the death to police, the statement said.
Under the Police Act, any officer facing termination gets an automatic hearing, if requested. It’s now up to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner to set a date for a hearing.
In the meantime, the officer remains suspended without pay while his union continues to question Jones’ ruling.
“I don’t think that he properly considered the evidence carefully enough that was presented to him in the discipline proceeding,” said Tom Stamatakis, president of the Vancouver Police Union. “But more than that, it’s a stretch to presume that there was a homicide at all.
So that calls into question the very default that the police officer was accused of committing.”
Stamatakis was referring to the death of 31-year-old Owen Padmore, who died in December 2001. Oak Bay police originally treated
Padmore’s death as accidental and subsequently destroyed some of the exhibits seized during the initial investigation — a practice consistent with policy at the time.
An autopsy determined Padmore’s death was the result of “a closed head injury consistent with a fall.” But additional information surfaced in 2008, which led investigators to re-open the case.
Oak Bay police arrested two females and a male in connection with Padmore’s death. The females were released without charges while police recommended a charge of manslaughter against the male. Crown counsel reviewed the evidence but decided not to approve the manslaughter charge.
Chu suspended the constable with pay in August 2011 after allegations surfaced that the officer lied during the Oak Bay homicide investigation.
The constable was then put on administrative leave in March 2011. In July of this year, the Vancouver Police Board suspended the constable without pay.
The investigation into the allegations involving the officer is in contrast to an unrelated case in 2010 involving a Vancouver police officer who was convicted of selling marijuana.
Unlike the Oak Bay case, Chu chose to fire then-constable Peter Hodson rather than have an outside police agency investigate allegations against Hodson, who was later sentenced to nearly three years in prison.
Chu fired Hodson the same day investigators arrested him — Hodson did not request a public hearing and was not investigated under the Police Act.
Meanwhile, Vancouver police Const. Ismail Bhabha was charged last week with assault for allegedly punching a cyclist during an arrest downtown in March. A video of the alleged offence has been widely circulated via YouTube. Bhabha remains on duty and has been redeployed to another patrol division in the city.
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