The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has released more details about a case that could see a Vancouver police constable lose his job for allegedly interfering in a homicide investigation in Oak Bay.
Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe said Const. Stephen Todd allegedly provided information to his cousin — a suspect in a homicide — on how to avoid police investigative techniques, including wire taps and surveillance.
“The allegations in this case are inextricably woven and, therefore, I am of the view that a new hearing with respect to all allegations is necessary for a fair and thorough examination of the allegations against constable Todd,” said Lowe in a statement released Thursday.
The case stems from a death that was ruled accidental in 2001 by the Oak Bay Police Department but was reopened in 2008 as a homicide investigation. The deceased was 31-year-old Owen Padmore.
As the Courier reported Sept. 17, Todd requested a public hearing after New Westminster Police Chief Dave Jones recommended the constable be fired. Jones investigated the allegations against Todd upon a request from Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu. That responsibility also made Jones the discipline authority in the case.
Before Jones began his investigation, Vancouver police investigators interviewed Todd in March 2011. During the interview, Todd disclosed that in July 2010 he met his cousin and they sat in a police car and had a discussion, Lowe said.
“Const. Todd advised that he had queried the suspect on police information systems and provided the results to his cousin,” Lowe said. “During their conversations, his cousin allegedly made admissions which were relevant to the investigation in which he was a suspect.”
In further interviews in June 2011 conducted by a VPD sergeant with the department’s professional standards unit, Todd allegedly recanted the earlier evidence provided to investigators in the March 2011 interview.
An internal disciplinary hearing was held and Jones recommended Todd be fired based on two counts of deceit related to the Police Act. Despite Jones’ recommendation, Todd has not been charged with a criminal offence.
Tom Stamatakis, president of the Vancouver Police Union, told the Courier in an interview last month he didn’t think Jones “properly considered the evidence carefully enough” presented in the disciplinary hearing.
Stamatakis also said it was “a stretch” to presume Padmore’s death was a homicide, since the case was originally ruled accidental. An autopsy determined Padmore’s death was the result of “a closed head injury consistent with a fall.”
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.
Todd, a 13-year veteran of the department, has been on administrative leave since March 2011. The Vancouver Police Board ruled in July that Todd be suspended without pay.
Retired B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Wally Oppal, who most recently was the commissioner of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, will preside as adjudicator in Todd’s hearing. A date hasn’t been set.
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