Crown wouldn’t lay charges against Parker
THE LOCAL RCMP detachment felt so strongly about having criminal charges laid against a man who is suing police officers civilly, it undertook a relatively rare step of filing what is called a private information.
But senior government lawyers in the end refused to go along with the RCMP, citing the complicated circumstances involving Shane Parker, now 24.
The situation dates back to the early morning hours of June 19, 2010 when Parker intervened as Terrace RCMP officers attempted to arrest a woman for public intoxication outside of the Spirit Bar.
Parker was placed in handcuffs and taken to the local RCMP detachment.
Testimony provided at a subsequent case, again involving Parker and the RCMP, indicated he suffered facial and other injuries in addition to being pepper sprayed and tied to a chair at the detachment.
He also had a spit hood placed over his head, a bag-like device which prevents people from spitting at someone else.
Parker was released and police recommended he be charged with five counts of resisting arrest involving five different police officers.
That file arrived at Crown Counsel offices here Sept. 15, 2010 but was returned the next day after being considered incomplete, said a Crown official.
“When the file was resubmitted to Crown in December 2010, there was still material missing that was needed to complete the charge process, and so no decision was made at the time,” said Neil MacKenzie, an official from the Criminal Justice Branch.
But with the six month statute of limitations about to run out on being able to charge Parker on summary offences provisions, the local RCMP detachment swore out its own charge information at the courthouse here on Dec. 17, 2010.
Terrace RCMP Constable Angela Rabut said police did so because had the six-month statute of limitations run out, any charges that were then approved would have to be done by indictment, a more serious procedure and something not warranted given the allegations against Parker.
“The Terrace RCMP felt it was in the public’s interest to lay these charges,” said Rabut in an email regarding prosecuting Parker under summary offence conditions.
Swearing private information is permitted but final approval as to whether charges will proceed rests with the Crown Counsel office.
“Crown did not receive complete file material until after police had sworn what has been characterized as a ‘private information.’
“Once that material was received and reviewed, the Crown concluded that the Criminal Justice Branch charge assessment standard for approval of charges was not met. As a result, on March 17, 2011, Crown directed a stay of proceedings on the charges sworn by police,” said MacKenzie.
He said that while it was determined there was enough evidence to warrant laying charges leading to a likelihood of a conviction, “a prosecution was not required in the public interest in the particular circumstances of the case.”
MacKenzie declined to outline what those particular circumstances might be. Parker filed a civil lawsuit against the RCMP alleging that nine police officers assaulted him in June 2010 and August 2010.
And he has also filed a complaint with the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP.
Rabut wouldn’t comment when asked if the RCMP was disappointed Crown lawyers didn’t follow their wishes.
“The justice system is a complex process with many organizations having a role to play. Ultimately, the decision to prosecute rests with British Columbia Crown Counsel,” said Rabut.
She added that the police reviewed the Parker file to see what might have been done differently.
“In this incident, the investigation was complete,” said Rabut.