Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

RCMP bring in Ontario Investigator in Don Dunphy killing

There are two tragedies in the story of the killing of Don Dunphy by the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador's personal bodyguard - one is personal and one is societal. The personal tragedy is that of the Dunphy family, and especially that of his daughter Meghan. The second tragedy is the conduct of the government in this province regarding the investigation and of course the police conduct of the investigation.

Meghan's tragedy is of course the loss of her father. She didn't expect him to be gunned down in his own home just hours after having brunch with him on Easter Sunday. She didn't expect her Dad to be killed for tweeting. But it happened here. After the death of Donny Dunphy, Meghan turned to a cousin who is a practicing lawyer for advice on retaining a lawyer. Her cousin recommended Erin Breen - a lawyer in St. John's. The story takes a bit of a turn here, because Erin Breen had a conflict or two herself in representing Meghan. Firstly, and most obviously, Erin Breen was sitting on the Board of Directors of Nalcor Energy - the highly political crown energy corporation for the Province. It is an established fact that a person does not get named to Nalcor's Board unless they are a political partisan of the PC Party. Then there is the fact the law firm she belongs to, as a partner no less, is an established Tory law firm. In fact, the partisan nature of the firm caused a scandal over this . Beyond those facts, Erin Breen has donated to the PC Party every year since 2008 (check it out here) .

Now I spoke to Erin Breen on these matters and she claims the donations were  not made by her, but rather her law firm in her name. Does that really make any difference? Obviously her firm could not make those donations without her consent.  Then she informed me she had tendered her resignation from the Nalcor board as of April 15, 2015. However, by that time she had been the Dunphy's lawyer for well over a week. So, in my opinion, Erin Breen should not be representing the Dunphy family. That opinion jumped out at me when she made the statement that the tweets that brought about Don Dunphy's death were a "red herring". In fact, those tweets carried a direct link to the premier's office in the shooting death of Mr. Dunphy. A fact that carries potential legal recourse for the family to attain damages in a court of law. So, that was a red flag to me.

Now, the dueling controversies of the RCMP investigation and a public inquiry continue to dominate the story. The Minister of Justice in this province, Darrin King, insists he has no role to play in who investigates the Don Dunphy killing. He also insists that a judicial inquiry cannot be called until the investigation is over, and only then if he deems there are "unresolved issues". In other words, he's leaving the door open to not calling a judicial inquiry even though every person killed by the police in this province has resulted in a judicial inquiry. Of course, none of those had direct and public links to the premier's office. However, his story has a major hole in it on both fronts. Firstly, he can call a judicial inquiry, appoint a judge, and await the results of the investigation before allowing it to begin. And secondly, the RCMP is breaking its own policy by investigating the Dunphy killing.

The RCMP have a policy that it will not play any part in an investigation into a police-caused death it is involved with unless no other agency or force is available to conduct such an investigation. That's a fact - read the link. It seems obvious that any number of police forces or agencies, separate and apart from the RCMP and the RNC would be available to conduct a homicide investigation into the Dunphy killing. However, the RCMP is following the back up policy that "should no other force" be available, it can conduct the investigation under these conditions:

   "Where there is no such agency, cases will be referred to external police services,                   who can enlist independent observers to assess and report on the impartiality and                     independence of investigations. As a last resort, where neither a special agency nor                 an external police service are available, the RCMP will undertake investigations.                       However, an investigation will only be conducted by the RCMP after extensive                        screening of investigating officers for conflict of interest and an independent observer                will be appointed and a final review of the investigation will be conducted by an                        independent police service."

Given that the RCMP are involved in the special protection unit that guards the premier, and other VIPs, and given the fact they were involved in the visit to Don Dunphy's home (the extent of which is not firmed up yet), it would appear an extensive screening would have been needed for conflict of interest. Yet, they began the investigation of the shooting immediately - which would logically have provided no time for "screening". Also, an "independent observer" was not named to the investigation until days into the affair - contrary to RCMP policy. In effect, the RCMP is now compromising its good name by refusing to follow its own policy requirements.

That brings me to the latest news - not yet reported by media in the province. The family was contacted yesterday by the RCMP to advise it that an "Ontario private investigator" had been assigned to the Dunphy investigation. No public release of this information has happened yet. All in all, the Don Dunphy tragedy keeps getting more tragic, and more infuriating by the day. It is getting more and more clear every day that not only did the Premier's office contribute to the death of Don Dunphy by falsely accusing him of making threats via Twitter, but that some sort of white wash campaign is being conducted to make sure that those sins don't end up back on the Premier's door step. All in all, this entire situation is on the one hand an embarrassment of incompetence, and on the other hand a dark commentary on the state of justice in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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