VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – What will it do the case? What will it do to the RCMP’s reputation? Those are just two questions being asked today after word four Mounties working on the Surrey Six investigation are now facing criminal charges themselves.
Sgt. Derek Brassington, Staff Sgt. David Attew, Sgt. Paul Johnston and Cpl. Danny Michaud have been charged — altogether, with 20 offences, including breach of trust, fraud, obstruction of justice, and defrauding the RCMP.
“The charges initially resulted from an investigation into allegations an officer with the Surrey Six homicide investigation was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a potential witness in the case,” says the Crown’s Neil Mackenzie. “In the course of that investigation conducted by the Ontario Provincial Police, four officers were identified.”
Chief Superintendent Janice Armstrong calls the men four senior trusted officers. She calls the things they’re accused of an abuse of the trust the public places in police.
One man tells us he knows ‘accused’ means innocent until proven guilty, but that’s getting hard to keep in mind. “I think there’s a lot of other things that have happened that’s shaken everyone’s faith. That’s just becoming the norm now.”
“I personally think they should have their own provincial police and maybe the RCMP should go elsewhere,” he adds.
The case has now moved straight to the BC Supreme Court by direct indictment, rather than first going through provincial court.
Brassington is named in seven counts, offences which include breach of trust and fraud. Attew has six charges against him, and they include compromising the integrity of a witness. There are four counts against Johnston, including compromising the safety of a witness and misleading an investigation. Three counts have been laid against Michaud, and they include breach of trust and misleading an investigation.
The case’s background
In October 2007, six men, including two innocent bystanders, were murdered in a North Surrey apartment building during a gangland hit.
Eileen Mohan’s 22-year-old son Chris was one of the innocent victims. She hopes this isn’t a black eye on the other investigators who have worked on her son’s case. “They were actually appalled about this, too. I’m really happy the criminal charges have come through,” she notes.
Mohan says she’ll try to make it to all four of the officers’ court appearances. Edward Schellenberg was the second innocent victim that night.
Police force embarrassed by charges
If the accusations are true, the RCMP says the actions of four of its officers were unacceptable and disappointing. All of the charged officers are senior, high-ranking members of the force.
“That’s why I’m here… To tell yow how deeply disappointed I am in the alleged actions of these four officers. The investigators charged in this case were senior, experienced, and trusted police officers. What is alleged to have occurred is a breach of policy, protocol, and the law,” says Chief Superintendent Janice Armstrong.
Mounties have been in touch with Surrey six victim’s families, and she admits it will likely shake the trust of the public.
“I can assure you that this announcement is equally disheartening to the dedicated officers working on this file,” she notes. “Fundamentally, it was an abuse of the trust the public places in police. But what I think we’ve demonstrated through this process is that we are determined to hold our members accountable if there are any wrongdoings.”
The officers are suspended without pay. The first of the four was suspended in April of last year. By the fall, all were off the job.
However, the charged officers are still key witnesses in the Surrey Six investigation. In all likelihood, they will still be called as witnesses in the case.