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OPP takes Schaeffer-Minty Case to Ottawa

Supreme Court hosts landmark battle against police violence and impunity

by Andy Crosby

Justice for Levi Campaign at Human Rights Monument in Ottawa, April 19
Justice for Levi Campaign at Human Rights Monument in Ottawa, April 19

The Justice for Levi (J4L) campaign to end police impunity for acts of violence and murder was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada on April 19, 2013.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) brought the landmark case to Ottawa after a November 2011 ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal that its officers had violated the Police Services Act.

The Appeal Court overturned a June 2010 ruling by the Ontario Superior Court that the Schaeffer and Minty families’ application for an interpretation of certain provisions in the Police Services Act was “not justiciable” and that they had “no public, private, or legal interest” in the killings.

The Ontario Police Association and former OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino then sought $92,000 in legal costs from the families in an act of “police intimidation”, according to attorney Julian Falconer.

Douglas Minty was fatally shot at his Elmvale residence by OPP Constable Graham Seguin on June 22, 2009.

Levi Schaeffer was gunned down by OPP officers on the shores of Osnaburgh Lake in Northern Ontario on June 24, 2009, with no witnesses.

Although police are required by law to complete their notes by the end of their shift, the two officers involved in the Schaeffer shooting, Constable Kris Wood and Acting Sergeant Mark Pullbrook, first consulted with OPP lawyer Andrew MacKay.

The Court of Appeal found that “The use of legal counsel to advise or assist in preparation of notes would be inconsistent with the purpose of police notices and with the duty imposed on police officers to prepare them.”

The J4L coalition claims that note vetting allowed officers to align their version of the event before submitting their reports to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), an independent police oversight agency mandated by the Police Services Act to investigate police violence against civilians.

In December 2011, Ontario Ombudsman André Marin issued a report - “Oversight Undermined” - which names the case as just one example of a systemic police disregard for the rights and interests of the public concerning investigations of civilian deaths by police.

Marin accused the OPP of treating the SIU as a “toothless tiger” by not cooperating in 227 of 658 cases investigated over three years.

At the Supreme Court on Friday, SIU Director Ian Scott argued that the Appeal Court’s decision did not go far enough to ensure OPP officers do not continue to vet and obfuscate evidence.

The J4L Coalition arrived in Ottawa earlier in the week and organized a rally at the Human Rights monument on Thursday, April 18 leading up to the court date.

A fundraiser dinner and concert is organized for April 20th in an attempt to raise money to help cover legal costs.

With files from the Leveller newspaper.


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acrosby (Andy Crosby)
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