Published on October 31, 2009 By Artysim In Current Events

Hello fellow JoeUsers,

I'd like to invite you to be a member of a jury today. I'm going to blab for a bit about boring stuff you probably don't want to read (feel free to skip ahead if you so choose) and then I'm going to present three criminal cases that are 100% real and take place in Canada. If you could be so kind, please respond with your verdict and if guilty, sentence, for each one. The first case is already closed but I won't reveal just yet what the final verdict was. The second case is in progress right this instant, taking place in my city, thank the gods I didn't get called for jury duty as it's going to run for months. The third case is one that's in limbo and the status is still to be determined, so we'll call it a hypothetical case, although the events behind it are very much real.

Now, for the boring preamble-ramble:

What I find so difficult about the legal system is that in order for it to work properly, justice must be blind. The judge and jury have to be as un-biased as possible to hear both sides of the story and make their decision accordingly. To make matters more confusing there's a million legal technicalities and loopholes that can derail a case or change the direction entirely. Lastly, keep in mind that there's the spirit of the law- the intent behind why a particular law was crafted in the first place. With this there's a bit of legal wiggle room for interpretation as society would otherwise need an infinite number of laws to cover every possible eventuality. Throw in the fact that as human beings we're often quick to judge before learning all of the facts (I'm guilty on this one) It's no wonder that folks have been condemned to death row only to be exonerated years later by DNA testing. Gotta love that combo-pack; wrong place + wrong time + no alibi + no money + shitty lawyer + horrific crime = faulty conviction. Not always, but it's happened enough to call things into question.

Case 1:

This happened in Eastern Canada. An on-duty police officer decided to pull over a car on the road at random. He did a spot check- licence, registration, blah blah blah. There were two men in the car and everything checked out. On a hunch, he decided to do a full search of the vehicle and when he got them to pop the trunk he found that they had several kilograms of cocaine stashed there, the value in the multi-millions. The men were charged with possession of a controlled/illegal substance. Verdict and sentence?

Case 2:

This happened in Hay River in the Northwest Territories, a small town of about 3,500 people. At about 5 AM an RCMP officer was responding to a call that dispatch had received about a suicidal man. Upon arriving at the address, the officer encountered three men trying to get into a taxi, all of whom were known criminals and involved in the drug trade. The officer singled out one of them and ordered him to place his hands on the hood of the car. The officer went to search the fellow but he bolted and ran into some nearby woods, the officer chased him. A few seonds later 4 gunshots were heard in rapid succession (as per the taxi drivers testimony) The officer was found some time later by other RCMP, he was dead. He had been shot four times and his pistol was still in it's holster. The fellow who he had been chasing, Emrah Bulatci, fled the scene immediately and six days later he was captured in a swat team raid at one of his suspected hideouts. One of the fellows who was helping to hide him testified that Bulatci's exact words were "I feel stupid for not shooting the cab driver because he was the only witness"

Bulatci is charged with first degree murder (any murder of a peace officer in Canada is automatically first degree charges) And the trial had to be held in the territorial capital, Yellowknife as they did not think that they would be able to find an impartial jury in the town. At the beginning of the trial, Bulatci tried to plead guilty to manslaughter as he stated that he did not intend to kill the police officer but only to wound him. This plea was rejected by the judge and the case is proceeding right now-

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2009/10/30/nwt-trial-escape.html

Verdict?

Case 3:

This happened at the Vancouver International Airport. A Polish immigrant named Robert Dziekanski arrived after a long trans-oceanic flight and was going to meet his mother after getting through customs. However, there were problems. Dziekanski did not speak english, and there were no Polish speakers on staff this particular day and he did not clearly understand what was going on. Customs officials had difficulty dealing with him and it took nearly 8 hours before he was cleared through customs. Although they had cleared him, he did not understand that he was free to leave the secured area and instead lingered there trying in vain to communicate with those around him. By this time his mother had already left as she had thought that for some reason he did not get on the flight. Dziekanski, tired confused and angry, started to throw a fit and started to pick up furniture and yell at people around him. The RCMP were called and 4 officers responded. When the officers arrived on the scene, Dziekanski backed up to a wall as they motioned for him to do. Less than 25 seconds after arriving, the officers deployed their tasers, and it turns out that they shocked him five times in rapid succession, while forcing  him to the ground and handcuffing him.

While on the ground, he went into cardiac arrest and died. Paramedics were called but were not able to revive him.

The RCMP officers wrote in their reports that he had been unco-operative and threatening, therefore they used a taser on him only once after which he went into cardiac arrest.

However, the whole thing was caught on amature video by a bystander which told a very different story, showing that they had tasered him several times including while he was on the ground and not a threat. Also, the video brings into question whether the officers made any serious attempt to communicate or otherwise engage him.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/11/14/bc-taservideo.html

Now, the officers were not charged but an inquiry was held. If this had gone to court (and it still might some day) Let's say that the charge would be manslaughter, or possibly second degree murder. What would your verdict, and sentence if any, be?

 


Comments
on Oct 31, 2009

Case one: This one's interesting. I suspect that if your evidence laws are anything like those in my country, what the officer did was an illegal search. But, he also caught criminals in the commission of a crime that should be punished.

I would probably find the smugglers guilty, even if the evidence the officer found was thrown out of court. Sentence? I don't know. That would depend on what the normal penalty is for this kind of find. I'd also be inclined to have the officer sent back to the academy for training on search procedures.

Case two: If you use a gun on someone, you accept the likelihood of death. He's admitted guilt, so that's not at stake. Penalty would depend - based on the evidence here, I'd probably say he was due for life imprisonment.

case three: Guilty. Ignorance of other cultures and other languages is no defence for brutality. Even (especially?) in a country like Canada, there should be an expectation that someone who speaks your language will be used. In Australia, there's a 24 hour phone based interpretation service. Something like that should have been used rather than just struggling ahead with a language he doesn't understand.

The penalty? I'd probably be inclined towards leniency here - sacking the officers who fired the extra shots   is enough, because they're clearly inclined to sadism and that's undesirable in a policeman. But the border organisation should be shook up from the top down for general incompetence. What kind of border protection group doesn't have decent access to multilingual services?

on Nov 01, 2009

An on-duty police officer decided to pull over a car on the road at random. He did a spot check- licence, registration, blah blah blah. There were two men in the car and everything checked out. On a hunch, he decided to do a full search of the vehicle and when he got them to pop the trunk

quite a coincidence huh?  what's even more surprising is how infrequently cops find themselves in this sorta situation without experiencing an equally compelling "hunch" that continuing such a search without a warrant or probable cause is illegal.   case should be dismissed and the cop should be disciplined.

an RCMP officer was responding to a call that dispatch had received about a suicidal man. Upon arriving at the address, the officer encountered three men trying to get into a taxi, all of whom were known criminals and involved in the drug trade. The officer singled out one of them and ordered him to place his hands on the hood of the car. The officer went to search the fellow but he bolted and ran into some nearby woods, the officer chased him. A few seonds later 4 gunshots were heard in rapid succession (as per the taxi drivers testimony) The officer was found some time later by other RCMP, he was dead

what happened to the prospective suicide?  the cop saw some known criminals and forgot all about him?  or...another amazing coincidence?  in any event, unless there's some law prohibiting known criminals from sharing a taxi, on what basis did this rcmp officer decide to detain these guys.  unless he observed them violating a specific statute, he illegally detained and attempted to search them.  if the defendant legally possessed a firearm at the time he was doing no more nor less than defending himself against a rogue cop.  if not, he should be charged with firearms violations and manslaughter.

video by a bystander which told a very different story

if it can be proven the video was not altered or edited, four rcmp officers should be booted off the force and anyone previously convicted on the basis of their testimony should be retried.    

 

on Nov 03, 2009

it just occured to me i'd foolishly overlooked one possibility very relevant to cases 1 & 2. 

if defendants consented to being searched, they're dumbasses and deserve to be convicted.

on Nov 03, 2009

Case 1

Well, I am not sure on how the laws in Canada are for searching vehicles. It's my understandning that here in the US people are suppose to give the cop permission to search the vehicle. Any denial could give the copy the ability to hold the driver and passengers for questioning. A hunch? That sounds too much like a movie kind of thing; the cop may have recognized the people in the car, may have been pulling them over on a known drug trafficking route and/or the vehicle may have had something (like a broken taillight for example) that made the cop pull them over as oppose to some random pulling over. I think that would be wrong to be honest but that's just me.

Verdict? For possesion they should be found guilty. If the cop seached the car without some kind of permission (as can happen here in the US) then this case would have been dismissed due to incorrect procedure by police such as an illegal search or something regardless if there was evidence to put them in jail for a long time.

Case 2

Hope you don't mind asking but what happened to the suicidal man?

As for Bulatci, 4 bullets does not show attempting to wound someone since 1 bullet could do that and you would actually shoot once and look to see if you hit them (in a sense) before firing more shoots if necessary if wounding was the actual intent. Besides, when someone shoots a gun, one's intent is not ususally to wound when one is not aiming at a specific part of the body we know can wound but not kill the person ( a leg, an arm) but instead shooting at random out of fear. He may not have had premeditated intent to kill, but he did intent to shoot knowing he might kill the officer (especially with 4 bullets that hit, possibly more were shot) and therefor was aware of what he was doing which could translate to first degree even if there was no law making first degree regardless. BTW, the weapon did not belong to the cop meaning the guy most likely had it giving the indication he would have killed if necessary to escape which is what he did.

Verdict? Guilty for murder in first degree.

Case 3

Again, not sure about taser laws in Canada but if the cops overdid it on purpose knowing full well they shouldn't have, they were in the wrong. They guy may have exaggerated his actions but the cops are suppose to stop problems not create more.

Verdict? Guilty for lying and for unsing the taser inappropiately causing the death of a person.

This was a great article Artysim. I am no detective and am not very educated in matters of law but I understand the basics and this is how I see it. As for the sentence I gues it would all depend on the laws and what punishment is meant for them.

on Nov 03, 2009

Hi everyone, thanks for your responses! It's always good to get another perspective.

In case 1 as most people correctly suspected, it was an illegal search so the case was thrown out. The two drug dealers were released however -minus- the couple million dollars worth of cocaine they were transporting so I'm sure they're not too terribly popular with their cohorts.

Case 2 is one that I'm conflicted with as the fellow who committed the crime is an absolute scumbag. He's a drug dealer with an extensive record before the murder and testimony from several witnesses have stated that after shooting the cop twice in the chest (which was absorbed by his bulletproof vest) he intentionally aimed for the head. No matter  how you cut it, there's absolutely no excuse or reason for a citizen to fire a weapon at an on-duty officer. In this case I hope they lock him up and throw away the key, however he'll probably get 20-25 years and get out. As for the whole responding to a call about a suicide and ending up chasing a drug dealer, that's something I wondered about too. It turns out that the cop had been working the night shift and had gotten off work at 4:30 AM only to be woken up at  home at 5:00 am by the dispatcher for the call-out, so it could be that he wasn't thinking straight at the time -or- that there had been a previous altercation with the same individual earlier in his shift.

Case 3 is another tricky one, what I found most interesting is that if the amateur photographer hadn't taken the video then this case probably wouldn't see the light of day, it would have been an open and shut matter of taking the RCMP's reports that he resisted, they tasered once, then he went into cardiac arrest. I think the RCMP, while they definitely need to be advocates for their officers, at times should be able to admit that their people made a mistake rather than try to use the smokescreen approach.

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