Starlight Tours in Winnipeg Part II

The Evan Maud Case

The taking of a statement and the questioning of a complaint are usually the first steps in the initiation of an investigation, any investigation.

When Evan Maud publicly alleged that members of the Winnipeg Police Service took him on a “Starlight Tour” police were naturally anxious to speak to him.  The reputation of at least two particular officers and in a general sense the reputation of the entire organization was at stake.

So how does this type of investigation unfold?

Firstly, investigators when taking a statement and questioning a complainant must take pains to ensure that all facts possible are obtained from a complainant at the outset.  If an investigation is initiated based on limited or incomplete information and the investigation subsequently reveals inconsistencies the complainant is in a position to modify or add to his/her version of events based on what investigators have unearthed.

Once all facts have been obtained the next step in the investigation is to test the veracity of the complainant’s statement.

This is done by gathering evidence.  Evidence will either confirm or refute what the complainant has said in their statement.  In the Maud case possible sources of evidence would have been:

  • The Winnipeg Police calls for service and officer initiated contacts database
  • The Winnipeg Police vehicle GPS database
  • Winnipeg Transit on board video database
  • Private surveillance video from locations where the compliant indicated he had been prior to during and after the time in question
  • The statements of witnesses the complainant indicated he had contact with

Of course only the investigators  privy to Maud’s complaint  have knowledge of all the evidence sources that needed to be exhausted, based on the content of the statement.

Usually when a complainant makes a statement there are at least one of two facts included that will cause experienced investigators to sit up and take note.  There is usually something that the complainant says, that based on the investigators knowledge and experience just does not make sense.

It is often an inconsistent comment made by a complainant that focuses the direction of the investigation during the initial stages.

When I read the media accounts of this incident, the assertion by Maud that police took away his jacket and substituted a sweater was one such statement.  It just did not make any sense and suggested an alternative explanation that accounted for the complaint’s jacket perhaps being missing.

Based on the fact that Evan Maud has been charged with public mischief the evidence to support the charge must be overwhelming as in most jurisdictions charges of public mischief in cases of alleged police misconduct require crown approval before being laid.

The  Winnipeg Police news conference after Maud had been charged was revealing.  Police released a lot of detailed information in terms of evidence that had been gathered to support the charge against Maud.  Much more information than would normally be released in relation to a matter before the courts.

I understand why they did it in terms of supporting their position to charge Maud, but it may have set a precedent in terms of the information the media will demand in relation to other cases in the future.  Much of the information released  had it been asked for in any other case would  had resulted in a “we cannot comment on that as the matter is before the courts” comment.

I was also gratified to see Grand Chief Evans at the new conference.  I’m confident he would not have taken the position he took unless the Winnipeg Police Service shared the full details of the investigation with him.  It took a lot of courage for Grand Chief Evans to take the position he took on this issue.

Grand Chief Evan’s quote reported in the media definitely qualified as the quote of the day.  Grand Chief Evans said:  “I have to stand with the truth, sometimes the truth can take you to very difficult places.”

I’m very pleased this investigation was conducted expeditiously.  Had it been allowed to drag on and hang in the air for months like the Cody Bousquet investigation it would have had the potential to cause great harm to the reputation of the police service and its members.

In this case the Service came out of this with its reputation entact.

By the way, how is the Cody Bousquet investigation coming?