September 17, 2014 - 4:22 PM
KAMLOOPS – The first man who internally investigated the RCMP watch commander working the night two women had sex in a jail cell told a Kamloops Supreme Courtroom on Wednesday the officer was untrained in his new role in an office he called “a terrible place to work.”
Staff Sgt. Garry Kerr was originally responsible for leading an internal investigation following the incident on August 18, 2010. The result was a charge of breach of trust against Cpl. Rick Brown after he and other officers watched the women via video security footage and failed to intervene.
Kerr said he did not continue his assignment after the discussion he and Brown had five days after the incident.
The two spoke when Kerr noticed Brown’s demeanour had changed at the office.
“He looked physically sick,” Kerr said. The pair went to the watch commander office to talk privately. Kerr said Brown became emotional; he began to cry.
“(He was) emotional to the point where it was difficult to get words out,” Kerr said. He couldn’t determine exactly what happened due to Brown’s disjointed sentences. He told the court he assumed a fight between prisoners happened and someone was hurt.
Brown produced a piece of paper and slid it over the desk. It was the email Cpl. Kelly Butler wrote to the staff sergeant notifying him the two women had sex and one was self-declared HIV positive. Her email kicked off the entire investigation.
“Rick said ‘what do I do? What do I do?’” Kerr told the court.
Last week the court played a phone call between Brown and Butler. In the call, Butler offered to take back the email sent to their superiors and asked Brown how to re-word it. Despite the conversation, she did not take back the email, nor was it edited.
Kerr, a former watch commander, said Brown only had a few months in his new role and conceded there was no training process. To help him deal with the situation at hand, Kerr told Brown he should speak with then Insp. Yves Lacasse, but Brown refused. He said Lacasse intimidated him—a statement Kerr said he understood.
“Lacasse was an extremely difficult person to work for,” Kerr told the court. “He was an extreme bully... towards myself and a lot of other members in the detachment.”
Kerr said there was ongoing conflict between upper management and staff. He called the detachment operations “dysfunctional to the extreme.” Lacasse left the detachment in 2013 to take a new role with the proposed Ajax mine.
Once the internal investigation began, the media became involved. Kerr said he asked upper management if the detachment could issue a press release on the investigation, but said his efforts were “quashed.” There was concern about embarrassing the RCMP.
Now retired, Kerr said he has only come across one similar case in his 31 years of service. While he was stationed as a watch commander in Powell River in 1982, he encountered two male prisoners engaging in a sex act and separated them.
Following Kerr’s evidence, the Crown called Rob Vecchio, a jail guard working at the Kamloops city cells. The Crown expects to hear evidence from Staff Sgt. Royce Roenspies and guard Clayton Vandenham.
The trial will continue this week.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014