Judge calls Kelowna RCMP interview tactics 'inappropriate and unprofessional' - InfoNews

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Judge calls Kelowna RCMP interview tactics 'inappropriate and unprofessional'

Donald Brodie has been convicted of charges relating to a 2013 run from police that seriously injured a pedestrian.
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October 10, 2017 - 8:00 PM

KELOWNA – If Kelowna RCMP hadn’t breached Donald Brodie’s Charter Rights during their investigation, his trial would likely have been much shorter.

After years of lying to police and the public, Donald Brodie was finally found guilty last month of driving the car that almost killed a Kelowna pedestrian in 2013.

Brodie first denied being the driver when he and two passengers ran from a police road block on Springfield Road after a house party the night of Dec. 5, 2013. He and Nathan Fahl were arrested early Dec. 6.

Fahl was originally charged with six crimes but all were stayed after Brodie told Global Okanagan he was, in fact, the driver. He also claimed he was run off the road by police.

Once charges were dropped against Fahl, Brodie took back his statements of guilt and demanded a trial, but according to recently released court documents, Brodie confessed to being the driver during interviews with two members of Kelowna RCMP. All of those interviews, however, were tossed by a judge for failing to understand the laws around questioning detained persons as well as what Supreme Court Justice Marsha Devlin called “aggressive, intimidating and unprofessional" behaviour from one key officer.

The recorded interviews played during a hearing at the trial show Cpl. Christopher Williams in an interview room with Brodie and one other officer on Dec. 20, two days after Brodie went to Global Okanagan claiming to be the driver.

During a strip search, Cpl. Williams entered the room “whistling in a very loud manner and bouncing a tennis ball,” according to Devlin.

She says the video shows the second officer was “respectful and professional,” and continued with the search despite the activities of Williams.

“Cpl. Williams can be heard whistling and singing in a loud voice “I will be home for Christmas” and bouncing a tennis ball on the floor and against the wall in the search room while (the second officer) was processing Mr. Brodie,” she says. “When Cpl. Williams entered the search room he asked Mr. Brodie if they could have a talk saying, “you and me, we’ll have a chat when he’s done OK”.

Sometime during the "chat", Williams turned the conversation to the man who was injured in the Dec. 6 collision and raising the subject triggered the Charter remedy.

“It was Cpl. Williams who raised the topic of victims. Cpl. Williams was aware that (Nathan) Fahl was in custody, he was aware that Mr. Brodie had been involved and he was aware that Mr. Brodie had made a statement to the TV reporter. The conversation very quickly moved from the general to the specific with Const. Timmermans asking Mr. Brodie if he was the driver. In my view, at that point the “chat” changed into an investigation of the December 6 incident,” she writes.

The interview, she says, should have stopped and Brodie should have been given another opportunity to have counsel present. Police can't arrest you for one offence and probe with questions to find another, or if they do, they must remind their interview subjects of Charter warnings and how any volunteered statements may be used. 

Despite an obviously emotional Brodie admitting to the crime, Devlin ruled the admission came from inappropriate interview techniques.

“Cpl. Williams admitted that he spoke to Mr. Brodie like a 'drill Sergeant' which I understand to mean in a loud, stern and intimidating fashion. While Cpl. Williams justified his tone and choice of language as being 'situationally appropriate', I disagree. I find that it was completely inappropriate,” she said.

“(Williams) made comments about his tattoos and being a “media star” in reference to the Global TV interview while in the search room, disrupting what was otherwise a polite and respectful interaction between Mr. Brodie and Const. Goodwin."

Brodie, who is well-known to Kelowna RCMP, has 43 criminal convictions on his record. 

“At one point Cpl. Williams said to Mr. Brodie: “Was gonna have you over for dinner on Christmas. I guess those plans are done."

“In particular, Cpl. Williams demonstrated the utmost disrespect to Mr. Brodie during the strip search procedure by inserting himself into the process and continuing to sing, bounce the tennis ball and make belittling comments towards Mr. Brodie.”

Everything else in the interview, and a subsequent interview were struck as evidence because of the Charter breaches. 

Despite the loss of that evidence, Devlin still felt police had enough evidence to find him guilty of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

He will be sentenced early next month.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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