The complaint arose as a result of a military police (MP) investigation into a fist-fight which took place outside an off-base drinking establishment in which military personnel were involved. The results of the MP investigation were forwarded to the relevant unit – a Canadian Forces (CF) training school – for disposition. While no one was charged, the complainant, an instructor at the school, was the subject of administrative measures by his chain of command. The complainant alleged that the MP investigation of the incident was biased against him and that this bias is reflected in:
- the failure of the MPs to take a statement from him and to make reasonable efforts to interview one of the other participants in the fight who would have provided evidence favourable to the complainant; and
- wrongly characterizing the complainant as the instigator of the fight (in the complainant’s view, he was a peacemaker).
In its investigation of the complaint, the Military Police Complaints Commission (the Commission) systematically compared the investigating MP’s handwritten notes with the entries in the MP electronic file which formed the basis of the MP report, along with information obtained from witness interviews with the complainant and other participants in the event, as well as with the MP subjects of the complaint. Unfortunately, the Commission’s review of the MP investigation was hindered to some extent by the inexplicable failure of the investigating MP to record the witness interviews which he conducted (on the basis that those interviews which took place were with persons not considered to be suspects).
As a result of its investigation, the Commission concluded that, while there were gaps and inconsistencies in the MP investigation file, and while the result of some of these gaps and inconsistencies did tend to enhance the role of the complainant in the incident, the evidence did not establish bias by the MPs against the complainant.
In particular, the Commission noted that the MPs made a reasonable decision not to conduct witness interviews immediately after the incident due to the witnesses’ levels of intoxication. Moreover, when the MPs did attempt to interview the complainant, he chose not be interviewed and exercised his right to silence. The evidence also indicated that the MPs made efforts to interview the other witness referenced by the complainant, but that this individual ultimately did not accept to be interviewed. Finally, the Commission observed that, while the amount of analysis offered in the MP investigation report was minimal, the crux of what was said by the investigating MP was accurate in describing the complainant as a “
protagonist” in the incident. While the complainant seems to have taken this term to mean the same as “
instigator”, in fact, it simply means a main participant. All the available evidence fairly pointed to him as a willing participant in the fighting, even if he did not start it and regardless of his motives for intervening. Moreover, the available evidence of the complainant’s actions in the incident tended to be inconsistent with his claimed peacemaker role.
Although the Commission found the complainant’s allegations ultimately to be unsubstantiated, the Commission did make recommendations that the involved MPs be reminded of the importance of recording witness interviews and that the CF Provost Marshal review MP investigation reporting policies and practices in respect of the adequacy of the amount of analysis provided to those expected to act on the results of MP investigations.
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