Conduct Case MPCC‑2012‑006 Summary
During a night in February 2012, two military police (MP) members were conducting a R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) program at a Canadian Forces Base when a vehicle by-passed the police check stop by cutting through an adjacent parking lot. The first MP immediately pursued the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop. The driver of the vehicle is the complainant on this file.
The first MP member told the complainant the reason for the traffic stop. Throughout this encounter, the complainant would only speak in French and did not comply with the MP direction to provide his driver’s license and refused to accompany the MP to provide an Approved Screening Device (ASD) breath sample. Because the complainant was not complying with her directions, the first MP member called the second MP member for assistance. The complainant also refused to provide his driver’s license to the second MP member.
The MP members knew that the MP dispatcher on duty at the MP detachment was bilingual. They used their portable radios and had him translate over the radio their directions to the complainant. As the complainant was still not complying with the direction provided in French, he was advised that he was being placed under arrest for obstructing the police. When the complainant resisted the MP members’ attempt to handcuff him, the second MP member placed him on the ground. The MP dispatcher arrived at the scene at the request of the MP members to assist in ensuring the complainant understood the directions. When the first MP searched the complainant’s wallet to identify him, the complainant became angry, saying the MP did not have the right to do so. The MP members felt the complainant’s actions followed someone under the influence and demanded that he provide an ASD sample. The complainant obtained a reading of zero.
The complainant was then transported to the MP Detachment where he was cautioned in French and given the opportunity to speak with the French-speaking Duty Counsel. Soon after, the complainant’s common law spouse attended the MP Detachment and was authorized to move the complainant’s vehicle.
A third MP, the Shift Commander who was off-duty at the time, attended the MP Detachment at the request of the two other MP members. The third MP was very direct with the complainant about playing the “French card” and was aggressive when speaking and questioning him.
The complainant was released to his unit Custody Review Officer (CRO) the same night. The MP General Occurrence (GO) file was concluded and the matter was forwarded to the complainant’s chain of command for further action related to National Defence Act (NDA) charges.
In August 2012, the MP was advised that the complainant was charged by his unit and elected trial by court martial. In June 2013, a Standing Court Martial declared the complainant guilty of two charges brought under section 130 of the NDA, namely obstruction of a peace officer contrary to section 129(a) of the Criminal Code and he was sentenced to a reprimand and a fine of $600. The complainant appealed the decision. In June 2014, the Court Martial Appeal Court allowed the appeal, set aside the guilty verdicts with respect to the two charges and ordered a new trial. The complainant was retried on the same charges, and in September 2015, he pleaded guilty to two counts of conduct to the prejudice to good order and discipline under section 129 of the NDA and was sentenced to a reprimand and a fine of $600.
In February 2012, the complainant filed a complaint with the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC or the Commission) relating to his interaction with the three MP members. The Commission referred the complaint to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) for an initial review and appropriate disposition in accordance with section 250.26 of the NDA. The CFPM’s delegate for MP Professional Standards (PS) is the Deputy Commander, Canadian Forces Military Police Group (CF MP Gp). The complaint was held in abeyance pending the outcome of the court martial and pending the conclusion of a Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) investigation, further to new allegations brought forth by the complainant to the CFNIS against the MP members identified as subjects in the complaint.
In October 2014, the Deputy Commander CF MP Gp reported on the disposition of the complaint into these four allegations against the three MP members:
- That MP members violated the Military Police Code of Conduct (MP Code of Conduct), paragraph 4(c), which stipulates that the MP shall not “knowingly use, or permit or direct the use of excessive force on any person,” by acting violently towards the complainant during his arrest;
- That the MP members violated the MP Code of Conduct, paragraph 4(d) which stipulated that the MP shall not, “while carrying out their duties, act in a discriminatory or discourteous manner towards any person,” by failing to show courtesy towards the complainant: specifically, by not taking his medical problems into consideration, not respecting his choice to communicate in French and making inappropriate comments about him;
- That the MP members violated the MP Code of Conduct, paragraph 4(h), which stipulates that the MP shall not “knowingly supress, misrepresent, or falsify information in a report or statement,” by lying to him during his arrest; and
- That the MP members violated the MP Code of Conduct, paragraph 4(l), which stipulates that the MP shall not “engage in conduct that is likely to discredit the military police or that calls into question the member’s ability to carry out their duties in a faithful and impartial manner,” by not granting his various requests and by not respecting his rights, his privacy and his property during his arrest.
The Deputy Commander Canadian Forces Military Police Group (CF MP Gp) determined Allegations 1 and 3 were unsubstantiated. Allegation 2 was partially substantiated in that the third MP member did not respect the complainant’s right to speak French during an interview with the MP, and that the second and third MP members used inappropriate language with the complainant. Allegation 4 was partially substantiated against the first and second MP members in that the complainant’s vehicle was left unsecured for approximately 30 minutes despite the members having obtained the keys.
In November 2014, the complainant made a request for review to the MPCC. However, the MPCC held its review in abeyance until November 2015, pending the completion of a CFNIS investigation connected to the same incident and PS investigations into related complaints. The MPCC received the initial disclosure in March 2016.
The Commission framed the complaint as pertaining to six allegations:
- Excessive use of force;
- Discourtesy and unprofessional behaviour;
- Failure to accommodate the complainant’s alleged medical issues;
- Failure to respect the complainant’s choice to communicate in French;
- Failure to respect the complainant’s rights, privacy and property during his arrest; and
- Accusation without just cause.
The MPCC found unsubstantiated the complainant’s allegations that the MP members used excessive force, failed to accommodate his alleged medical issues and accused him without just cause. However, the MPCC substantiated the complainant’s allegation that the MP members were discourteous and unprofessional in relation to the conduct of the second and third MP members. The MPCC also substantiated the allegation that the MP members failed to respect the complainant’s choice to communicate in French in relation to the conduct of the third MP in the interview room. Finally, the MPCC found the allegation that the MP members failed to respect the complainant’s rights, privacy and property during the arrest was partially substantiated in relation to the conduct of the first and second MP, in that they failed to properly secure the complainant’s vehicle.
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