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Peel police won’t name officer who removed evidence from killing scene

Brampton Guardian,
BYLINE: Jacques Gallant and Wendy Gillis/The Toronto Star

Brampton, ON

Peel Regional Police will not release the name of the officer who took a knife from the hand of 33-year-old Jermaine Carby after he was shot dead in Brampton by a Peel police officer. Toronto Star file photo

BRAMPTON – Peel Regional Police is maintaining a veil of secrecy around an officer who removed a key piece of evidence from the scene of a fatal police shooting in Brampton last September.

The force will not release the name of the officer who took a knife from the hand of 33-year-old Jermaine Carby after he was shot dead by a Peel police officer, nor will it say the number of years he has been on the job, whether he is still working for Peel police and in what capacity, and if he is facing disciplinary action.

Critics are demanding that his identity be made public immediately as well as more information about his “bizarre conduct.”

“I can assure you if I tampered with evidence, my identity would be revealed immediately,” said criminal defence lawyer John Struthers. “This officer has to understand that you don’t disturb evidence on the ground.”

Ontario’s police watchdog announced on Tuesday that no criminal charges would be laid in Carby’s death. But Special Investigations Unit director Tony Loparco also lashed out in his report at the conduct of another unnamed Peel officer, who removed a knife from Carby’s body that he apparently wielded at officers before being shot. The knife was only given to an SIU forensic investigator hours after the incident.

“Peel Regional Police will not be releasing any information about the involved officers,” police spokesman Sgt. Matt Small told the Star Wednesday, saying an administrative review is now underway by Peel police’s Investigative Support Bureau, which “will be examining all aspects of the conduct of our involved officers.”

Small said if charges are laid against the officer under the Police Services Act and the process moves to a police tribunal — which is open to the public — the officer’s name and the charges against him would be posted on Peel police’s website.

“I don’t see any reason why the SIU wouldn’t name the officer,” said lawyer Peter Rosenthal. “And then the public would be able to find out what happened by seeing how Peel Regional Police deals with the officer. Otherwise it will just fade into obscurity, unless something dramatic is done by Peel police . . . There’s a public interest in what happened here.”

The knife provided to the SIU was a kitchen knife with a serrated blade measuring about 13 cm, according to Loparco’s report. He said that an officer approached Carby on the ground after he was shot and kicked the knife away with his left foot, before placing the knife in a brown paper bag and giving it to his sergeant.

“This conduct is hard to fathom,” Loparco wrote, saying the officer should have appreciated the importance of securing the scene given the imminent SIU investigation.

Loparco did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the officer intended to obstruct justice, so he did not lay criminal charges, SIU spokeswoman Monica Hudon told the Star. “However, regardless of the officer’s intent, removing evidence from a scene has the potential to adversely affect the investigation,” she said.

Critics deemed the officer’s actions bizarre, saying it calls into question officer training. Struthers said “it is almost asking for public outrage,” especially given recent reports in the U.S. of officers planting evidence near the bodies of police shooting victims.

“Did he remove a knife? Was there ever a knife? Was this officer simply helping out a fellow officer who could be charged with murder?” asked lawyer Jeff Hershberg. “What other crime scenes or investigations has this officer, if he is to be believed as having removed a knife, bungled?”

Peel police’s Small did not answer the Star’s questions as to whether officers are trained specifically in how to conduct themselves in situations where an SIU investigation is apparent, and whether the force will be reminding officers about the importance of securing the scene.

Loparco noted in his report that some civilian witnesses to the shooting heard police yell “drop the knife” but that none could clearly see one. The driver of the vehicle in which Carby was the passenger did tell the SIU that he saw a knife in Carby’s right hand and that he thought he was trying to stab an officer with it.

The report also said that Carby’s DNA was present on the knife.

While Loparco wrote that he was satisfied that Carby was armed with a knife, he said that “the removal of the knife ensures that some members of the community will harbour concerns, legitimate concerns in my view, regarding the very existence of the knife.”

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