Mounties probe leak of aggressive takedown video
Published Thursday, October 12, 2017 6:35PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 12, 2017 7:09PM PDT
Recording video on a cellphone and sharing it with friends is mostly harmless fun, but it may have gotten a Burnaby RCMP officer in hot water, CTV News has learned.
Mounties are now investigating how surveillance video of an aggressive takedown by the Vancouver police was leaked and ended up on a Facebook page, where it went viral and prompted questions about the tactics used.
“I think, without a doubt, this needs to be investigated,” said Doug King of Pivot Legal Society. “Police are given an incredible amount of trust over evidence.”
He said it’s not acceptable for officers to share evidence videos for entertainment’s sake. If, however, this video was shared with concern about the tactics, it might be protected as an act of whistleblowing.
In the video, an undercover Vancouver police vehicle slams into the car of two alleged fugitives as it hurtles along 16th Avenue, a residential street in Burnaby.
The suspect car then smashes into another car, as other officers pile out their vehicles and subdue the two suspects using a police dog and stun grenades.
“The conscious ramming of a police officer is a very last resort,” said King.
The video turned heads because of the strength of the tactics used. But when CTV News contacted the family whose home security camera recorded it, they said they were mystified as to how the video could have gotten out, adding that they never uploaded it and gave their only copy to the police.
The footage that was uploaded does offer a clue as to how it happened. It appears to be shot on a cell phone, looking at a computer monitor. It’s the very faint audio, however, that gives it away: call-signs, as well as chatter, that suggest this was shot inside the Burnaby RCMP detachment.
One code—“Burnaby One Bravo Two Five”—likely a police vehicle, can be heard.
When CTV News got ahold of the person who posted the Facebook video in Peru, Danny Spagnolo – a former Vancouverite with a colourful history with the police in the Lower Mainland – said he didn’t get it from a Burnaby member. Instead, he said he got it through a girlfriend of another officer in Victoria.
Spagnolo said he didn’t know how long it had circulated before that, but that it was important to get out so the public can see tactics and hold officers accountable. Spagnolo said he would rather the tactics be investigated than the leaker.
“There could have been kids in that parked car and they could have been dead,” Spagnolo said, referring to the civilian car that was smashed in the melee. “That happens a lot, it never becomes public, and that’s why when I saw this video I’m posting it for sure.”
He said he tagged his friend, Hells Angel Damion Ryan, in the post not because he was connected but just because he thought Ryan would find it interesting.
A Burnaby RCMP spokesperson said that its professional standards unit is looking into this.
“An internal code of conduct investigation has been launched,” Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau said. “The investigative findings will determine any future actions.”