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B.C. Mountie back on duty despite criminal charges, misconduct probe

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An RCMP officer who is awaiting trial on three criminal charges for shooting a suspect – and was disciplined for an alleged road rage incident while on leave – is back on active duty in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, CTV News has learned.

The RCMP confirmed Kevin Biagioni is no longer on paid leave from the Chilliwack detachment following repeated inquiries from CTV News about his status over a period of seven days.

The force also revealed Biagioni, who held the rank of constable at the time of the shooting, has been promoted to corporal. 

"Sorry for the delay in response. Cpl. Biagioni is currently operational and his duty status is subject to continuous review and assessment," a spokesperson wrote in a one-line email Monday.

The RCMP would not say when he was returned to active duty, but in a separate email to CTV News said Biagioni's promotion happened in February 2022 – while he was under investigation for the on-duty shooting, but prior to him being criminally charged.

Several members of the public contacted CTV News saying they were shocked by the possibility that Biagioni could be back in uniform and on the street.

But one former law enforcement official says the move is not a surprise at all, calling the RCMP a broken institution with a long-documented failure to hold itself or its members accountable.

"The fact that you would even allow this person to go anywhere near serving the public as a police officer is very concerning," said Kash Heed, former B.C. solicitor general and former chief of the West Vancouver Police Department.

"This is just one more example of the fact that they are not serving the community in a credible way."

On-duty shooting

Biagioni was charged with aggravated assault, discharging a firearm with intent and careless use of a firearm in November of 2022, stemming from an on-duty shooting in January of 2021.

The BC Prosecution Service confirmed he has been indicted and ordered to stand trial on all counts, with dates set for January of 2025.

None of the charges have been proven in court and few details on the circumstances of the shooting have been released.

A civil lawsuit was filed by the man who was critically injured, alleging that he was standing still with his hands in the air when Biagioni opened fire without warning. He acknowledged he had something in his hand and did not drop it, but also said the weapon police said he was wielding then was a thin, metal shish-kebab skewer. The claim also says the man was in "a state of acute mental health distress."

In response, Biagioni acknowledged that the weapon was a "meat skewer" but said the suspect was "confrontational and aggressive." He denied firing his weapon without warning and said the shooting was a justified use of force due to the reasonable belief that the suspect posed an "imminent threat."

None of the claims in the civil suit have been tested in court.

Alleged road rage, impaired driving incident

CTV News began asking questions about Biagioni's status after being sent photos and video, published by the Chilliwack Progress, from a crime scene in April of this year showing him in uniform with his gun holstered.

The images came as a shock to Brianne Giasson, who says she doesn’t feel safe knowing Biagioni is on duty in the community, believing he can’t be trusted with a weapon or behind the wheel of a vehicle.

"I kind of went into a spiral, I felt my anxiety going up" she said, describing the moment she recognized Biagioni. "Right away, I started freaking out."

Giasson first encountered Biagioni on Christmas Day, 2022 while he was on leave as a result of the shooting charges.

That day, when she told CTV News she and her partner were rear-ended by an allegedly impaired driver in what she described as a road rage incident at a McDonald's drive-thru. The impact left the vehicle totalled and the couple traumatized.

That driver was Biagioni.

No criminal charges were ever recommended or approved – something Giasson says she still can’t quite believe. The experience, she said, shattered her trust in the local police force.

"I've lost complete faith in them. I definitely feel nervous every time I see a police car," she said.

"I think it's unfortunate because they are supposed to be there if I'm in trouble or in danger. I'm supposed to call them. How am I going to trust them to actually act responsibly, to take care of me or anybody else?"

'Internal disciplinary process'

The RCMP did discipline Biagioni, according to an email Giasson received from the force's Professional Responsibility Unit in B.C.

Almost no details were provided, with the spokesperson citing privacy rights.

"I am permitted to share certain summary details with you as a person affected by his actions," the message said.

"As a result of the incident that you refer to, the RCMP initiated an internal disciplinary process in relation to one or more contraventions of the RCMP Code of Conduct. Following an investigation, one or more contraventions were substantiated and Cpl. Biagioni was issued disciplinary measures."

Mounties refused to give Giasson any information about the officer's duty status, again citing privacy legislation.

The lack of transparency about the consequences of the internal investigation and Biagioni's being back on active duty have further eroded Giasson's trust in the RCMP.

"How can he hold up the law when he's breaking it himself?" she said.

"People have been emotionally, physically hurt by this man, and they are still allowing him to work and supposedly protect the people of Chilliwack. And he's allowed to actually have a weapon on him? It just seems really irresponsible and it doesn’t seem like they have the best interests of the people of Chilliwack in their mind."

'We've got to call out the RCMP on this'

Heed says the allegations against Biagioni are "disturbing" but reflect systemic, entrenched issues in the force that go beyond the case of this individual officer.

"We see this regularly occurring within the RCMP, where, in fact, individuals (who) should have no contact with the public, that are under investigation, are allowed to go back into uniform and serve in the community," he told CTV News.

When officers in other policing agencies are criminally charged in use-of-force incidents that happen on duty, Heed says those members are routinely put on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the case.

"I think that's why we've got to call out the RCMP on this," he says.

CTV News asked a spokesperson for the RCMP in Ottawa for information about how decisions about duty status for officers facing criminal charges are made and received a response more than 24 hours after deadline.

"Public trust is essential for the RCMP to effectively fulfill its mandate. As a result, RCMP employees are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that meets the rightfully high expectations of Canadians," the statement said, before providing general information about member conduct and the disciplinary process.

Regarding officers facing criminal charges, the spokesperson emphasized the right of all Canadians to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

"To penalize members prior to a thorough and proper investigation being completed is contrary to the rule of law in Canada, unless there are exceptional circumstances and the member is clearly involved in the contravention," the statement continued.

The RCMP also pointed to a policy that allows for members to be put on unpaid leave in "exceptional circumstances" where the officer's conduct "has a highly detrimental impact on the integrity or operations of the RCMP or the member's ability to perform their duties."

'No excuse' 

The apparent reluctance of the RCMP to provide CTV News with information about Biagioni's duty status and the refusal to provide Giasson with an answer when she asked about the same issue is something that Heed says is unacceptable from a taxpayer-funded organization with a mandate to serve and protect.

"The public has a right to know, absolutely has a right to know," he said. "He is out there serving the public. The RCMP should not hide behind this veil of privacy rights."

The lack of transparency and accountability in this case, Heed says, is endemic to the RCMP where significant institutional failures have been repeatedly exposed and documented – most recently in the final report of the Nova Scotia Mass Casualty Commission.

British Columbia is the province with the highest number of RCMP officers in Canada but there were also 1,670 unfilled positions as of April of this year, according to data provided by the public safety ministry, constituting an overall vacancy rate of just under 23 per cent. More than 60 per cent of those vacancies were due to members being on leave. 

Asked if this might play a role in the decision to reinstate officers like Biagioni, Heed said there is "no excuse" for allowing an officer facing these criminal charges to be on duty and armed.

Correction

A previous version of this story reported Biagioni was still a constable when he was criminally charged, based on documents from the B.C. Prosecution Service and court documents from the B.C. government. The RCMP has confirmed Biagioni was promoted while being investigated for the shooting, but before charges were approved.

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