'I want to protect the next girl': Woman who made domestic violence complaint against cop speaks out
VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Police Department is being accused of sidelining an investigation into one of its own — something that started when a woman came forward with a troubling story of domestic abuse.
Now, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner has publicly called out the department for using outdated assumptions about partner violence, twice rejected its suggested disciplinary measures, and has begun its own review of the case.
“It’s so disheartening that in today’s day and age the VPD wants to blame the victim and find ways to turn it around,” said the woman, Alyssa Leblevec, in an interview with CTV News. “There’s nothing that’s going to take away what happened. I want to protect the next girl. That’s why I’m speaking out.”
Leblevec was taken to Seaside, Oregon for her birthday in 2017 by her then-boyfriend, Const. Neil Logan. She, Logan, and another off-duty VPD officer visited the Screw and Brew pub where Logan drank to the point he needed help getting into his own vehicle, documents related to the case say.
Leblevec drove the pair back to their motel, but en route, they had an argument, according to the Notice of Review on the Record from the OPCC.
“With Ms. LeBlevec driving, an argument took place and Const. Logan reportedly became angry and broke the windshield of the vehicle. Ms. LeBlevec also reported that Const. Logan struck her on the side of the face with a backhand slap,” the notice says.
“She pulled the car over, where the argument continued at the roadside outside of the vehicle. The complainant reported that upon approaching her, Const. Logan struck her across the face and she began pushing him away as he was attempting to hold her in a bear hug despite her telling him to stop,” the notice says.
Const. Logan began punching the windshield again, and upon return to the motel, struck LeBlevec in the face again, the notice says.
“Ms. LeBlevec reported that she remained in the motel room throughout the night during which time Const. Logan had physically taken hold of her, placing her into bear hugs, despite her telling him not to,” the notice says.
Leblevec still has trouble recalling what happened that night, she said.
“From the moment he first smacked me, I felt like my soul left my body and I was operating on autopilot. It was a matter of what is going to get me through this next moment,” she said. “I felt like I would die that night."
“I texted one of my girlfriends and said, ‘If I die tonight you need to know he did it,’” she said.
She took a photo of the smashed windshield on the drive home the next day, and filed it along with a complaint to the Seaside, Oregon police department and the OPCC in B.C.
The OPCC forwarded the complaint to Vancouver police — effectively asking the department to investigate itself under the OPCC’s civilian review process.
The VPD concluded there was evidence to support a finding that Logan had committed misconduct, and offered Logan a 15-day suspension without pay in June 2019, the notice says.
That offer was rejected by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, which oversees police discipline in B.C.
In April, Supt. Steve Eely of the VPD found Const. Neil Logan committed discreditable conduct regarding the broken front windshield, and proposed a six-day suspension without pay and 12 visits with a psychologist.
The VPD, acting as Const. Logan’s discipline authority in this process, didn’t give enough weight to the Leblevec’s evidence, Pecknold wrote, and also made some troubling conclusions.
“The Discipline Authority notes that Ms. Leblevec could have left after the alleged assault roadside and upon returning to the hotel but failed to do so. He further suggests that Ms. LeBlevec brought forward allegations of assault because she discovered an alternate love interest involving Const. Logan,” Pecknold wrote.
“The Discipline Authority has placed much weight on these factors and referred to Constable Logan’s submission that ‘these were not the actions of someone who legitimately feared for her life.’ Those assumptions are inconsistent with well understood dynamics of trauma in the context of relationship violence,” Pecknold wrote.
Meanwhile, evidence from LeBlevec was “not giving appropriate consideration,” he said.
“I note that the Discipline Authority substantiated the aspect of Const. Logan’s conduct related to the smashing of the windshield but found there was a lack of clear, convincing and cogent evidence to support that Const. Logan used physical force on Ms. LeBlevec as she alleged. In his decision, the Discipline Authority preferred and accepted Const. Logan’s assertion that he did not strike Ms. LeBelvec. In my view, this was without proper consideration of the totality of the evidence before him, including corroborating evidence,” Pecknold wrote.
Retired provincial court judge Brian Neal will preside over the review on the record of the case, which has yet to be scheduled.
It’s not the only matter of police discipline involving Const. Logan. He’s also facing another allegation of improper use of force for how he and another officer responded to a call for domestic violence in 2016.
In that case, a Vancouver engineer was struck numerous times using a baton, elbows, legs and a head-butt, and the man’s son was punched three times in the face, documents say.
The Vancouver police and Const. Logan’s lawyers didn’t respond to questions about the case. The VPD did encourage people to report cases of domestic violence.
Angela Marie MacDougall of Battered Women Support Services said she had seen Vancouver police make real progress in how their officers handled domestic violence cases, but that since then, the department had slid backwards.
“This is victim-blaming in the first degree. Unfortunately this is a cultural and attitudinal belief that has been very resistant to change,” she said.
LeBlevec says she is still working through the PTSD after the situation, and is uncomfortable living in a city where Const. Logan could respond to a call.
“Domestic violence is something that’s too serious for a department to handle amongst its own officers. I feel there are situations that aren’t handled properly. It’s really sad,” she said.