No charges for cop accused of taking cash from suspect's home
The Abbotsford police officer who was accused of taking money from a suspect's home last year will not face criminal charges, the B.C. Prosecution Service announced Wednesday.
An outside policing agency investigated the allegations and recommended the officer be charged with one count of theft under $5,000, but the Crown said it isn't pursuing the case because the evidence doesn't meet its standards.
"While it is possible to draw some inferences pointing towards guilt from the subject officer’s suspicious activities, on the whole of the evidence there are other, plausible inferences, consistent with innocence, that cannot be refuted," the BCPS said in a statement.
"These reasonable inferences consistent with innocence are sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the subject officer."
The allegations came to light during the trial of an accused drug trafficker, who revealed he had surveillance cameras rolling in his house as Abbotsford police executed a search warrant in November 2017.
The video appeared to show a constable tucking money into his sock.
The officer testified that he placed the cash there as a practical joke – which on its own would be "inappropriate," his department said at the time – and that he returned it before leaving the home.
He was taken off operation duties, and an investigation was launched through the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit to determine exactly what happened.
According to the BCPS, the surveillance video captured the officer counting a stack of bills that was found inside the home, including a US$2 bill and a US$1 bill.
The denominations are significant, the Crown said, because neither of those bills was included on a chart itemizing everything police seized from the property.
The video as received by investigators was cut up, however, with the alleged theft appearing in a separate segment.
"In this video the subject officer walks up to the dresser, retrieves a number of items, believed by CFSEU to be cash bills," the Crown said. "He places those items in his hand, bends over, looks left and then stands up and has nothing in his hands. He is inspecting another item at that point that the video cuts out."
But investigators were never able to obtain the unedited recordings – one of the resident's family members said the full videos were erased or deleted from his computer.
Prosecutors said someone who had viewed the videos told police other people had entered the room after the search as well, making it possible the officer had indeed returned the cash and that it was ultimately taken by someone else.
"Evidence from a family member that three persons returned to the room after police searched it and were observed after the fact on video taking other objects from the room raises the possibility that the money was taken by one of the three," the BCPS said in its statement.
Despite the lack of charges, the Crown said the search was conducted in a fashion that was "less than ideal," and that the videos that were viewed "raise concern" about the officer's actions.
The Abbotsford Police Department said it alerted the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner so that a separate investigation could be launched under the B.C. Police Act, and that the officer will remain on administrative duties until it's concluded.
Read the B.C. Prosecution Service's full explanation for its decision below.