In 2003, Clay Alvin Willey, an Aboriginal man (described as Metis), was killed by the RCMP while in custody in Prince George, BC. Willey had suffered broken teeth, a fractured skull, ruptured bowels, internal bleeding, and multiple taser burns inflicted on him by several RCMP officers, yet a coroner’s inquest ruled his death was accidental, caused by a cocaine overdose. In the following articles, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP voices their frustration at the RCMP’s ass-dragging in regards to the investigation.
RCMP blasted for slow responses to in-custody death
The Canadian Press, Jan. 31, 2012
Foot dragging by the Mounties involving the in-custody death of a British Columbia man is the latest issue to raise the ire of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.
The commission has insisted on tougher legislation to force the Mounties to respond more quickly to its investigations.
The demand came Tuesday morning as the commission released its final report into the July 2003 death of Prince George resident Clay Alvin Willey.
Commission spokeswoman Laura Colella said the RCMP took 14 months to respond to an interim report examining the death of the aboriginal man.
“Our concern is it makes the public complaints system useless, people can’t trust the public complaints system if it is going to take this long to respond to our reports,” she said.
“We need to send this message today. We are not satisfied with these delays and we are hoping these delays can be fixed. The commission is waiting for new legislation so we are hoping that this will be addressed in our new legislation.”
A coroner’s inquest ruled Willey’s death was accidental, caused by a cocaine overdose.
Video from the RCMP detachment showed Willey, hog-tied, being dragged face down to a jail cell and jolted simultaneously by two police Tasers.
While the Commission found Willey was not treated with respect or decency after his arrest, the repeated Taser use was not a primary focus of the final report.
“We continue to monitor the Taser situation and we continue to monitor if the RCMP is following their own procedures put in place in respect to Tasers,” Colella said.
“But if you are going to report on the Taser use against Willey, it becomes a non story because it happened nine years ago and the policies have changed so much,” she said.
“How the RCMP uses Tasers today is entirely different than how they used them nine years ago.”
Senior Mounties in Prince George have scheduled a news conference for later Tuesday to respond to the Commissions’ report.
RCMP watchdog reports on death of suspect in custody
QMI AGENCY, January 31st, 2012
The RCMP watchdog has issued its final report in the case of a suspect who died in police custody after being pepper-sprayed, punched, kicked, hog-tied, dragged face-down across a concrete floor and shot with two stun guns at the same time.Seven officers from the Prince George, B.C., RCMP were involved in the arrest and transport of Clay Alvin Willey on July 21, 2003.
The next day he had a heart attack and died in hospital.
The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP found that the use of force by Constables John Graham, Holly Fowler and Kevin Rutten during the initial arrest – including the pepper-spraying and hog-tying – was “reasonable under the circumstances.”
Those circumstances included the fact Willey behaved aggressively and continually struggled against the cops and against his restraints, the report says.
However, the report found that constables Glenn Caston and Kevin O’Donnell failed to treat Willey with “the level of decency to be expected from police officers” when they pulled him from the cop car by his feet with nothing to break his fall, then dragged him along a concrete floor to an elevator.
The CPC also said the simultaneous use of stun guns by the two was “unreasonable, unnecessary and excessive.”
The report found that Graham failed to obtain medical assistance for Willey in a timely manner when it was clear he was injured and possibly suffering from a drug and/or alcohol overdose. Moreover, officers didn’t give paramedics all the relevant information about Willey hitting his head and being pepper-sprayed – a failure that “could have compromised Willey’s medical care.”
There were also numerous issues with the way the matter was investigated.
“While it is clear from the medical evidence and the findings of the B.C. coroner that the force used by the members did not cause the death of Clay Alvin Willey, the RCMP must nonetheless take responsibility for the mistreatment of Mr. Willey while he was in its custody,” the report concludes.
In a letter dated Jan. 4, 2012, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson acknowledged and agreed with most of the findings but noted that the time has expired for any formal disciplinary process to take place.
“However,” Paulson wrote, “I do have the option…to identify areas where the members who interacted with Mr. Willey fell short of their professional performance, as well as outlining remedial action to address those deficiencies.”
RCMP use of Tasers on B.C. man who later died ‘unnecessary and excessive’: ruling
National Post/Post Media News, Jan 31, 2012
By Kent Spencer
VANCOUVER—RCMP in B.C. have come under fire again for “excessive” use of force in a 2003 incident in which a Prince George man was Tasered twice while in custody and then died the next day.
The Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP said in Ottawa Tuesday that two RCMP constables used “unreasonable” force after the arrest of Clay Willey.
The commission said both constables used their Tasers on him at the same time, even though he was handcuffed and his legs were tied in a manner described as being “hog-tied.”
“The simultaneous use of (Tasers) was unreasonable, unnecessary and excessive in the circumstances,” said the commission.
The commission also found that Willey was not provided with medical assistance in a “timely manner.”
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said he “agreed” with the commission’s findings that excessive force was used.
“Current RCMP policy recognizes that multiple deployments of the (Taser) may be hazardous to a subject,” he said in a letter to the commission dated on Jan. 4.
Paulson also “agreed” that medical assistance was not timely.
“The RCMP failed to communicate all relevant information about Mr. Willey and his arrest to the ambulance attendants,” he said.
Willey’s family said he was a street person who had a problem with drugs and was well known to police.
An autopsy found he died from a cocaine overdose.
The family has launched a wrongful-death suit against the RCMP which has yet to come to trial.
“He wasn’t a murderer, a pedophile or a rapist,” said Clay’s sister Bryna Willey. “Why did he deserve to die? It was a brutal takedown. “
“The fact he was Tasered while he was helpless was totally unacceptable,” she said. “Hopefully, the public will see how out of line this was.”
In 2010, a public inquiry into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport concluded that RCMP were not justified in using a Taser on him.