Officers accused in sweatbox case to face punishment
Two of the three officers accused of picking up nine homeless people and holding them against their will in the back of a van before dumping them in a north side neighbourhood will face disciplinary action.
An investigation began after nine homeless aboriginal people, including Chris Robillard and Diane Wood, were picked up by police on May 20, 2005.
The group said they were picked up on Whyte Avenue and held against their will for hours in a hot police van before officers dropped them off kilometres away in the north-end.
In a two-hour verbal decision Friday morning, the presiding officer found that two of the three officers should be penalized for their actions.
"There is no justification for these actions either in law or in police policy," said Insp. Paul Manuel.
Const. Graham Blackburn is the Edmonton police officer who was cleared in Friday's proceedings. But Constables Lael Sauter and Patrick Hannas will be punished for discreditable conduct and insubordination.
The officers never took proper notes of the incident and failed to drop the parties off at a safe residence.
The representing five of the victims in a civil suit calls Friday's decision a small victory.
"Clearly these individuals were not properly dealt with so there is a victory in the sense that was recognized by the decision today," said Erika Norheim.
The cousin of one of the victims who didn't want his name published says he hopes this ruling sends a message about the rights of homeless people in Edmonton.
"Somebody has to answer to it. It's a problem that has to stop some place and it has to stop here."
At this point, there is no word on what kind of penalty they'll face. It's likely that decision will be known following submissions from both sides on the morning of November 26th.
With files from Scott Roberts