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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Justice MUST BE SEEN TO BE DONE, to be done

October 20, 2010


Edmonton (Alberta) Fatal Inquiry into Death of Trevor Grimolfson, who died in a confrontation with Edmonton police officers October 29, 2008.

The Canadian Civil Rights Movement (CCRM) has significant concerns about the legitimacy of an Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Trevor Grimolfson who died in confrontation with Edmonton police officers on October 29, 2008.

The matter was investigated by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) which determined the police officers “actions were justified, when considering all of the circumstances.” No criminal charges were recommended against the police officers involved.

A Fatal Inquiry, under the Alberta Fatal Inquiries Act is scheduled for November 22-26, 2010, in the Provincial Court of Alberta. The police officers statements indicated the officers fired tasors three times, twice in the chest and a third time in the back of the neck, when the two officers involved were allegedly behind Mr. Grimolfson, and attempting to restrain him and had his left hand in handcuffs. Mr. Grimolfson went into medical distress and died shortly thereafter. Subsequent testing on the tasors (X-26 model) indciated they may have been fired five times. One of the tasor applications appears to have been cycled for as long as fifteen seconds.

Government lawyers acting for the Inquiry are relying on the investigation by ASIRT and opinion evidence of the Chief Medical Examiner (CME) for Alberta and a toxicoligist that the cause of death was “Excited Delirium” and multiple drug toxicity. This includes the conclusion of the CME that “there was no evidence to suggest that the conductive energy weapon was the cause of death.” The conclusions relied upon do not accord with the findings and recommendations of the Braidwood Commission into the death of Robert Dziekanski at YVR. Commissioner Braidwood concluded that tasors do pose fatal risks and can cause death. He made numerous recommendations restricting the manner and circumstances in which they ought to be deployed. Commissioner Braidwood also determined that “Excited Delirium” was not scientifically supportable and a “convenient label.” The Braidwood Inquiry Report(s) have been drawn to the attention of government legal counsel for the Inquiry.

The CCRM is concerned that there has been a consistent theme of blaming the victim and that the Inquiry will be a whitewash. The government has appointed counsel at the Inquiry, the Edmonton Police Services has retained legal counsel and so has Taser International. No provision is made for legal funding to assist the family of the deceased and no member of his family has been invited to testify. Mr. Grimolfson is survived by three children (ages 19, 16 & 13) and one grandchild. His children are being cared for by his mother, Bev Broadhead, of Dauphin, Manitoba. Ms. Broadhead is a single grand-parent. Mr. Grimolfson and his family are Metis. The family has sought the legal assistance of William Sundhu, a lawyer in Kamloops, British Columbia ... who was involved in assisting Zofia Cisowski, the mother of Robert Dziekanski. Mr. Grimolfson’s family is unable to afford legal counsel and Mr. Sundhu has been assisting them pro-bono. An application is pending before the Judge assigned to the Inquiry seeking a judicial recommendation that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Alberta make reasonable funding for the legal representation of the family to properly participate in the Inquiry. Previous government decisions indicate an unwillingness to provide funding to assist the families of deceased victims. The judge may only make a recommendation and it is then up to government to decide if it will honour the judicial recommendation or not.

The CCRM is concerned about the ASIRT investigation and that the evidence the government intends to present to the Inquiry is flawed and biased. The purpose of the Inquiry is to look into the circumstances surrounding the death and to make recommendations to prevent future deaths. The CCRM does not have confidence that the judicial Inquiry will be able to make appropriate findings and recommendations without the family being represented by legal counsel acting on their behalf and asking important questions and presenting proper evidence.

The CCRM believes that the current direction of the Inquiry raises serious questions about fairness and balance.

Zygmunt Riddle
CCRM – Vancouver, B.C.
+1 (604) 868-7070

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