Charges including breach of trust and attempting to obstruct justice have been approved against four RCMP officers after one of the men allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a witness while working on the high-profile Surrey Six murder case.
B.C.'s Criminal Justice Branch on Thursday announced charges against Sergeant Derek Brassington, Staff Sergeant Dave Attew, and Corporals Paul Johnston and Danny Michaud. The RCMP previously said the officer accused of the inappropriate relationship was a sergeant.
The bodies of six men were found in a Surrey high-rise in October, 2007. Two of the victims, 22-year-old Chris Mohan and 55-year-old Ed Schellenberg, were innocent bystanders, while the others were part of a gangland hit.
At an afternoon news conference at the RCMP's Vancouver headquarters, Chief Superintendent Janice Armstrong called the conduct of the four officers deeply disappointing.
"The investigators charged in this case were senior, experienced and trusted police officers. Their alleged behaviour is completely contrary to the RCMP's core values, and falls well below the standard the public expects from us."
The RCMP launched an internal investigation in December, 2009 after receiving a tip about the inappropriate relationship and later called in the Ontario Provincial Police. One officer was suspended in April, 2010. Another was suspended in June, and the final two in the fall. All four have received their pay, but Ms. Armstrong said the process is underway to revoke their salaries.
Ms. Armstrong said the Crown has indicated there won't be a change to the decision to prosecute five men charged in the Surrey Six killings. The case is still before the courts and the chief superintendent said it could be heard early next year.
Ms. Armstrong said the RCMP have briefed the families of the six victims, who were understandably disappointed in the alleged conduct of the officers. "There's no question this is the last thing these families should have to deal with, in the context of the murder of their loved ones."
Chris Mohan's mother, Eileen, said she's concerned the news will give defence lawyers "ammunition" inside the courtroom. "Obviously it will raise serious questions about witness tampering. … The defence lawyers … will try to make this case even more complicated," she said.
Ms. Mohan earlier said she had learned from police that the staff sergeant and corporal knew about the inappropriate relationship involving the sergeant but did nothing.
All four officers will answer to charges including breach of trust, attempting to obstruct justice and compromising the integrity of a witness. They are scheduled to appear in court July 11.
Sgt. Brassington and Staff Sgt. Attew are also facing charges of fraud in connection with trying to claim overtime they weren't entitled to.
A fifth officer who worked on the Surrey Six investigation has also been charged with fraud, but police said that case is unrelated.
Christopher Considine, a Victoria lawyer, was appointed special prosecutor in the four officers' case last November and made the decision to proceed with the 20 total charges. The Ontario Provincial Police had earlier submitted an investigative report to the Criminal Justice Branch for charge assessment. Mr. Considine will prosecute the case himself.
Dennis Karbovanec has already pleaded guilty in the Surrey Six case to charges including three counts of second-degree murder.
With a report from The Canadian Press