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Independent Investigations Office takes action against Vancouver police

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Vancouver Police Department

The chief of the Vancouver Police Department and several of his officers are facing legal action alleging they violated their duty to co-operate with an independent civilian investigation of a fatal police-involved shooting.

Albert Phipps, interim director of the Independent Investigations Office, has filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court seeking an order forcing Chief Adam Palmer to compel seven officers to take part in interviews with civilian investigators.

The IIO is examining the shooting of 38-year-old Daniel Rintoul during an alleged robbery and stabbing at a Canadian Tire store on Nov. 10, 2016.

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According to the petition, the seven officers will not speak to independent investigators without first reviewing videos of the shooting, though the office has rejected the request, saying the videos could distort their memories.

The petition says lawyer Ravi Hira, who represents one of the constables, wrote the office an email saying his client was concerned about not being allowed to refresh his memory and wanted immunity from any potential charges, including obstruction of justice.

But the Independent Investigations Office says police have a statutory duty to co-operate and it wants the court to force Palmer to require his members to do that.

"No discretion can be said to exist when it comes to the chief constable's powers to compel his members to comply with their statutory duty to co-operate with an external investigative agency tasked in the public interest with investigation of incidents involving police-related death or serious harm," the petition says.

It adds that if a police chief had the power to control his officers' participation in an independent investigation, it would "fundamentally undermine" the purpose of the Independent Investigations Office.

"The history of this matter reveals a misapprehension as to the (police department's) legal duties," the petition concludes, adding that a court decision in its favour would "assist in addressing that misapprehension."

None of the allegations in the petition have been proven in court.

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In a request for comment, police spokesman Staff Sgt. Randy Fincham says in an email statement that the force respects the independent civilian oversight process.

"This is a complex legal issue that has been filed in court. Due to the legal process, we cannot elaborate further at this time."

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