Body cameras only a part of the solution to re-building trust in the police

police-body-video-camera

by Donald Best

by Donald Best

The Toronto Police recently announced a one-year $500,000 pilot project to outfit 100 officers with body cameras to record investigations and dealings with the public. At first look, $5,000 per officer seems outrageous until we consider that this is a pilot study with many facets of which the physical equipment comprises only a small portion of the budget. Online research shows dedicated police body cams starting at only US$199, but the data storage and management costs typically exceed the cost of the equipment by many times per year. The costs to outfit every Toronto officer would be many millions initially, with significant ongoing costs annually.

Nonetheless, the cost/benefit ratio to both the police and Canadians in general will, I strongly believe, fall on the side of implementing the system for every police officer in contact with the public or involved in conducting investigations.

As a former Toronto Police sergeant and undercover investigator of organized crime, I know that the simple knowledge that events are being recorded has a profoundly positive effect upon the behaviours of both police officers and citizens. Even the possibility of hidden recordings due to the universal presence of cell phone videocams is already having an impact upon officer behaviour, to the benefit of all concerned.

I have often relied upon hidden audio and video recordings because they present to the court and everyone the irrefutable truth. Such recordings are only a part of the evidence and have their own limitations, but at least they deter any liars on all sides from fabricating evidence and narratives out of thin air: or expose them after they have done so as more than a few rogue police officers in Canada and the USA have discovered lately.

Other citizens commented on a recent Globe and Mail editorial praising the Toronto Police initiative, that the real test of the police body cameras will be in whether the police and justice system actually use the video recordings to hold police officers accountable for serious wrongdoing.

Time for independent civilian oversight of Ontario’s lawyers?

At least with the police, there is independent civilian oversight on several levels as well as the efforts of the media and hardworking lawyers to try to ensure justice is done and also seen to be done. Not so with Ontario’s legal profession though.   Read more

RCMP and Crown prosecutors illegally distribute Senator Mike Duffy’s email password to the public

In the Duffy case, the RCMP and Crown prosecutor committed a criminal offence under section 402.2(2)

A cynic might say that the corruption trial of suspended Senator Mike Duffy has produced no surprises, but that does not do justice to most ordinary Canadians who, despite all the standard jokes about politicians, expect and demand that laws, rules and standards should apply equally to all; including to those in positions of power and authority such as police, lawyers and Crown prosecutors.

As Ezra Levant points out in the above video, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Crown prosecutors released to the public, an unredacted version of Senator Duffy’s personal diary; including intimate communications with his wife, personal medical details and some of Senator Duffy’s Identity Information (as defined in the Criminal Code), including his email password.

Notwithstanding how disgusting it is that Canada’s national police agency and Crown prosecutors should have engaged in an act that is so obviously designed to embarrass and punish Mr. Duffy and his close family members, the release of Mr. Duffy’s email password is a criminal act, specifically prohibited by law in Canada. The fact that the reckless distribution happened in court documents is no excuse in law. Some would say the abuse of the court process makes the act even more reprehensible.

Best v Ranking civil lawsuit alleges prosecuting lawyers recklessly distributed to the public tens of thousands of documents containing Identity Information

As terrible as the actions of the police and the Crown are in the Duffy case, the amount of Identity Information illegally distributed pales in comparison with another case currently before the Ontario Superior Court.

In the Donald Best vs Gerald Ranking civil case, the plaintiff Donald Best alleges that defendants Gerald Ranking, Paul Schabas, Lorne Silver and others deliberately released and recklessly distributed to the public tens of thousands of unredacted privileged legal documents containing vast amounts of Identity Information and other personal and confidential information for Mr. Best, his family members and dozens of other persons who had nothing to do with the case before the courts.

In his March 31, 2015 affidavit asking the court to issue an injunction against the defendants, Mr. Best alleges:

“The defendants previously placed into the public domain, and recklessly distributed, tens of thousands of documents containing Identity Information and other private, confidential information for me, my family members and my company’s witnesses; and also for dozens and dozens of persons and entities who have nothing to do with me or my case.

As just one egregious example of thousands, defendants unlawfully took from the Orillia, Ontario law office of my company’s lawyers, the medical file of my lawyer’s dying mother, including end-of-life ‘do not resuscitate’ instructions to medical staff. The defendants and their ‘John Doe’ co-conspirators recklessly distributed this to members of the public, published it on the internet, and then filed it as ‘evidence’ with the court without notifying the judge. The defendants and their co-conspirators are still recklessly distributing this medical file in 2015. The defendants refuse to stop.”

Further, Mr. Best states:  Read more

Former police officer Donald Best analyzes the Walter Scott shooting raw video (#walterscott)

Citizen’s video prevented police cover-up of Walter Scott murder

By now you have probably seen the citizen video showing South Carolina police officer Michael T. Slager firing eight shots at the back of an unarmed man running from him. The victim, Walter Scott, age 50, died after being hit five times including once through his heart. Officer Slager is charged with his murder. (New York Times article with slow motion video)

According to the initial news accounts Walter Scott had been stopped for a burned out taillight but faced arrest for contempt of court for failing to pay child support. Whatever confrontation happened prior to the video is unclear, and at the immediate beginning of the video it looks like Scott or the officer could have dropped an object on the ground in front of the officer (said by some to be the officer’s Taser). There is also a second object that bounces on the ground behind the officer at about the time he is drawing his pistol.

What is clear from the video though is that Scott was running away from the officer, and was about 25 feet / 7 meters away when the police officer fired the first shot into his back. Scott kept running and the distance increased as Officer Slager fired off another quick six shots at Scott’s back. Then as Scott staggered, Officer Slager paused, took careful aim and fired a final controlled shot into Scott’s back. I wonder if that was the shot that pierced Scott’s heart because he went down immediately.

Police Officer does not behave as if he is fearful of Scott

Scott goes down grabbing his mid left side and only then does Officer Slager walk over and handcuff him. As he walks, the officer is not pointing his weapon at Scott and thus is not in fear of his life at that point. That is not the normal action of a police officer who believes a person might be armed. Even if an armed suspect has been shot eight times, any police officer would keep aiming at the suspect until the weapon had been retrieved and the suspect secured. That seems to indicate that Slager did not believe Scott had a weapon when he shot him.   Read more

Donald Best files Injunction Motion against Barbados Underground publisher Euclid Herbert, Ontario Provincial Police and civil case defendants

“Certain defendants illegally employed and illegally paid a serving Ontario Provincial Police Detective Sergeant ‘on the side’ for illegal private investigations of the Plaintiff and for illegal access to police personnel, records and resources, and for the exercise of police powers and authorities outside of normal systems, procedures and jurisdictions, to benefit defendants in a civil lawsuit…”

Ontario_Provincial_Police_Logo

Recently filed legal documents in the Ontario civil case Donald Best v Gerald Ranking ask the court to put a stop to the continued reckless distribution of Identity Information for the plaintiff Donald Best, his witnesses, their family members and other victims.

Best is also asking the judge to make the defendants, including police and lawyers, account for their past reckless distribution to the public of Identity Information and other private and confidential information. The Notice of Motion claims that some defendants maliciously placed this private information into the public domain through Euclid Herbert’s ‘Barbados Underground‘ website and by other means of distribution.

The full Notice of Motion including Donald Best’s March 31, 2015 affidavit with exhibits can be downloaded in .pdf form here: (March 31, 2015 Injunction Motion, 17mb)

QUICK DOWNLOAD: Injunction Notice of Motion and Donald Best’s supporting affidavit (without exhibits) here: (March 31, 2015 Injunction / Donald Best affidavit; no exhibits 1.8mb)

You can quickly read the Notice of Motion and Grounds here without downloading:   Read more

Lawsuits allege police and attorneys jointly fabricated evidence, lied to court

Two unrelated lawsuits in the United States and Canada allege that groups of police and lawyers worked together as they fabricated evidence and lied to the courts to jail a person they knew was innocent.

Although the circumstances and people involved in the two lawsuits are entirely unrelated, both plaintiffs’ allegations share similar characteristics: a group of police and lawyers fabricated false evidence, but they didn’t know about secretly-made recordings that documented the truth.

“If there is one thing that can be gleaned from the Douglas Dendinger and Donald Best civil lawsuits, it is that police officers have no monopoly over lawyers when it comes to lying to the courts.”

United States: Douglas Dendinger

Louisiana plaintiff Douglas Dendinger was arrested and charged with battery, obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness after five police officers and two prosecuting attorneys jointly provided false evidence that they saw Dendinger physically assault and intimidate a police officer as he served the officer with legal documents.

Each of the police officers and lawyers fabricated a false story, providing statements or sworn depositions that Dendinger slapped or punched officer Chad Cassard in the chest with “violence, force”, and that Cassard “flew back several feet”.

These police officers and attorneys didn’t know that Dendinger’s relatives made two hidden videos during the service of the legal documents. Those videos conclusively prove that Dendinger calmly handed the legal papers to officer Cassard, who smoothly held out his hand and accepted service in a normal manner.

The group of seven police officers and attorneys jointly lied and provided a false narrative to support charges that could have put Dendinger away for the rest of his life. Dendinger, who spent one night in jail, filed a civil lawsuit against the police and attorneys. The Washington Post reports But for the video…  WLTV reports Charges crumble after cell phone video uncovered

Canada: Donald Best

In the Best v Ranking lawsuit filed in Barrie, Ontario Canada, plaintiff Donald Best alleges that attorneys and police committed various wrongdoing, including fabricating false and deceptive evidence, lying to the court, committing a fraud upon the court by representing a phoney non-existent business entity, illegally hiring a corrupt Ontario Provincial Police officer ‘on the side’ to perform illegal acts and other misconduct.

One of Mr. Best’s allegations is that during a telephone conversation with lawyers on November 17, 2009, Best informed the lawyers multiple times that he had not received a certain court order. The lawyers even cross-examined Best about this very issue.

When the lawyers ended the telephone call with Best, they created as evidence an official ‘Statement for the Record’; falsely reporting to the judge that during the telephone call Best had told the lawyers that he had received and did possess the court order in question.   Read more

Toronto ex-cop Donald Best served entire prison sentence in “brutal” solitary confinement

Solitary Confinement prison cell

Solitary Confinement prison cell: What you see is larger, but very similar to the spartan reality of Donald Best’s cell.

A new editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal declaring solitary confinement as “cruel and unusual punishment” is no surprise to former Toronto Police Sergeant (and former prisoner) Donald Best, who describes his time in solitary confinement as “brutal”.

The Canadian Medical Association editorial says:

“Is this acceptable practice or is this torture?

Solitary confinement, defined as physical isolation for 22 to 24 hours per day and termed “administrative segregation” in federal prisons, has substantial health effects. These effects may develop within a few days and increase the longer segregation lasts.

Anxiety, depression and anger commonly occur. Isolated prisoners have difficulty separating reality from their own thoughts, which may lead to confused thought processes, perceptual distortions, paranoia and psychosis.

In addition to the worsening of pre-existing medical conditions, offenders may experience physical effects, such as lethargy, insomnia, palpitations and anorexia.”

From the Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial, November 17, 2014: Cruel and usual punishment: solitary confinement in Canadian prisons  (website article)

Alternative: Download the CMAJ editorial as a PDF 74kb

National Post: Solitary confinement is ‘cruel and usual punishment’

Herald: Prison suicide report blasts Corrections Canada

Mr. Best does not easily speak of his time in ‘the hole’. He says that he witnessed terrible events in the ‘Administrative Segregation Unit’ as solitary is euphemistically named by prison authorities. Best saw things he had never before seen or even imagined; despite his 35+ years in public and private law enforcement and as a deep-cover investigator against organized crime. He saw prisoners eating their own faeces and worse.

The Canadian Medical Association editorial says that solitary confinement “has substantial health effects” and worsens pre-existing medical conditions. Best knows this to be true from firsthand experience.    Read more

Affidavit of Donald Best, sworn December 10, 2012, added to DonaldBest.CA

20121210 Affidavit Excerpt SAN

DonaldBest.CA has just added the full December 10, 2012 affidavit of Donald Best to the collection of redacted court documents posted online. Previously, only excerpts of this affidavit were available in the website archives.

At 224 pages including exhibits, the affidavit is a resource for those seeking to understand what happened during the Nelson Barbados Group Ltd v Cox civil case before the Ontario Superior Court.

On July 18, 2014, Donald Best, a former Toronto police officer and undercover investigator, filed a civil lawsuit in Barrie, Ontario, Canada alleging wrongdoing by various defendants; including some of Canada’s largest and most prestigious law firms.

None of the allegations has yet been proven in a court of law, and to our knowledge none of the defendants has filed a Statement of Defence. Visitors to this website are encouraged to examine the legal documents and other evidence posted here and to make up their own minds about the civil lawsuit known as ‘Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking et al’. (Superior Court of Justice, Central East Region: Barrie, Court File No. 14-0815)

Download: Donald Best Dec 10, 2012 affidavit with exhibits (PDF 15.8mb)

All available downloads appear on the DonaldBest.CA Court Evidence page

Do we need a SIU ‘Special Investigations Unit’ to investigate criminal allegations against lawyers?

Ontario SIU

“Fostering public confidence by ensuring thorough and independent investigations that stand up to public scrutiny.”

For good reasons Canadians are reluctant to allow the police to investigate themselves when allegations of serious criminal offences by police officers surface. In Ontario we have the ‘SIU’ or ‘Special Investigations Unit’ to provide a level of public confidence that in the most serious cases, the police are not protecting their own over the public interest.

The SIU’s website states:

When police officers are involved in incidents where someone has been seriously injured, dies or alleges sexual assault, the SIU has the statutory mandate to conduct independent investigations to determine whether a criminal offence took place. The effective fulfilment of this mandate, with all of its associated challenges, remains critical to fostering public confidence in policing in the province by ensuring thorough and independent investigations that stand up to public scrutiny.

Even so, the SIU’s mandate and resources are far more restricted than many citizens would desire, but at least in the most serious cases there is independent investigation and oversight of the police.

That is not the case with the legal profession, where the lawyers themselves are tasked with investigating, charging, judging and sentencing of their fellow lawyers; the ones they went to law school with, articled and partied with and work and live with in the same professional and social circles.

How is ‘self-policing’ working out for Ontario’s lawyers?    Read more

(Legally Made) Secret Recording: Ontario Provincial Police Detective Sergeant Jim Van Allen retired in 2010, not 2008. The lie that put an innocent man in jail.

Former Toronto police sergeant Donald Best alleges in his recently filed civil lawsuit that the OPP Professional Standards Unit concealed their fellow officer’s crimes and in February of 2013 falsely told Best that Detective Sergeant Jim Van Allen had resigned from the OPP in 2008.

In fact, Detective Sergeant Van Allen did not resign from the Ontario Provincial Police until October of 2010, a full year after he had illegally worked as an unlicensed private investigator against the plaintiff, Donald Best.

According to Best’s lawsuit, the above (legally made*) secret recording of a December 30, 2013 telephone call with retired OPP Detective Sergeant Jim Van Allen confirms that Van Allen was a serving police officer in charge of the Ontario Provincial Police elite Criminal Profiling Unit when in October 2009 he illegally investigated Donald Best ‘on the side’ to benefit one side of a civil lawsuit in Ontario, Canada.

Van Allen swore a deceptive and false affidavit in October 2009 that was used to convict and sentence the Plaintiff Donald Best to 3 months in jail. Conspicuously absent in the affidavit is the fact that Van Allen was, at the time, a serving OPP Detective Sergeant, who was being paid ‘on the side’ to illegally work as an unlicensed private investigator for a major Toronto law firm.

The Plaintiff, Donald Best, alleges that Mr. Van Allen’s fellow police officers in the OPP’s Professional Standards Unit covered up Van Allen’s crimes even though it meant an innocent man would go to jail.

Mr. Best’s Statement of Claim states:     Read more

Civil lawsuit alleges Canadian police expertise, information and resources illegally sold to major law firms

In Canada it is illegal for police officers to work as investigators for private interests.

The Criminal Code, Ontario Police Services Act, Ontario Private Security and Investigative Services Act and other laws prohibit police officers from working as private investigators. It is also illegal to hire a police officer as a private investigator.

Those laws, however, didn’t stop one senior Ontario Provincial Police officer from illegally working as an unlicensed private investigator ‘on the side’, nor did the laws stop a major Canadian law firm from illegally hiring him.

And those same laws didn’t stop other senior police officers from covering up their fellow officer’s crimes; even though their cover-up would send an innocent man to jail. This according to a recently filed civil lawsuit by a former police officer in Ontario, Canada.

Former OPP Detective Sergeant, criminal profiler Jim Van Allen (public domain photo)

Former OPP Detective & criminal profiler Jim Van Allen (public domain photo)

“According to Best’s lawsuit, James (Jim) Arthur Van Allen was a Detective Sergeant in charge of the elite Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Criminal Profiling Unit when lawyer Gerald Ranking of Fasken, Martineau DuMoulin LLP illegally paid Van Allen $2,699.93 to illegally investigate Best and provide the results to Ranking and other lawyers and their clients”

How can we be confident that our justice system will not be undermined by rogue police personnel taking money ‘on the side’ to perform investigations for business interests or to support one side of civil disputes? If the police and lawyers don’t obey the laws, what is to prevent a divorcing husband or wife from paying a local police officer ‘on the side’ to gather information about their ex-spouse for a family law case?

What is to prevent your business rival from secretly hiring police officers to assist in a civil lawsuit against you?
Read more

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