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Police Constable Kris Wood, et al. v. Ruth Schaeffer, et al.

The case involves Ontario’s Special Investigative Unit (SIU), the civilian agency responsible for conducting independent investigations into incidents involving the use of police force causing death or serious injury. The SIU was formed due to citizens’ concerns about having “police investigate the police”.

This case involves two separate fatal incidents involving the police. At issue is whether police officers who are involved in incidents attracting the attention of the SIU are entitled to obtain legal assistance in the preparation of their notes regarding the incident, and the nature of that legal assistance.

The BCCLA has had extensive and high-profile involvement in advocating for effective civilian police oversight and accountability for in-custody deaths, ranging from its involvement in the public inquiries investigating in-custody deaths to participation in coroner’s inquests, to publications on in-custody deaths and providing casework assistance to individuals wishing to file police complaints.

The BCCLA is an intervener in this case and will argue that police officers have a duty to write independent notes and that those notes must be made immediately after the occurrence of an incident. This duty is central to the integrity of the criminal justice system and the public’s confidence in the police. An officer who witnesses a bank robbery does not seek legal advice before completing the notes his or her duty requires. The fact that an officer is under investigation should not alter this normal practice.

The BCCLA is represented by Andrew Nathanson of Fasken Martineau.

Argument

Supreme Court of Canada