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Internal investigation finds disgraceful conduct in Gillespie shooting

Bill Gillespie -
Bill Gillespie
— image credit:

The police officer charged with aggravated assault in the shooting of Bill Gillespie was found culpable of disgraceful conduct during an internal RCMP code of conduct investigation, the News Leader Pictorial has learned.

Const. David Pompeo is accused of aggravated assault in the shooting of Chemainus resident Gillespie on Sept. 18, 2009.

According to documents obtained by the NLP, a code of conduct investigation for disgraceful conduct was ordered against the officer on Sept. 15, 2010.

"The code of conduct allegation was substantiated and a disciplinary hearing is pending for that matter," Supt. Norm McPhail, the officer in charge at Nanaimo's RCMP detachment, wrote in a letter to David Eby of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association on June 14, 2011.

Pompeo was a member of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment at the time of the incident, but has since moved on to the Nanaimo detachment.

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Rob Vermeulen confirmed Pompeo is an operational (working) officer at that detachment.

Pompeo has pleaded not guilty to one count of aggravated assault, and is slated to stand trial over nine days starting on Sept. 4 of this year.

Running in tandem with the criminal investigation of the incident was the RCMP's internal review.

According to the RCMP website, the RCMP Act gives an officer or member in command of a detachment the authority to initiate a code of conduct investigation.

McPhail's letter to Eby states Pompeo's code of conduct investigation was ordered in September 2010 by Supt. Jeff Lott, the officer in charge of the Nanaimo detachment at that time. It came as a result of a preliminary RCMP Independent Officer Review of the incident, submitted by Insp. Gord Wellar.

Disciplinary hearings are heard by an RCMP adjudication board that consists of three RCMP officers. This board hears testimony, receives evidence and renders a decision.

"Should formal disciplinary sanctions be imposed following a disciplinary hearing, they can range from forfeiture of pay for a period not exceeding 10 work days, to demotion or dismissal," the RCMP website states. "The board may also impose informal disciplinary measures in addition to, or as a substitute for, formal disciplinary sanctions."

Pompeo's disciplinary hearing has not yet taken place, and will not be scheduled until after his trial concludes.

Meanwhile, Gillespie is becoming increasingly frustrated with the police's handling of the matter and the delays to the court proceedings — he points out that three years will have passed before Pompeo stands trial.

"This is a delaying tactic, so that witnesses become foggy, the momentum of the case grinds to a halt, and it basically gets swept under the rug," Gillespie said.

"And in the meantime, the waiting slowly wears you down, to the point where you become so depressed and so anxious that you don't even feel like getting up some days."

Gillespie, whose civil case against the RCMP isn't set to go to court until May 2013, has been unable to work since the incident, as the bullet remains lodged in his spine.

"It's been torture," he said of the pain. "And I'm not out of the woods yet with this injury. Anything could happen. If I get an infection in there, I could lose the use of my legs."

Gillespie is supported by Eby, executive director at the Civil Liberties Association.

"Bill's case illustrates really well what's wrong with this entire system," said Eby.

"There is no reason for it to take so long to investigate this incident and to come to the conclusion that the officer involved should be charged," he said.

"They knew who the shooter was, they had the weapon, they had witness accounts from another police officer and from the gentleman travelling with Bill. It couldn't be an easier investigation, and yet it still takes the RCMP years."

Eby said the situation clearly demonstrates the need for the independent investigation office being established by the province, although even this will be of no assistance to Gillespie, as it will not investigate historic cases.

"I just feel like if you're up against one police officer, you're up against the whole organization," Gillespie said. "It's a good old boys' club, and they're going to stick behind each other, right or wrong — and in the process, they're going to wear me down."

 

Side: What happened

Bill Gillespie was behind the wheel driving his friend, Dale Brewer, home after an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting about 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2009.

Police said members of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP attempted to pull Gillespie over in the 3000 block of Henry Road, but the driver failed to stop.

Gillespie did pull into Brewer's driveway at 3020 Henry Rd. where a pair of plainclothes officers, from the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment's Street Crew, yelled at the men to get out of the car, put their hands up and get on their knees.

There are varying reports of what happened after that, however there's no argument a police officer discharged his weapon, hitting Gillespie once in the upper body.

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