Members of the Whitehorse RCMP have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the case of Wayne Hare, according to Alberta’s Lacombe Police Sgt. Steve Murray.
Murray is the officer tasked with independently investigating allegations that RCMP officers unjustly arrested, beat up and stripped naked 50-year-old Whitehorse resident Wayne Hare after an incident in January 2011.
Murray seized and reviewed hours of video and audio surveillance, and interviewed dozens of people involved including Whitehorse paramedics, Mounties, bar staff and patrons. The six-month investigation concluded that every member of the Whitehorse RCMP detachment treated Hare with nothing but “respect, courtesy and dignity,” throughout their interactions with him, Murray said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Hare was co-operative throughout the investigation, wanting only to understand what had happened to him, said Murray. Murray offered to let Hare watch the video for himself, but he declined. The video was reviewed by Hare’s lawyer.
“I would still like Mr. Hare to see the video. I really believe if he would watch the video it would clear up his mind,” said Murray.
When Hare made the allegations, he admitted he had been too drunk to remember anything after 2 a.m. when he was waiting for a cab outside of Flippers Bar on Jan. 15, 2011.
He said the next thing he remembered was waking up naked in an RCMP cell, badly bruised and with a broken shoulder.
After the death of Raymond Silverfox in RCMP custody in 2008, Hare was convinced the RCMP had mistreated him.
Murray’s investigation confirmed one thing about Hare’s story: He had indeed been waiting for a cab outside of Flippers Bar after closing.
But it’s there that the similarities end.
According to police phone records, Hare was not arrested outside of Flippers. Instead, he presented himself voluntarily at the RCMP detachment headquarters at around 2:35 a.m. and suggested he be arrested.
“Mr. Hare stated he simply wanted somewhere warm to sleep for the night due to the extreme cold,” said Murray.
Hare was instead offered a free ride to the Salvation Army, which could provide a place to sleep, said Murray.
Once at the Salvation Army, however, Hare became violent and upset at not being given a ride home. He charged at the RCMP vehicle, Murray said, and slammed the door on the officer’s back.
The officer attempted to arrest Hare for breaching the peace but Hare resisted and in the ensuing struggle both the officer and Hare ended up on the ground. A second RCMP officer who had been at the Salvation Army for an unrelated matter assisted and together the two were able to detain Hare.
While the rest of Hare’s time in custody was recorded, there is no audio or video record of the scuffle at the Salvation Army because the RCMP vehicle’s video surveillance system was not turned on.
“That in-car video is activated whenever an officer activates the emergency equipment. It comes on automatically. However, this wasn’t an emergency call, it was a courtesy call to the Salvation Army. It was not recording,” Murray explained.
There were no eyewitnesses aside from Hare – who remembers nothing – and the officers involved, said Murray.
Hare was then taken directly back to the detachment and put into a cell. He took off all his clothes himself and began beating the cell door with his arms and feet. He was given clean clothes before finally falling asleep, said Murray.
The next morning, Hare said he was in pain. He was examined by paramedics and taken to the hospital, but there was no evidence of serious injury.
A day later, Jan. 16, Hare returned to the hospital and was examined by a second ER physician. X-rays showed a fracture to Hare’s upper left arm, but the doctor concluded the injury was between 72 hours and 30 days old.
Despite his best efforts, Murray said he could not determine how Hare’s injury might have occurred.
Whitehorse RCMP spokeswoman Christine Grant said having an Outside agency conduct the investigation was important to preserve credibility and avoid accusations about the RCMP investigating itself.
Hare could not be reached for comment by press time.
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