Hi everybody! Some good news today...
Background: On Sept. 6 1995, Dudley George of the Stoney Point people was killed in an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) attack on an unarmed occupation of Stoney Point traditional lands, near Sarnia Ontario. Stoney Pointers have demanded a public inquiry into the full events that night. Eventually one OPP officer was charged with criminal negligence causing death (usually called "manslaughter"). His trial started on April Fool's Day and has been very tense... with many fucked-up things happening to witnesses etc.
But today (April 28, 1997): OPP Acting Sergeant Kenneth Deane is *guilty* of criminal negligence in the shooting death of Anthony O'Brien "Dudley" George, of Stoney Point First Nation, declared Judge Hugh Fraser, of Ottawa, at approx. 3:15 pm this afternoon at the Sarnia Provincial Court House.
Judge Fraser began reading his verdict at 2 p.m. Some ARA people were there, and although we arrived half an hour early, there was no room left inside the court room. There were reports that OPP officers had come in a side door and packed the courtroom, although there was room reserved for Dudley's family.
Shortly after 3 p.m., those of us waiting anxiously outside the courtroom heard a sudden chorus of happy shouts. Seconds later, people trickled out of the court room letting everyone know Deane's verdict: GUILTY!
News reports stated that Judge Fraser agreed that DUDLEY WAS UNARMED, as the Stoney Pointers have consistently maintained, and that Deane had concocted the story that Dudley was aiming a gun at Deane, to hide his shooting of an unarmed man.
Deane's sentencing will take place on May 27, 1997. The maximum sentence for criminal negligence causing death is life imprisonment.
We think this is the first time a cop has been convicted of killing someone in Ontario, for the last 20 years AT LEAST.
JUSTICE FOR DUDLEY GEORGE!
DEMAND A FULL PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO THE SHOOTING DEATH OF ANTHONY O'BRIEN "DUDLEY" GEORGE!
Anti-Racist Action (Toronto)
P.O. Box 291
by phone: (416) 631-8835
In Toronto, tune into to "Radio Antifa", every other Monday night on CKLN 88.1 FM, the radio show that has the Heritage Front fuming!
Pullquote: OPP Acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane shot unarmed protester Dudley George and 'concocted a story' to try to cover his crime, a judge says.
SARNIA -- Family members of native protester Dudley George cheered and wept and hugged each other in court here Monday as an OPP officer was found guilty of shooting George.
Acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane was found guilty of criminal negligence causing death in the Sept. 6, 1995 shooting outside Ipperwash Provincial Park. He is to be sentenced May 27. The conviction carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
In rendering his decision, Judge Hugh Fraser said he rejected Deane's testimony and the evidence of other police officers as fabricated.
PACKED COURT: Deane shot George knowing he was not armed and then "concocted a story . . . in an ill-fated attempt to disguise the fact that an unarmed man was shot," Fraser told a heavily secured courtroom packed with police, natives and supporters, including National Grand Chief Ovide Mercredi.
"You were not honest in your statements to police investigators, to the SIU and to this court," Fraser told Deane.
At one point during Monday's proceedings, Deane wiped at tears welling up in his eyes.
The judge rejected outright the testimony of one police officer -- Const. Chris Cossitt.
"The Crown said it was 'amusing.' That is one word. I might use other words," Fraser said. "I dismissed it entirely as fabricated." Fraser said he relied heavily on the testimony of Sgt. George Hebblethwaite, "a helpful and credible witness."
Hebblethwaite's testimony put him several metres behind Deane with George in his line of vision. Hebblethwaite said he could discern that George held a pole or stick, not a gun, and he had not considered him a threat to police.
Hebblethwaite also testified that he didn't see the muzzle flashes -- the light of gunfire -- Deane said he had seen shortly before he shot George.
Fraser said to accept the defence's argument, he would have to accept that:
* George left an area of safety with a gun and stepped into an open area facing police.
* After being shot, George threw the gun away before running toward other protesters.
* Despite the fatal bullet breaking his collarbone, George was able to throw a gun.
* Const. Mark Beauchesne, an experienced tactics and rescue unit officer, would not ask for more information if Deane had told him he'd seen "a guy with a gun."
* Deane would say nothing to Hebblethwaite about shooting an armed man when they spoke about 15 seconds after the shooting.
Brian Adkin, president of the OPP Association, said outside court Deane will appeal the verdict and the association will support him fully.
He said government inaction on the Ipperwash land claim created a "tragedy on both sides, a tragedy for the George family and a tragedy for Sgt. Deane."
Adkin said he did not believe Deane was a scapegoat, but said governments must deal with land claims so police do not end up in the middle of those struggles.
"The police are always left in the middle," Adkin said. "The land claim (at Ipperwash) is still not solved, and we want a solution."
Two days before the shooting, about 24 native protesters entered Ipperwash Provincial Park as it closed for the season, saying the province desecrated a sacred burial ground when it developed the park. George was shot just outside the park, which is still under native control, after police and natives clashed. He is the only native to be killed over a land claim this century.
Adkin said he was "extremely disappointed" with the verdict but the association "must live with the ruling." He said he believes all police witnesses -- including Cossitt -- showed integrity when giving their testimony.
Pierre George, Dudley's brother, said outside court he has never wavered in his belief that his brother did not threaten police with a gun.
"But I'm glad the judge said it right out loud, loud and clear that he didn't believe (Deane's) lies," Pierre George said as behind him in the court parking lot natives and supporters honked car horns and cheered.
The ruling clears his family's name in part, he said. "There still needs to be a public inquiry into what happened. My brother's name is cleared, and now we have to clear my cousins and all the Stoney Point people."
Sam George, another brother, also wants a public inquiry.
"The trial put the spotlight on Sgt. Deane. But people at Queen's Park who are really responsible for Dudley's death are still in the shadows. . . . My family wants to know all the facts of how our brother died."
Natives say the order for police to use force on the protesters came from Queen's Park.
In Toronto, Premier Mike Harris said he will consider holding a public inquiry into George's death. He would not comment on Deane's conviction, saying the government must wait for the standard 30-day verdict appeal period to pass before deciding what needs to be done.
Opposition MPPs say an inquiry is warranted to probe the government's role, if any, in the death. Liberal and NDP MPPs want to know why the OPP used force instead of peaceful negotiation. Some allege the shooting took place after political interference from the government which urged police to get tough with native protesters.
Harris said there was no evidence of political meddling.
"There is nothing that I've seen or heard that causes any concern with government policy in the whole matter, but we will wait until this case is over and take a look at whether an inquiry would be helpful," Harris said Monday.
Meanwhile in Sarnia, Sam George said he went numb when the verdict was read because he had been expecting an acquittal even though he always believed his brother was not armed. "I didn't think we'd ever get justice. I'm glad (Deane) didn't get away with it," said Sam George who said his faith in the judicial system is "a little restored."
-- with files from Southam Newspapers
* The court heard 11 days of testimony, starting April 1, about the clash between police and natives Sept. 6, 1995 that led to the shooting death of native protester Dudley George outside Ipperwash Provincial Park.
* Two days before the shooting, about 24 natives, mostly Stoney Pointers, entered the park as it closed for the season, saying the province had desecrated a native burial ground when it developed the park.
* At about 10:45 p.m. on Sept. 6, 1995, 32 crowd management unit officers in riot gear with shields, batons and sidearms, protected by an eight-member tactics and rescue unit including acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane, marched on the natives.
* After the confrontation between police and natives, a school bus and car drove out of the park, scattering police. Seven police officers opened fire and George was killed.
* Deane testified that shortly before he shot George, he saw muzzle flashes -- the light of gunfire -- come from some bushes, and then he saw George step from those bushes with a gun. Moments later, Deane testified, George stepped into the road and scanned police with a rifle and Deane shot him.
* Crown witnesses said natives were unarmed. Defence witnesses testified that police and police equipment were not struck by bullets.
* Andrew Orkin, a lawyer for five of Dudley George's brothers and sisters who have filed a wrongful death suit against the province, the OPP and others, said outside court the testimony proved there was a cover-up, "an ex post facto concoction," in the shooting. The brothers and sisters have said if the province calls a proper public inquiry, they will drop their lawsuit.
* Delia Opekokew, another lawyer representing the family, said outside court the ruling was "very much historic...There's such an adversarial relationship between Indians and police." She thought the verdict would help the native community to heal. "Dudley was very well liked...There will be some sense of justice that he didn't die for nothing."
* Pat Gyenes, co-ordinator with the Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with Native Peoples: "Our past history has been, if you kill a native who cares? Getting a conviction has been difficult, and if you can blame a native, they'll do time. I have to admit I wasn't too hopeful...but the judge was trying very hard to be fair. He basically said to Deane 'you were not truthful, you were inventing a story.' I felt sorry for Officer Deane and his family. I don't think of him as a murderer. I think of him as a weapon. Who gave him that order to use weapons? I hate to see a man take the fall for something like that when someone gave him an order. When that comes out, that's when justice will be done."
* Gina George, a Stoney Point resident whose husband was Dudley's first cousin: "It's a beginning. There's still a lot of unanswered questions. An inquiry would bring out everything."
Copyright © 1997 The London Free Press Printing Company Ltd.