The RCMP have agreed to pay Sechelt resident Don Robinson $20,000 in settlement of a lawsuit he brought for damages he claimed to have suffered in a beating in Gibsons RCMP cells September 30, 1988.
The settlement was reached two days before a Supreme Court civil trial was to begin earlier this month, The Press has learned.
Robinson is away working in Campbell River and was unavailable for comment.
An RCMP Public Complaints Commission hearing into the incident in February 1990 determined that Robinson was assaulted by Bruce Waite, a corporal a the Gibsons detachment at the time, who twice removed Robinson from police cells.
Sergeant Waite has since been promoted and transferred to Pemberton where he heads the detachment.
Robinson's beating took place in 1988, at the same time Waite was involved in a different lawsuit involving the beating of another man, Ken Haner, of Chase, while Waite was attached to the detachment there.
Haner's case was also settled out of court at a cost of thousands to the RCMP.
Robinson's lawyer, Peter Ritchie, of Vancouver, who confirmed the settlement, said he had planned to call other witnesses who claim to have been beaten by Waite before the case was settled, just days before the trial.
Ritchie agreed that appeared odd that Waite was promoted following the incidents. Perhaps he has some qualities that escaped me during the proceedings," Ritchie said.
In both cases RCMP refused to file criminal charges against Waite. Charges were laid by the Crown in Haner's case but the subsequent trial resulted in a hung jury and Corporal Waite was acquitted.
Contacted in Pemberton by the Press, Waite denied that he had made any settlement with Robinson.
"I haven't settled anything with anybody, and if you say I have, I will take appropriate action'," he said.
He did not say what appropriate action might be, but asked the reporter to spell his name.
He referred the reporter to his lawyer Ken Ball, of Vancouver, who did not return phone calls.
Gibsons RCMP Sergeant Ed Hill disavowed any knowledge of the settlement: "If that's the case, I don't know anything about it."
"There is nobody left here that was involved in that suit."
"I'm certainly not aware of it."
"You may be barking up the correct tree, I don't know, but $20,000 seems like an awful lot to me."
Michael Redding, Regional Director of the Public Complaints Commission of the RCMP said a complaint was lodged with them and a public hearing was held at the municipal hall in Gibsons in February of 1990.
He advised that the findings of the public hearing were as follows: Donald Robinson of Sechelt was assaulted while in police custody in RCMP cells in Gibsons and that Cpl. Bruce Waite twice removed Robinson from his cell and assaulted him on at least one of those occasions
The commission found that Waite kicked the feet out from underneath Robinson and pulled him to the feet by his hair, following a fight with another inmate. This was substantiated by another RCMP constable.
Robinson, in his suit alleged that he was then punched and kicked in the stomach by Waite, but the hearing findings could not substantiate this.
The hearing determined that there was no justification for these assaults and questioned the professional judgment of Waite.
The commission chaired by former B.C. Attorney General Allan Williams, was represented by council as was Cpl. Waite, the RCMP and the plaintiff Don Robinson.
Redding said a report on the findings was forwarded to the Commissioner of the RCMP as well as the Solicitor General July 31, 1990 and the Commissioner responded December 17, 1990.
Redding said the commission is not given any powers with respect to the discipline of officers and in fact are not even informed of what action, if any, is taken.
Redding explained that Robinson's was the first case to be heard by the commission anywhere in Canada.
The public Complaints commission was set up Sept. 30, 1988, to investigate complaints against the RCMP, the chairman of the commission reports annually to the House of Commons and the Senate. The chairman has complained in previous reports that the commission has little power and is not even advised on the disciplinary action taken by the RCMP internally.
He said he did not know what happened to Cpl. Waite and said he was unaware, when told that Waite had been promoted and moved to Pemberton.
The Press contacted the home of Ken Haner, who also settled out of court following a beating linked to Cpl. Waite.
Haner was away working in Fort St. James, however his wife, Ruby recalled that the Gibsons assault took place while their case was before the courts, in the discovery process.
She claimed that her husband had been at a Stag when a fight broke out and the combatants poured out of the building. She said her husband was attempting to break up the fight when the RCMP showed up and all participants, including her husband fled.
She claimed her husband was arrested by RCMP Const. Rempel and was in his custody when they encountered Waite who punched her husband repeatedly in the face, breaking his nose and damaging his cheekbone.
She said although they achieved a settlement in the civil case, they wouldn't have settled out of court if they had to do it again.
"We are trying to bring children up to have respect for the police, but this kind of thing makes it very hard," she said.
People like him shouldn't be on the force," she said.
She said her welder husband still suffers numbness and soreness in the face as a result of the beating.