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Abbotsford Police officer petitions to have public hearing quashed

An Abbotsford Police officer has petitioned the Supreme Court of B.C. to have his public hearing quashed with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC).

In his petition, Const. Doug Lemna states that police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe “did not have jurisdiction to order a public hearing” into allegations that Lemna had abused his authority during an arrest on Oct. 9, 2009 when he was serving as an acting sergeant.

Lemna and fellow officer Const. Daryl Young were filmed on video, later posted on YouTube, after detaining two men during what was believed to be a drug transaction near Ravine Park.

They arrested the alleged purchaser, trafficker and another man. Force was used during and following the arrests.

An internal investigation by the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) was ordered by Chief Bob Rich to determine whether the use of force was excessive.

In December 2010, the investigation concluded the allegations could not be substantiated against Lemna, but could be against Young.

A copy of the decision was forwarded to the OPCC. On Jan. 14, the commissioner issued a notice of public hearing for both Lemna and Young. A date and location have not been set.

Lemna states in his petition, filed last Thursday in Supreme Court in Vancouver, that Lowe did not follow proper protocol, as defined in the Police Act.

A subsection of the act states that a decision of the “discipline authority” – in this case, the APD – is final and conclusive when a finding is made of no misconduct, unless the OPCC appoints a retired judge to “review the investigating officer’s report” or “make his or her own decision on the matter.”

The petition states that retired judge Carole Lazar had been appointed only as the adjudicator of the hearing.

The OPCC orders public hearings into matters involving misconduct of municipal officers and which it deems are “necessary in the public interest,” according to the agency’s website.

Hearings determine whether there has been any misconduct on the part of an officer and, if so, what disciplinary measures should follow.

Meanwhile, Lemna is due to go to trial April 20 on a criminal assault charge related to a separate arrest. That incident took place in September 2010, when police responded to reports of breaking glass in the 2600 block of Jasper Court.

When officers arrived, two people fled on bicycles. They were stopped and detained a few blocks away. It is alleged that Lemna used excessive force on one of the individuals.

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