No charges will be laid against an Abbotsford Police officer accused of stuffing money into his sock during a search of a suspected drug dealer’s home on Nov. 23, 2017.
The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) made the announcement Wednesday, saying “the available evidence does not meet the BCPS’s charge assessment standard.”
“Accordingly, the evidence falls markedly short of a solid case of substance that would be capable of supporting a prosecution,” the agency stated.
The incident took place when officers conducted a search of the Abbotsford home of Brian MacDonald, 53. They also searched storage lockers and three vehicles, seizing a total of two kilograms of drugs, $46,000 in cash, and weapons.
MacDonald was among two people subsequently charged, and he faced eight counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, but was acquitted of seven of those charges on Sept. 28 of this year following his trial. He was found guilty of one count of possession of a controlled substance.
It was revealed during his trial that there had been hidden cameras in his bedroom that captured police activity during the 2017 search.
The footage showed what appeared to be an officer stuffing cash found in the bedroom into his sock.
Court documents indicated that the officer testified in court that he had put the money in his sock as part of a practical joke. He said he had intended to pull out the money and present it to another officer as “the real jackpot,” the documents state.
The officer said he had changed his mind about the joke and left the money in the home, but he couldn’t remember where or when.
The BCPS said Wednesday that, after the video was produced in court, the Abbotsford Police Department asked for the matter to be investigated by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU).
Among those interviewed during their investigation were MacDonald, who said that the items that had gone missing from his home on the day of the search included $2,000 to $3,000 in coins from a broken safe, a sum of American cash, a container with $1,000 in rolled coins, jewelry from a dresser, and vintage Canadian bills amounting to $1,000.
The BCPS said the video evidence showed a stack of bills, including a $2 U.S. bill. The officer could be seen counting money and placing a $1 U.S. bill on the same stack, but neither one of those bills was recorded in the list of items seized during the search, the BCPS said.
Another video showed the officer walking up to the dresser and retrieving several items, believed by the CFSEU to be cash bills.
“He places those items in his hand, bends over, looks left and then stands up and has nothing in his hands. He is inspecting another item. At that point, the video cuts out,” the BCPS said.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the CFSEU recommended that the officer be charged with theft under $5,000.
The BCPS said in a press release that among the factors considered in whether charges would be laid against the officer was that the video evidence was incomplete.
A family member who provided the video clips to the CFSEU said he had viewed footage that showed another family member and two other individuals in the home on the day police had conducted their search.
That person said he had placed all of the videos on his computer, but some of the footage was erased or deleted, including that supposedly showing the other individuals.
BCPS said also taken into consideration were interviews with the two other officers who had been in the home with the accused officer.
“They confirmed having a recollection of the subject officer joking about having money in his sock,” the press release states.
The BCPS said the evidence “leaves open the possibility that the money was returned either before the police search was complete and not properly accounted for or returned after the search and taken by a third party.”
“While it is possible to draw some inferences pointing towards guilt from the subject officer’s suspicious activities, on the whole of the evidence there are other plausible inferences, consistent with innocence, that cannot be refuted.”