RCMP officer charged with torture

Posted by admin on Feb 7th, 2007

CanWest, 7 February 2007. Robert Koopmans

A Merritt RCMP constable has been charged with torturing a man who was beaten and left on the outskirts of town. Const. Saxon Peters is also charged with aggravated assault and two counts of attempting to obstruct justice. An investigation began in the summer of 2005 after the Merritt RCMP detachment commander learned of street rumours suggesting someone had been badly beaten by one of his officers.

A senior non-commissioned officer was told to look into the matter. The sergeant located Glen Shuter, a 25-year-old member of the Lower Nicola Indian band, who reluctantly described how he was taken 10 kilometres from town on Aug. 19, beaten and left, police said.

Shuter did not file a complaint with RCMP. In fact, the sergeant needed to speak with the beaten man at length before he divulged details of what happened.

Shuter still bore physical signs of a beating a week after the alleged incident, having suffered blows to his head, face and stomach, the investigating officer noted.

The torture charge is new to the indictment, regional Crown counsel Stephen Harrison said. The offence replaces an earlier charge of unlawful confinement sworn when the officer was first arrested.

Harrison said the decision to charge the officer with torture was made after the Crown concluded there was a substantial likelihood of conviction and it was in the public interest to proceed.

Harrison told a provincial court judge on Monday that his office has filed a direct indictment in B.C. Supreme Court which means the matter will not be heard at a provincial court preliminary hearing, but will go straight to trial. Dates for the trial are expected to be set in March.

Peters had intended to plead guilty to the assault and unlawful confinement charges in October but changed his mind.

At the time of the original charges Roberta Coutlee, Shuter’s sister, told The Province she was glad to see charges laid but said others had also been beaten.

“There’s a lot of racism here,” said Coutlee. “Glen’s not the only one that’s been beat.”

Coutlee, a member of the Lower Nicola Indian Band, said she knows of at least two other people who were allegedly assaulted by Mounties but were either too scared to speak out or don’t think they will be taken seriously.

“There should be further investigation in the Merritt detachment and [officers] screened, because we’re a multicultural community and it shouldn’t be going on.”

The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP received five complaints against the Mounties in Merritt last year.

David Butcher, Peters’ Vancouver lawyer, did not return phone calls.

A second RCMP officer alleged to have been involved in the incident was not charged, although he faced an internal code of conduct review. An auxiliary constable who was also present for the assault had his peace officer status revoked.

Comments are closed.