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No charges for Vancouver cops accused of obstructing probe into fellow officer

Officers’ colleague James Fisher was under investigation for sexual exploitation at the time
FILE - Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters in Vancouver, on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The B.C. Prosecution Service will not press charges against three Vancouver police officers accused of aiding their since-jailed colleague James Fisher while he was being investigated for sexual exploitation.

Fisher was sentenced to 20 months in prison in August 2018 after pleading guilty to kissing two young women who were witnesses in a criminal case he was probing. The following year, Alberta RCMP recommended charges against three Vancouver police officers who worked with Fisher in the Counter Exploitation Unit while he was being investigated in 2016.

RCMP said they believed the three unnamed officers had purposefully withheld information when they were personally interviewed about what they knew about Fisher.

For instance, one of the officers didn’t tell investigators that Fisher had been alone with a victim in his car while off-duty and gotten into a minor car crash, or that there was a previously unknown sexual misconduct allegation against him. The officer also neglected to tell investigators that Fisher had told him that the “RCMP are sniffing around about me.”

A second officer boasted after her interview that she hadn’t looked at investigators and had only given one-word answers to questions, according to evidence reviewed by the B.C. Prosecution Service.

The third officer neglected to mention that Fisher had picked up a victim in his car while off-duty.

READ ALSO: Former B.C. police detective pleads guilty to 3 sex-related offences

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Each officer later claimed they had been coached by their union representative not to say too much or give investigators more evidence against Fisher, although the representative denied that.

Also cause for concern to Alberta RCMP was the fact that Fisher asked two of the officers to interview one of his alleged victims when Fisher found out he was under investigation. Fisher told one of the officers to remind the woman in the interview that “she was all ‘methed out’” at the time she said he sexually assaulted her and that “she’s a drug addict.”

Fisher also had extensive phone calls with both of those officers before and after they interviewed the woman, although they weren’t recorded. The officers neglected to take any kind of notes during their interview with the woman, leaving what they discussed largely a mystery.

A recorded phone call between Fisher and the woman shows he told her one of the officers who was interviewing her was a “friend” and wouldn’t try to get him in trouble. Fisher advised her to say she couldn’t remember things or that it never happened.

After reviewing the evidence, the B.C. Prosecution Service released its decision not to press charges on Feb. 9. It said there was not a “substantial likelihood of conviction” and, therefore, it couldn’t take the cases on.

“The subject officers did not lie or misrepresent anything. They simply did not volunteer information.”

The B.C. Prosecution Service said there may have been a moral or social duty for the officers to be more forthcoming, but there wasn’t a legal one. The lack of note taking, it said, appeared to be standard practice in the unit.

It added that there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest the union representative had counselled obstruction either.


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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