The West Vancouver Police Department has been called in to investigate the RCMP after what started as a road stop by Golden RCMP members resulted in a man speeding away in a vehicle, then later attempting to flee custody. The latter incident resulted in injuries to a Revelstoke RCMP officer and a man who is now facing a string of charges.
The Times Review has contacted the West Vancouver Police Department for comment, but the spokesperson there was not immediately available. Revelstoke RCMP detachment commander Staff-Sgt. Jacquie Olsen said she couldn’t comment since her department is the subject of the investigation.
What we do know is outlined in an RCMP media release dated Monday, Jan. 16.
John Robert Murrell is now in police custody, but it has taken some doing getting him there and keeping him there, according to the RCMP media release from Sgt. Rob Vermeulen, who is based in Vancouver.
Golden RCMP pulled over a vehicle Murrell was alleged to be driving at about 2 a.m. on Saturday. As a Mountie approached the vehicle, it sped off.
Golden police notified neighbouring detachments, including Revelstoke.
In the meantime, police spotted the vehicle two more times, but it got away.
A spike belt eventually slowed the vehicle down, and police were able to stop and arrest Murrell.
The RCMP allege Murrell provided a false name when arrested.
Back at the Revelstoke RCMP lockup, Murrell was examined by paramedics for injuries he may have sustained in the arrest. He was then taken to Queen Victoria Hospital for an examination, including X-rays, but was cleared by medical staff at the hospital to return to his cell.
Later on Saturday, the medical staff at the hospital asked to re-assess Murrell. Vermeulen says it was when the RCMP arrived at the hospital with their prisoner that Murrell tried to make another break for it. “Murrell ran out of the hospital and jumped down a 20-foot embankment attempting to elude police,” Vermeulen said in a statement. “He was located and while again attempting to escape from police an RCMP officer suffered a broken shoulder.”
Despite the delay, RCMP say they got Mr. Murrell to his appointment at the hospital.
RCMP say it took fingerprints to identify Murrell, and that he’s facing charges including dangerous driving, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, fleeing arrest, assaulting a police officer, escaping lawful custody and obstructing justice.
The media release does not specifically state that the West Vancouver Police Department is investigating a particular individual or department, but rather the RCMP as it relates to the entire incident.
The Times Review is following up on leads on this story, and have now confirmed that John Murrell has an extensive criminal record with over 30 convictions and has also spent time in prison.
Murrell led Kamloops RCMP on a lengthy car chase while high on drugs in September of 2008. According to the Kamloops Daily News, that John Murrell, 33 years-of-age at the time of the trial, was sentenced to 18 months in jail after he drove a stolen truck for many kilometres while being pursued by RCMP, evading roadblocks and spike belts before eventually crashing his truck into a ditch.
He fled on foot and a police dog was brought in, eventually catching and subduing him.
In a Sept. 29, 2008 story on the same court case by Tim Petruk of the Kamloops This Weeknewspaper quoted then RCMP Sgt. Scott Wilson: “Fortunately nobody was injured,” he said. “Fortunately there were no incidents on the road.
“He’s got 30 prior criminal convictions, with four for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle,” [Wilson] said. “This is a case of somebody who shouldn’t be driving, and in fact he was prohibited at the time from driving.”
In that case, Justice Hope Hyslop opted for the sentence recommended by the Crown prosecutor, citing Murrell’s high risk to reoffend.
According to another story from December of 2008 by Tim Petruk, Murrell was again in trouble with the law. Murrell was stopped in a Jeep Cherokee in downtown Kamloops. Also inside the vehicle was Jayme Norman Russell, the alleged local leader of the Independent Soldiers gang. Kenneth Victor Yaretz was also in the vehicle. His body was discovered in a shallow grave at a rural property in the Kamloops area in May of 2009. A man is facing a murder charge in connection with his death.
Later on that evening, the Jeep Cherokee was observed driving erratically and a police cruiser pursued it, eventually cornering the Jeep in an alley. The driver of the Jeep then rammed the police cruiser in order to escape.
Police allege Murrell was the driver when the Jeep rammed the police cruiser. Court documents indicate that Murrell made several appearances in Provincial Court on that matter. He faced charges of assault with a weapon, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, flight from a police officer and operating a motor vehicle while disqualified. Court records on that trial (that theTimes Review is able to access) end on Mar. 11, 2009 after Murrell was ordered to stand trial at a superior court.