Inquiry into Alberta RCMP officer’s killing looks at bail hearing process [UPDATED]
By Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
By Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
ST. ALBERT, Alta.—An Alberta Justice official has told a fatality inquiry into the death of a Mountie that the province is right not to force prosecutors to tell bail hearings about a suspect’s criminal record.
Assistant deputy minister Eric Tolppanen spoke Wednesday at the inquiry into the shooting of Const. David Wynn at an Edmonton-area casino in 2015.
Career-criminal Shawn Rehn was out on bail on other charges when he killed Wynn and wounded an auxiliary constable.
The Crown at Wynn’s bail hearing had been represented by a police officer, not a prosecutor. That practice has stopped since Wynn’s death.
Fatality inquiry lawyer Lionel Whittaker asked Tolppanen whether prosecutors should be legally required to tell bail judges about a suspect’s criminal record, the nature of the alleged offence and bail history.
The requirement was part of a private member’s bill, named Wynn’s Law, that was defeated in Parliament in 2017.
Tolppanen called the provision unnecessary.
“As laudable as it may seem to have included that in the Criminal Code, in practice, it already happens,” he told the inquiry.
He said such a requirement would limit the ability of prosecutors to present their cases as they see fit. That right is protected under the Constitution, he said.
“That would be an erosion of those principles,” Tolppanen said.
Wynn, 42, had been investigating a stolen truck in the bedroom community of St. Albert, northwest of Edmonton, when he went to the Apex Casino.
Court heard that Wynn and an auxiliary Const. Derek Bond found their suspect inside the casino and chased after him near some slot machines. In a brief struggle, Rehn shot and wounded Bond before shooting Wynn in the head.
Wynn died in hospital three days later.
Sgt. Ken Bruns with the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team testified that Rehn then fled in the stolen truck and holed himself up in a nearby acreage. As the home was surrounded by officers, he killed himself.
Bruns said officers heard a shot and saw Rehn through a basement window.
“Mr. Rehn was lying on the floor on his back,” he said. “Mr. Rehn had a black pistol in his hand and had shot himself in the face.”
Medical examiner, Dr. Mitchell Weinberg, testified that Rehn had used cocaine and a high quantity of methamphetamine before his suicide.
The inquiry also heard Rehn was wanted on 29 different warrants, including several orders to appear in court, related to four separate crimes.
After the shooting, senior RCMP officers questioned why Rehn had been out on the street and Alberta’s justice minister called for a review of how the case was handled.
Details from the bail hearing revealed that a police officer who stood in for the Crown consented to a defence lawyer’s request for bail. No mention was made at the hearing of Rehn’s lengthy criminal record.
Alberta later stopped using officers instead of Crown lawyers during bail hearings. The RCMP also restricted its use of auxiliary constables.
Shelly Wynn attended the inquiry, which is set to wrap up Thursday.
She said it was difficult to hear again the details of her husband’s death. And though she understands justice officials have reasons for not forcing prosecutors to tell bail hearings about a suspect’s criminal record, she still thinks it’s a good idea.
“I think they have to look at the simplicity of it. This is somebody’s life,” she told reporters outside court.
“That information could have saved or prevented one officer from being shot and injured and living with it for the rest of his life, and another officer that lost his life and a family that has to go through this for the rest of their life.”