Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Murder of Jeff Hughes: The Coverup Continues #2

[This was originally published in Canada and so the authors necessarily pulled some of their punches for fear of Canada's notorious hate laws and the infamous Human Rights Tribunals of the Jew Richard Warman. - HAC]

"They Killed The Wrong Man"

The RCMP(Royal Canadian Mounted Police) murdered this man because of his political beliefs. Here is what the coroner's jury found despite RCMP lies and the state's obvious attempt at a coverup during the coroner's inquest - T.L.

“They killed the wrong man,” Native Artist Tells Jeff Hughes Inquest

Dino Davis, a gaunt, sprightly 75 year old native Indian painter and upstairs neighbour to White Nationalist Jeff Hughes, who died in a hail of police bullets, October 23, 2009, told a Coroner’s Inquest: “They killed the wrong man.” The police should have done something about native drug pushers who shouted and partied from 7:00 pm. to 7:00 a.m. many evenings and kept tenants awake. A female lookout seemed to help them outwit police visits after numerous noise complaints.

After learning of Jeff Hughes slaying by police, I and many others have been troubled. First reports said the police shot him because they thought he had a gun, but no gun was found. Other reports said he’d been shot in the back. Overarching it all was the fact that he’d been visited by BC’s “Hate Squad” to hassle him for handing out leaflets critical of inter-racial relationships. We knew him to be poor and in bad health. He was quiet and peaceful. We also knew that the rough area he lived in weighed on his nerves. He had to catch an early ferry the morning he was shot in order to go to Vancouver for a job interview that might have turned his life around.

The drug pushing native rowdies in his building often partied all night. That night was one such. We’d heard he’d phoned in a noise complaint to the RCMP but there’d been no response. We knew he’d eventually gone out to confront the drunken partiers and been beaten bloody. He turned up music to protest their loud music. A noise complaint was called in. Police arrived around 6:00 a.m. Some time later Jeff was shot and killed.

There were all sorts of questions. In incident after incident over the past decade, the RCMP in British Columbia have proven trigger happy and out-of-control. Was this such an incident? Was Jeff seen as fair game because of his political views? Where was the alleged weapon? Could Jeff’s life have been saved?

As Presiding Coroner Marj Paonessa explained at the commencement of the inquest, July 25: “This is not a trial; there is no accused. We are here to determine who died, how, where, when and why.”

The inquest was characterized by a palpable rush to get the proceedings over with. Douglas H. Christie, representing Jeff Hughes brother, Russell, was repeatedly shut down in his questioning. Inquest Counsel Rodrick Mackenzie’s body language repeatedly screamed impatience during Mr. Christie’s cross-examination. He frequently checked his watch as if an early getaway for the August long weekend might be in jeopardy.

The nadir of the proceedings came Wednesday morning when Presiding Coroner Paonessa lambasted Mr. Christie, accusing him of “having been extremely disrespectful of me and other counsel. I shall listen very carefully to your questions and tone and demeanour and, if it’s not abundantly clear to me how your question will help, I will tell you to sit down.” So much for exploring the how and why of what happened.

The coroner seemed to revel in vagueness. To her, it didn’t matter what Const. Matthew Watkin said to Jeff Hughes. Did he, in fact, tell him to turn the music down. That was, after all, the entire purpose of the police visit to Hughes’ apartment. Nor was Doug Christie allowed to ask Watkin about the handgun Mr. Hughes allegedly, having opened his apartment door a bit, thrust it near his head (Watkin was crouching down) “four inches from my face.” This is a crucial point. At that distance, surely a policeman, experienced in weapons, would see the very large barrel of a flaregun, which would look very different from a .22 cal. or .38 cal. pistol or revolver.

The carefully restricted evidence , in fact, created more fog than clarity. Here’s what we do know or were told and the questions the fog leaves unanswered.

Const. Watkin was the first to approach Mr. Hughes’ door. The property manager, Watkin testified, “told me he was dangerous and had assaulted someone.” A trail of blood led to Mr. Hughes’ door. In fact, it was Hughes who had been assaulted an hour or so before by two of the partiers he had confronted. One of those at the party, John Viney, then a 16 year old who’d had had three beers, testified that his friend Jesse Crnec, who was over six feet tall and weighed 175 lbs., had punched Mr. Hughes in the face and knocked him flat on his back. “Then, Jesse gave him a knee to the face as I was helping him up.”

Dino Davis also heard the fight and heard several people say: “We hung a good one on him.”

Doug Christie forcefully suggested that property manager J. Hyzelendoorn had said a lot more to Const. Watkin. “Did the manager tell you: ‘This guy is a Nazi skinhead. He has lots of knives. He assaulted someone before and wouldn’t hesitate to kill you!’?”

Inquest Counsel Mackenzie leapt to his feet: “I strongly object. This was never put to the manager.”

The line of questioning was shut down. Coroner Paonessa said: “I agree. You are very repetitious, Mr. Christie. This isn’t a trial. The minutiae will not help the jury. There will be contradictions.”

Oh, well, we’re not to know what exactly it was Cpt. Watkin had been told or thought he knew before confronting Mr. Hughes. That information might open up the issue of any potential political bias or animosity toward Mr. Hughes. After all, the police would shortly fire over 20 rounds at this man. He was not Bonnie or Clyde in their final shootout.

Mr. Christie sought to get specifics about just what was said to Mr. Hughes during what was referred to as “negotiations” by Const. Watkin. Another officer Const. Macfarlane who was standing right behind Const. Watkin outside Mr. Hughes door thought the music he heard was a xylophone or the odd music that serves as background for electronic games. Watkin thought he heard “White power” in the lyrics.

So, were Jeff Hughes’ politics an issue? The evidence was inconclusive.

Then, just what did Const. Watkin say to Mr. Hughes? He claimed he introduced himself and asked Mr. Hughes to come to the door. Jeff Hughes reportedly told him to “fuck off” and warned that, if he came inside, he’d shoot him. Mr. Christie tried to find out whether Const. Watkin had actually delivered the key message to turn the noise down.

Remember Hughes had been badly beaten an hour or so earlier and may have suffered a concussion. He may have feared the visitors were the drug pushers who’d beaten him . As Mr. Christie pointed out: “He’s in his own home. He’s not obliged to come to the door. You’re not telling him to turn down the music.”

The incident being nearly two year old, Const. Watkin couldn’t recall the specifics of the conversation with Mr. Hughes. Mr. Christie asked that the officer’s duty report written a day after the incident in consultation with his lawyer be entered as an exhibit. Doug Christie pointed out that Const. Watkin’s notes made no mention of telling Mr. Hughes to turn down the music.

A break and a huddle between Const. Watkin and the other lawyers ensured. David Kwan, representing the Attorney General of Canada (and, thus, the RCMP), reported that neither Const. Watkin nor the RCMP objected to the duty report being entered into evidence. However, on behalf of the government, he did object. Mr. Christie argued that, with the lapse of time, these notes would help the seven jurors get the best and fullest evidence.

Presiding Coroner Paonessa reserved. Having mulled it over that evening, the next morning she delivered her decision, just prior to her blast at Doug Christie. Although neither the officer nor the RCMP objected, she sided with the Attorney General: “The best evidence is live testimony. This document will not be entered as an exhibit.”

So, did Jeff Hughes even know the real identity of the people pounding on his door or the purpose of their visit? The answers are murky and it seems the powers that be like it that way.

Did Jeff Hughes really have a gun or was the flare gun planted on his dead body? No other witness had seen him with a weapon. When he confronted the rowdies, he was angry but unarmed. Dina Davis said she had visited Jeff Hughes apartment on the condition he had no drugs, alcohol or weapons. She saw no weapons. Mr. Hughes confided that his only weapon was a stick.

Both Const. Watkin and Macfarlane said Hughes came out into the hallway with a gun. They retreated down the hall. He went back to his apartment. There was a window to his apartment looking out on to the hallway. Why not flush him out with teargas, if he was armed? We’re not told.

Shortly after, Jeff Hughes again came down the hall, allegedly with his “gun”. He went down into the alley that led from his apartment to Selby Street. There were apparently four officers who’d taken cover in the parking lot behind cars or a fence. Const. Macfarlane stepped out from his hiding place. He recalled that Mr. Hughes “still had his headphones on and his firearm was pointed toward the street:” that is, away from Macfarlane. “I yelled: ‘Drop your gun. Do it now!’ I was now in the open. I now had no cover. He turned around and pointed the firearm at me. I discharged my weapon and fired three rounds.” All apparently missed.

He then heard a number of shots but couldn’t be certain who had fired. Mr. Hughes seemed to slump over a bit but continued down the alley. Later, after further shooting, he reported Const. Heather Cook saw Mr. Hughes slumped against the wall. “It was decided unsafe to move in on Mr. Hughes until the ERT (Emergency Response Team [which had been called] cleared Mr. Hughes of any weapon.” In other words, he’d be left there lying to bleed out. Does “Serve and Protect” really mean serve our political masters and carefully protect our own hides?

Const. Watkin explained his role in the shooting which seems inconsistent with Const. Macfarlane’s account. He, too, has Mr. Hughes walking down the alley to the street. ”I stepped out of cover and challenged him. He’s two fence panels away;” in other words, quite close. “I yelled, ’Drop the gun.’ He rotated toward me and then away from me. I shot 6 or 7 shots. He makes it away from me and disappears around the front of the building. I lose visual. I heard another shot from around the corner from Const. Cook.”

On Thursday, Const. Heather Cook would testify that she fired four shots at Mr. Hughes after ordering him to drop his weapon. Apparently, he still kept moving because Cpl. Paul McIntosh fired several more shots at him.

[Okay, so we're now back to ten shots. - HAC]

During his cross-examination of Const. Macfarlane, Mr. Christie came under attack from Coroner Counsel Mackenzie who was constantly restless and checking his watch. At one point, he blurted out: “This is speculative. We could be here for months. We don’t need to hear the story a second time,” he groused. Doug Christie is a master of cross-examination.

Coroner Paonessa took up the refrain, as she cut Doug Christie off: “Do you have anything new. … I’m finding this very repetitive.”

So, was there a gun? At about 7:00 a.m., just after the shooting, police radio picks up Const. Cook who has the injured and still Mr. Hughes under close observation saying she can’t see the gun. It’s not until the first ERT officer arrives that he allegedly discovers the flaregun in the roadway beside Mr. Hughes. Doug Christie points out: “They never filed the flare pistol as an exhibit or testified to it.” And in a hail of gunfire reminiscent of the O.K. Corral, Mr. Hughes never once fires the weapon he’s alleged to be carrying. He had an opportunity in at least four direct confrontations with officers who fired at him.

Mr. Christie said apparently 22 shots had been fired in total. Just three struck Mr. Hughes, one in the heel, one below the buttock, hitting his femoral artery, and one in the back of the arm, which entered his chest and nicked the aorta, according to pathologist Dr. David Charlesworth. Doug Christie explains: “Dr. David Charlesworth admitted that with proper and immediate attention Mr. Hughes could have been saved.” “Paramedic Terry Jensen, who also took the stand Thursday, said Hughes’s injuries were likely fatal even if he had received immediate medical attention.” (Nanaimo News Bulletin, July 29, 2011) The medical testimony confirmed that all three shots hit Mr. Hughes from behind!

Thus, even if the police are given the benefit of the doubt as to the shooting, the shocking refusal to approach and assist the fallen Hughes until the ERT arrives makes the squad of at least 10 heavily armed and armoured police look incredibly callous. Whether Jeff Hughes could have recovered from his injuries, if he’d received timely treatment, we’ll never know. The police who hid and hung back for over 20 minutes didn’t know either and certainly took no steps to bring medical attention to the man they’d slain.

Another mystery was toxicologist Heather Dinn’s report that Mr. Hughes had twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood, as well as traces of morphine. The latter is not in dispute. Mr. Hughes was prescribed morphine for severe pain due to fibromyalgia. His friend Ciaran Donnelly testified that he saw Mr. Hughes from time to time in Vancouver and that he had given up alcohol 15 or 20 years ago. Dina Davis also testified that Hughes did not drink. Dr. Dinn, who works for the RCMP forensic laboratory, testified that both morphine and alcohol are depressants, making it a mystery that Mr. Hughes was even able to walk. These “depressants would slow the reaction time and executive functions of the brain and judgement. The subject might enter into more risky behaviour than the otherwise. He would be more sedated or sleepy.” Mr. Christie, on cross-examination, sought to learn how carefully the blood sample evidence had been preserved prior to reaching her lab three weeks after the shooting. She was unable to say.

A tribute to Mr. Hughes was that three or four of his former neighbours attended each day of the inquest and expressed deep cynicism about the official version of events. Neighbour Dana Wagg, who said he’d been a journalist during the Oka standoff some two decades ago, told CAFÉ: “Jeff was kind and helpful. He was coming out of himself and being a bit more friendly. However, he was pissed off a the loud partying.”

The Nanimo Daily News (July 29, 2011) reported testimony by “Georgia Strait Alliance administrative director Cathy Booler. For a decade, Hughes volunteered with the environmental non-profit, helping with mail-outs, bingo games and occasionally fixing computers. ‘He was a person trying to turn his life around,’ said Booler, who knew Hughes hung a Nazi flag in his home but never talked about it. ‘He had quite a kind heart.’”

Doug Christie had asked Dina Davis: “Did he ever show animosity to you as a native person?”

She had testified that he often bought her groceries and did printouts on his computer to accompany her Indian paintings. She answered: “No. He told me: ‘You’re a beautiful heart. You’ve been through a lot in life.’”

We may never know the full truth about what happened that rainy October morning. On Friday, July 29, the jury came back with their recommendations. “They adopted all my recommendations,” Mr. Christie told CAFÉ. “The jury did not seem to have confidence in the official story they were told. The jury wanted cameras to record the events whenever guns are drawn to avoid contradictions,” he explained. Also, they did not want police to investigate shootings by police of civilians. – Paul Fromm

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