In a judgment released June 24, 2004, Provincial Court Judge D. I. Smyth has dismissed and stayed all charges against our client Murray Bush arising from an incident that occurred on October 3, 2002. Mr. Bush was photographing a public demonstration against Premier Gordon Campbell’s visit to the Britannia Community Centre when he was handcuffed and taken into custody.

Mr. Bush was taken by a paddy wagon to a Canadian Tire store parking lot where, in a situation eerily similar to the Stanley Park police beatings a few months later, a group of up to 40 uniformed VPD police officers opened the doors and threatened Mr. Bush with violence. He was then driven to the Vancouver Jail and subjected to a humiliating strip-search. Mr. Bush made eight or more requests to call a lawyer, all of which were ignored. Despite the fact that he had no criminal record, that he had cooperated fully with the police, and that court officials were available to release him on conditions, Mr. Bush was held in the Vancouver Jail for over 26 hours.

After hearing the evidence in the 20 day trial, Judge Smyth concluded that the police conduct so seriously violated Mr. Bush’s constitutional rights that two of the charges must be stayed. A third was dismissed as unproven.

The Judge had harsh words for the custodians of the jail. He concluded his reasons with the observation that “the evidence suggests an unfortunate failure at the Vancouver Jail, or simply reluctance, to bring the practice of strip-searching …and the practice concerning the release of prisoners into conformity with [the law]”.

It would seem that those entrusted with a duty to uphold the law have been routinely violating it.

Read Judge Smyth’s decision.