The Court of Appeal has reserved judgment in Julie Berg’s appeal, wherein she seeks an order that the decision of a Police Act adjudicator be set aside. Following a lengthy public hearing, which neither Ms. Berg nor her lawyer participated in, the adjudicator decided that “it has not been proved to the degree necessary that the respondent [Cst. Bruce-Thomas of the VPD] committed the disciplinary default of abuse of authority on the person of Jeffrey Michael Berg causing his death.”

Julie Berg’s appeal was opposed by no fewer than five lawyers representing the Police Complaint Commissioner, Cst. Bruce-Thomas and the British Columbia Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police. The appeal was heard by Chief Justice Finch, Madam Justice Rowles and Mr. Justice Mackenzie over two days, March 20 and 21, 2006, and judgment was reserved.


Julie Berg’s brother Jeff Berg died on October 24, 2000 after being confronted by Cst. Bruce-Thomas of the Vancouver Police Department. The death was investigated by Vancouver Police Department investigators, including Insp. Rob Rothwell, a car racing teammate of Cst. Bruce-Thomas. On December 9, 2002, Regional Crown Counsel advised the Berg family that “a criminal prosecution is not appropriate” and, on December 19, 2002, Insp. Rothwell advised the family that “no further action is warranted”.

According to public statements made by Dana Urban, Q.C., an experienced former Crown Counsel, “the Vancouver Police Department’s investigation of itself in the best view, best view, could be described as incompetent.” Police Complaint Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld, Q.C., also an experienced former Crown Counsel, later published a report dated June 1, 2005 stating that his office experienced “interference and resistance from some members of the VPD Internal Investigation Section” on this case and that his office was “stymied” by their actions. Mr. Ryneveld concluded that “the real systemic problem appears to be with VPD management and its accountability within the police complaint process.”

In light of these comments, the public may well question why police in the province of British Columbia are still allowed to investigate themselves.


Jeff Berg: 1962-2000