Lawyer calls for criminal investigation into RNC

Josh Pennell
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Request comes after an alleged case of police violence

Serious charges against a young St. John’s man were dropped in court Wednesday, but equally serious allegations are now being made about the RNC that could lead to a criminal investigation into the police force.

This photo taken by an eyewitness in December shows a bloodied Bradley Bartlett being arrested by RNC officers in the Dooly’s parking lot on Topsail Road.

Last December, Bradley Bartlett was leaving a Christmas party at Dooly’s on Topsail Road. He was waiting for a cab with a drink outside and smashed the glass. During an attempted arrest, an altercation with police led to three charges against Bartlett of assaulting a police officer. There was also a fourth charge of resisting arrest.

Crown prosecutor Natalie Payne dropped those charges Wednesday because it was determined there were no grounds for the arrest in the first place that led to the altercation. The Crown also said there was no likelihood of a conviction.

Bartlett’s lawyer, Bob Simmonds, then told the court that as a result of what Bartlett told him, and the eyewitness accounts of several others who were also at the Dooly’s party that night, the incident didn’t involve Bartlett assaulting officers, but an officer assaulting him.

Pictures taken by a witness on the scene show a bloodied Bartlett being arrested by police.

Simmonds said he initially thought the blood was from Bartlett hitting his face on the ground.

But Bartlett’s version, which coincides with that of several eyewitnesses, is that an RNC police officer punched Bartlett in the face three times, Simmonds said.

Simmonds said he was shocked by the pictures and the allegations.

“I thought this was one of the most — no, not one of the most — the most egregious case, if made out, of misconduct by the police that I’ve ever seen,” Simmonds said after court had adjourned.

Simmonds said he would write to RNC Chief of Police Bill Janes to request a criminal investigation into the incident. Bartlett would be filing an official complaint with the RNC as well, the lawyer said.

Wednesday afternoon following the court proceedings, Janes addressed the issue at a news conference. He said on the December night, police officers saw a man they thought was drinking outside Dooly’s on Topsail Road.

“While attempting to investigate the matter that they were responding to, there was a physical altercation between the officers and the suspect and the suspect sustained injuries,” Janes said.

The officers took Bartlett to the hospital for his injuries, which didn’t involve any broken bones, but consisted of cuts and bruises. As far as Janes knew, no officers were injured during the incident, he said.

Janes said the first he heard of the matter was Wednesday afternoon and at that point no complaint had been made to the RNC Public Complaints Commission — an independent body whose job it is to review complaints against officers and, where appropriate, call for investigations.

Four officers were on the scene that night, one of whom allegedly punched Bartlett. Simmonds was advised by the Crown attorney’s office that the police said they couldn’t get any co-operation from any other civilians at the scene that night, so no statements were taken.

Witnesses that Simmonds interviewed are telling a different story, he said. Two say they were trying to speak with police, but police treated them as though they were part of the problem.

“(The police) told them to get away, they were obstructing justice,” Simmonds said.

In the case of one witness, a heated exchange with police allegedly took place.

Simmonds said alcohol was obviously involved in the incident.

“That, however, does not mandate or allow for the kind of action that I am advised took place here. And I believe a proper investigation will determine whether my witnesses are full of it or whether indeed there is a real concern here.”

If and when Bartlett files a complaint with the RNC Public Complaints Commission, it will then decide if an investigation is warranted.

Organizations: RNC Public Complaints Commission

Geographic location: Topsail Road

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Recent comments

  • Unsure
    March 06, 2014 - 12:15

    If this story is legit, why wait more than 2 months to report it? Mr. Simmonds is relaying words from others that were supposely at the scene, and I am sure under the influence of alcohol. Don't sound right to me.

  • Marshall Art
    March 06, 2014 - 10:40

    Several years ago, after leaving a club one night, I couldn't pull out of my parking space on Water Street because I was blocked in by a marked police car. When I motioned to the officer sitting in the passenger seat that I would like to exit my parking spot, he grinned, started drinking from a paper cup and ignored me. His face was flushed and he looked to me to be half in the bag. I had to sit in my car for a few more minutes, even though the police car could have easily moved ahead or back to let me out. Think I was gonna report that to someone in higher authority ? Yeah, right. The 'Blue Line' really does exist.

  • yeah right
    March 06, 2014 - 07:55

    The Public Complaints Commission is a joke . I made a formal complaint against the Chief of Police in the past because of RNC officer conduct and the fact that polic officers routinely defy court orders but are quick to enforce orders against civilians. The complaint was directly against the former chief , every time i asked about the status of the complaint , i was told it was being looked into. Eventually the previous Chief retired and the complaint was never acted upon. It was intentionally ignored. Don't expect anything to come of any complaint to that organization or the govt. watchdog agency either. You are wasting your time.

  • bob
    March 06, 2014 - 07:24

    Cops have been doing this and getting away with this, covering for each other, for years. I know. The only difference now is that everybody has smart phones, so there is now evidence. Cops are no different from the rest of society. There are a lot of really great people who are cops. Then you get the few bad apples that have to be jerks to try to make themselves feel big and tough. But, how this matter is dealt with now will show if the new Chief is going to make his police force better by getting ride of the bad apples, or if he himself is just going to turn a blind eye and be part of the problem. The Chief knows what is the right thing to do, but will he do it???