A criminal investigation into an incident involving Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers last year outside a pool hall in St. John’s is going to be done by RCMP investigators, RNC Chief Bill Janes confirmed Friday.
RNC Chief Bill Janes speaks to the media Friday in St. John’s.
— Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The investigation will examine what happened in the parking lot of Dooly’s on Topsail Road on Dec. 15, 2013, and sent one man to hospital.
On that night, Bradley Bartlett was leaving a Christmas party. He was standing outside waiting for a cab with a drink in his hand when he was approached by RNC officers who had received a call of somebody drinking in public.
An altercation ensued and Bartlett suffered injuries to his face serious enough that, while no bones were broken, he was taken to the hospital by officers.
Bartlett was charged with three counts of assaulting a police officer and another count of obstructing an officer.
Those charges were all dropped by the Crown earlier this week because it was determined there were no grounds for the initial arrest that led to the altercation and because the Crown felt there was no likelihood of conviction.
After the charges were dropped, Bartlett’s lawyer, Bob Simmonds, told the court his client and several eyewitnesses at the scene that night had told him it was an RNC officer who assaulted Bartlett and not the other way around.
Four officers were on the scene and one allegedly punched Bartlett in the face three times. An eyewitness at Dooly’s took photos with their phone. They show officers arresting a bloodied Bartlett.
Simmonds said he thought the blood was from Bartlett hitting his face on the ground during the arrest, but has since heard several accounts from people who say an RNC officer punched Bartlett in the face.
“I thought this was one of the most — no, not one of the most, the most — egregious cases, if made out, of misconduct by the police that I’ve ever seen,” Simmonds said after court had adjourned Wednesday.
Simmonds told the media that Bartlett would make a formal complaint to the RNC Public Complaints Commission — an independent body whose job it is to review complaints against officers and, where appropriate, call for investigations.
The chief of the RNC confirmed Friday the commission has received that complaint and decided it warranted an investigation.
Janes also said he was in the process of writing up a request to have the RCMP conduct the investigation into the actions of the RNC officers that night and that he already had a verbal agreement that they would take it on.
“The RNC is committed to providing whatever information we have for them to be able to do a full and thorough investigation into the matter, and on conclusion of the investigation we will be sharing that information with you,” Janes said.
He told media Wednesday he hadn’t heard anything before that day about alleged police misconduct during the Dec. 15 incident. He also said as far as he knew no officers were injured during the altercation.
The officers at the scene that night, including the one accused of punching Bartlett, will perform their regular duties for now, Janes said, pointing out it’s just an allegation at this point.
He said that could change, depending on how the investigation develops.
Janes couldn’t say how long the investigation would take, but said the RCMP will begin its work immediately.