Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Detective's misconduct needs independent review

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The appalling misconduct of Winnipeg police Det. Richard Arndt in framing an application for a search warrant that has been tossed out by a judge must be reviewed by external professionals.

The Crown's office wants nothing more to do with the case and the Winnipeg Police Service sees it only as a learning opportunity for future reference.

The attempt to dismiss the injustice of this case is deplorable.

Det. Arndt, upbraided by provincial court Judge Robert Heinrichs for his "reckless disregard for the truth," grossly inflated through inaccuracy, misstatement and embellishment the evidence against a suspect, whose car police wanted to search.

In essence, he created the story, thereby convincing a magistrate to issue the 2011 search warrant.

Judge Heinrichs, in quashing the case of sexual assault and home invasion against the man, found last month the numerous charter breaches committed by Det. Arndt erased the basis for a search of the vehicle.

Among the repeat misrepresentations by Det. Arndt were his sworn statements the suspect's DNA was found on a piece of clothing (it wasn't), and the exclusion of the fact one victim said the attacker was "white," which would have excluded his suspect. These, and other statements, were not simple errors, the judge said.

The Crown attorney's characterization of the errors as honest mistakes cannot be believed, calling into question the Crown's own judgment.

The true facts were documented, available or known to Det. Arndt. The court found he either did not bother to check the facts, or he misrepresented or embellished them.

Det. Arndt failed in his duty to provide "full, fair and frank disclosure" to the magistrate.

The evidence that supported the search warrant, then, was a fabrication -- he created a document, the judge said, that painted the suspect as the guilty party.

Even if Manitobans could believe the version of "honest" errors, the officer's judgment and work was so bad his trustworthiness is undermined.

The WPS's feeble response to this dereliction of duty highlights the need for Manitoba's independent investigations unit, which has yet to begin its work.

In its absence, Attorney General Andrew Swan should refer the case to an external agency, perhaps Ontario's special investigations unit, for a review of potential disciplinary or criminal action against Det. Arndt.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 28, 2014 A8

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