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Review board studying Cape Breton police conduct in murder investigation

A three-member panel of the Nova Scotia Police Review board opened a scheduled two-week hearing Monday in Sydney into the conduct of four Cape Breton Regional Police officers. From left, board member Stephen Johnson, board chair Jean McKenna and board vice-chair Simon MacDonald. CAPE BRETON POST PHOTO
A three-member panel of the Nova Scotia Police Review board opened a scheduled two-week hearing Monday in Sydney into the conduct of four Cape Breton Regional Police officers. From left, board member Stephen Johnson, board chair Jean McKenna and board vice-chair Simon MacDonald. CAPE BRETON POST PHOTO
SYDNEY, N.S. —

The conduct of four officers with the Cape Breton Regional Police is under scrutiny as a scheduled two-week Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing opened Monday.

The hearing is an appeal of a complaint filed by Vince Garnier after the arrest of his son, Christopher Calvin Garnier, on Feb. 19, 2017, at a residence in Millville.

At the time, Christopher Garnier was charged with second-degree murder and was released on conditions that included a provision allowing him to stay at the home of his mother in Millville and his father’s home in Bedford.

The initial complaint was filed with the regional police and after an internal review, the officers were cleared of any wrongdoing. Vince Garnier appealed to the review board and is now representing himself in the hearing.

Vince Garnier is representing himself at the appeal hearing. CAPE BRETON POST
Vince Garnier is representing himself at the appeal hearing. CAPE BRETON POST

“These are very serious charter and criminal code violations,” said Garnier, in his opening address before a three-member panel of the board.

He described the report of the internal review by regional police as inept and negligent noting the arresting officers did not secure a warrant prior to the arrest nor did they receive permission to enter the home to make the arrest.

Christopher Garnier, now 33, was later convicted of second-degree murder in connection with the death of off-duty Truro police officer Catherine Campbell. He was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 13 years. Campbell's remains were found in September 2015 near the base of an overpass in Halifax.

The officers named in the complaint are Const. Steve Campbell, Const. Gary Fraser, Const. Dennis MacSween and Const. Troy Walker who are each represented by lawyers at the hearing.

The first witness to testify Monday was Angela Garnier, Vince Garnier’s current wife.

She told the hearing that while on conditions, Christopher Garnier was subject to numerous police checks that occurred both day and night.

She testified that prior to leaving the capital region for Cape Breton on Feb. 17, 2017, Christopher Garnier reported to Halifax Regional Police that he was leaving the jurisdiction and would staying in Cape Breton.

Vince and Angela Garnier along with Christopher Garnier and his then-girlfriend, Brittany Francis, travelled to Cape Breton in one vehicle. Vince and Angela Garnier were to attend a family reception while Christopher Garnier and Francis were getting together with members of her family to celebrate a birthday.

Angela Garnier told the hearing panel that in waking the next morning there was a voicemail message from a Halifax police officer. She returned the call and left a message.

Halifax police were expressing concern that when Cape Breton police went to check on Christopher Garnier, there was no response.

Garnier was arrested by Cape Breton police on Feb. 19 and later that day was turned over to Halifax police. He was charged with three counts of violating his release conditions. 

Another witness to testify Monday was Francis who also told the hearing about the numerous incidents of police checks.

She said she found it weird that there was no police check prior to going to bed on Feb. 17 given the frequency of checks in Halifax and she anticipated police would be at the door, but she heard no knocking during the night.

She said Cape Breton police did show up on Sunday morning and placed Christopher Garnier under arrest.

She said Christopher Garnier was respectful to the officers and there was no hollering or shouting. She said the arresting officers were polite and professional.

The home they were staying in Millville has a separate basement entrance along with two entrances on the main floor of the home. 

The hearing continues Tuesday.

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