Crown prosecutors are now weighing whether to lay charges against three Vancouver police officers accused of deceit during the investigation into the misconduct of former detective James Fisher, according to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.
Alberta RCMP’s major crime unit has wrapped up its three-year investigation into constables Adam King, Zach Guy and Silvana Burtini and the file is now in the hands of the B.C. Prosecution Service, deputy police complaint commissioner Andrea Spindler told CBC.
“The OPCC does not oversee or have control over criminal investigations; however, we are monitoring this matter closely and are awaiting the response from the B.C. Prosecution Service,” Spindler wrote in an email.
“Regardless of whether Crown elects to not proceed with charges, the officers will still be under a conduct investigation under the Police Act.”
It’s not yet clear whether Alberta Mounties have recommended specific charges against the three officers or what those charges might be. Spindler said she didn’t have that information.
An Alberta RCMP spokesperson referred all questions about the investigation to E-division in B.C., but a B.C. RCMP spokesperson was unaware of the case and has yet to respond to questions.
A spokesperson for the B.C. Prosecution Service, first asked about the case on Monday afternoon, has yet to provide further information about potential charges.
Allegations of deception and corruption
What’s known about the investigation into King, Guy and Burtini has come largely from court proceedings involving men arrested by the three officers, their former colleague Fisher and the rest of the Vancouver Police Department’s Counter Exploitation Unit.
In a January voir dire in the trial of accused pimp Omar Alameddin, a B.C. Supreme Court judge heard that all three officers are accused of making or procuring false statements, while Burtini and King face additional allegations of corruption.
Alberta RCMP began looking into the officers in response to a June 15, 2017, referral for outside investigation from the OPCC.
According to the VPD, concerns about the constables’ conduct were raised during the internal criminal investigation into Fisher, a former detective who has admitted to taking sexual advantage of young victims of sex crimes.
During the voir dire in January, a defence lawyer said evidence collected by VPD investigators suggests Fisher asked King and Burtini to speak with one of the women he had abused in an attempt to squash rumours about sexual contact.
The court heard allegations that neither officer took notes or recordings during that meeting, and they later informed a superior officer the young woman had denied making allegations against Fisher.
Fisher eventually admitted to kissing that same young woman three times when she was 17 years old.
King, Guy and Burtini remain on duty with the VPD, though they have been transferred to other units. Burtini is a former high-level soccer player who represented Canada at three Women’s World Cups.
Fisher pleaded guilty to breach of trust and sexual exploitation in 2018 for kissing two young sex trafficking victims and was sentenced to 20 months in jail.
The last year has seen numerous allegations that his misconduct was much more serious and extensive than previously known.
There have been allegations that Fisher sexually abused several other young women during the course of his investigations into Vancouver pimps, beginning mere months after he joined the Counter Exploitation Unit in 2011.
The extent of his misconduct is a central question in appeals filed by three Vancouver pimps who are challenging their convictions. Last week, the B.C. Court of Appeal ordered two of those men to be released on bail while they wait for a hearing.
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