The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Matthew Dumas Inquest: Truth 1, Race-baiters 0

One week into the inquest into the shooting death of teenager Matthew Dumas in 2005 and we know what happened.

And what happened is nothing like what the professional race-baiters have been peddling for the past three years.

* Winnipeg police were hot on the heels of a group of natives who had robbed a man they didn't know in his own home in East Kildonan.


The group had taken a taxi from Dufferin Avenue to the area of the man's home, and took the same taxi back to where they started. The police, knowing from the taxi driver where he dropped the robbers off, saturated the area. They knew they were only minutes behind the gang and stood a good chance of running across them.

* East Kildonan's then-community constable Jon Mateychuk was alone in his police car but joined the sweep anyway. He saw the boyish looking Matthew Dumas walking alone down either Dufferin or a street nearby (news reports have failed to make it clear). Dumas spotted the police car and caught Mateychuk's attention by trying to hide something up his sleeve.

Mateychuk, like all the police officers in the area, was looking for a group of people involved in a robbery which involved a gun of some sort, possibly a sawed-off shotgun. He had to know if the teen on the street was concealing a gun.


But before he got an answer, Dumas bolted.

* The police constable left his car and took off after the running male. If the male was one of the robbers, he could be armed and that made him dangerous and a threat to everybody in the neighbourhood. A police officer's job is to protect the community, and Mateychuk, without a thought for his own safety, ran to confront the threat in the best tradition of the profession.

He caught up to Dumas on the doorstep of Roderick Pelletier's Dufferin Avenue house.


He didn't attack him.
He didn't punch him.
He didn't beat him with a police baton.
He took him by the arm and started to lead him to his car in the back lane, to search him and to learn who the boy was.

And for his restraint, Dumas sucker-punched him, knocked him to the ground and escaped, but not before drawing a hidden screwdriver and threatening to stab a passing witness.

Now Mateychuk knew he was dealing with a dangerous suspect.


* And so did Const. Dennis Gburek who had seen the fight between Dumas and a police officer in the back lane. As Mateychuk chased Dumas between the houses on Dufferin Avenue, Gburek moved to block his escape west along Dufferin.

Dumas popped out between some houses and headed straight toward Gburek. Other police officers had caught up to Dumas and were behind him. The closest was Mateychuk who, following police procedure, used non-lethal pepper spray to stop the suspect. But he was in back of Dumas. According to testimony his first spray missed Dumas entirely and the other hit the side of his head.

The day Dumas was shot, a witness said he reached up to wipe his eyes. It's obvious now he reached up only to wipe his face. His eyes were clear, and focussed on Gburek.


* Gburek, aware he was facing a dangerous suspect who had already fought with a policeman and who was armed with a weapon, had his gun out.

But he didn't use it.

He tried to talk to Dumas first to convince him to drop his weapon and surrender.

Dumas refused both options. He closed in on Gburek despite escalating warnings he would be shot if he didn't stop.

* Gburek even bent the rules to protect Dumas. He testified police training calls for an officer to shoot a dangerous suspect at 20 feet. Gburek allowed Dumas to close to within three feet. Only then did he fire his gun.

* A day after Dumas was killed, his stepfather, Leslie Dumas, said he wanted to know why police were chasing the teen with their weapons drawn.

"They chase somebody down, you know, what are they going to do? Shoot first, ask questions later, you know," he said. "They must be trained to do something better than 'Bang! Ask 'em later.'"

Now we know there was no truth to a word the grieving stepfather said.

* Dumas' mother, Carol Chartrand, said she wanted to know who her son was with when he encountered the police.

"Why does it seem that Matthew had to get picked out of everybody that was there?... I hope you guys are feeling just as bad as I am, because now I got no kid. I got no baby boy here no more."

Now we know the initial reports that Dumas was among four aboriginal teens being questioned were wrong. And that Carol Chartrand's baby boy was responsible for his own death.

************

The police did everything they possibly could to investigate a potential threat to the people in the neighbourhood and do it as professionally and safely as possible.

The evidence exonerates the police from the cheap allegations of the professional race-baiters.

The officers on scene should be commended for their professionalism.

They should be recognized for putting their own lives on the line when a single officer with no backup tried to question a potentially dangerous suspect, then physically struggled to control him, and when a second officer finally allowed the armed suspect to get as close to him as humanly possible before he had to act.

Instead, the race-baiters continue to try and smear the police.

Donald Worme, the lawyer for the family, got Gburek to read a letter from former Police Chief Jack Ewatski saying Dumas was not involved in the East Kildonan robbery. But the letter is irrelevant.

The police were searching for the robbers and questioning witnesses in the area. Witnesses who might have seen the taxi disgorge the robbers, not necessarily suspects. Dumas drew attention to himself by his suspicious behavior in bolting the moment a police officer wanted to question him.

"I think it's also become abundantly clear that because of the large aboriginal population in that particular vicinity, they are all at risk, as Matthew Dumas certainly was," he said.

"Matthew Dumas was not involved in a crime of any description, but he - simply because he was an aboriginal youth - had become a suspect and as such ended up where he did." said Worme, disregarding all the evidence. (Quoted, CBC online, June 13, 2008.)

Worme asked Mateychuk if it's troubling that Dumas was "an innocent kid." (Emotional officer testifies at inquest into death of Winnipeg man shot by police June 12, 2008, Tamara King, The Canadian Press)

Perhaps Worme needs a refresher course in the law.

- Dumas, already a convicted criminal with a record for possession of a dangerous weapon, was in breach of his probation when he ran from the police.

-- He was carrying a concealed weapon, which is a crime.

- He attacked a police officer, which is a crime.

- He threatened to stab a witness, which is a crime.

- He threatened to stab a policeman, which is a crime.

He was far, far from "an innocent kid."

During a lunch recess, Worme said he had some concerns about the safety of native kids in the North End. "If I had aboriginal (youth) in the area, I would want them off the street."
(Dumas shooter 'kept in dark' by police force, June 14, 2008,Winnipeg Free Press, Carol Sanders)

About that he's right.

Rampant gang activity, drive-by shootings, reckless driving in stolen cars by teens just like Matthew Dumas have made life dangerous in parts of the North End.

And that's exactly why the residents have called for a greater police presence despite the best efforts of the race-baiters to villify and demonize the police.

The intention of the native demagogues was to force an inquiry that would focus on the police, police behavior, police training and ultimately on police failure.

Instead they got proof that police training worked as designed. The Winnipeg police officer is a highly trained professional. And Dumas was killed because he failed. He provoked a confrontation with police and he refused to surrender until he was shot.

Worme at week's end was reduced to suggesting that the police officer who shot Dumas should have retreated, should have run, should have surrendered the street to the thug with a weapon. Ain't gonna happen.

If Judge Mary Curtis is paying attention, she should turn the inquest from a focus on the police to a focus on the juvenile justice system---and its failure.

Matthew Dumas was a gold star graduate of the Manitoba justice system.

He had a criminal record and was on probation, the demonstrably most useless, most broken sanction imposed routi8nely by judges. He was carrying a screwdriver, which you can expect to find on a car thief. He was in breach of his probation. He attacked a police officer without fear of consequences. He threatened a witness as easily as breathing. He refused to drop his weapon and advanced on an armed police officer because he had been taught by the system that there was nothing they could do to him. He was taught he was inviolate.

He was wrong.

And the public should turn their attention to a focus on the news media, and how easily it is manipulated, the Terry Nelsons, the Nahanni Fontaines, and the Donald Wormes who have their own agendas which are never questioned or explained by reporters.

Following the shooting of Matthew Dumas, there was a lot of talk about the mistrust in the Dufferin neighbourhood between police and residents. But the inquest has given us a better look at what may be feeding the mistrust.

Police testified at the inquest they stopped a number of people to question in their search for the East Kildonan robbers. Three teens were stopped at the corner of Dufferin and Andrews. One was carrying a toy gun. Dumas was discovered to be carrying a screwdriver and was prepared to use it as a weapon. Another teen was stopped on Andrews by Const. Gburek who left him to go to Mateychuk's aid when he saw Dumas fighting with Mateychuk in the alley.

So, in three encounters with aboriginal youth in the space of minutes, police found two potential weapons, a gun (a toy, though hardly something carried for amusement by a teenager) and a screwdriver (certainly not carried by Dumas for emergency repairs).

If police patrolling Dufferin Avenue can expect to find weapons on two out of five teens they speak to at random, and two out of five random teens are carrying weapons and hoping to escape detection by police, you can understand where the "mistrust" arises.

**********

Professional reporters at work…:

"Gburek said he shot him when he was less than a metre away."
Carol Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press, June 13, 2008, Dumas shooter 'kept in dark' by police force

"Gburek said Dumas was less than two metres away when he fired two shots into the centre of his body."
Steve Lambert, June 13, 2008, Canadian Press, Winnipeg officer: there was no choice but to shoot Matthew Dumas.

"When he gets to within two feet...Const. Gburek fires two shots."
Winnipeg Sun, June 12, Tom Brodbeck, "Not a risk to take."

And…

"Based on the description he received from police radio reports or from his partner, Gburek said he was looking for a native male, armed with a gun, wearing a blue hoodie and a white baseball cap."
Carol Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press, June 13, Dumas shooter 'kept in dark' by police force

"He said Dumas was wearing a blue hoodie and he believed that the teen matched the description of one of the home invasion suspects, although the description on the police radio described three "native males" one about 15- or 16-years-old and wearing a white puffy Nike ski jacket and possibly armed with a handgun."
Carol Sanders, June 13, Winnipeg Free Press, Officer 'didn't want to shoot' Dumas

"Gburek said he saw Dumas's grey hoodie or sweater was "right over top of me," and yelled, "I'm going to shoot you"!"
CBC News Winnipeg, June 13, 'I did not want to pull the trigger': officer at Dumas inquest

"At one point, the pair was in another man's backyard with a large guard dog and the officer had a grip on the 18-year-old's parka."
Tamara King, Canadian Press, June 12, Emotional officer testifies at inquest into death of Winnipeg man shot by police.

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