For a brief, shining moment two years ago a cheap two-bit car thief was a hero in Winnipeg media circles.
The media mob was unanimous. There was no doubt. Hadn't the Crown attorney dropped a raft of charges against poor Cody Bousquet because of the savage beating? Hadn't the judge convicted the police in the court of public opinion by declaring in open court that he had seen the beating with his own eyes? There, there, you could see the video for yourself posted as a public service on the news websites.
Uh, oh. Along came Easter, 2012.
Instead of hefty servings of turkey and stuffing, the reporters, columnists, pundits and sundry found themselves eating crow, bitter crow, sour crow and more crow with Matzah.
A formal RCMP investigation that was universally expected to lead to criminal charges against the Winnipeg City police involved in the videotaped arrest of Bousquet exonerated them instead. No charges. No blame.
The RCMP reviewed the video, interviewed all concerned, and consulted with an out-of-province expert on use of force. Their report was sent to a prosecutor in Ontario to avoid any allegations of conflict of interest. The result, a conclusion that the city police acted properly under the circumstances.
The MSM was crestfallen. The Winnipeg Free Press wrote a story centered on the disappointment of Bousquet's defence attorney. "Video showed suspect on ground being struck" declared the subhead.
The Winnipeg Sun, possibly the leader of the media mob in 2010, simply regurgitated all the allegations against the police in their story about the exoneration. "A surveillance video obtained by the Winnipeg Sun showed police punching, kneeing and shocking Cody Bousquet, then 19, with a Taser following a high-speed chase in a stolen pickup truck." So there.
CBC, after repeating the falsehood "court saw surveillance video of Winnipeg police officers holding Bousquet down while others kicked, punched and kneed him" then concluded "(n)o reasons were given as to why the counsel did not recommend any charges."
Uh, isn't it obvious, geniuses? There was no crime, therefore no charges. Duh.
When the media pack was attacking the police, The Black Rod looked at the facts. This weekend we reviewed our story which ran two years ago. Appropriately, it was titled "Who do you believe? Them or your lying eyes?" We were shocked at the rabid anti-police ranting of the so-called "professional journalists." We had forgotten.
The pack journalism was so bad that we believe we should rerun our story on Bousquet for the new readers we've picked up since 2010. But first we want to introduce our story by republishing the response to the RCMP investigation by Winnipeg Police Association president Mike Sutherland. His comments were included in the Free Press's online story, but not in the print story Saturday. They deserve to be read by as many people as possible.
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION April 5, 2012
"While [it's] unpleasant and does not reflect the apparent ease with which suspects are restrained on many TV police dramas, the fact is that in real life, unappealing force is sometimes needed to keep people safe and apprehend the dangerous," he said.
"We do not have months or years to author carefully composed soliloquies on the various legal virtues of specific crimes and the balancing of societal and individual needs or previous case precedents. We have a split second to react, and sometimes we don’t even have that long."
The pictures don't lie, wrote Winnipeg Sun editorialist Paul Rutherford.
"Bousquet is quickly surrounded by police, some kneeing him while he is lying down and being handcuffed. Much of the video shows four officers pinning him down, while some punch and knee him further."
"Judging by this video, there appeared to be no reason whatsoever to administer the kind of beating cops did in this case.This was police rage, plain and simple, and it had nothing to do with good policing or law and order."
If he doesn't comply, an intermediary weapon like a Taser should be deployed until he does comply. Once the suspect is safely on the ground with hands behind his back, cops can handcuff him and make the arrest."
"There are some people who would look at that video and say 'What's the big deal, he got what he deserved?' No amount of excessive force would ever be condoned by this court, no matter what the circumstances."