The Inquiry was intended to prove that, because of a cover-up (by police) and incompetence (by the special prosecutor), a Winnipeg police officer escaped prosecution and jail for killing someone while driving impaired.
Instead, the paramedic who examined the policeman, Derek Zenk, at the scene of the accident, testified that based on his personal expertise in attending hundreds, if not thousands of drunk drivers, Zenk was NOT IMPAIRED.
This, obviously, meant that if Zenk had been charged, as Salhany insists he should have been, Zenk would have been acquitted. And that the prosecutor, Marty Minuk, did the right thing in accepting a plea bargain to another serious charge.
Salhany went so far as to invent his very own conspiracy theory for his final report, a theory which depended on one witness reversing her clear, previous observations following a private "conversation" with one of Salhany's Inquiry lawyers.
(See details here http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2008/10/dissecting-taman-inquiry-witchhunt.html )
Today we'll see that truth is no barrier to Salhany's conspiracy ramblings.
At the centre of his alleged conspiracy is East St. Paul police chief Harry Bakema, who is demonized at every turn in the final Taman report, including this:
"I am satisfied that Bakema spoke words to Woychuk disclosing that Zenk had consumed alcohol. The inference is irresistible that in his close physical dealings with Zenk, Bakema likely smelled what every other person who came into close proximity with Zenk smelled, namely alcohol.
Bakema testified he never smelled alcohol from Zenk, but that he placed him into the back of Constable Jason Woychuk's police car with instructions to look for signs of impairment.
But look at what the expert witnesses had said:
Ted Rosser, paramedic
Taman Inquiry testimony
Q Okay. Let me ask you this, and this is based on your experience; would you not agree, that it is easier to detect the odour of liquor when a person is in a confined space as opposed in the outdoors where there is a breeze?
A Yes, for sure.
Q For sure?
A For sure.
Q It is not that easy to detect the smell of liquor on a person's breath outside when there is a breeze; correct?
A That's correct.
Q And we know from exhibit 61, on the day in question, at 7:00 o'clock there was a breeze of 15 kilometres an hour.
Rolland Fontaine, paramedic, Rosser's partner
Taman Inquiry Testimony
Q And we've heard already from the previous witness, Mr. Rosser, that it is easier to detect an odour of liquor if the person is in a confined space. That's obvious, correct?
A Very, yes.
Q And it is especially harder when it is outside, and it makes it even more difficult if there is a breeze; correct?
Fontiane was interviewed by the RCMP in 2006. In his interview he made this spontaneous statement:
Q. Right. Okay. So do you recall then passing that information on to any of the officers at the scene?
A. Yes. Norm. I believe talking with Norm, I says, yeah, um, it was definitely my, uh, what you wanna call it, assumption or, uh, I believe that this gentleman, uh, had been drinking and driving just by the odour that I had talking to him. And I, and I would hop into the vehicle to talk with him, I didn't stay outside of the vehicle with the breeze going by, I reached in, held my body weight up off of the seat and looked at him closely and that's why the, it was alarming to myself ...
Two witnesses who have attended thousands of accident calls between them stated unreservedly that a breeze can interfere with smelling alcohol on a driver's breath--- just as Harry Bakema said.
Salhany says he knows better.
The Commish is so taken with conspiracy theories that he can't help but create new ones.
While trying to prove Zenk had been drinking heavily the night before the accident, he excoriated the police witnesses for covering up for Zenk, then invented a brand new conspiracy -- police were lying to save their own skins, because they were all drunk that night.
And his proof? Why, none other than the only confirmed liar in the witness pool---Chelsea O'Halloran.
"Winnipeg police witnesses painted a picture to the PSU of the "shifter" at Branigans, where Zenk had been until 2:30 a.m. or so in the morning, as a low-key, staid affair with only moderate alcohol consumption and with, at most, one officer…being intoxicated. In fact, the evidence before me showed that there was far more drinking going on that was acknowledged by the 23 police witnesses who were interviewed. Those records confirmed the testimony before me of the server, Chelsea O'Halloran, who I have no hesitation in believing, that significant drinking occurred."
Chelsea, you will recall, testified that she lied to police when she initially told them that nobody was over-served at Branigans the night of the police get-together. She said she later realized she had to tell the truth, although we don't know whether her conversion had anything to do with another "private" meeting with one of Salhany's lawyers, who, as we've seen, did wonders "refreshing" the memory of Kathleen Beattie.
(See link above.)
Chelsea hit the front pages with her memory of serving Derek Zenk "eight or nine beers". She remembered it distinctly because she recalled serving the same man at a Super Bowl party. Super Bowl-man ate lots of chicken wings and had a pregnant wife, just like Derek Zenk.
Sadly for Roger Salhany, everything that could be checked about Chelsea's evidence has proved false.
She couldn't identify Derek Zenk from a photo line-up, she admitted she was guessing at the number of beers she served Super Bowl-lookalike-man, and, the coup de gras, the Taman Inquiry report says "there was later testimony that the police officer O'Halloran believed was at the Super Bowl party with his pregnant wife was another officer." In plain language, the evidence was that Chelsea's man was NOT ZENK, although you didn't read that in the newspapers either.
Chelsea remembered that night as if it was yesterday because she had to work overtime and serve the drunken louts who laughed loudly, cheered, hooted and hollered and made comments about her ass. She was, however, the only person at the bar who failed to notice the arm-wrestling competitions going on.
So, serving girl Chelsea O'Halloran is a confessed liar who gave the Inquiry false evidence about serving Derek Zenk while failing to see anyone struggling to flatten another man's wrist to the table. And Salhany has no hesitation in believing her evidence.
Why? Because Chelsea is the only witness he can cite who saw the invisible pitchers of beer.
We told you so.
We said that Salhany would be forced to claim the police were downing pitchers of beer like water because he had no other evidence that would support a contention they were all drunk as pigs.
The bar's records shows that over 3 ½ hours Chelsea served 68 specially-priced pints of beer to the 23 or more police officers. You can't build a case of drunkeness on that, so….out trots Chelsea to say she remembers serving the police pitchers of beer on top of the pints. How many, she can't recall.
Here's a brief excerpt of her Alice-in-Wonderland testimony:
THE COMMISSIONER:Can you explain again why you believe that the pitchers of beer are not on the sheet that you've been looking at?
THE WITNESS: They possibly could have not been on there because they weren't rang through, therefore, that means I didn't ring them through, but Darcey could have just poured them and not put them -- not rang them through on his tab either. Therefore, it would just be free flowing beer, it wouldn't be marked, it wouldn't be counted for.
THE COMMISSIONER: It wouldn't be.All right. Thank you, thank you very much. But you are satisfied that there were pitchers of beer?
THE WITNESS: I'm pretty sure, yes.
THE COMMISSIONER: Do you know how many?
THE WITNESS: No, I don't have an idea.
THE COMMISSIONER: Would you have served them, would you have brought the pitchers out to the table?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
THE COMMISSIONER: Yes.
The night manager, who was doubling up as bartender, even said he could have poured a pitcher of beer to send to the police party. But, as was pointed out at the Inquiry, a pitcher wouldn't go far between 23 police officers. A free shot-glass of beer isn't much of a bonus.
But the manager was adamant, one pitcher could slide under the radar as spillage, but more than one had to be recorded and the number of comp'd pitchers of beer on the records---Zero.
Ah ha, cries Salhany. The bar's records show lots of free drinks were handed out the night in question.
19 to be exact.
Except that the 19 comp'd shots of liquor were handed out throughout the day, with no way to say when or by whom.
And anyone who has been in a bar in the past decade knows what those drinks likely were.
As for the conspiracy by Winnipeg police officers to hide Zenk's alcohol consumption?
Police officers are trained to make notes which can be used in court proceedings. They are taught to record only what they know for sure; they are not to speculate. And that's exactly what they did. They refused to speculate on how much Zenk had to drink when they paid no attention.
But most significantly, the final Taman report says that six police officers did testify to seeing a beer in front of Zenk at Brannigans. Six. Out of 23. So one in four police did give evidence that Zenk likely had something to drink at the bar, just how much they couldn't say.
Contrary to the hysterical press allegations of a police stonewall, the police testified truthfully to what they knew and only to what they knew. That has never been reported anywhere.
Neither has it been reported how the Inquiry tried to ensnare one other police officer in the bogus conspiracy to protect Derek Zenk.
That attempt involved none other than witness Kathleen Beattie, who is married to a Winnipeg policeman. She was being questioned about her dealings with special prosecutor Marty Minuk when the questioning took a sinister turn.
The Commission counsel began asking her whether she remembered a discussion with Minuk over the possibility that Zenk had fallen asleep while driving - and WHETHER HER POLICE OFFICER HUSBAND HAD TRIED TO INFLUENCE MINUK.
Q And I put this to you, and again in fairness to you and other counsel, the Commission has received evidence from other witnesses in the interview process that were present during this conversation, and they have told the Commission that Mr. Minuk discussed, with you present and the others, that there were no skid marks, that Harvey-Zenk could very well have fallen asleep, and that Harvey-Zenk had just come off of working a couple of double shifts?
A That's true. And I do remember that now, and I do remember saying that I was kind of along the same opinion.
MR. PROBER: Could you repeat the last part, I missed it, please?
THE WITNESS: That I agreed with Mr. Minuk, and then I said that I was of the same opinion.
BY MR. CLIFFORD:
Q And when you indicated that -- when that information was being provided to you, do you recall whether you, in addition to what you have just told us, said anything else about what Mr. Minuk said?
A I don't recall.
Q Because, again, in fairness to you, one of the witnesses that was present indicated that you commented that, yes, my husband works, has worked those kinds of shifts?
A Oh, yes, many times.
Q And had you talked to your husband about that?
A About the conversation, or about the fact that sleep deprivation --
Q Yeah, the notion that Harvey-Zenk --
Q -- might have fallen asleep?
1A Yeah, I have.
Q And did he have any theory on the accident?
A No. He didn't voice his opinion. He, basically, just agreed with me, as he usually does, but he never voiced his personal opinion.
While reading Salhany's Taman report, there was an odd sense of something very familiar.
- Conspiracies that were apparent to everyone although there was no concrete evidence.
- Declarations of fact that proved to be the opposite of the testimony on the record.
- Witnesses who changed their evidence following private ( and still secret) meetings with Inquiry lawyers.
Then it dawned on us.
We were reading the report of the Taman Truthers!
(Is Lesley Hughes hot on the trail of motorists who were warned not to use Highway 1 in the early morning of February 25, 2005?)