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Saturday, March 14, 2009 

Insights Into Curtis Dagenais Case - Convicted RCMP Killer - Guest Blog Post

The following is a guest blog post by an individual who had been a minor acquaintance of Curtis Dagenais in the past. Dagenais wrote to him prior to his trial. Mr. Dagenais was convicted of the first degree murder of two RCMP officers in Saskatchewan this week:

When Curt Dagenias was first arrested, I commented on a blog that he deserved a fair trial. Apparently Dagenias read this and felt that I was defending his actions, which I was not, nor am I doing so now.

Mr. Dagenias sent me a letter in March of 2007. That letter sat on my desk, unread, for almost two years. When his trial began I finally decided that I had to read it. While containing some very interesting information that I was surprised never made it into court, the letter basically rambles. And while also angry, the letter definitely has an overall tone of regret. Parts of the letter are available on this blog; some parts have been withheld to protect the names of people who have no involvement.

When talking to people about the Dagenias trail and the verdict I have found that while everyone agrees what Dagenias did was wrong, no one could bring themselves to completely absolve the RCMP of blame. In an e-mail correspondence with the writer of this blog I came to a conclusion in my own mind as to what bothered me so much about this tragedy and he agreed with me. I was then asked to guest blog and share my views, to which I agreed. Following are my thoughts on the Curtis Dagenias affair.

Through out my working life I have been primarily involved in construction and trucking. When ever an accident happens on a construction site or on the highway an investigation takes place and the conclusions are almost always the same; a series of small mistakes, over sites or events lead to one big screw up with tragic results. The focus of the investigation then moves to whether or not everyone involved did all they possibly could to prevent the accident; simply being with in the law or with in ones rights is not enough, you must be proven to have taken every possible step to have prevented the accident.

When this standard is applied to the Dagenias case I have to conclude that not everyone did all that they could to prevent the tragic result. While the guilt for the crime of murder belongs solely to Curtis Dagenias, as he was the person pulled the trigger, the RCMP officers involved disobeyed an order from their Sergeant not to arrest Dagenias and instead proceeded to charge in on Dagenias like a pack of wild dogs going after a rabbit. It is clear that neither Curt Dagenias nor the RCMP officers were thinking rationally that evening, but the RCMP officers are trained to deal with irrational people; doing so is a large portion of their job, and therefore they are to be held to a higher standard than the generally public.

It is very difficult to raise this point without appearing to defend Curt Dagenias, which I do not, but I do think this entire fiasco has to be examined impartially so that it never happens again. There are so many questions about how things were handled, but now is not the time to ask them. In time the public will demand that this case be looked at openly and honestly, but for now those involved should be allowed to be angry and to grieve.

Excerpts from the letter to my guest blogger from Curtis Dagenais appear below. Some of the names have been deleted at this time - but may appear here in the future along with the full transcript of the letter, IF Justice Gerald Allbright approves an application from CBC to release the actual tape of the RCMP radio transmission of the police chase prior to the shooting: (Spelling errors are as they appear in the original letter from Dagenais)

"So after numerours run-ins with mostly 1 DOT (Dept. of Transportation) officer "________" I was sitting at the Husky Truck Stop in Lloydminister ALBERTA and I was aproached by a bunch of Sask D.O.T. & R.C.M.P. pulled from my PETE & the shit kicked out of me by 3 R.C.M.P. while another stood and watched. You might know the main asshole as he was sent to Buffalo Narrows till things cooled off (like about 4 yrs (________ HYWAY patrol) sent complaints to commission in Ottawa & waited 4 yrs for reply. Now commission is denying to C.B.C. reporters that they ever heard of us (myself & Dad) but have proof otherwise." [...]

"Have a witness that has contacted me & wants to help. This person is from a small town near "OUR HOMETOWN" and owns a scanner and is willing to testify. I do not know this person & have never met just from written correspondence. Says radio communication overheard from Seargent _____ of Spiritwood detachment were to "SHOOT ME" this was heard before the chase occured. As there was no assault (I AM NOT A WOMAN BEATER) just an excuse to come after me because of accusations against R.C.M.P. Now the town of Spiritwood is held hostage by this Seargent ________ as there is all new officers except himself & one __________ that lives in Rabbit Lake. I've heard from a few different sources that between $20-30,000 dollars was paid out to the "CAFE'S" not so much for info but in case someone was to hear something. Lots of people in the R.M. are sure not happy with the R.C.M.P. as a lot of "HOMESTEAD BUILDINGS" & HERITAGE BUIDINGS were damaged for no reason while seaching for myself, windows smshed -doors that wore padlocks from the outside smashed down, door frames ruined. All kinds of farmers mad but scared to complain. Our house at the farm (NELSON HOME PACKAGE) was built in '76 and I can't remember ever locking the doors, both doors were unlocked yet the R.C.'s smashed out the front picture window to get inside! With no warrant Dad's (Art) charges are bullshit as he was no where near where the cops said he was, everyone who lives down that road were still at home just an excuse to get him out of the way."
Curt Dagenais

very interesting post.

Cops conduct themselves differently when dealing with someone they know to be potentially violent. However, a hard entry in a domestic dispute suggests excessive force, which could warrant self-defence (a Quebec man was recently acquitted of murder in the shooting death of a cop). Of course, media reports haven't included corroboration of what Dagenais alleges. Was it likely that he posed a physical threat to his own mother? At best there was a verbal argument, and a call for police resolution. Generally, police separate the disputants and attempt to calm them down. However, RCMP members would have known that that approach resulted in a murder of a Nunavit cop, in 2004 (the cop had allowed his killer to retain possession of a weapon).

Coverage of the trial wasn't comprehensive. Dagenais should have played the media card, if he intended to pursue legal self-defence. That is a Criminal Code defence, thus, the RCMP would have been compelled to examine Dagenais' accusations. Maybe they did. Who knows?

In an Ontario cop murder case, the accused claimed self-defence. A jury decided otherwise.

Cops do lie. Three of four cops involved in the taser death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport, have been accused of perjury by all local media. Watch the 4th cop - under current charges for Vehicular Homicide and DUI - lie, starting on March 23:

I took a closer look at the case, including reading the entire police audiotape. I have no doubt that Dagenais fired first and shot with deliberation, but I think that his crude perjury obscured self-defence. He had sought police resolution of a dispute over rights of entry he had to a house that he owned in part, and they refused him. After leaving the police station he went back to the house, and either did or didn't assault his sister. Then he sat in his car, hoping that police would assist. When they arrived, they sought his immediate arrest, going so far as to smash a window on his truck. During the chase, Sgt Clarke orders the pursuers to stop Dagenais before he can reach his father's house, where there are "guns." Further, there is evidence of retaliation, as a motive. See this exchange:

Wendy Wendel: You guys we got a MHA flag on PROS on him as a police hater.
Const. Teniuk: Yeah, 10-4. Thanks, copy.
Sgt. Clarke: Echo there. In the cell block.
Const. Knopp: She just said police hater. We know that.

MHA is: Mental Health Act; police can use those powers to take someone who poses a threat to himself or others to a mental health facility. PROS is: a database for Occurence Reports.

If Dagenais presented a danger to his own mother and siblings, then he wouldn't have left the home, and waited for police service. If the police omitted to perform dutiful service to Dagenais and the others, then the chase and shootings were legal. Pictures of the incident scene put Dagenais trapped behind bushes and a truck that t-boned his vehicle. Then the cops made this exchange:
Const. Knopp: We have him . . . we have . . .
Sgt. Clarke: 10-4.
Dispatch: 691, what’s your twenty with that?
Const. Knopp: . . . shot, I’m shot.
Dispatch: 691, repeat.
Const. Knopp: Shots fired. Shots fired. I’m shot. Rob, I’m shot.

If Dagenais felt that the cop conduct was unlawful, and that they were going to murder him, then he acted with self preservation in mind.

Again, self-defence is Criminal Code, binding police investigators to pursue exculpatory channels. Instead they arrested Dagenais father for driving to his own home, and remanded him for 11 weeks on a simple Obstruction charge for which he wouldn't have done time (he was acquitted of same). Revealing their zealotry, RCMP made a hard entry through papa Dagenais' picture window. Self defence was not pursued; Dagenais was railroaded.

As for the t-boning, Dagenais had no easy escape; it wasn't necessary. Then there is the matter of the intentional destruction of the vehicle videotapes. In the "Carosela" case, the Supreme Court of Canada tossed out all charges because potentially exculpatory evidence had been destroyed. That could apply here.

There is a good reason to wait for legal counsel prior to making statements. Perjury only works for cops. Dagenais screwed himself by lying.

At any point, either before or in the early moments of the chase, did Clark ask the other officers to pull back ... until Dagenais could cool down? To me this is a point in question. Dagenais is a cop killer AND deserves the conviction and sentences he got. But what I would like to know, in this whole tragedy, is if the officers continued after him, when perhaps, and clearly in hindsight, they should have let the situation cool down for an hour or two. They knew where Dagenais lived and he himself thought he was going to get assistance from them int the dispute with his mom and sister.

I agree with my guest blogger .. most tragedies occur after a number of mistakes or errors are made.

What I truly found disturbing last week were the similarities between Art Dagenais' rant on the court house steps in Saskatoon and the RCMP's rants on the court house Steps in Vancouver. Chilled me to the bone to hear RCMP go on about how the general public didn't know what "really" happened with Robert Dziekanski and we are only listening to sound bits, not the "real" story, blah,blah,blah. And then a few days later to hear the same garbage from Art Dagenais made me realize that these two groups of people are essentially the same.
While Curt Dagenais was clearly guilty, justice will not be served until the 4 RCMP officers who murdered Robert Dziekanski in cold blood are serving in prison along side Dagenais.
Does that make me a "cop-hater"? No, it just proves that I am an honest man who has had enough of murdering psychos, with or without a badge.

Amen to that Trent! Amen!

Evidence for Curt's trial was falsified. The RCMP failed to produce the video from the eye witness camera in Cst.Knopp's vehicle because they did not want the public to see the truth of the very tragic incident. Curt did not shoot anyone.

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