Police van was hot, crowded, disciplinary hearing told
Two homeless people told a Edmonton Police disciplinary hearing Monday about the hot, crowded conditions inside a police van they say they rode in for up to two hours during a very warm spring day in May 2005.
Audrey Faithful, 48, said she and her common-law husband, Harold Manuel, were both drunk and walking along Whyte Avenue, when police officers ordered them to get into a police van.
"So we did," Faithful told the hearing. "We know the drill."
Temperatures hit 30 C that day. For the next two hours, Faithful said she and eight others were packed into the back of the windowless van.
Faithful remembered having difficulty breathing. Some of the people in the van had to sit on the floor because there wasn't enough room on the benches.
At one point, one woman urinated on the floor because she couldn't hold it anymore, Faithful said.
Then police stopped the van and let everyone out in the area of 82nd Street and 127th Avenue. Faithful and Manuel then panhandled enough money to take a bus back to the south side.
Manuel, 46, also told the hearing about his time in the van. The nine individuals in the back were "squishing each other". They were hot and arguing amongst themselves, he said.
The lawyers for the officers pointed out inconsistencies in the testimony given by Manuel and Faithful.
Both witnesses admitted to having memory problems caused by their alcohol addiction. Faithful told the hearing she has been an alcoholic since she was 14.
Manuel testified wearing prison overalls and handcuffs. He is currently serving a 75-day sentence for a undisclosed reason.
No criminal charges laid
Three officers face charges of insubordination and discreditable conduct in relation to the incident.
They are accused of failing to take the intoxicated people in the van to a specific residence or leaving them in the care of a responsible person or agency, which was what they were supposed to do under Edmonton Police policy at the time.
The incident was first brought to light by a story in a newspaper written and sold by Edmonton street people.
After a year-long investigation, RCMP announced in June 2008 that no criminal charges would be laid against the officers involved.
In February, Edmonton Police decided three officers would face an internal disciplinary hearing.