Documentary attempts to vindicate Hatchen, Munson
A new documentary is raising questions about a criminal case that highlighted racial tensions between the police and the aboriginal community in Saskatoon.
Constables Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson were charged and convicted of forcible confinement after dropping off an aboriginal man, Darrell Night, in the dead of winter on the outskirts of town.
The temperature was below -20 C on the January 2000 night.
Night was dressed in a lined jean jacket but didn't have a hat or gloves. He walked to a power station and took a cab home.
After he complained, the two constables were charged, tried and convicted, lost their jobs and spent six months behind bars.
Now, almost seven years later, a documentary playing in Saskatoon this week— When Police Become Prey— is raising questions about what happened that night.
Hatchen has never spoken publicly about the case, butdid so on Tuesday.
"What I am hoping is my very willingness to talk and discuss, visit this… might have some chance of healing the rift in Saskatoon," Hatchen told reporters.
The same week Night was dumped by Hatchen and Munson, two aboriginal men were found frozen to death in the same area.
No one was charged in those deaths, but protesters took to the streets to condemn so-called "starlight tours."
Alberta writer Candis McLean said the notion that Saskatoon police were dropping suspects off to freeze is not true. She looked at the case, and has concluded that Hatchen and Munson shouldn't have been found guilty and are themselves victims.
"I believe the first go-round with Munson and Hatchen was exactly that, a rush to judgment," she said. "I would like to see the whole thing re-examined now that cooler heads prevail. I would like to see the truth get out."
She said Hatchen and Munson meant no harm to Night and were, in fact, dropping him off within walking distance of where his sister lived.
She said the RCMP, justice officials and the courts all missed or ignored evidence that could have vindicated the two officers.
Hatchen said he hopes the documentary could open the door for him to return to policing.
"If I could, I would," he said.
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal upheld the Hatchen and Munson convictions in 2003.