'My left fist slams into his face': Calgary police officer who wrote controversial book under investigation
John Brix-Maffei wasn't allowed to patrol city streets after book published but remained an officer until 2013
Originally published on October 2.
Former Calgary police constable John Brix-Maffei and the two dozen incidents of violence he wrote about in his book, The Wolf and the Sheepdog, will be investigated by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), CBC News has confirmed.
The agency has agreed to investigate "possible admissions of criminal conduct" in the book, according to Alberta Justice and Solicitor General spokesperson Jason van Rassel.
The decision comes less than a week after Edmonton attorney Tom Engel sent a letter to Alberta's justice minister and the director of law enforcement asking for ASIRT to be called in over concerning passages like this one:
"My left fist slams into his face causing his nose to bend and suddenly pop under the force," wrote Brix-Maffei under the pen name John Smith in 2008. "My right fist lines up for a second blow."
CPS pulled Brix-Maffei off city streets
Brix-Maffei left the service in "good standing" in 2013 and was touted as a "talented author," according to the police union.
But the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service was so concerned with Brix-Maffei's writings, a decision was made back in 2011 that he could not testify at a trial, which meant CPS could never again allow him to patrol Calgary's streets.
The Crown's office "promptly informed Calgary police that it was no longer willing to call the officer as a witness and encouraged CPS to fully investigate the matter," Van Rassel confirmed.
CPS said in a written statement it could not discuss details of the case now that ASIRT is involved, but the organization said "we fully respect and welcome the decision to investigate this and will of course co-operate to the fullest extent."
The statement went on to say the service has "significant concerns in relation to the content" of the book and that "the portrayal of policing was incompatible with the expectations and duties of a police officer."
Brix-Maffei now a motivational speaker
Though CPS did not conduct a formal investigation, the service did conduct "several reviews" and as a precaution, put Brix-Maffei "on more administrative and non-influential duties."
Those duties initially involved training other officers at the CPS firing range but Brix-Maffei was eventually shuffled off to more administrative work.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Brix-Maffei is now an international consultant and a global professional speaker.
The nearly 300-page publication is billed as a collection of short stories and although it's categorized as "fiction" online, the book itself claims to be a true account of Brix-Maffei's first seven years as a police officer, with names changed to protect him and his partner.
"The calls and situations depicted in this book are only based on actual events," wrote Brix-Maffei.
On a podcast posted online, the officer again asserts the stories in the book are true.
"The obvious concern is that the author says they're true stories and if you look at some of the things described in them, they're blatantly obvious crimes being committed by a police officer against the people that he's policing," says Michael Bates, chair of the policing committee for the Calgary Defence Lawyers Association.
Legal counsel for the Calgary Police Service, Harold Hagglund, called it an "odious book" in 2011. Although the publication is currently listed as fiction, when he first saw it online, it had been filed under non-fiction, according to an email obtained through a freedom of information request.
The alleged criminal acts described in the book include this one:
"I broke his nose … the right fist hits solid on his jaw causing his head to spin violently away from me. He is f--ked; I have two or three seconds now. His brain is bouncing off of his cranial cavity and I have two or three seconds to cause more damage to this f--k before his brain even recovers from that blow."
'Restricted' book kept under lock and key
A copy of the book is being kept under lock and key at CPS headquarters and has been classified as "restricted," according to documents obtained by the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association through a Freedom of Information request.
Emails show various CPS employees discussing how to handle the publication.
"I would request that the library please refrain from placing a copy of this book in the general collection until we've had a chance to complete the legal review of it," wrote a CPS lawyer to her assistant.
The emails also indicate CPS top brass was aware of the publication, including two deputy chiefs.
It's not known what came from that legal review, but Brix-Maffei never again patrolled Calgary streets or worked with civilians. He was shuffled off to the firing range and then placed on administrative duties.
'Blood thirsty ruffians'
In January 2011, Defence lawyer David Chow wrote a blog post about The Wolf and the Sheepdog called Holy Bill of Rights, Batman.
"The Wolf and the Sheepdog paints many members of the Calgary Police Service as nothing short of armed thugs," Chow wrote in his blog.
"Perhaps most troubling, it teaches nothing other than some of Calgary's finest are little more than blood thirsty ruffians who use their authority to administer physical violence against those whom they are entrusted to protect."
Chow also tried to get assistant Chief Crown Mike Ewenson to convince CPS to investigate.
In an email to other defence lawyers, Chow wrote, "I was left with the indelible impression that Ewenson was troubled with the conduct."
Despite the Crown's concerns and meetings among CPS top brass, police never investigated.
"It seems all too common that ASIRT comes in to look into things that the Calgary Police Service didn't look into at the time," said Bates. "It raises the same question that seems to come up over and over again, which is can you really trust the police to investigate the police?"
'Lies are those that affect the innocent'
Although the book was written under the pen name John Smith, John Brix-Maffei has since outed himself as the author, including in a letter to Maclean's magazine — for which he used his CPS email account.
Brix-Maffei wrote about more than two dozen seemingly criminal scenarios, some of which Engel described as aggravated assaults, assaults with a weapon, and kidnapping.
In the book, Brix-Maffei also writes about doctoring notes and police reports to avoid accountability.
After a vehicle rams his own cruiser, Brix-Maffei writes: "Did I breach policy? You bet. You have to get permission to ram a vehicle from your supervisor."
Brix-Maffei wrote he didn't lie after the incident because, "Lies are those that affect the innocent."