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Calgary officers guilty of corruption in harassment campaign targeting mother

Three Calgary police officers have been found guilty of nine corruption-related offences related to the harassment of a local mother whose bitter ex-husband hired them to stalk her.

The three current and former police officers will be sentenced later this year

Bryan Morton, Brad McNish and Tony Braile were on trial for corruption-related offences. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Three Calgary police officers have been found guilty of nine corruption-related offences related to the harassment of a local mother whose bitter ex-husband hired them to stalk her. 

Anthony Braile, Bryan Morton and Brad McNish participated in a two-year campaign targeting Akele Taylor, whose ex Ken Carter was fighting for sole custody of their daughter. Carter was trying to dig up dirt on her through a private investigation firm that employed current and former officers, including the three accused. 

"The surveillance was designed to intimidate ... and to highlight the power imbalance between Mr. Carter and Ms. Taylor," said Court of Queen's Bench Justice Bryan Mahoney in delivering his decision. 

"[It's] evident her fear was exacerbated by feeling police would not help her."

Mahoney delivered the following verdicts Friday afternoon.

Anthony Braile:  

  • Bribery — guilty. 
  • Harassment — guilty. 
  • Unauthorized use of a computer system —  guilty. 

Bryan Morton: 

  • Bribery — guilty. 
  • Harassment — guilty.
  • Unauthorized use of a computer system — guilty.
  • Breach of trust — guilty. 

Brad McNish:

  • Bribery — not guilty. 
  • Unauthorized use of a computer system — guilty.
  • Breach of trust — guilty.

​The charges of bribery and unauthorized use of a computer system relate to the officers being paid to do searches on internal Calgary Police Service databases — CPIC and PIMS. 

The trial began Feb. 5 and final arguments took place earlier this month.

In 2012, Akele Taylor, and her common-law husband, Ken Carter, were involved in a bitter break-up and custody battle over their young daughter. Retired CPS officer Steve Walton and his wife Heather's private investigation firm was hired by Carter. 

Braile, Morton and McNish were all Calgary police officers when they worked for the Waltons' firm. The Waltons and Carter go on trial on similar charges later this year.

Early on in the trial, Taylor testified she was terrorized for two years as people working for Walton surveilled, stalked and harassed her, which included installing a GPS device on her car. Friends of Taylor's were offered thousands of dollars in exchange for disclosing negative information about her. 

Defence lawyers argued the accused officers were under the belief that Taylor "was a dangerous prostitute with a drug addiction and gang affiliations who posed a threat to the well-being of [her daughter]."

Akele Taylor testified that her ex, Ken Carter, hired a private investigation firm to stalk her for two years in order to gain custody of their daughter. (Instagram/Supplied)

Both McNish and Morton testified in their own defence. Mahoney found inconsistencies and credibility issues with both. 

The judge found much of McNish's testimony "self serving" and in some cases "not credible." 

McNish accessed police databases while off duty on Workers Compensation benefits. He knew he was risking his career by doing the unauthorized work for Walton, said Mahoney. 

In Morton's case, the judge was more scathing in his assessment of the police officer's testimony.

"I find Mr. Morton was not a credible witness," said Mahoney in his assessment the evidence that at times was "impossible to accept."

Mahoney found Morton did more surveillance than he admitted to, which added to the harassment of Taylor. He said Morton was clearly — by evidence of a text message saying so — paid for the illegal police database searches he did for the Waltons.

"[Morton's] repeated denial that he was never paid for those searches ... is incapable of belief."

Braile did not testify in his own defence but much of the evidence came as part of a affidavit sworn by the former officer. 

"It was clear from the evidence Ms. Taylor was criminally harassed by Mr. Braile," said Mahoney.

Sentencing later this year

During the trial, the three officers tried to paint Taylor as a drug addicted prostitute. It was one of the first issues the judge addressed when delivering his decision. 

"Let me be clear, all persons whether they use drugs, work in the sex trade or are messy housekeepers ... are individuals in Canada who are entitled to the full protection of the law," said Mahoney.

All alleged offences stem from activity between 2012 and 2015, during which time all three accused were CPS officers, though Braile had been suspended for unrelated matters. He was fired by CPS in 2016 for professional misconduct relating to a 2008 high-speed chase.

Morton and McNish remain suspended without pay.

Defence lawyers Pat Fagan, Jim Lutz and Paul Brunnen represent Braile, Morton and McNish, respectively.

A date for a sentencing hearing will be set next month.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.