Edmonton police guilty in 'sweatbox' case
Presiding officer finds constables' actions not racially motivated
Constables Patrick Hannas and Lael Sauter were convicted at a disciplinary hearing on three counts each under the Alberta Police Act.
A third officer, Const. Graham Blackburn, was cleared because he was deemed to be only riding along in the police vehicle at the time.
The case received a lot of media attention. There were questions about whether the officers' actions were racially motivated.
The presiding officer at the disciplinary hearing, Calgary police Insp. Paul Manuel, vehemently rejected this view. After listening to all the evidence, he said he believes the officers had a genuine concern for the well-being of the people they transported that day.
However, Manuel said the incident tarnishes the reputation of the Edmonton Police Service.
Homeless vulnerable, lawyer says
Erika Norheim represented some of the complainants.
"These are highly vulnerable people who can easily be taken advantage of in a way that many other members of society could not be," she said after the hearing. "It was clearly wrong."
Manuel's finding that the constables' actions were not mean-spirited or racially motivated came as a relief to Edmonton police chief Mike Boyd.
"I am very pleased to hear that," he said. "Very pleased to hear that. I think that casts a whole different light on the whole situation with that finding. And I think that's important."
Witnesses told the disciplinary hearing in June that they were picked up on May 20, 2005. They said the van was sweltering and crowded. Some people had to sit on the floor because there wasn't enough room on the benches. They were hot and arguing among themselves. One woman had to urinate on the floor.
Police finally stopped the van and let everyone out in the area of 81st Street and 127th Avenue.
The incident was brought to light by a story in a newspaper written and sold by Edmonton street people. After a year-long investigation, the RCMP announced in June 2008 that no criminal charges would be laid against the officers involved.
In February 2010, Edmonton police decided three officers would face an internal disciplinary hearing.