Grieving brother criticizes police, gets arrested on 11-year-old warrant

Police did not disclose why the decision was made to arrest Edward Divers at city hall Thursday when the warrant has been outstanding for 11 years.

Man arrested outside city hall moments after making sharp criticism of Hamilton police

Edward Divers and other family members wore shirts calling for "Justice for Tony Divers" to speak to Hamilton's police board before he was arrested as he left city hall. His brother, Tony, was killed by police in September. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Police were acting on an 11-year-old warrant when they arrested a man after he delivered a pointed speech criticizing Hamilton police over the shooting death of his brother.

His sister said the family feels targeted and set up.

His lawyer questioned the timing of arresting him immediately after he criticized the service and made an emotional plea for changes. And the chair of the police board said the "optics aren't good."

Edward Divers was arrested outside of city hall around 3 p.m. shortly after he delivered his message to the police chief and members of the force's oversight board at its meeting on Thursday.

Unfortunately we can't select the locations of where wanted people choose to attend.- Const. Stephen Welton, Hamilton Police Service

Divers was arrested on an outstanding warrant connected to failing to appear in court after an impaired driving offence from 2006, said Hamilton Police Const. Stephen Welton.

Crown prosecutors were opposing Divers' release, but he was released after a bail hearing in court Friday morning.  

Welton did not disclose why the decision was made to arrest Divers as he left city hall Thursday, when the warrant has been outstanding for 11 years. He did not say an exact date the charge relates to.

He also did not say whether police had an address for Divers or whether they had tried to find and arrest him anywhere else before Thursday.

"Police learned and were able to confirm the identity of the wanted man," Welton said. "Police made the decision to await the conclusion of the meeting before making the arrest."

Divers 'has certainly not been hiding'

It was the third consecutive police services board meeting Divers had attended, which he referred to in his remarks Thursday.

He and Alexander submitted speaker slips in December to be considered by the board, which included an address and were included in the public agenda for both the December and January meetings.

Divers, who lives in Scotland, has been in Canada since October 5, a few days after his brother died.

"He has also been residing with his sisters and has certainly not been hiding," said Jaime Stephenson, a defence attorney who represented Divers at his bail hearing Friday morning. 

"I am curious as to why it was not until he spoke publicly at the PSB hearing and was critical of the police as to why that was the time the warrant was finally executed," she said.

'The facts of the police are that he's wanted for a criminal offence'

Divers was cooperative with police, Welton said.

"Unfortunately we can't select the locations of where wanted people choose to attend," Welton said. "The facts of the police are that he's wanted for a criminal offence. The decision was made and police awaited the conclusion of the meeting."

Divers' brother Tony was shot and killed by police in September, and the family has called for police to be disarmed and be mandated to wear lapel cameras.

Divers targeted the chief in his remarks, saying he acts more like a politician than a human being.

'The optics aren't good'

"The optics aren't good but police also have a duty to serve the warrant," board chair Coun. Lloyd Ferguson said.

"It looks like – the optics could be perceived that, because of what he said in the board meeting that's why he was arrested and that's simply not true," he said.

After the meeting, Edward Divers spoke with police board members Coun. Terry Whitehead, left, and Walt Juchniewicz, top right, and his sister Yvonne Alexander before being arrested leaving city hall. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Ferguson said he thought it was "probably better" that police waited for Divers to make his presentation to the board before arresting him.

Coun. Terry Whitehead, who also sits on the police board, said police are doing their job. 

"They have a responsibility to protect the public," he said. "It's never good timing. It stinks optically but I understand the other side of that coin."

The arrest happened just after 3 p.m. as the meeting was wrapping up. Divers' sister, Yvonne Alexander, and several other family members and friends were still at city hall.

"They had police at every exit unbeknownst to us during the meeting," she said on Facebook. "Then as soon as we walked over the threshold out of city hall, five cops arrested him. They wouldn't tell us why."

kelly.bennett@cbc.ca | @kellyrbennett