Nova Scotia

Christopher Garnier's family accuse Cape Breton police officers of misconduct

The Nova Scotia Police Review Board is looking into claims from convicted murderer Christopher Garnier's family that accuse Cape Breton Regional Police officers of conducting an illegal arrest and seizure of evidence in 2017.

Police review board looking into misconduct claims during 2017 arrest for breaching bail conditions

Vincent Garnier speaks with reporters outside a police review board hearing held at a downtown Sydney hotel. The Bedford man alleges Cape Breton Regional Police officers violated his son Christopher Garnier's rights in arresting him for breaching bail conditions in 2017. (Matthew Moore)

The Nova Scotia Police Review Board is looking into claims from convicted murderer Christopher Garnier's family that accuse Cape Breton Regional Police officers of conducting an illegal arrest and seizure of evidence in 2017.

Garnier was taken into custody for breaching bail conditions after failing to present himself to the municipal force at his mother's basement door in Millville, N.S. during a compliance check

His mother, Kim Edmunds, said she does not believe police were at her home as they have stated. 

"I honestly don't think they were," Edmunds told members of the board's three-person panel. "When somebody knocks on the door, it wakes me up."

Alleged breach

In February 2017, while awaiting trial for murder, Garnier took a trip to Cape Breton, where his mother lives. 

He was allowed to live at his father's house in Bedford or at his mother's residence in Millville as part of his bail conditions.

Christopher Garnier is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder and indignity to a human body in the 2015 death of Truro police officer Catherine Campbell. (CBC)

Garnier was to submit to regular compliance checks from either members of the CBRP and Halifax Regional Police.

Before his trip, Garnier called a Halifax police answering service to advise he was going to stay at his mom's place, although he did not leave his cell phone number with the service at that time.

A CBRP officer testified under oath at a bail revocation hearing that he went to the Millville home in the early morning hours of Feb. 18, 2017, but Garnier did not present himself at the door.

A Supreme Court judge later ruled Garnier did not intentionally breach his conditions, as he was likely asleep. 

That same year, Garnier was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of off-duty Truro police officer Catherine Campbell. 

Complaint launched

Christopher Garnier's father, Vincent Garnier, is representing himself as a complainant at the police hearing into the actions of four officers. 

The men accused of misconduct are Const. Steve Campbell, Const. Gary Fraser, Const. Dennis McSween and Const. Troy Walker.

Each officer is represented by a lawyer, while a member of Cape Breton Regional Municipality's legal team is acting on behalf of the police organization. 

"We'll dig deep into the practices of the [CBRP] which I believe violate the constitution, violate the charter and violate aspects of the criminal code. Those are the informations I would like to bring forth over the next two weeks," Vincent Garnier said during a break in the proceedings. 

"The police, without a warrant, and without any consent of the property owners, accessed private property, walked into a private residence and placed a person under arrest."

The board heard that photographs of the property were taken without the knowledge of the homeowner. 

Hearing continues

Vincent Garnier said his family incurred more than $35,000 in legal fees as a result alleged breach.  After his son's arrest, he filed a complaint with CBRP.

An internal investigation found that if a breach had occurred, it was only minor. 

Members of the police review board, Hon. Simon J. MacDonald, Stephen Johnson and chair Jean McKenna are hearing arguments on both sides of the case at a Sydney hotel.

Police will have a chance to explain their actions on the weekend in question once Vincent Garnier finishes calling witnesses. 

In total, 14 people are expected to testify at the hearing that is slated to run over two weeks. So far, the board has heard from Christopher Garnier's mother and stepmother, his uncle, and his former common-law partner. 

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Corrections

  • This is a corrected story. An earlier version identified one of the officers accused of misconduct as Dennis McQueen. In fact, the officer's name is Dennis McSween.
    Jan 21, 2021 5:39 PM AT

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