Nova Scotia

Garnier arrested but not charged in Cape Breton, police review board told

The Nova Scotia Police Review Board is hearing allegations of misconduct by four Cape Breton Regional Police officers.

Cape Breton police say instruction to arrest Christopher Garnier came from Halifax force

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)

A supervisor with the Cape Breton Regional Police testified Friday that he was instructed by another department to arrest Christopher Garnier in 2017 for breaching conditions of his release. 

Sgt. Dave MacGillivray told a hearing of the Nova Scotia Police Review Board there was no discussion regarding a warrant when the request came from Halifax Regional Police to detain Garnier, who was awaiting trial for murder.

Members of Cape Breton's municipal force did not charge Garnier after he was taken into custody. 

"We did not know at the time that there was a definite breach," MacGillivray told the three-member panel.

MacGillivray reiterated that Halifax police were handling Garnier's file and keeping track of his whereabouts.

2 constables sent to make arrest

He said two Cape Breton constables were sent to pick up Garnier in Millville, N.S., on Feb. 19, 2017 — about 33 hours after Garnier failed to show up at his mother's door as part of a bail compliance.

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

The hearing into the conduct of four Cape Breton Regional Police officers was launched Monday, after Garnier's father, Vincent Garnier, complained police violated his son's rights. 

Causeway handover 

After he was taken to a central lockup in Sydney, Christopher Garnier was driven to the Canso Causeway where he was picked up by Halifax officers. 

MacGillivray was asked if it is uncommon for charges to be laid outside a jurisdiction where an alleged offence took place. 

"It's not our practice, but in this case it did happen," he said. 

Governed under the Nova Scotia Police Act, the review board is an adjudicating body for complaints in relation to municipal policing organizations in the province.

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's rights in arresting him for breaching bail conditions in 2017. (Matthew Moore)
 

Board chair Jean McKenna said written arguments are expected, noting the panel could make recommendations on how interdepartmental affairs are handled. 

"It may seem as though there was information that may not have been properly transmitted," she told hearing lawyers and Vincent Garnier, who has been representing himself as a complainant.

The board also has the authority to dismiss the matter, find a complaint valid and award or fix costs where appropriate. 

Hearing to wrap

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

All of the men, with the exception of McSween — who was given a medical exemption — have testified. 

In total, 11 witnesses have given testimony, including members of Christopher Garnier's family and an ex-girlfriend. 

A Halifax police constable is the final person who will give sworn evidence when the hearing resumes Monday.

Vincent Garnier alleges police unlawfully arrested his son, took photographs on private property without the knowledge or consent of the homeowner, and invited themselves into the home where his son was staying.

Officers who spoke at the hearing said they were only performing their duties according to proper police protocols. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Pottie

Reporter

Erin Pottie is a CBC reporter based in Sydney. She has been covering local news in Cape Breton for 15 years. Story ideas welcome at erin.pottie@cbc.ca.

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