Thursday, January 10, 2008


A rookie police officer in Vancouver, British Columbia, has contradicted the testimony of a former sergeant in the case of a Native man who died after being dragged out of a jail center. The testimony came during a public inquiry underway in Vancouver.

Vancouver Police Const. David Instant (pictured here), who is believed to be the last person to have seen Frank Paul alive, told the inquiry he thought Frank Paul was clearly intoxicated when he found the First Nations man passed out on a vegetable stand on Dec. 5, 1998. But he was surprised to be told by his superior officer, a VPD sergeant in charge of the jail, that Paul wasn't drunk at all.

The Vancouver Sun reports Instant's superior then ordered the junior officer to drive Paul, who was unable to move and had to be dragged into the jail, to the Broadway and Maple area of Vancouver. Paul's body would be found the next morning in a Downtown Eastside alley. It was ruled he likely died from hypothermia due to exposure and alcohol intoxication.

Instant had just graduated from a training academy a few months prior to the incident.

Instant also gave this testimony about what went down that night. The Globe and Mail writes Instant said he drove directly to jail, donned his rubber gloves and tried to rouse Mr. Paul, who was lying on the floor of the wagon.

" 'Frank, we're here,' " he said. "I reached in and touched his shoulder. 'C'mon, time to go. Get out,' " he said. But there was a barely mumbled response.

He then "grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him out of the wagon... dragged him along the [jailhouse] floor."

Constable Instant said it was not uncommon to drag people who were drunk because if they tried to walk, they could fall and hurt themselves.

When the elevator doors opened on the fifth floor, where the drunk tank was, he was greeted by Vancouver police sergeant Russell Sanderson, the officer in charge of the jail, who refused to accept Mr. Paul.

Constable Instant said Mr. Sanderson, a veteran officer who has since left the force, told him Mr. Paul couldn't be drunk because he'd been released just a few hours earlier.

"I advised Sgt. Sanderson, 'Well, he was found lying on a vegetable stand'... Sgt. Sanderson said, 'He's homeless, that's where he sleeps.' So I say to Sgt. Sanderson, 'He can't even walk.' "

Constable Instant said the sergeant's assessment was that Mr. Paul was lethargic because of a disability that made it difficult for him to stand, not because of alcohol.

He said he was told Mr. Paul, a 47-year-old Mi'kmaq, wouldn't be accepted.

"I was confused by it. It was something I didn't see coming," he said of the decision not to put him in the drunk tank. "His assessment was that this man was not drunk... It was a little confusing."

Constable Instant said he asked the sergeant: " 'What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to breach him?... He said, 'Yes, take him to Broadway and Maple.' My understanding was that Broadway and Maple was the best guess as to where Mr. Paul might live on the street... I think it was fairly obvious what I was supposed to do when I got there. Take him out of the wagon and release him."

Constable Instant said with the help of others, he dragged Mr. Paul back to the police wagon.

Instant's superior, the former officer in charge of the Vancouver Police jail, refused to offer an apology to the family of Frank Paul for his part in the series of decisions made by police which resulted in Paul's death. The former police sergeant, Russell Sanderson, in testimony given earlier denied any responsibility.

Sanderson maintained that Paul was not drunk when he saw him despite video evidence that showed him being dragged along the floor into the jail and then into an elevator.

Kelliher said forensic examination of Paul determined he was suffering from hypothermia when he was brought into the jail and that he was also drunk but Sanderson rejected both scenarios arguing he was at the scene while the pathologist who made those finding wasn't.

Sanderson maintained that something must have happened to Paul in the interval between leaving the jail and his body being found.

"So one of your ways of explaining what happened to Mr. Frank Paul was that after he was dragged out of jail, dragged into an alley he got up and drank himself to death. Is that your explanation?" said Kelliher.

"I don't know," said Sanderson.

"What possible explanation could there be?"

"I can't think of any."


By the way, no one was ever charged in the matter.

For an earlier OD story go to

The following is from the CBC.

Vancouver cop contradicts former sergeant's testimony at Frank Paul inquiry

A Vancouver police officer has contradicted testimony given by a former senior sergeant who was in charge of the jail where Frank Paul was taken almost 10 years ago.

Const. David Instant, the wagon driver who delivered Paul to the jail and later dropped him off at an intersection at the request of ex-police sergeant Russell Sanderson, testified Wednesday afternoon at the inquiry into the death of the 47-year-old First Nations man.

Instant's testimony conflicted with statements made on Monday by Sanderson, who told the inquiry that Paul wasn't drunk enough to be put in the drunk tank. Instant testified that he thought Paul was intoxicated.

Sanderson also denied knowing Paul was homeless in his testimony Tuesday, which was also contradicted by Instant.

"I advised Sgt. Sanderson he [Paul] was found laying on a vegetable rack at Dunlevy [Avenue] and Hastings [Street] and Sgt. Sanderson said, 'He's homeless that's where he sleeps,'" Instant said.

Paul, a former resident of the Big Cove First Nation in New Brunswick, died on Dec. 5, 1998, of hypothermia because of exposure due to alcohol intoxication.

A police video recording shown at the inquiry last November showed a limp Paul being dragged into an elevator at the police station the second time he arrived there, his wet clothes leaving a mark on the floor.

Instant testified that Sanderson didn't want to hold Paul in jail that night and that's why the senior officer told him to drive Paul to the corner of Broadway Street and Maple Street.

"What I felt it was is: Let's get this guy out of the Downtown Eastside and somewhere where he is safe and he says he lives in this area. Let's drive him out there," Instant said.

Sanderson wrapped up his testimony on Wednesday after three days on the witness stand.

Instant will continue testifying when the inquiry resumes Friday.

No charges laid in Paul's death
The aim of the public inquiry is not to find fault but it can make recommendations on changes to police policies and procedures.

Crown lawyers reviewed the case in June 2004 and determined charges were not warranted.

Two Vancouver police officers were disciplined internally and the police department considered the case closed.

A corrections officer who was working the night Paul died claimed the internal police investigation was a sham and took his concerns to the police complaints commissioner in 2003.

Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld recommended a public inquiry into Paul's death but his recommendation was rejected by the provincial government.

The B.C. government reversed its decision last February after CBC News reported on the corrections officer's claim.

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