Law student calls for veteran homicide detective’s ouster after class lecture

A University of Alberta law student is calling for the suspension of Edmonton’s best-known homicide detective — a city cop of more than 30 years — over comments she claims he made as a guest lecturer.

Caitlin Dick, a second-year law student, alleges city police Staff Sgt. Bill Clark made derogatory comments about defence lawyers, referred to a homicide victim’s race and called criminals maggots during a presentation to her class on Nov. 1.

Tom Engel, a defence lawyer and well-known police critic, is representing Dick’s case and filed a complaint with the city’s acting police chief over Clark’s alleged comments Wednesday.

“This is not the first time that Staff Sergeant Clark has faced trouble and controversy regarding public statements he has made,” the letter of complaint to acting Chief Kevin Brezinski reads. “He has been disciplined previously. Despite that, he has demonstrated that he is ungovernable and unfit to serve as a police officer.”

“He should be suspended immediately or put into some sort of a position where he is no longer involved in investigations and prosecutions.”

In an emailed statement, police service spokeswoman Cheryl Sheppard said the acting chief has received the letter and has ordered an investigation by the Professional Standards Branch (PSB).

“He is concerned by the comments attributed to a member of the Edmonton Police Service,” Sheppard said. “Pursuant to the provisions of the Police Act, the Chief has directed that a PSB investigation be conducted into the allegations.”

Clark did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Dick said the detective was a guest of class instructor Malcolm Allan, a former Edmonton city police Inspector who now teaches policing law at the university. Clark’s presentation was about homicide investigations and included a recording of a real 911 call from a woman who had been stabbed by her husband as well as crime scene photos and example dispatch sheets.

Early on in the lecture, Dick alleges Clark asked the class to raise their hands to show whether they wanted to be prosecutors or defence lawyers, who Clark called “the bad guys.” Dick said it was the first of several shots Clark took at defence lawyers. She also claims Clark made comments suggesting suspects are given differential treatment depending on how much he likes their lawyer, saying he only allows lawyers to see their clients “if they’re respectful.”

Dick alleges that Clark then told the students to come say hello if they ever bump into him in court but then added with a laugh that if “you’re on the good side I’ll say hi, if you’re on the bad side I’ll say f— you.”

Dick also alleges that Clark referred to a victim bludgeoned to death with a hammer as being from an “East Indian family.” Dick said she raised her hand to ask why he mentioned that victim’s race, to which she claims Clark replied, “I dunno, because they were.”

Clark also referred to an “ongoing battle with Tom Engel,” saying they share a mutual hatred, claims Dick. In addition, she alleges Clark referred to criminals as maggots, expressed support for the death penalty, and said the age at which someone can be tried as an adult should be lowered “because 14-year-olds are just absolute criminals.”

Dick claims Clark’s comments were “extremely upsetting” and made her “seriously doubt his ability to investigate impartially.” If he felt comfortable saying such things to law students and a former police inspector “one can only imagine the things he has to say to subordinates and other officers within the Edmonton Police Service,” the letter states.

Clark often serves as a police spokesperson on homicides in the city. He’s known for his candour at crime scenes and once saved a 10-day old baby from the aftermath of Edmonton’s 1987 deadly tornado. But his off-the-cuff comments sometimes land him in hot water.

In 2011, Clark expressed frustration after 23-year-old Mohammed Jama was shot and killed in a busy lounge on 107 Avenue. Clark told media that only one witness had come forward to speak to police despite the lounge being full of people.

Dick’s letter says Clark made comments about Jama’s character and “implied that as the Somali community was not cooperating with homicide section, the investigation would not be advanced.”

His comments prompted an apology from the then-chief of police to the Edmonton Somali community.

jwakefield@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jonnywakefield

***

Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.