Gary Dimmock, Ottawa (Ottawa Citizen) – It was hardly a laughing matter, but before British Columbia RCMP Const. Mike White responded to a shots-fired call in the fall of 2008, he chuckled about it in a radio call with the dispatcher — twice.
White then headed to the subdivision where a 911 caller had reported six gunshots. He never got out of his car to interview the caller, let alone to search the Mission, B.C., neighbourhood. The officer gave it 13 minutes of his time before leaving to respond to another call that Sept. 18 night.
Across the street from the 911 caller’s house, Lisa Dudley, 37, and her boyfriend, Guthrie McKay, lay wounded and dying in their own home.
Four days after the 911 call, a neighbour found McKay dead on the floor and Dudley, barely alive, seated in a recliner and unable to move because a pool of dried blood had affixed her to the chair.
She was conscious and responsive but died during transfer to hospital, according to paramedics.
The case prompted the RCMP’s Public Complaints Commission to recommend that all Mounties treat “shots-fired” calls as a priority and to actually contact 911 callers who report crime.
Now, senior Mounties are moving to discipline White, who was promoted to corporal after the unsolved murders.
The date for his disciplinary hearing, to be held in Ottawa, will be set in a few weeks. White is facing allegations under the RCMP Act of disgraceful conduct and bringing discredit on the national police force.
The RCMP officer’s “chuckling” is contained in a transcript of the dispatch call that has gone unreported until now.
The transcript was unearthed by an independent review of the case by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team and obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.
The independent review noted that the RCMP’s internal probes of the case made no reference to the audio tape in which White is heard “chuckling.” The Alberta probe recommended that White be questioned again about his actions.
The RCMP say they were not aware of the audio recording during its internal investigation.
The RCMP public complaints commission report, dated last Oct. 16 said: “Corporal White’s dismissive comments and tone serve to further demonstrate that he had predetermined that there was no validity to the complaint of shots fired. This explains his lack of investigation and the results that followed, both of which are canvassed at length in the commission’s interim report.”
The independent report by the Alberta team also said White’s explanations during the RCMP complaints commission probe “fell short of a reasonable officer response and should be challenged, in light of the new evidence (audio tape of radio call).”
“The initial explanations were accepted under the belief that the response by the member was not influenced by any pre-conceived notions about the authenticity of the information. The newly discovered recorded phone call suggests a pre-conceived belief may have existed.”
The parents of Lisa Dudley say the radio dispatch conversation has hit them hard.
“My wife wept when she read it. It was a terrible thing to read,” said Mark Surakka, the slain woman’s stepfather.
“It’s important to listen to because the officer seems to be taking the call pretty lightly,” Surakka, 60, told the Ottawa Citizen.
“We strongly believe if the RCMP had done their job properly, she would be alive. It’s a terrible thing to think about.”
The parents of the slain woman say the RCMP has refused to give them a copy of the dispatch call in question.
“They said they couldn’t give it to us because of the Privacy Act,” said Surakka.