DELTA â€” The Delta Police Department is distancing itself from a campaign supporting one of its officers charged with murder.
Due to backlash for what appeared to be direct support and assistance for the Delta Police Association’s wristband campaign for Const. Jordan MacWilliams, the department says in order to avoid any confusion and appearance of not being impartial, the wristbands will not be mentioned on the department’s website.
"We pride ourselves in being a transparent organization and we are attentive to the public’s concerns. As there were those who expressed a concern with the wristbands being mentioned on our departmental website and social media, we are in the process of removing mention of them from those forums," said A/Sgt. Sarah Swallow.
The wristbands were created by the union, which didn’t have its own website. Union president S/Sgt. Ryan Hall said on the weekend that one would be built and information about purchasing the wristbands would be available there.
Last Thursday, dozens of Delta police officers were at the courthouse in New Westminster in a show of support for MacWilliams.
MacWilliams was making his second appearance as he faces a second-degree murder charge stemming from a fatal on-duty shooting two years ago.
During the brief court appearance, a pre-trial conference was scheduled for Jan. 21 in Vancouver.
Hall said the officers in attendance, many of whom were sporting the blue wristbands emblazoned with MacWilliams’ badge number and the department’s core values – Honour, Courage, Integrity and Trust – were there to support their fellow officer.
"We were looking for a tangible and professional way to show our support for our member while he’s going through the trial process. We wanted to keep it internal and silent," he said. "We don’t want to frustrate any process that’s going on in the court stage."
Outside the courthouse, MacWilliams’ lawyer, David Butcher, said the case is like nothing he’s ever seen before.
"As far as we are aware, there has never been a police officer who engaged in the use of force in the execution of his duty charged with an offence (like this) … This is a truly unique case."
Butcher said the defence had just received the Crown’s case Thursday morning.
"We don’t accept it at all," he said.
Butcher went on to say the public should have concerns about what’s taking place.
Tom Stamatakis, president of the British Columbia Police Association, echoed those sentiments.
"Lives were in jeopardy when Const. MacWilliams responded to a call, and on that day he performed his duties according to the training that he received as a police officer," he said. "If our officers now have to fear that their judgment in deadly situations will subject them to murder charges, their natural reaction will be to hesitate, and that hesitation could have dangerous and deadly consequences, both for police and for the public that rely on law enforcement."
MacWilliams was charged in October with second-degree murder in the death of 48-year-old Mehrdad Bayrami.
Bayrami was shot following a five-hour police standoff outside the Starlight Casino in New Westminster in November of 2012.
MacWilliams, who has been with the department for close to seven years, was a member of the Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team at the time, and one of many officers responding to the incident.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) looked into the shooting and last year chief civilian director Richard Rosenthal forwarded a report to Crown counsel. The IIO does not recommend charges but can forward a report to the Crown following an investigation where it’s believed an officer might have committed an offence.
The department says inquiries about the wristbands can be directed to www.bc-pa.ca.