Lead RCMP investigator takes the stand at Dunphy Inquiry

Burke on defensive about RCMP investigation


Published on February 7, 2017

RCMP Cpl. Steve Burke is questioned by Dunphy Inquiry co-counsel Kate O'Brien.

©James McLeod/The Telegram

RCMP Cpl. Steven Burke said he didn’t think about potential concerns of special treatment or tainted evidence surrounding Const. Joe Smyth in the hours after Donald Dunphy was killed.

In the hours after the shooting, it is clear that Smyth received special treatment because he was a police officer. When Smyth was at the RCMP detachment following the shooting, four fellow RNC officers were allowed to speak to him and talk him out of giving a police statement until after he got a night's sleep. 

Burke said that at the time, he he didn’t have any concern about Smyth’s fellow RNC officers visiting him at the RCMP detachment. When he was asked if he could remember any other homicide where the subject of the investigation was given a private meeting room to meet with people at an RCMP detachment; Burke said he couldn’t remember that ever happening before.

Police interview transcripts reflect a chummy tone towards Smyth. 

Dunphy's daughter, Meghan Dunphy, has also raised concerns that the RCMP failed to take key evidence from Dunphy's house after the shooting. 

When Burke was asked point-blank whether he felt Smyth received special treatment because he was a police officer, Burke was defensive.

“I could give an opinion, but I don’t want to give an opinion,” Burke said.

The RCMP also didn’t search or photograph Smyth’s vehicle outside Dunphy’s house, didn’t review GPS data, or look for things like alcohol or written notes in the car.

When Burke was asked whether the RCMP would have done the same if Smyth was a civilian, he only said, “I can’t answer that question.”

Donald Dunphy was shot and killed in his Mitchell's Brook home on Easter Sunday, 2015, by RNC Const. Joe Smyth. 

Smyth was assigned to the protective services unit of the RNC at the time, and he was at Dunphy's home assessing a potential threat against then-premier Paul Davis, based on several messages Dunphy posted on Twitter. 

Smyth has testified that Dunphy invited him into the house, but then became agitated and Dunphy pointed a rifle at him. 

Smyth then shot and killed Dunphy in self-defense. 

The inquiry is investigating all of the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

Tuesday morning’s testimony also dealt with with the involvement of retired justice David Riche, who was an independent observer on the Donald Dunphy homicide investigation, the RCMP began to feel like he was getting out of hand.

Burke testified that the police felt like Riche began drifting outside his mandate, asking the police to re-interview witnesses, and developing theories of his own which were not supported by the evidence.

Burke testified that it was Chief Supt. Andrew Boland was the RCMP officer who decided to hire Riche as an independent observer. Riche was supposed to monitor the police investigation for independence, non-bias and thoroughness.

Riche’s involvement in the investigation has been a source of controversy, along with a series of bizarre media interviews, and a strange final report.

Riche, along with Boland and other police officers, are all expected to testify at the inquiry.

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

 

Earlier Story

 

After nibbling around the edges of it for weeks, the Dunphy Inquiry has turned its focus squarely onto the RCMP investigation into the killing of Donald Dunphy.

RCMP Cpl. Steven Burke, the lead investigator on the matter, is on the stand today. He is scheduled to continue testifying until Thursday. 

The RCMP investigation has emerged as one of the most contentious elements of the inquiry. 

Dunphy was shot and killed in his Mitchell’s Brook home on Easter Sunday 2015, by RNC Const. Joe Smyth. 

Smyth was assigned to the protective services unit of the RNC at the time, and he was at Dunphy’s home assessing a potential threat against then-premier Paul Davis, based on several messages Dunphy had posted on Twitter. 

Smyth has testified that Dunphy invited him into the house, but then became agitated and Dunphy pointed a rifle at him. 

Smyth says he then shot and killed Dunphy in self-defense. 

In the hours after the shooting, it is clear that Smyth received special treatment because he was a police officer. When Smyth was at the RCMP detachment following the shooting, four fellow RNC officers were allowed to speak to him and talk him out of giving a police statement until after he got a night’s sleep. 

Police interview transcripts reflect a chummy tone towards Smyth. 

Dunphy’s daughter, Meghan Dunphy, has also raised concerns that the RCMP failed to take key evidence from Dunphy’s house after the shooting. 

In early testimony, Burke testified that he had passing contact with Smyth as a fellow police officer involved in VIP protection work in the years before the shooting.