Sue's Blog

Monday, April 06, 2015

Judicial Inquiry or Coroner's Inquest needed

This is a very difficult and disturbing post I write. (NEW INFORMATION AT BOTTOM OF POST)

Yesterday Don Dunphy died at his home in Mitchell's Brook - St. Mary's Bay.

Don Dunphy was known to many on the local Twitter scene. Most knew he was an injured worker who was in terrible mental and physical pain. There were times when I would respond to his questions and even try to find a direction for him to take. There were times when I would block him - when I felt he was no longer interested in "normal" discussion regarding his situation. Clearly he had been in anguish for some time.

The struggle was very long and difficult for Mr. Dunphy. It was obvious he felt betrayed by a system and by elected officials. 

I was eating an early Easter dinner with my parents when I noticed several marked an unmarked police vehicles zooming by with sirens on. Next there was one ambulance followed by additional police vehicles.

We were all hoping that if this was a vehicle accident - all were okay. The road to Mitchell's Brook is in horrific shape - no doubt for Mr. Donahue - a reminder of being left behind - uncared for - ignored.

There have been serious vehicle accidents on this road before. By the number of police vehicles present - it certainly did not look good.

Then came word via Twitter that there had been a shooting. There was a fatal shooting. All sorts of things run through your head when you are just minutes from the scene. Was this a domestic abuse situation? Was this an alcohol related event? It was awful. It certainly was not clear if there was any immediate danger to people in the community. 

Then bit by bit details began coming out. When I drove near the site - I noticed a number of distraught people on the side of the road. Clearly this was and is a community in crisis.

The local media have been tweeting and reporting using one tweet from a thread of four consecutive tweets. We all know it's hard to complete a paragraph on Twitter - so quite often the use of one tweet without using the ones preceding it - on the same thread - can be misleading. This is not journalism. (I noticed the CBC has changed it's story - in an attempt to contain complete thread - but still not) - old story not available. When there are two people at a place and one ends up dead - how do we get the whole story?

Complaining about the media in this province is quite often futile as they hold themselves above criticism - they act like partisan politicians - and quite often try to demean or diminish the individual delivering the criticism. As with everything - this is not universal as some of them are above this behavior.

I have read the series of tweets - and being familiar with Don's use of words, grammar, and phraseology - I interpret it as there are 2 politicians who are already deceased - and if there is a God - it may have happened that way so as not to be able to enjoy their political pensions. Finally the tweet which is used by media as describing the "threat" - is Don telling the reader - he would name the deceased MHA's other than he did not want to unnecessarily hurt people in their family - who may well be "good" people. I did not and do not see a threat in the thread of tweets.

Journalists by profession - by talent - would immediately be looking at possible contexts of the thread and asking questions about the context they were being taken in. Unfortunately this was not the case to date - rather they have been repeating that a tweet was in fact a "threat". It was reassuring to see that some media outlets used the words "perceived threat" instead.

The natural questions that come from this event are as follows:

1. Who decided the tweets were in fact threats?
2. Who ordered the officer (reportedly from the Premier's detail) to show up to Mr. Dunphy's home on Easter Sunday?
3. Was the officer alone?
4. Was the officer in uniform?
5. Did the officer identify himself?
6. How did the officer get inside Mr. Dunphy's home?
7. Did the officer have a search warrant or arrest warrant?
8. Why didn't the RCMP conduct an investigation rather than a direct detail to the Premier?
9. Was this situation treated differently because the Premier is a former officer of the RNC and his Chief of Staff the former Chief of the RNC?
10. Were the RNC familiar with Mr. Dunphy prior to this event?
11. Did any of the RNC units investigate the potential that this individual was suffering from mental illness or extreme physical or mental duress?
12. What was the exact purpose of the visit to Mr. Dunphy's home?
13. Was Mr. Dunphy informed of this visit prior to the officer showing up?
14. Exactly what are the series of events immediately prior to the shooting?
15. Is there any video available of this event? Was Officer wearing a body cam?
16. Who will speak for the dead man?

Open Line, Back Talk, and Nightline have been an outlet for injured workers for many years and Mr. Dunphy did speak to the hosts via Twitter.

Anybody who observes Twitter must know that Mr. Dunphy believed the system was destroying him and that he certainly was very weary of politicians - who he felt did nothing for him.

This incident warrants a judicial inquiry - and must have one.

This government claims to be proactively dealing with mental health issues. If this is real and not a topic de jour - then certainly this situation must have a complete independent review. 

If this government is truly serious about mental health and unnecessary consequences a judicial inquiry would be launched immediately.

Is there a lawyer representing Mr. Dunphy's family? Who will be speaking for him?

In Newfoundland and Labrador - if a member of the Premier's security detail actually shoots and kills a man on his own property - while being there because of a perceived Twitter threat -  surely it is time to thoroughly investigate. We must have a judicial inquiry on this death or we must have a coroner's Inquest such as the one held for Ashley Smith in Ontario.

I watched carefully the interview with Premier Paul Davis just moments ago and am now more concerned about this situation.

More particularly when the Premier who knows an investigation is underway and claims to have been unaware of the tweet in question - decides to telephone the officer and offer his support. He has known him for a number of years he says.

New Questions:

1. Has the Premier jeopardized the integrity of the investigation by contacting the officer directly?
2. Is there any degree of separation between the Premier's Office and the RNC?
3. Davis says his staff controls his Premier's account and they would have been the ones who alerted police; so was that the former Chief of Police?
4. Why is the Premier offering his personal support to the officer at this critical investigative time?

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