B.C.’s cop watchdog criticizes Vancouver police over probe of officer's conduct

Superintendent did not consider trauma of intimate partner violence in reviewing evidence, complaint commissioner says

B.C.’s police complaint commissioner released a report Monday that criticizes a Vancouver police superintendent for his handling of a domestic dispute case involving an off-duty officer.

Clayton Pecknold said Supt. Steve Eely’s examination of allegations brought against Const. Neil Logan by former girlfriend Alyssa LeBlevec failed to consider the trauma of intimate partner violence in reviewing the evidence.

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LeBlevec alleged abusive, belligerent and aggressive behaviour, including being struck in the face by Logan, during the couple’s trip to Oregon in September 2017.

Eely, who is referred to under Police Act terminology as the discipline authority in the case, was responsible for meting out penalties against Logan once the internal investigation was completed.

Eely concluded Logan should be suspended without pay for six working days and seek counselling with a psychologist. The discipline was based on Logan breaking a windshield while in his car with LeBlevec.

Pecknold’s report said Eely found “a lack of clear, convincing and cogent evidence to support that Constable Logan used physical force on Ms. LeBlevec,” as she alleged.

“I find the decision of the discipline authority to be lacking in understanding and consideration of the impact of trauma and dynamics of intimate partner violence in his assessment of Ms. LeBlevec’s evidence,” Pecknold said. “The discipline authority makes passing reference to the ‘dynamics related to domestic violence’ but does not conduct a full assessment of those dynamics.”

The case dates to September 2017 when Logan and LeBlevec travelled to Oregon, where the couple met with another off-duty Vancouver police officer and visited two licensed premises in Cannon Beach.

LeBlevec said Logan became intoxicated to the degree that he couldn’t drive his vehicle, so she drove. The couple got into an argument on the drive back to the motel and Logan “reportedly became angry and broke the windshield of the vehicle,” Pecknold’s report said.

LeBlevec also reported that Logan struck her on the side of her face with a backhand slap. She pulled the car over, where the argument continued on the side of the road.

“The complainant reported that upon approaching her, Constable Logan struck her across her face and she began pushing him away as he was attempting to hold her in a bear hug despite her telling him to stop,” the report said.

Back in the vehicle, LeBlevec said Logan began punching the windshield again. Once at the motel, Logan allegedly “reached out and struck [LeBlevec] on the side of the face.”

“Ms. LeBlevec reported that she remained in the motel room throughout the night during which time Constable Logan had physically taken hold of her, placing here into bear hugs, despite telling him not to,” the report said.

LeBlevec requested a public hearing be held but Pecknold instead announced Monday that he has appointed retired judge Brian Neal to review the investigation into Logan’s off-duty conduct.

Pecknold said a hearing was not required to preserve or restore public confidence in the investigation of misconduct and the administration of police discipline.

He said examination or cross-examination of witnesses was not necessary because Neal will be able to independently weigh all the available evidence in the case.

That evidence includes the Vancouver police investigation, text message conversations, photographs and results of a Seaside, Ore. police investigation, which did not result in charges.

LeBlevec’s request for a public hearing came after she learned Eely recommended Logan be suspended for six working days without pay and that he attend sessions to help manage his emotions.

“Ms. LeBlevec noted in her request that she disagreed with the decision of the [superintendent] and advised that she was concerned that her version of the events, which in her opinion had been consistent, had not been fully considered and presented,” Pecknold said.

Pecknold said the evidence supports “a serious level of violence in Constable Logan’s actions,” and that LeBlevec has been consistent in her complaint to his office and subsequent interview by investigating officers.

“The discipline authority notes that Ms. LeBlevec could have left after the alleged assault roadside and upon returning to the hotel, but failed to do so,” Pecknold said. “He further suggests that Ms. LeBlevec brought forward allegations of assault because she discovered an alternate love interest involving Constable Logan.”

Added Pecknold: “The discipline authority has placed much weight on these factors and referred to Constable Logan’s submissions that ‘these were not the actions of someone who legitimately feared for her life.’ Those assumptions are inconsistent with well understood dynamics of trauma in the context of relationship violence.”

Meanwhile, Logan continues to be employed by the Vancouver Police Department and is being paid. Glacier Media requested comment Tuesday from the department and Eely, but was told there would be no comment because the case continues.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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