A Calgary police officer is on trial for charges of theft under $5,000, possession of controlled substances, and breach of trust after he was allegedly set-up in an anti-corruption sting, the CBC reports.
According to testimony given at his trial Tuesday, 44-year-old Const. Robert Cumming was arrested June 3, 2016, after he was caught in a sting in which he was given a backpack full of marijuana by undercover officers.
The paper trail that lead to Cumming was actually discovered during a separate investigation—dubbed "Operation Gumshoe"—in which six Calgary Police Service (CPS) officers were being investigated for corruption and bribery.
One of the cops investigated, Const. Bryan Morton, had his text messages with Cummings and other CPS officers intercepted. According to Det. Timothy Fitzgibbon, the head of Operation Gumshoe, those texts provided enough suspicion to begin organizing a separate investigation, called "Operation Smoke."
Fitzgibbon testified that between 2013 and 2015, the text messages that raised red flags were related to drug busts that Cummings was involved in. In 2016, Fitzgibbon's team set up a sting operation that involved undercover officers giving Cummings a backpack full of marijuana, and having the undercover officers tell Cummings they thought the backpack "belonged to a high school girl."
Staff Sgt. Jeff Macqueen says that police then trailed Cummings and watched as he stashed the backpack at a garbage bin behind his home. Cummings then returned to work, finished his shift, and came back to the garbage bin to recover the backpack. Hours later, the police showed up with a warrant for his arrest.
According to Macqueen, Cummings appeared to be drunk upon his arrest, telling police he was "fucked" and that his "life was over." Cummings' lawyer, Paul Brunnen, has challenged the admissibility of the evidence, and the Crown is now tasked with defending its legitimacy in a voir dire hearing. Brunnen also said that he is going to argue that his client was entrapped.
Court cases for four other CPS members—including Morton, Gerard Brown, Steve Walton and Heather Walton (husband and wife respectively)—also began Tuesday. The judge-only cases will be presided over by Judge Jerry LeGrandeur, from Lethbridge, and headed up by Edmonton prosecutor Richard Tchir. The CBC reports the lack of a jury and local legal authorities is to avoid any possible conflict of interests the police might have with Calgary-based individuals.
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Lead image via Flickr user kashmera.