A new picture is emerging about a BC Mountie who has waited almost three years for a disciplinary hearing.
Constable Amit Goyal will finally have that hearing next week to determine whether he’s guilty of disgraceful conduct and making false statements.
But documents obtained by CKNW show Goyal was actually once an RCMP whistleblower, who raised concerns about the actions of one senior officer.
And one policing expert says that’s not something that always ends well for a junior officer.
Officer suspended after allegations
Goyal has been on paid leave since the middle of 2013, when the force publicly tied him to the investigation of two vehicles stolen from his care.
Both cars, including his own Audi A5, had been torched.
Most of what is known from the case comes from two sources.
One, that unusual disclosure from Trail RCMP, who typically do not name someone unless they have been charged with a criminal offence.
The second source of information was from a man named Stephen Condon, who had accused Goyal and the RCMP of setting him up to take the fall for the car thefts.
Condon, who has a lengthy record for run-ins with the police, has filed a lawsuit and is seeking damages.
In unrelated matters, Condon also has three outstanding cases for driving without a license.
He has future court dates in Chilliwack, Port Coquitlam and Vancouver, and over the past year has had several bench warrants in his name.
Despite the public allegations, Goyal still hasn’t been charged with any criminal offence and in an email to CKNW the Criminal Justice Branch says the file is closed.
The lack of criminal charges doesn’t mean the Osoyoos officer has been able to return to work.
Goyal is accused of three counts of disgraceful conduct and two counts of making false or misleading statements as part of an investigation, under the old RCMP act.
Traffic stop leads to investigation
Constable Goyal has not always been the target of RCMP discipline.
Internal force memos from 2010 and 2011 have surfaced showing Goyal was previously commended for being a “bright light” — after raising concerns a senior officer may have tried to improperly get himself out of a driving infraction.
It all stems from a 2010 traffic stop when now Assistant Commissioner Dan Malo, the Lower Mainland Commander of the RCMP, was accused of providing false information to the officer.
On August 7th of that year, Malo – who was a superintendent at the time – was traveling in a pick-up truck driven by his wife Sergeant Laura Malo.
The vehicle didn’t have proper insurance tags, but when pulled over and questioned by Goyal, Malo identified himself and Sgt. Malo as RCMP members and insisted the vehicle was insured.
That didn’t match the information in the police computer, but Supt. Malo went on to give an elaborate story about mix-ups with paperwork and work-related threats to his life.
Supt. Malo also suggested Goyal call his supervisor.
The supervisor, Inspector Brad Haugli spoke to Goyal and Malo on the phone, and suggested the Malos be allowed to continue on the way.
Goyal, concerned he would be in trouble should the Malos get into an accident without insurance, reported the incident to his commander, Staff Sgt. Kurt Lozinski.
After that report, Supt. Malo complained about Goyal’s demeanor during the arrest – saying the young officer appeared aggressive.
But Malo also agreed that given the circumstances, Goyal’s approach was understandable and appropriate.
Goyal a whistleblower
The incident was reviewed by a number of senior officers, finally making it to BC’s commanding officer at the time.
In one such review in November of 2010, Island District Commander Randy Wilson says he’s
“…confident that Constable Goyal was nothing but professional, ethical, showed extraordinary patience and consideration throughout. His advice and suggestions regarding options to proceed without taking the risk of driving an uninsured vehicle were appropriate and wise…It was no doubt disconcerting to the junior member at roadside to see an officer and senior NCO behave in this manner and would have been frowned upon by the general public as nepotistic and an abuse of position.”
The case was submitted for a code of conduct investigation, but after review in January of 2011, Chief Superintendent Janice Armstrong chalked the whole situation up to a misunderstanding.
She found any allegations of misconduct by Superintendent Malo to be unsubstantiated.
Senior officers blasted, Goyal commended
However, when the report was forwarded to the province’s commanding officer at the time, District Commander Peter Hourihan wasn’t impressed.
He found Armstrong’s report surprising, and was concerned about the actions of senior officers and a senior NCO in their handling of this matter.
“[The] entire scenario [is] very disturbing…A superintendent attempted to and succeeded in influencing a junior constable and an inspector in order to further his own personal interest, which was to further commit an offence of operating an uninsured vehicle.”
Click to see excerpts from Hourihan’s report
Although he blasted all of the senior officers involved, Hourihan called Goyal “a definite strength” who “upheld his level of service and dedication.”
In fact, Hourihan found Goyal was the only one who “acted well” in this file.
Timeline of events leading up to Amit Goyal’s disciplinary hearing
The risk of challenging senior officers
One policing expert says it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that a junior officer who takes on a senior officer would end up having trouble in his career.
Simon Fraser University Criminology professor Robert Gordon says that’s part of policing culture.
“It’s not just an RCMP issue. This would probably be something that you would find in almost any police service. The so-called brotherhood is certainly not a myth. There are certain expectations that you would deal with your colleagues in a manner that’s consistent with being supportive.”
Along with questions about the case, there are also questions about why it has taken so long to take this case to a disciplinary hearing.
Goyal has been collecting a paycheck for 32 months, without actually being on the job.
The matter has been scheduled and rescheduled several times, without explanation.
However, that hearing is now scheduled to go ahead on March 8th.
In a response to CKNW’s request for comment, the Commanding Officer of the BC RCMP says the materials obtained by CKNW are personal information covered by the privacy act and not available to the public.
Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens goes on to say it’s unlikely the documents provide the necessary context and clarity of RCMP internal processes.
Callens reiterates that the allegations against Malo were deemed unsubstantiated, and the report by then Commanding Officer Hourihan consists of his own personal views on the matter.
The matter is considered concluded to satisfaction, and Callens notes Hourihan expressed support for Malo in future career and promotional opportunities.
Full statement from RCMP Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens:
“I understand that you are in possession of some documents that are private and would not be available under public access requests as this area of discipline is considered Personal Information as defined in Section 3 of the Privacy Act. As such, disclosure is limited to the parties involved. It is unclear the totality of the materials in your possession, but very unlikely you have all relevant materials, nor context and clarity of our internal processes.
The incident was subject to an internal code of conduct investigation and the allegations were ultimately determined to be unfounded or unsubstantiated. The Commanding Officer of the day reviewed the findings and met with all impacted members to express his personal views on the matter. In the end, he concluded the matter to his satisfaction.
For additional context, Section 40 of the RCMP Act set out the authority for an officer or member in command of a detachment to initiate a Code of Conduct investigation. Should an allegation(s) be determined to be substantiated, he or she will then decided, depending on seriousness, if the matter should be resolved by way of informal or formal discipline. Informal disciplinary actions imposed by an officer or member in charge of the member ranged from counselling to a reprimand. Formal discipline was warranted when a member was found to have contravened the Code of Conduct and an informal disciplinary action would not be sufficient. Therefore a formal disciplinary hearing is initiated, which involves the convening of an Adjudication Board.
No hearing was required in this matter as it was determined to be unfounded or unsubstantiated.
Also with respect to this matter, I have reviewed the file and confirmed again with the previous Commanding Officer that the matter was resolved to his satisfaction and no further actions were required. He also expressed his support for the senior officer (you referenced) in future career/promotional opportunities”.