Berg's Sister On Her Own at Berg Inquest
August 11, 2004
At the coronerís inquest into the death of Jeff Berg while in police custody,
his sister found herself playing the role of lawyer.
Up until now, Julie Berg has been represented by lawyer Cameron Ward. Because
legal fees have mounted to more than $150,000, Ward has withdrawn from the
proceedings and berg will handle the rest of it alone.
Lawyers representing the Vancouver police, city and coroner are being paid for
by taxpayer dollars. But Bergís repeated requests for provincial funding have
Chief 'Nazi' of the cowardly VPD thugs is shooting
his mouth off again!
Picture shows cop standing 'lookout' while VPD officer repeated beat the
unconscious Berg till he was dead.
Chief shocks City of Vancouver by stating Officer who
murdered Berg 'should be congratulated' after court finds "Berg death was
Darah Hansen and Jim Beatty
August 14, 2004
The police officer whose actions led to the death of a robbery suspect should
be congratulated rather than condemned, says Vancouver Police Chief Jamie
In a spirited defence of the officer on Friday, Graham said Const. David
Bruce-Thomas put the lives of a terrified family ahead of his own in arresting
Jeffrey Berg in October 2000.
"This was no traffic stop. This was a terrifying, violent and very dangerous
break-and-enter into a house by at least two armed, masked men who were
terrorizing a family," Graham said of the call Bruce-Thomas, a dog handler,
responded to alone that night.
"I think he should be congratulated."
Graham's comments came one day after a coroner's jury concluded that Berg's
death in custody was a homicide, a neutral term referring to the death of a
person caused -- directly or indirectly -- by another person.
An autopsy determined Berg, 37, died as a result of a blow to the neck, which
caused an aneurysm and led to a fatal heart attack. He also suffered head
injuries and a badly bruised testicle.
Bruce-Thomas admitted he kicked Berg several times because he resisted arrest.
But during the subsequent coroner's inquest, Bruce-Thomas said he couldn't
recall how Berg ended up on the pavement.
Bruce-Thomas remains on active police duty.
The coroner's inquest made a series of recommendations, including that the
police department regularly retrain officers, provide frequent psychological
assessments of officers in high-stress jobs, and install automatic audio and
video equipment in all squad cars.
Graham said the department will take the recommendations under advisement,
adding, "While many of these recommendations are important and meaningful,
some others are tied to our current fiscal issues and manpower increase of
He said the level of training required of Vancouver's police officers --
including in situations where force is needed -- "takes second place to no
On Friday, police released photos of a mask, replica gun, wire cord and
scissors to illustrate the seriousness of the break-in Berg was involved in
that night. As well, a 9-1-1 tape recording was played where a man with an
Asian accent is heard frantically calling for police after five armed men
smashed through the front door of his home on Slocan Street in east Vancouver.
"Robbery, robbery," the man shouts to the emergency operator. "[They are] in
my home right now. Quick. Quick. Police."
Graham said the victims in the case were so terrified by the incident they
later fled the country before the matter could go to court. He downplayed
suggestions the home was being used to grow marijuana.
"There was some indication of a house nearby [that had a marijuana crop]. [The
thieves] may have had the wrong address," Graham said.
(According to provincial court documents, a man named Mo Thi Le was issued a
stay of proceedings in March 2001 on charges of marijuana possession for the
purpose of trafficking, marijuana production and fraudulently obtaining
electricity. Le was arrested in June 2000 at the same home that was robbed the
night Berg died.)
Graham said the 9-1-1 recording best illustrates Bruce-Thomas's state of mind
when he arrived alone on scene that night.
"Putting the safety of that family above his own, he pursues the men by
himself, knowing full well, if the radio information was correct, they could
well be armed," the police chief said. "He doesn't have time to call for
backup because by this time, he is already involved in what he thought was a
fight for his life."
But lawyer Cameron Ward, who acted on behalf of the dead man's sister, Julie
Berg, said police are missing the point.
"It doesn't matter what [Berg] was suspected of," Ward said. "The police can't
use unnecessary or excessive force to apprehend somebody. It's not the
police's job to punish. It's the court's job."
Ward wants to see the matter go to court.
"The intent is not so much to discipline anyone or punish anyone," he said,
"but to see that the whole incident is not swept under the rug and that the
police really realize that they don't have licence to abuse citizenry."
Anything less than a full examination of police actions that night puts
law-abiding citizens at risk, Ward said.
"It's a slippery slope. If [the police] feel they can use whatever force they
see fit when dealing with suspects, any member of the public could be stopped
in a routine traffic matter and face abuse by the police."
B.C.'s Police Complaint Commissioner is undertaking a public hearing into the
Berg matter, questioning whether Bruce-Thomas abused his authority by using
The hearing, which began in April but was adjourned last month, is set to
reconvene on Sept. 13 for four weeks, said acting deputy complaint
commissioner Bruce Brown.
If fault is found, the adjudicator in the matter, retired provincial court
judge Brian Weddell, has the power to reprimand, suspend or -- as a maximum --
dismiss the officer from the police force.
An internal investigation into Berg's death conducted by the Vancouver city
police found no wrongdoing and recommended no action be taken under the Police
No member of the provincial government would comment on the Berg case Friday.
Both Solicitor General Rich Coleman and Attorney General Geoff Plant are on
A government spokeswoman said neither minister has read the report and said it
is unlikely they would comment before September.
Both Julie Berg and Cameron Ward have called on the province to appoint a
special prosecutor to investigate the matter further in light of the coroner's
Special prosecutors are independent law officers who are appointed by the
criminal justice branch to ensure criminal prosecutions do not have the taint
of improper influence, whether real or perceived.
Geoff Gaul, spokesman for the criminal justice branch, said the findings of
the inquiry are being studied to determine if charges should be laid.
"We will be reviewing the results of the inquiry and once that is concluded,
we'll be in a position to determine what, if any, action needs to be taken,"
But Gaul said a special prosecutor can't be appointed simply because a family
member requests it.
"Special prosecutors are not appointed for the purposes of investigation. They
are prosecutors who review reports to Crown counsel and make prosecutorial
decisions, including charging decisions."
Julie Berg demands police chief's resignation.
'Homicide' victim's sister says Graham prejudiced hearing.
August 16, 2004
Julie Berg's brother, Jeff, died while in police custody and his death was
ruled a homicide during a coroner's inquest.
VANCOUVER - The sister of a man who died after a violent
confrontation with police has demanded that the city's chief constable resign
for defending the officer involved.
Julie Berg accused Chief Const. Jamie Graham of prejudicing the upcoming
disciplinary hearing of Const. David Bruce-Thomas.
"The courts will determine culpability, no one else," said Berg.
Graham held a news conference Friday to defend Bruce-Thomas
after a coroner's jury ruled Jeff Berg's death was
a homicide, a neutral term indicating the death was caused by another
said Berg was invading a home and "terrorizing a family" prior to his death.
Graham praised Bruce-Thomas for bravely putting the victims' safety before his
own when he engaged in a struggle with Berg.
Cameron Ward, the lawyer representing the Berg
family, said Graham was out of line in accusing Berg of being a vicious
"It's never the job of police to take the law into their own hands and
administer punishment. They decided Jeff Berg was a bad guy, a dangerous guy
and, therefore, it appears the police chief is saying they were justified
in inflicting injuries that ultimately caused his death," said Ward. "That's
not what we do in a civilized society."
He said the break-in couldn't have been that serious because police dropped
charges against the two men arrested with Berg.
"If this was such a serious matter, why wasn't there a trial of these people?
The Vancouver police didn't want the circumstances of Jeff Berg's death to
come out at trial," Ward alleged.
Julie Berg said she and her family are deeply offended by Graham's remarks and
accusations against her brother. She is seeking legal advice to see if she has
any recourse. In the meantime, she is calling on the chief to resign.
"Tragically, with the attitude he displays, more members of the public will
die at the hands of the Vancouver Police Department," she said Saturday,
flanked by human rights activists.
A public hearing by the Police Complaint Commission will be held to review
Berg's death and police actions next month.
Berg's sister, her lawyer storm out of
police complaint hearing
Terri Theodore Canadian Press
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
VANCOUVER (CP) -- A complainant and her lawyer stomped out of a police
complaint hearing in Vancouver Tuesday calling the process badly flawed.
Julie Berg was refused input on an agreed statement of facts that was
to be read into the record, a statement she says she doesn't agree with at
She has spearheaded the review of the way the police handled her brother's
arrest, who died in custody in October, 2000.
"I have very limited standing and this is just the beginning of, I'm afraid to
say it, a very flawed process," she said outside court Tuesday.
"I feel it's absolutely unfair for myself as a complainant and this isn't just
for me, it's for the public. That's the whole purpose of a public hearing. For
me as a complainant, I have no standing -- I don't see what I will get out of
Her lawyer, Cameron Ward, said he was faxed the statement before the hearing
got underway at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
"I was not included in the negotiations and discussions that lead to that so
called agreed statement of facts. When I looked at it, I could see some
clear errors, flaws and problems, so I objected to it."
He said he and Berg walked out because they are being treated as mere
observers in the review, not participants.
The argument started over an agreed statement of facts that Lawyers for the
Complaints Commission and the police officer involved wanted on the record.
It includes evidence no court would allow, inaccurate statements and
omissions, Ward charged.
Const. David Bruce-Thomas is accused of using unnecessary force in the arrest
of Jeff Berg.
The home invasion suspect died after a blow to the neck during his arrest.
Bill Smart, the lawyer for Const. Bruce-Thomas, told the hearing that the
process could take days or even weeks longer if the statement wasn't accepted.
In the end, commission adjudicator Brian Weddell allowed the
statement to be read into the record.
Prosecute Police Misconduct [Online Petition]
Published by Julie Berg on Jun 10, 2003