Monday, September 27, 2010

Gunned Down in Scarlet, Coldest Blood...

Mayerthorpe 2010

"When Mayerthorpe, she cried, as her four horsemen died"

I'm happy to hear today that the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that Shawn Hennessey and Dennis Cheeseman will serve the remainder of their sentences. Both men pleaded guilty to four counts of manslaughter in the shooting deaths of RCMP Officers Peter Schiemann, Leo Johnston, Anthony Gordon and Brock Myrol. 

I believe that what these two men did was reprehensible and feel strongly they must accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions. 

James Roszko, often referred to as a psychopath, was a well know locally as a criminal with a history of violent, armed offenses. It is unlikely that any rational person who knew him would have allowed him the benefit of doubt or not take seriously his stated intentions.

In addition to driving Roszko back to his farm and providing him with a firearm and ammunition, both Hennessey and Cheeseman admitted that they knew Roszko was planning on murdering "as many RCMP officers as he could." While they considered alerting police, they decided against it.

THESE MEN COULD HAVE SAVED FOUR LIVES.

Instead they chose to remain silent and that choice allowed these events to unfold as they did. I believe they had a duty to make a different choice that day, to take action to protect life.

Of course, I do feel that our system failed terribly in this regard, to this day I am astonished that a man like James Roszko was not incarcerated in some fashion. But that's a whole other topic.

14 comments:

Joe said...

I do hope you don't mind if I completely disagree with you on this matter. These two had no reason to alert the police as Roszko had been uttering those same threats for many years and the cops knew all about it. Roszko had never taken any action for all his big talk. One of the men gave Roazko a ride part of the way home and the other loaned him a rifle to kill a bear. The rifle in question was never used to shoot anyone. In fact the police were every bit as bullying as Roszko in extracting the 'confessions' and 'guilty pleas'.

Heaven help the next person who knew someone who killed a police officer.

Frances said...

The police allowed Mr Roszko to terrorize the community and the surrounding area with impunity, as well as uttering threats against the police and other opponents. The result: noone was going to get in his way, or refuse his request because they all knew that there would be payback from Mr Roszko. There was no reason for these two young men to think there was anything special about the threats they heard, and every reason for them to follow orders lest they or their families were harmed.

In my opinion, the RCMP went after the two young locals to deflect criticism of their policing practices - or lack thereof - at Mayerthorpe prior to the tragedy. Sadly, four young police officers died because the RCMP didn't have the guts to deal with a bully.

Allie said...

Everyone is free to disagree with me!

However, in this case I *hope* that anyone who has any reason at all to suspect someone would hurt another person would take the time to alert the authorities - let them figure out if it's a threat or not.

Thankfully for me the courts agree with me. I hope that there is no further appeal. I still think they should have been convicted of murder.

Fred from BC said...

Allie said...



However, in this case I *hope* that anyone who has any reason at all to suspect someone would hurt another person would take the time to alert the authorities - let them figure out if it's a threat or not.


Ummm...as was said above, Roszko had been making these threats for some time. And what makes you think that anyone would trust the RCMP to keep quiet about who snitched on him? When dealing with a potential madman (especially one who *should have* been dealt with by the RCMP long before), you have to think about possible danger to your own family. I think you have way, way too much faith in the police, Allie. They can't actually 'protect' anyone (and they admit that); the only thing they can do is react after the fact, which doesn't work on anyone who isn't afraid of them (as Roszko clearly wasn't).

Thankfully for me the courts agree with me. I hope that there is no further appeal. I still think they should have been convicted of murder.


They were originally *charged* with murder, but despite the best attempts of the RCMP they were unable to make such ridiculous charges stick.

The people of Mayerthorpe disagree with you vehemently, by the way. They realize that those officers would have been killed with or without the involvement of the two scapegoats, and that's why when that memorial service was held a month or so ago only about 100 people showed up. The town is STILL angry about this blatant attempt by the RCMP to 'save face' by finding somebody (anybody) to blame for their failures...and the 'Mr. Big' scam they had to pull to entrap one of the accused is illegal in most western nations for good reason.

Joe said...

The character of the victim of the Mr Big sting (now in jail) was evident when the undercover cop 'stole' a box of beer out of the back of a pickup and the victim made him put it back.

Anonymous said...

conspiracy to commit murder should carry a life sentence. it sure as hell should not be manslaughter.

Allie said...

As I tried to explain in my blogpost I don't think this is about anything more than the choices these two people made, which is what the court has tried and convicted them for. Also, I don't make any distinction of the victims as police - they were people. However I do think that some people dislike the police enough that they come off with a "they deserved it" attitude, which is total crap. They were people, with families, friends and futures. That is all that matters.

It is of course speculation, but I sincerely doubt that Cheeseman and Hennessey were that afraid of Roszko or they wouldn't have driven him and provided him with weapons. Sounds like a friendly relationship to me. Regardless, they still made their choice - and lots of people everywhere in the world make hard choices that put them at risk because it is the right thing to do. In this case their choice amounted to helping a killer ambush four people. They might not have been bad people themselves but they sure did make a wrong choice. And that choice is what they are in jail for.

Also, this is not about hypothetical situations. It might be true that Roszco might have killed people in the future, given his absolute craziness, but the fact remains that he did do it at this time, and he told these two people all about it. This isn't hypothetical.

Luckily for us in Canada the courts do not allow charges to proceed that are drummed up due to "police bullying or lies." Our judges judge based on the clear word of the law and the precedences set before it. I am confident that these people are in jail for the actions they made personally and the consequences that resulted. This is why their appeals also failed. There is one more chance for appeal for one of them and I imagine we will see a similar response, perhaps maybe with the possibility of some reduction in sentence.

The murders devastated Mayerthorpe, for all sorts of complicated reasons. Mayerthorpe is a small rural town and everyone knows everyone, every family is intertwined somehow. If you want to know how Mayerthorpe really feels you should go there.

Allie said...

Also, yes, for the most part I do trust the police (if a blanket statement like that is applicable). It is perhaps my bias but I am not going to apologize for it. Police officers are not evil people.

I was raised to respect authority and the laws in our country and to know right from wrong. I am far from a naive person and if you read my blog you will know I am not above criticizing the police - I do believe we should hold them to a high standard - but I am also not a selfish person and I don't understand the types of choices these two people made. Biased or not, the bottom line is they were wrong. Maybe it was a mistake, but that doesn't mean it wasn't wrong.

I think we live in a society that is happy to have security forces especially when they are needed. I think we all sleep better at night knowing we can pick up a phone and call 911 if we need help. We don't think what that means - that people actually have to want to do those jobs to provide us with that kind of security. If no one wanted to be police officers, or firemen, or paramedics or soldiers we would not have any of that security/peace of mind.

I think to dismiss crimes against these people, or to justify allowing crimes to happen against them is a pathetic cop-out of people who are never willing to take a risk to help themselves or anyone else for that matter.

It's very easy to criticize when you're not willing to put yourself in the line of fire. Of course, I believe you have that right to criticize and I am happy to live in a country where we are allowed to voice our opinions, even against our security forces. I understand wholeheartedly that is not something most people in the world enjoy.

But I do not have to agree with you :)

Joe said...

Asking a silly question here. You and I are friends. I ask if I can borrow your car to run an errand with. I have borrowed your car in the past without incident so you agree to loan me the car again. I decide to go to the bar get blinding drunk and in my drunken stupor I kill four pedestrians with your car. Should you be charged with murder? manslaughter? negligent homicide? drunk driving? After all you heard me boasting about my drinking before.

Allie said...

I think there is a certain amount of culpability under the law in that type of scenario and I think the precedence is that the vehicle owner would be liable to a degree of manslaughter.

You do have a legal responsibility to ensure the person you allow to operate your vehicle will do so in the manner of the law and is legally allowed to do so. Certainly one would be highly remiss to loan a vehicle to someone who they know often drinks and drives.

Don't forget to prove murder you need to prove intent. Where intent is absent or can not be established the the lesser degrees of manslaughter apply. I'm not a lawyer but I doubt there would be room for negligent homicide unless I had knowledge of your drinking at the time and did nothing to stop you - that would be negligent and increase someone's responsibility in an outcome such as this.

I'm pretty sure only the person who was operating a vehicle (or in care and control of that vehicle) while intoxicated can be charged with drunk driving.

So yeah, manslaughter of some type I would suspect.

Anonymous said...

If you read through the court documents you'll find Hennessey didnt want to call the police because he didn't want them to figure out he was involved in the grow op. That's motivation.

Fred from BC said...

Anonymous said...

If you read through the court documents you'll find Hennessey didnt want to call the police because he didn't want them to figure out he was involved in the grow op. That's motivation.


Some might also say that it's just another example of the harm caused by drug prohibition.

Fred from BC said...

Allie said...

It is of course speculation, but I sincerely doubt that Cheeseman and Hennessey were that afraid of Roszko or they wouldn't have driven him and provided him with weapons.


You're right. It's complete speculation, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that Hennessey and Cheeseman weren't every bit as afraid of Roszko as they said they were (and as the police seemingly were as well, since they avoided dealing with him whenever possible, much to the disgust of the townsfolk). Many other people were afraid of him as well, and wished someone would do something to control him.

You say that you 'respect' the police? So you don't just support them blindly, no matter what they do (or don't do)?

Allie said...

Hey Fred

Thanks for your comments. If you were a regular reader of my blog you would already know the answer to that question. But no, I don't support the police blindly. I am not above criticizing where I see due. Obviously you and I would critique different things though, as I would not be much in support of legalizing drugs, for example.

Anyway, this blogpost was never about the police, it was about my opinion of what Cheeseman and Hennessey did or did not do.

Thanks for visiting!