Four years since the Stanley Cup Riot; police investigation nearly wrapped

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It was a dark night in Vancouver’s history. Today marks four years since parts of the downtown core were destroyed by the Stanley Cup Riot and despite all the time that’s passed, cases of those involved are still making their way through the courts.

Crown Counsel says 285 of the 300 people charged pleaded guilty, seven were convicted and one was acquitted. Criminal charges were stayed against four others.

Crown adds since last October, it has not received any reports from Vancouver Police recommending charges, so, where does their investigation stand? For the most part, it has pretty much wrapped up.

At the height of it, there were upwards of 70 officers assigned to the case, that’s down to just one full-time investigator who now spends most of his time ensuring Crown has what it needs for a strong case.

“I’ve been a police officer for a long time and I realize the justice system does take time. I’ve had cases that have taken a long time to get to court or get through the courts. Each case has its own unique circumstances, so it’s really tough to say why something took a long time and why others went through the courts quickly. Obviously, those that pled guilty will go through the courts quicker than those that want to go to trial. But you’re looking at 300 people to push through the courts — it’s going to take some time,” explains Constable Brian Montague.

Vancouver Police have identified some people who took part that night, but there isn’t enough evidence for charges.

“We’ve always said that if we get information, we’ll follow up on that information — if we get tips, we’ll follow up on those tips. If something leads to additional evidence, especially against some of the people we’re already aware of, that we’ve done some work-up on, then there could be future charges,” says Montague.

“There’s still one individual that’s wanted. We know who she is. She’s in Australia. She’s aware of her warrant. We don’t expect that she’s going to come back anytime soon, that said; the warrant has an endless expiry date, so, if she does ever come to Canada — she’ll be arrested and she knows that. The Australian authorities knocked on her door and informed her of the fact she has a warrant in Canada.”

Police have also re-arrested some rioters who are either out on bail or on probation because they’ve broken their court-ordered conditions.

Investigators learned a thing or two handling the riot. One of the biggest differences between the violence in 2011 compared to 1994 was the use of video surveillance footage.

“Hopefully there are others out there that realize that if something like this happens in the future that they’re not anonymous with all the social media, cameras and cellphones out there — they run a real risk of getting caught.”

“When you look at the riot in 2011 and the one in 1994 — completely different — the amount of video evidence in 2011 was thousands and thousands of hours, while in 1994 it was — I think — maybe 100 or 200 hours of video evidence. Clearly, it allows us to identify and track people. It allows us to obtain evidence to support charges and it allows us to have people convicted,” says Montague.

The investigation cost police $2 million and the damage sustained downtown was about $3 million. The riot broke out on June 15th after the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7.

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