Officer says Bevan blamed him in suicide

Constable accused of theft tells court then-deputy regional chief 'railroaded' him into accepting responsibility for colleague's death

Andrew Seymour, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Tuesday, March 21, 2006

An Ottawa police officer who pleaded not guilty to shoplifting and assault charges yesterday claimed he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of the theft, after being forced by Ottawa police brass to accept responsibility for a recruit's suicide six years earlier.

Testifying in court yesterday, Const. Alec Moraru, 38, alleged that then-Ottawa-Carleton Regional police deputy chief and now police Chief Vince Bevan "railroaded" him into accepting responsibility for the suicide of Const. Kim Desanyer in June 1998.

According to Const. Moraru, who at one time had been Const. Desanyer's coach officer, then-deputy chief Bevan gave him an ultimatum in December 1998 following an internal police investigation that he either admit to allegations he was having a romantic relationship with Const. Desanyer and didn't do enough to prevent her suicide, or be charged under the Police Services Act and fired.

Const. Moraru, who is married and vehemently denied having an affair with Const. Desanyer, said the deputy chief told him if he didn't admit guilt, the department would go public with the allegations, creating a "media circus" where the story would be "all over the papers."

In exchange for pleading guilty to the allegations and admitting the violations in front of his supervisor and officers on his platoon, the department would keep the matter quiet and wipe it from his record after two years, Const. Moraru testified.

None of Const. Moraru's allegations has been proven in court.

Chief Bevan, who is not scheduled to testify during the proceedings, declined to comment last night on Const. Moraru's allegations.

"I cannot comment on anything a witness might be saying," he said.

Const. Moraru is charged with theft under $5,000, assault while resisting arrest and uttering threats in connection with the theft of five Ritter chocolate bars, four blocks of Black Diamond cheese and three cans of Gillette shaving gel -- worth a total of $48.01 -- from a Greenbank Road Loblaws store on Dec. 9, 2004.

He has been suspended with pay since the incident.

Const. Moraru is accused of stealing the items by stashing them in a briefcase before fleeing from the store's security guards.

While attempting to escape, it's alleged Const. Moraru assaulted one of the security guards before putting a hand in his pocket and telling them he had a gun.

Ottawa police tactical officers arrested him at home. Yesterday, court heard testimony from security officers Josh Cavicchioli and Bradley McLean and watched video clips that appeared to show an off-duty Const. Moraru stuff items into a briefcase while standing behind a display of potato chips.

His lawyer, Michael Crystal, is attempting to prove Const. Moraru was in a dissociative state and suffering from mental disorder insane automatism, a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, at the time of the theft, which they do not dispute occurred.

According to Mr. Crystal, Const. Moraru's mental state prevented him from appreciating the nature or consequences of his actions, or of knowing what he was doing was wrong.

In his testimony yesterday, the 14-year veteran said the night Const. Desanyer committed suicide, he had confronted her about statements he said she made to other officers, claiming they were involved in a sexual relationship and he intended to leave his wife for her.

He described Const. Desanyer pulling out her handgun and pointing it at herself before threatening to "swallow my pistol" if the allegations were true that she had told other officers they were in a relationship.

After receiving a message on his in-car computer that he perceived as a suicide note, Const. Moraru testified he notified his superiors and spent the next five hours doing everything he could to find Const. Desanyer and keep her from hurting herself. She was eventually found in her patrol car, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

Const. Moraru said following her suicide and after being forced to admit the allegations, he no longer wanted to socialize with co-workers, lost interest in work, had trouble sleeping and was haunted by nightmares.

In the nightmares, Const. Moraru described being judged by Chief Bevan, his direct supervisor, Sgt. Earle Woods, now retired, and former police association head John Petersen.

Initially, he would turn into a mouse who could only squeak when trying to defend himself. Later, the dreams became violent, with him slashing out at the three men with fingers that turned into razor blades.

"They were becoming very graphic and very violent," said Const. Moraru, describing how he never sought professional help until after his arrest, out of fear it would violate stipulations of his plea deal.

"It was like the world lost all its colour. Everything was more grey, nothing was a great pleasure, nothing was a great pain. Everything was flat."

Mr. Cavicchioli testified after he first approached Const. Moraru after the theft and when he was escorting the man back into the store, the accused showed him a police identification card. It wasn't until after police had been called that Const. Moraru attempted to flee the store, Mr. Cavicchioli said.

After chasing the accused some distance, Mr. Cavicchioli said Const. Moraru spun around and said "back off, I have a gun, this is enough," and put his hand in his pocket. He then started to pursue them back toward the store, Mr. Cavicchioli said.

Mr. Cavicchioli said Const. Moraru then got into a blue Cadillac and sped away.

Sgt. James Jordon testified that at the time of his arrest, Const. Moraru was "very calm" when tactical officers showed up to arrest him, even asking them "what's going on" before being taken into custody.

"He didn't seem aware of what was going on that day. He seemed to be kind of staring off into space," said Sgt. Mark Barclay.

Const. Moraru is expected to continue testifying today.

aseymour@thecitizen.canwest.com

 The Ottawa Citizen 2006

 

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