The IPCA report into the suicide of Stephen McIntyre has been released to Stephen’s family and it is a disgusting whitewash of Police bullying in NZ.
I feel ashamed that I ever suggested the McIntyre family put themselves through the stress of having to lodge a complaint and that they would see anything resembling justice for the bullying by the Police that was a contributing factor into Stephen’s suicide.
For those not aware of the Stephen McIntyre case, let me give you some back ground…
I met Stephen years ago and had re-connected with him recently as he worked to set up Green Cross. In his later years, Stephen had moved from campaigning for the decriminalization of marijuana to focussing on medical cannabis. Green Cross was the realization of that activism. It provided medical quality marijuana to patients with a doctor’s prescription. NZ law allows for doctors to prescribe synthetic marijuana and the 2010 Law Commission review called for that to be widened to organic marijuana as well.
That’s where Green Cross came in. They had a list of patients with doctor’s prescriptions whose illnesses ranged from those with chronic pain to cancer. Synthetic product did not work for many of these people.
I would joke to Stephen that he wasn’t so much ‘Doctors Without Borders’ as ‘Stoners Without Borders’.
Green Cross opened an office with a members lounge room and dispensary, similar to the California model. The office served as an information center on medical marijuana. The organisation was tireless in its dealings with the Ministry of Health in trying to shift the policy debate to allow those with written prescriptions to legally purchase organic marijuana from a registered center like Green Cross without fear of prosecution.
At the beginning of June last year, the Dactory was raided. The Dactory was a wild west shed out in New Lynn that was an open shop for marijuana smokers and dealers. It was the very type of operation Stephen shunned because of it’s lack of self regulation or competence. During this raid, some of those arrested were allegedly yelling, ‘why are you arresting us, what about Green Cross’?
Days after that raid, on June 8th 2012, Police officers went to Green Cross demanding to be let in. They became very agitated and aggressive when refused entry and they were told to come back with a warrant if they wanted access to the building. They threatened to smash down the door, but calmed down very quickly when it was pointed out that the Green Cross security cameras were watching. Police then claimed to have an arrest warrant for one of the club members for breaching a protection order. The member met them outside and went cooperatively.
On the 20th of June 2012 two uniformed, friendly Police officers turned up at Green Cross and met Stephen. He said that both officers made very sympathetic noises about what Green Cross were trying to do on the medical marijuana front. Stephen was definitely left with the impression that they thought Green Cross were operating on the edge of the law, but because there is no profit based criminal activity going on, that they would be left alone.
On the 22nd of June 2012, Police arrived at the Green Cross office while Stephen was there and pulled the old ‘we smell cannabis’ trick and started a search. They found 350 grams of medical quality marijuana and $1470 worth of cash. Stephen was arrested.
I met with him shortly after his arrest and he spoke with passion about how he would defend these charges. I remember the defiant look in his eyes as he spoke about the patients he worked with. He declared that this was going to be the moment that the medical marijuana debate was sparked, so to speak. The decriminalization debate, which had stagnated and gone no where of late, could open a new front.
I wished him all the best in this endeavor and pledged that I would do what I could to publicize the debate when it came to court. I wanted to help because I also found the idea of making sick people seeking pain relief from marijuana (and those who help them get that marijuana) into criminals a complete injustice.
Sadly, we’ll never have that court date.
On Monday 16th July 2012 at approximately 8.15pm the Police turned up at the McIntyre’s house. Stephen was teaching guitar lessons to 4 students while his wife and two teenage sons were at home. The Police claim they were conducting a bail check. However, Stephen had no bail conditions imposed upon him after the arrest other than agreeing to remain living at the address given at the time of arrest. There was no curfew.
What happened next is crucial to the question of whether or not the NZ Police used tactics that killed my friend.
The Police intimidated Stephen outside the front of his house and claimed they could smell cannabis while demanding to know what he would plead and threatening him with further charges if he turned the issue into a campaign.
It is now apparent that having the Police turn up at his home at night and demand to know what he was going to plead while threatening further charges had a terrible impact on Stephen.
On Sunday 22nd of July 2012, Stephen, terrified beyond his wits by the Police threats, took his own life.
This is the transcript of events on July 16th 2012 as written by Stephen in his own words given in an affidavit to his lawyer the day after the police visited…
Monday July 16; approx. 8:15pm
Two officers (one man, one woman) from Waitakare knocked at my door while I was in the middle of class. They could see I was teaching when I answered the door. They identified themselves as police and asked to speak with me outside.
I stepped outside and was told by both officers that they could smell cannabis. This was impossible. I said I didn’t understand exactly what was being implied and pointed out that I was in the middle of work and that there was no illegal behavior taking place.
They checked my name and address details and that I was complying with bond conditions.
The man asked me if I had a lawyer and what his name was. He asked if I had an idea of what I was going to do on Thursday when I next make a court appearance. He said I had 1 charge currently against me but that more could follow if the arresting officer decided to ‘dig further’. He said I could make it all turn out much easier depending on what I decide to do. He made mention of how other people have made noise and turned cases like this into a campaign.
I said I understand and explained that I would be talking to my lawyer in a couple of days about Thursday‘s court appearance.
He asked if I was a cannabis campaigner. I explained I had been an activist for cannabis law reform for 13 years.
Once again, he made reference to smelling cannabis. Once again I pointed out that I was in the middle of work.
The NZ Police responded to the allegations in a NZ Herald article on the issue last year and immediately started lying…
I have been contacted by Stephen’s lawyer this morning and he points out that their answers to what they were doing at Stephen’s home on the 16th July 2012 don’t stack up and I would argue that they are demonstrably false.
Relieving Western Area Commander Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus said officers went to McIntyre’s home to check he was living there, as his bail conditions stated.
Stephen’s lawyer says to this…
“I also agree that there was no point or need for a Police visit as Stephen was not on a curfew condition of bail and was perfectly entitled to be away from his home at any time of the day or night. I have never known Police to make night time bail checks on clients where no curfew condition is in place.”
…so this claim that they were just checking his bail conditions were a nonsense because Stephen had no curfew set. His only condition is that he lived at his address. The Police are pretending that such checking would be standard, they are doing that because they need to justify why they were at Stephen’s house at 8.15pm on a Friday night.
Malthus said police could smell cannabis smoke within the address when the door was answered and chose to speak to him outside the address to “avoid causing him embarrassment”.
Police chose not to pursue any charges over the cannabis smell, she said.
Really? Let’s get this straight. On the 22nd of June 2012, according to their own fact sheet from the arrest, the two officers could smell cannabis and conducted a search of the Green Cross premises based on that smell. Does anyone honestly believe that the Police after using that tactic at his workplace wouldn’t then use it again at his home? There are 7 eyewitnesses, the 4 guitar students, Stephen’s widow and his two teenage sons who can attest to the fact there was no marijuana being smoked.
Ask yourself, if the Police really did smell cannabis, wouldn’t they invoke a search? They had him up on 350 grams plus $1400 odd dollars using that exact same tactic of ‘I smell cannabis’ at Green Cross on the 22nd June but they didn’t on 16th July?
It’s Tui ad-esk isn’t it?
I suggest that the Police couldn’t smell any cannabis at all because if they could, they would have searched and arrested him again.
“Police inquired as to who Mr McIntyre’s lawyer was so that any communication that might be required should go to the correct counsel. This is a normal police activity.”
This attempt to explain what they were doing at Stephen’s home is the most demonstrably false part of their explanation because the Police knew who Stephen’s lawyer was.
This from Stephen’s lawyer…
“That is absolute nonsense. Police well aware that I was acting for Stephen as my office had been involved in the case from the very day of Stephen’s initial arrest. I had already represented Stephen at his first Court appearance and we had also had several subsequent communications with the Police officers dealing with the case, regarding receiving disclosure material and the such like.”
So the Police are lying when they say they turned up at Stephen’s house to find out who his lawyer was because his lawyer had been there from the 22nd of June 2012, the day he was arrested. He appeared in Court for Stephen and spoke to the Police several times regarding the case.
So we have to believe that they were checking up on a bail condition that didn’t have any conditions, that they smelled marijuana and didn’t search his house, and that they just wanted to know who his lawyer was when his lawyer had already represented him and had communicated directly to them several times already?
I put to people that the answers by the Police are false and that they are trying to create a cover up to what their Police officers were really doing which was to bully and intimidate Stephen into pleading guilty and that this bullying ultimately had a terrible conclusion.
Which ALL leads up to the IPCA report into the role of the Police into Stephen’s suicide.
It is a disgusting whitewash…
…so while there was no reason to check on Stephen at his home, while the Police have obviously lied about the explanation that they needed to check who his lawyer was and while they admit the Police tried the ‘we smell cannabis’ lie even though 7 separate eye witnesses claim none was being smoked, IPCA toothlessly shrug off the intimidation and bullying.
No bullying or late night intimidation to see here that led to a suicide. Move along.
This is gutless and pathetic.
Throughout this complaint I have seen the NZ Police act in a most despicable manner. When they were informed a complaint had been made, the NZ Police demanded to interview the family for their own arse covering ‘investigation’ and actually threatened Stephen’s widow that if they did not acquiesce to being interviewed by the Police, then there would be no IPCA investigation (which of course was a bare faced lie and I told the Police at the time that this was a lie). The Police also interviewed the neighbors and seeded with the neighbors that Stephen was a cannabis smoker and whether the neighbors knew this. These tactics were used to threaten the family into being interviewed by the Police and for the Police to construct a narrative backed up by what they themselves had seeded with the neighbors that they were at Stephen’s house late on a Friday night ‘smelling cannabis’.
My view of the NZ Police was never positive to begin with. In an authority worship culture like NZ where middle class society have always historically turned to the cops to beat up Maori, we have a colonial hang up that always gives cops the benefit of the doubt because middle class NZ shamefully appreciated the injustice they were asking the Police to perpetrate on Maori angered by their land confiscations and colonialism. This hang up can be seen reflected in every bullshit reality cop show on TV that unquestioningly sides with any abuse of power the Police enact. Watching these bullies squirm, lie and manipulate their way out of any responsibility for Stephen McIntyre’s suicide after they turned up late night on his doorstep and threatened him is just one more reason to demand a truly independent watch dog over Police abuse of power.
Stephen McIntyre was a good, kind man who dedicated his life to providing AIDs sufferers, Cancer patients and those living with chronic pain with medicinal cannabis resources. He did not deserve to be threatened, bullied and intimidated at night in his own home by the bloody cops.
My deepest apologies to Stephen’s family for the pain they have suffered at the hands of the NZ Police.