Mr. Jetz: a cautionary tale on how not to apply for bail

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(Darrell Ackman/Winnipeg Sun)

Darrell Ackman, AKA the notorious Mr. JetzTV, wants you to know “the truth.”

Those are his words, not mine.

That’s straight from the former MLA hopeful’s lips today after he rejected an opportunity to put a publication ban in place on his case pending trial. He also rejected an opportunity to hire a lawyer to represent him.

Make no mistake. Today was a crucial turning point in the Queen v. Ackman.

It sets the tone for everything that will follow in a case of immense public interest to see prosecuted.

Ackman, arrested on May 8 after a scuffle with Winnipeg cops who were trying to arrest him on breaches of his prior bail order, made another bail application today.

You can read the meat and potatoes of it here.

While that article will get you up to speed, it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the details of his life and history he disclosed during his three-hour-long submission to Judge Harvie.

And by and large, virtually everything he had to say was irrelevant to the matter at hand.

It is 100 per cent Ackman’s right to represent himself in court.

But as the pithy truism goes: A person who represents himself has fool for a client.’

Ackman’s situation today, to me, demonstrates the truth in this.

I stand by my position that today’s hearing should have been videotaped (no pun intended) for 1st-year law students as an example of the perils of representing yourself.

If Manitoba Justice hasn’t already ordered a transcript of his three-hour-long, rambling, submission today, I can guarantee you they will in coming days.

Ackman was duly warned: Anything he might say at the hearing — especially statements against his interest — could be used by the Crown at any future hearing.

You want to pick your comments carefully,” Judge Mary Kate Harvie told him, prior to explaining to him how “judicial interim release” works in Canada.

I’m no lawyer by any stretch — but I’ve come to understand a little sage wisdom about bail applications.

Rule number one: Barring a major, glaring hole in the Crown’s case, people seeking interim release should focus on their bail plan and not the allegations of their case; how they will satisfy the court they’ll either a] show up to deal with their charges b] not pose a risk for reoffending.

(I’ll leave out the public confidence aspect as it’s a seldom used ground in release hearings. It was raised today but didn’t form part of Harvie’s decision to deny and revoke).

Objectively speaking, Ackman could have made a succinct argument that for the many months he’s been free in the community [barring his recent breach allegations for sticking up posters at or near schools] he’s been compliant with his bail orders [a release secured by a $25,000 surety in his 79-year-old mom’s name].

He could have argued that the Crown’s concerns on his being free could be met by tightening up his curfew to an absolute one instead of a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. one, for example.

Hell, he could have at least presented the court with a definite address at which he planned to live at pending trial.

He didn’t. Instead, he said he believes he should be allowed to live wherever he wants.

That, even with a judge whose patience bordered on saint-like today, surely cemented the rejection of his application.

Here’s some other things over the course of three hours Ackman did have to say — and remember, it’s all from his lips.

So take that for what it is. Also remember: he was cautioned to pick his comments carefully.

  • “You know who I am right?,” he told the court near the very start of his submission. “Some people call me Mr. JetzTV.”
  • He gave the court a wealth of detail of his years (2003-2010) in Miami FLA, how he was charged down there but wound up bailed out in less than 24 hours after being picked up in a prostitution sting, how he was soon back on the streets with access to his cellphone and computer, but without his beloved/signature “bumblebee” Camaro. He came back to Winnipeg on a trip to visit family. He says he tried to go back to deal with the related charges — Ackman says a deal with reached for probation and all he needed to do was go back and sign the papers — but was turned back at the Winnipeg airport.
  • A self-proclaimed Winnipeg Jets fanatic, Ackman says losing the team in the 90s was like having the “heart ripped out of the city.” He told a story about being a Winnipeg Free Press carrier when he was pre-teen and could buy tickets for $5.
  • The “Mr. Jetz” persona was partially created because of his vast arcane trivia knowledge of the hockey team and its players. His Google YouTube channel, he says, was set up in 2010-2011? with help from his teenaged niece — whom he called his “best friend” — a relative he can’t have contact with due to his pending charges.
  • His mom was a veteran Kindergarten teacher — he says he remembers being taken to school by her at a very young age. In fact, he says his memory is amazing. He went on to go to school at Jefferson Jr. high and then Garden City Collegiate.
  • He objected to his Florida mug shot being used by city newspapers. “Is it allowed to be in a Winnipeg newspaper?,” he asked, also wondering if media publishing his release conditions violated a prior publication ban in his case (it didn’t).
  • “I don’t want to get in trouble ever again,” he said.
  • He spent a very long time challenging the most minor allegation he faces — a mischief charge from winter 2012 where he’s accused of scratching the Mr. Jetz logo into a car at the Highland Arena. “Mr. Jetz is not into damaging things,” he said. [note the 3rd-person usage]. The case lacks evidence, he claims.
  • Several times he referenced being a major fan of CSI: Miami and its main detective character, Horatio Caine and that fictional character’s lines regarding the quality of evidence.
  • He says Mr. Jetz has achieved “celebrity status” in a city like Winnipeg, where “there’s not much going on.”
  • He then talked about backing off from the persona to help his niece get a start with a music career. “I don’t think my YouTube videos they’re going to go anywhere,” he says he told her.
  • He then moves on to the fact one of the vulnerable girls related to his case has died, apparently from suicide. “I don’t like people dying,” he said.
  • “I really feel like I’m being bullied right now,” he says, later saying he has a solution to the growing problem of cyberbullying, should the court wish to hear it.
  • He says a number of people he’s met at Headingley Correctional — he says he’s made more than 40 “friends” — “don’t look guilty.” He talks about the case of Matthew Emmerling, the Ohio trucker facing a potential two-year term for bringing child pornography across the border and recently pleaded guilty. “Guilty seems to be the popular thing,” he said of the Manitoba justice system. Cops are “not the most honest people,” Ackman says. “They all know where I live. They all carry guns.” He denies biting one cop in his recent arrest, saying biting is not his thing.
  • He loves “cars, pretty girls, beaches.”
  • Cops can say “whatever they want” in their reports and there’s no refuting it. How “discovery” (perhaps he meant ‘disclosure’) is really just one person’s opinion.
  • He spent a long time talking about acquiring a voice recorder to use as a diary, to tape calls and conversations.
  • He says the Winnipeg press has “murdered” his reputation — that his big mistake was calling local CBC to see if they wanted to talk about his story.
  • He says his run for MLA of Whyte Ridge was well-intentioned to “turn Mr. Jetz into something positive,” a redemptive effort, but was quickly spun in the media as “How come the criminal is running for an election?”
  • “I love girls that look adult. And if they say they’re adult, I trust them.”
  • Says his alleged young victims may have criminal histories and he wants to see documentation. “There’s going to be some cross-examining going on.” Ackman says the girls — whom he considered his friends — didn’t have “a problem with me then.”
  • If the Winnipeg police have to comb Facebook for evidence, he says, then there’s a major problem. He accused police of doing “sloppy” policework.
  • “That’s one hell of a poster,” he told Harvie of his casting-call efforts [full disclosure: he even asked two cops if they ‘wanted to be in a movie on the courthouse steps one day. This was witnessed by me and a local defence lawyer].
  • He talked about how cops told him things might be different if he had signed “contracts” with the alleged victims.
  • “Right now it just kind of feels like my eggs are being crushed before they hatched,” he said after relaying some anecdote about being a boy and seeing some birds near his home.
  • He claims police came seeking a blood sample from him one day, apparently in connection to the death of a woman. He said a name I won’t repeat here. He says his mom freaked out at their request.
  • Police, it seems, “have a voodoo doll with my name on it” and are sticking pins into it until he “disappears,” Ackman says.
  • He says at Headingley, he was housed in a cell with two hard-looking inmates, whom he quickly won over. “That’s what Mr. Jetz does. Makes friends.”
  • In jail, he plays video games, basketball and ping-pong. “I actually feel safe because there’s no police harassing me.”
  • He says a police supervisor told him: “You’re not going to be getting out on bail this time, Mr. Jetz.”
  • Most lawyers he’s consulted, he says, just advised him to “plead out” but he’s not going to admit to something he didn’t do.
  • “The police have my passport. I have nowhere to go. I have no intention of going anywhere right now.”
  • Missing women in Manitoba are “a huge problem for police, and I agree its a major problem.”
  • “Maybe I’ll change my name legally,” to Mr. Jetz, he says.
  • Will he show up to court if bailed out? “Yes I will. Check that.” Later, he answers the same question: “I think so.”
  • He says he wasn’t offered his “Miranda rights” (his actual words) in his last arrest. “They let me call a lawyer,” but didn’t give him his rights.
  • Some of his prior bail conditions could be considered “comical,” he says, in terms of their enforceability.
  • Being in jail on remand is “kind of like a vacation, really.”
  • He claimed the fact he can’t use computers was “wasting” his talents.
  • “Will I reoffend? No.”
  • The girls: “They told me they were legal, but they weren’t.”
  • In Florida, he felt like “Hugh Hefner.”
  • If we’re going to stop abusive police behaviour in Manitoba: Mr. Jetz has the solution, he says. “Videotape everything.”
  • His ten months problems free on bail and turning up to every court date? Ackman says he deserves a “gold medal.”
  • “I don’t see why I would be a threat to anybody.”
  • The alleged victims, he says, could have walked out the door or jumped out of the car.
  • “I really should be able to go wherever I want.”
  • “You’re putting me on the spot,” he told Harvie toward the end of the hearing, when she asked him to focus on the plan for his release.
  • He can’t defend himself unless he has access to Facebook and a computer.
  • His mother is “shaken” by the whole affair, he says. Instead of returning to live with her, he’d rather live with his friend. How much of a surety might be available, isn’t clear.

So, that’s certainly not all of it. But I have to stop.

But all the while I was hearing this, I couldn’t help but think if Ackman instinctively knew his application was doomed to fail as presented: that the whole hearing was just another publicity stunt in the name of Mr. JetzTV.

But again, today marked a turning point in his case — a case which he says he “knows better than anyone” and was willing to take to a trial tomorrow.

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‘We’re treating your body as a crime scene’ — Laporte trial notebook 2

(Winnipeg Law Courts/Winnipeg Sun File)

Editor’s note: This post contains foul language. 

“We’re treating your body as a crime scene.”

That’s what Peter Laporte was told while cuffed and being held at bay by three police officers in a third-floor interview room at the city’s Public Safety Building early on Nov. 24, 2008.

The comment was made by now-Det. Sgt. Mark Philippot of the Winnipeg Police Service, called to testify this week in Laporte’s ongoing sexual assault trial in Winnipeg.

Laporte has pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent of all charges he currently faces.

Currently, the Crown and Laporte are locked in a high-stakes Charter rights-related battle over the admissibility of evidence gathered from penile swabs taken about five hours after his arrest at a Cumberland Avenue apartment block.

Laporte is arguing police stomped on his fundamental rights in how the swabs (a non-invasive procedure where cops use a wet and dry cotton swab to mop a suspect’s penis to gather evidence) were collected.

Philippot testified that after almost immediately after receiving information from child abuse investigators that a boy had disclosed been anally raped, it was his right to go in and get the swab samples.

“There’s no warrant required here,” Philippot said, explaining that in his experience, there’s no need for cops to get a warrant to take the samples, even if Laporte was unwilling to offer them as it’s considered incident to arrest.

One of the major issues Queen’s Bench Justice Perry Schulman will have to wrestle with is this: Laporte repeatedly requested (I’m being generous here, see below) to speak with a lawyer prior to the samples being taken, but cops didn’t comply.

Why is that? Don’t they have to? (Question is silently mine, sitting watching the proceedings)

According to Philippot, then a sex-crimes unit investigator (now homicide detective), the denial of Laporte’s “phone call” (to be cliche about it) had a lot to do with his demeanour and attitude.

A video of Laporte’s interactions with Philippot was played in court, starting from the time general patrol officers brought him into the interview room and put him on continuous video.

The video starts with a short haired, moustachioed Laporte, wearing a black T-shirt and shorts, being escorted into the room. “Do not kick,” he’s warned.

Earlier this week, we covered how cops viewed Laporte as combative and violent with them.

22:28 Nov 23, 2008: Philippot, not necessarily an imposing physical presence, enters the room.

“I’ve done nothing,” Laporte tells him.

“What’s your first name?” asks Philippot, trying to fill out a required prisoner’s log sheet that asks a number of questions of a suspect (it’s a matter of routine).

“I want to talk to my lawyer,” he’s told. Laporte moves to cradle his arms on the small table in front of him.

Philippot gets up and leaves for about an hour. The video is skipped ahead by Crown John Field.

 23:36: Laporte is seen lying on the floor of the interview room. Oddly, the sounds of Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police’ can be heard in the hallway outside the door. (cops play music so suspects can’t hear anything that’s going on in the office).

 ‘For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself,’ wails Thom Yorke.

The music ends.

In the process, Laporte gets up, gets back in the chair as Philippot re-enters the room, again, ostensibly to try and get the log sheet filled out. Laporte again requests to speak with a lawyer.

Philippot asks him the standard question: Are you part of a gang?

“Go fuck yourself,” says Laporte.

Philippot repeats the question, prompting anger to literally erupt out of Laporte.

“Look at me, take a good look at me you fucking piece of shit,” he barks. “Go fuck yourself.”

Philippot doesn’t waver.

“I’ll put you as uncooperative right now for your behaviour,” he says in a measured tone, apparently unmoved or riled by Laporte’s ire. He verbally notes and jots down a few minor scrapes and cuts he has on him.

The “interview” progresses to the point that Philippot tells him he’s being arrested for sexual assault “or some similar offence” times three, and offers Laporte notice of his rights to counsel.

“Beat it you fucking clown, you fucking monkey,” Laporte spits.

His rant continues, rising and ducking in force.

“Go fuck yourself you fucking goof… you fucking piece of shit,” he exclaims.

He’s asked again if he wants to call a lawyer.

“Beat it — take your suit and shove it up your ass,” Laporte spits.

“Beat it clown. Beat it. Beat it.”

Philippot exits, and reemerges a few minutes later.

 12:12 (Nov. 24, 2008) Laporte says he wants to call lawyer Ian Garber. He’s asked if he has his number. The angry tirade renews.

“I’m being reasonable with you,” says Philippot. Do you want a lawyer?

“Poop your fucking head,” Laporte says.

“Poop my head, is that what you’re saying?,” Philippot asks, and again leaves.

Laporte lays his head on the table.

The tone changes roughly six minutes later.

 00:19 Philippot re-enters, this time with latex gloves on and patrol cops in tow. He tells Laporte officers are seizing his clothing as part of their investigation.

“No, you don’t get my clothes,” he says.

Laporte is told cops are going to take penile swabs from him.

“I think not,” he says. “You guys remember the last time you took one. We’ll do this on (inaudible) way. Call my lawyer and fuck off,” he says, moments later adding if cops want his clothes, they going to have to “tear ’em off me.”

So, essentially, they do. Not tear, anyways, but remove by the application of force.

Laporte is pushed up against a wall out of camera sight and cuffed.

“Stop resisting,” he’s told. “Keep that foot down.”

Then, dear reader, the screaming begins. It’s hard to hear.

Laporte howls and cries and then howls some more in what sounds like — sounds like — sheer, utter agony.

His clothes are removed and bagged, piece by piece.

They move to take his shorts. More howls.

“I’m not doing anything to you. That’s just you screaming,” one of the four cops says.

When they move for the white socks Laporte’s wearing, the screams take on a tone of unadulterated rage.

He’s told he’s just fine. “Fuck you,” he responds. “Get the fucking handcuffs off me,” he shouts.

“Because you’re being aggressive with us this is what we’re forced to do here,” a cop says.

 At this point, the tape is stopped. Philippot is still on the witness stand.

“You’ve heard screaming several times. What’s that?” asked Field.

“I can only give you my opinion,” said Philippot, explaining the cuffs were placed on Laporte for officer safety.

“No one was applying any pressure to him,” he says. He’d just scream,” later testifying: “I don’t know why he’s screaming.”

The video is started again. Now, cops are obtaining the contentious penile swabs.

“We’re treating your body as a crime scene,” Philippot tells Laporte.

The process is explained again.

“I’m HIV positive,” Laporte says.

“Thanks for sharing it with us,” says Philippot.

More yowls of rage.

“Just relax now,” Laporte is told.

“Fuck you,” he says.

 The tape again is stopped. “What’s he screaming about?,” Field asks.

Philippot explains that the process is non-invasive. Basically, one of two swabs obtained is soaked with distilled water and then rubbed on the shaft and tip of the penis. The other is bone dry.

 The video resumes.

Prior to the first swab being taken, Laporte cries: “Why are you doing this to me?” and then asks to use the washroom. “Okay, enough,” he exclaims.

“I gave you the opportunity to do this yourself,” says Philippot.

“It hurts!,” cries Laporte. “My fucking wrists!” He comments that his wrists were bleeding.

 The video is again halted. Philippot says there’s no indication Laporte’s wrists were bleeding, cops in fact, by this point, had loosened his cuffs somewhat.

Field: We’ve just heard copious amounts of screaming,” he says.

“I don’t know why he was screaming,” says Philippot.

 The video resumes, largely more of the same.

“Fuck you, Not fair, not fucking fair,” Laporte is heard saying.

“What’s not fair?,” he’s asked.

He doesn’t reply.

Oddly, Philippot asks the court to stop the video so he can comment. As you can see, he tells Schulman, we loosened his cuffs.

“I don’t see why the screaming was happening,” he says.

 Tape resumes: Laporte is escorted to the washroom, and then given some water and left alone in the room again by 00:37.

Video ends. 

Field: A decision was made to take the swabs. How did that come to pass?

Philippot: It’s part of the sex crimes investigative process. In Laporte’s case, he testified, his “hostile and volatile” demeanour kind of predicated how it would go down, that the decision to take the swabs was made after a boy disclosed being anally raped, and  cops wanted to preserve evidence. The boy’s disclosure was “grounds enough” to get the swabs.

Philippot says it was the first time in his career he’s ever had to use force to get the swabs, that usually the suspect is allowed to gather them under their own power. “Normally,” he said, “They do it themselves.”

Interestingly, Philippot remarked that studies have shown how 75 per cent of penile swabs net DNA evidence, compared with 25 per cent of vaginal swabs.

The key is gathering the sample in time, he said. “The longer you wait … the more opportunity you have to lose it,” he says.

But why do it with four cops and handcuffs?

Philippot: considering Laporte’s “hostile and volatile” demeanour, it was necessary. “I just felt as best practice for officer safety” — and Laporte’s own safety.

“In this case, for safety reasons, because of his attitude, we decided to go that way.” “It took four officers just to get has arms behind him,” said Philippot.

As for giving Laporte a phonebook to look up a lawyer’s number, his demeanour precluded that from happening, the cop said.

 The cross-examination: 

Philippot is asked how many people could have walked by and seen what was happening in the interview room (privacy rights breach?).

Philippot says setting aside the four in the room itself, there were about 18 other cops that could have walked past.

What about Laporte’s repeated demands to speak to a lawyer when the interview first began?

Well, Philippot said, there was the matter of getting that preliminary, but mandatory, prisoner log sheet taken care of first.

He said as the interviewer, he was required to feel comfortable to know that Laporte was, in fact, Laporte.

“I want to know who I’m dealing with. Get a bit of a background here,” he said.

What about when he specifically mentions wanting to speak with Ian Garber?

“I’m not going to give him a phonebook at that time,” said Philippot, “(Or) introduce any kind of weapon into the room,” he said, again referencing Laporte’s demeanour.

 How can you take a potentially-incriminating swab from a suspect when they haven’t talked to a lawyer yet?

It’s a matter of generally-accepted practice, said Philippot. “Generally, I would take the swab before giving them access to counsel,” he said, later adding it was taken as soon as possible after learning there may be evidence to be gained from it.

He was unyielding in his answers: There is no requirement to let a person talk to a lawyer prior to obtaining the swab, even though it could be incriminating. 

“There’s no warrant required here,” he said.

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