News

Police officer guilty of assault

RCMP Const. David Pompeo has been found guilty of aggravated assault in the September 2009 shooting of Bill Gillespie.

Judge Josiah Wood pronounced judgement swiftly on the former North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP officer, now with the Nanaimo detachment, and without explanation Thursday morning in Duncan Provincial Court.

“I find you guilty, sir,’’ said Wood to a few gasps from those assembled in the courtroom.

“I didn’t see that coming,’’ one officer, who attended the proceedings, said outside the courtroom.

Gillespie was elated with the verdict.

“I am very pleased that Judge Wood did not believe Const. David Pompeo’s version of the events of Sept. 18, 2009. And that his life was never in any real danger behind his steel truck door and his bulletproof vest. There will be no ‘shoot-first’ policy. People across Canada should be pleased that the courts are not going to look the other way on police use of excessive force.’’

Gillespie was the driver of a car pulled over during a routine traffic stop near Chemainus.

He was ordered out of the car by Pompeo while Pompeo’s partner, Const. David Birchett, made the same order to Gillespie’s passenger, Dale Brewer.

Gillespie was subsequently shot by Pompeo but survived, with the bullet still lodged in him.

Neither Pompeo nor his lawyer, Ravi Hira, made themselves available for comment after the decision.

Pompeo has been working at Nanaimo RCMP detachment since 2010 in a non-operational duty capacity with Nanaimo’s Criminal Intelligence Unit.

Supt. Norm McPhail, Nanaimo detachment commanding officer, said he will have to review Pompeo’s conviction to see how it affects his duty status as the case goes forward for sentencing and how the judge’s decision will affect policing in general.

“It’s something that impacts policing, definitely,” McPhail said. “It’s a finding that involves one of our police officers, so what can I learn from that? What information is in there that the RCMP can be educated by?”

McPhail said he has seen use of force cases against police officers brought before the courts before, but no one under his management has ever been found guilty.

“Police officers are in many ways no different from the public,” McPhail said, responding to a question about the level of support shown by fellow officers for Pompeo in the courtroom in Duncan.

“They come from the public. Police officers are given special powers and as a result of those special powers, they’re accountable for those powers.

“This is a support for the officer personally. It’s a traumatic situation to go through as others, who are subject to processes go through, so it was a support for David Pompeo as a police officer and I would assume that’s why the officers were attending.”

Crown Counsel Todd Patola wouldn’t say what his parameters would be for sentencing at this point.

“The range of sentencing for this case will be the subject of our sentencing submissions,’’ Patola said. “That’s going to be particular to the facts of this case.

“I would still have to read the decision to say what in particular was of importance to the judge.”

Pompeo will be back in court in Duncan on March 12 to fix a date for sentencing.

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