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Controversy over Medal of Bravery award.

Haggis

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Shared with the usual disclaimers, this from the CBC.


Medal of Bravery winner involved in 2 fatal police chases

Posted: Apr 26, 2012 7:51 PM ET
Last Updated: Apr 27, 2012 10:06 AM ET

There is growing outrage in a community near Cornwall, Ont., after a police officer was awarded a Medal of Bravery for an incident in which the high-speed pursuit of a suspect ended in the death of three people.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston handed Akwesasne Mohawk Police Const. Michael Biron the medal last Friday for putting his own life at risk to attempt to rescue an elderly couple after a van collided with their car on Nov. 14, 2008.

Edward and Eileen Kassian, both from Massena, N.Y., died on Nov. 14, 2008, after a van struck their car while they were driving on Cornwall Island.

The award is contentious because Biron had been the driver of a police vehicle in pursuit of the driver of the van, who was suspected of smuggling cigarettes. At the height of the chase, Biron's vehicle was pursuing at speeds reaching 160 km/h.

Equally troubling for residents in the community is that six months ago, Biron was involved in a second police chase that ended with the death of a young couple.

Officer attempted to rescue elderly couple

In the 2008 incident, Biron was in pursuit of the suspected cigarette smuggler when the suspect's van collided with a car. Both vehicles burst into flames.  Canada Border Services officer Yves Soumillon also responded to the crash from the Canadian port of entry on Cornwall Island, just metres from the crash site.

Biron and Soumillon rushed to the car and tried to open its damaged doors and save Edward and Eileen Kassian, both from Massena, N.Y. They were unable to rescue the 77-year-old couple before flames engulfed the vehicle. The driver of the van also died.

Michael Kassian, the couple's son, called the award an injustice for his family and their friends.

"I don't think he did anything to save their lives," said Kassian. "I think he did more using poor judgment based on the fact that he ensued this chase."

Const. Michael Biron was charged with criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death in relation to a 2008 crash where three people died. But those charges were later dismissed.CBC

After the collision, Biron was charged with criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death, but those charges were later dismissed.

New York State Democratic congressman Bill Owens said that based on the Kassian family concerns, he is contacting Ottawa to find out why the award was given to Biron.

Timmy Currier, the chief of police for Massena and a neighbour of the Kassians, said he believes Biron stepped over the line.

"We're not going to pursue for minor violations. and most particularly, we're not going to pursue when people's lives are in danger … either the person being pursued, or the officer or innocent bystanders. In the Kassians case, their death was avoidable," said Currier.

Young friends killed last year

In the 2011 incident, 19-year-old Amber Aliff was driving her car with two passengers when they ran a stop sign. Biron set off in a brief pursuit from the Mohawk territory and into New York State but broke off the pursuit at an intersection.  A few hundred metres from the intersection, the car crashed into a tree, killing Aliff and 22-year-old passenger Dakota Benedict.

"I just believe that if he had stopped chasing them at the border then they'd be here today," said Benedict's mother, Michelle Sawatis.

Residents of Akwesasne have started a petition to remove Biron from the police force.

Akwesasne police not involved in nomination

In a joint statement released Thursday, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Commission and the Akwesasne Police said Biron was nominated for the award without their knowledge or involvement.

They said they would not be providing comment on "a process in which they did not participate."

A spokeswoman with the Office of the Secretary of the Governor General said the award was given in recognition of Biron putting his own life in danger to attempt to rescue another person.

"It is not related to any other incident that might have taken place following this event," said Marie-Pierre Bélanger in a statement.

Bélanger said witnesses, investigators and police officers are contacted as part of the research process, but not family members of the victims of the crash.

Michael Kassian said he was never contacted about the award, and said if he had been, he would not have endorsed any award for Biron.

"It's a slap in the face," said Kassian.
 

GAP

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So.....police should not chase suspects because they may be speeding and/or bad drivers and crash?

The officer was doing his job
 

2 Cdo

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GAP said:
So.....police should not chase suspects because they may be speeding and/or bad drivers and crash?

The officer was doing his job

Amazing that people express their outrage at the police and not the criminal in these cases. ::)
 

mariomike

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'MASSENA — Akwesasne Mohawk Police Constable Michael A. Biron has been temporarily reassigned from patrolling the territory.';
http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20120428/NEWS05/704289887

Edit to add.
Looks like the family is suing everybody:
"They declined further comment because of the pending lawsuit the Kassian family has filed against Mr. Biron, Sgt. Kenneth Chaussi, the police and the governments of Ontario, Quebec and Canada.":
http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20120427/NEWS05/704279910

"If successful, the family could receive between $1 million and $1.5 million, attorney William J. Sammon said.":
http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20120426/NEWS05/704269831
 

Jarnhamar

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In the 2011 incident, 19-year-old Amber Aliff was driving her car with two passengers when they ran a stop sign. Biron set off in a brief pursuit from the Mohawk territory and into New York State but broke off the pursuit at an intersection.  A few hundred metres from the intersection, the car crashed into a tree, killing Aliff and 22-year-old passenger Dakota Benedict.

So they ran a stop sign then ran from the police?  What was that cop thinking?  ::)

It's interesting that the article doesn't mention whether or not the van he was pursuing was loaded with cigarettes or not.

"We're not going to pursue for minor violations. and most particularly, we're not going to pursue when people's lives are in danger … either the person being pursued, or the officer or innocent bystanders. In the Kassians case, their death was avoidable," said Currier.
That's a great outlook.  Don't pursue criminals if it's dangerous- lets keep these law breakers on the street. Especially because the US "New York State" drivers around Cornwall don't drive like maniacs.
 

medicineman

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I seem to remember when I was in Kingston that those cigarette smugglers basically had the mayor of Cornwall in protective custody of the OPP when he had the police start cracking down on them...don't exactly sound like "minor offenders" to me.

MM
 

Good2Golf

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Classic attempt to draw attention away from the true source of the problem.


Police pursuit, within Provincial guidelines, is a reasonable REACTION to other's ILLEGAL or SUSPECT actions.


2008 - Constable Biron was pursuing a suspect vehicle within provincial and departmental policies.

2011 - Constable Biron suspended pursuit in accordance with provincial and departmental policies.

2008 - Innocent bystanders were killed by the driver of the van, who also killed himself.

2011 - The driver of the vehicle no longer being pursued by the police killed herself and her passenger.


The problem with the world today is that few people appear willing to take responsibility for their own actions.  It's always someone else's fault, isn't it?
 
F

fraserdw

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mariomike said:
'MASSENA — Akwesasne Mohawk Police Constable Michael A. Biron has been temporarily reassigned from patrolling the territory.';
http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20120428/NEWS05/704289887

Edit to add.
Looks like the family is suing everybody:
"They declined further comment because of the pending lawsuit the Kassian family has filed against Mr. Biron, Sgt. Kenneth Chaussi, the police and the governments of Ontario, Quebec and Canada.":
http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20120427/NEWS05/704279910

"If successful, the family could receive between $1 million and $1.5 million, attorney William J. Sammon said.":
http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20120426/NEWS05/704269831

It's America, suing is the only wealth generation left to the average American.
 
F

fraserdw

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Good2Golf said:
Classic attempt to draw attention away from the true source of the problem.


Police pursuit, within Provincial guidelines, is a reasonable REACTION to other's ILLEGAL or SUSPECT actions.


2008 - Constable Biron was pursuing a suspect vehicle within provincial and departmental policies.

2011 - Constable Biron suspended pursuit in accordance with provincial and departmental policies.

2008 - Innocent bystanders were killed by the driver of the van, who also killed himself.

2011 - The driver of the vehicle no longer being pursued by the police killed herself and her passenger.


The problem with the world today is that few people appear willing to take responsibility for their own actions.  It's always someone else's fault, isn't it?

:goodpost:  No doubt about it, nice piece of common sense.
 

Fishbone Jones

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Residents of Akwesasne have started a petition to remove Biron from the police force.

Of course they'd want to get rid a cop that is actually a threat to their smuggling livelyhood.  ::)
 

Hurricane

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People will always think they are better police officers than the ACTUAL police officers. I say BZ to the officer for doing his job. Anyone who says that an officer should not do his job, because it could endanger lives is an idiot. If that were the case, some people think that if I knock off a liquor store, then speed through the streets the police shouldnt chase me because I could get in an accident? Come on.
 

Chalupas

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This is actually ridiculous
No one ever mentions how it was the drivers' fault...
 

medicineman

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Good2Golf said:
The problem with the world today is that few people appear willing to take responsibility for their own actions.  It's always someone else's fault, isn't it?

That's never a problem in Canadian or Amercian society  ::)...

:sarcasm:

MM
 

mariomike

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fraserdw said:
It's America, suing is the only wealth generation left to the average American.

I believe the public would be appalled by the payouts for accidents involving emergency vehicles. Even for "wake" accidents where the emergency vehicle is not directly involved. 
As call volumes steadily increase, so do the accidents and potential lawsuits.
 
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