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Thunder Bay police discuss charges against former chief

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Thunder Bay Police Service held a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss the misconduct investigation that led to criminal charges being laid against the city's former police chief.

CTVNewsNorthernOntario.ca streamed the news conference live at 1 p.m.

The current police chief Darcy Fleury spoke along with Karen Machado, the chair of the police service board, about rebuilding the public's trust.

"The allegations of the past is not a reflection of the work being done today," Machado said.

"Our board will not hesitate to act on any allegations of misconduct."

The pair also spoke about invoking change moving foward and supporting the mental health of police service members.

Outburst during news conference

Chantelle Bryson, the lawyer who represents the group of officers and civilian employees who came forward with human rights complaints about the force, attended the news conference. 

She took issue with a response made by the police board chair.

"The former board did bring complaints forward to the OCPC (Ontario Civilian Police Commission)," Machado said.

"No they didn't, that's not true," Bryson said interrupting from the audience.

"I'm sorry, I'm leaving. That' not true."

Lawyer Chantelle Bryson (right) speaks out against Thunder Bay Police Service Chief Darcy Fleury and Chair of the Police Services Board Karen Machado during a press conference in Thunder Bay, Ont. April 15, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Jackson)

"You should apologize to these service members," Bryson said standing at the front of the room at the news conference.

"To date, the board and the chief of police are supporting continuing defending the complainants in HRTO. They are indemnifying them, they have continued, since their presence, to file pleadings in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario correspondence, correspondence to my office, calling these people liars, calling me a liar."

Lawyer Chantelle Bryson (right) speaks out against Thunder Bay Police Service Chief Darcy Fleury and Chair of the Police Services Board Karen Machado during a press conference in Thunder Bay, Ont. April 15, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Jackson)

In response, the board issued this statement: 

"Ms. Bryson’s comments are factually inaccurate. The board forwarded concerns raised by former board member Georjann Morriseau to OCPC in the spring of 2021, asking them to investigate. Substantive information was shared with OCPC to assist them, leading to their subsequent investigation."

Probe into misconduct

In late 2021, the Ministry of the Attorney General asked Ontario Provincial Police to investigate allegations of misconduct involving members of the Thunder Bay Police Service.

As a result of that investigation, three people from Thunder Bay Police Service have been charged since December.

Sgt. Mike Dimini was arrested Dec. 6 and charged with two counts of assault and one count each of breach of trust by a police officer and obstructing justice.

Last week, two more people, a former lawyer and a former police chief, were both charged with obstruction, obstructing justice and breach of trust.

Holly Walbourne, 37, resigned as Thunder Bay Police Service counsel last year around the time Fleury took the position.

Sylvie Hauth became police chief in 2018 following a scathing report that found 'systemic racism' within the Thunder Bay police force that affected the death investigations involving Indigenous Peoples.

In June 2022, Hauth was suspended after "serious allegations" were made by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.

She resigned in January 2023 after 30 years of service avoiding a police misconduct hearing.

None of the criminal charges have been proven in court.

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