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New police investigation boss should look at old cases: Wright

Al Wright, the father of a man killed by RCMP officers has written an open letter challenging the head of a new independent police investigation office to look at past cases, including that of his son, Alvin.

Alvin Wright was 22 when he was killed in his Langley home by an RCMP officer responding to a domestic disturbance call. The case was reviewed by Vancouver police officers, who cleared the Mountie of any wrongdoing and days later issued a statement saying Wright had been brandishing a knife when he was shot. A Coroner's Inquest has been set for March, 2012.

Wright's letter, distributed to media throughout the B.C. Civil Liberties Society, is addressed to Richard Rosenthal, the head of a new independent police investigation office in the province. The former U.S. deputy district attorney was named head of the office yesterday, and is charged with probing police incidents that result in serious harm or death. The office was formed last May on the recommendation of Thomas Braidwood, who conducted an inquiry into the tasering-death of Robert Dziekanski.

The Province reports that Rosenthal will be paid $210,000 a year and is allowed to hire ex-police officers as long as they haven't worked as police in B.C. within the last five years.

In the letter, Wright criticized Rosenthal for posing for photo ops with police agencies "you're supposed to be aggressively holding accountable. . ."

"I saw you on the news being introduced by the Premier. I saw you flanked by senior representatives of the police, including the RCMP and the Vancouver Police and the West Vancouver Police as well as the police union, who called you by your first name and said that they could not wait to work with you," reads the letter.

"I don't doubt or discredit your experience. But I've heard you are not going to look at any past cases, including the death of my son Alvin. This is unacceptable. In other words, you are saying that we will have to wait for another person to be killed or sexually assaulted by the police before you will begin work."

Rosenthal told reporters yesterday that he has high expectations. "My expectation is that officers will tell the truth," he said.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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