There will be no further investigation into two police officers who did not warn Surrey murder victim Tasha Lynn Rossette that her boyfriend may have been plotting to kill her prior to the 21-year-old’s 2005 death, the B.C. Appeal Court has ruled.
The court ruling released Monday (May 12) overturns a decision by the Office of the Police Complaint Commission (OPPC) to investigate the conduct of Const. Craig Bentley and his Integrated Gang Task Force supervisor Staff Sgt. John Grywinski.
On Nov. 17, 2005, Bentley was told by a confidential informant that Rossette’s boyfriend, Amjad Khan, had offered him money to kill her. Bentley passed the information to Grywinski, but instead of sharing it with Rossette right away, the pair decided to investigate the threat further.
By the time they visited Rossette’s home five days later, she was dead.
The single mother of a three-year-old, who was also 17 weeks pregnant with her second child, had been stabbed dozens of times and her throat was slit.
Khan was convicted last May of first-degree murder after a retrial of the case.
In 2009, the Vancouver Police Department dismissed a complaint by Rossette’s mom that the two officers failed in their duty. But shortly after, the OPPC requested more information about the matter’s dismissal and ordered the Vancouver Police to revisit the allegations. A year-and-a-half later, the OPPC still couldn’t determine whether the allegations had been investigated, and again ordered it done. By November 2010, the investigation was not complete, so the OPPC ordered an external investigation.
Bentley and Grywinski tried to quash the investigation on the grounds that they were cleared internally (in the initial dismissed complaint), there was no new information and the Police Act sets a 30-day time limit to re-open such cases. In 2012, a B.C. Supreme Court justice ordered the investigation go ahead.
Monday’s appeal court decision, however, overturned the lower court order on the basis there is no new information and it is not in the public’s interest to re-open the investigation.
“In my opinion, the Commissioner’s reasons either misstate the basis of the Order in terms of his jurisdiction, or is insufficiently clear to allow the appellants to determine on what basis the investigation has been ordered reopened,” wrote Justice Nicole Garson in her decision, with Justices Anne MacKenzie and Peter Willcock in concurrence.
Khan and Naim Saghir were found guilty in Rossette’s murder in 2008, but those convictions were overturned on appeal and a new trial was ordered.
After the second trial, Khan was found guilty, while Saghir was found not guilty.