|Police Chief Keith McCaskill and Grand Chief Ron Evans believe the video. (Brian Donogh, QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - Winnipeg police say they have irrefutable evidence that an alleged "starlight tour" never occurred, despite the insistence of the young aboriginal man who made the claim.
Earlier this month, 20-year-old Evan Maud claimed he was grabbed by two officers in an unmarked cruiser in the wee hours of Dec. 3, and was left in a field southwest of Winnipeg. He said the men took his coat and gave him a sweater to wear, and that it took him nearly four hours to walk back to the city in -20 C weather.
But Winnipeg police Chief Keith McCaskill said Friday that a combination of GPS technology, video surveillance, witness reports and other evidence have led investigators to conclude that neither police officers nor Maud even left the city that night, and that the incident never took place.
Police charged Maud Friday with public mischief.
"We've been able to totally, 100% disprove the allegations," McCaskill said. "It absolutely did not happen."
Officers did speak with Maud that night after seeing him walking in the middle of Main Street, but Maud never got into their cruiser, McCaskill said, adding Winnipeg Transit video shows the man getting on a bus about 15 minutes later.
"Based on the information, it couldn't possibly have happened," the police chief said.
Police said they learned Maud had left his jacket at a person's home, where he acquired the sweater he wore home on the day in question.
However, Maud's uncle Joseph Maud said his nephew maintains the incident did in fact occur.
"It looks like it's going to be played out in a courtroom," Joseph Maud said, speaking on behalf of his nephew Friday. "The police did not interview half of the people Evan had contact with on the night in question. Other people will be coming forward with different versions than what the police are saying."
Evan Maud initially said he would report the incident only to the Law Enforcement Review Agency, a pseudo-government watchdog that investigates complaints against police. He said he didn't trust Winnipeg police to investigate his claims.
However, on the advice of his lawyer, Maud filed a formal complaint with Winnipeg police last weekend, which sparked the investigation that led police to conclude the incident did not occur.
George Wright, the province's LERA commissioner, said Maud's family has been in contact with LERA but has yet to file an official complaint. Unless a formal complaint is filed within 30 days of the incident, LERA will not investigate, Wright said.