A jury in Ontario got it right last week when they convicted former RCMP member Kevin Gregson of murder.
Gregson’s argument during the trial was that while he had killed Ottawa Police Const. Eric Czapnik outside of a hospital emergency room on December 29, 2009, he did not murder him.
It was an argument that made no sense, as whether he had targeted Czapnik specifically or not, the killing of a police officer in Canada is automatically considered first-degree murder. And the court heard that Gregson had left his house that night looking for a gun. As a former police officer himself, he must have known that no cop would ever give up his or her gun without a fight.
So even if the charge was in question, his argument would not have stood up.
What disturbs me about this case, beyond the obvious — that he took the life of a good cop, a good man — was Gregson’s attitude.
He asked the police after he was arrested if they thought this would be a big news story.
When he testified, he ran on and on about his life, not just about the incident in question, like everyone would be interested in all the details.
I think what disturbs me the most is that attitude isn’t so different from the one he showed when he was here, working in Humboldt as an RCMP officer.
I knew Kevin Gregson when he was a Mountie here — not well, but like any police officer in Humboldt, I dealt with him on occasion when things happened that needed to be reported.
I never did get to know him off duty. He did not become a friend.
I can only be grateful about that now.
But even when dealing with him professionally, he was always a bit “off” — not quite right, is how I’d describe him. He had a big ego, and he didn’t seem all that genuine, from what I recall.
When he ran into troubles while in Humboldt, it wasn’t surprising.
I was a little shocked when he was charged in Regina for threatening a church bishop with a knife. But by the time I first heard news reports about a former Mountie stabbing an Ottawa police constable, I automatically said, “I bet it’s Kevin Gregson.”
And it was.
Maybe that’s why this case bugs me so much. It’s the first time I’ve ever actually known someone who has committed a heinous act like murder.
But another part of it is that he was a police officer. He was hired by our government to keep the peace, to protect the innocent. At first, it seemed like he did a good job, but then he went off the rails. The RCMP did take steps to try to limit the damage he could do — they took away his gun, put him on desk duty, then kicked him out altogether. But I think I would feel more comfortable if they used this case to look at their hiring policies, and psychological testing procedures, and maybe make some changes.
The fact that he was ever allowed to carry a gun gives me the willies.
And while Gregson may have been a one-off, a never to be repeated mistake in hiring, one can be too many.
That crack that he fell through to get into the RCMP needs to be filled.