Unnamed police sources have been working fast and furiously to put their spin on the police beating death of Otto Vass outside a west-end 7 Eleven last week.
So fast and furiously, in fact, that on Monday the police watchdog special investigations unit (SIU), which is investigating the incident, called police department lawyer Rusty Beauchesne to register a complaint.
Under a police-SIU agreement, cops aren't supposed to be talking about the case, let alone leaking details to the media to put a more positive spin on police in the event the case ends up in court. Says SIU spokesperson Gail Scala: "It has almost become commonplace."
But are the leaks jeopardizing the SIU's investigation or influencing eyewitnesses?
Day one: the press quotes eyewitnesses saying police beat the man to death. Day two: the press reports that three other men actually beat Vass before police arrived, and that Vass had punched an officer in the face.
Tuesday, the press quotes police sources as saying Vass went for an officer's gun.
Beauchesne did not respond to a request for comment. But should the case end up in court, lawyer Paul Copeland says prosecutors could argue for a change of venue. The publicity, he says, may already have affected potential jurors.