Police Intimidation Resisted, Man Changes National Surveillance Policy

By Carlton Purvis, Published Feb 11, 2014, 12:00am EST (Info+)

A man changed nationwide police policy by resisting intimidation from the local police after he uncovered they had set up illegal surveillance on his property.

We spoke in depth with the man, Buck Addams (formerly Dion Nordick) [link no longer available] who found two trail cams watching his house that not only contained images of his comings and goings, but hundreds of evidence photos and crime scenes. Instead of turning the equipment back over to police, he obtained a lawyer. The result of the case was a law requiring Canadian authorities to change how they managed surveillance evidence.

The House

Near the end of 2010, Addams moved into a house in, Grand Forks, British Columbia, that had been abandoned. The property owner, a friend of his, cut him a deal: If he got the property back to livable conditions, then he could live there for reduced rent. They previous tenant was a suspected drug dealer and left the place trashed. Addams moved in and went from paying $1200 rent to $700.

Six months later, he turned the place around. His handiwork didn't go unnoticed by his girlfriend's father, the mayor, and he was invited to come up for a weekend to help do work on a property the father owned. His work didn't go unnoticed by police either.

"When I get [back home] there's a warrant on the door with a RCMP business card," he said. Without going in the house he showed it to his girlfriend and she suggested he call a lawyer before he did anything else. The warrant was for things like timers, tanks and beakers. Through the window of the house he could see it had been ransacked.

It was almost an hour before he went inside. Every drawer in the house had been opened and dumped on the floor, yet they hadn't taken anything related to the warrant. All of his graffiti stencils were gone along with $850 worth of spray paint.

Addams who also does graphic design for local bands had a collection of World War II books that he used for drawing ideas. These books were laid across his couch, along with a technical manual for an AK-47. His collection of Transformers, which he had displayed on a shelf in their humanoid form, had been searched, some put back in their vehicle forms.

He admits he was "freaked out" when he called the number on the business card. No one would give him any answers about why his place has been tossed. The sergeant in charge of the case blew him off.

Newspaper stories later that week told of how police had solved a major case, declaring they had caught "the Grand Forks graffiti artist" and telling people to file claims if their businesses had been vandalized using his stencils. Addams however said he wasn't doing stencils around Grand Forks, but mostly making them for other people. And this still did not explain why they entered his house with a warrant looking for equipment to make drugs.

Through friends around town and at various newspapers, he found out that the police were looking to bust the previous tenant of the house. They thought he'd moved back in.

"Mail was going to [the house] and the power was back on, so they thought it was him," Addams said.

The Cameras

He still hadn't been arrested, but he was worried about what he could be charged with. The police still refused to give him any information about the case, nor were they willing to return his art supplies. He called the police sergeant again to try and work out a deal, suggesting he would teach kids art at a local center, in exchange for dropping any charges. It didn't work.

Later, his girlfriend called.

"I've been thinking a lot about you and how screwed over you're feeling and maybe you should come stay with me for the night. I'd rather have you hanging out here then have to worry about you," he recalls her saying.

His house was down a road surrounded by trees that terminates at a cul-de-sac. It's a rural area, and it's common to see wildlife on the tree line so he though it was the reflection of a deer's eyes the when he saw a blue-green flash up ahead as they pulled away.

"I told her to slow down. It looked like Wall-E was up there. As I got closer I see that it's a Bushnell hunting camera," he said. His first thought was that someone mistook him for the former tenant and was keeping surveillance on him to eventually rob him.

He saw a similar flash when he had been walking his dog behind the house a few nights before. He had her drive back to the house to the spot where he let the dog out. Strapped to a tree was a second camera.

"We took them to her house and we plunked the [SD cards] in there and the first one … had pictures of my friends [coming over], reporters from the newspapers [from when the graffiti story first broke], me taking the dog out for a leak, having a smoke. A deer. A bird," he said.

It also revealed who had been watching.

"The first couple frames were the police attaching it," he said. The images are time-stamped and suggest the cameras were installed June 14th at three in the morning -- the day after the raid on his house.

*** ****** *** ****** ***** ** his ***** ******," ** ****. "* put *** **** *** ** *** it *** ***** ******* ** **. They *** ******** ** ******* ****** over *******, *** *** **** **** was *** ******** ** ******** ***** from **** ***** ** ********* ** found ****** ** ***** ** **** to ******* ****** ***** *** ****." He ***** ******* *** ***** ***** photos ** * ******** ****** ** the ****.

*** ********** ********. ** ****** *** father ******* *** ******, *** *** best ****** ****** **** *** *** a ******** **** ********* **** ******** is * ******* ****** ****.

The ******

****** **** *** ******* ******** ** a **** *** * ******. ** says ** ****** **** "* *** office ***** ******* ********* **** ***" and ***** ** ***** ** ******** lawyer ***** **** *** ****.

* ****** ********** ******, ******* *** **** "******* ****** gold" **** *** **** --- *** free.

** *** ****** ******* ** ***** the ******* ** ******'* ****** ** another ************. ****** **** * ****** to *** *********** ****** ** **** ever *** **** ** ***** *********** again ******* * ******* ****'* ** facing * ***** ****. ** **** said ** ***** *** * ****** warrant *** *** ******* **** *** authorities ******* **.

"*** ****** ** ****** ******* * warrant *** * ******'* ****** ** almost **********," ****** ****. "**** * was ********** *** ** **** ******* contact **** *** ******, *** *** police ******'* **** **********."

**** **** **** ** **** *** that *** ******** ******* (** **** the *****) *** ******* ****** ******* *** * ********* growing *********.

Harassed *** ***********

****** **** ** *** ****** **** every **** ** ***** ** **** with ******* ** *** ****. **** would **** *** ** *** **** for ****** **********, *** **** ***** be ****** ******* ****** **** ** shopped.

"**** ****, '** **** *** **** the *******' *** * **** '*** don't *** **** **** ** ***** again,'" ** ****. "** ****** *** to ** * **** **** **** for ** ** * ***** ** Nelson."

Media *****He didn't have anyone to go to about the harassment so his lawyer suggested they take it to the media. Addams said at that point he didn't want to be on the news and wanted the whole thing to go away, but he still hadn't been charged with anything, was still being harassed if he came into town and still had not been told why his house was raided in the first place.

*** ***** ****** ** *** *****. And ***** ****** *** ********* ****** to *** **** ****-**-**** *** **********. At ***** ** **** *** ****** tried ** **** ****** ** "**** it **** **** * *** ** evil ******** ****** *** *********** **** cards **** **** ******."

*** ****** ******* ****'**** *** ******* ******* ** *** property*** **** **** **** **** ** get ****, **** **** **** *** Addams *** ****** ****.

"** ** *** **** ***** *** cameras **** [******* *** ***** *****] they ***** *** ** ***** ********. So ** ****** *** ***** ***** to ******. ** ** ********. *** it **** ******* ******** *******," ** said.

Giving *** ******* ****

****** ********** ******* **** ** ****'* want *** **** **** ******* *** courts ** * ***** **** *** wanted *** ********** *** *** ***** attention ** ** ****. ***** ******* with *** ******, ** ******* ** give *** ******* ****. *** ** knew *** ****** *** ***** ****.

"**** *** **** *** ****** **** in ******** ******* ***** ******** *** been **** **** **** *** *****," he ****. "*** **** ***** **** was ***** **** ******** ****."

**** ** **** *** ******* ****, he ****** * *************** ********* *** to **** *** *** *** ****** in *** ****** **** *** ** destroy *** ****** **'* **** ** the *****. *** ******* **** ********** returned ****** * ******* ******* ** lawyer *** *** **** ** ******** 22, ****. ** **** ** ***** made ******.

** *** ***, *** ****** ***** produced * ******* *** *** ******* and ****** *** ***** ******* **** any *****.

New ****** *******

*** ****** **** *** ******* **'* policies, *** ** * ****** ** the ****, *** **** *** *** a ****** **** ******** ***** *** memory ***** ** ** ****, ********* to ** **** ***** ************.

"**** **’** ***** ** **** *** memory ***** *** ***** ********* ** instances ************ ********* ** ***** ********* in ********* ***** ***** ** ** opportunity **** ******* ***** **** ** RCMP ******* ***** **** ** ********** of ***** *******," *** ******** *** ****** **** **** ** 2011.

******** ** *** ****** ***** ******** RCMP **** ********* *** ** ******** through ****.

Comments (12)

His collection of Transformers, which he had displayed on a shelf in their humanoid formed, had been searched and put back in their vehicle forms.

The most chilling part of this story, if you ask me. Some Mountie sat there and individually examined each and every single Transformer and put them all back wrong, to... what, send a message? If true, that would mean that the pressures of enforcing the Queen's peace in Frozen Tushie, BC, has driven these cops utterly crazy.

I also like the fact that not reusing SD cards apparently never occured to anyone, and the practice needed to be banned by official policy.

...in their humanoid formed, had been searched and put back in their vehicle forms...

The message, Mr. Erenthal, is one of simple intimidation, the metaphor, the mechanization of the victim. Oh the de-humanity of it all.

...into a law office where defense attorneys hang out...

That statement is likely never to be challenged in any court of law.

...the RCMP now has a policy that requires brand new memory cards to be used...

Not to disparage Mr. Purvis' informative and finely detailed report, but I was expecting something a little more pithy. Maybe not a constitutional amendment but at least an actual law like we were promised. Did the victim feel it was "worth" it? Who were the winners, the MicroSD alliance?

Otherwise a captivating and fun read that ended too soon!

I have to agree with you the conclusion was a bit of a letdown, but also that it is an interesting story worth telling.

Carlton - One thing that's not clear is wether the RCMP ever produced the warrant for the installation of the cameras on the property. You would think they would have needed one, even if they had installed them in the woods across the street, since we are talking about a surveillance operation.

Alain, no a warrant was never produced for the cameras. I'll add that in there. And Addams was never charged with anything.

While the placement of the cameras (in the early morning hours the next day of the same night they served the drug warrant and trashed the house) was most likely outside the scope of that warrant, unless they tried to use this 'tainted' evidence from the trail cams to convict Addams of a crime (or even accused him), I don't see what legal action could be taken against the LE agency that placed them there.

I would've kept them untill they asked me nicely - and added 'pretty please with sugar on top'.

On camera at a press conference.

Canadian Search, Seizure, Arrest And Detention Charter (#4 Warrantless Searches)

Ari, now, in fairness, Transformers are known for being more than meets the eye....

Some cop hadn't played with his transformers in a while, and needed a fix. He was probably the least problemmatic, spending his time with the transformers rather than trashing the place.

They can erase the cards with an eraser tool. Cheaper than buying new all the time, probably.

They're robots in disguise. What kind of commie terrorist could trust a thing like that? The only reason he didn't get shipped off to Guantanamo Bay is because some Mountie couldn't figure out how to properly file the Extraordinary Rendition form on the RCMP website.

This is a case of inept detective work. They raided the wrong house.

"He says he walked into a law office where defense attorneys hang out and asked to speak to whatever lawyer hated cops the most."

That was my favorite part :)

============

Entities with 'power' over others who abuse that power are especially vile types in my mind.... but the way the civil judicial system is set up, these same entities are virtually precluded from ever admitting 'mistakes' were made (of any kind) for fear of significant civil jury monetary awards.

"defense lawyer gold" HAHAHHA, that was pretty good! :)

As to the SD cards, always using new cards is overkill, really all they have to do is a secure wipe. I wonder if an SD card manufacturer lobby got involved somehow. :)

As a side comment on that, I rememember reading an article online awhile back, actually it may have been about an ABC TV investigations show, how they went into a warehouse with used copier machines, and previous owners did not realize a lot of modern copier machines have disk storage these days. They found a lot of document data on the drives, including one that appeared to have come from a police station because it had all kinds of police reports and background checks on it, including some information about rape victims with their personal information.

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