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Former Kelowna cop committed ‘discreditable conduct’ in Westervelt death investigation

Sergeant Brian Gateley ‘knowingly disobeyed’ when he sent a letter to the victim’s sister
Arlene Susan Westervelt, 56, drowned in Okanagan Lake in June 2016 (File)

Sergent Brian Gateley with the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. has been suspended without pay for just one day after communicating with a witness in a homicide investigation in contravention of direct orders.

Gateley was advised in December 2020 not to have contact with any witnesses from an investigation into the death of a female person.

That female person is Arlene Westervelt. She drowned while canoeing with her husband Bert on Okanagan Lake in June 2016.

Arlene’s sister Debbie Hennig confirmed Gateley sent her a letter in February 2021 despite having been directed not to.

In April 2021, Hennig and others from Westervelt’s family filed a lawsuit against two Kelowna officers, one being Gateley, alleging their actions interfered with the investigation of Arlene’s death.

READ MORE: Protesters call for justice for drowned Lake Country nurse at Kelowna courts

The notice of review from the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner dated June 30, 2022 reads, “the Discipline Authority found that Sergeant Gateley’s conduct was ‘significant’ and that he knowingly disobeyed directions from his supervisors and senior officers.”

Former RCMP officer Don Matheson has been helping the group Justice for Arlene by filing information to the courts in hopes of reviving the case.

Matheson says the one day suspension against Gateley is a joke.

“The code of conduct inside the Mounted Police is a joke, but it’s a dangerous joke,” Matheson said. “What he’s charged with should be under the Criminal Code of Canada, not under a code of conduct.”

Matheson said the problem lies deeper than just one cop.

According to Matheson discreditable conduct and tampering of evidence are commonplace in the modern force.

“As soon as they get this code of conduct burried and start policing police officers the way they have to be disciplined we might find some change in the Mounted Police force.”

Despite all the bad cops, Matheson says there are officers trying to do a good job.

Arlene’s husband Bert was charged with second-degree murder in April 2019, after an extensive investigation into Arlene’s death. The Crown stayed that charge in July 2020 and it expired the following year.

READ MORE: B.C. Coroner reopens case of Lake Country woman’s drowning


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