SURREY, B.C. — Surveillance video is inconclusive about whether a woman ran over Surrey, B.C., Mayor Doug McCallum's foot as he told police, but other issues related to his complaint led to a charge of public mischief, the primary investigator said at his trial.
RCMP Sgt. André Johnny told provincial court Tuesday that a bush in a grocery store parking lot may have concealed exactly what happened on Sept. 4, 2021.
However, Johnny told Crown attorney Richard Fowler that the video does not support McCallum's claim the woman also pinned him against his vehicle with her car.
Instead, the video played in court on Monday shows McCallum walking away from his vehicle and toward Debi Johnstone's car, where he stood by the front passenger side for about a minute as the two engaged in what she described as a "heated debate."
Johnstone testified that she yelled at McCallum to resign, swore at him, told him he had a scaly face and called him evil.
Johnny, testifying by video, said that after that interaction, the surveillance footage shows McCallum walking in the same way he did when he arrived at the lot and that he was not limping.
"At no point when he is walking away does he appear to be in pain," say investigation briefing notes that were read in court. They add that McCallum went grocery shopping afterwards and video from inside the store shows his gait does not change.
Fowler said McCallum complained of a hit and run, saying Johnstone cut a corner to run over his foot, as well as harassment, assault and dangerous driving, although the video shows the car being driven into a parking spot at normal speed.
McCallum was charged with public mischief last December when RCMP headquarters in B.C. took over the investigation, but his lawyer, Richard Peck, said that was hardly an independent agency.
McCallum was elected in 2018 on a promise to replace the RCMP in Surrey with a municipal police force, but he lost his re-election bid on Oct. 15.
Johnstone had been in the parking lot to collect signatures for a petition against the policing plan.
Peck suggested RCMP decided early into an investigation that his client deceived police by saying his foot was run over and that police ignored his client's claim that he was targeted in the parking lot by a woman who was vehemently opposed to his policies.
Peck also suggested to Johnny that McCallum was being treated unfairly when police discussed deploying a surveillance team as part of their investigation.
"What on earth is the surveillance team going to unearth about McCallum? He’s the mayor of Surrey," Peck said.
"The idea was put forth to determine how Mayor McCallum was walking, whether or not he seemed injured," Johnny said, adding that the idea was shelved.
"The idea did not make a great deal of sense. That is why it was shut down," Peck said.
He said the RCMP neglected to investigate McCallum's claims of harassment by someone with a history of similar interactions with him going back several years.
However, Johnny said it's not uncommon for some people to use expletives and yell at others and that Johnstone did not seem to target or follow the mayor because he arrived at the parking lot about 45 minutes before she did.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2022.
Camille Bains, The Canadian Press