New body camera video released by the Paradise Valley Police Department in Arizona appears to capture now-retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Russell Brown singing “in a tuxedo,” moments before an alleged alcohol-fueled confrontation that ultimately led to his resignation.
“Justin’s going to love this,” one of the women can be heard saying on the video, captured at an Arizona resort in the early morning hours of Jan. 29.
“If you’re taking a picture, stop it right now,” says a voice in response, which is believed to be Brown.
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The woman clarified for police that she was referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Police have blurred the phone screen in the released body cam footage, but the audio is clearly heard as two women give their account to police.
“Sorry that you had to put up with that,” one officer said after being shown the video.
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The incident was cited as a key factor in a statement issued last month by Brown’s legal counsel, announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.
“This decision was the regrettable result of a spurious complaint that was lodged against Justice Brown by a 31-year-old ex-Marine who, while intoxicated and belligerent, punched Justice Brown without provocation and later weaponized Canada’s judicial discipline process,” the statement reads.
The Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) launched a review of Brown’s alleged conduct on March 7.
However, the review came to an abrupt end on June 12 when Brown announced his retirement. The council said it no longer had jurisdiction over the complaint under the Judges Act as a result.
Chief Justice Richard Wagner said last month the review recommended a public inquiry into the matter, but that will not happen following Brown’s resignation.
“There’s something opaque right now and I’m not comfortable with that,” Wagner said at the time.
Much of what is known about the incident comes from the Paradise Valley Police Department. The lack of transparency from Canadian institutions that looked into the matter does not sit well with some in the legal community, including class action lawyer David Sterns.
“There’s a long history of judicial issues being dealt with behind closed doors, with very little sunlight… even though judges are public servants and they know that they are giving up some privacy when they take on that role,” he said in an interview with Global News.
“We won’t even know why it is that the Canadian Judicial Council determined that this matter should be aired in public, because the report that says that is itself being kept in private.”
A spokesperson for the CJC said in an email that they have nothing to add at this time.
Applicants seeking to fill the vacancy left by Brown’s departure had until July 21 to apply.
What we know about the incident
That ex-marine, named as Jonathan Crump in the police report, says he punched Brown because he was acting “creepy” – hitting on and touching the women in the group, before allegedly trying to follow them to their hotel room.
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Crump called the police about an hour after the confrontation, according to the police report.
In that report, officers note they could smell alcohol on the witnesses.
Crump was at the hotel lounge with his girlfriend Meghan McIntyre, and two other women, Paige Bowmaster and her mother Nikki. Bowmaster invited Brown to join them for a drink, telling police he was well dressed and they guessed he was at the hotel for a wedding.
Bowmaster told police that Brown began flirting with both her and her mother.
Police asked Bowmaster whether Brown touched any intimate areas. She said no but said he kissed her cheek “once or twice” and placed his hand on the small of her back and leg, which she told police was not wanted.
“It was actually terrifying,” Bowmaster told police on the body camera footage. “He was really like, I don’t care what you want, like, this is who I am and what we’re going to do.”
Bowmaster told police this prompted the group to return to their room.
Crump alleges Brown tried to follow them, at which point Crump punched Brown “a few times.”
Hotel security told police that they spoke with Brown afterwards and he declined medical attention, a police response, and he was escorted back to his own hotel room.
The newly released bodycam footage shows police knocking on Brown’s room door six times, but there was no answer. On the video, police note it was 2:45 a.m. and speculate he may have passed out. There is no mention of police speaking to Brown in the police report.
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Ultimately, police deemed Crump’s actions reasonable and necessary, stating no crime was committed.
In Brown’s June 12 resignation statement, his counsel wrote that the allegations are “fraught with glaring, contradictions, inaccuracies and embellishments,” adding they are confident that Brown would have been completely vindicated at the conclusion of the Canadian Judicial Counsel’s investigation.
With files from Global News’ Touria Izri.
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